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Friday, August 18, 2006
The Depiction=Approval Fallacy
Topic: NewsBusters

One prominent feature of the ConWeb is what we call the Depiction=Approval Fallacy, which holds that any behavior depicted by a media outlet that does not explicitly condemn that behavior, by default, approves of that behavior. It's a logical fallacy because failure to express disapproval does not mean approval. This is seen most often in gay-related issues, in which outlets such as WorldNetDaily often criticize things as, say, "pro-homosexual" simply because they aren't explicityly anti-homosexual.

It's also one of the arguments conservatives use in making accusations of liberal bias. NewsBusters helpfully provides a nice example of this in an Aug. 16 post claiming the the Washington Post "glorifies" what he called "liberal suburban dumpster divers who call themselves 'freegans' " by writing an article about the trend.

But Shepherd fails to note that the article points out that grocery stores throwing out the food disapprove of the practice, not least because they believe it's not fit to be eaten. The article also notes one dumpster-diver who "said he does not eat out of the dumpster because he believes privileged people should not take free food from people who need it"; he instead gives the food he finds that way to the homeless.

A longer version of Shepherd's article on the MRC's Business & Media Institute website complains that the article "didn’t include any law enforcement officials or inform her readers of any criminal penalties a so-called 'freegan' can rack up when foraging for expired foodstuffs." Still, Shepherd offers no evidence that the lack of such information automatically means that dumpster-diving is being "glorified."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 AM EDT

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