About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bush and Fox: the unholy alliance

George W. has just taken another step down the path of news manipulation by replacing his press secretary, Scott McClellan, with a Fox News “commentator,” Tony Snow. Not that we’ll miss McClellan, mind you. The host of WNYC’s “On the Media” has recently quipped that McClellan has “decided” to leave the White House to spend some time with... the truth! Nonetheless, it is unprecedented for the White House to make such an obvious move, bridging the already tiny gap between its spin-doctoring department and a highly visible conservative tv channel that has been so shamelessly allied with Bush and his company that whenever I hear their motto (“we report, you decide”) I cannot help but laugh.

If you haven’t noticed, Fox News is where administration officials – from Dick to Condy -- go first whenever they need to do damage control or spin the latest bad news into as much of a positive light as they can muster. Democrat Karen Finney has summarized the problem neatly by stating that “to our mind he [Snow] is just moving from one part of the conservative infrastructure to another.”

This is all the more infuriating because the American public is pretty much convinced – after decades of conservative lying – that the media in this country has an unfair liberal bias. To see just how far that statement is from the truth, ask yourself who could possibly have played the role of Snow in a Democratic administration. The names of Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and Al Franken (Air America Radio) come to mind, except that they are both comedians, not journalists!

You know, people who went to college, or even finished high school, often can tell you which book (sometimes even more than one!) most influenced their youth and is still prominent in their thoughts or feelings. Bush barely finished college with much help from daddy (pretty much the same way he managed his “career” as a businessmen, and of course very much in the same way he became President), but still I bet there is one book that is still prominently shaping his thoughts and actions. No, it’s not the Bible. It’s George Orwell’s “1984.”


  1. Wow we actually agree on something! Fox news is absolutely amazing at spinning any information they have. Bush probably thinks this is a smart move; howver he fails to realize that the public is not that stupid...well at least the ones who didn't vote for him. Actually, to bring in someone who was looking from the outside in might help him. He would guide Bush on how to manipulate his words much better...of course Snow would have to say the big words for him.

  2. "Have contempt for contempt." (Francis de Sales) Wherever it may be found.

    Just about everybody "spins" don't they, Kim. But if you have contempt for anyone, no matter what they have done, you are no better off.


  3. The interesting (ironic?) thing is the big deal people are making out of this, it seems to me (and to the guys here at the lab, where we were talking about this the other day during lunch).

    I mean, the position is for a highly trained parrot, isn't it? He ain't gonna solve any administration problem, he's not going to come up with the solution to Iraq, Iran, etc. (fill in with your favorite evil-country-du-jour) or the health care and immigration problems, etc.. He's there just to answer questions, spin, fabricate news, whatever. But he won't change anything... Well, if you consider that the only thing that matters is the appearances, then let's think again... Which seems to be the case anyway, so I guess I'm just being naive and he'll "solve" everything after all, 1984-style as I think Massimo implied.


  4. Just think for a moment. Who else could have been chosen from Fox? We should count our blessings. Either that, or bemoan the loss of entertainment we might have had.


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