Tag Archives: Fox News

Santa Baby

Photo of Santa

People are probably familiar with the controversy over the racial identity of Santa, Santa Claus, or St.Nick, or Saint Nicholas.  TL;DR: Megyn Kelly, Fox News personality, alleged that “Santa is white” and Jesus was white” are “historical facts.”  See here for discussion

According to some of the older kids at my school, there really isn’t a Santa, he’s just you’re parents.  This explains why a lot of very good kids don’t get any presents at Christmas.

This also explains why this assertion from Bill O’Reilly makes no sense (from TPM):

“In this case, Megyn Kelly is correct. Santa was a white person”

“was,” that’s funny, it’s almost as if O’Reilly thinks Santa no longer exists.

Work it

Fig.1 Lazy Government Workers

Rogers Ailes, head of Fox News, seems to think that government work makes you lazy (via TPM):

Obama’s the one who never worked a day in his life,” Ailes said in Zev Chafets’ book “Roger Ailes: Off Camera.” “He never earned a penny that wasn’t public money. How many fundraisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf? I wish I had that kind of time. He’s lazy, but the media won’t report that.”

And this guy is some kind of evil genius.

Pump up the jam, pump it up

Fig.1: Pump it up.

Timorous airline passenger and Fox News alleged liberal Juan Williams has admitted to making one of his weekly columns an undergraduate copy paste job.  According to Salon‘s Alex Seitz-Wald:

In a case of apparent plagiarism, Fox News pundit Juan Williams lifted — sometimes word for word — from a Center for American Progress report, without ever attributing the information, for a column he wrote last month for the Hill newspaper.

Almost two weeks after publication, the column was quietly revised online, with many of the sections rewritten or put in quotation marks, and this time citing the CAP report. It also included an editor’s note that read: “This column was revised on March 2, 2013, to include previously-omitted attribution to the Center for American Progress.”

But that editor’s note mentions only the attribution problem, and not the nearly identical wording that was also fixed.

The really strange thing about this case is what it reveals about the writing and thinking process of the two-million dollar a year Fox News pundit:

In a phone interview Thursday evening, Williams pinned the blame on a researcher who he described as a “young man.”

“I was writing a column about the immigration debate and had my researcher look around to see what data existed to pump up this argument and he sent back what I thought were his words and summaries of the data,” Williams told Salon. “I had never seen the CAP report myself, so I didn’t know that the young man had in fact not summarized the data but had taken some of the language from the CAP report.”

Two things.  First, he has an assistant?  I’ve always suspected assistants were behind the obscure factoids and misleading statistics in George Will’s work (full disclosure–someone, I’ll find out later who, made this very same quip, I’m borrowing), but Williams’ defense makes that clear.  Second, and more importantly, Williams confesses to his hacktackular thought process.  He has an idea, then sends someone else out to provide data that “pumps it up.”  It’s almost as if he had reached a conclusion, then dispatched a lackey to find him some premises.  He’s the master chef of ideas, some underpaid assistant can chop up the ideas and cook the facts.

Ein Volk

Seems obvious that racism is not just hatred of another race.  Someone tell Juan Williams and Pat Buchanan.  Note the following puzzling exchange on Fox News (via the Huffington Post):

Williams added, "In your case, the charge is one that is so powerful in the American mind…the charge is: Pat Buchanan is a racist. So let me ask you. Are you a racist, Pat?"

"Do I hate black folks?" Buchanan asked. "That's what racism mean— that I hate black folks, I want them discriminated against… No! It's not that. I do disagree profoundly with the affirmative action agenda, and a number of other issues but I've argued as I said with African American folks my whole life. Our schools that I went to, the Catholic schools, were the first ones desegregated in D.C."

Buchanan added, "Juan, you and I, if we sat there and watched cable 24 hours, we can hear people called [a racist] everyday. And it makes one of the points of [my book], that American society is disintegrating. It's breaking down and breaking apart because we've lost our common faith and common moral consensus…all of these things that once held us together."

At the end of the interview, Williams said, "I feel like we are brothers in understanding what these groups, on the left primarily, decided that you're not to be allowed to speak. They will banish you and make you an outcast and Pat, I'm sorry that's happened to you."

Racists don't usually just hate other races.  Their hatred, when it happens, is derived from the perceived inferiority of the people they hate–that they have benefits in society, for instance, they don't deserve; that they "get away with stuff"; that they are "lazy" and so forth.  But I'd hardly call the hatred a necessary condition for racism, sufficient yes.

Watch the video, at the link, for a hilarious exchange from two people who don't really get that the discussion has moved on (the video also fills in some of the gaps in the piece above).  There is probably no one better than Williams for this interview, for Williams still thinks he's justified for fearing Muslims in airports.

Here's a thought.  When you charge someone with racism, and that person responds, as Buchanan and Williams have done, by first alleging you're trying to silence them, then you're on the right track.  Buchanan and Williams spend the first part of this shocked at the McCarthyism of the racism charge.  Then, when they get to actually talking about the charge, Buchanan says that Mexicans are "hard working" (at menial labor) and "friendly," but "culturally and politically tied to Mexico."  Not racist at all.

Also, equal justice for white Christian people.

Nut picking

Nut picking is a variety of straw man fallacy where one selects the looniest advocates of a position as representative of the best or the majority of the opposition.  Fear of nut picking often leads to iron manning–purposely ignoring the degraded state of someone's argument so as not to be guilty of nut picking.  Fear of nut picking also often forces people to look the other way, for fear of playing the race card.  The race card is what Bob Somerby accuses the left of doing exclusively and obsessively.  Somerby's Daily Howler is one of the inspirations for the iron man.  Here was the original idea.

With those caveats, look with horror on the reactions of many Fox News commenters on the death of Whitney Houston.  Here is an example:

A tragedy is when someones passes away from a terminal disease or something else that no one saw coming. Whitney is just an inferior lo w life ni gg er that needed to go,no tragedy,no loss.

For more look here.

via Little Green Footballs, Leiter.

The sleep of the just

Over at Fox News, Chris Wallace is complaining about liberal bias.  He does so in a way that reminds one of Steve Colbert's allegation that "reality has a well-known liberal bias."  Here's how Talking Points Memo reports it:

Chris Wallace appeared on Friday's Fox and Friends and assailed NBC's Brian Williams over his question to Rick Perry about whether he ever struggled to sleep at night over the potential innocence of one of his many executed inmates, calling it an example of a "liberal bias."

"Would you ask a liberal politician about sleeping at night if they favored abortion or choice? " Wallace argued. "It is so built into the drinking water, if you will, in some of these liberal outlets that they don't even understand it happens."

To be fair, Wallace was merely agreeing with the even more clownish Bernie Goldberg on the idea of persistent liberal bias in the media; and the video at the link makes this claim even more obviously silly.  The difference, in case you don't just grasp it out of hand, concerned whether Perry worried about the actual non-guitiness of anyone convicted of the death penalty in his death-penalty granting state.  Up or down innocence of an actual convicted criminal can be determined in a rather different manner than whether the fetus has moral personhood.  While the latter might be a true or false question, one must at least admit that it is not super obvious how one might determine that–i.e., in a way strictly analogous to whether someone committed a crime.

Had, of course, Williams asked Perry about whether the death penalty was just, that would have been different.  But he didn't.

Did it for the lulz*

For whatever reason, honestly and firmly believing what you argue seems to be a fundamental requirement in a critical discussion.  On account of this, a key challenge to an opponent is that not even she really believe what she's saying.  It's a kind of (non-fallacious) ad hominem scheme: "you don't believe what you're saying, so I'm not going to waste time with you."  Basically, it's an accusation of trolling.  Enter O'Reilly and Trump (via the Huffington Post–sorry, boycotting New York Times' pay wall):

O'Reilly said his show had looked into the claims about Obama's birth certificate. Once they found the two Honolulu newspapers which announced his birth, he said he "put [the issue] to bed," since "that is impossible to make happen" if Obama was not born in a Honolulu hospital. O'Reilly labeled Obama's mother a "hippie," and scoffed at the notion that there was a "sophisticated conspiracy" to smuggle Obama into the U.S. and forge his identity.

"What is he, baby Jesus?" he joked. Trump said that he remained convinced that there was something fishy going on. "People have birth certificates," he said. "He doesn't have one." He then repeated the speculation that had so angered Whoopi Goldberg—that something on the birth certificate must be so radioactive that Obama is covering it up. "Maybe it says he's a Muslim, I don't know," Trump said. "…If he wasn't born in this country, it's one of the great scams of this time."

O'Reilly finally said he didn't believe that Trump was serious in his skepticism. "It's provocative, I think it gets a lot of attention, but I don't think you believe it," he said.

This is an obviously legitimate employment of it–good for you Bill O'Reilly–but I wonder what you'd call the illegitimate use–should we just call it "trolling."  How might we identify it?  What might be the scheme?


UPDATE.  Can't believe I forgot the recent revelation from a Fox News personality that he advocated for an idea he found "privately" to be "far-fetched".  I guess he did it for the lulz. 

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.