Daily Show on Nutpicking

Watch at this link for a fun back-and-forth between Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly on the argumentum ad Hitlerum. 

TL;DR for O'Reilly, his Nazi invocation (about "the left") is just fine because his assistants found an anonymous commenter at a blog who called Nancy Reagan evil and wished that she die soon (of natural causes).  What that has to do with the Nazis is beyond me. 

That, of course, is some classic nut picking, or as the experts call it, weak manning.  What makes it especially fallacious (if that is possible) is that it's deployed in an ideologically monochrome (should I drop this phrase? Should I not comment on my sentence during my sentence?) context in order to disqualify an opposing arguer on account of the very bad arguments they make.  This last part being critical to the nutpicker.   

5 thoughts on “Daily Show on Nutpicking”

  1. Oof, I thought 'nut picker' meant something else, I've got to go and edit my Craigslist ad!


  2. I know this is off the nut picking point, which I agree with. However, for me it is not so much the nut picking as it is more the rhetoric. It amazes me how O'Reilly navigates the challenge. First he pays Stewart respect and acknowledges part of the message, that he was not defending what the Congressman said, to appear respectful to Stewart to the audience or at least humble (in fact he claims it). However, he then goes to the audience and discredits Stewart's point through saying "but he took me out of context." He does this by first taking Stewart out of context while complaining about being taken out of context himself (Hypocrisy, needless to say). So for the non-informed members of the audience Stewart is seen as someone trying to ensnare O'Reilly in a trap by taking Bill out of context (which of course is easy to do with editing these people think to themselves). While at the same time for those who are more informed, have seen Stewart's show and are aware of the full context, that Stewart was making his statement that Megyn Kelly was lying when she said that Fox News does not use comparisons to Nazis, O'Reilly leads them astray or discredits them. First because of the respect paid to Stewart's reasonableness in the beginning O'Reilly can picks off some of the herd who saw Stewart but do not have strong enough memories to remember the full context and Stewart's original point but remembered Stewart was being reasonable with the point he did bring up. Secondly, for those that do remember and can see through the rhetoric, well now they are the minority of the viewer ship and therefore some crackpot who should not be listened to because they are just a Stewart apologist. Can we just call O'Reilly, "Anytus" for his skill and hard work? I mean it is not easy to be so good for your audience. 

  3. Hey DCZ,

    I'd agree with your analysis–but I think that's what makes it classic nut picking of the non-craigslist variety.  O'Reilly preys on the ignorance of his ideologically monochrome audience.  He knows further that he is an authority for them, so they won't verify what he says.  The nutpicking then is employed in a broader strategy to undermine Stewart, though the initial object is the Daily Kos.

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