Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"The result of this concerted campaign of disinformation is a viewership that knows almost nothing about what’s going on in the world. According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in America, 30 points more likely to say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to doubt President Obama’s citizenship. In fact, a study by the University of Maryland reveals, ignorance of Fox viewers actually increases the longer they watch the network. That’s because Ailes isn’t interested in providing people with information, or even a balanced range of perspectives. Like his political mentor, Richard Nixon, Ailes traffics in the emotions of victimization."

-- The pertinent line from the current piece in Rolling Stone dissecting Fox News's Jabba the Hutt-like chairman, Roger Ailes


Jim said...

That pretty much nails it.

Liquid said...

Maybe I'm crazy but I seem to recall a pseudo-quote from somewhere that said 'This country has moved so far to the right, over the past forty years, that Barry Goldwater has become a Democratic icon.'

I'm probably crazy.

Matt Osborne said...

Y'know, now that you mention it Ailes does resemble Jabba more than a little bit. Another excellent meme for a PhotoShop bomber!

The Bacon said...

I see there are 4 points here.

1. Did the stimulus cause job losses? Probably not in terms of total jobs in the economy. There is a lot of murky water there so I will move on.

2. Rolling stones position is that no reputable scientists dispute global warming. What about these guys?:

I know wikipedia isn't the greatest source, but there are guys there from Princeton, Duke, UVA, Harvard. I imagine this list can't be all wrong.

3. The Rolling Stone magazine point that you are stupid if you believe there are muslims that want to bring sharia law to America. What about this guy?:

4. As to the 31% that believe Obama isn't a citizen...yeah...that's pretty dumb. But, when was that poll taken? Do 31% of Fox viewers still believe it?

Having a job, I don't have all day to research this stuff, but I'm certain that given a day or two to work on and the desire to do so, I could easily verify a dozen top scientists that dispute some part of global warming dogma and I'm certain I could find dozens of Muslim clerics that have expressed desire for the whole world to live under sharia law.

And Roger Ailes does look like Jabba the Hut. Someone should photoshop his face onto Jabba, preferably with Carrie Fischer in the bikini next to him.

Chez said...

It's definitely a far too open-ended statement to make, Bacon; that I'll agree with you on. Unfortunately, though, on the whole what the RS article is saying is correct. And incidentally, you're making a huge mistake to blindly cite Wikipedia as a source and you're flat-out begging the question -- in the most hilariously ironic way possible -- by citing Fox News in an article on one guy who wants to enslave America via Sharia law.

Eric said...

@The Bacon:

1) You don't argue the point I guess there's no rebuttal.

2) The Wikipedia list includes people who agree that the climate is warming but dispute that the cause is anthropogenic, people who think that anthropogenic warming occurs but aren't sure whether it has significant effects, and people who think (anthropogenic?) global warming is occurring and is a good thing, too.

Congratulations, you've discovered how science works: scientists test hypotheses against the evidence and argue over the results until a consensus emerges. Inevitably, there will be some people who never come on board no matter how broadly accepted and verified an explanatory model has become.

In the case of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), the overwhelming consensus is that global temperature is increasing and that a significant (if not primary) cause is human emissions of greenhouse gases. There's not actually anything all that shocking or radical about that: the observation that certain gases absorb infrared radiation faster than they emit it is decades old (going back at least as far as the 1960s, if not earlier); the fact that human activities just happen to emit these particular gases has been known for centuries (C02 was discovered in the 18th); really, the only meaningful argument over AGW has been whether the greenhouse gases we know we're emitting are absorbed back into the environment (fixed) faster than we're emitting them. The general view these days is that they're not being fixed faster than we generate them, and the only arguments on that score these days are at the fringes and/or are coming from special interest groups with a strong vested interest in gas-generating activities (e.g. the oil industry).

But what's most absurd about your citation is the way it lumps people together as "opponents". E.g. you have people on that list who agree with everything the consensus scientists say except they think AGW has a net benefit. That's not a climate-change-denier, that's somebody making a policy argument about the science they agree with.

3. Okay, so there's a British radical who wants to bring Shari'a to the United States. Thanks for proving... well, thanks for pointing out another specific instance of yet another foreigner wanting to overthrow the United States. You really could have just mentioned al Qaeda and said that Rolling Stone should have been clearer even if everybody knows what they meant; yes, Virginia, there are foreign radicals in [country] who want to overthrow the government of the United States with [ideology] but most Americans think they're [animal]-shit crazy--see, you can totally make it a Mad-Lib if you want.

If you'd wanted to have some real fun, you could have pointed to some actual American radicals, because there are lots of them on the lunatic fringes, an inevitable consequence of a pluralistic society, I suppose. Problem is, it's one thing to observe that there are American monarchists and quite another to frantically pass useless, unnecessary and possibly unconstitutional anti-monarchist legislation out of some bizarre and unreasonable fear that a couple of marginalized twits are going to crown somebody king or that there's some kind of weird monarchist conspiracy afoot in the upper echelons of American government because an elected official visited England that one time or lived in a country that still has a king or maybe had an estranged parent who was really into the War Of The Roses or something. No, you're not stupid to think there are people who want to restore monarchy to America, you're stupid to care. Call me when the institutions of democracy are actually in any danger of collapsing.

4. Honestly, does it matter if they still believe it when it was so self-evidently dumb to believe it long enough to be asked about it in the first place?

Anyway, that's my two cents.

The Bacon said...


As to point one. Some economists will say the stimulus hampered job growth by government borrowing for make-work jobs crowded out private investment. An unprovable point, but no more unprovable than the administration claiming the stimulus saved 3 million jobs. They may as well have said 30 million jobs as there is no way to quantify jobs that would have been lost. Point being that it is no more misinformed to say the stimulus killed jobs as it is to say it saved jobs.

Point two. The RS article chose to deal in absolutes, so all one has to do is find any reputable scientist that disputes man made global warming. There are plenty of it would be misinformed to not believe there is scientific dispute.

Point three: See point two. The RS article dealt in absolutes so as long as any muslims are found that want us to live under Sharia law, it would be misinformed to believe there aren't any.

Point four: I can't disagree with you there.

Eric said...

@The Bacon:

Except, I'm sorry to say, I find your points two and three a little disingenuous.

In the case of point two, the scientific consensus for AGW is so strong at this point that saying "there's scientific dispute" is almost (not quite, but almost) like saying there's scientific dispute over the shape of the Earth because there's still a couple of flat-earthers over there who are insisting it's all flat. It's not quite that bad only because the science is a lot more complicated than something you can observe for yourself from an airplane or at the beach. It might be a little closer to someone saying "there's scientific dispute over the theory of evolution by natural selection" insofar as there's a general agreement re: the gross picture but room to quibble over fine details; except that's not quite right, either, because you won't find a biologist worth talking to who disputes evolutionary theory while you might still find someone disputing AGW who isn't a flake or a hack. But the point that remains is that saying "there is scientific dispute" about AGW is a statement that's technically true but gives the wrong impression: it conveys a sense that there are evenly-matched camps to-ing-and-fro-ing when what you really have is nearly-everybody-who's-studied-it on one side and a-few-holdouts-with-few-actual-experts-and-a-lot-of-people-with-conflicts-of-interest on the other.

It isn't that much of a dispute. Unless you watch a news channel that thinks accurate reporting means treating both sides equally even when one side might be wearing tinfoil hats and whatnot.

Similarly, re: point #3: sure, again, you can find people who want to overthrow the government and replace it with Shari'a law, some kind of Biblical law, a monarchy, a fascist dictatorship, complete anarchy, a libertarian paradise loosely ruled by the memory of a tyrannical chain-smoking Russian sex fiend with a weirdly boyish hairdo, etc., et al., et tu Brute; an endless list of cranks, crazies, radicals, zealots, reactionaries, seccessionists, and on and on and on.

One isn't crazy to think these people exist. And if one wants to be pedantic, sure, Rolling Stone shouldn't have implied that someone is crazy for thinking a certain group of people exists. But I think you know just as well as I do that what Rolling Stone was trying to say is that believing that there's this viable movement afoot in the United States to replace secular law with Shari'a law is paranoid and stupid. Which is true. It is paranoid and stupid to believe there's this weird and mysteriously powerful Fifth Column of Islamic radicals actively gutting the Constitution as we speak. The idea is as nonsensical as the idea usually paired with it: that this is a Christian nation founded on Christian principles with a Christian legal system under a Christian Constitution, and what this nefarious Legion Of Islamic Doom is accomplishing is to turn us all away from this nation's actual founder, Mr. Jesus H. Christ himself. (Speaking of which: if you want to find a bunch of religious cranks who are trying to get their beliefs enshrined in the law....)

Rolling Stone's phrasing might have been inartful--I'd really have to reread the whole thing to say to what degree--but I think you're a bright person who knew what they meant, and you're quibbling over semantics to try to gloss the main point of the thing, which is that Fox News apparently is a gushing fount of propaganda pushing a hard partisan agenda (as opposed, say, to the traditional efforts of The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times for accuracy within whatever generically-ideological right/left-leaning perspective they're coming from). In short, I think you're trying to discredit RS by quibbling.

Liz said...

I've been away from the internet for a while due to the tornado, so I am finally catching up on your site. I coincidentally just read this today (along with the piece on Gaga, I love Gaga) and found goosepimples rising on my arms. It frightens me that a ruthless man, with enough backing, can rule the world with words alone...can make over what should be a reasonable discourse between differing idealogies into a scorched earth, fucking defcon five battle. It is so Orwellian, I keep looking over my shoulder for the secret police.