24 August 2007

Geraldo Rivera – Verbal Bully Sidesteps Issues

I have to admit that I lost just about every ounce of what might be called respect for the “journalist” Mr. Rivera way back when he opened Al Capone’s vault. My opinion of him has continued to fall ever since. Last night’s discussion, if it can be called that, on Hannity and Colmes about sanctuary cities and illegal immigrants who repeatedly commit crimes pushed my opinion even lower. It also made me question again why FoxNews gives him air time, or indeed employs him at all.

The telltale signs that Mr. Rivera is a bully who can’t really argue a point are that he shouts over his adversaries as they attempt to address a contentious issue and that he continually changes the subject, the context and/or the background of the discussion.

Of course, television is the nearly perfect medium for these tactics. Mr. Rivera understands quite clearly that limited time is devoted to each segment so if he can raise the volume and “rope-a-dope” the argument with distracting switches he can control the screen, the discussion and possibly the impression left with the viewer.

During the “discussion,” Mr. Rivera loudly talked over Rep. Tom Tancredo and shifted examples and arguments in the hope, I assume, that Rep. Tancredo wouldn’t be able to gain his verbal footing. Rep. Tancredo attempted to make his points over the voice of Mr. Rivera, but to little avail. Holmes joined into the babble for effect. Mr. Rivera then over-talked Hannity (but note, Hannity does the same type of thing, as does Colmes) with an inane statement about illegal immigration being the big issue in the 2008 election. This is another tactic for time-wasting. Here’s something you can agree with…and more time burned.

These attempts to change the real focus of discussion are interesting because I feel that they belittle the mental capacity of the audience. By making the most tenuous of connections between the central, planned discussion and these purposefully distracting side-bars (which get more time, it seems), folks like Mr. Rivera show a clear belief that the audience can’t tell the difference between a stated, central issue and a time-burning distraction. The raised voice and interruptions are also an affront to the audience, and it’s an all too common practice on “news-opinion” shows. It’s a Springerization of serious discussion and a commentary (though certainly not the only one) on what some television personalities think of their viewers.

Post Script: One more thought on this subject. I think that there is a need, in some instances, to cut off folks when they are just spouting clear lies or bold-faced propaganda and doing so in a manner which obviously lacks self-control. In the interest of outward civility, I think that cutting to commercial and then returning to explain why an interview ended abruptly would go a long way to keeping debates civil and factual.


einheri said...

It is really quite amazing in my opinion how these "respectable" adults who are seen constantly in the public eye and are considered viable sources of information, have less respect and self restraint than that of high school level debate teams. My hunch is that the reason they take this approach to debating is because they are cousins of the entertainment industry, and they think people enjoy arguments, the more outrageous and heated the better. Obviously there is some truth to this otherwise shows like Jerry Springer would not still be running. Unfortunately the people who watch the news to gain insight get the short end of the rope. Just my hunch though, as I have no proof for, or against.
"Journalism justifies its own existence by the great Darwinian principle of the survival of the vulgarist."
-Oscar Wilde

Bob M. said...

Einheri - Thanks for the comment, and the good quote. Spot on.

And thanks for reading as well.