Watch this, if you dare.
I have been using the phrase “Bias makes you stupid” for many years, but only recently learned that a Utah climate-change scientist has claimed the observation as his own. In fact, Barry Bickmore has a lot of useful, perceptive observations among “Bickmore’s Laws” ( Example: Bickmore’s First Law of Being Reasonable Reasonable people understand that good arguments can sometimes lead to false conclusions, and bad arguments can sometimes lead to true conclusions ), though they all were apparently devised to help him debunk the arguments of climates change skeptics. Most of them have general applicability. and that includes his version of what I once called “Marshall’s First Law”: Bickmore’s First Law of Being Biased: Bias makes you human. Unchecked bias makes you stupid.
Which brings us to Lauren Green, and Fox News.
I have no idea whether Ms. Green is really stupid or not. I do know she is a former beauty queen, and that Fox (other networks too, but Fox is blatant about it) clearly values pulchritude over journalistic acumen and skill when making their on-air talent decisions not involving Y chromosomes. This itself is stupid, unprofessional, sexist, insulting to women, unfair to better journalists with smaller bra cups and courser features, and I must admit, when it leads to an epic live embarrassment such as Green’s, I take some satisfaction that Roger Ailes is getting exactly what he deserves for such a cynical, reckless, ratings ploy.
If Lauren Green is not stupid, then her frantic efforts to play to the core Fox audience’s presumed bias in favor of Christianity of the literal variety and related bias against non-Christians, especially Muslims, sure caused her brain to take a holiday. Or, perhaps, her own unchecked Christian biases—she is Fox’s “religion correspondent” these days—triggered a classic display of Bickmore’s First Law of Being Biased. In either case, I think her credibility is permanently shot, even at Fox. She might want to consider a different line of work.
What she did in the course of the disastrous and hostile interview with author and scholar Reza Aslan, who has written a controversial new tome challenging some traditional tropes of Christianity, has been pounced on with glee by the liberal media. I have seen almost as cringe-worthy performances from CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS talking heads…see, for example, here (Ann Curry), or here (John King), or here (Matt Lauer)….and MSNBC has equally horrible performances several times daily, but this was Fox, so naturally everyone is smugly piling on. It’s OK—Green deserves it, as does Fox. Green is not as far behind the low standard set by the rest, however, as their ridicule would make its seem.
But was this the bottom of the barrel? Yes.
In her interview with Aslan, Green decided to play investigative reporter, and to prove that the scholar had an agenda in writing the book, namely to discredit Christianity, because of his Muslim faith. She asked, “I want to be clear, you are a Muslim. So why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” He was relatively nice: I would have said, “You’re a black woman. So why are you working at Fox News?” Green’s world view, as she displayed it, appeared to be that everyone is driven by ideological biases, partisan agendas and nothing else, that nobody ever looks for the truth unless they think it will benefit them in some way, and that objective and honest scholarship is a myth. Being made box-of-rocks stupid by her own biases (or desperately trying to defend her employer’s bias), she naturally assumed that the author had to be motivated by his own. “But it begs the question, why you would be interested in the founder of Christianity?” Green asked. Wait—why wouldn’t he be? Why, for that matter, wouldn’t he be interested in bran flakes, the Ritz brothers, the works of P.G. Wodehouse, the agriculture policies of Benjamin Harrison, urban legends of Pocatello, Idaho, or the songwriting career of Orin Hatch?Who is Lauren Green to decide what is appropriate for anyone to study and have an interest in? Of course, her position is even sillier than that: she’s questioning why a religious scholar is interested in one of the towering figures of world religion. Hmmm...that’s a real head-scratcher, right, Roger?
“Because it’s my job as an academic; I am a professor of religion. It’s what I do for a living,” Aslan, answered, reasonable enough. “I’m not sure what my faith has to do with my twenty years of academic study… I think it’s strange that instead of debating the merits of the book, we’re actually discussing the right of the scholar to actually write it.”
It was strange, except that Lauren Green was in the deadly grip of Bickmore’s First Law of Being Biased.
It goes with the territory.
38 thoughts on “Lauren Green, Fox News, and Bickmore’s First Law Of Being Biased”
You must know that Lauren Green is just a mouthpiece of the executive producers at Fox News. There is no doubt that that she was being fed the questions during the interview.
Fox’s ploy is turnabout is fair play. Is it ethical? No. However, in the 24 hour cable polemic to keep its viewership, it is just more of the same.
1. If so, her future is in acting. She had no obligation to look like an idiot.
2. Fox’s business model—it’s hardly a ploy–is that the rest of the broadcast media is unethically biased to the left while claiming objectivity, and Fox tilts right to help balance the scales. They are right about that. They frequently over-play their hand.
3. More of what same? Green’s performance wasn’t typical. Fox’s level of idiocy is not noticeably more egregious than the other networks, if you compare apples and apples. (Shep Smith to Jake Tapper to Bob Shieffer…). I don’t think Sean Hannity is more ridiculous that Piers Morgan, and both are better than Al Sharpton or Martin Bakshir.
“2. Fox’s business model—it’s hardly a ploy–is that the rest of the broadcast media is unethically biased to the left while claiming objectivity, and Fox tilts right to help balance the scales. They are right about that. They frequently over-play their hand.”
Which is damned stupid:
How to balance the media when the vast majority of it is Leftist propaganda?
Just be UNBIASED. Going the other direction invites two problems:
overplaying your self-appointed ‘role’ by actually acting out false stereotypes of right-wingers in your conduct and presentation of the news, and thereby not doing anyone any good.
adding further to the split.
A ‘right wing’ news (which is just as stupid as ‘left wing’ news) is not NEWS. Just like its odd that in the Justice System, the Zimmerman case had a noticeable Right/Left split of opinions, so should REPORTING. Justice is not a Right-wing thing just like Reporting FAIRLY should not be a partisan thing.
But being objective will still be called tilting to the right by a Left-biased media. (Barry Deutch calls this a Right Wing blog.) This is one reason Fox gets off track—it can’t tell the difference any more.
Only because Left wingers are so religiously
devoted deluded into believing that their political views ARE moderate and therefore their opinions on EVERYTHING (political or not) can be associated on the political spectrum as being average.
that was a html markup failure.
Only because Left wingers are so religiously
devoteddeluded into believing that their political views ARE moderate and therefore their opinions on EVERYTHING (political or not) can be associated on the political spectrum as being average.
Don’t care for Fox or the religious right bias but I do understand their reasoning. They are merely providing the red meat for THEIR viewers… As these viewers shaRe texaggs viewpoint, and want a voice on cable for THEM.
News and reporting isn’t supposed to be a ‘voice’ for the viewers (we have legislative Representatives for that purpose). It’s supposed to ensure that the viewers receive UNCENSORED and UNFILTERED facts of major occurrences, trends, and other topics, from which to make their own personal decisions. That neither ‘side’ does this (which I feel ridiculous saying, because News and Reporting should not have ‘sides’) doesn’t make it right. The real problem lies with the mainstream media blowhards who truly think that they are reporting from an unbiased and honest angle (of course I suspect that most of them at this point know that they aren’t). At least FOX KNOWS it is intentionally biased.
Also, like usual, your post has a hint of “everyone does it”.
Is there a Rationalization on your list that covers “well if I’m going to be accused of it anyway, I may as well do it”?
No, but you know what? It’s a good one. I have heard it verbalized, in fact.
I see it often from punk teens.
How to balance the media when the vast majority of it is Leftist propaganda?
The vast majority of media is not Leftist propaganda. There are some leftward errors, but they aren’t nearly as common as claimed. For the most part, the biases are towards statism and shocking content.
Garbage in, garbage out.
I giggled some when you said “errors”; I assume you are being comedic. I can agree to the part about “statism” and “shocking content” along with “Leftism” already described.
Errors was encompassing both the employment of idiots (ex: Jesse Jackson) and unintentional slips.
Wow. If that isn’t a Conducting Interviews 101 lesson, namely, “If you’re going to interview an author about his book, first, read the book,” nothing is.
Okay, okay about Lauren Green.
But if I had to listen to Reza Aslan tell me for the 50th time that “I HAVE A PH.D. IN RELIGION,” I would have wanted to puke. To me, anyone who says once he is a scholar of religion, that he holds a Ph.D. in religious history is enough. But over, and over, and over again he cited his damned Ph.D. Methinks he doth brag too much. Anyone who defends his work primarily — again, over and over and over again — on his academic credentials is suspect to me. I don’t think he has an agenda re Jesus particularly, and I agree that Lauren Green is your basic arm-candy interviewer. But aside from tidbits of information about the book, the religious preferences of his relatives, all he did was cite his credentials as many times as he could get them in. Ph.D. from where, by the way? The back of a matchbook?
I know some of the most egotistical, moronic, biased people who have Ph.D.s. I also know people who cheated their way into their Ph.D. status. I also know that some of our most brilliant thinkers didn’t even graduate high school.
So fine. Lauren Green notwithstanding, ol’ Reza clearly wanted to present himself as CREDENTIALED more than talk about his book. It might be a good and interesting book; but I have no interest in putting money into the pocket of a man who can only recite — again, over and over and over again — that he has a PhD. He could have called Lauren on her stupid questions… Instead it was always “I HAVE A PH.D..” (Read: “And you don’t, you moron.”)
Bad interviewer. Worse interviewee
He HAD to cite his credentials because his credentials debunked the incessant ad hominem of his religion (which I doubt even played a role in his views anyway, since he openly and verbally disagreed with one teaching of islam…something devout Muslims do not do)
“He HAD to cite his credentials because his credentials debunked the incessant ad hominem of his religion (which I doubt even played a role in his views anyway, since he openly and verbally disagreed with one teaching of islam…something devout Muslims do not do)”
Yes, her interview style would be better suited to MSNBC.
You know, the old, ‘keep asking the same question until you get an answer you like’.
I don’t know what you would have him do, E1. She kept asking the same question over and over again (Why are you writing such a book?) and he kept answering her (Because it’s my field, my job, my area of expertise, what I know, my passion, where I’m credentialed…) Outside of saying, “That does it, you crazy bitch, I’m out of here!” and leaving, he was left him no choice but to recite his letters.
I agree with Jack. The poor guy was not bragging. He was trying to make a point to a box of rocks.
One reason I think that she was directed to press the issue and that it isn’t actually in her heart to do so, is that she never tried to reword the question. Individuals like Piers Morgan truly believe the nonsense ad hominems they employ are able to continue the ad hominems in a variety of questions and angles of attack on the fly.
Lauren Green seemed to mechanically push this issue as though told to do so. Of course that doesn’t absolve her of her professional duty to tell her superiors “I don’t think that is right”.
I’m sympathetic to any employee working for unethical employers who give out unethical directives. But this line of questioning, in the context of the interview, bordered on religious bias and was an intentional smear job to boot. If an employee submits to that and goes forward, he or she can’t claim innocence—this is Nuremberg. There are some orders a legitimate journalist does not follow (and that a legitimate news organization doesn’t give.)
I agree. Just like in the military, a subordinate is duty bound to follow all orders regardless of whether or not those orders are personally undesirable. Only when orders break the particular professional standards of the industry in question are subordinates now obligated to NOT follow those orders, while simultaneously are obligated, out of loyalty, to inform their superiors that the orders are wrong – so that the superior has a chance to amend their own attitudes and the orders as well.
By the way, given your last sentence which establishes a standard for a legitimate news organization (and I don’t think it’s the only standard, but it is a deal-breaker for legitimacy): Do we have ANY legitimate news organizations?
I am hearing from a couple of my grown kids that the closest thing they have found to a legitimate news organization is…wait for it…Al Jazeera.
That’s moderately disheartening.
I was thinking more along the lines of “liberally laughable.”
I disagree that he came of worse- she kept asking the same question that was barely worth asking once. I do see your point, though. It was a much better argument when he said “I’m a scholar,” or “I’ve written books on Islam, Judaism, Christianity, ALL religions,” or, my personal pick for best argument, “History is about people presenting views and either agreeing or disagreeing with other people’s views, look at my citations where I list other scholars who do both.” Unfortunately he said each of those once, and kept repeating “But I have a DEGREE” over and over.
An uncharitable interpretation is that he was making an argument from (his own) authority and was in the right simply because of his academic degree. A more charitable one is that he was so irritated by her off-base questions that “I have a PhD” was shorthand for “My religion has nothing to do with it, this is my life’s work, I’ve devoted years and hours and blood, sweat, and tears to learning these things and balancing my arguments and making sure I’m saying something supportable that hasn’t already been said, and you’re going to hand-wave me off with ‘but you’re a Muslim?'”
I can sympathize, I feel the same way when some hippie tries to tell me how evil vaccines are, and I want to just shake them by the shoulders and yell “I do science! Shut up!” So yeah- it came off as a little bit arrogant but it didn’t really matter what he said in the end, she was going to assume he REALLY was just trying to knock Christianity.
Right around 4:15, after her 3rd (I think) ad hominem, if she pressed it a 4th time, I would have ended the interview if I were him. Kudos to his patience.
I watched about a minute and a half, which was as much as I could take. Are we sure this Fox fox isn’t the bimbo from Huntsville in her new job and new makeup and hair dye?
Jack, your posts are starting to run together like a subtle but elaborate work of fiction.
That or it’s an indication that all the ethical problems in our country are extremely related in their nature.
Or as pervasive and as depressing as Jack says they are.
Bickmore’s First Law of Being Biased is beyond excellent. (I said, biasedly.)
One of my more conservative friends is staying with me this weekend and she brought up this interview. She was so annoyed by the author’s treatment that she bought his book. Apparently it’s pretty good. His book sales must be soaring right now.
Although the interviewer was an A-class idiot, I actually thought the author was a little arrogant and obnoxious. He could have changed the topic on his own to discuss the political context of his book — I think that is what I would have done instead of just repeating my credentials. Or, perhaps I would have taken the opportunity to calmly explain the academic process — he did try and explain it — but in an exasperated tone — I don’t think a lay person understands it and he shouldn’t expect a Fox news audience to be made up of historians. Now, the cynic in me is wondering if he deliberately escalated the interview to create this hype.
Others have suggested that he assisted in his “victimization” too…who knows. If he did, it worked.
I think that exasperation directed towards an idiotic interviewer can be understood. I doubt he was told this to expect this in the interview.
It’s hard to believe, that a so-called religion correspondent, with a degree in classical music, would actually have the arrogance and the temerity to attack the MORE THAN ADEQUATE academic credentials of Reza Aslan simply because he’s a Muslim. But given the bias and buffoonery that reigns supreme over at Fox “News,” I really shouldn’t have been surprised.
Bias and buffoonery reign on all the networks—they just annoy different people. What was unusual about that interview is that it annoyed almost everyone.