Watch beetle guru Anthony Cognato trying to deal with Fox News ignoramus Tucker Carlson:

It isn’t news that Fox News isn’t, um, news. Nor is it news that Fox can’t grasp the benefits of public investment in knowledge creation- perhaps because actual knowledge is anathema to their business model. But I digress.

I’m going to complain instead that Cognato missed out (or was edited out) on a major talking point to counter Fox’s bluster.  Fox pretends Cognato just sidled up to suckle at the stimulus teat while the getting was good. A university welfare queen, or something.  But that’s simply not trueNone of the NSF proposals funded under the stimulus were submitted as stimulus projects. Carlson showing up and acting like a royal asshole in these institutions misses the point. The scientists followed regular NSF channels, and to act as though the scientists themselves are slyly ripping off the taxpayers is, well, just being an asshole.

Cognato did a solid job in justifying the existence of Michigan’s entomology collections. But. Some preparation to nail down concise talking points would have better helped counter Carlson’s direct challenges.  Scientists aren’t trained to speak in talking points, and when direct challenges are answered with a more conversational tone the segment is easy for the post-editing team to manipulate to their narrative.

In particular:

  • Michigan’s sole positive economic sector is Agriculture. The insect collections comprise the primary information base about a large threat to productivity of said economic sector.
  • $200,000 is chump change- it’s way less than Sean Hannity’s salary- and a small price to pay for maintaining the integrity of the collections.

Interestingly, Fox never let the facts that the grant was being used to salary several people and to order equipment from American scientific supply companies (who also employ people) get in the way of their narrative.  The segment undercut their story, yet they pressed ahead anyway.