In the recent actions affecting muslim immigration, the Trump administration implemented a ban on muslim refugees. This ban led to backlash from many liberals and praise from conservatives. Two articles that stood out with their approach to describe this executive order are Fox News and MSNBC. Each article utilized logical fallacies to influence the reader’s opinion on the ban.
The Fox News opinion article “Trump’s travel ban and the Democrats’ big con” by Arthur Herman incorporates various logical fallacy techniques. The article begins with “the Democrats’ overall strategy dealing with Trump-you’d better go watch “The Sting”,” exemplifying a biased unqualified authority. Herman is a supporter of the Republican party, the opposition to the Democratic party. There has been historic tension between the two. It is not surprising that Herman’s article is biased in favor of Republicans and aggressive toward the Democrats.
The article goes on to compare the mainstream media like New York Times, NBC and CNN to the store in the film “The Sting” who was conned, in this case by the Democratic party. This is an oversimplification. Herman claims that the Women’s March and the San Francisco Airport protests were influenced solely because of the Democratic media that was published. This claim is not simple, those protests were very complicated situations. However, it is persuasive to a conservative reader to blame the Democrats for these events. Additionally, the article states that the biggest score of the Democrats was their influence over the Richard Nixon resignation and failed attempt of Reagan’s resignation. The Democrats might have disliked Nixon and Reagan, but their reasoning for attempted resignation was justified. Nixon’s Watergate scandal was the reason he resigned, not because of Democratic media. Reagan’s attempted resignation plot was reasoned over the Iran-Contra scandal where he was accused of providing Iran with illegal funds in return for American hostages. Both situations had probable cause for resignation. It was not simply just because the men were Republicans but a reader who is most likely a conservative idolized Nixon and Reagan. The article influences the reader to be hostile toward liberals who were claimed to want these beloved Republicans out of office.
The article goes on to use an abusive technique against the Democrats. Herman states “the media con into believing the American public wants them to stand behind a Democratic initiative in a show of bipartisanship, or to oppose a Republican one on the grounds that it’s too extreme” is an obvious statement trying to discredit the Democrats. This claim attacks the party without substance. Herman has no proof that the media has that big of an influence on people and he also does not mention that the Republicans may have the same, if not more, affect.
Herman also utilizes an unqualified authority motive to lie technique in the article. When he claims “Democrats used [media] to convince GOP moderates we were losing the Vietnam War and that Americans wanted us to pull out and “In fact poll after poll showed the public supported the war until the very end”. The Vietnam War, a very controversial event in American history, is not a ploy Democrats used to exploit their media power as Herman believes. The war was vastly disliked by millions of citizens who wanted to end it long before the official surrender. This lie in the article would only provoke those who support the Vietnam War to have even more distaste for the Democrats which could be seen as an objective of Herman’s article.
The MSNBC opinion article, “Trump’s Muslim Ban Causes Turmoil Within the Administration”, by Steve Benen also takes advantage of logical fallacies. The beginning of the article starts with an abusive approach toward President Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer by stating that “He wasn’t kidding: Spicer believes the strongest nation on the planet has reason to be suspicious of small children” alluding to a five-year old Iranian boy being detained and Spicer saying that the country should not assume that someone’s age or gender don’t pose a threat. This claim makes Spicer seem foolish for believing that children are big threats to America’s national security and makes him appear unqualified for the position as Secretary of State. Spicer most likely does not believe that children are big threats but the fallacy took his words and scrambled them to make him seem inept.
The article goes on to use a straw man attempt to distort another Spicer’s argument about a shooting at Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center. Spicer stated that “the country must remain vigilant and be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety and security.” Benen then goes on to challenge Spicer’s claim by stating that the Muslim ban is intended to prevent attacks yet the Muslims were the victims in the shooting and the perpetrator was a white Christian man. The fallacy exploited was a way to influence the reader to discredit the words of the administration.
Additionally, Benen applies the “Hitler card” when he states that “ The only people who appear to love Trump’s new policy are terrorists”. This claim makes it as if you support the ban then you are a terrorist. Clearly this is untrue. People are concerned for the country’s safety which does not make everyone a terrorist. Many supporters of the ban believe it can truly make a difference in security and protect citizens especially in a time of violence. This claim makes the writer seem petty and unreasonable to respect that there are differences of opinion. There are plenty of people who dislike President Trump, yet value the ban.
Furthermore, Benen uses an appeal to slander the executive order. He declares that “all of this in support of a misguided policy that, by all appearances, makes Americans less safe”. This declaration makes the reader feel that if they support the policies by the current administration, then the country will be less safe.
Both articles assert their opinions. By employing logical fallacies, the authors try to sway the reader to support their argument rather than give viable factual evidence. Nevertheless, the Fox News and MSNBC article present clear judgement regarding the executive order, proving that Trump’s ban is affecting both sides of the political spectrum making it a historic action in American history.