In 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into Democratic party HQ.

Richard Nixon denied it had anything to do with him or his staff.

But Martha Mitchell said that wasn’t true, she said it was briefed directly by Nixon.

Martha Mitchell was the wife of Nixon’s attorney-general, John Mitchell.

She’d heard the phone-calls between them, read the memos, and listened to the meetings.

And she began telling reporters what she knew.

Nixon’s people immediately began to deny her reality, what we now call ‘gaslighting’.

John Mitchell told reporters his wife was mentally unwell and an alcoholic and not to put anystock in what she said.

A Nixon spokesperson told reporters: “Everyone knows that Mrs Mitchell has her private problems. These are something only her husband can solve. She can be perfectly charming and then at other times – especially at night – she is not herself.”

This is dog-whistle language for ‘She’s a delusionary alcoholic’.

Martha Mitchell told reporters she had been kidnapped and drugged to shut her up.

No one believed her, what she said was obviously a crazy drunken fantasy, she was ridiculed as “The Mouth of the South”.

Nixon had effectively ’gaslighted’ her, and the public, about reality.

The term gaslighting comes from a 1944 movie, which won Ingrid Bergmann an Oscar, abouta husband who convinces his wife she is going mad, and what she thinks is reality is just an illusion, a symptom of her madness.

Anything, like the flickering gaslight, he makes her doubt reality and her sanity.

Her husband convinces her despite the evidence of her own senses.

Which is pretty much where we’re at in advertising.

The evidence of our senses is that the public currently hate advertising, it’s just annoyingnonsense repeated over-and-over again, until they either ignore it or block it.

But we are being gaslighted because, against the evidence of our senses, we are told that logic in ads doesn’t work, only emotion.

We are told people don’t buy products they only buy brand-purpose.

We are told people don’t buy actual objects, they only buy ‘mood’.

We are told there is no longer any such thing as advertising, just experience.

Which means there is no way to measure it, the whole thing is too amorphous to grasp.

And that’s it, we’ve been gaslit.

Of course, gaslighting doesn’t last forever, eventually reality reasserts itself.

After everyone had laughed at Martha Mitchell and ignored her, Woodward and Bernstein exposed Nixon and the truth about Watergate.

Her husband was jailed for 19 months for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury.

Richard Nixon was forced to resign in disgrace to avoid being impeached.

And the person who drugged and kidnapped Martha Mitchell confessed that he really had done it. Everything she said was true, even though no one believed her.

In 1977, Nixon was interviewed by David Frost, he admitted that without Martha Mitchell, Watergate would never have come to light.

Nixon said, “I’m convinced there would be no Watergate without Martha Mitchell.”

Gaslighting isn’t new, big corporations gaslight the public all the time.

Big tobacco did it about the dangers of smoking, big pharma did it about the dangers of  OxyContin, Detroit did it about the dangers of vehicle safety.

There is only one way to fight gaslighting, and that is to believe our own experience.

Empiricism: to trust the evidence of our senses.

To have the confidence to be led by our own common-sense over what people tell us.

Not to believe so-called experts who make us doubt what we know to be true.