Sunday, May 24, 2015


At NewsHounds and Crooks & Liars, Ellen Brodsky finds Fox's Greg Gutfeld using the arrest of Daron Wint in a high-profile D.C. murder case as an excuse to launch an attack on multiple enemies of the right. Here's her transcript (emphasis hers):
The quadruple murder suspect has been caught. Quickly. But by whom? Al Sharpton? Michael Moore? Bill de Blasio? No, the cops. Yep, another innocent victim of an unjust society backed by evil law enforcement. I’m sorry, I’m just helping craft the story for the left, BBC and those well-paid Ferguson protesters. After all, we know he’s as innocent as the driven snow. I’m sorry, snow is white and that’s a racist microaggression.

... So how did the cops find this creep? Phone records! Now, did we violate his rights there? And did we violate everyone’s rights by violating his? After all, that’s how we applied the logic to surveilling terrorists. Heck, if we treated this thug like a terrorist, he’d still be out ordering Domino’s.

Look, I get it, this was a specific search, not a mass data grab but why shame a program that provides fruitful benefits like catching killers before they can kill again? Besides, quickly gathered phone records are the least of our worries. Consider the Ferguson protesters that were hired -- yes, hired -- by the ACORN successor group to protest. They staged a sit-in after they stopped getting paid, allegedly. The group, known aptly as MORE, forked out five grand a month to protesters to demonstrate there. So what does it tell you when agitators pay protesters to stir up trouble? That while black lives matter, so does cold, hard cash.
You read this and think, "Jesus, where to start?" And that's the point. This is a classic Gish Gallop. RationalWiki explains that term:
The Gish Gallop is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of small arguments that their opponent cannot possibly answer or address each one in real time. More often than not, these myriad arguments are full of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments -- the only condition is that there be many of them, not that they be particularly compelling on their own. They may be escape hatches or "gotcha" arguments that are specifically designed to be brief, but take a long time to unravel....

The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, named after creationist Duane Gish.... Sam Harris describes the technique as "starting 10 fires in 10 minutes."
Is it even worth trying to put out any of these fires? I'll try. Here's Gutfeld:
So how did the cops find this creep? Phone records! Now, did we violate his rights there? And did we violate everyone’s rights by violating his? After all, that’s how we applied the logic to surveilling terrorists. Heck, if we treated this thug like a terrorist, he’d still be out ordering Domino’s.
Even Gutfeld admits that there's a difference between obtaining a warrant to conduct surveillance on a specific individual and just hoovering up metadata on every phone call made in America. But the analogy to NSA surveillance is even less apt than Gutfeld acknowledges. Here's how the cops actually obtained the phone data in this case:
A law enforcement official told NBC 4 New York's Jonathan Dienst that they tracked Wint to Brooklyn in part through his phone, which his girlfriend had when they interviewed her Thursday.

Wint's girlfriend, a Brooklyn resident, talked to NYPD officers at the 69th Precinct in Brooklyn for hours after being picked up at her apartment Thursday. She told police Wint was going back to D.C., possibly to surrender. She is not under arrest, NBC 4 New York reports.
So the cops got the information from a phone that was surrendered to them. (Yes, it was probably surrendered to them in return for the cops not charging the girlfriend with harboring a fugitive from justice -- but does anyone see that as a problem?)

Ellen goes on to note that "the rest of the Five crew go along with" Gutfeld's line of argument. Here's the clip:

Wint, we're told, was arrested at a traffic stop. At 2:16, watch Kimberly Guilfoyle (a former assistant district attorney) conflate the arrest of Wint and stop-and-frisk:
Traffic stops, stop-and-frisk -- all these things are very important for getting dangerous criminals, and, in this case, what allegedly looks like to be someone who committed, you know, multiple heinous homicides.
Stop-and-frisk is generally directed against "suspects" on the scantiest of pretexts. Here's what actully happened in this case:
Wint was tracked to the Howard Johnson Express Inn in College Park, Maryland, on Thursday, and when officers approached, they discovered Wint in a Chevrolet Cruze in the parking lot, Fernandez said. They tailed the car, which was following a box truck, to northeast Washington, where Wint and several others were taken into custody during a traffic stop, he said.
So this was in no way comparable to the random detainment of young black males on the street for no reason.

I can debunk these arguments. I can ask what possible relevance the payment of Ferguson protesters has to this story (and also ask whether massive funding of the Tea Party movement by deep-pocketed conservatives ever upset any Fox commentators). I can point out that Guilfoyle (at 3:56) praises Maryland for obtaining and keeping DNA samples from those arrested for violent crimes, a practice that helped the police ID the suspect -- and then note that, a few weeks ago, the right was calling Maryland a cesspool because it's been controlled by Democrats for decades. I an ask whether the authorities would have done the first-rate job they did in this case if the victims weren't rich white people.

But what's the point? There's just too much here to debunk. You can't out-gallop seasoned Gish Gallopers like these folks.

Debunk ten of today's specious arguments and there'll still be some left over -- and tomorrow there'll be a dozen more, and more the next day, and so on into infinity. Ultimately, the rhetoric of Fox and the rest of the right-wing media is one long, rolling Gish Gallop. That's why it's so dangerous, and so effective.


Victor said...

Yes, our Reichies manage to combine all sorts of massive amounts of outlandish and extremist bullshit, combine it with a few facts, and throw the whole puke of a stew onto the laps of the left, and blame us.

And where do we start to dig, on their Bullshit Mountains?

And you're right. The minute we shovel out one small part, they've formed a brand new Bullshit Mountain!!!

I just never knew it had a name!

Thanks, Steve!!!!

gocart mozart said...

"They staged a sit-in after they stopped getting paid, allegedly."

Greg Gutfield fucks goats, allegedly.

gocart mozart said...

The goat fucking is just a theory and while it wouldn't surprise me, I have no evidence. I am a fair minded person so I will only note what I know to be absolutely true about Greg Gutfeld:
1. He's a fucking asshole.
2. He lies.
3. He hates the constitution
4. He's a racist.

The goat fucking is just a theory and while it wouldn't surprise me, I have no evidence. I am a fair minded person so I will only

marindenver said...

Gotta love that he got ACORN in there too.

Aunt Snow said...

Well, now that the goat-fucking is out there, it's a story, isn't it? Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.

Peter Janovsky said...

I'd call this a Gish Gallop variant because there is no real opponent. The true Gish Gallop is designed not just to spew so many lies that you can't answer them all, but to take up most of the time of the debate. In this case, it's not a debate. As Crooks & Liars points out, the alleged "liberal" on the panel had nothing to say. It's a wingnut stream of consciousness more than a Gish Gallop under the circumstances.

petrilli said...

Imagine Cokie Roberts turning to Bill Kristol after his lips have moved and saying, "that's a string of lies. You're a lying liar, and here's proof that you're lying." Al Franken had the right idea with his book, and subsequent panel appearances with Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly a few years ago. He called them liars in his book and called them liars to their faces on the tee vee. Watch liberal Moderator Pat Schroeder and guest Molly Ivins blanche and clutch their pearls. It was a joy to watch at the time. It doesn't happen on our side often enough.

Paul Canning said...

Why is the BBC on his radar? Is this new or old for the wingnuts? Very odd.

bgn said...

Very odd, and very old. The British wingnuts have always had it in for the BBC, and the Americans are just following their lead.