Watch the Blazer, Bro

Saw this completely by chance the other day. I find it VERY funny, because its a video of a guy from think progress trying to execute an “ambush interview” on Jesse Watters, who is a fox news reporter of some type.

In general, I’m liberal, but I also usually find liberal people very shrill and sanctimonious about their beliefs (don’t be offended if you’re a liberal, I’m stereotyping so there are always exceptions). It’s funny because you could say I agree with liberals, but would rather hang out with conservatives (again, go easy on me, I’m stereotyping).

But anyway, this video is awesome for many reasons. One is that Watters, who usually does these type of ambushes, just TOTALLY shuts this guy down. You have to watch it, but apparently, this guy is using a camera phone and Watters, cool as a cucumber, points this fact out. The guy trying to do the interview is totally taken aback and basically can’t get anywhere with his attempted mission.

However, another thing is Watters, for all his coolness, is pretty obviously a super-suave guy who cares about clothes and stuff, and someone I would most likely never be friends with. For some reason though, I’m on his side in this situation. (some of his jabs are just great. “you look a little nervous man, why are your hands shaking.” and “watch the blazer bro.”)

Another thing that’s kind of funny, and more philosophical, is how weak these type of interviews are as sources of knowledge or activism. The question that the interviewer eventually settles on is “Does FOX News make things up, yes or no?” Even I don’t think FOX news MAKES THINGS UP! WHO THINKS THAT? The point, I thought, was a more subtle one about what FOX chooses to cover and the tone that it attaches to various stories (see a forthcoming post I have about media bias). What a lame “ambush.”

Also, why doesn’t Watters eventually just answer the question? I think it would have been devastating for him to just say “no, I don’t think FOX news FABRICATES stories.” BOOM. That would have sunk things too for this poor camera guy.

Ok, now its time to make a bigger point, which is that I think very little democratic advancement gets done by harassing random people with incendiary questions. I mean, I guess it might help sometimes, but I see a lot of videos of people just walking up to guys in suits and making accusations or whatever. How does that help? I guess most people think it helps because they assume most politicians or lobbyist or defense contractors or whatever are CORRUPT as in malevolent or intentionally malicious.

But this is just due to the cynicism in American politics. I think there is a lot wrong with our political system, but its not that some people are actively trying to ruin others (sometimes it is, don’t get me wrong), but much more common is how a serious of incentives and norms become internalized and obeyed as a matter of course. In other words, the biggest risk is IMPLICIT DOGMATISM. Not, a I’m-trying-to-screw-you-mentality. In other words — and this is a way of putting the point that I think is kind of clear and feels very expressive of what I’m trying to say — politicians and lobbyists are bad for our country in the way that TV is bad for kids. Not because advertisers or TV execs are trying to hurt anyone, but that they do anyway as a side-effect of pursuing their profession. Politicians and lobbyists are the same way. They are pursuing a valuable goal (legislating on important issues) and they succeed I think for the most part. But as a side effect of pursuing this, they get intoxicated by power and hobknob with powerful people who like to be important as well. All this leads to bad decisions. I mean also, some people just have a really false view of the relevant evidence governing a particular issue. These people are not dishonest or malevolent, they’re just like the kid who couldn’t get calculus for whatever reason; they’re not on board with the best evidence. All we can do is keep trying to find it and give it to them.



2 Responses to “Watch the Blazer, Bro”

  1. March 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Also cognitive dissonance — very few people, if any, believe they are committing evil acts. Humans are very good at rationalizing fundamentally selfish behavior as having some kind of higher purpose.

    • 2 questionbeggar
      March 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Yep, I definitely agree that ideology plays a large part in creating evil. For example, I think that most of the acts of abuse in Guantanamo Bay were rationalized under the idea that the legal system had been somehow altered to allow for more aggressive interrogation (military commissions instead of standard forms of justice).

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