Friday, January 25, 2013

Please don't feed the stupids

You had to wonder how long it would take before the Fair 'n' Balanced Network announced a War On Guns. On the bright side, it's January, and we have a few months to spare before we have to worry about whether the guns will be with us or with the terrorists in the War On Christmas.

"Disarming America" (the lower screen grab, from Wednesday afternoon), on the other hand, looks like it has the makings of a useful running logo, even though the story beneath it is the sort of cask-strength buncombe you serve with a few drops of distilled water to your closest friends after a long night of proving that the Birchers were right after all.

If you're a regular reader, you're probably not surprised at the idea of Fox inventing stories at the Party's behest. You might, though, find yourself annoyed at the behavior of the rest of the press, which is the point correspondent Barbara Phillips Long raised in a note about this story from PennLive:

"A hot-button issue became veritably explosive this week when President Barack Obama unveiled sweeping reform proposals to gun control and, under executive authority, enacted 23 additional restricting measures."

Ledewise, you might justly complain, that's not so much word salad as assorted prewashed mixed word greens. Of greater concern is the substance; as Barbara put it, "How does a provision that allows the Centers for Disease Control to research gun safety issues 'restrict' anything?"

The short answer is that it doesn't. On no planet with fewer than seven methane-fired suns would such a measure count as a restriction. I expect that sort of partisan fiction from Fox; I don't expect it -- and frankly don't feel inclined to pay for it -- from the grownup media.

Does that mean the purported lamestream media are all of a sudden in the thrall of the NRA and its minions? No more so than reporters' (and editors') pervasive ignorance about stuff that goes bang or boom makes them tools of the Kenyan usurper left. It does suggest that the most important thing we can do to maintain what credibility we have is to know -- to the extent we can know it -- what the hell we're talking about.

Our little friends at Fox have demonstrated that they can't tell a rifle from a shotgun* at better than chance levels, putting Fox -- however loudly it squeals at the thought -- at about the level of the LA Times, the Sentinel, and the rest of the pack on the accuracy front. Ignorance isn't the same thing as malice, but at the paragraph level, they're hard to tell apart. Those who don't want to be mistaken for propagandists can start by reading the stuff they plan to write about.

* I have a lingering suspicion that the piece in question is something like the .22/.410 over-under combination I recall from Sears catalogues gone by. Sure would be nice if someone at Fox thought evidence was as important as ideology.



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