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She suggested Tim Kaine was sexist for interrupting Elaine Quijano, the moderator during the vice presidential debate. And when rumors hit that Trump was angry with Conway for her remarks about Mitt Romney, she denied the reports by saying, "It is all false. And sexist. On other occasions, Conway will simply accuse interviewers trying to get her to answer a question of badgering her as she did Don Lemon here. If someone tries to interrupt one of Conway's long digressions, she'll talk over them until the conversation hits an emotional rather than a logical snag.

In this classic example of how hard it is to get Conway to give a yes or no answer, Cuomo to his credit ignores the optics of talking over a fragile-looking middle-aged woman.

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He insists that she address Trump's refusal to acknowledge the concern over the Russian hacks. That should have been the moment she lost, but it isn't: Cuomo responds to the implied injustice. Kellyanne Conway and ChrisCuomo clash on known information about the Russian hacking. Conway's twin messages seem to be: "Bring it on, I can take you" and "you're not playing fair.

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It's an affect that makes her seem scrappy, put-upon, tolerant, even noble. But Conway's gift for "subtracting from the viewer's understanding," as NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen calls it, involves more than optics and more than gender. It's speed, for one thing. She rarely pauses at the end of a sentence.

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It's digression. And it's range. She's able to package entire arguments — whole scripts — into short sentences. It's not just necessary but essential to slow down and examine some of her appearances to see just exactly what she's doing. Here's how Conway handled George Stephanopoulos' question about the White House petition with more than , signatures asking to see Trump's tax returns. I choose this example partly because Conway offered an uncharacteristically straight answer which she would, rather more characteristically, retract the next day.

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It's useful because she followed that unadorned response with a dizzying series of justifications that pivoted seamlessly into a complaint that the Democrats aren't ratifying Trump's nominees quickly enough. It's a remarkable performance. And it offers a useful if partial guide to Conway's bag of tricks. We'll go through it in an attempt to diagnose each rhetorical move. The implication here is that the press is unfairly bringing up a settled matter — again, the question was a petition that had just hit the number to provoke a White House response.

Conway is good at looking a little exasperated when she does this, like it's merely politeness that keeps her from speaking her mind. She goes on:.


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Conway frequently takes the words from the question — tax returns, Trump, Americans — and recombines them. It gives the impression of straightforwardness.

The question, you'll recall, was how Trump will respond to a petition signed by , Americans demanding that he release his tax returns. Conway takes those concepts — "the people," "tax return" — and reshuffles them in a way that a denies the premise the , Americans who signed that petition fall out of her framing — let me tell you what the people care about, she says , and b removes Trump from the sentence as an agent called upon to respond. Note how gently this implies that Stephanopoulos has in some unspecified way misled the public on the point to follow.

I'll tolerate your unfairness, she seems to say, but not your dishonesty. By saying that Stephanopoulos knows "full well" that Trump has done something he has not done , Conway makes it rhetorically much harder for him to challenge her lie. People want to know that they're going to get tax relief and he has promised that. We just hope the Democratic Senate will support his tax relief package the way the Democratic Senate in did for President Bush, George. They passed tax relief for all Americans by June of that year. We hope the same happens here.

President Trump has appointed 21 of his 21 Cabinet nominees and only two have been confirmed. It's really time for Democrats to step up and stop talking about bipartisanship and be bipartisan when it comes to passing that tax reform so that Americans' tax returns look better this year and confirming these nominees. This is Conway at her most impressive. She steers a question about Trump's lack of transparency about his tax returns — which caused a record-breaking number of Americans to sign a White House petition — to a charge that Democrats need to pass tax reform.

This is pundit Mad Libs. And done so in a way that implies that she is the one speaking for the people. Never mind the people, who presumably signed the petition hoping to speak for themselves. The concealed argument — "I won't address what the people who signed that petition want, I will only talk about what Trump supporters want" — is too well-hidden to be offensive. Having looked at the minutiae, it's instructive to consider Conway's strategy at the macro level.

The day after this interview aired with that uncharacteristically straightforward response — "The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns" — Conway annihilated its usefulness :. Note the move: She muddily contradicts what she said one day earlier while asserting that there is no contradiction: "answers are same. Perhaps she misspoke. The least charitable interpretation is that this was a bit of sabotage to make the press look bad by implying they misrepresented her — a few weeks ago, that would have worked.

People don't tend to rewatch interviews looking for inconsistencies. They read headlines and conclude that the media lied.


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  5. In thinking about how to transcend the Conway effect, it's instructive to study the people who've effectively interviewed her. Seth Meyers turned out to be a master at it : Comedians have a lot of experience quickly analyzing and calling out behaviors and tricks in ways that scan as funny rather than aggressive. As Vox 's Caroline Framke says, "Meyers' interview with Conway worked because he pointed out when she was deviating from the topic at hand. But equally important is the fact that Meyers — rather than serve up questions for Conway to spin — was awfully good at packaging micro-arguments of his own:.

    Meyers took Conway's statement — meant to discredit a press report — and took its interpretation away from her. In his hands, her statement became the terrifying story of a president-elect who couldn't be bothered to read his own intelligence briefs, even when they were about him. And he did it by using a more complex version of Conway's multifactorial rhetoric.

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    Let's look at one more example — because Conway's appearance this weekend on Fox News Sunday is notable for its tactical incoherence. Conway did some of the usual things: She rattled off numbers to put distance between the question and her non-answer. Probophobia dug its spikes right into Spin Doctor's chassis, knocking out its drive chain and leaving Spin Doctor immobile. Refbot counted it out and Dead Metal pushed Spin Doctor down the pit of oblivion.

    In the first round, against fellow American pairing Zanzara and Run Away , it managed to disable Zanzara's weapon within just a few seconds of the battle starting, but its own weapon seemed to stop after this. Little was seen of Spin Doctor after this as it tagged Revolutionist, who quickly immobilised both Zanzara and Run Away with a single hit each, putting the two robots through to the final.

    Up against UK team Ming 3 and Rick , Spin Doctor was able to avoid Ming's crusher, but couldn't utalise its disc, so was forced to tag in Revolutionist again. Revolutionist was eventually flipped over by Rick and Ming was rendered immobile by Sir K, but Spin Doctor was unable to land a good attack on Rick, at one point missing a charge and getting its flywheel stuck under an angle grinder, but it escaped before Rick could capitalise.

    Sir K then grabbed Rick and dropped it out of the arena, leaving Spin Doctor as the only mobile competitor. Spin Doctor and The Revolutionist lost the resulting judges' decision after Sir K's attacks on the British robots were deemed illegal, putting the American team in second place overall. After Robot Wars, Spin Doctor was converted to have a scoop instead of the disc and renamed Bambulance.

    It entered five tournaments as Bambulance. Sign In Don't have an account?

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