Over the past year, gun control has been in the news. It is an issue that affects all communities. This is an issue the issue of gun control has resurfaced has resurfaced because of a series of recent tragedies. Most drastic was a calamity in Sandy Hook High School where children were killed by a shooting in CT. It is an issue though in which different media outlets are covering it differently, following various logical fallacies.
The New York Times has called Fox News biased on this the issue. They claim that, “The Decision not to show the president’s angry rejouring to the Senate vote [a vote that halted legislation to cover gun control]” showed their bias against the issue instead of reporting on it. Philosophically speaking, Fox news covers this issue using the formal fallacy. They use an argumentative structure that creates an unsound argument.
In an April 7th, 2013 Fox News article, Fox used syntactical choices that appealed to an audiences pathos. Pathos appeals to an audience’s emotional side, rather than logos, which is an appeal to logic. Amy Page is a writer for Fox News who is the assistant director of strategic communications at the heritage foundation, so one would expect reportage free from fallacies. Looking at her writing on the issue though, that is simply not the case.
She writes, “the gun control bill would charge people with a sentence of five years for gun transfers at guns shows” (Payne, 2013 ). She appeals to people’s desire for privacy. She writes that this current bill will reduce protection of privacy of people who have had a history of mental health issue. The question of whether or not someone buying a gun deserves that privacy when they are buying a device that carries with it risks and responsibilities. Her argument is not based on logical facts. It is based on the belief that there should be no restriction to guns. Payne contends that “the bill would allow fireman dealers to do secret background checks on job applicants” (Payne, 2013).
A different article on the same issue can be found in the Economist. “America’s Gun Divide” believes that there is a stalemate on the issue of gun control because “millions of Americans who favor of gun control do not live in the right places” (Lexington, 2013). Race plays into Lexington’s argument. He offers this argument, that the support for gun control is there, but it is geographically and racially concerted in such a way that it costs the movement their political power. Lexington offers this opinion, but at no point does he offer an argument as to the reasons why it is true. In this case, it seems he is forwarded this as a self-evident proposition, though such a statement of fact would require more than just faith.
Payne’s coverage of the issue, when doing rhetorical analysis makes one realize that reading it is similar to reading sports news. She separates the world into black and white, where there is a winner and loser. Even the choice of pictures promotes the pathetic fallacy found in the content. This is a warning sign of copy that is trying to persuade rather than inform.
While the Economist showed photos of legislatures who were working on a gun reform bill, Fox chose to ran a photo in front of a pile of of driver’s licenses, to emphasize the individual difficulty in obtaining guns that would happen were the law in question to pass Framing the story this way, and the choice of photo is a fallacy that creates a consensus a logical argument is presented. It also casts United States President Obama and those supporting the bill as antagonists by the choices of words. The Fox New article quotes Obama and uses charged and polarized words to do so. In a speech by Obama, they use the word “accuse” when quoting him.
Fox’s coverage’s goal does not seem to be written to give an understanding of the issue and what the bill contains that later failed the senate contains on it. In the same way, the economist is clearly in support of this, but makes claims as to why the bill is failing without evidence to believe those reasons. Both follow fallacies to make their points. Both writers seem to be less interested in discovering truth and more interested in promoting their preexisting view on the issue.
Payne "Background check plan defeated in Senate, Obama rips gun bill opponents | Fox News." Fox News - Breaking News Updates | Latest News Headlines | Photos & News Videos. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/04/17/background-check-plan-in-
Lexington. (n.d.). America’s Gun Divide. The Economist. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from http://www.economist.com/blogs/lexington/2013/03/gun-control-0