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Propaganda Telephone Game • Watts Up With That?

Brief Note by Kip Hansen —7 September 2023

When I was in what Americans call Junior High School (grades 7-9), we had many rather innocent parties.  Naturally, there some of that then-exciting “dancing with girls” but also a lot of party games.  One of those games was the ever-hilarious “Telephone Game”, which, I am told, is also called “Chinese Whispers”.  The game is simple, as described in the Wiki:

“Players form a line or circle, and the first player comes up with a message [and writes if down, word for word] and whispers it to the ear of the second person in the line. The second player repeats the message to the third player, and so on. When the last player is reached, they announce the message they just heard, to the entire group. The first person then compares the original message with the final version. Although the objective is to pass around the message without it becoming garbled along the way, part of the enjoyment is that, regardless, this usually ends up happening. Errors typically accumulate in the retellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly from that of the first player, usually with amusing or humorous effect.”

When we played it, the importance of repeating the message exactly was emphasized and intentionally altering the message was considered cheating. 

In our day, the mass media plays The Telephone Game with news stories.  Recently I wrote “Why Your Local Newspaper and TV Station Get Climate Facts Wrong” which reveals that Columbia Journalism Review and The Guardian and the other partners and members (and many many others) of Covering Climate Now (CCNow)   write complete climate alarm stories and also supply and share climate alarm story-ideas.  Each member is then encouraged share their work with all the other members.

I have an example that would be amusing if its effects were not so very pernicious.

Here the first player in the Telephone Game about Hurricane Idalia – the one who first writes down the message to be passed along, is the National Weather Service (NWS) which is a sub-agency within NOAA.  It is in the form of an Interactive NWS Alert, the specific alert being passed along is found here.

Now, these alerts have some very local and time sensitive  information and further warnings along with Potential Impacts.  The Potential Impacts are boilerplate chunks of text that are pre-composed for each type of storm of threat, and are not site and storm specific. Here is an example supplied by NWS for the following conditions:


A Hurricane Warning means Hurricane wind conditions are expected somewhere within this area and within the next 36 hours

A Storm Surge Warning means life-threatening inundation levels are expected somewhere within this area and within the next 36 hours”

The full alert (see the link) is four computer screens long on my machine or about 900 words.  Only a few words are changed from iNWS Alert to the text for any particular hurricane (mostly severity by type and details of expected storm surge.)

The alert issued for Tallahassee, Florida in regards to Hurricane Idalia

Event extended (area): Hurricane Warning for Leon County, FL
Sent via Email at 1103 am EDT, Aug 29th 2023Event extended (area): Hurricane Warning for Leon County, FL
Sent via Email at 1103 am EDT, Aug 29th 2023

[skipping lots of text….]

– POTENTIAL IMPACTS: Devastating to Catastrophic
– Structural damage to sturdy buildings, some with complete
roof and wall failures. Complete destruction of mobile
homes. Damage greatly accentuated by large airborne
projectiles. Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or
”                                     [emphasis mine – kh ].

You can guess which phrases were picked out to be broadcast over and over all around the country (and the world). 

The purpose of these warning is to inform people living within the affected area to be properly prepared for the possibilities of threat to life and damage to property.  The affected area for this warning are given as: “LOCATIONS AFFECTED – Tallahassee – Woodville – Bradfordville”.   By this I mean that an apartment dweller in the Bronx, New York, does not really need this information (unless, perchance, they have relatives living in Tallahassee).

In our Telephone Game the Mainstream Mass Media goes to town with this message:

NBC:  “National Weather Service in Tallahassee says some “locations may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months””.

NPR:  “”Damage will be greatly accentuated by large airborne projectiles. Locations may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months,” the forecast warned.”

OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting) copies and pastes NPRs story verbatim.

Digital Journal:  “The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee said “locations may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months” because of wind damage. Storm surge could prevent access, too.”

Washington Post: “The Hurricane Center warned Florida residents to prepare for long power outages and said some locations may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months”

Now we begin to get going in our game:

TMZ:  “The Tallahassee area is also predicted to be uninhabitable for several weeks or even months, according to the National Weather Service office.”

NY Post:  “Hurricane Idalia batters Florida with catastrophic floods as nearly 270K left without power, officials warn areas won’t be habitable for ‘months”.

The generalized boilerplate warning from the NWS, issued for every landfalling hurricane, has rapidly morphed from a warning “some locations may”, to a “predicted to be” to a definite “the Tallahassee area predicted” and/or “won’t be habitable for months”.

My favorite Climate Propaganda Cabal, CCNow, provided this in its Newsletter:  “Superheated Oceans Are Hurricane Food”, which uses the phrase:  “Parts of the state’s capital, Tallahassee, “may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months,” NBC News reported, citing the National Weather Service.”  [Note that the linked NBC News page does not say that – although, as we saw above, some news outlets used similar language.]

And, finally, what is the real story?

According to The Boston Globe: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that Idalia had knocked out power for 250,000 residents, but that the road conditions in the state were “probably better than what I would have thought.” The governor canceled campaign events for his 2024 presidential run and returned to the state for the storm.

The two deaths were traffic accidents, one in Pasco County, where a motorist collided with a tree, and the other in Gainesville, where the driver veered into a ditch. In both cases, the Florida Highway Patrol reported that stormy conditions had contributed to the crashes.”  [possibly re-printed from the NY Times – kh]

As of yesterday, DeSantis said that 96% of power outages had already been repaired.

Bottom Lines:

1.  Major hurricanes hitting densely populated areas can be monstrously damaging – to infrastructure, to homes, to human lives.  Hurricane Idalia was shifted just enough away from Tallahassee, the capital of the state of Florida,  to prevent the worst damage to that city of about 400,000 inhabitants.

2.  The cities of Florida’s west coast were again hit with storm surge and flooding of low-lying areas – as they always are when a hurricane arrives from the west.

3.  Almost no loss of life as a result of Hurricane Idalia – two fatal auto accidents, both of which could have happened on any rainy day.

4.  Altogether, Florida came away pretty much intact considering the size and intensity of the storm. 

5.  The Mainstream Mass Media, propelled and urged on by climate alarm propagandists exaggerate warning meant locally to national disaster size and then focus their stories on the down-side and not the “it’s a miracle” side.

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Author’s Comment:

The Telephone Game is the direct result of journalists not doing their own homework, but letting their stories be formed by “everybody says” and directed pushed to the left by intentional propaganda.

When a journalist sits down to write a story – he/she has to file in ten minutes or miss the deadline  — the easy thing to do is say “Hey Google…What does NBC says about the threatening hurricane?”  and then just type that into the story.    No checking, no understanding, no recognizing NBCs statement as boilerplate NWS Hurricane Alert text.

But, you know, when you are plagiarizing another news source, you have to use some different words, or they’ll catch you.  So one might write “predicted” in the place of a “may be” or even the stronger “won’t be habitable”.   Thus CCNow writes “Parts of the state’s capital, Tallahassee, may be uninhabitable….”  all with the NWS Alert as its original source.

The Climate News you read, hear, and see in the media is not news, it is regurgitated propaganda, intentionally created.

Thanks for reading.

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