Sunday, March 09, 2008

conservatives can play the game too

[I've updated point 2]

It upsets me when I see people treated unfairly over politics. Usually this happens when leftists come down on someone who hasn't been politically correct. For example, Rush Limbaugh was fired from a sports-commentator job for saying something racist --except that what he said wasn't actually racist. It's common to read about people getting in trouble and being fired or being forced to take "sensitivity training" (actually leftist indoctrination classes) for saying or doing something that was --at worst-- rude and often was quite innocent.

Now conservatives have done it too. They've gotten Rebecca Aguilar, a local TV reporter fired for being mean to James Walton, an elderly man who was a conservative hero for killing two burglars. This story at NewsBusters is a typical description of the event (link from instapundit). And if the description were accurate, some discipline might be justified. The interview is described as "attack dog-like". They said that Aguilar "treated him as the criminal". The post accuses Aguilar of "keeping the poor fellow from shutting his car door as she accusingly asked the man if he was 'a trigger happy person'"

The problem is, this description is not accurate. Aguilar was determined, but not hostile. Some of her questions were pointed, but they were not asked in an accusatory form. Here are some points left out of the one-sided and dishonest description of Aquilar's actions:

1. Walton joked about using his new shotgun to shoot Aguilar. Aguilar did not use this joke, as she so easily could have, to question Walton's judgment. She just said (in the voice-over) that he joked about the shotgun.

2. Walton had the door open and was in his car while Aguilar was on the wrong side of the door to block it. Another car blocked her from getting around before Walton closed the door. Walton had a chance to close the door and leave, but instead he left the door open and told her that he would not talk to her as long as the camera was on. This implies that he would talk to her when the camera was off. The next sceen shows her standing in the door with the camera behind the car. But the most reasonable interpretation is that Walton agreed to give the interview as long as his face wasn't shown (this is what Aquilar says in the voice-over). There is no evidence at all that the Walton wanted to close the door and was prevented.

[update: I watched the video again after a comment from foxfier and now I see that you can't tell if Aguilar is blocking the car door in the shot where Walton says to stop filming. But from the proceeding video, I still don't think she could have blocked it.]

3. Aguilar points out that Walton has tears in his eyes and she prompts him to say that it is remorse for having to kill two men. If she really wanted to make him out as a bad guy, why mention his tears (the camera couldn't see them), why prompt him to say that it has caused emotional suffering, and why not cut out that section?

4. When Aguilar asks him if he is a trigger-happy person, she does it in a prompting voice, not a hostile one. She is inviting him to deny the charge, not accusing him. When you accuse someone, you don't ask, "are you a trigger-happy kind of person?". You ask "are you trigger-happy", or "weren't you a little trigger happy?". You can tell that this was an invitation to deny the charge by her wording, by her tone of voice, and by the follow-up"
Aquilar: Are you a trigger-happy kind of person? Is that what you wanted to do? Shoot to kill?"

Walton: No, no.

Aguilar: OK, so I won't...

Walton: I ain't shot a gun in forty-five years until ...

Aquilar: That's what I wanted the viewers to know. So basically, you were scared for your own life?
Is that an attack interview? I encourage you to listen yourself and judge the tone of voice also. You will see that Aguilar was aggressive to get the interview, but once she started interviewing him, she went out of her way to be nice.

That poor woman has been railroaded by conservative bloggers who have misused their power of opinion-making just as callously as the New York Times ever did. They should be ashamed of themselves.

No comments: