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Koch-funded Reason Magazine Amazed By Reasonable Answers From Climate Activists

There is an unfortunate tradition amongst ideological media of interviewing average Americans at a rally whose ideas they oppose and asking slanted questions to make the demonstrators look foolish and ill-informed. It occurs both among the right and the left and is cheap and obnoxious in both instances. Typically the average demonstrator is not schooled in the media vernacular that the oh-so-savvy interviewer is using and expresses themselves inexpertly and inarticulately. In many cases the statements are neither inarticulate nor inexpert they just do not fit within the concision limits of a highly edited interview segment.

The point of the stunt by the interview is two-fold. One, to embarrass and demoralize ideological opponents and two, to make the interviewer and his or her organization seem reasonable and thoughtful in comparison. Which is to say these mock interviews are generally lame, self-serving, and worthless from a news perspective.

A recent example of this interview tactic is how Reason Magazine covered those demonstrating in New York City to fight Climate Change. Reason Magazine has been<a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reason_Foundation#Funding”> underwritten in part by Koch Industries’ namesakes Charles and David Koch</a> for much of its existence and opposes government regulation in almost all things, especially regulating carbon emissions. Whether fossil fuel industry money follows the policy positions at Reason or vice versa is an open question.

But Reason Magazine’s attempts at smearing people at climate demonstration was even lamer than usual. Trying to frame the debate in terms of realism vs. fantasy the Reason Mag interviewer kept asking demonstrators what they would do to solve the climate change problem and, once receiving relatively straight forward answers, kept asking incredulously the same question that had just been answered.

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Koch-funded Reason Magazine Amazed By Reasonable Answers From Climate Activists

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There is an unfortunate tradition amongst ideological media of interviewing average Americans at a rally whose ideas they oppose and asking slanted questions to make the demonstrators look foolish and ill-informed. It occurs both among the right and the left and is cheap and obnoxious in both instances. Typically the average demonstrator is not schooled in the media vernacular that the oh-so-savvy interviewer is using and expresses themselves inexpertly and inarticulately. In many cases the statements are neither inarticulate nor inexpert they just do not fit within the concision limits of a highly edited interview segment.

The point of the stunt by the interview is two-fold. One, to embarrass and demoralize ideological opponents and two, to make the interviewer and his or her organization seem reasonable and thoughtful in comparison. Which is to say these mock interviews are generally lame, self-serving, and worthless from a news perspective.

A recent example of this interview tactic is how Reason Magazine covered those demonstrating in New York City to fight Climate Change. Reason Magazine has been underwritten in part by Koch Industries’ namesakes Charles and David Koch for much of its existence and opposes government regulation in almost all things, especially regulating carbon emissions. Whether fossil fuel industry money follows the policy positions at Reason or vice versa is an open question.

But Reason Magazine’s attempts at smearing people at climate demonstration was even lamer than usual. Trying to frame the debate in terms of realism vs. fantasy the Reason Mag interviewer kept asking demonstrators what they would do to solve the climate change problem and, once receiving relatively straight forward answers, kept asking incredulously the same question that had just been answered.

Even after targeting the lowest common denominator at any left-wing rally, a Revolutionary Communist Party member, the interviewer pretends not to comprehend basic answers:

DEMONSTRATOR: [Cut into mid-sentence]  — bring in millions of people into resistance. But building a movement for an actual revolution and a new society —

INTERVIEWER: — But what do you want to happen?

DEMONSTRATOR: We need a whole new society.

INTERVIEWER: But do you want to frac? Do you want win —

DEMONSTRATOR: No. We need green energy, we need to bring forward green energy but that can only happen – really – under a new socialist society.

RCP are not representative of, well, anyone – especially not a protest that drew 300,000 people from the mainstream of American politics. But sure, if you go and interview a revolutionary communist they will tell you they want revolution. But he also just told the interviewer, in pretty straight forward terms, that he wanted green energy as a replacement for fossil fuels.

That’s how interviews work right? You ask a question and get an answer. Though the the interview subjects are interspersed with shots and sounds of folk songs, costumes, and people who have communist written on their t-shirt – the answers from everyone are pretty reasonable and within the mainstream of American politics. Typically the answers involved cutting back on waste and investing in green/renewable energy.

In one case a man prominently featured tells the Reason interviewer, plainly, “I don’t have the answer,”  to solving the climate crisis and says he came to the rally to show solidarity and stop others who might have the answers from being “stifled.” He is then repeatedly asked to give specific answers to complex problems he has already told the interviewer he does not have answers for. Not surprisingly, the suggestions offered after repeatedly being asked to say something, anything, are unrealistic and unworkable.

What’s also worth noting is how enraged the right wing was when Media Matters and other organizations went to Tea Party rallies and interviewed members of the crowd who said bizarre (often racist) things and presented them as indicative of the larger movement. The apparent response is to engage in precisely the tactics once condemned. So much for integrity and so much for being reasonable.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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