Gamed: Want to blame violent games for anything? Elisabeth Hasselbeck shows you how!

gamed congratulations to elisabeth hasselbeck on a very stupid first week at fox news

For this week’s edition of Gamed, I would like to submit an open letter to Elizsabeth Hasselbeck, who began her first week as a co-host of the morning show Fox & Friends by blaming the tragic Navy Yard shootings on video games. It was her second day.

And while the argument was simplistic, without merit, and just generally irresponsible, she deserves credit. Read on.

Dear Elisabeth,

Wow, big week, huh? I have to admit that after hearing you were leaving The View, I was concerned for you. Looking back, I guess shouldn’t have been. You survived ten years without being murdered on-air by Whoopi Goldberg or Rosie O’Donnell, so you must have some keen survival skills.

Maths are hard.

But congratulations on joining Fox & Friends! It must be freeing to head to a show where you can say pretty much anything you want and not be held to any measure of accountability.

Funny story about your new BFFs. In 2009, a leaked Fox News memo claimed the network would adopt a zero tolerance policy for errors. Shortly after, Fox & Friends reported on a Rasmussen Poll where it asked people if they felt scientists falsified info to support the theory of climate change. Fox & Friends simply took the 24-percent  that said “somewhat likely” and the 35-percent that said “very likely,” and reported that 59-percent of people felt it somewhat likely (they also included the original 35-percent that said “very likely” because why not). When asked about it, the show’s EP said they never claimed their numbers equaled 100-percent. Brilliant. It sounds like you have some pretty good job security when it comes to just throwing ideas out there.

It’s that type of ballsy journalism we need in this increasingly biased age. Even though many of your new network’s own employees are embarrassed by the show, you are a welcome addition, Elisabeth. And you sure did start strong following the tragic Navy Yard shootings.

When you are on a show where things like facts are generally considered optional – and are often even outright disdained – it may be tough to keep track of all the things you say. So a quick recap:

Shortly after the tragic shootings where a mentally ill man named Aaron Alexis killed 12 people, you took to Fox & Friends with a level headed and thoughtful reply. Thankfully that level of reason was soon discarded so we could get past that and put the blame where it belongs: on a completely unrelated form of entertainment that had no bearing on the case, but distracts from any real, meaningful discussions.

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‘GTA 5’ was released this week, and it features some of the most violent tennis since Monty Python.

“One thing that happens often in a situation as tragic as this is we start to spread blame where it possibly doesn’t belong, right? I think we all know where the blame truly belongs, and that would be right in Alexis’ hands,” you said, seconds before taking the blame back out of Alexis’ hands to spread the blame.

“Is there a link between a certain age group or [demographic] in 20- to 34-year-old men, perhaps, that are playing these video games and their violent actions?” You wondered, before pointing to a hilariously biased graphic that claimed all the recent mass murderers were video game players. 

The entire segment was an attack on a newspaper headline that called for renewed gun control discussions, which you and your friends bravely objected to.  As a guy that grew up in the Midwest in what I would call a small city, but people from New York or Los Angeles would call a big rest stop, I have generally stayed out of the recent gun debates. Guns were a part of my formative years, they were a matter of fact. So it’s not that I don’t have an opinion, it’s just that I haven’t yet managed to crunch it down into a handy Twitter-friendly 140 characters just yet.

I’ve always found it to be an incredibly complex issue that deserves real, genuine discussions – and that includes whether or not gun control and the sad wave of mass shootings are part of that same conversation or not. So to you, Elizabeth, I congratulate you on your courage to see through that complexity and immediately ignore all of it, to issue this inflammatory statement where you insinuate that the government should register video game players instead of gun owners:

“What about frequency testing?” you asked. “How often has this game been played? I’m not one to get in there and say, monitor everything, but if this, indeed, is a strong link, right, to mass killings then why aren’t we looking at frequency of purchases per person? And also, how often they’re playing and maybe they time out after a certain hour.”

'GTA 5' features murder-fueled shopping.
‘GTA 5’ features murder-fueled shopping.

There is brilliance at work here, as well as determination. You not only dismissed the notion that our gun culture should at least be examined, you instead blamed video games because… well, they are video games. It’s the type of argument that appeals to people only half paying attention – and it does it well, by playing on primal fears. It also allows you to use fear and horror to either divert the discussion away from a topic you don’t want to discuss, or to funnel it as a weapon to attack something or someone else.

It just sounds great when you say it quickly, even though there has never been any connection between violent behavior and violent media, and several studies have backed that up. The Supreme Court even asserted the same thing in its recent Brown V. Entertainment Merchants ruling. To ignore all of that to make your own, completely unfounded point takes something special.

Making that statement a mere day after the events at the Navy Yard also shows real intestinal fortitude. It’s always a gamble to make declarative statements before all – or even some – of the facts are in. It’s sort of like gambling and letting it all ride, hoping that something else doesn’t come along that blatantly contradicts what you already said and makes you look really dumb. And in your first week, nonetheless!

The fun thing for you is that you’re on TV, on a daily talk show where facts go to die. You can quickly move on to a new topic the next day. If you had waited, you might have had to come to grips with the fact that Alexis was traumatized by being at ground zero during the 9/11 attacks, or that he had documented mental health issues. You may have also had to address his previous violent outbursts that led to arrests, or even his growing dissatisfaction with the government. I would high five you if I could.

It’s smart that you rushed to judgment to blame violent video games. Otherwise your whole argument might have come across looking ridiculous and ignorant. Close call.

So good luck, Liz! I look forward to reading about your unsupported and uninformed opinions in the future!


A Fan

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