Open Letter to MoveOn.org
By David Peterson at Mar 21, 2008
To Robert Greenwald and the
Although Robert Greenwald's latest video (i.e., "FOX Attacks! Obama -- Part Two" -- also see below) is very effective at highlighting one species of smear tactics that FOX News uses against Illinois Senator and Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama, nevertheless, Mr. Greenwald's video suffers from a serious theoretical fallacy. --
Let's see whether we can first define the fallacy. And then help clear it up.
For starters, the smear tactics highlighted by Mr. Greenwald's video are those in which FOX News makes demands upon the candidate to distance himself from and even to publicly denounce first the Rev. Louis Farrakhan and, more recently, the former pastor at the candidate's church, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, over comments these two gentleman have uttered, rather than the candidate.
Now. It is without doubt that multiple American media cover the presidential campaign of Barack Obama from points of view similar to the point of view exhibited by FOX News and highlighted by Mr. Greenwald in his latest video.
But now to the fallacy. -- Whereas Mr. Greenwald's video explains this likeness as resulting from or having been caused by the viral-like spread of FOX's original point of view to these other media, on the contrary, it is the case that these other media more or less share the fundamentals of FOX's point of view going-into a story about the candidate.
With respect to the Rev. Farrakhan and the Rev. Wright, NBC TV's Meet the Press and the New York Times and the Washington Post (etc.) don't need any promptings from the more hysterical stable of performers at FOX News to replicate a FOX-like point of view. The reason they don't is that, simply put, it is the same point of view they already share.-- Hence, no viral-like spread is required.
Mainstream media coverage of Barack Obama's relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright since ABC-TV placed a series of excerpts from the Rev. Wright's sermons into circulation via its Good Morning America program for Thursday, March 13, confirms the latter theoretical approach as well as explanation, rather than Mr. Greenwald's.
Indeed. In this particularly revealing case, which deserves a great deal more study, the near-univocal demand imposed upon the candidate to distance himself from and to publicly denounce the Rev. Wright for utterances made by the Rev. Wright but not by the candidate neither resulted from nor was caused by a point of view originating at FOX News and spreading outward.
Instead, it followed from far more fundamental and enduring factors at work within the captive minds of American media personnel pretty much across the board.
In the final analysis, it is this Captive American Mind and the ubiquity of the false beliefs that serve as it "operating system" that are the real culprits here.
Nor need we look to FOX News to find evidence of them.
"FOX Attacks! Obama -- Part Two," Robert Greenwald, MoveOn.org, March 21, 2008