We are consistently told how important it is to get out ahead of the story. Controlling the narrative and having the greatest influence on the first impression that people will have of a situation is actually a calculated risk when you go for speed over deeper facts.
Getting a hold of the narrative plays into the way we currently process information. We only only have so much bandwidth to allocate for developing an opinion of a situation and from that point on, we see all that unfolds through a pre-determined lens. It also counts on the narrative being “loud” or credible enough to drown out others who have a counter perspective. If the voice is loud enough, it can even take the air out of an evolving truth.
But what if you are wrong and the narrative you’ve chosen puts you in a situation where you find the rug being pulled out from under you? Such has been the peril of Republican leaders who fell in lock step with the immediate outrage released by the execution of the search warrant at ex-President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Led by the initial vitriol released by the ex-President himself, dozens of political leaders and supporters gleefully joined his chorus, framing the situation as an unjust search and seizure. Most of this echoing was a result of fear of not agreeing with Trump’s outrage. Silence is interpreted as disloyalty by Trump due to his “you are either with me or against me” mentality. As facts about the “classified” and “top secret” documents seized were listed in the search warrant, those who were out ahead of their skis began to make a faux delineation between “classified” and “not-really classified” materials. That kind of spin and backtracking is a credibility killer and a strong argument to wonder if getting it fast is far less impactful than getting it right. Taking control of the narrative only works when you have the facts to back up the claims made in your story. Of course, you can double down on your inaccuracies, but that will wear thin if you expect to be taken seriously in the future. Being first and being wrong is a dangerous lily pad on which to build your reputation and personal credibility.