'Fake News,' 'Faux News;' To-may-to, To-mah-to.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

If men accept the notion that reason is not valid, what is to guide them and how are they to live? -- Ayn Rand on tribalism


Political strategist Ruy Teixeira considers the blind spots of the Democratic Party in a lengthy National Review piece. Among other things, he coins an interesting term, The Fox News Fallacy:
[The influence of identity politics] has also left its stamp on how Democrats have handled difficult cultural issues since the election. They have fallen prey to what I have termed the "Fox News fallacy" -- the idea that, if Fox News and the like are criticizing the Democrats on an issue, the criticism must be unsound and the disputed policy should be defended at all costs. That reflex has not served the Democrats well as Biden's term has evolved. [bold added]
Image by Rice Ball, via Unsplash, license.
I've seen this before, and dispute only how new this phenomenon might be on the left: I recall seeing the term Faux News as a coded reference to Fox News in use well before Trump ever made the political scene.

It is good to see someone on the left noticing this "reflex" and calling it out as a sign of poor thinking that is very unhelpful to their cause.

Let me go further and elaborate on my title, which alludes to the right-wing near-equivalent of this fallacy, which regards anything in non-conservative "mainstream" media as inherently suspect and Just. Wrong.

For the record: Both "sides" of the media divide offer varying amounts of actual information laced with propaganda. Anyone who accepts any of it uncritically -- or reflexively rejects any of it -- is not really getting news.

Consider how many conservatives out there have joined the hippies in becoming anti-vaxxers or buy into stupid arguments against masks.

Often, there is little evidence that they support (or at least think people should be free to take) either measure -- but oppose the government forcing people to do so; there's just blind opposition based on blanket (although understandable) suspicion of traditional media and, perhaps a conspiracy theory or two.

We can even go further than Teixeira and demonstrate how counterproductive defining one's beliefs in opposition to a hated other group can be: Look at how many conservatives cheered Ron DeSantis when he forbade businesses (cruise lines (!), for just one example) to factor in vaccination status when making certain decisions -- in "opposition" to vaccination mandates.

Shouldn't the decision about with whom one does business be -- oh, I don't know -- up to the proprietor and his customers? If someone wants to cruise unvaccinated and can find someone willing to let him do so, he should be able to go -- and vice versa: If someone does not want to cruise with a bunch of sick people, he should be able to find lines that refuse unvaccinated passengers (assuming they exist), because cruise lines should be able to accept or refuse business from anyone they please.

That whole question -- concerning liberty, America's fundamental characteristic and value -- gets lost and we have two "sides" squabbling over which kind of tyranny we should have, rather than lots of people alarmed about how comfortable government officials have become about ordering us around, how often they do so, and how easily they get away with it.

They might even end up sharing my concern that each party -- with superficially different anti-freedom tendencies of its own -- plays off of/accidentally provides cover for the other as America bickers its way towards tyranny.

-- CAV

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