seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Fox News

Learning to Love the New Media

I have long been discouraged by how easy some (Fox News) are able to spread lies and disinformation. How does one counter the rampant disinformation and misinformation in modern America? Obama is a Muslim Socialist from Kenya... Saddam Hussein attacked the US on 9/11... Our taxes have never been higher and we are taxed to death... Scientists are divided over global warming... and so on.

And how do we usually respond to this all-too-common conventional bullshit? By trying to use actual facts and logic as though anyone cares about those things. I think James Fallows, from a recent article in The Atlantic, offers an alternative approach.

“But what if the answer to a false narrative isn’t fact?,” Denton says. “Or Habermas? Maybe the answer to a flawed narrative is a different narrative. You change the story.” Which is what, he said, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have done. They don’t “fact-check” Fox News, or try to rebut it directly, or fight on its own terms. They change the story not by distorting reality—their strength is their reliance on fact—or creating a fictitious narrative, but by presenting the facts in a way that makes them register in a way they hadn’t before.

I'm going to keep this in mind and try to come up with some better narratives.

Fox News: Selective Memory On Nazi Comparisons

Wasn't there a common saying that you are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts?

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The Death of the Facts

Jonathan Chait's review of The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future in The New Republic, demolishes the absurd premise of the book -- that Obama is spearheading an attack on markets and entrepreneurship. Of course, it is this author, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Books, and his allies like the Chamber of Commerce that have led the attack on the market in a successful attempt to maximize the power of the world's largest companies.

Chait's review does everything one would want a review to do, but I want to add that I don't think Brooks spends much time being disingenuous. I continue to believe that he and others like him are simply deluded. They do not understand the world as it is, and are fooled the tools they have created to spread their message -- talk radio, Fox news, the Wall Street Journal, etc. At one time, these were meant to spread right wing values such as free market principles and less government. But over time, they have come to work for one goal: winning. They have no principle and defend no values, which makes debating them impossible. As we have seen from the recent right wing pile-on around Obama's Asian trip, they will lie about anything.

Fox News Lied, Destroyed Acorn

Remember those videos showing Acorn employees openly flouting the law to encourage a pimp and prostitute to flout the law and even helping to smuggle underage girls into the U.S.? You might be surprised to find that the states who have investigated these crimes have declined to press charges. Why? Perhaps because all the video you saw on TV was bullshit - more heavily edited than primetime "reality" TV to frame Acorn employees.

Rachel Maddow has a lot of the details:

I'm waiting for Fox News to clarify that the Acorn employee who was supposedly going to help smuggle underage girls across the border, actually called the police to report an imminent crime immediately after the Republican operatives left the office. To be clear: this man was convicted on national TV for a crime he acted to prevent.

But Rachel is right, the right-wing media has totally destroyed one of the strongest advocates for poor people in the country -- by inventing a bullshit story. Who will they go after next?

Amsterdam Lessons in War on Drugs - Take Two

I previously embedded a video refuting some Fox News talking points against rational drug laws. Fox News responded to that video and here is the next iteration of the saga. Not only does it show the stupidity of Bill O'Reilly (who demonstrates time and time again that he has zero knowledge of what statistics mean or how to use them), but it offers more evidence that our approach to the problems of narcotics cause more problems than they solve.

October Atlantic and the Media

As I continue to plow through the magazines I set aside during my sports shooting season, I wanted to note the 2009 October issue of The Atantic. It focused mostly on media issues, but also featured one of the best discussions of U.S. Torture Policy in Andrew Sullivan's letter to former-President Bush that offers perhaps the only real solution for moving forward on this important issue.

I was struck by a quote from Mark Bowden (an author I almost always enjoy reading, regardless of subject matter) in his "The Story Behind the Story" that really gets to the heart of why Fox News bothers me so much:

Journalism, done right, is enormously powerful because it does not seek power. It seeks truth.

Fox News has blazed a path of subverting what journalism should be. They weren't the first - but they have blown away the competition. And it bothers me to the extent that other networks copy that approach in an attempt to gain viewers rather than educate viewers.

I was pleasantly surprised by Robert D. Kaplan's "Why I Love Al Jazeera," (which was about Al Jazeera English, not the arabic sister-channel). AJE is basically a BBC-style program if Howard Zinn ran it - it focuses intently on the perspective of the powerless.

And Kaplan also zinged Fox News - noting:

I have spent the past two years reporting from the Indian Ocean region, dealing predominantly with Muslims and indigenous nongovernmental organizations; watching Al Jazeera is the vicarious equivalent of engaging in the kinds of conversations I have been having. One of the multitude of problems I have with Fox News is that even its most analytically brilliant commentators, such as Charles Krauthammer, seem to be scoring points and talking to their own ideological kind rather than engaging in dialogue with others. Watching Fox, you have to wonder whether many of its commentators have ever had a conversation with a real live Muslim abroad.

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