Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anderson Cooper Rightly Calls Out Rep. Steve Cohen On His Hypocrisy Regarding Inflamed Rhetoric, Fails To Touch The Facts Of The Actual Issue

Hello readers! It seems Anderson Cooper and the 360 kids are intent on driving me insane. But let's step back a bit first. See, this random Congress dude, Steve Cohen, is none too happy about the House Republicans' little health care reform repeal stunt vote. Everything's good so far, right? Well, he goes on the House floor and gets his vent on about the GOPers: "They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie..." Dude is speaking truth to power, woo! Go him! "...just like Goebbels." Wait, what? Ohhh noeees.

Really? REALLY, Steve Cohen? You pull this crap right after everyone's calling for a new civility? Apparently, the Congressman is not familiar with Godwin's law. Anyway, this always happens. At this point, I could write the script in my sleep. A Democrat has the facts completely on their side, they inexplicably say something extreme, the GOP freaks out (ZOMG, he's calling us Nazis!), and the media latches onto the controversy, completely brushing by the substance of the argument (welcome to your first segment on AC360).

Honestly, after watching the interview twice, Cohen doesn't come off all that badly. The show was right to call him out on his hypocrisy, and I agree with the notion that bringing up anything related to Nazi Germany is never helpful (and offensive to many), but he made a very clear distinction that his comment was about tactics, and there's some validity there. I wish he would have found another way to make his point.

But what really makes this a big fail on the 360 kids' part is that we had an entire discussion that was essentially about GOP lies regarding health care reform, and not once did Anderson, you know, talk about those lies. Can a viewer get a little fact-checking up in this segment that is supposing to 'keep 'em honest'? What lies? Doesn't that sound like a question our anchor maybe should have asked? Then he could have checked to see if they are actually lies.

Maybe Cohen is accusing them of lying about some things that are actually true. Wouldn't that be an interesting thing to find out? And if Cohen is right about the lying, that means the Republican's reasoning for trying to repeal landmark legislation is one big snow job. Maybe it's just me, but that seems like a rather big news story, no? Not for this news show, apparently! The irony? If Cohen had made his argument with more civility, you think he would have been invited on 360 to discuss? Yeah, that's what I thought. Lies can be just as poisonous as any inflamed rhetoric--maybe even more so.

After the interview with the Congressman, there was discussion with Dana Bash and Cornell Belcher. Anderson did his whole false equivalency thing, which, yeah, annoying. I'm not sure if he does it because he thinks it's a good way to position himself as neutral, or if he really is just naive. But anyway, how much are we loving Cornell these days? He's like the new Gerg, all calm and rational. I want to clone him and spread him all over cable news.

By the way, for a lesson in how it's done, I think Representative Cohen needs a pointer or two from the awesomeness that is Anthony Weiner.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessment of the program completely. What was 360 thinking? Does the staff not do their homework? I can't believe the facts aren't there for them to use, but I am beginning to believe that it can only be laziness that causes them not to put forth an intelligent counter-argument to the lies that are being spread.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The inflamed rhetoric by a congressman and how it is being dealt with is an entirely legitimate and timely story in the context of recent events and public and political discussion. As a liberal myself, sure it could have been convenient if 360 had pushed aside that story and focused instead on the older, drier issues of the benefits/problems with the health care bill and the motivations for supporting/opposing it. Cohen handed this to the opposition by introducing Goebbels, though, and the other issues are not new and have already been kicked around a lot. If Cohen actually has done some studying of propaganda and mass human management & control, he should try applying them and help the democrats sell their projects, handle the press effectively, and counter the republicans instead of shooting them in the foot.

In this particular case I didn't see false equivalence happening. It just looked pretty much like actual equivalence.

Jon Stewart has been complaining about the same thing Anderson was complaining about last night and brought it into his March to Restore Sanity.

2:48 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Anonymous 2:48 PM: As I state right in my headline, I thought Anderson was right to call out the Congressman. You're right, in the context of recent events, it's a legitimate story. But I never said it wasn't.

As far as the other issues being "not new," that's sort of Cohen's point--they keep repeating these lies over and over. And the repeal vote was new, so fact-checking the GOP's reasoning behind holding this vote seems like a big part of the story. As I state in my post, lies can be just as poisonous to our discourse as inflammatory rhetoric. It seems absolutely ridiculous to me to make the story solely about how an argument was made, leaving out the actual substance behind the argument.

I'm sorry if I wasn't clear re: false equivalency. In this case, I was specifically referring to Anderson's blanket statements about blogs during the discussion. His go to meme is 'both sides do it,' yet he rarely backs up this claim, and usually fails to bring context.

Jon Stewart got a lot of flack for perceived false equivalence. Personally, I wasn't as bothered by it as some liberals because I've been watching him for almost a decade now and I know that he doesn't really buy into that. I understood what he meant, and he further explained on Maddow. Obviously, I expect more from an actual news show.

5:57 PM  

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