Friday, September 12, 2008

Deconstructing Spin

The Constructive Curmudgeon is a Denver Seminary philosophy professor known for censoring those who point out the spin or logical fallacies in his arguments, and for spreading Republican talking points through his blog.

He wrote an article defending Sarah Palin's performance in her interview with Charles Gibson of ABC World News. Though I hate to draw attention to such a partisan huckster as The Constructive Curmudgeon, I feel it is necessary to deconstruct his defense of Sarah Palin and to draw attention to the spin he practices daily on his blog. Let's proceed.
1. "We all saw an edited version of the interview. Given the media bias, you can be certain that we saw the worst of her performance, not the best of it."

Of course we saw an edited interview. Most interviews you see, hear, or read anywhere are edited. That does not deny the fact that some of Sarah Palin's answers were appallingly naive or uninformed. Yet, the Curmudgeon, in pursuit of spin, chooses to make the gratuitous assumption that the worst of Sarah Palin's responses were shown because of media bias.

Accusations of media bias are so common among conservatives that if I had a buck for every time I have heard them complain about liberal media bias I could buy Fox News Channel, and shut it down. Instead of buying the conservative line on liberal media bias hook, line and sinker, go to my post that links to an insightful dissection of the media bias myth by Glenn Greenwald.

And consider this, for an example of media bias: two of the three major newspapers in Colorado, the state where I live, have a definite pro-Republican slant. Of the five major AM stations in Denver, one is liberal (AM-760, which is actually from Boulder), the other ones are as conservative as they come: KOA, with "personalities like Mike Rosen, Rush Limbaugh, Jon Caldara, Sean Rima, and the despicable and insufferable "Gunny" Bob Newman; 630 KHOW-AM; 600 KCOL (Fox News Radio); and 740 KVOR. Were it not for AM-760, a long drive through Colorado has the potential to make a progressive's veins explode, given the amount of spin that these stations combine for, day in, day out.

2. "Charlie Gibson evidenced the media bias with a sour vengeance. He scowled at Gov. Palin the entire time, trying to trap her, pressing her in ways that Obama has never had to experience."

Once again, media bias. See, two bucks already. Charles Gibson did express some disbelief at the fact that Gov. Palin did not know what "the Bush doctrine" was. So he gave her enough rope to hang herself, which she predictably did. Another highlight came when Gov. Palin said, of Russia: "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska." The question Charles Gibson asked: "What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?"

Dear Curmudgeon, these are not examples of media bias by Charles Gibson (who, by the way, has been criticized for his soft interview with Sen. McCain). These are things you might expect a runner-up in a beauty contest to say, not what you would expect from a vice-presidential nominee for one of the two large parties in America.

3) "She never stuttered (unlike Obama without a teleprompter)..."

What the Curmudgeon alleges to be Obama's stutter without a teleprompter is actually Obama pausing to take the time to give meaningful, well thought answers.

Obviously, when all you do is memorize a few lies and platitudes and repeat them ad nauseam as Gov. Palin has done from Convention day on, you should have no problem with "stuttering." But then, of course, the price you pay is that dear-in-the-headlights (pun, not a typo) that Gov. Palin had when Gibson asked her a question that she did not have a prepared answer for.

4) "She invoked Abraham Lincoln to explain her views of God's will in warfare--a deft move."

A deft move indeed, if by deft you mean misleading.

Actually, this is a perfect example of the spin perpetrated by Gov. Palin, and perpetuated by the likes of the Curmudgeon. Here's how it went down:

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said -- first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.

But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side.

Okay, now compare that with Palin's quote: "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." How does that have anything to do with Lincoln?

5) The Curmudgeon says that this excellent performance by Palin came "after two weeks of intense, relentless media scrutiny, which didn't spare the private details of her own family. It came after Obama likened her to a pig with lipstick".

First of all, complaining about intense media scrutiny of family life from a supporter of the party that brought you Linda Tripp, Ken Starr, and the Clinton inquisition is ridiculous beyond belief.

Secondly, the Obama "lipstick on a pig incident" was so inane that it was dismissed even by a few Republicans (like Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a Fox News contributor.) And Obama dismissed the accusation on David Letterman's show pointing out, correctly, that had he meant the "lipstick on a pig" mention as an attack, “technically... [Palin] would be the lipstick. The failed policies of John McCain would be the pig, just following the logic of this illogical situation.”

6) "Sarah Palin will never sink to this level."

Oh, sure. She'd much rather lie about the bridge to nowhere, lie about her opponents' proposals or deride Obama's past as a community organizer. It's all in a day's work for people like Gov. Palin and her supporters, Curmudgeon included.

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