Lumping – An Old, Tired Pundit Trick

If you watch Fox News for a week, you are likely to see Sean Hannity or one of his buddies single out Rosie O’Donnell or some similar talking head as a way of indirectly attacking the Democratic Party. Folks like Hannity have a clear agenda – take the worst possible statements by people who hold themselves out as liberals and attempt to characterize such people as some kind of uncrowned spokesperson for the whole party. For example, Hannity recently played some nutty clip of Sean Penn and then asked Dick Morris how he or a person making a negative attack ad would link the Hillary Clintons of the world to extremists like Penn. His intent is clear right from his own words. This is an old and tired technique, and people should not fall for it any longer. Note, also, that my criticism applies to all. I am not singling out conservatives or the Republican Party as the evildoers who utilize this “lumping” technique.

Let me expound on this. You see, it’s ridiculous to even imply that all members of the same party hold all of the same viewpoints. Viewpoints in all parties range from the radical on one end to the conservative and traditional on the other. These constant attacks on individuals say nothing at all about the stance of any party. Yet, people like Rosie, who has clearly lost a few marbles somewhere along the way, are constantly exploited by scheming pundits like Sean Hannity in a transparent effort to attack all liberals. And we all know that an attack on all liberals is an attack on the Democratic Party.

It just gets depressing seeing this same old and illogical technique, which I would estimate qualifies to someone to “maybe” pass the fourth grade, used daily by political pundits, some of whom earn millions with this kind of juvenile logic.

Let’s change the facts slightly. Imagine that you were robbed by a black man. Incensed at this senseless violation of your right to peace, you proclaim that “black men are bad” because “some black guy robbed me.” Now imagine the kind of response you would get from such an asinine claim. Stereotyping is stereotyping regardless of the victim. It’s amazing that pundits like Hannity make a handsome living based on such juvenile tactics.

With that said, if you want to attack Rosie or anyone else for the kind of absurd statements that she has made lately, then have a go at her on a personal level. But she represents only herself. She is not a spokesperson for liberals, the Democratic Party, or anyone else. Similarly, if you oppose a position generally held by a party of group (such as liberals’ overriding position on abortion), then by all means attack them for that general position. But trying to stain a whole party by essentially attributing absurd statements made by Rosie and others to a whole party simply does not pass any logical person’s smell test.

Despite the foregoing, I fear that the level of discourse will not be rising. Sadly, it seems that the most shocking, controversial pundits and talking heads will continue to see the most face time. Honest and logical advocacy does not seem to be in demand these days. This is why you see so many on TV described as a “Republican strategist” or “Democratic strategist.” The networks know or at least believe that the viewers want a no-holds-barred, hit-below-the-belt battle, and that is probably what they will continue to give them. Frankly, I don’t even mind a little partisan rivalry. I just wish that the level of intelligence employed by many of these pundits would rise above fourth-grade logic. Is that too much to ask? One can hope, but I won’t be holding my breath.

SABUNG AYAM