Supplemental: Twenty-eight days in O-hi-o!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014

Our own side, sounding strange:
What follows isn’t exactly about the press. It’s about the way the liberal world can perhaps sometimes sound strange to pretty much everyone else.

(To ponder the general principle, read this report about declining ratings at MSNBC. For better or worse, we the dogs don’t seem to be gulping the dog food at this time.)

This isn’t about what approach would be best in some particular situation—in this case, with respect to early voting in the state of Ohio. It’s about the way certain kinds of “liberal thinking” can possibly seem quite strange.

In yesterday's New York Times, Adam Liptak reported about new voting rules in Ohio. More specifically, he reported that the Supreme Court has allowed Ohio to proceed with fewer early voting days—with 28 early voting days as opposed to 35.

We’re not saying that Liptak provides a perfect account of the situation. But we were struck by the oddness, and the condescension, coming from a liberal player cited in this passage:
LIPTAK (9/30/14): The ruling, which reflected a partisan breakdown in many court decisions nationwide on voting issues, saw the five Republican-appointed justices uphold the voting restrictions enacted by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature in February. The new limits removed the first week of Ohio’s 35-day early voting period, in the process eliminating the only week that permitted same-day registration, a feature most often used by minorities.

Last Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ordered officials in Ohio to let voters start casting ballots on Tuesday. The panel reasoned that cutting back on early voting at polling places placed a disproportionate burden on poor and black voters.

The panel said it was mindful that Ohio allows voting by mail throughout the contested period. “The presence of vote by mail undoubtedly ameliorates some of the burdens on voting,” Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote for the panel. But she added that “African-Americans, lower-income individuals and the homeless are distrustful of the mail” or “would prefer to vote in person for unrelated reasons.”
Under the new arrangement, Ohio will have 28 days of early voting, instead of the previous 35. Ohio voters will be able to vote by mail throughout this entire period.

You might feel that 35 days would be better than 28. It’s also true that Ohio’s one week of same-day registration has been eliminated under the new procedures. Beyond that, there will only be one day of Sunday voting.

Still, did we mention the fact that there will be 28 days of early voting? That voting-by-mail will be in effect the whole time?

To many people, that will sound like a whole lot of early voting! Meanwhile, what did Judge Moore write when she ruled that this plan was constitutionally unacceptable? According to Liptak, she wrote this:

“African-Americans...are distrustful of the mail.” For that reason, such voters need 35 early voting days, not a mere 28.

Judge Moore may be working from some narrow understanding of her legal responsibility here. At one point, Liptak semi-explains.

Still: As liberals, do we have any idea how absurd that quoted statement will sound to the vast bulk of American voters? Do we have any idea how absurd (and paternalistic) that statement actually is?

People like Moore have always been masters at making the public believe that liberals are a bunch of ludicrous kooks. MSNBC’s ratings are down. Might we possibly maybe give this a name?

Might we call it The Judge Moore Effect?


Supplemental: Do you believe this story or claim?

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014

Meredith Vieira edition:
Do you believe the recent claim by Daisy Hernandez, who is now 39?

In a new book excerpted at Salon, Hernandez tells a story about the way she got her first big job as a writer. The story goes something like this:

Back in 2001, Hernandez completed a master’s in journalism at NYU. She was already working as a writer for Ms. magazine.

That spring, Hernandez was approached to do background research for a book by the New York Times’ Gail Collins. Before long, Collins suggested that she apply for a paid intern job with the Times editorial department.

Hernandez takes the story from there. Do you believe this claim?
HERNANDEZ: [J]ust like that I send my resume…to the editor at the Times hiring interns, even though I have no idea what an editorial is. That’s right. I am twenty-five, I am writing for a national magazine, I have been in journalism school, and I do not know what an editorial is.

I want to say that it’s never come up, that no one has ever talked to me about editorials. But they probably did, and I didn’t know what it was, and as I’ve been doing since I was in kindergarten, I probably acted like I knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it.
Do you believe that claim? Do you believe that Daisy Hernandez, age 25, with a master’s degree in journalism, didn’t know what an editorial was?

More and more, it seems to us that we encounter weirdly implausible claims by ranking figures within the national discourse. A few weeks ago, we wrote about a set of implausible claims made by Meredith Vieira, a major figure in TV “journalism” over the past three decades.

Some of her claims seemed blatantly false. But at least they followed a standard format, in which wealthy broadcasters invent silly tales to make us think they’re actually “just like us.”

The late Tim Russert virtually invented this art form. In fairness, Russert’s claims about his Buffalo boyhood always seemed to be true. The deception involved all the other facts, the various facts he left out.

Vieira’s tales were issued in conjunction with the debut of her new TV show. On the first day of the show, she made a highly implausible claim.

Rather, her 21-year-old daughter did.

Vieira was taken by surprise (wink, wink) when her producers played an embarrassing tape her family had prepared. The tape was designed to let us know what Vieira is really like.

As part of the tape, her daughter told a story we’d have to call highly implausible. To watch the three-minute tape, click here.

Do you believe this claim?
VIEIRA’S HUSBAND (9/8/14): Meredith cries at anything.

VIEIRA’S SON: I can come down into the living room at any moment and she’ll be crying.

VIEIRA’S DAUGHTER: I found her crying in front of the TV. And she told me that she had just watched a horribly sad commercial for a mop where a family discarded their old mop in order to take in a new mop. And the old mop is standing outside the door of the house? And they closed the door. And that’s when she said she really—she lost it.
Do you believe the highlighted story? The studio audience did!

Did Vieira’s daughter actually find her crying because of a mop in a TV ad? Here’s a second question:

Does it trouble you when major figures in TV news tell us highly implausible stories? Do you think this sort of thing should be a point of concern?

Tomorrow: Lawrence O’Donnell’s youth

The broadcaster who cried wolf: A few weeks ago, Vieira told a story from her early adult years. She described the way she’d been subjected to domestic violence.

Many people are subjected to domestic violence, of course. That said, we’d seen the story about the mop and the stories about the humble way Vieira lives. It occurred to us that her latest story sounded rather generic.

Final point, from the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction department:

According to the world’s leading authority,
“Vieira received the P.T. Barnum Award from Tufts University for her exceptional work in the field of media and entertainment.”

She won the P. T. Barnum Award! At least within the national press, there’s an award-winner born every minute!

(Full disclosure: Our own grandfather Rufus worked for the late, great Barnum.)

THE HOUSES OF NANTUCKET COUNTY: Chris flips!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014

Interlude—Matthews at war:
As late as February 1999, Chris Matthews was still defending the character of his friend, Al Gore.

For all previous posts in this award-winning series, click here.

On February 12, 1999, President Clinton was acquitted in his impeachment trial. Three days later, Matthews conducted two conversations about the likely effects of the year-long mess on the aforementioned Gore.

In a segment with Bill Kristol, Matthews defended Gore’s honesty, comparing him favorably to the loathed figure whose journalistic nickname had been “Slick Willie.”

Kristol agreed with Matthews’ assessment. But he said life was unfair:
MATTHEWS (2/15/99): Do you think there's going to be [candidates] queuing up right now to be the next president whose nickname is “Slick?” Do you expect presidents to run for office who have this problem of dishonesty?

KRISTOL: Al Gore is going to be—

MATTHEWS: I think Gore probably hasn't, doesn't have the honesty problem.

KRISTOL: He doesn't, but he's like the accountant. You know, when they bust a mob family, when they bust a Mafia family—

MATTHEWS: Right.

KRISTOL: —and the big guys get away, the guys with a lot of blood on their hands, and the accountant goes to jail for 20 years? Al Gore is the accountant. It's unfair, but life is unfair, as John Kennedy said. And Al Gore is going to be the occasion for a referendum on: What do we fundamentally think of the Clinton presidency? Was it OK, or was it something we're embarrassed about?

MATTHEWS: So you see him as what I call “the bathtub ring,” the residue left behind by the mess.
Kristol was right. Within the press corps, Candidate Gore would in fact serve as “a referendum” on the loathing our “journalists” felt toward President Clinton.

Ironically, Matthews would be the loudest and ugliest voice on cable as this war against Candidate Gore extended over the next two years, sending George Bush to the White House.

Just as Kristol suggested, this war was always about Gore’s boss. Was Matthews’ boss, the near-billionaire Jack Welch, behind the remarkable change in tone his hireling was about to take?

There’s no obvious way to answer that question. But earlier, on that same Hardball program, Matthews had an intriguing exchange with Mike Barnicle, another Clinton-hating member of Welch’s “shamrock contingent” (Sallie Brady):
MATTHEWS (2/15/99): Mike Barnicle up in Boston, what do you see when you look at Al Gore—the bathtub ring or the clean Boy Scout who's an alternative to Bill Clinton's lifestyle?

BARNICLE: I see the inevitable going right down like the Titanic. I mean, he—he'll be down there with, you know, Kate Whatever-Her-Name-Is in the bottom of the ship a year from now. I think he's just there to be taken.
Barnicle seemed to be thinking of Kate Winslet, who actually didn’t go down with the ship in the 1997 film, Titanic. That said, everyone in “cable news” land was able to take his point.

Was the still-undeclared Candidate Gore “just there to be taken?” In his segment on this same program, Kristol predicted that Candidate Bradley was going to leave him for dead. (“Bill Bradley's going to beat him [in the primaries] precisely because Gore is so trapped—so wrapped up with Clinton.”)

Kristol was wrong about that. In fact, Candidate Gore went on to beat Candidate Bradley in every Democratic primary and caucus. He thus became the first Democrat to achieve a clean sweep in a contested primary season.

Kristol was wrong about Candidate Bradley; Barnicle erred about Winslet. But as the next two years unfolded, Barnicle served as an honored member of the peculiar East Coast Irish Catholic brigade which drove Jack Welch’s news division.

(We grew up East Coast pretty much Irish Catholic ourselves, so we’re allowed to notice and say these things.)

In October 2000, there Barnicle sat! He was part of the all-East Coast Irish Catholic pundit panel which evaluated the Bush-Gore debates. Truly, this was a panel of pundits made in Jack Welch’s cultural image:
Moderator: Brian Williams
Chris Matthews
Peggy Noonan
Mike Barnicle
Doris Kearns Goodwin
All five were East Coast Irish Catholics. Except for the slightly younger Williams, all five hailed from the middle part of the last century—from a demographic which had been extremely hard on Bill Clinton’s sexual conduct.

When Election 2000 produced the Florida recounts, Barnicle took to cable to insist that Candidate Gore call the whole thing off, so upset were the pundit’s grandchildren with the uncertainty and the disorder. Barnicle’s service to this general line began right there on that Hardball program, as he told Matthews that Candidate Gore was “going right down like the Titanic.”

Ironically, no one worked harder than Matthews did to bring that shipwreck to pass. On this evening, Matthews was still vouching for Gore’s lack of an honesty problem. But starting in March 1999, a very large flip would occur.

From March 1999 through November 2000, no one would insult, savage and slander Candidate Gore to the extent Matthews did. We documented his conduct in real time. We’ve continued to document this deeply consequential “journalistic” history down through the years.

There were many parts to the lunatic war Matthews waged against Gore. There were the endless insults—the endless, crazy comparisons to various cartoon characters:
MATTHEWS (7/29/99): Is Al Gore just incapable of putting, like, one foot in front of the other in this campaign? He’s a professional politician who acts like an amateur.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. He’s awful.

MATTHEWS: I don’t get it. [Watching tape of Gore speaking] Did you ever see the movie “Altered States?” I mean, his face is, like, getting contorted in some of these—

SCARBOROUGH: And there—

MATTHEWS: There’s bubbles coming out of his forehead!

[...]

MARY BOYLE: Listen, the vice president was in Cleveland today. I want to tell you just very briefly about it, because you probably would like covering the news.

MATTHEWS: What mode was he in? Was he in, was he in the quiet mode, or that sort of Clutch Cargo craziness he gets into? Or was he—

SCARBOROUGH: Did he scream?

BOYLE: No. No, but he was—

MATTHEWS: Or was he in the “Altered States” where the head starts to bubble? What state was he in today?
Where did this new Matthews come from?

In 1998, Boyle had been the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Ohio. On this occasion, she seemed to think she was appearing on an actual news program.

Sadly, Boyle was wrong about that. Insults of this type, with cartoon references, became quite common on Hardball.

There were the endless crazy attempts to analyze Gore’s body language. In November 1999, Matthews presented one of the craziest segments in cable news history—a segment built around the troubling fact that Gore was wearing three-button suits:
MATTHEWS (11/12/99): You know, there's been a lot of talk about the new costuming of Al Gore. You know, he used to wear blue suits, like I do—or gray suits. Now he's wearing these new olive suits. [Gore had worn one such suit.]

He's taking up something rather unconventional, the three-button male suit jacket. I always—my joke is, “I'm Albert, I'll—I'll be your waiter tonight.” I mean, I don't know anybody who buttons all three buttons, even if they have them. What could that possibly be saying to women voters, three buttons?

DIMITRIUS: Well, I—I think that—

MATTHEWS: Is there some hidden Freudian deal here or what? I don't know. I mean, Navy guys used to have buttons on their pants. I don't know what it means. Go ahead.

DIMITRIUS: No, I—I—I think actually that Al's probably read the—our second book that's about to come out that talks about the different colors, that, particularly males can wear in their suits. We talk about how olive green, dark green is, is much more approachable, whereas, your dark blue and your black—

MATTHEWS: Right. Is that why Peter Pan wore green?

DIMITRIUS: Could be. Could be.

MATTHEWS: How does my mind work that way?
”How does my mind work that way?” Matthews was asking a very good question. That said, ”body language expert” Jo-Ellan Dimitrius just kept playing along.

We’ll suggest that The Houses of Nantucket County may play a major role in the answer to that question. We’ll guess that those houses may perhaps have been involved in Matthews’ astonishing conduct, which involved a remarkable flip.

There was the gender-trashing of Gore, an offshoot of the sick gender-trashing Maureen Dowd has made a basic part of the standard pundit vernacular. (Dowd is an East Coast Irish Catholic from the middle part of the last century.) On Hardball, this too became quite common:

Just for the record, “the three-button male suit jacket” was not “unconventional” in the fall of 1999—such jackets were completely conventional. That said, this claim provided another chance for Matthews to make weird remarks about the “Peter Pan” who was wearing his buttons as “Navy guys” used to do (on their pants), to send weird signals to women.

And yes, the gender-trashing of Gore was widespread on Hardball that month, as Matthews and the rest of the “press corps” engaged in their two-year war.

On November 4, 1999, Matthews had called Gore a “man-woman.” On November 5, he had said that Gore “doesn’t have his gender straight.”

On November 3, Jane Wells, one of Matthews’ endless string of gruesome guests, had volunteered this helpful idea: “I hope he won't start encouraging women to embrace their shadow sluts.” So it now went on Hardball.

Nor was Matthews lying when he said that he “always” told his “Albert the waiter” joke. In fact, he told this dim-witted “joke” five times in the month of November alone (November 2, 4, 10, 12, 24). And he kept telling his Viagra “joke”—the one in which he said that Gore had “conducted an assault on his masculinity” by hiring Naomi Wolf, “who I call the political equivalent of Viagra” (November 5).

This joke had debuted on November 2. “He's got this—I call it his political Viagra,” Matthews said. “Now he's got a woman telling him how to be a man.” This sort of thing went on and on as Matthews conducted one of the strangest pundit flips of all time.

Starting in March 1999, the claim that Gore was “the bathtub ring” took on a purely insulting cast. Matthews began to offer another pungent insult from the depths of his low-class, disordered mind—his claim that Gore “would lick the bathroom floor” to become president.

On Hardball, the bungled facts were aggressive and endless: In December 1999, as Matthews worked to extend the claim that Gore had said he discovered Love Canal. In March 2000, when he endlessly misstated basic facts about the invented pseudo-scandal concerning the Buddhist temple.

He was trashing Candidate Hillary Clinton all through this period, too. And who can forget the half-hour sponge bath he performed on the ludicrous Gennifer Flowers in August 1999?

(Matthews: “I gotta pay a little tribute here. You’re a very beautiful woman, and I—and I have to tell you, he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that. How can a woman put up with a relationship between her husband and somebody, anybody, but especially somebody like you that’s a knockout? I don’t quite get this relationship...It’s an objective statement, Gennifer. I’m not flirting.” For the record, there is no evidence that Clinton and Flowers ever had a relationship. Flowers discussed the Clintons’ many murders during her ludicrous half hour on Hardball. Matthews referred to Hillary Clinton as “Nurse Ratched,” saying she was offering herself “to the cuckoo’s nest here.”)

A full-length book could (and should) be written about Matthews’ repellent, disordered behavior during this twenty-month war against Gore. Tomorrow, we’ll show you his final and greatest flip, the one he engineered in October 2000.

For today, we’ll leave you once again with a few obvious questions—questions you have never seen a single “journalist” ask:

We start with a blindingly obvious question. What explains the astonishing flip on Matthews’ part, the flip which occurred in March 1999?

All through 1998, Matthews had vouched for the character of his friend, Al Gore. He was still cast in this mold in February 1999.

Suddenly, everything changed. What made that happen?

Let’s add a second question. How does such a remarkable flip go unmentioned all through the rest of the press corps? Beyond that, how does the ludicrous conduct displayed in passages like those we’ve cited go completely unremarked in the rest of the press?

Matthews played the fool for two years, about Candidate Gore and Candidate Hillary Clinton. No one said a word in real time. No one has commented since.

When we see behavior like this, we think its explanation is fairly obvious. We’re inclined to think it involves The Houses of Nantucket County.

Matthews finally entered those houses in 2004, shelling out $4.35 million for the chance to join “the Nantucket NBC crowd, one of the cliques that fuels the isle’s social engine.” According to Sallie Brady, Boss Welch was “still a power magnet” among that group at that time. That said, “Russert’s boss, NBC CEO Bob Wright, [was] also on the scene.”

What explains Matthews’ remarkable flip? We have to think the answer leads us to The Houses of Nantucket County, and to the powerful code of silence which encases those mansions in fog.

Tomorrow: The greatest flip of all

Supplemental: Rachel eliminates all Hispanics!

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

Trust her—it's for a good cause:
In this morning’s New York Times, Joe Nocera writes an actual column. In this column, he criticizes major aspects of Eric Holder's tenure.

In our view, Nocera has been a big disappointment since joining the op-ed page. He wastes enormous amounts of time writing about various aspects of college athletics, a rather marginal set of concerns as the nation disintegrates.

In today’s column, he wrote about a serious topic in his general field, the world of business and economics.

Last Thursday, Rachel Maddow also scanned, or pretended to scan, the legacy of Holder. Where Nocera offers a real critique, Rachel authored the latest in her growing number of piddle-rich tribal scams.

She started in a pitiful way which we’ll review below. Quickly, though, she offered a pleasing sponge bath to gullible liberal viewers.

It’s obvious what she’s peddling here. Can you spot the factual problem?
MADDOW (9/25/14): Eighty-two different people have had the job of attorney general over the course of the history of the United States. And 80 out of the 82 of them have been white men.

The one African American man we have ever had as attorney general of the United States is Eric Holder. The one woman we’ve ever had as attorney general of the United States is Janet Reno. And both of them were so viscerally hated and so vilified by the right, that it occasionally lost local coherence. It was pure emotion, to the point where it became almost a pathological, visceral thing.

The tenor of the vitriol against the Janet Reno over the years is perhaps best represented by a joke made by Senator John McCain in 1998. I will not read out loud Senator McCain’s joke but I—there we go. But I will point out that Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the president and first lady of the United States, was a teenager at the time that John McCain made this joke about her.

This was John McCain at his classiest. But it’s also fairly representative in terms of the way conservatives and Republicans talked about and felt about Janet Reno. The right hated Janet Reno so badly that they just couldn’t see straight. She was the only woman who has ever been attorney general of the United States.

The only African American to ever be attorney general of the United States, today announced his retirement from the job. During his tenure in office, he too got Republicans so upset, so overexcited, so overwhelmed with their emotional hatred for him that things with Eric Holder, like with Janet Reno, they sometimes didn’t just get vituperative and over the top. They sometimes got weird and hard to follow.
Surely, we all can see the tribal gruel Rachel was ladling here.

This gruel is bad for the brain and bad for the soul. Rachel was telling us this:

The Other Tribe hates Holder because he’s black. Also, The Other Tribe hated Reno because she was a woman! End of discussion!

In this parable, “We” get cast as The Very Good People—the ones responsible for only two attorneys general who weren’t white men. By way of contrast, “They” get cast as the snarling haters. They hated Reno and Holder so badly that they couldn’t see straight!

There were a million problems with Maddow’s presentation this night. You can lose a lot of IQ points if you watch the tape all the way through.

That said, there was an obvious, groaning factual problem with the chunk we’ve already posted—her claim that 80 of the 82 attorneys general have been white men.

That was a very strange statement. In this way, Maddow cast Alberto Gonzalez as just another “white man.” Are we race-obsessed pseudo-liberals really willing to let ourselves do that?

According to one taxonomy, Gonzales actually could be listed as a “white man.” In this taxonomy, Hispanics are divided into “white Hispanics” and “black Hispanics”—and Gonzalez is clearly a man.

Much more often, though, Alberto Gonzalez was and is described as “the first Hispanic attorney general.” As such, he was listed in concert with Reno and Holder as “firsts,” not in opposition.

Needless to say, we liberals pretty much hated Gonzalez, although we typically said we did so for cause. Of course, conservatives said the same thing about Holder and Reno, not always without something resembling reasons.

(Does Maddow remember the day Reno managed to burn the Branch Davidian complex down? Reno made plenty of bumbles along the way. According to scuttlebutt, Clinton hated her too!)

Maddow made an extremely lazy, faux attempt to evaluate Holder’s tenure. Instead, she fed us a giant bowl of tribal gruel, in which “We” were cast as heroic trailblazers and “They” were cast as haters.

By the way, how did Maddow start this segment? In the dumbest possible way, while also singing the inevitable song of herself:
MADDOW (9/25/14): And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

All right, here is my personal Eric Holder moment. It was not a personal moment that I had with Eric Holder. He was not there, but it was about Eric Holder and it was personal and it was very, very clarifying.

It was 2010, I was in Alaska. We were up there to cover the Joe Miller/Lisa Murkowski U.S. Senate race that year. And up until the very last minutes of that trip to Alaska, it looked like I had gone there to talk to Lisa Murkowski and that’s it. Looked like I was not going to get an interview with the other guy, with Joe Miller himself.

But at one point on that trip, I did find myself on the streets of Anchorage in the middle of the next best thing to Joe Miller. I found myself in the middle of a crowd of Joe Miller’s Tea Party supporters. And they agreed to talk to me and this is how that went...
“I I I I I I I.” According to rumor, that’s the slogan on Maddow’s coat of arms.

After singing this “personal” song of herself, Maddow played tape of a four-year-old segment which was extremely dumb in real time—a segment in which a couple of inarticulate (but courteous) Miller supporters spouted off with their complaints about Holder.

Can we talk? The country is full of young, true-believing souls who may not always know exactly what they’re talking about. Maddow, a former Rhodes Scholar, has always taken way too much pleasure in lording it over this, the lesser breed.

Our tribe features imperfect people too. In segments like the one we’re discussing, Maddow keeps trying to add to their number:

All but two have been white men!

On this night, Maddow wiped the first Hispanic attorney general off the face of the earth. Instead of taking a serious look at Holder’s pros and cons, she played tape of a couple of kids in Alaska who weren’t especially sharp on a point they had raised. Then, she made us sit through that utterly pointless tape of Louie Gohmert using that regional expression again.

Holder was casting aspersions on his asparagus! Holder made Those People so mad, they would say things like that!

That’s what Those People are like, Maddow said, as tribal players always do. Go ahead—watch the tape!

Warning! Your IQ may drop several points if you watch the whole thing. In the process, you will see the nation’s Hispanics wiped off the face of the earth.

Trust her, though. It's for a good cause—making us liberals feel good!

Supplemental: Do you believe this story or claim?

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

Daisy Hernandez edition:
In our view, that Oxford conference on procrastination was a genuine pip.

It’s also something to be truly angry about; we’ll likely return to that foppish event before the week is done. For today, let’s consider the most intriguing thing we read this unusual weekend.

We refer to this lengthy post by Daisy Hernandez at the new Salon. Basically, it’s an edited version of one of the later chapters in A Cup of Tea Under My Bed, Hernandez’s new short book.

Hernandez is a 39-year-old writer. In the edited version of her chapter, she takes us back to 2001 and 2002, when she landed a couple of jobs at the New York Times.

Salon’s post created anger and animosity in comments. Much of the commentary starts with a rather implausible claim Hernandez makes early on.

Just to set the scene, the chapter starts with Hernandez, then 25, getting approached for a possible job. The implausible claim will come a wee bit later:
HERNANDEZ (page 149): I didn’t think white people got jobs the way Latinos did, just by talking to each other. But they do, and that’s how it happens for me. My first big job as a writer.

It’s the end of a graduate journalism class at New York University. The room fills with the familiar cacophony of a class ending: chairs scraping floors, students unzipping bags, murmurs about lunch and papers due. The professor, a thin, white woman, fastens her eyes on me.

“An editor at the New York Times is looking for a researcher for a book she’s doing on women’s history,” she says, matter-of-fact. “I thought of you. You write about feminism.”

I smile politely, uncomfortably. I’m twenty-five and writing for Ms. magazine, but I don’t consider myself someone who writes about feminism. That sounds like work other people do, people who are rich or famous or smart. I’m not a boba though. I have spent enough time around white women to know it’s better to not argue with them.
In that passage, Hernandez says, without explanation, that she doesn’t consider herself “smart.” She also drops the first of the many sweeping racial assessments which produced criticism from quite a few commenters at Salon.

In the spring of 2001, Hernandez was 25.
In her story, she has just completed a master’s degree in journalism at NYU.

She takes the job doing research—for Gail Collins, as it turns out—and one thing quickly leads to another. In this passage, she makes the claim which seems highly implausible:
HERNANDEZ: Months later, I e-mail Gail an opinion piece I wrote for an online wire service and she shoots back: “Oye, you should apply for this internship here in the editorial department.”

She doesn’t write “oye,” but she might as well have, because the way she e-mails with such ease is how a woman on the bus tells my mother, “Oye, there’s this factory down on Hudson Avenue that’s hiring.”

Oye, and just like that I send my resume, which now includes research on indigenous maxi pads, to the editor at the Times hiring interns, even though I have no idea what an editorial is. That’s right. I am twenty-five, I am writing for a national magazine, I have been in journalism school, and I do not know what an editorial is.

I want to say that it’s never come up, that no one has ever talked to me about editorials. But they probably did, and I didn’t know what it was, and as I’ve been doing since I was in kindergarten, I probably acted like I knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it.
In this story from 2001, Hernandez is 25. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from NYU.

But, according to her story, she didn’t know what an editorial was! In an unflattering way, she speculates about the reason why she didn’t know something so basic:

Someone probably told her about editorials, she speculates, but she probably acted like she knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it. Just like she had been doing since kindergarten!

Do you believe that story? Do you believe that Daisy Hernandez, age 25, didn’t know what an editorial was? Despite the fact that she held a master’s degree in journalism?

Continuing directly, Hernandez explains what happened next:
HERNANDEZ (continuing directly): Now I walk around the block to the Greek deli. I pass the women and men waiting at the bus stop, buy a copy of the Times and flip over the A section. A friend has told me to look at the left side of the last page, at the short paragraphs stacked like shoe boxes in a closet.

The writing carries no byline. It’s monotonous, and I realize why I don’t know what an editorial is. I’ve never made it past the second line.
Do you think that actually happened? Or is Hernandez pretty much making this stupid shit up?

Everything is possible, of course, a point we often make. That said, we seem to encounter more and more claims by striving writers and famous broadcasters which seem to be extremely hard to believe on their face.

According to Hernandez, the New York Times went ahead and hired her for a paid intern post in the editorial department. It sounds like she was asked to outline possible editorials, although her account of what she did is very, very fuzzy.

Even now, at age 39, her writing is very unclear.

Here’s something that isn’t unclear—Hernandez’s piece stirred a great deal of reaction from Salon readers. Our culture’s greatest and dimmest god, Controversy, opened its maw and roared.

People responded in various ways to Hernandez’s sweeping statements about racial groups, which she scatters through her piece like a bridesmaid scattering petals. Others marveled at the idea that Hernandez didn’t know what an editorial was, even as she took a job writing same for our most famous newspaper.

That said, do you believe that claim? Do you believe it at all?

Everything is possible! On balance, we would guess that Hernandez is “getting over,” in the way she seems to say she has done since kindergarten days. But if you feel you're forced to guess, a piece may not be real helpful.

Our culture’s greatest god roared in response to this unhelpful piece, which is often unclear but may seem slickly “provocative.” That said, Hernandez got a lot of attention. Her name got bruited around.

Tomorrow, more on Daisy Hernandez. Plus:

Do you believe this story or claim, Lawrence O’Donnell edition!

THE HOUSES OF NANTUCKET COUNTY: Chris Matthews always loved Al Gore!

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

Part 4—Until he suddenly didn’t:
In fairness, you can’t blame Jack Welch for some of Chris Matthews’ conduct.

Welch, the conservative near-billionaire, stepped down as head of General Electric in 2001. At that point, he stopped being the corporate owner of NBC News.

He stopped being Chris Matthews’ boss.

For all previous posts in this award-winning series, click here.

Out on Nantucket, the NBC crowd continued to summer in The Houses of Nantucket County. According to the Washington Monthly’s Sallie Brady, Welch was “still a power magnet” among the island’s “NBC crowd.”

In the summer of 2003, Welch was still “hold[ing]court from a massive gray-shingled home festooned with window boxes, near Sankaty Head Golf Club.” That said, he was no longer Chris Matthews’ corporate boss.

In the summer of 2004, Matthews bought his own $4.35 summer home on the island, a marker of the massive wealth he’d acquired under Boss Welch. That said, you can’t blame Welch for the way Matthews continued his long-running, venal tirade against Hillary Clinton.

Matthews’ ugly trashing of Hillary Clinton continued long after Boss Welch stepped down. In 2008, Howard Kurtz broke every rule in the pundit book, quoting some of Matthews’ many gender-based denunciations of Hillary Clinton over the many years.

“There is a history here,” Kurtz correctly said:
KURTZ (2/14/08): [T]he Hardball host has been particularly hard on the former first lady, to the point where some of her advisers have glared at him at parties. And there is a history here. In 1999, amid speculation that Clinton might seek a Senate seat in New York, Matthews told viewers: “No man would say, ‘Make me a U.S. senator because my wife's been cheating on me.’ ”

The following year, he said: “Hillary Clinton bugs a lot of guys, I mean, really bugs people—like maybe me on occasion...She drives some of us absolutely nuts.”

In 2005, when Clinton criticized the administration on homeland security the day after terrorist bombings in London, Matthews said: “It's a fact: You look more witchy when you're doing it like this.”

In recent weeks, he has asked whether Clinton's criticism of Obama makes her “look like Nurse Ratched.” He has said that “Hillary's loyal lieutenants are ready to scratch the eyes out of the opposition” and likened her to Evita Peron, “the one who gives gifts to the little people, and then they come and bring me flowers and they worship at me because I am the great Evita.”

It was against that backdrop that Matthews sparked a furor last month when he said: “I'll be brutal: The reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner, is her husband messed around.”
Kurtz was barely scratching the surface of Matthews’ decade of gender-trashing. In fairness, though, Matthews’ continued trashing of “Nurse Ratched” can’t be laid at the feet of Jack Welch, who had long since ceased to be the cable crackpot’s corporate boss.

Today, Matthews is one of cable TV’s most fawning and obsequious admirers of Hillary Clinton. For a taste of this equal-but-opposite nonsense, see this post from late July.

Matthews has engineered a remarkable flip concerning Hillary Clinton. This flip has kept him in line with his channel’s new corporate policy, of course—not that a famous journalist like Matthews would ever work from such venal motives.

Gone are the days when Matthews savaged both the Clintons and Candidate Gore, a policy he developed and performed under the rule of Boss Welch.

That said, the many flips of cable’s Chris Matthews have occurred in near-total silence. As we’ve long told you, what happens in the Washington press corps stays in the Washington press corps, kept there by the guild’s remarkable code of silence.

How does that code of silence work? Your favorite liberals have failed to report, describe or explain Matthews’ remarkable flip about Hillary Clinton in recent years. His ludicrous conduct is simply accepted as the way a “cable news” multimillionaire maintains his “journalistic” empire—an empire which, in this case, includes a set of keys to The Houses of Nantucket County.

That said, Matthews’ flip about Hillary Clinton is just one of many he has enacted down through the years. Consider his first flip about Candidate Gore—a flip he executed when he was working under Boss Welch.

Quick background:

To all intents and purposes, the press corps’ reporting of Campaign 2000 began in March 1999, when the still-undeclared Candidate Gore made his first few forays into New Hampshire.

Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial had ended in acquittal two weeks earlier. Now, the angry press corps descended on Gore like a ton of bricks.

Over the course of the next twenty months, no one would savage Candidate Gore (and Candidate Hillary Clinton) more dishonestly or more crazily than Welch’s best boy, Chris Matthews. But how odd! In the case of Candidate Gore, these savage attacks represented a remarkable flip on Matthews’ part.

1998 had been the year of impeachment. All through that tumultuous year, Matthews used his pulpit as Hardball host to praise the character of his friend, Al Gore.

The right had always trashed Gore, dating to his nomination for vice president in 1992. The mainstream press had started attacking Gore’s character in high-profile ways in early 1997.

Matthews wasn’t buying! All through that year of impeachment, he praised the character of the man he identified as his friend.

By June of 1998, Gore was running behind George W. Bush in early presidential polling. Matthews introduced a metaphor he would never abandon—but he also described Gore this evening as “a straight arrow” who was “as clean as they come:”
MATTHEWS (6/25/98): OK. Let me ask you a question. Let, let me ask you a question. There's something queer going on here, because the president of the United States gets great poll numbers despite all the stink, and Al Gore looks like the bathtub ring. What's going on? Why is he falling in the polls, as Bill Clinton rises, when everybody knows Al Gore's as clean as they come?
When Matthews introduced his unfortunate “bathtub ring” metaphor, he actually used it as a complaint on Gore’s behalf. Al Gore, who everyone knew was “as clean as they come," seemed to be taking the hit for the misdeeds of President Clinton!

Matthews worked from this framework all year long. As he did, he kept praising Gore’s character:
MATTHEWS (6/30/98): Al Gore is more of a Boy Scout, a guy who's a, sort of a clean Gene, more or less, politically, no problems, no questions, no semi-pseudo whatever kinds of scandals about him. For some reason, it seems to me, people believe that maybe he gets hurt more by these questions that surround him, and he has to sort of flack, than the guy who we've sort of already discounted for having this as part of his trail of personality.
On August 17, word was leaked that President Clinton was going to admit to an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky. As the nation awaited his statement, Matthews praised Gore again:
MATTHEWS (8/17/98): I think the year 2000 presidential election's gonna feature that fellow, the governor of Texas, a Republican, against Al Gore, the vice president of the United States, who's had the very—a very honorable man who's had an uncomfortable position the last several months of having to repeat what the president's gonna apparently admit tonight was a lie; he “didn't have sexual relations with that woman,” as he called her, that woman, and now he's gonna admit he did. And for seven months, he's had people like his wife, Hillary Clinton, and his vice president, Al Gore, cover for him, because they're loyal and good people, but they've been given the wrong story. Apparently, he's gonna give us something of the right story tonight.
On Hardball, Gore was still “a very honorable man,” a “loyal and good” person. Two nights later, Matthews poured it on as she spoke with the late Tom Lantos:
MATTHEWS (8/19/98): Do you think that Al Gore who, I agree with you, has a—whatever you think of his ideology or his politics, even if you're a very conservative person, you'd have to recognize this man has had a stainless record in terms of his private life.

LANTOS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And he's a hell of a father and a hell of a family man and a great guy personally, I think, and, and also a man—

LANTOS: I couldn't agree with you more.

MATTHEWS: —who keeps his deals. Even if you think he's too far liberal for you, he certainly is a hell of a person. I wanna ask you: Do you think he's tainted by this and he should get a little wiggle room between himself and the president, a little distance? He has been such a good soldier. Don't you think that might hurt him?

LANTOS: No, I don't think so. I think just the opposite of the—is the case. After this episode, the American people are hungry for a Boy Scout, and Al Gore is the quintessential Boy Scout. His personal qualities are beyond—beyond any criticism. And my feeling is that the reason why there is so much calm in watching the unfolding of this drama is the personal integrity of Al Gore.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Tom Lantos.
Nine days later, Janet Reno announced that she would conduct a preliminary investigation of fund-raising phone calls Gore had made during the 1996 election cycle.

Reno would drop her probe a few months later. On the day the probe was announced, Matthews vouched for Gore, who he described as “clean as a whistle” in a chat with the late Paul Simon.

Later that night, he spoke with Susan Estrich:
MATTHEWS (8/28/98): Susan, jump on the—jump on the Al Gore question.

ESTRICH: It's silly.

MATTHEWS: You and I know Al Gore. He's so— He's such a straight arrow in so many ways and, and I don't have to knock anybody else to say he's kind of a family man and he's quite a good guy in a lot of personal ways.

ESTRICH: I agree.

MATTHEWS: And, and here he finds himself as the kid in class who gets caught maybe for a—for an infraction which isn't as grand as some of the other ones we've been talking about in the last several months.

ESTRICH: Do you know how silly this is?
On that evening’s Hardball, Gore seemed to be “such a straight arrow in so many ways” and “quite a good guy in a lot of personal ways.” This “maybe” infraction was later deemed to be no infraction at all.

As the impeachment crisis continued, so did Matthews’ vouching for Gore. In late September, speculation swirled that President Clinton might resign from office. Democrats “want Gore in there, clean Al Gore,” Matthews said on his September 30 program.

A few weeks later, Matthews extended this theme, describing Gore as “Mr. Clean” and “the Boy Scout:”
MATTHEWS (10/12/98): It's so peculiar. If you can get in— The Democratic Caucus, they'd like to see [Clinton] walk and put Mr. Clean, Al Gore, in there, the Boy Scout. And yet the Republicans are the ones saying they want [Clinton] out and they're the ones [who actually] want him in.
As the mid-term elections drew near, it looked like Democrats might gain a few seats in the House—but Gore still lagged in national presidential polls. Matthews extended his lament for “poor Al Gore,” who he thought was “clean as a whistle:”
MATTHEWS (10/30/98): Well, I have a feeling that the voters find their ways to reap revenge, and it's not necessarily on somebody else's timetable. And I look at poor Al Gore, who may be clean as a whistle—I think he is. I think he's gonna pay the price for Bill Clinton's behavior.
“I think he's gonna pay the price for Bill Clinton's behavior?” In the next two years, Matthews would show he knew all about that!

November 3, 1998 was mid-term Election Day. Once again, Matthews lamented the unfairness of the way Gore was getting “blamed for Bill Clinton's mess-ups.” The following night, he even vouched for Gore’s outstanding choice of a wife.

Trigger alert:
MATTHEWS (11/4/98): This time around, are we gonna look for a family guy who basically has a marriage that seems to make sense?...

And like, maybe George W. Bush and his wife make sense. Certainly Tipper Gore makes sense. Most guys wouldn't wonder why a guy married her. They'd say, “Yeah, that make sense to me. Tipper Gore makes sense to me.” It not—it's not complicated like Hillary. You got to explain Hillary to some guys. “Now explain her again to me, what the appeal is here?” Whereas Tipper makes perfect sense. Go ahead.

MATALIN: Mrs. Clinton is—

MATTHEWS: That's just a guy's point of view.
Gack! To this horrible old-world throwback, Tipper Gore was clean as a whistle. Hillary Clinton was not!

The vouching for Gore was endless. On December 1, Matthews described Gore as “a decent guy who was just recently cleared of the dialing for dollars matter” by Janet Reno.

On December 19, 1998, President Clinton was impeached. On Monday, Matthews even went so far as to defend Gore’s speech in support of the president:
MATTHEWS (12/21/98): Well, Al Gore's a good man, whatever you think of his politics. And there, he's trying to support his president. And I saw Bill Clinton hurt there, and I saw him reaching for his wife. And this wasn't a PR stunt at that point. What do you make of that, Jo-Ellan?
On November 1999, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, the body language expert, would help Matthews push the deranged idea that Gore was wearing three-button suits as a randy come-on to female voters, in the way sailors wear many buttons on the fly of their pants.

By then, Matthews had become completely insane. Dimitrius, and the rest of the press corps, were politely playing along.

Let's return to 1998:

Matthews defended Gore all year, even referring to him as “my friend.” Within a few months, he would start a lengthy war against Candidate Gore which almost surely, all by itself, sent Candidate Bush to the White House.

Matthews’ flip in early 1999 was extremely large. We’ve never found a Hardball passage in which the excitable multimillionaire host made any attempt to explain it.

Starting in March 1999, Matthews’ attacks on Candidate Gore were relentless, profane, repulsive, profoundly fact-averse. Often, his ugly attacks were just this side of insane.

This represented a tremendous flip from his conduct all through 1998. Why did Matthews do this?

Tomorrow, we’ll recall Matthews’ greatest flip of all, the amazing flip he executed in October 2000. In the process, we’ll ask a few obvious questions:

First, did The Houses of Nantucket County play a role in this repulsive overall process, in these remarkable flips?

Also this:

You’ve never seen a mainstream journalist discuss these remarkable topics at all. Is their bizarre group silence tied to The Houses of Journalist County? What else explains the code of silence which has obtained in this most corrupted guild, all through these many deeply destructive years?

Tomorrow: The greatest flip of all

We’re heading home to tasks undone!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2014

You ought to be very angry:
Later today, we’re heading home from this, the Hudson Valley, on Amtrak. And no, we don’t mean Acela!

In the meantime, you ought to be angry about many things found in recent newspapers.

For starters, you ought to be angry about this passage shown below from Paul Krugman’s new column. The column deals with the power of the mega-rich, about whose vast wealth most of us are less than fully informed:
KRUGMAN (9/29/14): Does the invisibility of the very rich matter? Politically, it matters a lot. Pundits sometimes wonder why American voters don’t care more about inequality; part of the answer is that they don’t realize how extreme it is. And defenders of the superrich take advantage of that ignorance. When the Heritage Foundation tells us that the top 10 percent of filers are cruelly burdened, because they pay 68 percent of income taxes, it’s hoping that you won’t notice that word “income”—other taxes, such as the payroll tax, are far less progressive. But it’s also hoping you don’t know that the top 10 percent receive almost half of all income and own 75 percent of the nation’s wealth, which makes their burden seem a lot less disproportionate.
We were a tiny bit peeved by that highlighted passage. Here’s why:

How many years have gone by since we started identifying that key piece of sleight of hand? Back in the day, we endlessly tied it to Sean Hannity, who was endlessly pimping it out.

In that highlighted passage, Krugman is citing a tightly-scripted piece of disinformation. We identified it more than a decade ago, along with a group of companion misdirections.

Fiery liberals and mainstream journalists have aggressively let such matters go. It’s very, very, very hard to induce career journalists to discuss the highly visible ways the American people get disinformed about financial and budget matters and, in the process, get fleeced.

If a problem deals with race and sex, a different rule obtains! In those cases, the modern, millionaire corporate liberal will shout the outrage to the skies, keeping your eyeballs over there, where you can't follow the money.

The so-called “social issues” are very important, of course. They’re also very useful to the plutocrat class. Over at the new Salon, an astonishing piece by Daisy Hernandez has the commenters calling each other names. In these, and equally useful ways, we the rubes get turned against each other, as people like the awful Hernandez carry off sacks of cash.

We’ll discuss the Hernandez piece upon our return to our award-winning campus. For now, let’s return to the ways the public gets played concerning issues of wealth:

In yesterday’s Sunday Outlook section, the Washington Post presented its weekly “Five Myths” feature. Yesterday’s piece was written by Darrel M. West, a functionary at the Brookings Institution. West’s piece bore this slightly concerning headline:

“Five Myths About Billionaires”

We’ll admit it—we were already concerned. As Krugman notes today, we don’t have anywhere near enough "myths" about the ongoing role of our billionaires.

What “myths” was West prepared to debunk? Incredibly, this was the very first myth his piece addressed:

“1. Billionaires can buy elections and change public policy.”

Billionaires can buy elections and change public policy. In bold print, these obvious facts were trumpeted as a “myth” in yesterday’s Washington Post!

There’s much more to be said about that piece—and about its strange twin at Salon, in which the same Darrel M. West warns that a group of billionaires is planning to buy the next presidential election!

We don’t know when we’ve seen a more peculiar pair of pieces. We think you ought to be angry at West—and especially, at the Washington Post.

In the end, our favorite piece from yesterday’s papers appeared in the Sunday Review of the New York Times. It was written by the unbelievably foppish Anna Della Subin, a young semi-academic with whose simpering class you ought to be very annoyed.

Subin wrote about procrastination. Her essay was the the featured, front-page piece in the high-profile Sunday section.

In comments, many readers said they loved it. We were struck by this horrific passage:
SUBIN (9/28/14): [I]f procrastination is so clearly a society-wide, public condition, why is it always framed as an individual, personal deficiency? Why do we assume our own temperaments and habits are at fault—and feel bad about them—rather than question our culture’s canonization of productivity?

I was faced with these questions at an unlikely event this past July—an academic conference on procrastination at the University of Oxford. It brought together a bright and incongruous crowd: an economist, a poetry professor, a “biographer of clutter,” a queer theorist, a connoisseur of Iraqi coffee-shop culture. There was the doctoral student who spoke on the British painter Keith Vaughan, known to procrastinate through increasingly complicated experiments in auto-erotica. There was the children’s author who tied herself to her desk with her shoelaces.

The keynote speaker, Tracey Potts, brought a tin of sugar cookies she had baked in the shape of the notorious loiterer Walter Benjamin. The German philosopher famously procrastinated on his “Arcades Project,” a colossal meditation on the cityscape of Paris where the figure of the flâneur—the procrastinator par excellence—would wander...

As we entered the ninth, grueling hour of the conference, a professor laid out a taxonomy of dithering so enormous that I couldn’t help but wonder: Whatever you’re doing, aren’t you by nature procrastinating from doing something else?
The conference had a biographer of clutter! Also, a theorist about queer procrastination! Every top conference does!

You should be extremely annoyed with horrible people like Subin and Potts, who wasted time baking those fracking cookies in the shape of an alleged philosopher whose life story Subin made virtually incoherent. Over the past thirty years, they and their kind have been wasting time at international conferences of the type described in that passage, creating the impression that a serious work is occurring.

Gullible newspapers like the New York Times pretend that these high academics are involved in serious work.

Unfortunately, they aren’t. As they piddle their time away, their guild’s economists keep pimping the cant of billionaires, in the way Krugman described in Sunday's Book Review section. None of their pretty class stoops to the actual work of the day—refuting the disinformation spewed by the people like Hannity.

We’ll offer you more on that horrific conference this week. To peruse its truly horrific web site, you can just click this.

That said, you ought to be very angry at useless young people like Subin. Their conferences are funded by gifts from the plutocrats and it horrifically shows.

Tomorrow, we’re back to The Houses of Nantucket County. We’ll be explaining how the world seems to work—the world which has us in our second war in Iraq.

How weird that it is left to us to describe the role of those lovely houses in the journalistic horror show of the past thirty years! That said, who else is going to do it? Career journalist will never tell you how their world actually works. The Subins, meanwhile, flounce around at Oxford with their plutocrat-financed acts of self-absorption.

That horrific international conference is linked to The Houses of Nantucket Country. Everything’s pretty in those realms. The truth is told not to escape.

At Oxford, the flâneurs are in charge. They're eating their Walter Benjamin cookies and trying themselves to desks with shoelaces. This leaves the plutocrats free to do business in The Houses of Nantucket County.

Amtrak willing, that story resumes tomorrow.

Just for the record: The theorist of queer procrastination was the regally named Lilith Dornhuber de Bellesiles, whose presentation was called The Queer Art of Procrastination. For verification, click here.