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Thursday, November 4, 2010

How is John Stewart Wrong about FOX?

First, I don't think anyone who watched Rachel Maddow's show last night could say that there is something equivalent on FOX.


The opening of her show was a perfect example of how using slant can actually help the exposition of a point. She would be on shaky ground if her portrayal the two congressman who she held up as non-compromisers, Joe Barton and Steve King, had a voting record of saying one thing but voting for compromises. In other words, if she put too much emphasis on rhetoric than on actions.

She might have had an interview with them, to round out the whole story. She might have looked for disconfirming evidence in the background of these congressman, cases in which they may have contradicted themselves or agreed with more moderate or conciliatory views.

She might have considered other angles, for example, what the pressure might be on these congressman if the Senate and the President agree or whether there really is no 'principled' opposition on any of these issues, just a cynical use of them for political gain. But, even deliberate omission of those angles wouldn't be sufficient to make what was reported plainly propaganda.

In other words, if the case to support her viewpoint was really based on a true distortion of the facts, then let's hear about it. Is there some "there" there, in Barton's "Better Use of Lightbulbs Act" or does his "nay" on the "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" say it all? Etc.


Otherwise, this is far, far different than say, impugning Obama as a "far left ideologue" with the comments of his father on African socialism, a or a few clipped comments that look similar to those in Maddow's piece, etc., rather than the preponderance of the evidence.

Indeed, continuing to repeat that "Obama is an ideologue" of a higher order than even Bill Clinton, etc., unsupported, without any argumentation or facts, is something different. What is it? Well, it looks like repeating the lie enough until people start to believe it, right? It's tearing down the office of the President. It's tearing down one man as the symbol of the nation. In other words, in propaganda terms, they know exactly what they are doing, right?

One could argue that the Left demonized Bush in the same way, but the war complicated things. A better comparison might be Bush-41, not 43, or Reagan. Whatever you think about the media, no one in the "liberal media" set out to tear down those Presidents quite in that systematic way, that I can think of.

FOX gave Monica Crowley a platform to say words to that effect over and over (also a technique), yesterday, and gave her many others who nodded their heads in agreement or even intimated the same. If fair-and-balanced is giving someone a minute to go on-and-on then quickly whispering, "I disagree with you, and in other news today", that's a form of deliberate distortion, not balance.

In part two, we'll look at John Stewart's observation or question whether it is good for MSNBC to mimic FOX in trying to counter them.