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The Gish Gallop is:

a debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time."  (named after creationist Duane Gish, not the legendary silent film star)
The tubes today are filled with a vintage Gish Gallop perpetrated by Jennifer Stefano in an interview with Chris Hayes on "All In."  Stefano's torrent of falsehoods was indeed impressive, ranging from claiming that 133% of the poverty level was $94,000 to asserting that only 14% of the ACA sign-ups were not previously insured.  I would add to the definition of Gish Gallop, "loud assertions of non-sequiturs."  In this case, that was Stefano's answer that she opposed sign-up extension because of concern about her daughters.

I don't believe there's any good way to handle the Gish Gallop in the open-ended cable interview format. These "interviews" are probably useless unless someone figures out a way to prevent filibustering and to permit immediate correction of lies, like the $94,000 and 14% lies, which went unchallenged.  Of course, the Stefanos would stop appearing on any show that did not permit them to Gish Gallop.

But there is one cardinal rule that Hayes did not follow -- Do not give the Gish Galloper any opening by what you say.  Hayes was pointing out that Republicans like Stefano didn't care about health insurance prior to the ACA being passed.  However, he personalized it, saying "Jennifer Stefano did not care about health insurance before the ACA; Jennifer Stefano did not .  .  .  etc."

He was right of course, but saying it that way gave her the option for the rest of the interview to scream at Hayes, "How dare you presume to know what I did or I felt?"  over and over again.

We know what Hayes meant, but now she's a hero to Fox and the right because she stood up to the evil liberal's personal insults.  While I don't care about that, the issue is whether it mattered to the viewer who is neither Fox right or MSNBC left.  Does that viewer feel that Hayes insulted the lady?

Stefano's over the top screaming probably mitigated that effect, but people on our side should not provide that kind of opening.


Chris Hayes' Grade on Handling the Gish Gallop

8%14 votes
12%22 votes
20%36 votes
27%47 votes
30%53 votes

| 174 votes | Vote | Results

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