Supplemental: To Trevor Noah, it doesn’t make sense!


But here’s where impressions can come from:
Is Trevor Noah perhaps a bit of a hack?

That fear surfaced a few months ago, right after he was chosen to succeed Jon Stewart. In a piece at the new Salon, Silman and Saraiya describe a concern the young comic expressed in a recent stand-up set:
SILMAN AND SARAIYA (7/29/15): Talking about his own experience being pulled over by police, Noah observed: “you know what’s crazy, is I don’t know how not to die. That’s the thing that freaks me out right now—I don’t know how not to die.” Saying he felt “there was a time when black people and police had an unspoken agreement,” now he notes that “every time I turn on the news another black person’s being killed for seemingly fewer and fewer reasonable reasons. It just doesn’t make sense.”

He then turned one-by-one to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott to illustrate the random, absurd reasons that police have used to justify the taking of black lives.
Just for the record, Trayvon Martin wasn’t killed by police. Did we mention that this report appears at the new Salon?

At any rate, Noah seems to feel that something has changed in this society, which he only recently joined. Every time he turns on the news, “another black person’s being killed for seemingly fewer and fewer reasonable reasons.”

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Noah says. We’ll assume he’s being sincere, that he’s not being a hack.

Noah seems to think that those increased news reports reflect a change in police behavior—an upswing in black deaths at hands of police. That’s possible, of course. But an upswing in certain kinds of news reports may also reflect a change in the values of news directors—a change in the types of events directors choose to put on the air.

We’ve seen no statistics which demonstrate that police killings are on a major upswing, or on any upswing at all. (As has been widely noted, this country doesn’t keep good statistics about deaths at the hands of police.) It does seem clear that news directors are deciding to put such events on the air more frequently than they may have done in the past. This may be driven by an increase in cellphone videotape, and/or by the heightened belief that such deaths deserve coverage.

Is Noah seeing more black deaths on the air because more deaths are occurring? Or is he seeing more black deaths on the air because news judgments have changed?

We don’t know the answer to that question—and Noah assumes the worst. Like punditry, comedy can get a whole lot easier when you play it that way.

We’ve seen no statistics which settle this matter. We have seen the wide discussion in recent years of a string of “anecdotal” examples, four of whom are named in the passage above.

Where does Noah get the sense that police killings are on the rise? In part, it may be because more such events are getting put on the air, where they get treated as Perfect Examples. And it may be because we increasingly massage, invent and disappear facts to create our Perfect Examples.

Consider another recent piece at the pitiful new Salon. Somewhat horribly, the piece was written by Scott Timberg, a former writer for the Los Angeles Times who isn’t a young, inexperienced kid.

To what extent do we on the pseudo-left now massage our examples? Alas! Where the other tribe has developed its birthers, we increasingly have our own less-than-fully rational “deathers.” Try to believe that Timberg, an experienced adult journalist, began his report like this:
TIMBERG (7/27/15): The police killings of unarmed black men like Eric Garner, Michael Brown and, most recently, Sam Dubose at a July 19 traffic stop at the University of Cincinnati, have enraged many and baffled more. Why did Cleveland police shoot and kill 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year? How did self-styled block watch patrolman George Zimmerman decide to shoot and kill teenager Trayvon Martin, who was armed with nothing but a bag of candy on that night in 2012? These outrages have caused demonstrations, urban unrest, more violence and a larger sense that something has gone wrong in the nation’s race relations.

Besides outright racism, what motivates the overreaction of law-enforcement and vigilantes who have left these men dead?

A social psychologist at Wellesley College who studies diversity and friendship, Angela Bahns, has recently completed research that helps to explain part of the puzzle: It shows that people can imagine a sense of threat—a threat serious enough to justify violence—even with no real evidence besides their own stereotypes. And the stereotypes, the research suggests, are the root causes of the violence.
Is Scott Timberg a “deather?” It’s hard to believe that a serious, adult professional journalist composed a passage which is so deeply selective about such a serious subject.

As he starts, Timberg almost makes it sound like Martin was killed by police, as Silman and Soraiya do in their piece about Noah. Presumably, he means to classify George Zimmerman as a “vigilante,” a term he introduces in paragraph 2.

That said, please note what Timberg says in that passage about the killing of Martin. In truth, he presents a textbook example of the way our “deathers” now work:

According to Timberg, people are “baffled” by the killing of Martin, who he correctly says was unarmed. In fairness, it’s no wonder that Timberg’s readers are baffled! This is the way he describes the killing:

“How did self-styled block watch patrolman George Zimmerman decide to shoot and kill teenager Trayvon Martin, who was armed with nothing but a bag of candy on that night in 2012?” Timberg seems to suggest that Zimmerman “imagined a sense of threat—a threat serious enough to justify violence—even with no real evidence besides [his] own prejudice.”

Whatever you think of Zimmerman’s conduct that night, that’s classic “deather” writing! In the manner of propagandists worldwide, Timberg simply omits the fight which was occurring between Zimmerman and Martin, “who was armed with nothing but a bag of candy.”

He omits the testimony of the one eyewitness who came out of his house and got a good look at what was occurring during that fight. He doesn’t mention the injuries suffered by Zimmerman before his fired the fatal shot.

As propagandists have always done, he mentions the piteous bag of candy and disappears everything else. This is classic post-journalistic behavior at the gruesome new Salon.

Timberg’s description of that scene is classic in its lack of obsessive honesty. For Ta-Nehisi Coates’ initial reaction to the “not guilty” verdict in that case, please keep reading.

In the meantime, Timberg’s description of the killing of Michael Brown is classic “deather” prose too. He disappears the Justice Department report which judged that every shot fired by Darren Wilson was “justified,” due to Brown’s behavior.

Once again, Timberg eliminates basic facts which don’t lead us to the conclusion he wants us to reach. In this case, he wants us to judge that Wilson “imagined a sense of threat—a threat serious enough to justify violence—even with no real evidence besides their own stereotypes.”

After a detailed investigation, Eric Holder’s Justice Department judged different. Writing for a deather journal, Timberg doesn’t tell.

Wherever incipient TV stars dwell, Noah feels he’s seeing more reports of wanton police killings. It doesn’t occur to him that this may be a function of the numbers of such events which are now being put on the air, or that he may be getting selective accounts of what actually occurred in those Perfect Examples.

It’s easy to gin a Perfect Example if you play the game the way Timberg does. Increasingly, that’s the way we in the pseudo-liberal world have decided to play.

They’ve had their birthers for almost ten years. We have countered with our deathers. This brings us back to Coates.

A jury found George Zimmerman not guilty on July 13, 2013. The next day, Coates wrote a post at The Atlantic in which he said this:

“I think the jury basically got it right.”

At the time, Coates was interacting heavily in the comment threads at his site. He did so in this instance.

His comments aren’t the simple-minded piddle people like Timberg now serve, with Noah perhaps following along. Might Zimmerman have been in reasonable fear for his life when he was being pummeled by Martin? Might he reasonably have been in fear of “imminent danger of death or great bodily harm,” the standard under Florida law and the law of most states?

The horrible Timberg has wished that away, but Timberg is a deather. This is what Coates wrote that day, responding to a commenter:
COATES (7/14/13): I am on the ground and you are on top of me wailing away. I am most certainly in “imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.”

I say this as someone who has been in that position,
and the person putting someone in that position. It is really, really frightening. And you are in danger of “great bodily harm” at the very least. Punches kill people. Skulls hit concrete or tables and cause great damage.

And that assumes that you know you are only being hit with someone’s fist. What if it feels like you’re being hit with brass knuckles? What if you think you see the person reaching for something to finish the job?

Fights are not tame staid events. They are chaotic, random and very, very scary. They are not regulated. There are no TKOs. Fist-fights kill people—and there is no guarantee that a fist-fight will stay at that level.
About a month later, Coates largely flipped. By now, we’d say he’s a bit of a deather too. Given his brilliance as a writer, we’d call it a loss to the world.

The other team has the repulsive birther Trump. We have people like Timberg. Each group has been widely enabled by the mainstream press.

Tomorrow: The development of a Perfect Example

Friday or Saturday: Two sets of statistics

THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE: And now, for the rest of the “dog pee” story!


Part 3—Also “empathize on your behind” and of course so much more:
Rachel Maddow only did three programs last week.

On Monday and Tuesday, she was fishing, a fact she forced herself to share on Friday night’s program, during the Friday Night News Dump.

Her Wednesday night program was her first of the week. Her Friday night show was her last.

That Friday program ended with the good solid fun of the News Dump. Yesterday, we showed you Maddow saying “Yay” and declaring herself ready for all the fun. Below, you see the way the fun proceeded on from there.

To enjoy all the piddle, click here:
MADDOW (7/24/15): Are you ready? I’m ready.

{Energetically clapping hands] Yaaaaaay! Friday Night News Dump time!

Producer Nick Tuths, who’s tonight’s lucky player?

TUTHS: Tonight, we have Benny Zelkowicz from Los Angeles, California. He’s an animator. He once published a neuroscience paper in a major journal and he’s co-author of a novel for young readers called "The Foundry’s Edge."
Rachel, meet Benny.

MADDOW: Benny, it’s very nice to meet you. You are a fascinating person from all I hear.

ZELKOWICZ: Thank you very much. It’s nice to be here.

MADDOW: What was the topic of your neuroscience paper?

ZELKOWICZ: It has to do with semantic memory in Alzheimer’s patients.

MADDOW: Semantic memory in Alzheimer’s patients! You’re a fascinating guy! I’m very happy that you’re here. Thank you very much for playing.

ZELKOWICZ: My pleasure.

MADDOW: Three multiple-choice questions. They’re all about this week’s news. I debated whether or not I could ask you questions about when Steve Kornacki was hosting at the beginning of the week and I was off fishing. But I decided it would only be from shows that I hosted, because that’s only fair.

So it’s a sort of condensed quiz this week. But if you get at least two of the questions right, you will win this— [ostentatiously throws to Tuths]

TUTHS: —Mini Rachel Maddow drink mixer!

MADDOW: Teeny, teeny, teeny-tiny cocktail shaker. And for extra credit or a consolation prize, we have something for you that until tonight was cluttering up our office. It’s extra-weird tonight. Go ahead, Nick.

TUTHS: We’ve got Bacon Rub!

MADDOW: It’s to create the sensation of bacon, but there is no bacon in the Bacon Rub.

ZELKOWICZ: Bacon Rub! I look forward to rubbing it on something. I’m not sure what.

MADDOW: Very good. Our friend Anthony Terrell was producing in Iowa. Apparently, Iowa is lousy with this stuff. Anyway, we’ve got it for you.

We’re also going to bring in the voice of Steve Benen from MaddowBlog. He’s the man who determines whether or not you got the right answer. Hello, Steve Benen?

BENEN: Good evening to both of you.

MADDOW: Good evening. All right! Yes, he is up there for you, too. He’s in all of our orbit.


MADDOW: OK! First question is from Wednesday’s show, Benny...
We didn’t mark all the ersatz laughter with which we viewers are conned into thinking that we the Maddowsketeers are sharing lots of fun with our friends from the Maddow show. But the ersatz laughter is liberally present, performed for us gullible viewers.

With this enjoyable News Dump segment, last week’s “three nights in the life” ended with lots of fun. The segment had been preceded by an enjoyable videotaped segment in which we got to see Rachel and Tricia McKinney select that enjoyable Bacon Rub as one of the evening’s swag gifts.

After that, but before The Dump, we had even more fun. We got to see Rachel tell the “dog pee” story again.

On this occasion, she punished us a teeny, teeny, teeny-tiny bit. As we showed you yesterday, she told the wonderful “dog pee” story “long story short.”

What did Maddow mean by that? In effect, she told a teeny, teeny, teeny-tiny version of the “dog pee” story on Friday—a shortened version of the story she likes so much she told it twice last week.

She told it last Wednesday in lengthened form. Today, we thought we’d let you enjoy all the fun from that earlier presentation.

Freshly returned from her fishing, Maddow was going to interview an actual candidate last Wednesday night.

Candidate Santorum was there on the set! He barely registers in current polls, but there were quite a few things Maddow could have asked him, especially given her incessant, improbable nightly claim that candidates like Santorum are about to see their political careers brought to an end by “our friends” at the Fox News Channel.

Maddow has pushed that tribally pleasing theory on a nightly basis for several months. There were a lot of things she could have asked her guest about.

But first, we got to have fun! In the process, we learned to appreciate the wonderfully obvious specialness of our ridiculous corporate host.

Toward that end, Maddow told the “long story long” version of her “dog pee” story. For extra credit or as a consolation prize, she discussed two other funny URLs she has wonderfully purchased.

Below, you see the bullshit we all sat through before she spoke to Santorum. Here’s the way she burned away time right at the start of this segment:
MADDOW (7/22/15): Around the time that President Obama was getting ready to nominate Sonia Sotomayor to be a Supreme Court Justice, the political right decided it was very controversial that President Obama said one of the things he was looking for in a potential Supreme Court justice was that that person should have a sense of empathy.

And our friend Michael Steele was chairman of the Republican Party at the time. And he got on the radio one day in the midst of that kerfuffle and he said this:

He said, and I quote: “Crazy nonsense empathetic. I’ll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind.”

STEELE: I’ll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind.

MADDOW: And so, I bought “” We bought that website. And then one day down the road, when I really did make pals with Michael Steele, I was able to offer him

I was able to offer him that website as a gift. It was very satisfying.

We also own “”
If I ever meet and make friends with Senator Fred Thompson, I look forward to give him that web address as well.

I also have one that I’ve been holding on to all of these years and hoping to give to Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

In the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination, Senator Santorum went to Florida and he gave a stump speech that included this anecdote, where he was talking about long days, door-knocking on the campaign trail and one particularly hot day when a nice lady not only opened her door to him, she invited him in for a glass of water.

He says this, quote:

“The lady comes back. She hands me the water. I’m patting the dog and taking a drink. The next thing I know, I have this warm sensation. And I immediately jump up, and there on my tan pants is a wet spot where you do not want a wet spot.

“So I get up and she says, ‘Let me get that.’ I said, ‘No, that`s OK. I’m fine, thank you.’ She says, ‘I can get a hair dryer.’ I said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that either.’

“Then she offered to have me take my pants off and put them in the dryer. And by that time I was almost out the door. I thanked her for the water and for the experience and said, ‘I’ll be fine.’ I get out the door and walk out on the sidewalk, I’m halfway through the neighborhood. What do you do?”

The Sarasota Union Tribune in Florida wrote up that anecdote from Rick Santorum’s 2012 stump speech. And then they put this headline on it: "Dog pee can’t stop Santorum."

That was the headline in the local paper. Which seemed both nice, like they got the point of the anecdote, resilience in the face of challenge. But it also sort of seemed sort of unfair.

And so, as a sort of gesture of protectionism, we bought “” And I’ve always wanted a chance to offer it to the senator as a gift.

I mean no harm. I have kept that URL safe as a redirect to my own page all these years...
In fairness, she only burned three minutes with this. To watch that whole segment, just click here, though standard warnings apply.

In fairness, Maddow only burned three minutes with her “long story long.” In the process, we received further instruction in how wonderfully fey and unpredictable the wonderful cable star is.

Such instruction is a very familiar part of this show. So are the types of problems which followed, some of which came into view even before she spoke with her guest, who was still sitting there waiting.

Santorum is a patient man! This was the rest of his introduction, in which we made the key transition from dog pee to man-on-dog:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Particularly, if you are on the left of the political spectrum, there are a handful of things you probably know instantly when you hear the name “Rick Santorum.”

In 2003, he became nationally famous when he was discussing homosexuality and gay rights with an Associated Press reporter. He suggested an equivalence between same-sex relationships and, in his words, quote, “You know, man on child, man on dog, whatever the case may be.”

That inspired the best AP reporter response I have ever seen transcribed ever.
This reporter said in response, quote, “I’m sorry. I didn’t think I was going to be talking about ‘man on dog’ with a United States senator. It’s sort of freaking me out.”

After Senator Santorum lost his Senate seat in 2006 and started campaigning for the presidency, he did keep up a hard edge on social issues.

SANTORUM: One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is, I think, the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea.

Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s OK. I mean, you know, contraception’s OK.”

It’s not OK, because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to what, what, how things are supposed to be.

MADDOW: If you know just one thing about Senator Rick Santorum, that right-wing culture warrior stuff is probably what you know.

But widen the lens a little when you think about him. Because yes, he is running for president again, for a third time this year. And he is the one Republican candidate who says he is in favor of raising the minimum wage.

In my view, he is the most effective communicator, the best speaker, of all the Republican candidates running for president. And that should count for something, especially in such a large field.

He is also right, absolutely correct, on the issue of how badly the Fox News Channel is screwing up the Republican primary this year by saying they’ll only let ten candidates in the debate, even though at least sixteen are running, and they’re going to set the cut-off over who makes and it who doesn’t based on national polling.

Rick Santorum was the first Republican candidate to both recognize how wrong that was and to be brave enough to say it out loud, even though that meant criticizing the Fox News Channel out loud:

SANTORUM: In January of 2012, I was at 4 percent in the national polls and I won the Iowa caucuses. I don’t know if I was last in the polls, but I was pretty close to last. And so, the idea that a national poll has any relationship as to the viability of a candidate, ask Rudy Giuliani about it. Ask Phil Gramm about it.

MADDOW: He’s right! He’s been right on that for weeks and weeks and weeks.

National polls are and should be meaningless at this point in the process. It is a perversion of the process for Fox News to say national polls are going to decide who’s allowed to debate and who isn’t. He’s right!

That said, Senator Santorum may have been polling at four percent nationally when he ran and ultimately came in second to Mitt Romney four years ago. In the national polls now, he’s barely pushing one percent.

Rick Santorum is in the fight of his political life right now just to stay in the running and be allowed to compete. How did it come to this?
And how does he plan to turn things around?

Joining us now for the interview is the former senator from Pennsylvania and now presidential candidate, Rick Santorum.
Maddow loved that AP reporter’s response! As a matter of fact, it was “the best AP reporter response [she has] ever seen transcribed ever.”

By now, six minutes were gone. Six minutes remained in the segment, at least one minute of which was burned by jocular joking around, along with Maddow’s discussion of her own past experiences with Rand Paul.

Maddow’s first question for Santorum came at the 7:15 mark. In fairness, she did a second segment with Santorum, which ran just under nine minutes.

As we learned on Friday’s program, Maddow had planned to gift Santorum with the “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum” URL during that second segment, thus burning away more time. But in all the excitement, she forgot—and so she did what anyone would have done:

She devoted a segment on Friday’s show to telling the “dog pee” story again. It was teased as an “important matter” she wanted to “finish up.”

Was Maddow’s interview with Santorum worthwhile? How useful was the session, once all the joking was done?

Tomorrow, we’ll start to make an assessment. In fairness, as everyone knows, there are no perfect interviews.

That said, you’ve already spotted a basic factual error in Maddow’s introduction. As she spoke with Santorum, she made a deeply puzzling statement about CNN’s plans for the second GOP debate.

And no! After playing that tape of Santorum, she never asked him if he still thinks that contraception is wrong, if he still plans to talk about that problem as president. After all the joking was done, she didn’t have time for that.

Maddow loves to buy URLs—and she loves to please us Maddowsketeers by discussing herself. But over the course of the past several months, she has mainly loved obsessing about the way Fox News is ruining next week’s August 6 debate, along with everything that’s good and holy about our election process.

This has been one of the dumbest cable news jihads we’ve ever seen performed. It has been performed for months, in robotic fashion, night after night after night.

Why is Maddow playing this peculiar low-IQ game? Two days are left in which we’ll discuss last week’s three days in the life.

We’ll look at her interview with Santorum, and at her months-long obsession concerning next week’s debate. On the bright side, her ratings seem to be on the rise as she clowns and performs in this manner.

Tomorrow: Anatomy of a jihad

Supplemental: Marshall discusses the Times’ latest mess!

TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2015

But first, you snark at the Clintons:
Late last week, the New York Times ran an exciting front-page story which it had to correct two times.

For our previous post, click here.

The exciting, dramatic front-page story initially said that a criminal referral had been directed at Candidate Clinton. That was a fairly serious claim, presidential campaign-wise.

That was a fairly serious claim. But uh-oh:

In its first correction, the Times said the criminal referral in question wasn’t directed at Candidate Clinton.

In its second correction, the Times said the criminal referral in question wasn’t a criminal referral at all!

To us, that seemed like a fairly gigantic pair of mistakes, especially with the White House at stake. For that reason, we had to chuckle at Josh Marshall’s initial reaction to the Times’ latest disaster.

Marshall’s post appeared late Friday night. The scope of the problem had been apparent for at least ten hours.

The New York Times had done it again—to a Democratic front-runner named “Clinton.” This was a very serious, very familiar occurrence.

The Times had made a gigantic mistake. For whatever reason, here’s how Marshall started his post, headline included:
MARSHALL (7/24/15): How Did This Happen Exactly?

I’ve [sic] watching this New York Times blockbuster about the now non-existent criminal referral about Hillary Clinton's emails. And it is one of these stories that didn’t just come apart in one big way. It fell apart in several different big ways over the course of the day. Former Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald has a good dissection of how it all unfolded that makes a pretty good case that even now—post corrections and sorta retractions—the piece still contains major omissions and distortions.

One thing worth noting is that if you’re going to publish a piece that really lands a big blow on the Clintons, you really need to be a totally certain it’s not entirely wrong. Because, man, they will never let you hear the end of it!

But as I said in the title, how did this happen exactly?
Please note: Before he starts trying to figure how the Times managed to do this again, Marshall takes a gratuitous shot at the Clintons.

People, don’t slander the Clintons on your front page during a presidential campaign! They’ll never let you hear the end of it! You know what those Clintons are like!

This was an amazing reaction. What makes people do that?

In the current case, we have no idea. As we’ve often noted in the past, that’s the way the career players tend to play it when the powerful Times is involved.

On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter played it much the same way. Stelter jumped to CNN from the Times. He interviewed Michael Oreskes, another former Timesman who’s now at NPR.

This is the way their discussion began. Could these guys rent a room?
STELTER (7/26/15): So what is the lesson we should learn from this Times screw-up?

Mike Oreskes is one of the country's top news editors. He used to be a deputy managing editor at The Times. He’s now the head of news at NPR.

Mike, I used to work at the Times as well. So we both know how the newsroom works. This story went online late in the evening. Presumably, the Clinton campaign started complaining about it. And then these changes were made in the middle of the night, without a correction.

What's your reaction to this dust-up?

ORESKES: Well, one thing. First of all, Brian, it’s important to put on the record what’s right here before we get into all the things that went wrong. The democracy must have journalism organizations that are aggressive about trying to hold public officials to account. I’m convinced the editors and reporters at the Times were honestly trying to do that. And it’s very important.

So it’s very important, in the process of fixing what went wrong here, we not defang journalists who want to hold public officials to account. That needs to be said because we don’t want to throw away what’s important here as we try to understand what’s wrong.
Could these guys possibly rent a room and share it with the Times?

According to Stelter, the Clinton campaign began complaining, thus producing a “dust-up.” According to Oreskes, it’s very important to say how great the New York Times is before we say anything else.

Oreskes went on to offer a stunningly soft appraisal of what the Times had done wrong—an appraisal that was flatly inaccurate in one major respect.

In his own post, Marshall went on to say that something peculiar had happened here, though “not something nefarious, I don’t think.” He drew that conclusion after saying this:
MARSHALL: As I noted this afternoon, a lot of this has a disturbing similarity to the Times Whitewater coverage, which dominated much of the Clinton presidency and turned out to be either vastly over-hyped or in numerous cases simply false. And this is the Times! What's supposedly [sic] to be the best paper in the country.
(For clarity, we’ve edited one error by Marshall. We’ve left one error in.)

Marshall specifically noted the “disturbing similarity to the Times Whitewater coverage, which dominated much of the Clinton presidency and turned out to numerous cases simply false.” Despite that track record, he started with that weird remark about the way the Clintons complain so much, then included the mandatory reference to the Times’ presumed greatness.

Marshall didn’t mention another recent matter. We refer to the weirdest “news report” of the current campaign, the New York Times’ sprawling, 4500-word report about the scary uranium deal, in which the paper basically had Clinton and Clinton nailed on treason charges.

It would be hard to imagine a phonier, higher-profile example of bogus campaign reporting. Back in April, well-mannered liberals let it go without a word of complaint. Chris Hayes even vouched for the giant piece, which he twice described as a “blockbuster report.” Our fiery leaders seem to have a hard time telling the truth about the relentlessly awful work of the gruesome New York Times.

The Times has done this again and again. You have to be deeply in the bag to feel you have to keep making remarks about the way the New York Times is “supposedly to be the best paper in the country” (sic).

How did the Times manage to bungle so thoroughly again? We don’t know, but the New York Times bungles all the time, often spectacularly, often about the Clintons.

Marshall’s subsequent posts on this subject are perhaps worth reading. We thought it was worth recording that peculiar first reaction.

Why do the Clintons sometimes complain so loudly? Because people like Hayes and Marshall won’t! (Rachel is playing her toy xylophone and buying new URLs.) In March 1999, the jihad was transferred to Candidate Gore, producing a similar silent reaction from our fiery career brigade. Historically speaking, that didn’t work out real well.

Was there something “nefarious” about the Times’ latest mega-blunder? We can’t answer that question. But the paper has long since passed the point where it deserves a presumption of basic competence, basic innocence and/or basic good faith.

Because we’re discussing the New York Times, career players don’t seem eager to make such unseemly comments.

Tomorrow: Back to statistics v. anecdotes

THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE: Dog pee can’t stop!

TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2015

Part 2—The latest regarding herself:
As it turns out, it looks like CNN’s Drew Griffin may have had it right!

Late Friday, in the 8 PM hour,
he told Anderson Cooper this—the Louisiana shooter was able to legally purchase his gun because, as a legal matter, he’d never been committed to a mental institution on an “involuntary” basis.

This morning, a front-page report in the New York Times
seems to support that analysis. Assuming that analysis holds, CNN’s viewers saw Griffin getting it right during the 8 PM hour!

One hour later, we the liberals were perhaps underserved. In a hurried, four-minute news segment, Rachel Maddow said she didn’t understand how the purchase of the gun could have been legal.

It was one of the few segments Maddow devoted to news that night. There was no sign that she or her staff had actually tried to get the answer to that question, which she said was “important,” during their arduous work day.

Maddow hurried through the segment about the Thursday night shootings. In her program’s next segment, we got to see one of the ways the cable “news” star had spent her time that day.

In that next segment, Maddow wasted viewers’ time with the latest monument to her own wonderfulness and perfectly obvious greatness. Through the wonders of videotape, we got to watch Maddow and a staff member as they selected the “swag gifts” for that evening’s closing segment, the weekly “Friday Night News Dump,” a silly, utterly pointless quiz show which is designed to let us enjoy Maddow’s wonderfulness and perfectly obvious greatness.

Increasingly, this rearranged corporate news show is being transformed into “The Mickey Maddow Show”—a silly, insulting exhibition in which we, the dull-witted liberal viewers, are transformed into Maddowsketeers, dull-witted admirers of Maddow’s wonderful personal greatness.

No waste of time is too inane if it serves that purpose.

Last Friday, we got to enjoy the swag gift selection and the Friday Night News Dump. In between those dumb-making tributes to the wonderfulness of the host, we got to enjoy a third example of her manifest personal wonderfulness.

How big a gong-show is corporate now presenting in its 9 PM slot? Consider another segment from Friday’s show, a segment Maddow teased like this:
MADDOW (7/24/15): We’ve got a bit of unfinished business coming up with my interview this week with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum made quite a bit of news in that interview he did with me here. We’re very happy to have him here.

But there is one important matter that was unresolved in that interview that we will hopefully be finishing up tonight. That’s still ahead.
Maddow had interviewed Candidate Santorum on Wednesday night’s program. During the Friday night show, she teased the fact that there was “one important matter” from that interview which she would “be finishing up.”

We wondered what that matter might be. During the Wednesday interview, Santorum had made some claims concerning his famous “man on dog” statement which seemed less than obsessively accurate. Would that be the “important [if ancient] matter” Maddow would “finish up?”

Or might it be something else? During that Wednesday interview, Santorum said he wasn’t hugely concerned about the possibility of being excluded from the August 6 GOP debate—the debate on which Maddow has madly obsessed, night after night, for the past several months.

He wanted to be included, he said—but he also told Maddow that Iowa voters don’t start making up their minds until the last few weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Since this grossly contradicted the dystopian picture Maddow’s been selling for several months, we even imagined that she might address what Santorum had said.

Maddow viewers, please! Along with the videotaped selection of swag; along with the campy “quiz show” which now ends every Friday show; along with those silly wastes of time, we the viewers were also condemned to watch Maddow pimp her manifest wonderfulness by telling us Maddowsketeers about something that slipped her mind.

As it turned out, the “important matter” which got “finished up” concerned Maddow’s ownership of the “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum” URL. In yet another brainless segment, Maddow explained how she came to own the “dog pee” URL and what she hoped to do with it.

Warning! Brain cells may be destroyed if you read what follows:
MADDOW (7/24/15): So, very interesting to have Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum here. I hope to have all the presidential candidates on this show.

None of the rest of you ever said “man on dog!” Think how much easier your interview will be here!

I hope Senator Santorum will give me a good reference. I thought it was really nice to have him here. But there is one thing I forgot to do in that interview, which I really wish I had done.

We purchased a domain name a while back, inspired by a Rick Santorum campaign story
about him meeting a nice lady with a dog while he was door knocking on the campaign trail one day. And, long story short, the dog ended up peeing on him.

That anecdote inspired this headline in a Florida newspaper. Quote: “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum.”

When that headline came out, we bought “”
And we set it up so when you go to “,” it redirects you to our Web site. To MaddowBlog.

Well, while the senator was here, I meant to formally offer that Web site to him as a parting gift. Senator, it’s yours to do whatever you want to with it!

In the end, things got a little exciting at the end of the interview. You know, taking back the “man on dog” thing and all the rest of it, I totally forgot.

So now, I am making it right. I am officially offering that Web site to Senator Santorum. Sir, if you would like “,” it is all yours.

In the meantime, while you make up your mind, we have changed the landing page of that Web address so it no longer goes to Maddow Blog. It now goes straight to—

Look! Watch where it goes! It goes to— Watch! Go! Yep! Where does it go?

It goes to a lot of very handsome pictures of Rick Santorum. There he is, reflected in glasses. Here he is, looking good with the American flag.

“” now takes you to handsome pictures of Rick Santorum. And Senator, if you want to direct people somewhere else with that, all you have to do is ask. It’s all yours.
To watch that entire segment, click here. Warning! Possible damage!

At that point, Maddow went to commercial break, then launched the Friday Night News Dump. Just to give you a rough idea, that segment started like this:
MADDOW (7/24/15): Are you ready? I’m ready!

Yay! Friday Night News Dump time!

Producer Nick Tuths, who’s tonight’s lucky player?

TUTHS: Tonight, we have Benny Zelkowicz from Los Angeles, California. He’s an animator. He once published a neuroscience paper in a major journal, and he’s co-author of a novel for young readers called “The Foundry’s Edge.”

Rachel, meet Benny!

MADDOW: Benny, it’s very nice to meet you! You are a fascinating person from all I hear!
We didn’t get much news that night. But we got to enjoy that first burst of fun, along with the bullshit which followed.

(Note: Tuths may be the person who walks behind Maddow with the phony graphic when she bangs on her toy xylophone.)

At this point, let’s return to “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum.” In fairness, Rachel was returning to this topic herself when she discussed it last Friday night.

We’re going to guess that Rick Santorum doesn’t want the URL to “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum.” In fact, Maddow staged this dog pee-and-pony show for a very familiar reason—so we could marvel even further at her fey, wonderful differentness.

On Friday night, this wonderfulness found expression in the “swag gift selection” segment. Also, in the “dog pee” segment, and in the News Dump itself.

Please note: During the “dog pee” segment, Rachel said she was telling her story “long story short.” She was willing to tell it that way because she had told the same story in a more interminable fashion on the Wednesday evening show.

Under the current corporate arrangement, there’s no excuse to waste your time this program’s host won’t seize. And so it came to pass:

On Wednesday night, before speaking with Santorum, she told the story of her “dog pee” wonderfulness in a much longer fashion.

On Wednesday, she told the full story of how Santorum got peed on and how the event inspired her to purchase that URL. In the process, she also told the story of her purchase of two other URLs. This helped us Maddowsketeers appreciate how wonderfully fey she is.

On Wednesday night, Maddow told the longer story of her purchase of the “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum” URL. She also described her purchase of the “Empathize right on your behind” URL and the “Fred Thompson is inherently funny” web address.

Warning! Tomorrow, we’ll start with Wednesday’s lengthier version of the “dog pee” story. We’ll also start to ask a key question:

Does Maddow ever do anything but waste time in her current format? Does she ever present any real news or analysis in endless, repetitive “coverage” of the Republican presidential race?

Night after night, for the past several months, she has burned enormous chunks of time on this alleged topic. Quite routinely, she burns time with the silliest, most pointless thing which happened that day to any one of the sixteen candidates on whose number she has obsessed for the past several months.

Presumably, this is a corporate-designed, corporate-approved pursuit of higher ratings. Question: Does this ever produce anything but the manifest wasting of time?

Maddow did only three programs last week. All this week, we’ll be reviewing those three nights in the life.

Last Friday night’s program was drenched in piddle concerning swag gifts, dumps and dog pee. Did anything of any value emerge from those three nights in the life?

Tomorrow, we’ll continue our search. Warning! We’ll start with that longer story.

Tomorrow: “” The story behind the purchase!

Supplemental: Creating our latest Perfect Example!

MONDAY, JULY 27, 2015

Anecdotes versus statistics:
Argument by anecdote can be easy, especially if you get to invent or disappear your facts.

Statistics may tend to be harder. They can also be unsatisfying.

That said, much of our discourse has run on anecdote since the death of Trayvon Martin. We keep inventing Perfect Examples of the conduct we say we loathe. We’ve often done so by making up some of our facts while disappearing others.

We’re now inventing our newest Perfect Example; her name is the late Sandra Bland. In this morning’s New York Times, Charles Blow is still inviting people to think that Bland must have been murdered.

On a journalistic basis, Blow's conduct today is quite amazing. But then, he’s done this sort of thing before. After the death of Trayvon Martin, he often teamed with Lawrence O’Donnell in the invention of facts.

(The Sanford police wouldn’t tell the family for the next three days! Not true, but widely promulgated and treasured.)

When you get to break the rules, it’s fairly easy to keep presenting Perfect Examples. Beyond that, it’s easy to create painful impressions about the frequency with which certain events occur in the wider society.

Anecdotes are easy to play with, especially if you get to invent or massage them. By way of contrast, statistics can be frustrating and hard.

That said, our discourse has been relying on the former; this can often lead to rank abuse of the latter. For an example of what we mean, consider what was said on yesterday’s State of the Union, CNN’s flagship Sunday program.

Jake Tapper is now the program’s host. He spoke with a four-member panel about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tapper played tape from Candidates Clinton and Bush, then threw to his lone black panelist. This is what was said—good-naturedly, we will add:
TAPPER (7/26/15): Hillary Clinton versus Jeb Bush on the Black Lives Matter movement which has been tripping up Democrats and Republicans on the campaign trail. We're back here with our panel. Let's talk about this.

What’s the right answer, Bakari? I turn to you. You’re African-American! Tell me!

SELLERS: And I wonder why I’m getting this?

TAPPER: Help me out! What’s the right answer on Black Lives Matter? What is supposed to be said by candidates?

SELLERS: Black Lives Matter has an implicit “too” at the end of it. It speaks to a very, very specific pain. When we—it’s more than a slogan.


The problem is that we’ve seen the video of Walter Scott. We’ve seen the video of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and the list goes on and on and on and on. And you have African-Americans who literally do not get the benefit of their humanity. And that’s a problem.

And so, when you—

You know, in my next interaction, I’m the only person at this table whose next interaction may cause them to be a hash tag. It may be #bakarisellers. And that’s something that we feel. That’s a very deep pain.
To watch the whole segment, click here.

Bakari Sellers is 30 years old. He has already served for eight years in the South Carolina House of Delegates, from which he’s now retired.

Sellers offered sensible statements about the “very deep pain” which lies behind the Black Lives movement. As he spoke, he named some well-known recent victims—some famous Perfect Examples from our highly anecdotal discourse.

Sellers is quite impressive. That said, in the highlighted statement, he almost seemed to imply that no one ever gets killed by police except black people.

Sellers almost seemed to imply that. And sure enough! After some discussion about the “Black lives matter” slogan, another panelist came right out and made that as a statement.

That person was Neera Tanden. In this passage, she speaks with S. E. Cupp:
CUPP: I think a lot of people recoil at the idea that when a Democrat says “All lives matter,” and this starts a fight inside the party—

TAPPER: Which is what happened last week with Martin O’Malley.

CUPP: Yes, with Martin O’Malley. I think that—I think most people react to that and say that’s really silly.

TANDEN: But let me explain why people reacted. And I think it is, we have gone through these incidents, incident after incident, in which African-Americans have died at the hands of police.

And we all see that. We live in this country. And that’s why people are saying, “Black lives matter too.” Black lives matter—

We don’t need to say “All lives matter” because white citizens aren’t dying at the hands of police! And that's why it’s interesting to me that people think there’s something wrong with actually saying— We need to say “black lives matter” because we live in this context in which African-Americans are dying.
Tanden has been president of the Center for American Progress since 2011. She was policy director to Candidate Clinton in 2008. Later, she worked for President Obama.

Tanden is very prominent. Yesterday, she flatly made this factual statement: “White citizens aren’t dying at the hands of police.”

Maybe she didn’t mean it. But that’s what she actually said, and we will guess that many people actually believe that claim. Anecdotes can create strong impressions—and we’ve been exposed to a single type of anecdote in “incident after incident” in recent years, to borrow Tanden’s language.

Sellers implied it; Tanden stated it. But uh-oh! According to the Washington Post’s compilation, about twice as many white people have been fatally shot by police this year, as compared to blacks.

That’s the Post’s rolling statistic. No one doubts that it’s basically accurate. But yesterday, viewers saw a leading figure make the following statement:

“White citizens aren’t dying at the hands of police.”

A steady drumbeat of anecdotes can create a strong impression. So can crazily inaccurate statistical claims, as we’ll see again tomorrow.

Statistics can be hard to interpret, but anecdotes can be crazy-making, especially when we toy with our facts and limit the types of anecdotes to which we’re exposed.

Anecdotes versus statistics! We’ll examine those two routes to the truth in our afternoon posts all week.

THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE: Rachel Maddow just wants to have fun!

MONDAY, JULY 27, 2015

Part 1—Two ways to spend time at the office:
We were struck by something Rachel said on Friday evening’s program.

Somewhat surprisingly, Maddow did an actual news segment midway through the program. It concerned the Louisiana shootings, which had occurred the night before.

Maddow hurried through the basics in her short news segment. In effect, she was clearing time for her weekly “Friday Night News Dump,” an ersatz quiz show where everybody gets to be silly and have lots of fun.

Maddow hurried through the basics about the latest mass shooting. Along the way, she said she didn’t understand how the killer had been able to obtain his gun legally, as had been reported:
MADDOW (7/24/15): The other thing, the other important thing we learned today about the shooter, concerns his apparent history of mental illness and how he was able to obtain the gun he used to kill those people last night.

We learned from court records today that in 2008, his family obtained a protective order against him. As part of that process, a probate judge in Georgia had this man involuntarily committed. He had him sent against his will to a hospital in Columbus, Georgia.

One thing about our country’s very, very loose gun laws is that federal background checks are supposed to prevent you from being able to purchase a gun if you’ve been adjudicated mentally ill by a court of law. This man was.

In addition today, authorities in Russell County, Alabama, said that this man was A, treated there for mental illness and they knew about it. And B, he was turned down for a concealed carry permit in that county a couple of years prior to treatment for mental illness because of other arrests.

I mean, nevertheless, though, after all that, after the protective order against him, after being treated for mental illness, after being involuntarily committed at a judge’s order for mental illness—nevertheless, this past year, he was somehow able to buy a gun. He bought that .40 caliber high point semiautomatic handgun at a pawnshop in Alabama early last year.

And this is the part that’s very troubling, and that I don’t understand. Police say when he bought that handgun early last year in Alabama, it was a legal purchase. How can that be a legal purchase?

But what’s done is done. And as of tonight, two people are dead. One’s in critical condition, four others still being treated in a hospital. The shooter himself is dead.

All we have as we try to figure out how and why this happened are thus far unanswered questions about how he could have had access to the gun, whether there was anything that could have been done to stop this from happening in the first place.
“What’s done is done,” Maddow said, hurrying ahead toward her weekly quiz show. To watch the brief news segment (four minutes), you can just click here.

Maddow said she didn’t understand how the purchase of the gun could have been legal. She called it an “important thing”—and she said she didn’t understand.

Can we talk? During her segment, Maddow didn’t interview anyone with expertise—someone who might have understood how the purchase could have happened. There was no indication that she or her staff had done so during their arduous work day.

One hour earlier, on CNN, Drew Griffin had explained the legality of the purchase, speaking to Anderson Cooper. We’re not gigantic fans of Griffin, and we would guess that his explanation was wrong.

That said, at least he had an explanation! Maddow said she didn’t understand, then hurried along.

Why couldn’t Maddow explain the legality of the purchase? After a long day at the office, why didn’t she understand the way that gun got purchased?

We can’t answer that question. But we can show you how she had spent at least part of her work day.

After a commercial break, the Maddow Show proceeded to a regular weekly segment. The program went to a videotaped segment in which Maddow and a devoted staff member engaged in a weekly event.

In this videotaped segment, the staff member knocked on Maddow’s office door and was granted admittance. From there, the pair pretended to debate what sort of campy “swag gifts” they might give to some lucky contestant during that evening’s “Friday Night News Dump.”

It was senior producer Tricia McKinney who was shown knocking on Maddow’s door. After she was granted admittance, the garbage recorded below occurred as we the viewers looked on.

In part, this is what “news” looks like in 2015, corporate liberal version. The videotaped selection of the swag gifts is now a weekly ritual on this disintegrating “news program:”
OPENING GRAPHIC (7/24/15): Cartoon of a panel truck screeching up to the curb. The truck is marked thusly: FRIDAY NIGHT NEWS DUMP/THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW PRIZE PATROL

MCKINNEY: (Knocks on office door)

MADDOW (as heard inside): Come.

MCKINNEY (entering office): Hello.

MADDOW: Hello.

MCKINNEY: It’s time to discuss the swag gifts for the Friday Night News Dump?

MADDOW (seated behind desk): You were wearing that earlier today, weren’t you?

MCKINNEY (modeling jacket): What do you mean?

MADDOW: (Laughter)

MADDOW (doing Groucho with her hands): I have an item that can be a swag possibility here too.

MCKINNEY: Oh, really?

MADDOW: Tell me yours first.

MCKINNEY: This awesome jacket?

MADDOW: You want that?

MCKINNEY: No idea. We just—I literally found it in a drawer. Nobody has any memory of its playing any role in our show.

MADDOW: Seriously?


MCKINNEY (modeling jacket): I might keep this, if you don’t give it away.

MADDOW (examining jacket): Is it ripped? A little. It’s a little racy. OK.

MCKINNEY: Definitely. And I also found another random item, a Texas Longhorns—

MADDOW AND MCKINNEY (in unison): A teeny, teeny, teeny-tiny—

MADDOW: Like a Texas Longhorn beer stein slash espresso cup!

MCKINNEY: I would think, yes.

MADDOW: Do we know where this came from?

MCKINNEY: No. No idea. Things are appearing in that drawer.

MADDOW: You remember we had Anthony Terrell on last week from Iowa? He came on with Iowa-themed things?

MCKINNEY (claps hands excitedly, almost jumps): Yes! Yes!

MADDOW (holding package of corn nuts): He brought us Iowa corn nuts, which are salted corn nuts covered in milk chocolate, which I’m steadily making my way through. We could have given these away, except I’m eating them.

But this one is “all-natural” Bacon Rub, which gives you “bacon-wrapped flavor.” You add it to anything. “All-natural bacon flavor rub.”

No bacon. The ingredients are brown sugar, dehydrated garlic, mustard powder, natural smooth flavors, yeast abstract—yeast extract. But it tastes like bacon! From Iowa.

MCKINNEY: OK. So do I get to choose?

MADDOW: Yes. So your jacket, Bacon Rub, Texas Longhorns.

MCKINNEY: Bacon Rub!

MADDOW: We can do the Texas Longhorns sometime soon.


MADDOW: Congratulation on your new jacket.

That was the end of the segment. We can’t link you to videotape of the segment, unless you can make the “Full Episodes” feature work at the Maddow site.

In fairness, this videotaped segment wasn’t especially long. On the other hand, we’re now condemned to see some iteration of this nonsense every week.

This weekly segment serves as a prelude to the actual “News Dump” itself, in which Maddow quizzes a lucky contestant about the week’s news events while playing tape or herself from the week’s earlier shows.

Before the week is done, we’ll briefly visit on last Friday’s News Dump. For today, let’s discuss another segment from Friday night’s program—a segment we were condemned to watch before the News Dump occurred.

Maddow had teased the segment several times that night. This was one of the teases:
MADDOW (7/24/15): We’ve got a bit of unfinished business coming up with my interview this week with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum made quite a bit of news in that interview he did with me here. We’re very happy to have him here.

But there is one important matter that was unresolved in that interview that we will hopefully be finishing up tonight. That’s still ahead.
Maddow had interviewed Candidate Santorum on her Wednesday night program. We wondered what the important, unresolved matter might be.

On the one hand, Santorum had said some things about a famous old event which seem a bit hard to credit. We wondered if Maddow planned to address Santorum’s puzzling remarks.

On the other hand, Santorum had said he wasn’t hugely concerned about his possible exclusion from the August 6 Republican debate. In the process, he gave a candidate’s-eye-view account of the way the Iowa caucuses work.

Santorum’s account was worth examining, if you want to waste your time on such piddle at this point. Unfortunately, Maddow does waste her time in that way at great length, night after night after night, and has done so for several months now.

Was Maddow planning to address Santorum’s peculiar statements about that 2003 event? Was she planning to discuss his account of the Iowa caucuses?

No such luck! Maddow had a different “important matter” she wanted to clear up! As it turned out, she had forgotten, on Wednesday night, to make a gift to Santorum—a gift of “,” a URL she owns.

That’s right! Rachel Maddow owns the rights to the "Dog pee can’t stop Santorum” site. On Wednesday, she had forgotten to gift him with the URL to the site.

That was the “important matter” she wanted to clear up.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you the transcript of Maddow’s treatment, on Friday night’s show, of this “important matter.” We’ll even present her vastly longer treatment of this important matter from her Wednesday night program, on which her interview occurred.

Maddow did only three shows last week. On Monday and Tuesday, she had been fishing, a fact she later shared.

Those three shows were crammed with the nonsense which now define the terrain of this increasingly ludicrous “news show.” All week long, we’re going to show you highlights from those three days in the life.

Maddow’s show was reinvented months ago. It’s now a nightly, low-IQ disgrace.

She insults the national interest nightly, both in the topics she pretends to cover and in the topics she ignores. She insults the intelligence of her liberal viewers—and we the liberals don’t seem to mind!

Alas! As Maddow has staged this rolling clown show, her ratings have steadily grown. We can stop mocking the ditto-heads now. Thanks to Maddow, it seems to us that our liberal mockery can stay much closer to home.

Tomorrow: “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum”