This op-ed authored by a state representative running for re-election is absolutely delicious from a framing perspective. It might just be the best example I’ve seen of how not to frame. Period.
First, the author squanders an opportunity to advance her own frame by reinforcing her opposition’s. She doesn’t just briefly restate the claims she wishes to refute, she willingly relinquishes over 200 words of her op-ed space to quite vividly reconstruct what the opposition is saying about her. Read the beginning few paragraphs and ask yourself, “What am I now thinking about this candidate and her views on the environment?”
By REP. HEATHER SIROCKI
SCARBOROUGH – Now I know how it feels to have your character assassinated.
On Sept. 18, the Press Herald ran an article describing how I was named to a national “Dirty Dozen” list by the League of Conservation Voters (“Conservation group names Scarborough lawmaker to ‘Dirty Dozen'”). The story declared that I was one of “the most anti-environmental state-level candidates in the country.”
Maureen Drouin, Maine League of Conservation Voters president, was quoted as saying, “Rep. Sirocki has voted to damage our environment and natural resources at every turn.”
Then she got to her real point, stating, “There has never been a more urgent need to defeat politicians who stand with corporate polluters and oppose vital environmental safeguards.” She has planned a direct mail campaign into my district.
Then Hannah Pingree got into the act. The former Democratic House Speaker sent out a fundraising letter to “help us hold right-wing Republicans, like Rep. Sirocki, accountable for these dangerous votes.”
Democratic candidates, she wrote, “are working hard to ensure that extreme members, like Heather Sirocki, don’t have the opportunity to vote to weaken environmental protections ever again.”
Given the near-hysterical tone of these comments, you might think I personally went around the state poisoning wells and bulldozing sand dunes.
She then goes on to argue with “facts” in a similarly antagonistic tone:
My real “crime,” however, was voting against the league on 10 cherry-picked bills they selected for its legislative “scorecard.”
She suggests the League has a “hidden agenda,” says their “motives are mysterious,” and characterizes wind and solar as (her quotes), “green” energy sources.
Perhaps the biggest fail is that she never clearly articulates what her views on environmental conservation are. Instead, she stays in the weeds for the remainder of the piece, clarifying her stances on particular bills and, in her closing paragraph, offering claims about collateral damage caused by wind projects.
If I’m a voter, I have a very clear picture of what a non-profit environmental conservation group has said about her views, have evidence of an argumentative approach, and am not exactly clear what she believes or values. She would have been far better off writing an op-ed that advances her views on important environmental issues facing the state. Classic framing fail.
Read the entire piece here