Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Illogic of AP ‘News’

I’m not all that interested in political parties and their conventions.  But I have always been intrigued by logic,or the lack of it, in reporting on matters political.  In perusing the Yahoo! news headlines today, I saw this:

Ryan takes factual shortcuts in speech - 43 minutes ago

Laying out the first plans for his party's presidential ticket, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took some factual shortcuts Wednesday night when he attacked President Barack Obama's po...

I was eager to see just what factual inaccuracies were in Ryan’s speech.  So off to the full article I went.  When I arrived there I found some interesting things.  First, Paul Ryan has cute kids.  Of course, that alone does not a good vice-President make!

Even more interesting was the “factual shortcuts” that CAL WOODWARD and JACK GILLUM of the Associated Press offered me.

Ryan’s first supposed factual error:  Obamacare takes billions from Medicare.  If this is an error, what is the truth, according to Woodward and Gillum?  “Ryan's claim ignores the fact that Ryan himself incorporated the same cuts into budgets he steered through the House in the past two years as chairman of its Budget Committee, using the money for deficit reduction.”

The problem is, this supposed counter-fact is not in conflict with what Ryan claimed.  If I say, “Bill cut that tree down” you have not shown my statement false by claiming, “But you wanted it cut down, too!”  Are Woodward and Gillum stupid, or do they think their readers are stupid?  I can’t think of another option!

Will the next Ryan ‘falsehood’ be better?  Here it is:  “The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.”  What do Woodward and Gillum offer as the truth that proves this false?  Here we go again:  “Ryan himself asked for stimulus funds shortly after Congress approved the $800 billion plan.”

While that might make Ryan a hypocrite, it doesn’t make his claim false.  Again, do Woodward and Gillum think their readers are idiots?  Or are they?

Here’s the article’s final ‘what Ryan said versus the facts’ in full:

RYAN: Obama "created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way and then did exactly nothing."

THE FACTS: It's true that Obama hasn't heeded his commission's recommendations, but Ryan's not the best one to complain. He was a member of the commission and voted against its final report.

Did Woodward and Gillum fail logic class?  Never take a course in that subject?  Do they even know what logic is?  What?  Notice how, in this case, the authors even state what they seem to be getting at all along:  “Ryan's not the best one to complain.”  Again, who makes the complaint has no relevance to the factualness or truth of the complaint.

I suppose that, if the Devil said, “Sin is a bad thing” Woodward and Gillum would ‘counter’ with the ‘fact’ that the Devil is all about sin.  Logic would rightly say, “So what?”  Apparently, logic has little to do with political “news writers.”

As an old professor character in a C.S. Lewis novel once said, “Don’t they teach these children logic any more?”

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