Breaking: Various people who don’t exist!


Manti Teo’s tragic girl friend and Maddow’s Beltway press: As it turns out, Manti Teo’s tragic doomed girl friend didn’t really exist.

As national news, this story is basically insignificant, although sports journalists are going to thrash it within an inch of its life. That said, someone else didn’t exist this week—a whole group of people, in fact.

This does involve a significant story. As it turns out, Rachel Maddow’s “entire Beltway press” didn’t exist this week.

What sorts of conduct has Maddow been attributing to “the Beltway press?” For starters, let’s look at her interview with Cory Booker last night.

In the first segment of last evening’s show, Maddow reviewed the various proposals for gun control formally unveiled by Obama. To watch the full segment, click here.

In her second segment, she interviewed Booker. She complained about the way the “Beltway press” had treated Obama’s proposals. To watch that segment, click this.

A bit of background: Quite frequently, Maddow complains about “the Beltway press” without specifically saying who she’s talking about. This gives liberal viewers the thrill of the chase—the sense that Maddow is On Their Side in the war against press corps power.

As she does this, Maddow doesn’t name, and thereby offend, any powerful press corps players.

Maddow plays this game with great frequency. Last night, speaking with Booker, she roasted the entire “Beltway press” without saying who she meant:
MADDOW (1/16/13): Given that that is your world view, which has been the hallmark of all of your time in public service the whole time I have known you, what do you make of the sustainability of the Beltway cynicism? This whole idea that nothing can be done?

Just scanning through the front pages today of all the Beltway press, as soon as Obama made his statement, as soon as the president made the statement, it was all, “President makes the statement. It will never happen.”

In some way or another, that was the essentially the entire reaction from the Beltway. I mean, when I look at the polls, I feel, like, “Wow, America really wants this to happen.”

BOOKER: Right.

MADDOW: I mean, that’s some of the Pew polling we’ve got right there on the screen. I mean, is this like Mitt Romney thinking he’s going to win even though the polls said otherwise? I mean, is this wishful thinking that the Beltway wants this not to be what America thinks, but this is really what America wants and what they are going to get?
That damnable Beltway press! According to Maddow, she had scanned all their front pages as soon as Obama made his statement. According to Maddow, “essentially the entire reaction from the Beltway press” was this:

Obama’s proposals will never happen!

Our question: Was that really the entire reaction from the Beltway press? Was that the reaction at all? First, an admission:

Here at THE HOWLER, we didn’t “scan all the front pages” as soon as Obama made his statement. (Presumably, that means all the on-line “front pages.”) But quite plainly, that isn’t the way Obama’s proposals had been treated yesterday morning in the Washington Post and New York Times, as his impending proposals were described in front-page reports. Nor is that the way Obama’s proposals are treated today in those well-known newspapers, with their well-known Beltway news bureaus.

Who was Maddow talking about? In a later segment, she continued her complaint, giving us a fleeting idea of who she had in mind.

Warning! Maddow’s statistic about the NRA is highly misleading. Essentially, it's Grade A bunk:
MADDOW: ...The NRA has proved its political impotence in real politics, in recent electoral politics. And they did it in stark, empirical terms. In the 2012 election, the NRA’s main PAC spent $11 million on candidates. More than 99 percent of what they spent was wasted. 0.83 percent of the NRA’s money went to the results that they wanted in that election.

In a year that was not kind to conservative money groups, the NRA distinguished itself. They showed themselves to be even a weaker political force than Karl Rove and the Chamber of Commerce, who really stunk. The NRA set a new bar for spending a lot and getting very little. We should change the name of this graph to "Who is afraid of the NRA?" and the implicit answer should be “Nobody, not in politics, not anymore. Not if you’re paying attention to what happened to the NRA in this last election.”

And yet, when President Obama today announced his plan for reforming gun laws, this was the reaction in the Beltway press:

"Obama guns plan meets fast resistance." And "Why Obama’s gun plan may be doomed." And “NRA chief on Obama’s real agenda.” Oh, yes, let’s go ask the trolls!

This is how we see the debate about gun laws in this country. This is how the NRA has taught us to see the debate, with Democrats and law enforcement and mayors and victims of violence and most of the American people on one side and themselves, the NRA, as an equal and perhaps greater force on the other. That’s how they have taught us to see it, and the Beltway is happy to write that down.
That damnable “Beltway press!” In this case, Maddow presented a visual which let us see whose headlines she was citing:

As was clear from Maddow’s visual, all the headlines she cited here came from one source—Politico.

As you may already know, Politico actually isn’t “all the Beltway press.” That said, Politico can be quite useful. It’s a safe, easy target for multimillionaire liberals who want to pose as fiery critics of the press while actually playing it safe.

Maddow aired a screen shot of a page from Politico. Was it really Politico’s front page at some point yesterday afternoon? We don’t know, but for what it’s worth, Politico’s front page this morning was topped by a rather upbeat news report about the way future Democratic candidates love Obama’s proposals. And by the way:

Since Obama’s gun proposals did encounter instant resistance, there's no reason why Politico shouldn’t have reported that fact. The report Maddow cited is here—and it includes some actual news and some very real facts.

As it turns out, Manti Teo’s tragic doomed girl friend didn’t really exist. But then, neither does the NRA’s alleged political impotence, despite the silly, misleading statistic with which Maddow keeps pleasuring us rubes. And sure enough:

Quite often, “the Beltway press” to which Maddow refers also doesn’t exist! Last evening, “the Beltway press” she bravely scolded was a simple confection.

Maddow likes to pose about “the Beltway press.” She doesn’t seem to like naming names, especially names that matter. Has Dowd been playing the fool again? Maddow will never tell you!

In that second segment from last night’s program, Maddow went on and on about a group of right-wing trolls—a group of idiotic players who exist to excite and mislead the public.

Those right-wing trolls really do exist! But the analysts crowded around us and hooted. Look who’s talking, they thoughtfully said, pointing their fingers at a multimillionaire pseudo-journalist who also seems to exist.

Tomorrow: Maddow's statistic


  1. Looks like some college kid might have messed up. I kind of think it's more newsworthy when they don't.

  2. Yes, the Te'o story is just world-class gossip. But for purposes of this site, the media angle is pretty obvious. Major media outlets like Sports Illustrated ran with a story they couldn't possibly prove. Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN admitted he couldn't find an obituary or a picture, and they didn't think twice about glorifying the story. Everyone loved the narrative, and no one did their homework. Sound familiar around here?

    1. Yes, quite obvious. And you would have thought it would have been obvious to Somerby.

      Instead, the guy who has been railing for years about media following chosen narratives without question blows this off as "basically insignificant" then uses it to extend his own narrative and bash one of his favorite targets.

      This is why the Howler, on a daily basis, is becoming "basically insignificant."

    2. Nah, man. It's your ongoing commentary that's insignificant.

    3. Re: Anonymous 2:05PM

      Look who's talking!

    4. "[B]asically insignificant"? And yet, Anonymous @ 12:18, you continue to come here to read. Daily?

      Horace Feathers

    5. Once again, the guy who dares say "The Emperor has no clothes" draws more response than the Emperor's post itself.

      My, my how quick the Somerby Tribe is to defend it chief. I guess it's OK to question everybody else.

  3. The story is the contrast between ND's response to rape charges vs. its football players and its response to Manti Teo's embarrassment (assuming the best about him). And the media's degree and kind of covering each set of stories. Rah rah the boys. Talk about chosen narratives.