Friday, March 03, 2017

Analysis of Gorka/Davis BBC interview on 2017-02-17

On Facebook, an old friend of mine have been having on and off debates about the politics of today, specifically, about Trump, his administration, and the way he has chosen to govern.

My views, as a Libertarian, revolve around individual freedom, liberty, and guaranteed rights (for all humans, not just Americans.) I will not speak for my friend, but I believe he desires to give Trump more time to see how he will ultimately resolve issues and concerns within our country.

He recently shared a BBC Interview, involving Sebastian Gorka, a Donald Trump national security advisory aide, and Even Davis, a BBC reporter.

I had recently observed Mr. Gorka's general mode of conversation, and method of debate when he called a security expert who has been vocally critical of him on twitter, via a recorded phone call with Michael Smith, and I found his manner and debate style lacking in substance or logic. Rather, he depended on dominating the conversation, interrupting answers after he had asked questions. I know of myself, that I sometimes do this, and noted in my post that this perfectly illustrated how irritating this can be.

In any case, I asked my friend about matters of discovering truth, and whether twitter and Facebook were more reliable, and also. I also outlined my own critical analysis of the interview with the idea that I would post this once he responded with his own views. (UPDATE: I did (perhaps mistakenly) referred to Mr. Gorka as "Mr. Fake News", but this is something I tend to do with people I don't know, in humor, for example, "Mr. Aleppo" for Gary Johnson. I admit I probably meant it with more malice in this case, so probably should have phrased it in a more unbiased way.)

Here is my own analysis, of the interview. Refer to Wikipedia's List of Logical Fallacies for specific descriptions of the fallacies I note after each statement:

Evan: "No, it's not fake news, we are trying to understand what is going on there, we're not making factual claims a lot of the time, we are asking questions that you don't like. Look, Michael Flynn... [INTERRUPTED BY SEBASTIAN]"

Sebastian: "No not at all, ask away, ask away" (Evan... "right.. okay... during the 'ask away'")

Evan: "Why is there this constant confusion, in which the president speaks and someone then has to round with a bucket and a shovel picking up the pieces trying to clarify to the allies around the world what is going on?"

(Complex question, ad verecumndiam)

Evan is stating the staff and administration must come around and clean up his messes after he speaks. I presume he assumed Gorka would refer to his statements concerning "fake news" media, "so called judge" comments, and other statements that his Press Secretary Sean Spicer then had to field and respond to questions and attacks, from reporters, and from private citizens trolling the public forums.

Sebastian: "Your representation is just wishful thinking, if you didn't have an agenda driven question list it would be so much easier to have a better relationship with you. Com on, this is a media - mainstream media - that has accused us in the White House of being Antisemitic and white supremacists. [I mean] This is how bad it is, this is a White House with Jared Kushner - an Orthodox Jew is key to the decision making process, and you have the audacity as the mainstream media to talk about Antisemitism, that's why you want to spin it and we're not going to stand for it."

(Dicto simpliciter, Ad hominem, Red Herring, Straw Man, Complex question, ad verecundiam)

Notice, Sebastian does not answer the question, or ask for evidence or concrete examples implied by the leading question.

Evan takes the bait, and questions the evidence for Gorka's statements, effectively giving control of the debate to Sebastian - he probably should have clarified his original question by providing concrete examples of the "chaos" and tried to get an answer.

Even: "Just tell me where the BBC, CNN or The New Your Times have as a fact said this is an anti-Semitic regime?"

Sebastian: "Look at the response to the Holocaust memorial statement. I ask your viewers to google it now."

(Red Herring, Straw man)

I did.. here's what I found... none of these are statements saying Donald Trump is anti-Semitic. Noting failure to denounce bad behavior does not equate to being one with bad behavior.

  • NYTimes, 1/29/2017 - "The statement released on Friday failed to mention Jews or Antisemitism, something that past presidential statements had done without fail."
  • CNN, 1/28/2017 - "The statement released on Friday failed to mention Jews or Antisemitism, something that past presidential statements had done without fail."
  • BBC, 1/30/2017 - "As critics quickly noted, there was no mention that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, or an acknowledgment of the virulent, state-sponsored Antisemitism that led to their deaths — details that are crucial and commonplace in most discussions of the Holocaust." (next paragraph has a quote from Tim Caine, calling it "Holocaust denial."

Evan: Right, that's quite different [INTERRUPTED: 'Not at all, Not at all'] to saying it's anti-Semitic.

Sebastian: "That's what the response was, that for some anti-Semitic reason we didn't explicitly use the words the Jewish Holocaust."

At this point, deflection for the original question is well on it's way to succeeding. Sebastian is pretty much in control of this non-debate, and no real information results in the reporting here. He has succeeded in deflecting and responding in a no way that gives any insight to the Trump administration, other than to confirm the "media is the enemy" bias they appear to hold.