Supplemental: Nicholas Kristof, music man!

MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2015

Biggest journalistic hoax concerning test scores yet:
In today’s first post, we discussed the “pseudo-journalism” which is so common at the New York Times.

For a truly stunning example, consider the way Nicholas Kristof started yesterday’s column.

Life-forms like Kristof have spent many years running down American students and their public school teachers. Some journalists do this out of sheer ignorance. Others do it because they want to help their upper-class minders and masters privatize public schools.

Yesterday, Kristof created one of the most remarkable incidents yet. As journalistic deception goes, we’d call this passage jaw-dropping:
KRISTOF (4/26/15): I am afraid you’re eligible to read this column only if you can answer this question faced by eighth graders around the world:

What is the sum of the three consecutive whole numbers with 2n as the middle number?

A. 6n+3
B. 6n
C. 6n-1
D. 6n-3

More than three-quarters of South Korean kids answered correctly (it is B). Only 37 percent of American kids were correct, lagging their peers from Iran, Indonesia and Ghana.

We know Johnny can’t read; it appears that Johnny is even worse at counting.

That’s the way Kristof started yesterday’s column. Before he was done, he offered two similar examples of Johnny’s astonishing dumbness.

For simplicity sake, let’s stick to this one example. In it, Kristof’s reflexive dishonesty reached an astounding new level.

Reading that example, a reader may get the impression that American students perform more poorly in math than their counterparts from Iran, Indonesia and Ghana, which are clearly meant to be seen as deeply embarrassing countries.

As Kristof surely knows, that impression would be grossly inaccurate. The test in question is the 2011 TIMSS, one of the two major international test programs in which most developed nations take part.

Along with a few other Asian tigers, Singapore tends to outscore the world on these international tests. But American kids scored fairly well on the 2011 TIMSS as compared with everyone else. Here are the relevant scores, with endlessly-ballyhooed Finland included as a point of comparison:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, TIMSS, 2011
Singapore 611

Finland 514
United States 509

Iran 415
Indonesia 386
Ghana 331
For all average scores, click here.

Eighth-graders in Iran, Indonesia and Ghana didn’t perform nearly as well as their counterparts in the United States. How did Kristof manage to tie that false impression to his ugly, stupid remark about the way pitiful Johnny can’t read or even count?

Simple! Kristof links to this site, where the TIMSS has posted 88 questions from the 2011 math test which won’t be used again.

In a remarkably deceptive way, Kristof cherry-picked through that long list of questions. The question about the three consecutive numbers is, quite literally, the question on which American kids did least well out of all 88 as compared to the rest of the world.

Let’s make sure you understand that! Quite deliberately, Kristof chose the least representative example out of 88 possible items.

He led his column with that unrepresentative example. He then pretended it shows that stupid-ass Johnny “can’t count.”

Assuming the TIMSS data are accurate, why did American kids perform so poorly on that one question? We have no idea. We also can’t explain why American kids outscored every nation, including Singapore, on the question called “Median number of staff members.” But, by God, they did!

In fact, they outperformed all nations, including Singapore, by a wide margin on that one question. An equally dishonest person could cherry-pick that one example to advance the false impression that U.S. eighth-graders lead the world in math.

Why in the world would a life-form like Kristof deceive his readers this way? Beyond that, what makes him so eager to denigrate American kids?

We can’t answer that question, but several commenters thought they could. They said Kristof had once again cast himself in the role of tool to his corporate masters, who want to destroy teachers unions and privatize public schools:
COMMENTER FROM NEW JERSEY: Mr. Kristof has been consistently anti-teacher, anti-public schools. He frequently trots out misleading information, perhaps out of ignorance (he has no expertise or skin in the game in education), or perhaps because he has a vested interest in privately funded education.
Other comments drifted along that line. Meanwhile, quite a few comments show the things people end up believing when they’re subjected to a steady stream of disinformation from Kristof and his merry band of gong-show propagandists:

“As long as the US has teachers that do not have a master’s degree in the subjects they are teaching—especially in math and natural sciences—we’ll never catch up to other advanced nations,” one gloomy reader said.

“I could not agree more with Mr. Kristof about our nation’s poor performance in math. It starts early,” another reader wrote.

“The scandal is not that students in Iran, Indonesia, Ghana...would perform better on these questions than their counterparts in the US,” another reader wrote, possibly having swallowed the false impression. “There are bright individuals everywhere and nothing to say that Americans have a birthright to superior scores.”

The readers shown below agreed—it’s done much better Over There! In a slightly rational world, these would be seen as embarrassing comments:
COMMENTER FROM ISRAEL: The key is having good math teachers. Unfortunately those who are capable of doing so can usually find more lucrative jobs so often the math teachers are second tier (except of course for countries like Finland which pay teachers well). If you want students to succeed, then make sure there are good teachers and pay for them.

COMMENTER FROM MICHIGAN: As for the main point of this column, as a teacher I share your dismay. I truly think our system needs strong structural reform, and we should probably look to the Swedish model.

COMMENTER FROM VIRGINIA: I remember a statement by Larry King decades ago on his show where the pitfalls of the US public school system compared the ones in other advanced nations were described, including discipline. King said that in Germany teachers were so greatly respected that their pupils addressed them as doctors. Well, heck, I yelled at the TV, that's because a large number of them have Ph.D. in the subject they teach.
Please. On the test to which Kristof referred, American kids basically matched their counterparts in Finland. They outscored glorious Sweden by 25 points, with its average score of 484.

Germany didn't take part on the eighth grade level in 2011. It did participate at the fourth grade level, where its kids were outscored by kids from the U.S.

(Other scores in Grade 8 math: Great Britain 507, Australia 505, Italy 498, Norway 475.)

“We know Johnny can’t read; it appears that Johnny is even worse at counting!” It’s hard to imagine why someone like Kristof would want to write such a thing. But such deceptions are completely routine within our upper-end press corps. This has been the reliable norm for a very long time.

We know of no topic on which Americans are so persistently disinformed by American pseudo-journalists. Yesterday, Kristof took the dissembling and the deception to a remarkable low.

Kristof seems to get stranger by the month. As Shakespeare thoughtfully asked, “On what meat doth this our Times pseudo-journalist feed?”

Just for the record: The other examples Kristof presents are also cherry-picked. He had to sift through 88 examples to mislead his readers so.

THE PSEUDOJOURNALISM RULES: Ways to win friends and influence voters!

MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2015

Part 1—Described as a bombshell report:
In the normal course of affairs, a “bombshell report” in the New York Times may influence many voters.

Last Friday morning, the famous newspaper is said to have published that type of report. The piece began on the Times’ front page, under this hard-copy headline:

“The Clintons, The Russians And Uranium”

Inside the paper, the continuation of the report filled two entire pages—A20 and A21.

In itself, the lengthy report contained 4400 words of text. On those interior pages, it was accompanied by six photographs and one large timeline, along with one additional chart.

As any voter could see, the Times report was voluminous. That said, was it truly a bombshell report? Or was it perhaps the latest example of New York Times pseudo-journalism, a possibility Howard Dean raised last Thursday morning?

Was it really a bombshell report? Or was it pseudo-journalism? All week long, we’ll be exploring that question. We’ll also examine the way the Times report was handled by others in the upper-end press—for example, on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC program.

On line, the sprawling report was published early Thursday. That evening, Hayes described the piece, two separate times, as a “bombshell report.”

In one of his teases, the young performer offered the excited statement shown below. We’d have to say the young cable star was way out over his skis:
HAYES (4/23/15): All right. The Clinton campaign fires back after a bombshell report alleges a major conflict of interest that led to a flood of cash. That’s next.
In truth, the front-page report doesn’t exactly “allege” a conflict of interest at all, let alone a “major” conflict.

Everyone on earth has noted some version of this fact, starting with the Times itself. But so what? Young Hayes was quite excited this night, just as he was in 2012 when he threw Susan Rice under the bus.

Fellows like Hayes don’t challenge the Times, as we’ve endlessly told you.

In our view, Hayes was wildly overstating the shape of the “bombshell report.” That said, his credulous performance that night illustrates a familiar part of the upper-end press corps’ “pseudo-journalism rules.”

In our view, Hayes’ performance that night was just extremely bad. It may have been even worse than the clowning on that day’s Morning Joe, where pundits excitedly discussed a report which, as they were happy to note, none of them had read.

Later this week, we’ll review the terrible analytical work performed by Hayes and many others. For today, let’s consider the ways a report of this type may influence voters.

How will some American voters react to a sprawling “bombshell” report? Consider the letters the New York Times published Saturday morning.

The Times had killed a lot of trees to present its sprawling report. Quite plainly, its massive lay-out gave the impression that bombshells had exploded.

On Saturday morning, four letters in the Times discussed the bombshell report. In the very first letter, a troubled liberal made a very significant statement.

He won’t be voting for Clinton next year, this troubled reader said:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (4/25/15): I am a well-educated professional living in a major metropolitan area. I strongly support Barack Obama’s presidency. I am a compassionate liberal on most social issues. I am invigorated by the idea of a woman as president. I have been a registered Democrat for over 20 years, and I have never given serious thought to supporting a Republican presidential candidate.

Despite all this, I will not vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton. I simply don’t trust her. Email records, foundation money conflicts and so on. The list is simply too long, and a vast right-wing conspiracy is not to blame. Presumably the Republican nominee will be loathsome in other ways, so I will likely abstain from the 2016 presidential election.

If people like me won’t vote for Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic Party should be very concerned.

R— J—
Burlingame, Calif.
Let’s be fair. As he started, the troubled liberal admitted that he’s well-educated. Beyond that, he admitted that he’s a compassionate person with quite a few other fine traits, including the fact that he “lives in a major metropolitan area.”

But so what? Despite his many fine traits, the writer said that he won’t be voting for Clinton next year. He even included her middle name in a bit of a throwback.

“I simply don’t trust her,” this voter said. “The list is simply too long.” He cited two examples from this long list. Each example was recent.

What is the nature of the “foundation money conflicts” which led this writer to make this statement? His letter doesn’t say.

He seems to say that the GOP nominee may be even worse than Clinton. But thanks in part to that “bombshell report,” he has decided that he won’t vote for Clinton next year, no matter how bad the Republican may be.

In that letter, we see one possible reaction to that bombshell report. For whatever reason, the Times chose it as the first reaction its readers would see.

Three more letters discussed the report. The second letter also showed the effect a Times bombshell may have:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (4/25/15): Is there just smoke here, or fire? The way money washes around the globe among the rich and the powerful is disturbing, and this article illustrates that very well. But if one reads between the lines, it’s not at all clear that your reporters found any direct connection between the uranium mine transaction and Hillary Rodham Clinton or the State Department during the relevant periods. Either way, the whole thing makes my head hurt.

On the upside, let’s recognize that the Clintons are among the most scrutinized and investigated prominent politicians in American history. Decades of poking into every nook and cranny by their political enemies have produced little. Is it that they’re made of Teflon, or that the stuff thrown at them was not strong enough to stick?

W— S—
Mount Pleasant, S.C.
This writer doesn’t think it’s clear that the Times found Clinton doing anything wrong! (That said, he’s already hedging his bets when he says that Times reporters found no direct connection.)

To this voter, it isn’t clear that Clinton has done something wrong. But so what? “Either way, the whole thing makes my head hurt,” he says.

There’s a familiar term for that malady. For many years, it’s been known as “Clinton fatigue.” The first letter writer won’t vote for Clinton. The second will be less enthusiastic about her, as he’ll explain to his friends.

In what other ways can a Times report influence American voters? The third letter writer says the report “raises troubling questions.”

He doesn’t say what those questions are. But he says he now hopes, all over again, that Elizabeth Warren gets into the race.

Finally, the fourth letter writer says he’ll be sticking with Clinton. Clinton is forced to “bend the rules,” he says, thereby seeming to assume that she has actually done so.

Those letters are intriguing. Obviously, they don’t represent a scientific sample of voter reaction. The New York Times chose to publish those letters, selecting them from the many others they surely received.

For today, we’ll note two points:

First, those letters help us see the ways a bombshell report may influence an array of voters. Second, none of those letters challenge the journalism performed by the New York Times.

Neither did Hayes, last Thursday night, on The One True Channel. Dearest darlings, it just isn’t done! For decades, that simply hasn’t been allowed by the rules of a largely invisible game.

Those rules were on display in the New York Times’ sprawling report, which was a journalistic mess. Those rules were also on display in Hayes’ pseudo-analysis.

Those rules have guided American life for a very long time. Within the guild we still call the press, everyone who plays for large pay knows to obey those rules.

Just as Howard Dean suggested, that bombshell report by the New York Times was a journalistic mess. Tomorrow, we’ll start to show you why we say that.

It’s what Hayes should have done.

Tomorrow: The anatomy of a pseudo-report

Supplemental: At the Post and the Times, they get letters!


What Richard Cohen said:
Two weekends ago, we ascended the stage at Benny’s Bar and Grill in Potomac, Maryland. We were taking part in the establishment’s “Journalists in comedy” night.

We followed Clarence Page, the sanest person in journalism today. But why was he subjecting himself to the miseries which could ensue?

“We’re just here to find out why you’re here,” we told him when he arrived. “When we learn why you’re here, we’re leaving.”

Page couldn’t exactly explain his presence. And so we ascended the stage.

Eventually, we discussed the “Problems in philosophy” class we took in our freshman year in college. Masterfully, we offered our thoughts about one of the six “problems” we studied:

“How do you know that 7 plus 5 equals 12?”

“Who are these problems problems for?” we recalled ourselves masterfully wondering. But first, we shared a few observations about that day’s “Free for All” page in the Washington Post.

Each Saturday, the Post devotes a special page to letters from its readers. We sometimes imagine that they pick those letters which will portray us the readers at our nit-picking, overwrought worst.

Is “Free for All” really a portrait of readers as hecklers? We’ll let you decide:

That morning, a reader had scolded the Post for a politically-charged spelling choice. In a recent news report, the Post had referred to the “Dnepropetrovsk region” of Ukraine, he scoldingly said.

The reader said the Post should have used this spelling: “Dnipropetrovsk region.” And that wasn’t all! “Also, please don't begin using ‘Slavyansk’ for Sloviansk, ‘Makeyevka’ for Makiivka, ‘Gorlovka’ for Horlivka and so on,” he pre-emptively warned.

We weren’t even saying the reader was wrong. We were simply saying!

Today, the “Free for All” page spills with reader outrage. Why did the Post describe a graffiti vandal as a graffiti artist? What did a headline refer to Elizabeth II as the queen of England?

Why can’t Warren Brown’s car column have a regular space? One reader even offers a narrow complaint about a crossword puzzle:

Aleve is not an “Alternative to Tylenol,” as the 2 Down clue suggested. If one is allergic to aspirin, one cannot take Aleve.

For ourselves, we were struck by the letter shown below. A reader batters Richard Cohen for his sexist, misogynist comments about Candidate Clinton.

The letter appears at the top of the “Free for All” page. Here it is, headline included:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (4/25/15): Hillary Clinton is no victim

Richard Cohen’s description of Hillary Clinton in his April 14 op-ed column, “A campaign where she is the message,” was sexist and misogynistic.

He implied that Clinton’s main problem is being “a woman of some years of womanly experiences.” This insulted all women,
but especially those of us “of some years.” To stress his point, he added “a woman of some years who has led a hell of a life.” In case we misunderstood, Cohen commented, “She has been around.” (Did he not realize this may imply promiscuity?) To emphasize further, he wrote, “She has been walloped. She has been publicly betrayed and damaged and hurt.” Was he trying to evoke images of Hester Prynne? Anne Boleyn? Uppity women in general?

Cohen used highly charged language, language often used to disempower women in general.
Like so many hackneyed crime dramas and old-fashioned fairy tales, he tried to portray Clinton as a victim, and not the strong, intelligent, goal-directed woman who is successful in her own right and resilient in the face of a flawed husband.

In the end, Clinton’s biggest problem may be the inability of men “of some years” like Cohen to overcome the old stereotypes of women—the very sexist cliches they grew up with.

B— A— F—
We recalled scanning Cohen’s column last week. We didn’t remember it as an insult to Clinton, let alone to all women.

Incomparably, we reread the piece. In the end, this was Cohen’s assessment of Clinton and her Republican rivals:
COHEN (4/14/15): Hillary Clinton has been a lawyer. She has been an advocate for the poor, especially children. She’s been the first lady of Arkansas and of the United States of America. She’s been a senator from New York and Obama’s secretary of state. Her record in all those positions is worthy of a fair critique, but the fact remains that she’s unique in American political life.

Scanning the mob of Republicans now seeking the White House, there’s no one who approaches Clinton in experience or standing.
Jeb Bush comes close. He was the governor of a major state and he impresses with his fidelity to some distinctly un-Republican positions on immigration and education. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is interesting, but he has the “lean and hungry look” that Caesar noted in Cassius. He is not quite ready. As for the rest of the field, it is a political bedlam, quarreling, quibbling and kvetching over same-sex marriage, abortion and immigration, and in general waging the good fight against social progress.
In our view, Cohen led his piece with the standard, silly criticism with which a gang of other pundits led their Post columns that week: Candidate Clinton hasn’t laid out an agenda!

To us, that criticism is utterly silly at this early date. But everyone at the Washington Post recited that script that week.

Basically, Cohen proceeded from there to an endorsement of Clinton. But so what? In Arlington, one reader was outraged by the insulting, misogynist way in which he endorsed her for president.

Our guess? Such cluelessness from Clinton supporters may represent her “biggest problem.” As Cohen was writing his endorsement, the New York Times was fashioning the very large puddle of front-page piddle which we’ll review all next week.

This very morning, the Times has published four letters about its front-page report. Alas! Those hand-picked letters may well represent a great deal of the public reaction to that Rolling Stone-flavored report.

Does the reader in Arlington know what’s wrong with that front-page report? Because we’re so clueless about such matters, we the liberals have long been easy to roll.

We liberals! We do know that seven plus five equals twelve. Beyond that, a great deal seems to escape us, thanks in part to the corporate hustlers we accept as our tribal leaders.

That fill us with our narrow rage. As they do, the plutocrats who pay their fat wages just keep rolling along.

We haven't forgotten: Coming Monday, what Brooke Gladstone says she has heard

EVERYBODY LOVES A CHARADE: Howard Dean says what the New York Times does!

FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2015

Part 5—Everyday people push back:
Paul Krugman’s portrait is sad but true in today’s New York Times.

At the end of his latest column, Krugman looks into the future. As he does, he employs a key word:

“Pundits will try to pretend that we’re having a serious policy debate, but, as far as issues go, 2016 is already set up to be the election of the living dead.”

The key word there is “pretend.” We’ve been using that word all week. Here’s why:

In an astounding amount of our public discourse, our “journalists” seem to be pretending. Sometimes, they pretend that they’re discussing real issues. On other occasions, they pretend that they’re telling us what they think.

In our view, a lot of pretending seems to exist in Jo Becker’s front-page report in today’s New York Times. The exciting piece, which was instantly famous, is 4400 words long.

In it, Becker pretends to examine past conduct by Candidate Clinton.

The last two mornings, we’ve watched the gang on Morning Joe pretend to discuss this front-page report. Yesterday morning, they all acknowledged that they hadn’t yet read the exciting report which they were pretending to discuss.

In our view, Becker does a lot of pretending in her long “news report.” So did Willie Haskell-Geist as he ridiculed the absurd idea that the New York Times, of all publications, could possibly have an anti-Clinton animus.

Mika and Joe also pretended to find that idea absurd. These are the wages of twenty-three years of silence by our top corporate pseudo-liberals.

Alas! All next week, we expect to discuss Becker’s front-page pseudo-report. We also expect to review the palaver churned on Morning Joe, where Howard Dean’s unusual comments went to the remainders bin.

Uh-oh! Yesterday morning, Dean made some unusual comments about the glorious Times! He didn’t seem to know the rules—comments like his are not allowed when high-ranking pundits pretend to discuss the news.

Dean said the things you mustn’t say about the New York Times! As a result, he fought off complaints from Times reporter Jeremy Peters, who pretended to be offended by Dean’s offensive remarks.

In the part of the segment shown below, Scarborough pretends to be offended by Dean’s remarks. To watch the fuller exchange, click here:
DEAN (4/23/15): First of all, I haven’t seen the story and neither have you, right?...I will say, there is an epidemic of really sloppy reporting that goes from the top to the bottom...I’d like to see what all the facts are here, because so far we haven’t really seen—

SCARBOROUGH: Why don’t you read the story before accusing the New York Times of being sloppy?

DEAN: Because in general, the New York Times has been sloppy, particularly their political writers. I use the New York Times as an example in journalism classes, because by the fifth paragraph in any political story—we can probably find one right here, whatever the political story on the front page is. By the fifth paragraph, they’re substituting their judgment for news.

SCARBOROUGH: Howard, I just got to say. I consider you a good friend of mine. I think it is unbecoming for you to come on this show and, and to just reflexively attack everybody who tries to bring up any information that goes against what you want people to hear about Hillary Clinton.

DEAN: They did it to George W. Bush! That’s what they do.
To state the obvious, that is what the New York Times does! In 2008, we spent a week on the topic when they somehow got it into their heads that Candidate McCain was having a steamy sex affair.

To read those reports, click here. But that is what the New York Times does. They do it all the time!

Let's review:

The rest of the gang was pretending to discuss a report they hadn’t yet read. Spoiling the fun, Howard Dean made some accurate statements.

He didn’t seem to understand—within the business, you aren’t supposed to make accurate statements about the New York Times. Rachel, Chris and Joan won’t do it. Yesterday, Howard Dean did!

Next week, we expect to review that front-page “news report.” We’ll also take a fuller look at the pseudo-conversations which occurred when Mika, Willie and Joe pretended to voice their heartfelt concerns about the deeply troubling things they hadn’t yet actually read.

For now, we’ll only say this:

Over the course of the past several decades, everyone within the guild has obeyed the rules Dean broke. They’ve agreed to withhold the basic truth about the ridiculous work of the Times, especially about its long, peculiar war against both Clintons and Gore.

Rachel won’t discuss it with you; she's too busy clowning. Hayes won’t tell you. Joan Walsh spends most of her time folding Matthews’ ascots.

None of those people are going to teach you how to push back against the terrible, ludicrous people who type for the New York Times.

On Sunday, Bruni and Dowd wrote ridiculous columns about Candidate Clinton. As they did, they kicked off the new charade, in which the press will pretend to discuss our election for the next nineteen months.

Bruni pretended that he was “confused” by the least confusing term on earth. Dowd continued the visibly crazy gender-lunacy she has directed at Democrats for the past twenty years.

Your favorite “liberals” have never pushed back against any of this. Within the business, such pushback isn’t allowed.

Grasping stars like Rachel Maddow will not defend your interests. More specifically, they won’t criticize the ludicrous work done by this empty “newspaper.”

Climbers like Maddow have always played you. Last Sunday, some others pushed back.

In comments, an assortment of “everyday Americans” pushed back against the clowning of Bruni and Dowd. There certainly weren’t enough of these people. Too many people simply can’t see that these famous columnists are typing away with no clothes.

That said, some everyday people have heard enough, even if Rachel hasn’t. From New York City, a reader of Bruni’s drivel said this:
COMMENT FROM NEW YORK CITY: The meaning of “everyday Americans?” This, in the Sunday edition of the most important op-ed page in the world? With so much at stake? I don't get it.
Others thought that important newspaper wanted to be something else:
COMMENT FROM NEW MEXICO: If you want to criticize her, pick something substantive. Her credentials deserve better than nitpicking over her eating at Chipotle and driving in a “Scooby van.” Does the NYT really need to be the People Magazine of politics?

COMMENT FROM FLORIDA: When I saw the security camera footage of Sen. Clinton in a Chipotle, I knew the media had lost its collective mind...How can we take the news media's stewardship of our election process seriously if they can't stop acting like they are TMZ?
Quite a few commenters made a foolish request. Foolishly, they asked Bruni to focus on matters of substance:
COMMENT FROM NORTH CAROLINA: How many daze (pun intended) left until the presidential election and how many pundits’ columns do with have to endure outlining their personality traits? Who cares?

COMMENT FROM CALIFORNIA: Let's assume that everything Bruni says about the potential nominees is true. What then do we learn about them? Precious little. Reading Bruni won't help you to understand anything about their politics, their plans and agendas, their understanding of the many serious problems that Americans, of the everyday kind and all others, must deal with...If you want to know what's wrong with the way journalists write about American politics, read columns like this one.

COMMENT FROM ARIZONA: This is just another tedious look at a viable candidate who happens to be a very qualified woman, but is taken apart by various NYTimes columnists for superficial issues like her gender, her age, and the goofy name of her bus. Where are the substantive discussions about the real problems that plague us in 2015?

COMMENT FROM WISCONSIN: Frank, you and your colleagues are not helping matters by focusing on the theater of the campaign and not on the issues. It is a long campaign, and I am sorry that we have this sort of system for electing a president. But it is made more exasperating by columns like this one and others.

COMMENT FROM NEW YORK: As John Lennon sang: “Just give me some truth.” Please no more personality driven columns. We need a discussion of the issues first and foremost.
Commenters, please. Fat chance! Upper-end slackers like Bruni and Dowd don't care about matters of substance!

Many readers tore their hair at the thought of reading such columns for nineteen more months. Others lobbed the nastiest insult of all. They said Bruni’s column made them think they were reading a column by Dowd:
COMMENT FROM MASSACHUSETTS: Frank, I thought I was reading a continuation of Maureen’s column until you finally got to comparing presidential candidate debut weeks across both parties...But what your column, as well as Ms. Dowd's, has done for me is this: get already good and fed up with campaign coverage.

COMMENT FROM VIRGINIA: Bruni, why don't you talk about the issues instead? You're just as bad as Maureen Dowd in your focus on trivial campaign stuff.

COMMENT FROM VIRGINIA: Good grief, now Mr. Bruni proclaims that he doesn't know what Hillary meant by saying she would work for “everyday Americans!”...Next up, must reading for me: Maureen Dowd's Granny Get Your Gun. I am quite sure that her guns are loaded with acid galore, with an added coating of poison.
Beneath Dowd’s column, many readers complained about her reference to Obama as “a feminized man.” Others complained about the relentless repetition of her Hillary-hatred.

One reader tried to be clever. Given the craziness of the target, this will never work:
COMMENT FROM CALIFORNIA: Surely this must be a prank by the editors. It is inconceivable that Ms. Dowd could actually write yet another column bashing Hillary Clinton. It just cannot be that Ms. Dowd has no one and nothing else to blow curare darts at except Mrs. Clinton. The "Bash Hillary" column by Dowd has become a never-ending Mobius strip that we all have ridden in circles for years now. This must be a belated April Fools' Day prank by Dowd.
Actually, it’s a long-running rat-fuck by the peculiar life-forms who run the New York Times. They’re terrible people, if they’re actually people at all. But they do have a great deal of power.

They’ve been running their assorted rat-fucks for decades now. For twenty-three years, they’ve had an unexplored, unchallenged animus against the Clintons and Gore.

Everyone knows that this is the case. But Willie, Joe and Mika also know that they must pretend. They must pretend it's utterly silly to suggest such a thing!

It’s very, very, very rare to see someone like Dean speak up. Your darling Rachel won’t tell you the truth. Walsh and Hayes know they must be quiet.

Four cycles back, this gave us George Bush. The growing self-parody that is Dear Rachel is willing to do it again.

Tomorrow: What Gladstone thinks she’s been hearing