Like the rest of cable news, yesterday’s edition of Fox News’s “The Five” got into the crazy geopolitics surrounding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine. To open the proceedings, co-host Greg Gutfeld, never one to understate, riffed, “Without America in charge, the world is a headless bird squawking in a field of ghastly realities — downed planes, kidnapped girls, ISIS attacks.”

Others followed him, with Fox News’s Jesse Watters affirming that President Obama has “done nothing” about the situation. After more commentary about weak Obama and powerful Russian President Vladimir Putin, liberal co-host Bob Beckel had a point to make: “Putin is not a threat. Sitting in a broke country that’s got some oil, he went to Georgia awhile, got kicked out. He went to Crimea, he will stay there.”

That claim set the stage for a glorious little dustup starring the false plural, easily the most insidious of bogus rhetorical devices in the public square. Have a look:

WATTERS: Putin is not a threat? OK, fine. That’s what the Obama administration believes and he’s shooting plane –

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: Why do you think he is a threat?

WATTERS: He is invading other countries.

BECKEL: He’s not invading other countries. That’s bull.

WATTERS: He didn’t invade Crimea?

BECKEL: He invaded Crimea.

WATTERS: OK. So, he invaded other countries.

BECKEL: That’s one country. Now, you said countries.

WATTERS: OK, just one country. OK, fine.

BECKEL: You said countries, name some others.

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: You don’t have facts. That’s the problem. You make this guy a bigger guy than he is.

 

 

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.