As someone who tries to think critically, I usually stay away from discussing personal altercations between individuals, especially those on morning talk shows. However, the recent kerfuffle with Sharon Osbourne on “The Talk” offers a perfect example of critical thinking, even though she went down meekly on three pitches.
To set the stage, Piers Morgan went after Meghan Markle on his British talk show, and in the give-and-take that followed, Morgan quit the show. Osbourne took to Twitter to defend Morgan on “free speech” grounds, citing that people pay him for his opinion, and that’s exactly what he gave them. Innocent enough, right?
On her show, Osbourne was asked by one of her co-hosts, Sheryl Underwood, to defend her Twitter defense of Morgan. Osbourne stated that the premise of her defense was on “free speech” grounds, which essentially set the rules of the discussion. Underwood, however, did not play by the rules, asking how Osbourne could defend a racist. Here come strike one – Osbourne could have refused to accept the new premise, while bringing the discussion back to a free speech issue, but she let the pitch go by with the bat on her shoulder. I can only assume that Osbourne knew Underwood was struggling and decided to take pitches until a strike was thrown?
Being down 0-1 in the count, however, Osbourne was forced to face the new premise, and she decided to challenge it by asking for examples of Morgan’s racism. Underwood said that while Morgan may not have said anything explicitly racist, "I have felt that Piers was racist in his stance against Meghan Markle”. Yet again, Osbourne took this batting practice pitch – she should have immediately crushed that pitch by asking how Underwood could arrive at that conclusion without knowing what Morgan’s motivations were.
Now, down 0-2 in the count, Osbourne choked up on the bat, hoping to get one last chance to make her point. But, even before the pitch was thrown, Osbourne reflexively swung, trying an appeal to emotion to garner favor. And just like that, Sharon Osbourne struck out!
The play-by-play looks something like this.
Osbourne, Sharon LF
0-1, failed to maintain premise
0-2, did not challenge “Assuming Motivations” fallacy
0-3, tried an “Appeal to Emotion” fallacy.