Monday, December 3, 2012

Fox News: At It Again

I was very busy the last few weeks with Thanksgiving and then recovering from Thanksgiving so I haven't had a chance to post. As my critical thinking classes transition into a discussion of the media, I am going to try and post more media related posts in the upcoming days.

I want to begin by looking at a post by MediaMatters discussing one of the latest atrocities committed by Fox News. The following interview with J. Christian Adams on Fox and Friends from December 1 concerns a report recently issued by the Government Accountable Office on the feasibility of relocating detainees from the Guantanamo facility in Cuba to the US. The report (PDF) basically says that the US does have sufficiently secure prisons to house these detainees if it so chooses. Needless to say, this report is seen as an enormous threat by Fox, and Adams, through the use of a number of fallacies, tries to argue that this report is actually evidence of a grand conspiracy to smuggle terrorists into the US so that they can be released onto American streets (for what reason is never made clear, something to do with Obama being a Muslim, but nothing more detailed than that). Let's take a look at the video, and I will then discuss some of the major fallacies that it commits.

Perhaps the most obvious fallacy comes at the end when Adams suggests that:
I think the long-term plan here is to integrate them into the regular prison population where they can radicalize the other prisoners. And eventually, these people -- some in the administration -- want to just release them into the United States.
This is a clear an unambiguous example of a Straw Man. There is literally not a single person in the entire US who thinks that terrorists should just be released into the United States, so for Adam to claim otherwise is to just invent a position that has no relation to reality in order to scare and frighten people.

A second major fallacy is the Suppression of Relevant Data that occurs during Adam's discussion of the Uighurs. For some quick background, the Uighurs are Chinese Muslims who were picked up by the US during the early years of the war on terror. These individuals (15 in total) were determined to pose no threat to the US or its citizens, and in 2003 were scheduled for release from Guantanamo. This 2005 story from the Washington Post nicely summarizes their plight:
In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials. 
For Adams to describe these individuals as "terrorists" is extremely misleading, and really does a disservice to viewers of Fox News by withholding important information about the case from them. This is because if Adams were to accurately explain what is going on, he wouldn't be able to engage in the scaremongering he does, and Fox News would have one less way to attack and criticize the Obama administration.

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