Persuasive Techniques Assignment for LIS580

Robin Sanford

I listened to Changing World Views with Sharon Hughes. This is a radio program available online. She is promoted as a "rising female voice in Conservative Radio." See her website

This program claims to be "taking you to the front lines and behind the scenes of the unheard of, the unbelievable, and even the outrageous battles facing the world today." Its host is billed as a "voice of reason in an increasingly complex world." Ads say the show is "backed up with documentation you can check out for yourself" on her website.

Any emphasis in quotations from these programs is mine and added to draw attention to persuasive techniques used.

Week 1

For Week 1 I listened to the half hour show "The Pentagon Miracle." Here is the show blurb, as advertised on her site:

"The Pentagon Miracle

Friday, June 02, 2006

with Lt. Cololnel Linda Herbert

Lt. Cololnel Linda Herbert was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11th and narrowly escaped the plane crashing into that facility. She will tell her first hand account, how the attacks of 9/11 changed lives at the Pentegon, changed the way we wage war, and the truth about 9/11 conspiracy theories."

And yes, the website did spell "Colonel" wrong.

Persuasive Technique

How it was used in the show

Appeal to Authority

Our host begins with an Appeal to Authority and some Emotional Words. She talks about the horrors of 9/11 and mentions rescuers, victims, and families. She invokes the listener’s patriotism and refers to the Pentagon as Ground Zero. September 11th will always be known as Patriot’s Day as declared by President Bush. Being outraged by 9/11 should be added to that list about apple pie and mom. These tactics are used throughout the interview.

Expert Testimonial

This entire interview is an Expert Testimonial. The guest is always referred to as Linda or Colonel (the Lieutenant part got left off, probably intentionally). The interview begins by establishing the credentials of this guest by asking her about her duties. This allows linda to explain what a "subject matter expert" for a core is- she tracked promotions and title 10 law for her assigned group of people. She frequently engaged in title dropping- mentioning that she frequently interacted with a three star general and other high ranking officials.

Repetition and Reilgion

The guest describes her actions that day, noting that it was "God's Grace" that she was not at her desk when the plane hit the building. The guest herself uses the technique of Repetition with this phrase- we hear it another two or three times during the interview. This is when it became clear to me why the host picked this particular guest- she has written a book called The Pentagon Miracle and while I thought originally that she was using a dramatic turn of phrase it quickly becomes clear that Linda is a very vocally devout Christian. She mentions kneeling on the floor and praying out loud, and then getting either "feelings" as to where to go or "visions" of which parts of the building to go to. She prayed multiple times during her escape, and continued to get feelings or visions.


The guest also uses the Bandwagon technique- she mentions that others followed her out, and they all lived. They told her that they knew she is a "Jesus Freak" and that if anyone would get out it would be her. The host breaks in, adding to the Bandwagon with the thought that "if you are questioning and wondering why Linda and why not others, you know, the scripture does say that if you cry out to God He’ll help you." It seems you just have to "tune in to his voice" to get directions like Linda did. Presumably those who did not jump on the Christianity Bandwagon had a worse chance of survival than Linda and her group.


Just before the interview really gets to the Christian message, the listener is treated to a message or add for the Presidential Prayer Team. This is a site that lists names of military personnel serving abroad who want to be prayed for on a personal level. The add states that this is "perhaps the only thing many of us can do to help in this time of world crisis." Presidential Prayer Team Website This of course adds to the Bandwagon effect.

Patriotism and Appeal to Authority

The second set of adds promotes materials from the host’s website and encourages listeners to support the troops- telling listeners what to donate or how to volunteer. Fly your flag high, and buy her "united in memory" bumper sticker.

Upon the return to the interview the vaguely patriotic instrumental music which had been serving as a point of entry to the show is replaced with the song "Proud to be An American."

Societal Disapproval

The guest is asked to Clear up conspiracy theories, such as the notion that a plane did not hit the Pentagon. This is where Societal Disapproval is used- anyone who believes such things and not the words of this expert guest must be a fool. The host also brings up another theory, which she claims to have heard from both the far left and the far right, that the President helped to plan the attack. The guest dismisses this as absurd, noting that she saw Bush and Rumsfeld walking over the devastation and that they looked angry. She asserts that Bush is a patriot who loves his country.

The Conclusion

The interview has built up to asking the guest about how the military now handles terrorism. By this point the listener has been subjected to a number of different persuasive techniques, and will presumably not blink as Linda says that "we are very aggressive at stomping it out now" and are much more reactive and responsive. She gives no concrete examples of this.

Appeal to Authority

The program ends with out host saying that she thinks this interview is important for everyone in America to hear. "Proud to be an American" plays again. The guest says that most "important thing [for the listeners] is to invite Jesus into their heart as their personal savior." The song continues to play at end of the program, one last Appeal to Authority.

Week 2

For Week 2 I listened to the half hour show "Disarming the Culture War." Here is the show blurb, as advertised on her site:

"Disarming the Culture War

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

with Bruce Wilson, Author

Claiming there is no serious debate within the political parties on the four moral issues of the Culture War, abortion, gun control, separation of church & state and gay marriage, and that these issues have been transformed into a type of political 'articles of faith,' he tells how the 'silent' majority of Americans can end the stalemate."

Persuasive Technique

How it was used in the show


The introduction of the guest is full of Slogans and catch phrases, some of them of the guest’s making. The first is the "Polarization of the American Public." The guest feels that the two parties are not helping this situation and in fact created the conflict in the first place. The "silent" majority can end this. The guest is connected to Universal studios, and the host mentions that Al Gore's Movie and Da Vinci Code will be covered. Mr. Wilson retired after 25 years as Chief Information Officer at Universal. His book is Disarming the Culture Wars: How the Silent Majority Can Break the Stalemate He is described as having a "lifelong interest in American Culture" and feels that the current political environment is evidence of serious erosion of important American values.

Red Herring

Our host begins with a Red Herring. After mentioning the guest’s connection to Hollywood, she rattles off a summary of an article in the Left Coast Report. The Motion Picture Association of America is being sued because they supposedly hired a hacker to get steal data from an Internet search engine company. She implies that this is connected to policing piracy and continues by also mentioning a recent theft of veteran's information from a database. What this has to do with the "Polarization of America" is unclear. The guest says the industry is facing a serious problem with piracy.

Facts - With Feeling

She asks "You claim that the majority of Americans are not satisfied with the positions of the political parties on these issues [the four moral issues of the culture war]... what do you base that on?"

He feels we are not as divided, not a 50-50 country. He says polls show that about 1/3 agree 100% with Republicans, 1/3 with Democrats 100%. He states that the 1/3 in the middle don’t wholly agree with either party and thus split about 50-50 in the voting booths. Thus he sayss we look 50-50. If there were other options, it would not be 50-50. Research polls show that most Americans are against abortion on demand and would roll back Roe v. Wade as Republicans would. Most Americans would support forms of gun control limiting handguns and assault weapons as per Democrats. Most Americans are against gay marriage as Republicans. And on Church state issues there is a split. Most do not want government advocating religion as the Democrats. But they do want free and open expression of religion in the public arena which is more of a Republican position. So with these views, they still have to pick a party.

The guest does not cite who conducted the polls, when, where, or how large they were. The host frequently refers to "your research" as though this guest is a professor, however he does not have those credentials.

Red Herring

She jumps to another Red Herring, the big issue of illegal immigration. This is not part of the stated subject of the interview.

He has a commentary coming out. He feels that many are focusing on illegal immigrants and ignoring the fact that they are coming because they are illegally hired by American employers. This is not big corporations doing this, it is small businesses. He feels there are two sides to this. He feels we need to work on the demand side of this- not just building a wall to keep out the supply.

Name-Calling and Ad Hominem

They begin to talk about those four issues. She starts with abortion, stating that the majority of Americans are against partial birth abortions. She begins her Name-Calling by saying there is "nothing partial about that abortion." She feels this term is "couched" in women’s rights. She thinks "advertising works" and feels it happens with political issues.

He is amazed how successful the pro-abortion messaging has been at deflecting attention away from the core issues. He thinks that calling it pro-choice is a good example of this. In his mind and his As Hominem argument the underlying issues are a matter of when life begins. By bringing up the emotional issue of killing babies and using that as his only argument against abortion, he is clearly using Ad Hominem to play on listeners emotions.

More Facts- With Feeling

She introduces more Facts- With Feeling by saying that the same "advertising" is used on the gay rights issue. Kinsley tried to tell us it is 7% we know that 1-2% of the population is gay... unless you count young people experimenting because of the advertising. She things every movie has a "token gay scene" which continues this myth. Where her numbers came from is unclear.

False Cause

At this point the host and guest’s premises do not support their conclusions, as in the False Cause argument. He thinks that opening the box on gay marriage lets you open the box on other types of marriage. He mentions that it is an issue in Southern Utah and feels that polygamy would have to be allowed if gay marriage was allowed. She thinks it would allow people to have sex with young children. He states you can’t let one group’s "personal view" of marriage be legal without letting in any other view. The gay marriage debate centers around allowing two and only two individuals of legal age get married. The idea that then marriage would be open to groups of people or young children does not follow from that concept.

Yet More Facts- With Feeling

He goes back to abortion- claiming that "you read that a majority support Roe v. Wade. But that isn’t true." He thinks the media is sloppy and inaccurate on the polls. He sates 55-60% would roll back Roe v. Wade to just cases of rape, incest, and endangering life of the mother. He states that "you do not hear that reported" by the liberal media. Possibly because he is not offering any evidence of who conducted these polls, when, where, and how large the sample size was.


Returning to Name-Calling, she brings up Al Gore’s latest movie. She calls him the "global warming movie star." She says the "liberal media" praises his film The Inconvenient Truth and reads quotes from a number of newspapers. Rather than asking her guest about the movie, she asks "do you think he is running for president again and that is what this is about?"

He thinks Gore has been making so much money since then that he can’t afford to try and run again. He says he has not seen the movie and does not think he would as he can’t take more than five seconds of Al Gore. She thinks Al Gore is so rich could fund his own campaign, and they both agree that Hillary would have a better chance of running.

More Name-Calling and Censorship

She turns to the Da Vinci Code. She saw it the previous evening, feeling that she had to in order to talk about it (this is one point in the host’s favor- she did see both of these movies before discussing them on her program). She thought the claims that were made in the movie were utterly ridiculous. She said that out loud and people in front of her were offended. She thinks the movie is "kind of powerless" and will only affect those who don’t want to believe in traditional Christianity or have issues with the Catholic church by give them reinforcement and making them stronger in their resolve. But it will not change anyone’s actual faith or beliefs. The claims (which she does not provide any detail on) were based on Da Vinci and "we don’t know if that is true." She states the movie is not based on history.

He adds that the movie is really "out there fiction" and people should take it as such but they don’t with movies. Mentions Oliver Stone’s take on the JFK assassination: "There is a generation of people who think that is reality." There will be people who believe the Da Vinci Code and don’t realize that it is fiction. He reveals himself as a censor by wising there was a way to put labels all over the movie: "We made this up!"

Back to Name Calling, she mentions the that on Dan Brown’s website he actually points out that he is trying to persuade people to look into the "serious secret societies." She thinks he has an agenda and that this is "not just a novel he wrote."

Ad Hominem

At this point the guest indulges in an Ad Homenem argument. After being asked: "If you could say anything to the American people about the culture wars, what would it be?" He says: "We need to have a serious dialog about these issues... the country really is drifting in the wrong direction.... getting far off the foundation of our traditional values" especially on abortion. This is where he is most passionate. He feels we have spent 40 years taking lives. He thinks we are "loosing a lot of what America was founded on." Again, there are no facts here, just an appeal to the listerner’s emotions.

Glosses Over Lack of Credibility

She asks where listeners can get his book. He mentions his book is available on his website/blog. He does not mention going to mainstream bookstores or to Amazon.

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