Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Watched "Outfoxed" tonight. Very nice piece of agitprop for our team. Bill O'Reilly acknowledges telling a guest to "shut up" only "once in six years." Then footage is shown of him saying it numerous times in numerous contexts. The movie also had a good segment on the Jeremy Glick interview that O'Reilly did. I had read a lot about it but never seen it.

And that brings me to my topics for the day.

Topic One

Al Franken talks about the Glick incident in "Outfoxed." Glick and Franken apparently know each other and have talked about the situation, which is that O'Reilly did several follow-ups on the Glick appearance--one the next day, one six month later, one eleven months later, and so on. In each of these follow-ups, O'Reilly distorted what Glick had actually said and demonized Glick and by extension, the antiwar position and those who hold it.

Now this is the interesting part. Franken says Glick asked if Glick had a case against O'Reilly. Franken talked to his lawyer (the same one who handled the suit that O'Reilly brought against Franken), and his lawyer said that for Glick to have a case, Glick would have to be able to prove that O'Reilly "knew he was lying" about what Glick said during Glick's appearance on the O'Reilly show.

Now I'm not a lawyer, but from what I do know of the law, the only defense against libel is the truth (my wife, who is a lawyer, confirms this). Therefore, it would seem to me that Glick would not have to prove anything about O'Reilly's state of mind to bring and/or win a suit againt O'Reilly. All one would have to do is look at transcripts of the original interview and compare it to the follow-up pieces in which O'Reilly attributed statements to Glick that he never made.

Case closed--Glick never said what O'Reilly repeatedly attributed to him after the fact.

It's not a lie if you believe it

Thus spake Costanza on "Seinfeld" in a hilarious skewering of the logic that people use to make themselves feel better about being dishonest. But I have seen that very argument used in many articles to defend or explain people's attitudes toward real-life liars--usually George W. Bush. In Lakoff's "Don't Think Of An Elephant," he
breaks it down thusly on p. 76:

Most people will grant that even if [a] statement happened to be false, if he [Bush]
believed it
, wasn't trying to deceive, and was not trying to gain advantage or harm anyone, then there was no lie.

I'm not saying Lakoff is endorsing this train of thought, but some people do endorse it, like Franken's lawyer. However, this defense of lying makes the very concept of lying obsolete--if all you have to do to get off the hook when accused of lying is to say that you really believed it at the time you said it and never meant to hurt anyone, then what's the point of penalties for perjury or false advertising, etc.?

I don't know the answer (at least it's not coming to me as I've been interrupted from this writing about 10 times already and it's getting late and I've got other things I gotta get to), but the question is worth seems to me that if progressives accept this definition of lying, we are letting the Repukes get away with whatever they want.

Topic Two

Also in "Outfoxed," the great David Brock makes a couple of appearances. One thing he said articulated more or less what I've tried to say here in this blog a couple of times, and that has to do with objective reality, i.e., is there or is there not such a thing as global warming? Or do Bush's tax cuts help mostly the wealthy in a certain bracket or do they assist mainly the bottom income percentages?

And what he said was that Fox wants news to become only a matter of opinion, because opinions can't be proven false. So then people, like members of my family, will say that there is a conservative side and a liberal side to every issue and that neither one is necessarily right. However, that makes no sense--when you're talking about issues like global warming or tax cuts, there are scientific studies and financial balance sheets that reveal the reality of each situation.

Anyway, it's a good movie. It was $7.99 at Best Buy.

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