Below is a clip of one of the most expertly done examples of persuasion I have yet seen. Australian TV channel 10 interviews Milo Yiannopoulos live in preparation for his Australian tour. There is an interesting panel: a mainstream female anchor, a male anchor, an older woman, and a feminist with the sides of her head shaved who I think is named Jess.
In this post I identify some of the techniques used. Milo makes heavy use of the Cialdini pre-suasion and 7 (some say 8) principles, so you will see a lot of them here. I’m going to use the old-school term “framing” here instead of pre-suasion because it’s too easy to misread the term pre-suasion.
To go through the raw transcription first so you can practice identifying them yourself, see Part 1
Keep in mind that they are in Sydney and he is in New York, so there is a communications delay that causes some crosstalk.
Anchor: Who is Milo Yiannopoulos and what exactly does he stand for? Well we are going to ask the man himself because he joins us now from New York City this morning. Milo Yianopolous! Welcome to Studio 10.
Milo: Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you for having me.
Anchor: Well you have … your critics call you antisemitic, homosexual hating, white supremacist… yet you have publicly said that you are a proud gay man, you have Jewish heritage, and you just recently married your black boyfriend. [ Anti-semitic man with Jewish heritage? Anti-homosexual white supremacist who married his black boyfriend? These contradictions break a lot of pre-existing frames and generate interest. ] Congratulations, by the way!
Milo: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Anchor: Lots of people want to label you, so tell us: what does Milo stand for?
Milo: Well I’m a free speech activist so sometimes I say outrageous and controversial things. [ Because ] Sometimes I’m a jokester and a trickster and a Loki-esque figure. [ Framing – jokes and tricks, it’s all in good fun. Plus a high-brow reference to Loki, the Norse trickster god. Appealing to an archetype we all recognize. ] The political left, the, you know, the feminists and the social justice warriors and the leftist journalists don’t like me very much and call me a variety of names because they find me difficult to categorize. [ Because, more framing ] They don’t understand how a gay guy could have these opinions, or whatever. I don’t fit, really fit into any box, so I represent sort of a threat to them because I’m persuasive and charismatic and I have a huge fan base. [ Because, breaking existing frames, social proof, setting up consistency ] They just really don’t know how to deal with that. [ Milo answers the question of “what does he stand for” not with information, but with a FRAME. By setting and controlling the frame, he controls the set of presuppositions that determine what is and is not consistent. ]
Older Female Panelist: Oh, very modest as well, darling!
Milo: Also, very humble. (laughter) [ By repeating the idea, he takes ownership of it ]
Feminist: Ah, because, Milo, I’m a feminist, and I’m proud to be a feminist, and a lot of what you say …
Milo: That’s ok, I’m sure they’ll cure you soon. [ Frames feminism as something that needs to be cured, a disease, an unnatural abberation, before the self-described feminist has an opportunity to make any points. She is dead in the water already at this point. ]
Milo: There’s chemotherapy for that now. [ Doubles down. Now it’s not just a disease, it’s cancer, the most feared of all diseases. Repetition. ]
SHF: No no no what, I suppose, of course everyone is entitled to a view, and to free speech, [ Pacing objection ] but the issue that I have with you, and I suppose a number of critics have with you, [ Authority, social proof ] is that you just seem to stir up hate for the sake of it because you want to get a reaction, because you want to provoke, and then you don’t seem to take the consequences for that. [ Because. She’s also mind-reading from afar. ]
Milo: I don’t think it’s fair to say that I stir up hate. I mean, most people would admit, [ social proof ] I think, if they’re being fair and reasonable, it’s very difficult to describe yourself as “not a feminist” if you’re in public life and that’s an enforcement of a particular political orthodoxy that is not shared by the majority of the public. I mean, very few women describe themselves as feminist. Fewer than 1 in 5 in America. Just 7% in England. [ Social proof. Also authority by using percentages, presumably from a study. ] I’m sure the numbers for Australia, being a very sensitive, ah a very sensible country, are about the same. You know, these ideas that are being enforced in popular culture and on TV are not views reflected in the public, and the gap between the media and the people at home is growing all the time. [ More framing – the issue isn’t hate – it’s the gap between the oppression by feminists and popular culture over the general population. ] That’s my insight and what I seek to expose and ridicule and have fun with. [ Have fun with means he can always say “I was only joking – you can take a joke!” ] Um, it’s perfectly fine if you’re a feminist – my problem isn’t that. [ Un-targetable. Feminists are fine. ] My problem is you, not you personally, but my problem is with those feminists who require in public for us all to say we are too, when we might not be. [ Framing feminists as the oppressors. ] We might think that feminism has run its course and had its day, you know. [ Providing a path forward, i.e. presenting a reasonable “how.” ] I’m not particularly interested, um, in anybody else’s specific positions. What I’m interested in is an open marketplace of ideas. [ Higher ground / chunking up ] You know, a fair, open system where everybody can express themselves without fear of censure. Without fear of professional disaster or fear of social peril just because they cracked the wrong joke on Twitter. Or because they used, you know, the wrong language at work.
Anchor: Can I just interrupt for a second Milo because just picking up what Jess says is you do throw these social hand grenades out there and you say things like “feminism is cancer.” But if you drill down past the headlines and read some of your work – I’ve read your book, I’ve listened to a number of your podcasts – you do make some fair points. But do you think this kind of outrageous schtick that you have is hurting you and turning people off listening to you?
Milo: No, I think the opposite’s happening. I mean millions of people on Facebook, a sold-out tour – by the way Sydney is completely sold out. Now we’re adding a new day on the 30th of November – very obviously the opposite is true. There is a huge appetite for someobody who doesn’t mind thumbing their nose and sticking their tongue out and pointing their middle finger up at the scolds and the nannies and the people who want to tell us how to live. [ Loads of social proof, framing feminists as scolds and nannies, his opposition as harmless fun like sticking your tongue out at a nanny, which we all did as kids. It lessens the severity of the behaviors in question. ] For years, Conservatives
SHF: But Milo, you do more than stick your tongue out. [ Attacking the frame ] I mean, because of the sorts of things you’ve written, along the lines of “Islam is a cancer,” “feminism is a cancer,” you rally…
Milo: I never wrote that actually. That was an invention by journalists. The feminism is true. [ Breaking the frame by deflecting blame onto journalists. Causing SHF to question her assumptions and information ]
SHF: You rally your followers for hate campaigns. There was Leslie Jones, who was in Ghostbusters
Milo: Well what do you mean by “hate campaigns?” I mean, this was invented by the media. [ Redirecting blame to the media. Reframing hate campaigns into something else by chunking down. ]
SHF: Well, all the… it was not invented.
Milo: I wrote a review of Ghostbusters… I don’t want to get into the little details but
SHF: But no that isn’t a “little detail”
Milo: I wrote a review of Ghostbusters that defended her. [ Breaking the frame with a counter example. ]
SHF: It isn’t a little…
Milo: No, no, the “little detail” is that actually, actually I wrote a review of Ghostbusters that defended her. [ Acknowledging the “little detail” idea and incorporating it into his own point as a pace and redirect ] Then, some people said some mean things about her and I was blamed. [ Breaking it into parts / chunking down ] Well we don’t blame Beyonce when her fans say mean things to Taylor Swift. We don’t blame Justin Bieber when his followers [ Milo makes himself on par with those celebrities. People who like those celebrities are highly inclined to agree with Milo because they don’t want to dislike those celebrities, which they would logically have to do if they accepted that someone is responsible for the actions of his/her fans. ]
SHF: But wait a minute. They were your followers. They were your followers who said incredibly racist things [ Seeking to blame Milo for his fans’ actions ]
Milo: Says who? Says who?
Milo: Some mean people… and I went on CNN and I said it was horrible. I said it was terrible. But I’m not responsible for what they say. I’m responsible for what I say. [ Milo is not to blame because he publicly said the actions were horrible. He is responsible for only what he says, not what his fans say. This is logically sound and is close to a higher ground. ]
SHF: So then why don’t you take more of a consequence of what you say. Because I think there is so much hate in the world [ pace ] and you seem to think it’s funny. [ Pace and frame ] You seem to sort of think it’s…
Milo: Mmm-hmm. Oh I do think it… Oh no no no … Well, most of what’s characterized as “hate” and “abuse” and “harassment” – this is all a sort of hysterical drumming, it’s like a moral panic by the media. [ Again, reframing the hate accusation as hysterical, or moral panic – i.e. a perception issue, not an actual problem ]
SHF: How is it a moral panic?
Milo: The reality is, [ implies opposition arguments are not reality-based ] some people in power don’t like jokes being made about them and I’m perfectly happy to tell jokes about powerful people because they can take it. I don’t tell jokes about ordinary private citizens. I don’t ruin the lives of private citizens like journalists do. [ Cialdini comparison. Another reframe: not hating private citizens, but attacking people in power. ]
SHF: Well, I think there are people who would take issue with that.
Milo: Gawker’s journalists who destroyed that woman Justine Sacco because she told the wrong joke. I tell jokes about people in power. I tell jokes about politicians, celebrities, journalists, university professors. I tell jokes about people in positions of huge institutional power who can take it. [ Reframing what he does from hate to ridiculing people in power who can handle it. Another reframe: it’s the media who are guilty of destroying people. ] I punch up, not down. Um, you know, and I tell jokes that a lot of people find funny [ Social proof ] and are amusing and now the actions of a small
SHF: But do you punch up? Because the point is what you do is that because you continue this hate, it then encourages other people to think, you know what this is alright to have a steps-on mentality…
Milo: You keep calling it hate. I think… I think you are over-egging the pudding. Keeping cause… you know a gay man who tells a few waspish jokes …
SHF: Over-egging the pudding when women have threats of rape made against them on Twitter. You think that’s “over-egging the pudding,” do you? [ Counter reframe by changing the complex equivalence ]
Milo: Well, you’re implying that I’m responsible for rape threats now on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. [ Calls out the presupposition, which suddenly seems ridiculous when consciously examined. ]
Male Panelist: I don’t think Milo actually said any of those things you’re talking about. People who follow him. [ The male panelist seeks reconciliation or “peace-making” by providing her an “out.” He can support Milo without taking sides against SHF ]
Milo: Why do you think I’m responsible? I think you might be misled by news reports. [ Milo expands on providing her and the audience a way out of hating him by blaming the media. ] I think I’m probably the most lied about person in America if not in the world. I think, and I sincerely believe that you are being straight up with me and are conducting the interview with integrity [ Pace and conciliatory approach ] but I think that you’ve been misled by inaccurate press reports about what I have personally, actually done. And very often you’ll find – because I’m in the midst of these culture wars in America which are very bloody and very dirty, full of name calling and false accusations, right the way up to the Washington Post – [ Higher ground / Chunking up ] I think that you’ve been misled. If you could give me a specific instance of something… [ Now chunking down ]
SHF: Why do you call Donald Trump “Daddy?”
Milo: Let me just finish my point and then I’ll tell you why I call him Daddy. If you can think of a specific instance in which I have ever said anything that has directly given rise to rape threats against some woman please tell me because I don’t know what it is. What I do is crack jokes about celebrities. [ Drawing another distinction between his behavior and that of his followers. Reframing again from hate to joking. Repetition. ]
SHF: Well, Leslie Jones would say that you have. And you were taken off Twitter.
Milo: No no no let me tell you: Leslie Jones – not to get too much into this because I’ve been over it so many times – but Leslie Jones was responsible for targeted harassment on that platform. I wasn’t. [ This is an effective scramble. Yes, the things you are angry about happened, but were not done by me. Who were they done by? Someone on your side. This functions as an anchor collapse between someone’s anger or hate and their support and love for their own side. ] Leslie Jones was retweeting all kinds of stuff about me. I barely mentioned her except to crack a joke about her looks which I’m entitled to do. If I can’t comment about a celebrity being ugly then literally the roof is going to come down and the First Amendment is dead. [ Higher ground. Presupposition that Leslie Jones is indeed ugly, which of accepted strengthens his argument ] Um, you know.
SHF: Yeah, but you got to take some consequence for it and all this stuff you did with Gamergate.
Milo: You know, well, I do, I accept responsibility for my own actions. [ Agree and redefine ] And you can throw out names like Gamergate which your viewers are not going to understand [ Pacing the audience and diminishing the idea ] but the reality is [ framed the opposition argument as non-real through implication ] I took the side of what I considered to be consumers over the establishment. [ Repetition of the frame of Milo as champion of the oppressed against the establishment. ] The consumers, actual video gamers, who were worried about their art form [ video games framed as a serious component of culture and worth defending and caring about ] being poisoned by social justice just like social justice has ruined comic books, ruined Hollywood, ruined the Academy, ruined journalism, and everybody agrees with this.65% of people in America think the press routinely makes stuff up. [ repetition, then social proof, then authority. Also, clever shift. What do 65% of Americans agree on? Not with Milo on gamergate, but on a different topic, media lies. But we conflate the two. ] Why? Politics. The Left. [ Because ] And we didn’t want that same thing to happen to video games so we resisted it and for our trouble we were called all manner of terrible things and accused of things we did not do. [ Reframe to Milo and gamers being victims ]
SHF: ‘Cause you trolled women, that’s why.
Older Female Panelist: Can I just ask a question?
Milo: All kinds of things get thrown… did I troll women? You seem to be, you are accusing me of things I never did. I’m responsible for what *I* do. [ Ending with high ground principles of responsibility ]
I’m much more interested, by the way, in your question about Daddy Donald Trump. I called him that because I think it sort of annoys everybody, but also because it reflected the role that Donald Trump was playing in culture and society at the time. [ low brow sentiment then high brow sentiment – Milo says more on that below ] He was one of those people who kind of slightly made you cringe sometimes, made you a little embarrassed sometimes, but was basically right, basically had your interests at heart, and if you stuck by him you knew he was going to look after you in the end. [ Trump as relatable father figure ] I found that a lot of female voters, who you might not have imaged would vote for Trump, perhaps because of his locker room talk or whatever [ reframes the Access Hollywood tapes incident as locker room talk ], were voting for him anyway and they loved him. [ social proof ] Why? Because he was this strong, masculine figure who projected strength and maybe a little machismo. Versus the previous president who was you know limp-wristed and useless and never, never inspired her. [ Cialdini comparison ] There were no women fainting in the aisles or, you know, light-headed on the chaise-longue for Obama towards the end. [ Visuals ] But there were for Trump and I found it fascinating. And I so anyway I called him Daddy and it annoyed the left and the right which is exactly where I live. If both sides are upset with me, that’s what I want. I want the conservatives and liberals mad with me, then I know that I’m probably OK. [ Reframe away from partisan towards unbiased jester].
Older Female Panelist: I just want to… Are you the subject of fake news then?
Milo: Of course! Of course. I mean any conservative in public life is going to be routinely, you know, lied about, demeaned, ridiculed… Look at how hard they’ve come at me. They’ve called called me a pedophile apologist when actually, I’m the victim of it. [ Reframe of Milo as a sympathetic individual. Another scramble. ] They’ve called me a neo-nazi and a white supremacist when actually, white supremacists and neo-nazis hate me. The Daily Stormer which is the biggest white supremacist blog in the world declared a holy crusade against me. [ Counter example ] No one reported that. They threatened to boycott where I worked until where I worked fired me. Nobody reported that. [ Repetition ] The fact is the far left and the far right both hate me equally but it’s only the left that gets reported and that consistently because I’m effective [ Cialdini because, and credibility ] – get smeared as far right. When somebody calls me far right what they actually mean is I’m right-wing and really good at my job. [ More credibility ] I’m right wing and I’m persuasive. And this far-right label is something the media does to attempt to suggest that I’m beyond the pale and not fit for public consumption. Well guess what? I am and millions of people agree. [ Social proof ] My book, despite no mainstream media interviews, despite no reviews in the mainstream press, was on the New York Times bestseller list for 5 weeks. [ Authority ] You don’t get that by being some crazy hateful crank. [ Counter example ] You get that by telling jokes and telling the truth that ordinary people want to hear and by speaking truth to power. All of my readers understand it because they actually read what I say instead of reading what people say about me. [ Social proof ] And all of my viewers and my fans and the people who come to my shows get it because they actually listen to me instead of what left-wing journalists say about me. [ Social proof ]
Male panelist: I certainly understand Milo. And when you speak, you know, you’re often very funny, often very witty,
Milo: Thank you
Male panelist: …and a lot of what you say is often very interesting. I remember listening to a speech you gave at one of the universities where you talked about you know the origins of religion and the role of marriage in protecting women’s rights, making it about consent, and I love history and I thought that was very interesting. And I think you made a lot of good and unfashionable points. And then it sort of veered off into something along the lines of, and you know, aren’t all feminists ugly or something like that. I just kind of wondered if, I mean, have you become now a sort of captive of some of these, a bunch of followers or a sort of mob that wants to cheer and shout when you say things like that but actually doesn’t get you? [ Demonstrates acceptance of Milo’s points. Again tries to reconcile the gap by providing Milo an “out” of saying he’s playing up to his fans’ expectations while being himself an “acceptable” person ]
Male Panelist: I mean I kind of get the feeling that Donald Trump wouldn’t actually get you. He wouldn’t actually understand half the jokes you’re making. [ Trying to distance Milo from Trump ]
Milo: Well, daddy never gets… the daddies never get their children but um no, I don’t think that’s true. I think that what I do is weave highbrow and lowbrow. In my columns you’ll see, you know, low-rent jokes and you’re like, “ugh, that was low-hanging fruit” or “uuuh, do you have to be so mean?” It was like News Flash: gay guys can be catty. [ Self-deprecating humor can make one a sympathetic figure when done right ] I try to blend low culture with theology, with history, with sociology, with science. So you come to one of my talks, you know I did, I talked about how fabulous Christmas was, which I think is the one you are referring to. I was talking in theological terms about how the church invented marriage as a way of protecting women…
Male Panelist: Yep. Yep.
Milo: …and how that comes from, you know, catholic tradition and all the rest of it. My talk “10 Things I hate About Islam,” which was obviously provocatively titled, [ pacing objection ] then went into the theological differences between Christianity and Islam. The conception of God being different, you know how to practice faith. I try to blend lowbrow and highbrow. It’s very unnerving to people. They don’t know how to deal with it and it’s very threatening. [ Implied because. Frames people who don’t like it as weak and unable to deal. ]
Male Panelist: I don’t want to interrupt right now but you make a lot of good points about the censoriousness of the left and the outrageous things that’s happening on US campuses now where they are just shutting down debate and banning people and calling anyone they disagree with a fascist.
Milo: All true.
Male Panelist: But I guess it sort of gets undermined when you unleash these kind of primal forces that we’re seeing in politics now on the extremes.
Milo: No no, but it’s only journalists. It’s only journalists who think that my position on this is undermined by my language here. Everybody else loves it. [ Social proof ] It’s only journalists because they’re so “earnest” and “high-minded” and stuffy and pompous. No offense I’m not talking about you but other journalists who say this stuff, you know.
Male Panelist: No no, that’s all right
Milo: We’re just getting to know one another so I don’t know what you think, but other journalists who say this stuff you know they give <pompous fake voice> “Oh, lurra lurra couldn’t possibly use this language hurra lurra lurra.” Give me a break! If I want to say that feminists are fat and ugly, which, by the way, most of them are, then I will. [ Presupposition. 2nd degree of separation quoting – he’s not saying it, he’s saying if he wants to say it. But we have to interpret it as him saying it to understand it. ]
SHF: No they are not! They are not! That’s… <frustrated sigh>
Male Panelist: <sharp intake of breath> Heh heh heh! Here we go…
Milo: If I were to say at the same time, you know, if I want to make a complex historical point about the different emergences of strands of feminism, if I want to talk about the virtues, you know, of equity feminism versus whatever, I can be both and I can do both [ Take me seriously because I have intellectual heft ] and you know what it shows, when people are upset about those two things, it shows that there is a double standard at work.You are perfectly happy for Jon Stewart, for Bill Maher, for Stephen Colbert to blend highbrow and lowbrow, to be both comedians and cultural commentators, to be clowns and historians. You’re perfectly happy when a left-winger does it. But for some reason, now I’ve arrived, I’m the first person on the right ever to do it and suddenly people are like “Wait! You’re not supposed to do that. Conservatives aren’t supposed to behave like this. Wait – you can’t be real and funny and dangerous and also a bit offensive and be able to talk about Nietzsche and Sartre and Heidegger and Descartes! What is going on here?” Well, I’m sorry but this is a double standard. We’ve had it for decades on the left. Well, now you have it on the right. Welcome to the new era. If people don’t like it and people can’t cope with my blend of elevated discourse as well as low-rent cattiness, that merely demonstrates their own hypocrisy. [ This section was absolutely brilliant and executed perfectly. 1) Double bind. One either has to accept that Milo blends low brow and high brow, or stop accepting that Stewart, Colbert, and Maher do it, but actually we conflate it to accept Milo or stop accepting Stewart, Colbert, and Maher, which very few people will be able to do. 2) Again framing those who disagree as weak and unable to cope, regardless of actual objection. 3) Cleverly leads us to conflate accepting his juxtaposition of highbrow and lowbrow, with acceptance of himself, his message, and his methods, which are really what is on everyone’s mind here. 4) Sets up the opposition argument such that when they abandon it, they accept that he is “real and funny and dangerous and also a bit offensive,” when they might not have thought that before. 5) Finally, he brilliantly puts himself in the same category as Colbert, Stewart, and Maher by forcing a comparison that cannot be understood without putting them in the same category. ] The fact is most people love what I do. They come to my shows in droves which is why we’re sold out in Sydney. I’m looking forward to selling tens of thousands of copies of my book when it goes on sale November 2nd in Australia. And I can’t wait to explore the country because Australia is I think my number 3 place for fans. Millions of Australians watch my stuff. They come to read my columns and watch my videos. I think Australia need saving from their own media. [ Loads of social proof ]
Male Panelist: laughs
Anchor: Alllllll right. Well Penthouse Australia is bringing Milo Yiannopoulos on his Troll Academy Tour to Adelaide Perth Melbourne Sydney and the Gold Coast from November. You can get all the details from Milolive.com.au
Milo: Thank you
Anchor: <to SHF:> You’ll need a little lie-down after that interview. Milo thank you so much.
Milo: Thank you so much. [applause]