Fox Chyron: “3 Mexican Countries”

Note to the folks at Fox and Friends: Central America is not part of Mexico.

Over the years when I have taught Latin American politics, I have pointed out to my students that Latin America is not, as many folks in the US seem to think, one big Mexico from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego.

Apparently, the graphics folks as Fox and Friends need to take such a class (via The Hill‘Fox & Friends’ apologizes for headline about ‘3 Mexican Countries’).

The ignorance here is quite stark.  But, I guess it does track with what I expect from Fox and Friends.

 

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Latin America, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Mike Schilling says:

    Like most Americans have heard of Tierra del Fuego.

  2. Teve says:

    @Mike Schilling: Of course we’ve heard of Tierra del Fuego. That’s the one with the green sauce, right?

    10
  3. Franklin says:

    Heh, I’m not familiar with it although I knew enough Spanish to translate it.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    I’ll take this opportunity to point out that Africa is not a country. It is more than 40 very different countries. In fact the continental United States can fit inside the Sahara desert. Leaving room for all of China. And all of India. All of Eastern Europe. Plus France, Spain, and Italy. The UK fits nicely and appropriately on top of Madagascar. With room for a few other things. Here’s a good illustration.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    On balance TV News is worthless. Except for Fox News. Fox News consistently makes you stupider.

    15
  6. CSK says:

    I hold no brief for Fox and Friends, but I’ve seen equally stupid chyrons on non-Fox stations, mostly affiliates of NBC, ABC, or CBS. Composing the chyrons is a job mostly left to interns, who tend to be 20-year-olds who are not terribly knowledgeable. A lot of college students are stumped if you ask them the dates of the Civil War.

    (Computer glitch caused the italicization. I had marked Fox and Friends to be italicized, not what followed it.)

  7. @CSK: And for this reason I did not go too far into reading much into this. It does reflect, I suppose, a general ignorance about the region, and I am not surprised that the interns at Fox might not have a higher probability of making this specific mistake.

  8. Kit says:

    People who criticise this, and yet consider themselves linguistic descriptivists, should hang their heads in shame. The Right have merely shifted the meaning of the adjective Mexican to mean all that is hateful south of the border. Liberal fills a similar function within white America, as does socialist in a European context. Stop being so elitist.

  9. Teve says:

    @Kit: I’m not a linguist, I could be wrong, but I never thought descriptivism meant a complete abandonment of the concept of correct or incorrect, but rather a different, looser concept.

  10. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Fox News consistently makes you stupider.

    Give them a break, They have to be at a level Trump can comprehend, or at least be able to pretend to.

  11. Mister Bluster says:

    Only three? Didn’t they forget New Mexico?

    14
  12. Kit says:

    @Teve: From Wikipedia:

    its aim is to describe the reality as it is, without the bias of preconceived ideas about how it ought to be.

    That said, don’t go looking too closely into my wild-eyed rants for either consistency or factual accuracy: just enjoy the ride

  13. Kylopod says:

    @Teve:

    I’m not a linguist, I could be wrong, but I never thought descriptivism meant a complete abandonment of the concept of correct or incorrect, but rather a different, looser concept.

    My understanding of descriptivism is that it denies there are absolute rights and wrongs when it comes to language–but within particular dialects it can be accurate or inaccurate to describe certain forms as right or wrong.

    For example, take the sentence “Billy and me are going to the store.” A descriptivist would say this is perfectly acceptable colloquial English, but incorrect formal English. But even a descriptivist would acknowledge that the sentence “Me is going to the store” is inherently wrong in any form of English.

    Prescriptivists tend to think there’s only one correct form of English (or any other language) and
    that colloquial and dialectical forms are simply “wrong.” Descriptivists, in contrast, think that what’s right or wrong is dependent on the particular dialect or speech form. Standard English has one set of rules, colloquial or dialectical English another. Descriptivists don’t deny there are rules; they just recognize that rules arise organically (even the languages of primitive, illiterate societies often have fantastically complex rules) and that they’re not necessarily something imposed on the language through formal education.

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    Americans don’t really need to know geography til we’re invading. Then it’s, ‘Vietnam? Is that over by Hawaii?’

    We are the only surviving superpower, able to project force everywhere, able to destroy anyone, and the voters in our democracy can’t find Canada on a map of North America, and our ‘leader’ is a moron. Relax world, everything’s just fine.

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    and the voters in our democracy can’t find Canada on a map of North America

    I have my doubts the average American would pass a competency test on basic US geography. (Nevada? Is that like in Florida?)

  16. gVOR08 says:

    Being an American, knowing nothing about linguistics has not stopped me from having my own crank theory on the subject. George Lakoff, a for real linguist, says conservatives tend to see everything as a question of morality. (I think everybody does, to varying degrees.) I go a bit further. Words are symbols representing things or actions or attributes and per the rules of the language we make statements logically connecting the symbols. But often, I think, people make emotional connections ignoring any rules of syntax

    My crank theory is the only way I can make sense of much of what people believe. Tax cut good. Reduce deficit good. Both same, right?

    Dr. Taylor is probably right that this is trivia, some 20 something intern messing up. (Given that the only time I and many people see FOX News is without sound in the gym or sports bar, they might want to take more care with chyrons.) On the other hand it may really be ‘Mexicans, Hondurans, all the same. All brown people coming to take our stuff.’

  17. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    My understanding is that descriptivists understand languages are in constant flux, formally and informally, and undertake to analyze and explain such changes. they don’t criticize usage any more than a biologist would criticize the digestive system of ruminants, or an astronomer the gravitational forces of a black hole.

    That’s my impression from following John McWhorter’s podcasts. I may have it all wrong, but he comes across as a dispassionate observer, same as other scientists.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kylopod:
    I have a simple metric: did I convey what I meant to convey? Did the reader/listener/viewer understand? Did they feel what I intended for them to feel? If so then I guess my English worked.

    I don’t know what that’s called, but from my POV it’s pragmatic. English is a tool designed to be a screwdriver, but sometimes it works as a chisel or a crowbar, and though a purpose-designed chisel or crowbar may be seen as more appropriate, the off-brand use adds an element of the unexpected.

    Writers tend to be at odds with grammarians. They think it’s about the rules, we think it’s about communication. Obviously we’re right.

  19. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I know you meant your comment humorously, but FWIW I consider Fox News to be equivalent to the Nigerian Prince scam. According to an FBI agent the reason that those emails, with their bad English and ridiculous logical leaps never get any better is because they need to ensure their audience is gullible and at least slightly dishonest. The shoddiness quickly drives people who would figure out the scam. Look at the things peddled on Fox. If they had a a more intelligent viewership their ad revenue would dry up.

  20. Paine says:

    My Mexican friends in Colombia thought it was pretty funny…

  21. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    My understanding is that descriptivists understand languages are in constant flux, formally and informally, and undertake to analyze and explain such changes. they don’t criticize usage any more than a biologist would criticize the digestive system of ruminants, or an astronomer the gravitational forces of a black hole.

    Yes, I would agree with that summation. But it’s important to understand that descriptivists do have a concept of correct and incorrect usage–it’s just that “correct” and “incorrect” are understood as neutral descriptions of the way particular dialects function at a particular point in time, not moral or aesthetic judgments on how people should speak or write forever and eternally. Descriptivists would regard “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout that” as a correct sentence within certain English dialects today, and that’s based on a recognition that even highly disparaged speech forms have systematic rules that the speakers generally follow, not because they were taught those rules in school, but because they learned them through general absorption. All dialects and all languages have systematic rules that arise naturally; the idea that people’s speech will be a senseless jumble if they aren’t taught to speak “properly” is a schoolroom myth.

    And tying into Michael Reynolds‘s comment, you will find in general that writers have their own rules of language–and their own ways of bending them when they think it’ll be effective. It’s quite common in modern fiction, for example, to see run-on sentences used consciously to create a particular effect. And the general text of a novel is likelier to follow formal rules than the dialogue, as well as first person compared to third person.

  22. Teve says:

    @Kit:

    That said, don’t go looking too closely into my wild-eyed rants for either consistency or factual accuracy: just enjoy the ride

    Gotcha. Carry on.

  23. Mister Bluster says:

    Albuquerque Journal:
    1969: The letters “USA” are added after the state name to help geography-challenged people in other states know where we’re from.

    1931: The state issues specially designated plates for “Driverless Cars.” This contradictory sounding name was the term generally used for rental cars in the 1920s and 1930s.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    But it’s important to understand that descriptivists do have a concept of correct and incorrect usage–it’s just that “correct” and “incorrect” are understood as neutral descriptions of the way particular dialects function at a particular point in time, not moral or aesthetic judgments on how people should speak or write forever and eternally.

    For an even more nuanced approach, Dr. Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan studies the effects of prescriptivism on language. People who want to tell you how you ought to speak and write are a real thing, and they influence how languages are used and how they change. Every time you hear a sportscaster say “He told Bob and I that…”, you’re hearing the effect of prescriptivists on how people speak — in this case through unnecessary hypercorrection due to misunderstanding of what “the rules” are.

    In general, Descriptivists describe how language is actually used, and Prescriptivists describe how it ought to be used. The former are linguists; the latter are not.

  25. al Ameda says:

    ‘3 Mexican countries?’ Most Fox viewers would probably say California, New Mexico, and San Francisco.

    Seriously, I’d be willing to guess that 27% of Americans could not locate South America on a labeled map of the continents.

  26. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Michael Reynolds says:
    Sunday, March 31, 2019 at 13:26
    @Kylopod:
    I have a simple metric: did I convey what I meant to convey? Did the reader/listener/viewer understand? Did they feel what I intended for them to feel? If so then I guess my English worked.

    I don’t know what that’s called, but from my POV it’s pragmatic. English is a tool designed to be a screwdriver, but sometimes it works as a chisel or a crowbar, and though a purpose-designed chisel or crowbar may be seen as more appropriate, the off-brand use adds an element of the unexpected.

    Writers tend to be at odds with grammarians. They think it’s about the rules, we think it’s about communication. Obviously we’re right.

    You know… In film and television, two types of scripts are sold/bought. One type (80%) is written by the writer who has studied all the proper books (Syd Field, Robert McKee, Truby, etc.). These writers know every rule about structure, about character, about the proper inciting incident by page 10, the perfect act one break at around page 25, the perfect midpoint reversal, and the beautiful climax around page 95. In other words, they understand the craft of screenwriting. They’re well written scripts.

    The other type (20%) have also read those books and understand the craft of screenwriting, but they throw the “rules” out the window. The write with passion and emotion, and break the fourth wall with the reader often. They describe emotion, which you’re NEVER supposed to do in the world of screenwriting purists.

    Here’s the difference. One group has written a great script. The other group has told a great story. One will make a good movie. The other won’t.

    Really great writing COMMUNICATES. That’s it. Good writing gets into the psyche of the reader, grammar rules be damned. It’s that simple.

    And that hard.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: In this particular type of case, descriptivism has to do with constructed reality. For example, in descriptive grammar, we compare what speakers say to what listeners hear and build conventions to describe how to make sure speaking and hearing match as well as can be expected. Also, words become “Standard English” based on how many people across all demographics use those words. So if in fact “Mexico” becomes understood to be everywhere South of the Rio Grande, all Latin American people will become “Mexicans” whether they want to be or not.

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: No, they don’t have to. They choose to as a business decision based on the most lucrative ad markets they believe they can attract. If Fox were to choose to target more intelligent viewers, then Goldline, Newsmax, ForEx margin program trading, and other scams that advertise on Fox would have to leave because the viewers would largely not be interested in being ripped off.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: Help me out here. (And this is going to sound like a “gotcha” but I promise it’s not–I’m genuinely confused.)

    Here’s the difference. One group has written a great script. The other group has told a great story. One will make a good movie. The other won’t.

    Which group’s work will make the great movie? I ask because in conventional ordering the subsequent conclusion will follow the order of the original sequence–so that the “great script” group will result in a good movie where as the “great story told” will not. But I can’t escape feeling that telling the great story is more important than writing the great script. However, I’m a teacher of writing 500 words by the end of business, not creative writing, so I may be wrong. Clarify for me which group of writers produce the vehicle for a good movie?

  30. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    So if in fact “Mexico” becomes understood to be everywhere South of the Rio Grande, all Latin American people will become “Mexicans” whether they want to be or not.

    I have noticed a common practice among ignorant racists of using “Mexican” as a generic term for all Hispanics. It’s similar to calling anyone from East Asia a “Chinaman.” That’s one of the reasons why this mistake seems so Fox News-ish, even though we know other networks have made errors of this kind.

    In fact, though, ignorance about the distinctions between particular national or ethnic groups has sometimes left a permanent mark on the language. For instance, the word “Dutch” is a corruption of Deutsch, or German. And of course there’s the word Indian.

  31. An Interested Party says:

    I wonder how many Fox News watchers are going to shit themselves when we elect the first “Mexican” president…

  32. EddieInCA says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Which group’s work will make the great movie? I ask because in conventional ordering the subsequent conclusion will follow the order of the original sequence–so that the “great script” group will result in a good movie where as the “great story told” will not.

    Thanks for the question. First of all, a bit of full disclosure. I worked as a free-lance reader of scripts for several years. I was the first one to read a script a company was considering. BUT… I’m just the expert of my opinion when it comes to what is a good movie. Second, a “good movie” doesn’t equate to a “successful film financially”. Some of my favorite films weren’t/aren’t “hits” by any financial measures. Other movies that I thought sucked (Skyscraper and Aquaman, most recently) were huge financial successes.

    Now on to your question.

    Give me the great story over the great script any time! Any day. You can fix a script if the story is there. The problem with most movies isn’t the script; it’s the story. Character matters. Conflict creates drama and comedy. Give me the great story and I’ll find a way to make the script work. I can have a great script, technically, but the story will lack heart, or emotion. People watch TV and Film for an emotional connection. Moviegoers want, no, NEED, to feel a connection to the characters and the story. Same with TV shows.

    So short answer, give me a great story.

  33. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: when I was young and naive I thought descriptivism was obviously correct and prescriptivism was stupid, and a linguist friend of mine named David who works at a university in Ohio explained to me no, there’s a purpose to prescriptivism, getting everybody to learn Standard American English in school, even though nobody exactly speaks it, prevents regional dialects from fracturing too badly, such as what happened back in the day in Italy which got so bad that some of the village languages became incommensurate with each other and in the early 20th century they had to pick a regional language (IIRC Florence?) and make everybody learn it as kind of an internal second language, so everybody in Italy could speak with each other.

    In David’s explanation prescriptivism and descriptivism were like nature versus nurture, taking either extreme was wrong, and the truth was more of a mixture.

  34. Teve says:

    @Kylopod:

    I have noticed a common practice among ignorant racists of using “Mexican” as a generic term for all Hispanics. It’s similar to calling anyone from East Asia a “Chinaman.” That’s one of the reasons why this mistake seems so Fox News-ish, even though we know other networks have made errors of this kind.

    In North Florida at a Ruby Tuesdays near where I-10 and i-75 meet, I literally heard a guy call a Guatemalan a Mexican because “it’s all Mexico to me.”

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Good point. I remember when I was young, I was visiting my grandparents (immigrant Italians) and they had some of their friends over to watch TV (they were the only one’s who actually owned a television because cable had only just come to Cle Elum, WA). All of their friends spoke various dialects of Italian most of the time. At one point, someone said something and one of the other guests said “che?” (what?) and my grandmother said a completely different word to that person. My grandfather explained, “your grandmother speaks several dialects, which is good because the words aren’t always the same for everyone.”

  36. Barry says:

    @An Interested Party: “I wonder how many Fox News watchers are going to shit themselves when we elect the first “Mexican” president…”

    All of them. See ‘2008’.

  37. Teve says:

    @Barry: for a long time the conventional wisdom was that the first black or woman president would be a conservative Republican. Then Barry Bamz Super Hussein Allah Obama came along and wrecked that notion, so maybe we’ll see a repeat of that, and in a few more years AOC will be our first Mexican president. 😀

  38. Jen says:

    Wouldn’t 20-something interns have a solid grasp of where the Spring Break vacation spots are in Mexico?

    This is hilarious and pathetic at the same time. And yes, @MarkedMan: your note about Africa is well-taken. Confusing Africa as a country and not a continent with countries is an error I’ve come across more than once.

  39. dmichael says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Ambrose Bierce (probably): “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”

  40. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “One group has written a great script. The other group has told a great story. One will make a good movie. The other won’t.”

    But the first group hasn’t written a great script. They’ve written a perfectly formatted script. Quite possibly they’ve written a technically proficient script. But there’s a huge gulf between that and a great script.

  41. EddieInCA says:

    @wr:

    wr says:
    Monday, April 1, 2019 at 12:00
    @EddieInCA: “One group has written a great script. The other group has told a great story. One will make a good movie. The other won’t.”

    But the first group hasn’t written a great script. They’ve written a perfectly formatted script. Quite possibly they’ve written a technically proficient script. But there’s a huge gulf between that and a great script.

    Point taken. I should have been more precise. I was thinking even more than the formatting in that the structure is spot on, and arcs are all closed artfully, but the script lacks heart. Those are the scripts that are forever in development, because it doens’t have the emotional connection that gets an actor or director excited enough to attach themselves.

    But you’re correct in your analysis.

  42. grumpy realist says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Don’t forget that some of the most iconic movies don’t really have any one element that is absolutely top-notch but somehow it all comes together. The REALLY iconic films manage to come out at some time where they mirror something of the culture/zeitgeist and get quoted/used by people/grabbed up into the culture. (There was an interesting article over at The Guardian which pointed out that the Matrix films would probably have had a very different reception from the audience were they to come out now, rather than in the period they did, when the absolute worst life anyone could think of happening in the US was to be a cube worker/middle manager. Now it’s finding a well-paid and lasting position, period. Most Millenials would KILL for a chance for the sort of life The Matrix held up as Boring Dreck Unworthy Of Your Efforts.)