False equivalency: Hugh Hewitt doesn’t know the difference between a mistake and a scandal

Hugh Hewitt, a lipless lizard with a 6-acre philtrum (and a teabagging talking head with whom MSNBC has become enamored in its ceaseless pursuit of false equivalency),  has been on air bashing Hillary Clinton. The gravamen of his latest grievance is that the media shouldn’t be talking about Trump U and the like when Hillary is solely to blame for all the geopolitical curses to have beset the Libyan people despite their centuries of bad luck and worse choices – and when she is guilty of the most axis-tilting scandal of the last several millennia: sloppy email protocols.

This is how false equivalency goes: it’s all EVEN. ‘Trump has his scandals, and Hillary has hers.’ And this is what drives the rational mind to distraction: the utter inability of so many – both the ideologues who sow this tripe and the media types who slop it up – to perceive and elucidate the essential difference between things that are essentially different.

Let us assume, arguendo, that Secretary Clinton could have better managed her emails and that she misfired on Libya. Those two things would be called MISTAKES, and here’s a newsflash: we all make them. That Clinton has made mistakes does not render her a grifter or a dolt. These mistakes are fair game for criticism and scrutiny, but not the same kind of criticism and scrutiny that should attach to scandalous malfeasance or rank idiocy.biopic

This brings us to Trump “University.” The allegation here is not that a presidential candidate misjudged or miscalculated with regard to one or two of the thousands of matters that he or she managed; it is, rather, that a presidential candidate willfully, intentionally, and maliciously targeted the weak and the vulnerable for savage financial predation.

Even accepting that Clinton shoulders some blame for the policy decisions that culminated in a Libyan crisis, that fault is of an entirely different character than the faults that Donald Trump manifests with his every act and utterance: scandalous malfeasance or rank idiocy. Clinton may be a mere human, but Trump is a grifter and a dolt.



2 thoughts on “False equivalency: Hugh Hewitt doesn’t know the difference between a mistake and a scandal

  1. Brenden – Thanks for addressing this fallacy that some of the smartest people I know don’t understand. The whole idea of fallacy, in the official Logical sense, is pretty much unknown by the average American, even many with advanced schooling behind them. You, as a legal scholar, of course, are well schooled in logic – it is at the heart of legal justice. I have been calling out false equivalency for years, often mentioning it as the premise of some of my critiques of the political and social idiocy of the day. I am glad you wrote on it and I will make a point of bringing this into my own discussions as I go along. It is very important that people be aware of the accuracy of their thinking. As pointed out by Daniel Kahneman over the years, we are set up by nature to be instinctually inaccurate in our judgements – based on the natural principle of better a false alarm than no alarm. That works when you mistake a garden hose for a rattlesnake and you hightail the hell out of there, but anything more complex than that can promote enormous mistakes in judgment. False equivalency is also a standard propaganda tool, used nowadays to great effect by the Right Wing. Orwellian inversion is related to that, and it is amazing how easily our vocabulary becomes shaped by its common use.


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