Monday, November 8, 2010

On Fox News

I recently completed reading two papers by Harry Frankfurt, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University. One passage in one of the papers struck me a curiously descriptive of something Professor Frankfurt was not directly describing. I quote the passage here with Professor Frankfurt's original subject replaced with the new subject in [brackets].
My claim was that [Fox News], although they represent themselves as being engaged simply in conveying information, are not engaged in that enterprise at all. Instead, and most essentially, they are fakers and phonies who are attempting by what they say to manipulate the opinions and the attitudes of those to whom they speak. What they care about primarily, therefore, is whether what they say is effective in accomplishing this manipulation. Correspondingly, they are more or less indifferent to whether what they say is true or false.
This passage is taken from the paper "On Truth" where Professor Frankfurter is describing the central theme of his previous paper "On Bullshit."  The subject in brackets that I replaced in the passage above?  Bullshitters.

This is a real thing.