As I was re-reading my Discussion Tips page, which I wrote years ago, I realized that I have not been pointing out fallacies near as much as I used to.
There were two good examples of straw man fallacies propagated by the media in the run-up to the election.
A Straw Man fallacy is a false representation of an opponent’s argument that’s easy to defeat. It is very common among 6th graders, but unfortunately, it is all too common among adults and too often passes for quality journalism, especially when the straw man is used against those we dislike.
Straw man #1: ‘Trump says voting is rigged. How dumb is that?’
Trump actually said the political system is rigged against outsiders. Which means political insiders, like the Clintons, had the media and political parties helping them to the detriment of the outsiders (e.g. him and Bernie). He overcame. Bernie did not.
But, the media twisted this into the sound bite that Trump’s key concern was fraudulent or hacked voting and dismissed Trump as absurd for thinking that.
Matt Lauer continued this fallacy on the morning after the election with Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. She did good by explaining that Matt was misrepresenting the complaint and pointing out that there was evidence to support Trump’s position from the Wikileak emails showing Donna Brazile forwarding advance notice of debate questions to Clinton’s team in the debates against Sanders.
Straw man #2: “Trump says he will not accept the results of the election and does not respect the peaceful transfer of power.”
Trump actually said that he will have to wait and see if he will not challenge the results. He also said, I’ll keep you in suspense. He didn’t mention violence.
This seemed like a reasonable response. Wouldn’t anyone challenge the result if it appeared there was something nefarious going on? Shouldn’t they? Would you rather they sit back and let corrupt groups subjugate the will of the people?
The media then turned this into the straw man above and kept plugging away at it.
Personally, I think this was meant to distract attention from the FBI Director reopening the investigation into Hillary’s emails — and that’s about all they had that was new at that point.
But, in addition to this being a straw man, I think many people saw this charge as disingenuous and hyopcritical coming from the side that actually did contest the 2000 election, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court.
When I see such blatant fallacies, I figure those who perpetrate them are either not very smart or dishonest, neither of which helps them make their argument.