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Rating the intellectual honesty and dishonesty of Fox News’ Shepard Smith

Posted by John T. Reed on

 In the article below, I compare a transcript of the named pundits to my rules against intellectually-dishonest debate tactics. You can see those rules at:

I am also writing a forthcoming book about honest and dishonest debate tactics.

Shepard Smith said on 12/12/17

the dishonesty

Dozens of Congressional Democrats are calling for investigations into sexual allegations against President Trump

Politicians in one party calling for investigation of the other party are the usual partisan prattle, not news.

NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand saying the President cannot silence his accusers

Goes without saying. This is a strawman argument because no one said Trump could silence accusers.

Trump said Gillibrand was a lightweight who begged him for money [Trump] said she would do anything for it...expect questions about this at the White House briefing scheduled to start any minute

Accurate reporting as far as it goes, but arguably not an important enough event to deserve the time devoted to it considering all the other things going on in the nation and the world at the time. Trump’s vulgar nature was already well known. Once that is the case, more reports that have the thesis “Trump is vulgar” are more badgering or brain washing than news.

They’re casting ballots in Alabama—Roy Moore accused of sexual misconduct molesting a 14-year old

The accusation was denied by Moore and the stature of limitations had expired long ago, each of which should have been included if the matter is brought up at all.

rode up on a horse named Sassy to cast his vote as he tries to keep the U.S. Senate seat in Republican hands—

Voting on a horse is mildly noteworthy; the name of the horse is not and appears to be an attempt to cast aspersions related to the accusation.

he’s railed against gays

The word “railed” is a dysphemism and vaguely defined and therefore dishonest. Criticized or condemned would have been the honest description of the behavior in question. Whether past criticism of gays was important enough to be included in a 20-second biography of a 70-year-old Senate candidate in 2017 is questionable. Barack Obama opposed gay marriage during his 2008 campaign.

and twice been forced from office

accurate reporting and appropriate to include in a 20-second biography

Don’t say the Moores aren’t fond of Jews. His wife says one of their lawyers is a Jew.

Definitely not important enough to make a 20-second biography.  Also, this is intended to call to mind the famous comment that “I’m not prejudiced as evidenced by the fact that some of my best friends are [blacks or Jews or whatever].” The logic fallacy of the “some of my best friends” comment is that such a small sample is insufficient to draw a valid conclusion about the person’s prejudice in general. Smith appears to be calling attention to Mrs. Moore’s apparent ignorance of the wide disrepute among educated persons of trying to prove lack of prejudice with the so-called “friends” argument.

The President has doubled down on his support for Roy Moore.

True and legitimate mention in a brief report.

The Republican candidate faces accusations of sexual misconduct with teenagers when he was in his thirties.

Because the statutes of limitations had run out, he did not face anything legally. Furthermore, only one accusation of sexual misconduct with a teenager was made. The other statements were that Moore dated teenagers when he was in his thirties, but included no accusation of any sexual conduct at all, legal or illegal. Smith’s using the plural “accusations” was a lie.

He denies it.

Should have been stated at the time of the first mention above.

That’s enough to give you the idea of some of the ways the dishonest journalism game is played. The biggest part is what they leave out and what they talk about.

In this case, the voters of Alabama should be looking at the candidates positions on the various issues and the character of the candidates with regard to how they might vote on matters not discussed in the campaign.

I opposed Moore on the grounds that he was twice removed from judgeships for refusing to comply with higher court decisions when he was a judge as required by the Alabama and U.S. Constitutions. I found his dating teenage girls when he was a bachelor in his thirties quite unseemly, but not illegal or likely to recur when he was a father and grandfather in his seventies.

Moore was in the class behind me at West Point. I did not know him.

Smith was not complying with Fox News’ “We report. You decide.” slogan when he chose to emphasize, rather than just report once, the sexual accusation and to say there was more than one when there was one. He also mentioned the horse named Sassy twice and the Jewish lawyer reference which was not an issue in the campaign. In this case, Smith decided whom Alabamians should vote for and Smith was trying to influence the vote, not just report relevant facts and let viewers decide.


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