We knew the interview between UK journalist Cathy Newman and University of Toronto clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson would resound with our conservative readers who recognize the Left’s distortion of language to fit their own ideology. But little did we realize that it would also have an impact on leftist media.
A staff writer at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf, had never heard of Peterson before he saw the interview trending. After watching for just a few minutes, he was left with one question: “Why can’t people hear what Jordan Peterson is saying?” He turned it into an entire article:
[W]hat struck me, far more than any position he took, was the method his interviewer employed. It was the most prominent, striking example I’ve seen yet of an unfortunate trend in modern communication.
First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is as offensive, hostile, or absurd.
Friedersdorf rightly chides social media for being a haven for this type of fallacious reasoning, but he also mentions Fox News as abusers of this technique, as if it’s not the Left who are champions of they style. But at least he noticed Newman’s awful retorts.
“And the Peterson interview has so many moments of this kind that each successive example calls attention to itself until the attentive viewer can’t help but wonder what drives the interviewer to keep inflating the nature of Peterson’s claims, instead of addressing what he actually said,” he writes.
Again, Friedersdorf misses the forest for the trees. It’s leftists who thrive on non-arguments. That's what drives Newman. Yet, even for an Atlantic writer, he saw what we all did: “Peterson was not evasive or unwilling to be clear about his meaning. And Newman’s exaggerated restatements of his views mostly led viewers astray, not closer to the truth.”
Bingo. The Left should really take note of this video as Friedersdorf appears to be doing.
The article continues with a detailed breakdown of Peterson’s points and Newman’s egregious counterpoint, which was perfectly encapsulated in a recent meme based on the interview that has been making the online rounds (as seen above). If Peterson had listed off his animal protein-fueled breakfast, Newman would have certainly concluded he wanted all vegans to die.
Friedersdorf is right when he concludes, “That sort of exaggeration or hyperbolic misrepresentation is epidemic—and addressing it for everyone’s sake is long overdue.”