Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) is a political consultant, lobbyist, and strategist, subject of Netflix’s Get Me Roger Stone documentary, and author of The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution.
“One man’s dirty trick is another man’s civic participation.” -Roger Stone
The Cheat Sheet:
- Is Roger Stone a bona fide agent provocateur?
- How Roger Stone pulled a Frank Underwood by usurping power from the president of his class as a junior in high school.
- How is politics more about addition than subtraction?
- What are Stone’s Rules, and how do they influence our current political landscape?
- Is Roger Stone an equal opportunity character assassin? On what issues might he diverge from others of a conservative leaning?
- And so much more…
For those among The Art of Charm family who balk at Machiavellian political strategist Roger Stone as today’s guest, we’re reminded of an old Corleone family proverb: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” This is an episode about the psychology behind a certain kind of strategy that has proven effective — for better or for worse — and we feel ignoring an opportunity to explore it would have been doing our community a disservice.
We’re not in the habit of offering this space as a political soapbox for anyone — we’re here to learn and we’re here to teach. And while we concede that life’s lessons can sometimes be uncomfortable, we won’t shy away from sharing them with anyone who chooses to tune in. If you have the stomach for it, please listen, learn, and enjoy!
More About This Show
Is political strategist and The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution author Roger Stone an agent provocateur?
“In politics, really, in life, there are two kinds of people,” says Roger. “There are men of action, and then there are men of thought. Revolution requires both; you need thinkers, but you also need doers. Sometimes the thinkers can’t get out of their own way. Sometimes the doers aren’t sure what they should be doing. But I would still put myself in the former category — in other words, being a successful political strategist revolves around understanding the ideas and themes that motivate people to do things: i.e., vote…
“A number of people pointed out to me that agent provocateur implies the sales of false information; I’m not sure I completely agree with that. I understand the role of political rhetoric in politics. The next question is always: ‘But do you tell the truth?’ Well, George H.W. Bush said, ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’ Was he telling the truth? Barack Obama said, ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.’ Was he telling the truth? I would argue, at the time those gentlemen said those things, they believed them. They believed they were the truth; they just didn’t turn out to be the truth.”
Roger says it’s a win for the voting public to have access to media that’s alternative to the mainstream so people can make up their own minds — with the information presented — whether or not our leaders are telling us the truth. But the real problem is that not enough of that voting public actually votes. Turnout is highest during a presidential election because there’s a more pronounced level of publicity surrounding the event, but a large percentage of the votes are undecided until the last minute by a populace often uneducated about the issues at stake.
This is the challenge presented to a political strategist like Roger. “We don’t guess about anything,” he says. “Every successful campaign begins with a benchmark survey — a poll — of voters with a very large sample so that the subsamples within your poll are large enough to be meaningful…[it’s] not designed to tell you who’s ahead and who’s behind. That’s kind of the least important number in the poll…what you are looking for [are] themes and ideas when, introduced within the laboratory, have the tendency to move voters from undecided to your candidate or from the opposition candidate to your candidate, or from the opposition candidate to undecided.
“You try to be as creative as you can in terms of depicting in a motivational way as many issues as you can think of to try to find those two or three hot button issues that motivate people — that change their minds — that move them from one place in the electorate to another place…the casual voter is taken into consideration because one of the things the poll is supposed to do is to help you decide who’s actually going to show up and vote.”
Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn about Roger Stone’s first grade introduction to the power of disinformation, why election years 2012 and 2016 were so different from one another (and what even the “experts” didn’t take into consideration), why Roger sees politics as about addition — not subtraction, how an election is like a contact sport, why smear campaigns are effective no matter how many voters insist they only pay heed to the issues, how the controversy of bad press breeds opportunity, why a successful strategy for one campaign usually won’t work twice, Roger’s role in the Nixon administration and why he has a tattoo of (and what some might call an obsession with) the 37th President, why Roger views his controversial strategy style as constitutionally protected, and lots more.
THANKS, ROGER STONE!
If you enjoyed this session with Roger Stone, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Resources from This Episode:
- Transcript for Roger Stone | Everyone Hates Roger Stone (Episode 655)
- The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution by Roger Stone
- Get Me Roger Stone documentary
- Roger Stone’s website
- Stone Cold Truth podcast
- Stone On Style
- Roger Stone at Twitter
- Roger Stone and the Trump-Nixon Connection by Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker
- Q&A: Trump Adviser Roger Stone on the Media, Nixon, and Russia
by Alex Altman, Time magazine
- Other books by Roger Stone
- The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
- Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
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