Sunday, 1 January 2012

"People might not be familiar with that history any more..." - Who Killed Jesus? Fox Wants To Know

You may already have seen the story that Fox in Latin America posted a Facebook poll for Christmas asking the following question, and providing the following possible answers:
Who do you think was responsible for the death of Christ?
A. Pontius Pilate
B. Jewish People
C. High Priests
The influx of complaints is obviously understandable, but one piece of analysis of this funny-but-sad screw-up was utterly ridiculous. It comes from The Young Turks, who uploaded this video:

Yes, you heard correctly.

On the calumny that the Jews killed Jesus, our pundits have the following to say (from 0:49 onwards):

Cenk Uygur:    "Number one, that's what's led to, um, massacres, and then eventually to a Holocaust - partly, not totally, right - but people said, "Ah, the Jews killed Christ". Now, people might not be familiar with that history any more, some people might not, right..." 
Ben Mankiewicz:    "It was like, it was like the main tact [sic] of antisemitism for... 3,000 years."
Here's my question: If I wanted to give Mankiewicz the benefit of the doubt, should I think that he doesn't know when Jesus lived, or that he doesn't understand that it isn't quite logically sound to think that Jews would be accused of killing him prior to that? It can't be that he's mathematically challenged, because he just has to subtract zero from 2011. 2011 - 0 = 2011. Not 3000.

As a helpful reminder to Mankiewicz (not to mention the other anchors), the Common Era is approximately based on Jesus' birth. So, as of today, it has been approximately 2012 years. Now, most (if not all) scholars agree that the projected date is incorrect, but I don't know if any of them think that it's out by 988 years (give or take).

I mean, he even takes a short pause before coming up with the number 3,000 (1:07). It's just so preposterous. And the other two just nod and continue. And I know I'm not crazy, because at the time of posting, there are at least eight YouTube comments picking up on the absurd error.

According to his
biography at the Huffington Post, Mankiewicz "attended Georgetown Day High School, Tufts University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism". If they weren't going to teach him the most fundamental basics of chronology at such prestigious schools, surely at some point he would have learned the definition of the word "tact"? I assume he meant "tack", though I suppose it could have been "tactic".

Either way, this was an astonishing and embarrassing lapse. To quote Uygur's words at the end of the clip, "It's the most nonsensical thing I've ever heard in my life."