Sunday, March 11, 2007

Is Roger Ailes doing Casey Stengel imitations?

In one of his essays for Natural History magazine the late Stephen Jay Gould wrote about a logical fallacy called the Bateson’s fallacy of categories in which a particular member of a class is equated with the class itself. To illustrate this fallacy he used a story from his beloved world of New York baseball:
Casey Stengel… was roundly criticized for blowing the Mets's first pick in the expansion draft on a particular catcher of quite modest ability (one Hobie Landrith by name). Casey answered by invoking the class of catchers in general--"you have to have a catcher, because if you don't, you're likely to have a lot of passed balls."

Fox News Channel CEO Roger Ailes has been committing the same fallacy. He has been claiming that in refusing to talk to Fox reporters or refusing to appear in a debate hosted by Fox News, Democratic candidates for president are somehow attacking journalism itself:
Recently pressure groups are forcing candidates to conclude that the best strategy for journalists is divide and conquer, to only appear on those networks and venues that give them favorable coverage...If you are afraid of journalists, how will you face the real dangers in the world?
Of course you see the fallacy. They are not refusing to deal with the class of journalists in general – just the particular journalists who work for Fox News.


The Inside Dope said...

The fact that Roger Ailes is a corpulent propaganda minister who's been closely involved with dozens of the most notorious smears and political skullduggery of the past few decades, and acknowledging that your post isn't about this issue specifically, I still have to say that I thought the entire story of the Dems pulling out of the debate supposedly over Ailes lame, but innocuous joke mentioning Obama was one of the stupidest and most ridiculous things I've heard from the Democratic side in a long while.

I've both heard and seen Aile's deliver the joke in question, and it's patently clear that he wasn't exactly equating Obama with Osama, but rather making a joke which poked fun at Bush for not knowing the difference.

I think the whole matter made the Dems involved look stupid and petty... probably because they were.

The story line is that this move was prompted by pressure from left wing blogs.

Left wing blogs get way more than their share of unfair criticism and get blamed for a host of things they're not really responsible for, but if it's the case that they caused this decision, then in this instance, the Dems should have ignored them.

Now a case could be made for not having a Democratic debate on Fox simply based on their long and clear record of being essentially a propaganda arm of the Republican party...... but they never should have tried to suggest it was because of fat Roger's lame joke.

Dave Barrett said...

I was reading what Kos and were saying when they were pressuring the Nevada Democrats to cancel the debate hosted by Fox and they were saying that they opposed the debate simply because Fox had a long and clear record of being a Republican Party mouthpiece.
It is my understanding that the joke as the reason for canceling the debate was first mentioned by Harry Reid when it was announced that the debate was cancelled.