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Mid-week musing – “Doubling down”.

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A new term has entered the political news lexicon. “Doubling down”. News outlets and journalists love it. Repeated daily on cable and almost every other paper article. It irritates me to distraction.

I’ll try to understand why this is a thing for me and if I can get over this dreaded phrase. The method used to help me on this exploration of phraseology is an applications of the basic info-gathering test (5Ws – Who, what, why, where, when – and how).

Who (person or people) – Thanks to the Trump regime’s propaganda machine (well Twitter) attacking opponents, rebutting criticism or forcing through ill considered policies or repeating false claims. When the message is repeated it is reported as “doubling down”.

What (specifying something) – Appears to mean increasing effort. Synonyms that can be used instead include: strengthening commitment, trying harder; pushing further; pressurising; forcing; … etc.

Why (reason or purpose) – Perhaps as it involves Trump. Maybe history will remember him as the ‘doubling down’ president. It is interesting to note that down is often associated with the negative. ‘Doubling up’ can easily be used and has positive connotations. We are talking politics so I get that bit.

Where (place or position) – the term is used mainly in the US but appears to have gained some traction in the UK when reporting on fractious political characters like Alex ‘Boris’ Johnson and Nigel ‘spicy politics’ Farage, both of whom worship at the altar of Donald.

When (time) – Apparently a term long used in card games like blackjack where bets are increased or doubled. This tactic is used either to demonstrate the strength of a hand or bluff if the cards dealt aren’t particularly strong in order to trick others into folding their hands.

“The term is increasingly used as a media euphemism when political figures tell bald-faced lies and when confronted with contradictory statements, the politician not only fails to retract their claims but instead expresses an increased certainty in their truth”. (www.urbandictionary.com/define)

How (way. manner or means) – Here are some headlines or news reports where the term has been used:
a) “Trump Doubling Down on Rhetoric Rattles South Korean Markets” Read more at: https://www.bloombergquint.com/…/south-korean-stocks-won-dr…

b) “The warning came after Mr Johnson used a live TV debate to double-down on his threat to shut down parliament if necessary, insisting that he was “not going to take anything off the table”. Read more at:
https://www.independent.co.uk/…/brexit-boris-johnson-no-dea…

c) But Mr Farage doubled down on his threat to the Conservatives, telling supporters that the party would have candidates ready for every seat in the House of Commons within days. Read more at: https://www.politicshome.com/…/nigel-farage-urges-tories-st…

I understand now why the term has been anathema for me. Really because of the characters most associated with the term. “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies” (Fleetwood Mac) a preserve for young lovers and pop songs that plays to our penchant for soft fantasy. Boris, Farage and Trump, however, are considered by many media professionals as pedlars of misinformation and given their stage have the power to accentuate such to millions who fail to do but the most basic research. That, it is claimed, they repeat with greater urgency – “doubling down” – false claims when challenged by their opponents seems to be a political strategy that has yielded results for them personally in the short term. (The consequences for us as citizens in the longer term remain unfathomed).

Notwithstanding, journalists would do better by not repeating trendy terms and stressing opinion but just report the news / facts, leaving us, the information consumers, to draw our own conclusions.

Tony Magik