Showing posts with label Demagoguery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Demagoguery. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


A Letter to the Editor of our local rag asks a simple question. “What’s really behind Trump’s demand for voter information,” asks Mary Oliver of Jensen Beach, Florida. A reasonable question for voters of every persuasion, nevertheless it triggered this online exchange:

“Mary you must be a liberal. Only liberals are afraid of checks on voter Fraud. then you people can't vote numerous times and in different polling places or have your dead relatives vote,” argues Christine Possidente Bilello.

Letters reveal much about people. Mary eats potatoes; Christine knows instinctively they will never see eye-to-eye. Why? Because …

Liberals vote many times ... and have many dead relatives who also vote. Christine never knew a straw man she didn’t like … or a liberal she didn’t hate.  

Mary prefers potatoes; Christine serves ad hominem grits tu quoque.

Look at all the lonely people. Where do they all come from? Do they act like, speak like, or think like you and me? Shall we smash their windows? Deport them to concentration camps? For Christine Possidente Bilello, liberals are la crème de la crème of the crematory.

Here’s how to build a straw man: Thought A collides with Exaggeration B which crashes into Defamation C and smashes into Fallacy D. Following this chain of illogic, Christine is a Nazi.

March 4, 2017: During a Trump rally in Maricopa County, Arizona, attendees chant “Kill Liberals” and “Deport Jews.” Another Trump supporter yells: “I can't wait for the liberal genocide to begin.”

June 13, 2017: Right wing broadcaster Michael Savage warns: “There’s going to be a civil war.”

June 23, 2017: Arch conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars infamy says: “I don’t need some coming-of-age deal to kill a bunch of liberals.”

This is how all democracies end, Plato predicted 2,300 years ago. A democracy declines in decadence, succumbs to demagoguery, and ends in tyranny.

I hope these examples of magical thinking offend Christine, because this is how a Straw Man summons the Exterminating Angel.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CNN’s Bachmann Debacle: How Mainstream Media Fails the American Public

Last night, Rachel Maddow questioned the integrity behind CNN’s decision to air Michelle Bachmann's Tea Party Express speech, citing this arrangement with a PR operative:

This PR placement hardly qualifies as a legitimate news story; yet CNN gave Bachmann a national stage for blaming chronic unemployment on the Obama administration. More than merely a false narrative and a propagandist revision of recent events, it offends our sense of cause and effect.  Consider this sequence of events:
The most severe recession since the Great Depression DID NOT begin in the Obama administration. It started in 2007 - in the Bush administration. The first warning was sounded by then Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson - of the Bush administration. The TARP bill was rushed through Congress and signed into law - by the Bush administration.

When a speeding car runs out of gas in one administration and coasts to a dead stop in the next administration, who is at fault? The fault is with the administration that forgot, through lack of oversight, to put gas in the car - NOT with the administration that got stuck calling the tow truck.
Mainstream media lets lies such as these go unchallenged. In giving national exposure to Bachmann, CNN allowed a falsehood to go viral without making even a token effort to fact check the speech or offer a critical analysis. This is how CNN dumbs down the American public and lets political hacks get away with factitious murder.

There is more at stake behind this story. When propagandists and hacks game the system, how can the American public rely on accurate news? Junk journalism such as this puts our democracy at risk.