With Republican presidential announcements approaching this summer, MSNBC has seen fit to promote their underwhelming primetime lineup with a new round of Lean Forward TV ads. Each of these spots takes our beloved hosts out of the studio and into the “real” part of America that they seek to speak for. Some are ironic, others are downright hokey. All videos, however, offer not-so-subtle endorsements of progressive policies that play like in-kind donations to the Democratic National Committee. They serve as excellent examples for logical fallacies, too.
Straw Man- First up, Chris Matthews stands before the White House in an act of symbolic protection and labels all potential Republican presidential candidates as birthers. Interesting, considering that Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty have scoffed at the issue publicly. Sarah Palin seems a little confused, but Jon Huntsman has a man crush on Obama. We know where The Donald stands, but attention must be given to this gross generalization. I’ll posit that once Mr. Matthews stops talking about President Obama’s citizenship status, the oxygen will be sucked out of the whole debate. This straw man attack does nothing for the MSNBC brand, but give its critics more ammunition.
Etymological Fallacy- Next, Lawrence O’Donnell brings us into his bourgeois living room for a lecture on [illegal] immigration. You might find yourself agreeing on the surface, but pay attention to context. No one with two brain cells to rub together has argued that all borders must undergo an absolute shutdown. In that case, is MSNBC openly pressing for a disregarding of long-standing federal law?
Begging the Question- (petitio principii) Rachel Maddow now takes us to the Hoover Dam for a pep rally in honor of Keynesian policies of “investment.” Her logic falls apart when she labels any that would disagree to be ‘wrong.’ In the spirit of balance, those showing skepticism for Ms. Maddow’s basic premise could find reinforcement in the Federal Reserve’s ongoing dilemma between continued Stimulus spending and risks of inflation. Beware Chairman Bernanke, if you tighten monetary policy, Rachel will call you out.
Last but not least, we have Ed. A single fallacy cannot be attributed to him. There are at least three in 30 seconds. That’s real talent. Let’s start with his opening premise that America is falling apart because the rich are screwing the middle class. Here we have a textbook example of the Single Cause fallacy. Ed wants you to ignore the fact that Bush-Era tax cuts were extended under the current Administration. Forget that evil Wall Street bankers were bailed out. Unemployment rates failed to comply with 2009 Stimulus projections? Not a big deal. Ed just wants you to know that that rich profit makers are ruining Main Street now. Ed is therefore correct because people watch him on television and some might agree (argumentum ad populum). Because Ed is on TV, and is so correct, he needs two shows (Argument from Authority/Defective Induction). Wall Street is Ed’s favorite boogeyman, but he needs to remember just who signs his paychecks.
This entire branding campaign is wrought with partisanship and bias. Despite their self-aggrandizement, these very people dedicate hours of broadcast time each week to label Fox News Channel as the televised arm of the Republican Party. I’ll leave you with one more fallacy: Tu quoque. Look it up.