A Long Discussion with a Closet Liberal

Here is a conversation I had with a friend (Michael) and his son (Jacob) on facebook over the last couple of days. As you can see, Michael and I don’t see eye-to-eye regarding the legitimacy of Fox News. We go back and forth a number of times and then I ask him for some objective evidence that Fox News is not a legitimate news source. His response… no response, only more psychobabble as the Liberals are prone to do when they’re confronted with facts and data.

I warn you… this is a long conversation.

Michael:  Another example of Fox Noise pawning itself off as journalism when in fact they do not even rise to the ethical stature of entertainment.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100331/ts_ynews/ynews_ts1387

Parry: In your humble opinion…

Michael: The facts speak for themselves.

Jacob: It shows how weak Sarah in the role of an interviewer. LL Cool J won’t even let himself be associated with her. Isn’t he the guy that made a movie about deadly shark/human hybrids? That guy won’t let Sarah Palin have anything to do with him.

When it comes to interviewing others, Sarah Palin is no Katie Couric.

Parry: As for the facts, here’s the cable news ratings for March 30…

Prime Time

FNC – 2,544,000 viewers

CNN – 687,000 viewers

MSNBC –1,038,000 viewers

CNBC – 182,000 viewers

HLN –555,000 viewers

http://tvbythenumbers.com/category/ratings/cable-news

Michael: Does the number of people who believe something make it true?

If someone watches Faux News in order to know what the hoi polloi are swallowing then I find no fault with them. If they are watching Fox Noise to know the “facts” then …

Tom: CNN is that high.. im somewhat taken aback by that, very surprising.

Jacob: – Most viewers makes it quality news. By that logic McDonald’s makes the best quality burgers. The documentary Supersize Me shows the affects of a steady diet of McDonald’s food. Masses of people who believe America is on the verge of becoming a communist country at the hands of Chairman Mau’s new incarnation shows some of the affects of a steady diet of Fox News. The large numbers only explain part of why things are so unhealthy.

Parry: You guys amuse me. Do you reject all polling data that doesn’t agree with your views? That sounds like lib-speak. Do yourselves a favor and read some Bernie Goldberg. Or, I guess because he doesn’t believe the way you do, his real-life experience with liberal bias in the media isn’t valid.

Michael: Parry –  This is a common failing of the partisans: instead of addressing the issues with facts, logic and reasoning when someone does not accept their drivel they simply accuse them of being liberal/conservative as the case may be and – voila! – the argument is over.

My link was accompanied by my assertion that FN’s deceptiveness regarding LL Cool J was unethical and unbecoming of any real journalism organization. You responded with a poll which, for the life of me, I can see no relevance in to my claim. Then you assert that I/we reject the irrelevant poll because it conflicts with my/our views. Then you resort to the name calling (lib-speak).

Come now. Do you really fail to grasp what we are discussing? The data in the poll may or may not be accurate. What does it have to do with unethical journalism? Do you not follow the point that truth is not determined by majority vote?

I have an opinion founded upon personal experience and consideration over many years that the right-wing claim that the mainstream media is biased in favor of liberalism is untrue. That is my opinion. I see that you have an opinion also. Good for you. However, that was not what we were discussing.

What is not my opinion is the report of the actions of FN regarding the new Palin show and their chicanery re LL Cool J. I conclude it is further evidence that FN is unethical. Do you conclude differently? On what basis?

Parry: You asserted that FN is not a journalistic news organization. I showed you a poll that shows that FN is the most watched cable news organization in prime time. That includes Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Shawn Hannity and Greta van Sustren… not a lineup that is cookie-cutter by any means. They attract a diverse audience that is nearly twice the size… See More of the next most-watched channel. One of the reasons I believe FN to be a valid news source is because of the poll I shared… why would they attract so many diverse viewers if there wasn’t something to their journalism? To accuse them of unethical behavior (leave out the LL Cool J thing for the time being) is, from the perspective of the other news sources (CNN, etc.), the pot calling the kettle black. Back to LL Cool J… nice guy, I like him, FN could have handled the situation with him differently. Sarah Palin as a segment hostess… couldn’t care less, nice lady, not afraid to stand up for what she believes, I like that. My argument had nothing to do with those two topics… I was merely challenging your view that FN isn’t a news source. And I think you should still read Bernie Goldberg. 🙂

Michael: My handicap is too much experience analyzing and evaluating arguments. I just got tired of the level of propaganda so common in FN’s shows. When someone comes across as a sophist I tend to distrust them.

A few of the techniques commonly employed by FN: Ad hominem, Ad nauseam, Appeal to authority, Appeal to fear, Appeal to prejudice, Bandwagon, Inevitable victory, Join the crowd, Black-and-White fallacy, Beautiful people, Big Lie, Common man, Demonizing the enemy, Direct order, Euphoria, Disinformation, Flag-waving, Glittering generalities, Half-truth, Intentional vagueness, Reductio ad Hitlerum, Oversimplification, Quotes out of Context, Name-calling, Rationalization, Red herring, Euphemism, Dysphemism , Labeling , Guilt by association, Repetition , Stereotyping , Anecdotal, Association, and Unstated assumption. 🙂

OK, OK, its hyperbole, but not by much.

Parry: From my perspective, we’re talking about two sides to the same coin. I struggle with the Cronkite’s, Rather’s, Jennings’s, Couric’s, Olberman’s (REALLY have a hard time with that guy!), etc. who are perceived as god-like, but who have been openly deceitful with the American people. That turned me off from the MSM. Now, like I said, two sides to the same coin and we have different perspectives. Oh yeah… Chris Matthews… he annoys me. 🙂

Michael: Jon Stewart from the left and Joe Scarborough from the right. They both seem to be straight shooters, just from different directions. On economics Dylan Ratigan is my man.

I think the reason I like Cronkite (RIP) is he went into Nazi occupied Holland with the 101st. Maybe I get dazzled by heroism.

Chris Mathews is worth watching because of the quality of guests and the hardball (yet courteous) style. True he is on the left, but the banter with the right leaning guests allows one to see that there is a middle ground on most things….

Jacob: Here’s my beef with the numbers argument from earlier. As of right now there have been 100s of millions of albums sold and songs downloaded of “musicians” who peddle gutter trash exploits of violent unrestrained sexual conquests and fantasies. These people sell FAR more than some of the great current songwriters like Mike Doughty and James McMurtry. That doesn’t make the former better musicians than the latter. It means that the former know how to influence a market and put out what will sell better than the latter. I am not making the argument that Fox is the level of filth as the musicians i alluded to. I am saying that the 2.5 million viewers argument doesn’t hold water.

When you debate the supposed dichotomy between MSNBC & Fox News, you have missed the boat completely. MSNBC, HLN, CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS and the rest have the same exact bias…. It is a money bias.

Glenn Beck has found that selling tickets to the apocalypse is very lucrative… so he sells them

Sean Hannity has found it to be very lucrative to sell people the idea that Jesus is a Reagan conservative… so he sells it.

Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Coulter, Ingram and O’Reilly have all found it to be extremely lucrative to tell people that their daily nationally syndicated TV & Radio shows, their best seller books, their news letters, their websites, their coverage & promotion of their self contrived political rallies… that none of these things are mainstream media, so long as it has their stamp of approval on it.

The reason they do it? The love of money and power.

Parry: Jake, I believe as you do that the love of money is the root of all evil. But, I will not give up the notion that polls are meaningless. The example you use to dismiss the viewers poll is really inappropriate in that it paints a black-and-white scenario that could be used to disprove just about any circumstance, including the existence of God. Things in life are rarely black-and-white and I don’t see the validity or logic in using the comparison you put forth to dismiss the poll data.

Jacob: I have yet to see any poll data on this post, only the number of viewers. How many or how few viewers any of these organizations have does not give ANY info on what their content is. That has been my point in both of the examples I have given so far. Just to recap…

McDonald’s still has some of the poorest quality burgers available despite having greatly outsold any of their competitors. The volume of the burgers sold is not indicative of quality. Still crappy burgers that contribute to America’s ample waistline.

Trash musical “artists” rip off sound bites from successful musicians, add filth lyrics and end up outselling the original artists whose musical hooks they are stealing. The volume of their musical sales does not make them credible artists.

Even when Jerry Springer was beating Oprah in the ratings, I don’t think anyone was making a case for the quality of his programming. Once again, Jerry’s Circus of Degenerates was devoid of anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy despite the number of viewers.

My point? Fox News is quality news, or not, regardless of how many people watch it.

That is why I am wondering what those numbers mean to you?

Parry: Let me try this again… one of the original points of the post was that FN isn’t a viable news source. I used the viewer data to show that twice the number of people watch FN during prime time than any of the other cable news outlets, my point being that obviously more people find FN more newsworthy than CNN, MSNBC, etc. That’s all. The viewer data IS poll data, in that if someone were to ask each of those viewers which news channel they watched out of a list of five, more of them would have picked FN. Your idea that just because more people watched FN doesn’t make them a quality news source is your opinion. For 2.5M viewers versus half that amount for the runner up, it is their opinion that FN is a quality news source. We’ve now entered a circular argument (your opinion versus others’) that will never find an end… until now, if you know what I mean. 🙂

Michael: Parry, you tried again and still did not hit the mark. You are using extremely SUBJECTIVE criteria to judge journalistic integrity. Let me explain –

When Edward R. Murrow was going after Joe McCarthy the network (CBS) almost declined to broadcast him because their sponsors wouldn’t go along. The reason the sponsors would not go along is because McCarthy had a 50%+ favorable rating in public polls. They broadcast anyway. Because Murrow’s case was so tight, well documented, and logical the gamble by the network paid off. The public believed Murrow and the rest is history. What we learn from this is that broadcasting the truth is a risky business with a fickle public. Do you think they are less fickle today?

This is the fatal flaw in your argument that your poll proved FN has journalistic integrity. It simply proves the public swallows what FN sets on the table.

The OBJECTIVE criteria for judging journalists is first and foremost accuracy of detail. Along with this the objectivity of their evidence, the clarity of presentation, and cogency of their argument (should they offer editorial opinion). Criteria that militates against a finding of quality journalism is the use of sophistry such as the propaganda techniques I listed earlier. It is my opinion (based upon observation) that FN (and their major talking heads) use these techniques habitually. It is fact that they were deceptive in the LL Cool J situation.

My assertion does not prove FN is bogus, but it is evidence of that. The accumulation of evidence may eventually arise to the level of “proof”.

Don’t get me wrong. All the “news” outlets are money whores, but some more so than others.

Parry: You are using SUBJECTIVE evidence that FN is less than it purports to be. IT’S YOUR OPINION! Show me some OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE that FN is less than it purports to be. Find me ANYTHING that trumps that imposter Dan Rather and his BALD FACE LYING to the American public about GW’s service in the military in Texas and the mysterious “letter” that he STILL believes today was authentic! Just because you don’t like the way FN news people come across on the air proves NOTHING about the validity of the stories they report.

<deep breath>

All the news outlets report what they report with spin that satisfies the views they want to express and that tries to attract audiences. You don’t like the spin that comes from FN in the forms you mentioned before. But, if FN is reporting on a murder, all the spin in the world isn’t going to change the fact that a murder occurred and their reporting of it. News is news and I don’t care if Bozo the Clown is reporting it… the facts of the news are still the facts.

Michael: We humans like to have their ears tickled and sometimes no amount of reasoning or evidence is sufficient to dissuade us from the tickling. Rather than beat the dead horse let me simply comment regarding what I do in assessing the validity of the sales pitches coming from all sides – media, politicians, corps, and other special interests.

If something is of special interest to me I will sometimes do some fact checking to determine how accurate it is. Usually this consists merely of determining that the major news outlets are in sync. (This can be flawed if they all copied the same erroneous info). When I find the facts are skewed by either an obvious spin or failure to report relevant facts which change the color of the story significantly I become suspicious. Very suspicious when the failure to include relevant facts is contra to the spin.

I also watch carefully for the way the story is presented. When propaganda techniques are used, again, my suspicion is aroused. Over the years I have recognized time and time again the Goebbel’s School of Journalism has influenced FN’s style and substance. This is where the LL Cool J story fits. You can put it aside if you want, but too many put aside and that tickling will lead to horse laughs.

Suspicion alone is insufficient to find guilt. However, consistent and pervasive violations of basic journalism standards may be.

Like I said… no answer to my question.

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4 Comments on “A Long Discussion with a Closet Liberal”

  1. Seth Says:

    The problem is that Americans are fed up with all the other news outlets spewing the “probamaganda” that they turn to an ACTUAL news site that actually gives an opposing point of view. Enter FOX News, that does actually provide balanced opinions. The issue at hand is that when the left is soooo far left and have the majority of the news outlets carry their water for them, that the center (FOX News) appears to be to the right, and all the libs whine and moan about just how conservative it is. It’s very typical and something that we’re seeing currently with this administration: espouse the idea of free speech, until someone that has an opposing viewpoint comes along, then it’s “let’s shut them up”. We Americans are getting sick and tired of this. This administration is hearing the American public but flatly ignoring them. Any student of history will tell you the tale of the French revolution. It was a bloody one. I certainly hope and pray that we don’t see that take place here. I pray that common sense takes hold, but we are heading down that same path. The path where there is an apparent “aristocracy” in power, that ignores the majority will of the people. The French rose up and overthrew their oppressors. We look forward to doing so come November at the ballot box. We are after all, regardless of how it felt having Obamacare shoved down our throats, a representative republic. And when 75% of this country DID NOT WANT Obamacare to pass and they jam it up our *bleeps*, you tell me what was the bi-partisan deal? After all, not one person with an (R) in their name voted for it, and you had several democrats vote AGAINST it, you sir, tell me what was the “bi-partisan” vote. There. I’ve had my say. This garbage piece of *bleep* (legislation) won’t stand constitutional muster, and will fall.

    • rsbirk Says:

      What I fail to understand is why otherwise intelligent people can’t see through the smoke and mirrors that this administration has put up to hide their evil doings. Whereas those who became the Founders rebelled against principles as they struggled to secure our freedoms, otherwise intelligent people are unable to see how the actual document these great men created has been compromised, ignored and unlawfully disobeyed by this administration. Principles, though they are the foundation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are intangible and subject to a great deal of discussion as good and bad are ferreted out. The Constitution is a WRITTEN DOCUMENT that we recognize as law and yet it’s not viewed as such by this administration.

      Now I fear that this administration has awakened a sleeping giant… not fearful for what we can do within the boundaries of the law to change our current situation, but for what might happen when we exercise our freedoms to change what is wrong with this country. Should this administration try to beat down any longer the citizens they have oppressed, we very well could end up with something akin to the French revolution.

      This is a difficult time to be an American, but it is the time for us to stand up for what the Constitution has given to us and to “un-elect” those who oppose it.


  2. In that day many will say the day is not day and the night is not night. Just because some orange thing is in the sky doesn’t make it day. That may only be my opinion. Black is white and white is black and the masses remain deceived. Who the heck is LL Cool J and why should I care?
    Oh and nationalized medicine is a “good” idea again why? Socialism, has failed (as defined by freedom of the governed) everytime it was tried, but no WE can get it right because are more “learned”…

    • rsbirk Says:

      Thousands of years ago, when we didn’t have the technology we have today, people were simple in their faith and understanding. “Look at the world, the animals, the plants, the fish, the birds. Who else but God could have created these things for us?” Today, with our technology, our learning, our sophistication, our omnipotence over a God who we can’t see or prove exists (a la Richard Dawkins and others of his ilk), certainly WE are responsible for everything we see around us. We came from the “primordial ooze” to evolve into the great beings we are today. We are in command. We are in control. We worship ourselves in this modern-day society. Pride has overtaken us, God will have a humble people, and we can choose to be humble or be forced to our knees in recognition of the One who really is the God of the universe!

      Yes, “to be learned is good, if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God.”


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