12 Oct Contextomy – FT#60
The Contextomy Fallacy is committed when someone uses another person’s quote out of context to change the intended meaning and support their own argument.
We started out with this tweet taking London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s words out of context:
At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
We followed that up with this clip of Bill Barr incompletely (and disingenuously) quoting from the Mueller Report:
And then we discussed Mike Pence’s selective and out of context quote from Ron Klain:
Mark’s British Politics Corner
Mark talked about Boris weirdly and awkwardly quoting M People:
And then we looked at Keir Starmer quoting… himself? Nobody? Who knows?
Fallacy in the Wild
We talked about this newspaper advert for ‘Be Cool’ (and specifically the review quote at the top):
We followed that up with this exchange from a British libel trial from the 60s:
David Turner-Samuels (for Private Eye): With your permission, my lord, I will read an extract from The Times Literary Review — “Lord Russell’s works could be said to be pornographic…”.
David Hirst, QC (for the plaintiff, Lord Russell): Read the rest of the sentence.
David Turner-Samuels: “But they are not.”
And finally in this section we talked about this clip from Arrested Development:
Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:
- I was at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach Florida and they said “he was so Presidential” well, when I’m on a debate stage and I have all these people throwing things at me you’ve got to fight back. Somebody said “Donald you’re the leader, the prohibitive favorite. Just stand there and take it”. I can’t do that right? I can’t. They actually said “be Presidential”. I said “does that mean that I can’t fight?” so when little Marco spews his crap about the size of my hands which are big.
- Those hands can hit a golf ball 285 yards those are good strong — I’ve never been criticized about the size of my hands before. I’m saying to myself “what’s going on here?” So anyway — so I have to — so what do I do? For the rest of my life I have the curse that I have little hands! Little hands! Take that guy. So I said to my people “so what do I do, do I stand back and just take incoming and act Presidential?” so now I’m — “Donald Trump is a con man.”
- “Donald Trump is crazy. Donald Trump would be a terrible President.” I’m just supposed to take that I act Presidential? I can’t do that. “Donald Trump is racist”. They don’t know. So I fight back, but you never — but when I say things about Little Marco, all of a sudden — “Donald Trump is a bully”. I’m fighting back. You know how many people would support me if I didn’t fight back? Like, seven. None of you would do that, I know you would.
Click below for the answer
Mark got it wrong this week, so now he’s on 26/60, or 43%.
Trump’s COVID diagnosis is not a logical fallacy
We talked about Trump’s bout of coronavirus, his treatment, his lying doctor, and his astounding recklessness.
The stories we really didn’t have time to talk about
- I know this seems like a million years ago now, but we kind of have to talk about Trump’s taxes. This story broke hours after we finished recording our last episode, which means the fact that Trump paid less Federal income tax in 2016 and 2017 than the average podcaster is somehow not in the news cycle anymore because 2020. Honestly, when I pick the headlines the day before we record there’s a 50/50 chance twelve more important or upsetting things will have happened by the time we do this. Anyway, as everyone knows by now, the New York Times got hold of Trump’s taxes and showed that he paid $750 in tax in both 2016 and 2017 and zero in 10 of the 15 previous years. His supporters tried desperately to ignore this, while pointing out that the documents didn’t reveal any links between Trump and Russia, but quickly ran away when anyone mentioned the fact that Trump is over $400 million in debt and we don’t know who he owes. Maybe Russia. While we’re all reeling from the news that Trump’s businesses aren’t as successful as he claims they are, at least we know why he’s fighting so hard to stay in a job he clearly hates. He can’t afford to move out of government housing.
- Well we awaited the great debate in great anticipation – as the Guardian newspaper reported – an aged white male was putted against an aged orange male, not since the the tall and tanned and young and lovely JFK from Ipanema was up against the pained and pallid damp-faced Nixon has such badinage and repartee been promised, yeah right said no one ever! Still with Covid rules in place at least we wouldn’t have to suffer a repeat of Trump prowling around in back of Hilary, but it did mean we were deprived the pleasure of Biden walking over and punching Trump square in the face-hole as we ordered our Shut Up Man t-shirts that appeared on the Democrats campaign site immediately Joe had said it. And Joe had to say it cos Chris Wallace was so caught rabbit-like in the orange headlights of Trump’s incessant excrescence interruptus that he could neither work the rules nor the mic off switch! And when the obituary of America is written the first lines will contain the immortal pronouncements of Potus 45 gleaned from this lofty interplay of two giants of the philosopher kingdom in discussing how best to cradle and nurture everyone in their care: “Ask not what Trump will do for himself in spite of America, but rather what can America continue to do for Trump and still be blamed for it not being enough”, “yeah I’m not that but what are you”, “Why are you pointing my way he did it more than me”, “Mr President please… please Mr President…the rules, the rules” “Stand down I’m proud of you my very fine supremacist boys” and it will end with Dana Bash from CNN uttering the self-evident and universal truth that we all hold dear, that this truly was our finest “shitshow”. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at the Veep’s debate hey!
- Yes, the VP debate. Well, it was OK. I mean, it was 1000% better than the Presidential shit-show, in that people actually, you know, debated a bit. But you can gauge the level of excitement from the fact that a fly that sat on Pence’s head for over two minutes was by far the most talked about aspect. Obviously Kamala won, with a particularly strong answer on the economy being a highlight, and several opportunities to shut Pence up like a school teacher waiting for quiet. Both candidates avoided some questions, but Pence made it a personal mission not to answer the question he was asked, at one point choosing instead to ask Kamala a question and then complain that she hadn’t answered it. He answered several questions by claiming that Biden would raise everyone’s taxes, and none of those questions were about the economy. Basically he showed what Trump’s lies would look like if they were delivered in a calm, almost comatose manner instead of by a frothing maniac. The debates continue next week, or do they? The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced that the next debate will be virtual, due to Trump still being infected with a deadly contagious virus, but as of this recording, Trump says he won’t take part if it’s virtual, presumably because trying to get Biden infected is his only real hope at this point.
- Just when you thought there was no inkling of any glimmer of light, hope or exhilaration emanating from the crack of the arse-end of 2020 – let joy be unconfined – our comedy evil villains Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman have handed themselves in – the sweetest-sounding three little words you’ll ever hear exchanged between two people – “handed themselves in”. Yep the exciting chapter in The Lives of the Superchumps we brought you the episode before last, where they said that they had nothing to do with intimidating robo-calls to black and minority voters has caught up with them. They’re charged with
A count of election law – intimidating voters, a five-year felony; A count of conspiracy to commit an election law violation, a five-year felony; A count of using a computer to commit the crime of election law – intimidating voters, a seven-year felony; and Using a computer to commit the crime of conspiracy, a seven-year felony. Disappointingly they’ll only officially have to face a maximum of 12 years in jail but excitingly there is room for judge’s discretion, if the judge is as discrete as they’ve been… they ain’t never getting out!
- There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the coronavirus, and researchers at Columbia University decided to look into where all this bad information is coming from. You’re not going to believe this, but having analysed 38 million articles about the virus, they discovered that the single biggest driver of misinformation about COVID is a Mr Donald J Trump, of Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC. Of the 38 million articles, 1.1 million contained misinformation, with 46% of those containing conspiracy theories, and 27% involving miracle cures. Trump was invoked in almost 40% of all the untrue stuff. Finally, Trump can legitimately claim he is the best in the world at something!
- Covid has wrought many problems on ordinary American citizens, but its not been an even-handed thing, in Trump’s America, to quote-mine Nina Simone “Them that’s got shall get, Them that’s not shall lose” tho admittedly she got it from Matthew 13:12, which is where non-profit organisation Farmers to Families has stepped in with their Food Box Programme, providing produce for free for those most in need. Ironic given that cos of Trump and his big ahbrain when it comes to trade and tariffs, most of the farmers in America are approaching the breadline themselves. Ever mindful of his non-fulfilment of his duties to aid and assist anyone in the nation except himself, Trump has asked that each box includes a letter from him big sharpie signature and all, apologising for his wilful negligence and unforgivable misdeed in that regard, which, he goes on to humbly accept, borders on the criminal, if not appearing-at-the-Hague-style-genocidal behaviour. Er no course not, there is a letter mandated to be included in each box which usurps all the charitable altruism of Chief Exec Carlos Nelson and claims it as Trump’s own – not the congressional government’s, not the federal authorities’, not local supporters’, Trump his own self. And in Spanish too. Presumably to ingratiate himself with the Hispanic voters he’s so crudely disenfranchised for the last 4 years. An echo of his putting his signature on the support checks sent out under the congressional cross-party COVID support scheme it puts me in mind of Yosarian in Catch-22 reaching for painkillers to help ease the poor kid who’s on the edge of death having been shot down in Vietnam, only to find a paper bond certificate from Milo the war profiteer. Thankfully as Carlos Nelson points out his organisation has a highly efficient litter collection and recycling team at distribution events, and now a solution to the toilet paper shortage too.
- In yet more news that you wouldn’t see if Trump’s America was a functioning democracy, Georgetown University have produced a series of fact sheets to let you know what to do if you see armed militia intimidating voters at your polling place. You know, like Trump urged his supporters to do during the debate, just after he failed to condemn white supremacists. Since this is, fucking unbelievably, necessary information right now, we’ll have a link in the show notes so that you can download the factsheet for your state. Can we just stop this now and go back to normality? Please vote, so that can happen!
- Meanwhile in the 51st State – The Tory party conference was conducted online which meant Boris was where he likes being most, nowhere fucking near ordinary people, with their pesky questions and demands for accountability, equality or indeed quality. Artless Cultural Philistine of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak told us that all the members of the highest grossing income sector in the United Kingdom who could no longer work cos opera houses, theatres and music venues are all still off limits as a result of the government not being able to operate Lotus 123 er sorry a world-beating track and trace system, should retrain and get new jobs, just like they lobbied relentlessly for the then Labour chancellor to tell those freeloading bankers to all get new jobs after the crash of 2008.
Increasingly vampiric home secretary Priti Patel is advocating that asylum seekers should be processed in the Ascension Islands not cos that’s where Transylvania now is but because presumably small French-sourced inflatable dinghies won’t make it that far or that refugees fleeing mainly UK-supplied armed conflicts would be delighted to be able to get the BBC World Service there, broadcasting new episodes of Spitting Image, where Boris continuously threatens to sack Dominic Cummings sotto voce only to be threatened in return by Dom from the planet Gork asking can you eat babies. In the 80’s it was a lighthearted comedy now it’s a hard-hitting documentary. Meanwhile on the left – er nothing – new middle-ground middle-manager mid-grey Keir Starmer would welcome “a bit of distance from the unions” after the leader of the organisation representing the largest proportion of the UK’s workforce says it will cut funding donations to the Labour party as they feel it is no longer representative of the needs of its membership. Welcome aboard Len McCluskie so does the majority of the membership of the Labour party itself! We’re all off to join the Social Dilemma’s Extreme Centre party.
That’s all for this week, thanks for listening!