Nothing about Scott Adams’ daily news and analysis show, Real Coffee with Scott Adams, should work.

Not especially telegenic (said the pot to the kettle), Adams would blend right in at an Upper Midwest accountant’s convention. His lilting voice – something he lost for a number of years – isn’t remarkable, and he is incapable of pronouncing some names. His show features no production value or set design to speak of. Bare wooden home office shelves adorned only with copies of his books form his backdrop.

And yet, once you start listening, it’s hard to stop.

Adams first rose to fame as the creator of Dilbert, a comic strip which has been running continuously since 1989 and at its height appeared in 2000 newspapers worldwide. Since 2015, however, he’s been known as the guy who predicted the Trump presidency.

Living overseas at the time, I had no frame of reference for Trump. I considered him then to be a vulgar, self-promoting prevaricator with no real conservative or libertarian political philosophy. Adams taught me to look at Trump in a different light – to reframe him – as a persuader. It didn’t change my opinion of Trump the Man, but I came to appreciate the techniques of persuasion he used to win the highest political office in the land.

Adams does this sort of reframing on a near daily basis on his show. In a recent episode, he reframes the issue of police brutality currently dominating the news cycle. Instead of a pandemic of people being killed by police, Adams says, what if we have a pandemic of people resisting arrest? If the media were to report the issue this way, our reaction might be different. In the same episode he reframes the voting rights controversies in Georgia and elsewhere in a similar fashion.

Often described as a Libertarian, Adams eschews partisan labels and at one point called for the creation of a new party, The Economics Party. As often as he rails against traditionally progressive institutions like the media and teacher’s unions, it’s impossible to place him on the left side of the political spectrum. I see him more as a mischievous provocateur whose aim is to persuade, not tow some party line.

A trained hypnotist, Adams studies persuasion and keeps a recommended reading list on his blog. Two of his own books are included in the top three recommendations – undoubtedly designed to persuade readers to buy more copies. The subject of persuasion arises often enough on the show a self-aware listener will often wonder what technique Adams, in his own disarming, self-effacing way, is using at the present moment.

But his real contribution – which he does exceedingly well – is to provide fresh, much needed perspective on the news of the day. Whether or not you agree – and you won’t, much of the time – it’s a pleasant, informative way to spend an hour of your day, and an essential counterbalance to the prevailing media narrative. Available on YouTube, Locals, and Apple Podcasts, I urge you to check it out.


Photo by Ol.v!er [H2vPk]

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