The annual schoolwide spelling bee!


A fascinating post about health care:
We're off on a mission of national import. We're headed south, by Amtrak no less, for the annual schoolwide bee.

Two years ago, when a certain unnamed relative was a mere third grader, we attended the bee for the first time. As we reported in real time, we were very much impressed by the greatness of the event.

Last year, we got blizzarded out. Tomorrow, as other ceremonies occur, we'll be in the public school auditorium, awaiting the word which was under review when we called the young scholar's home last evening:

"Promulgate: P-R-O-M-U-L-G-A-T-E. Promulgate."

(Journalistic definition: "Promulgate: A scandal involving trivial conduct committed by person or persons named Promul.")

We don't expect to post in the next few days. Under the circumstances, we'll have to postpone our final discussion of the scourge of Conwayism.

Upon our return to our sprawling campus, we'll discuss the role played by Anderson Cooper in the lengthy, ridiculous non-discussion we've been assessing this week. Our question:

Do people like Cooper really want to counter the noxious practices of this rhetorical style?

As we leave, we'll recommend two readings about people who voted for Trump:

In last Sunday's New York Times, Susan Chira offered brief interviews with several women who voted for Trump. Because we liberals are often so eager to cartoonize and generalize about Trump voters, it might be worth our time to consider the things these people said.

In a similar vein, we strongly recommend this fascinating post by Kevin Drum. We suggest you read it for what it says, and for what it doesn't.

Drum's post concerns another 50-something woman who has health insurance under Obamacare but can't afford to pay for actual health care. We strongly recommend Drum's post, and the first few ugly comments about the woman in question:

"Hard to feel sorry for someone who never asked for details. Ignored all his racism, misogyny, hate and out right lies and now is upset."

That was the very first comment appended to Drum's post.

Easy to be hard! All too often, that old bromide seems to capture the state of loathing which is so common in our liberal team's self-impressed soul.

For what it says and what it doesn't, we think Drum's post is very important. What makes our health care "system" so clownish, so awful? We'll discuss Drum's fascinating post upon our return.

We'll leave you with an important word:

"Tribalism: T-R-I-B-A-L-I-S-M. Ugly massive dumbness."

It savages our human functions. It blinds us to human concerns. It makes us very, very dumb. We tend to prove this in comments.

Michigan schools in the age of DeVos!


Headed for the bottom:
Yesterday, by happenstance, we experienced a rare mid-afternoon sighting.

By happenstance, we happened to watch this ten-minute, mid-afternoon segment on MSNBC. During the segment, Kate Snow interviewed two guests about our public schools.

Specifically, the segment was inspired by yesterday's Senate hearing involving Betsy DeVos, who will almost surely be our next secretary of education.

First, Snow interviewed a conservative who spoke in praise of DeVos. Then, she interviewed Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, who took a different view.

Largely because of her family's vast wealth, DeVos has played a major role in Michigan's public schools over the past twenty years. At one point, Weingarten issued a warning about the state of Michigan's schools in the age of DeVos:
WEINGARTEN (1/17/17): Look at the statistics from Michigan...What's happened in Michigan, on the same Naep test that you just talked about, they went from the middle of the pack in 2003 to the bottom, to 41 out of 50. That's not success. That's actually going backwards.
We decided to check it out. To access state-by-state comparisons on the Naep, we skillfully clicked here.

Yikes! In terms of their rankings among the fiftry states, Michigan's school have been in a serious downward spiral during the age of DeVos. As always, we'll disaggregate.

Below, you see the relative standing of Michigan's white students in Grade 8 reading and math, as compared to their counterparts in the other 49 states. Some states didn't participate before 2003. For the sake of simplicity, we're omitting some intermediate testing years:
Michigan, standing among the fifty states
Grade 8 reading, white students, Naep

2002: 19 out of 41 states
2003: 12 of 50
2005: 30 of 50


2013: 41 of 50
2015: 42 of 50

Grade 8 math, white students, Naep
2000: 10 out of 39 states
2003: 25 of 50
2005: 31 of 50


2013: 42 of 50
2015: 42 of 50
That has the look of a terrible downward spiral. Here are the rankings for Michigan's black kids. Some states don't have enough black kids to produce a statistically significant sample for purposes of the Naep:
Michigan, standing among the fifty states
Grade 8 reading, black students, Naep

2002: 22 out of 32 states
2003: 29 of 40
2005: 33 of 39


2013: 33 of 42
2015: 39 of 43

Grade 8 math, black students, Naep
2000: 22 out of 28 states
2003: 35 of 40
2005: 32 of 40


2013: 41 of 43
2015: 37 of 39
As compared with their peers in other states, Michigan's black kids started from a lower place than the state's white kids.

Among the state's white kids, the drop during the age of DeVos is really quite extreme. As compared with their counterparts in the other states, both groups of students in Michigan now rank near the bottom.

You won't see these data elsewhere; the truth is, nobody cares. We'll also say this about yesterday's report on MSNBC:

Kate Snow is perfectly bright. She went to Cornell, then got a master's degree at Georgetown. Her father is an anthropology professor at Penn State. For some C-Span learnin', click here.

Snow brought nothing, zero, nada, to yesterday's discussion. She seemed to be reading perfunctory questions which had been prepared by staff. She showed no sign of knowing a thing about public schools or testing data, a topic she quickly introduced to no useful effect.

Snow looked great, and she's perfectly bright. But she seems to know nothing about these topics. Basically, she was phoning it in. Simply put, her owners don't care.

That said, the story is largely the same all through our liberal world. We'll pretend to squawk about DeVos. In truth, we don't really care.

Please note: We're talking here about relative standing among the fifty states. From 2003 to 2015, white students' average scores in Grade 8 math actually improved by a small amount in Michigan.

That said, average scores in other states improved a whole lot more. This left Michigan near the bottom in terms of relative standing.

In Michigan, black students' average scores actually dropped by a small amount during those same years. In the age of DeVos, with test scores rising, Michigan has been a major outlier.

Here's the good news for DeVos—nobody actually cares!

CONWAYISM AND BABEL: Now you're insulting BuzzFeed, she said!


Part 3—A blizzard of crazy complaints:
Is Moscow blackmailing Donald J. Trump? Or doing something like that?

To us, that seems like an obvious possibility, given Trump's endless array of puzzling statements and crazy ideas. We'd like to see a stronger push for a full-blown, serious probe.

That said, sometimes a crazy idea is just a crazy idea. (We believe Freud said that.) Trump's puzzling statements and crazy ideas may come straight from the heart.

In our view, CNN got out over its skis a bit when it offered a breathless report about Donald J. Trump last Tuesday afternoon and evening, January 10.

In truth, the channel was reporting a small, but puzzling, piece of news about the intelligence briefing Donald J. Trump had received the previous week. Based on the excited way CNN proceeded, you would have thought their "enormous team effort" had produced Pentagon Papers II, or even brand-new information about the white Bronco chase.

In our view, CNN went overboard pimping its own greatness when it made its report. The channel also seemed a bit credulous about the possible motives behind the intelligence briefing it was reporting, and about possible reasons why the news of this briefing was leaked.

For our money, CNN didn't cover itself in glory last Tuesday, even though its basic reporting seems to have been accurate. The next night, though, the gorilla dust really hit the fan when CNN burned twenty-five minutes letting Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway blather, distract and emote.

We refer to the dust Conway threw in the air last Wednesday, January 11, as she pretended to discuss the CNN report. Assisting her was Anderson Cooper, who seemed to lack the basic skills required for such an assignment.

Cooper videotaped, then aired, a 25-minute session with Conway. During the session, Conway displayed the main practices of the gruesome rhetorical style now known as Conwayism.

What did Conway do in her session with Cooper? For starters, she made a repeated claim, again and again—a repeated claim which turned out to be false. Beyond that, she displayed the central conceit of Conwayism:

The Conwayist must always be willing to make the next stupid complaint.

If you watch the tape of the Cooper-Conway exchange, you'll see an endless array of complaints by Kellyanne Conway. A few of her complaints may even have some merit, although it will be hard to tell through all the confusion and dust.

Most of Kellyanne Conway's complaints are ludicrous, groanworthy, silly, absurd. Her complaints are routinely inane. But this is the gong show she's chosen.

For decades, Conways has been perfecting the practices and skills which constitute Conwayism. She's a master at adopting an air of grievance as she lodges absurd complaints.

For unknown reasons, Cooper seemed innocent of any knowledge about how to handle such an approach. A cynic would say that, for business reasons, he prefers the Crossfire-style nonsense which marked this pseudo-discussion.

If you watch that 25-minute tape, you'll see a giant at work. We refer to Conway's preternatural skill at producing a blizzard of silly complaints while maintaining an air of deep grievance.

Good God! By our count, she falsely claimed, a dozen times, that CNN linked to BuzzFeed the previous night, a repeated claim which was wrong. But as she and Cooper pretended to stage an important discussion, she also made, by our count, roughly thirty other complaints and claims, most of which were utterly silly blather.

Kellyanne Conway is always prepared to make the next inane complaint! If you watch that full tape, you'll see her do so again and again.

You'll see her complain that CNN's polling turned out to be wrong in last year's election. You'll see her complain about the way Obama's transition was covered in 2009.

You'll see her complain that "heads didn't roll at CNN" when its election polling was imperfect. You'll see her complain that no one will get fired at CNN if this new report turns out to be wrong—which, of course, it hasn't.

You'll see her say that CNN's report from the previous night was "just not true." You'll never get clear on what it was that the channel got wrong. (As far as we know, CNN's factual statements were all correct.)

You'll see her claim that CNN should carry the blame for various things that BuzzFeed and others did. You'll even see her praise herself for being "gracious enough to come on and discuss it."

You'll see her complain that CNN based its report on anonymous sources. That's something all news orgs do, often in quoting Conway herself.

You'll see her complain that CNN's chyrons were wrong during last year's election. Also, that their "chyrons were wrong" during the previous night's report.

You'll see her constantly changing the subject, for example by asking tangential questions like these:
CONWAY (1/11/17): If cybersecurity was such a big priority to this administration and the Democratic Party and its apologists in the media, then why didn't we do more about it over the last eight years? Why, when 21 million personnel files were hacked of innocent Americans to the Office of Personnel Management by China, President Obama basically gave them a slap on the wrist?


CONWAY: If the four intelligence officials that gave the top-secret briefing last week that some fools think they should leak to the media when it's a top-secret intelligence briefing for a reason so they we're all protected, everybody, then why according to your own report last night—"report" used as a loose word here—why do they not tell the president-elect about it? Because your own reporting says that there's no confirmation that they briefed him orally. If it was so darn important...if it's worthy of a CNN screaming headline that became this huge fake news story, then why did they not brief him?
For the full transcript, click here.

In response to that second complaint, Cooper sensibly said that he didn't know why the IC chose to brief Trump in the way it did, but that this didn't affect the accuracy of what CNN reported. (According to later reporting, James B. Comey did brief Trump orally about the contents of the two-page summary.)

In response to the first distraction, Cooper sensibly said, "I know you like to pivot." By that he meant that Conway likes to change the subject, thus creating a bewildering pseudo-discussion. That said:

Cooper's willingness to let Conway do that is one of our key topics here.

If you watch that 25-minute tape, you'll see an impressive blizzard of charges, complaints, distractions, sleights of hand and semi-comical groaners. The work product of this practice is sometimes described as "gorilla dust." It represents the attempt to create so much confusion that no clear point can ever be established within our public discourse.

How silly were some of Conway's complaints? Let's focus on a few of the absolute dumbest. Remember the basic tenet of Conwayism:

The spokesperson must always be willing to lodge the next complaint, no matter how silly or dumb.

How absurd were Conway's complaints? How much contempt did she show for CNN's viewers? Consider this early nonsense, in which Conway claimed that CNN called its January 10 report a "bombshell:"
CONWAY: Anderson, because CNN went first and had this breathless report, you know, everybody said it was a bombshell, earth-shattering report last night—

COOPER: We didn't say it was a bombshell.

CONWAY: BuzzFeed then went ahead— Yes you did! Yes, you did. It says right here: "Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian effort to compromise him." That's not true.

COOPER: Where's the word "bombshell?"

CONWAY: Your headline is wrong. Well, then Seth Meyers said that he, confronted me on the "bombshell." None of it is true.

COOPER: I'm sorry what Seth Meyers said to you.
Conway insisted that CNN had used the world bombshell. As proof, she read a CNN headline which didn't use that word.

Confronted with this obvious problem, she said that Meyers had used the word when she appeared on his show. Conwayism is powerful!

The sheer inanity of that exchange captures the essence of Conwayism. Remember, though—the Conwayist must always maintain an air of grievance as he makes her claims.

A few minutes later, Conway launched another absurd complaint. As the exchange begins, Cooper is trying to discern what Conway is actually saying about CNN's report. Quickly, Conway expresses her next point of grievance:
COOPER: So you're saying there was no two-page summary that was included in briefing material?

CONWAY: The president-elect was asked that question today. You should refer to his answer. But I will tell you—

COOPER: No, you can answer it. He said, he said—

CONWAY: No, I wasn't in the briefing.

COOPER: OK. So you can't say whether or not— You're saying it's not true, but you're saying also you can't say—

CONWAY: What did the president-elect say when he was asked?

COOPER: I don't know, you tell me.

CONWAY: Well then, you didn't pay attention to the press conference!
Vintage Conwayism! When Cooper asked Trump's spokesperson to relate what Trump had said, she replied, with an air of grievance, that Cooper hadn't paid sufficient attention during that day's press conference.

"I just don't want to misquote the president-elect," Cooper replied. "I assume you know what the president-elect said today." Cooper then paraphrased what Trump had said, and Conway raced ahead to the next in her long list of complaints.

Conwayism means never having to say you're not offended. At various times, Conway lodged silly, absurd complaints about Cooper's use of words:
COOPER: This is a red herring. You're just, it's like you got— You're trying to distract from my question which is, you do not have information whether it's true or not.

CONWAY: Anderson, you can use words like "pivot," "distract," "red herring" all you want. The fact is that the media have a 16 percent approval rating for a reason. It's been earned. And it's crap like this that really undergirds why Donald Trump won.


CONWAY: It's all fake news. And let me just say Anderson, I really think—

COOPER: But it's not all fake news. I mean, that's just disingenuous.

CONWAY: Well, in [the BuzzFeed] report, it is fake news. And people keep using the word "dossier" like some, like using some fancy French word is going to imbue it with credibility.
Please don't say "red herring," or even "distract!" Meanwhile, those French! They have a different word for everything!

Joking aside, those exchanges represent Conwayism in its purest form. In Conwayism, the practitioner must always be willing to issue the next complaint, no matter how silly or stupid.

At one point, Cooper was forced to take The Conway Challenge. When he successfully passed the test, Conway conjured an instant rebuttal:
COOPER: I get the anger over the BuzzFeed stuff. I thought that was—when I read that, it was totally unsubstantiated. We're not reporting that. I guess I don't understand— I guess actually, I think I do understand because I think it's politics for you to try to link all the reporters together. But it seems just unfair and frankly disingenuous.

CONWAY: No. Actually, very few people came to CNN's defense today. I'm sure you're aware of that.

COOPER: Well actually, Shepard Smith on Fox did, which I thought was interesting and actually pretty courageous.

CONWAY: That's a cherry pick. Great.
When Cooper cited a major host who did "come to CNN's defense," Conway knew how to react. Remember: when dealing with a Conwayist, there's nothing a person can say which won't produce instant aggrieved rebuttal.

(For the record: "cherry pick" seems to be OK, although "red herring" is not.)

At one point, Conway produced a truly amazing reaction. It happened when Cooper criticized the very news org she herself had criticized all through their pointless exchange.

This is Ultimate Conwayism. Giving the demagogue her due, the analysts burst into applause:
CONWAY: Anderson, do you think that BuzzFeed, or anybody else, after months of deciding against publishing specious, scurrilous, unverified, uncorroborated junk in a Democratic opposition research document, do you think they would have released it last night had CNN not preceded it with its own report? I doubt it. There was a nexus here.

COOPER: The last time I read BuzzFeed, I saw a headline that said like, "Ten top sex toys that was going to improve your sex life." I don't read BuzzFeed.

CONWAY: OK, now you're insulting BuzzFeed.
In a virtuoso performance, Conway adopted an air of grievance on behalf of BuzzFeed itself! Truly, the Conwayist will always be willing to voice the next complaint.

If you watch that 25-minute tape, you'll be watching Conwayism in its purest form. On the one hand, you'll see Conway make a false claim again and again, insisting, again and again, that CNN linked to the BuzzFeed report, which it actually didn't.

Beyond that, you'll see the essence of this rhetorical style. Conwayism involves the constant churning of aggrieved complaints, no matter how silly/inane.

Conway's performance on that tape is a public disgrace. She's churning clouds of gorilla dust every step of the way, creating maximum confusion while maintaining an air of deep grievance.

Vladimir Putin opposes the practices of civil society; Kellyanne Conway does too. Her conduct on that pitiful tape produced a perfect Babel.

We're left with the role played by Anderson Cooper. What should we think about him?

Next: Cable loves heat, not light

Todd lets Priebus make bogus claim!


You live in a world without facts:
Why does Rep. John Lewis think Donald Trump isn't legitimate?

It's hard to say! You see, Lewis made his much-discussed statement on Meet the Press, and there his statement just sat. Below, you see the text of Lewis' original statement, along with Chuck Todd's questions:
TODD (1/15/17): You have forged relationships with many presidents. Do you plan on trying to forge a relationship with Donald Trump?

LEWIS: You know, I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.

TODD: You do not consider him a legitimate president? Why is that?

LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don't plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I'll miss since I've been at Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that it`s wrong.
In that exchange, Lewis said he doesn't consider Trump to be "a legitimate president" because of actions by the Russians. The Russians helped get Trump elected. This means he isn't legit.

There's always dissembling and disinformation within our election campaigns. To us, this doesn't quite explain why you'd say that Trump isn't legit.

(It does explain why you'd insist on a full investigation of what occurred.)

At that point, Todd asked an additional question. When he did, the plot thickened quite a bit, but Todd didn't seem to notice:
TODD (continuing directly): It's going to send—it's going to send a big message to a lot of people in this country that you don't believe he's a legitimate president.

LEWIS: I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected. That's not right. That's not fair. That's not the open, democratic process.
At this point, Lewis seems to have made a much more serious claim. He says there was "a conspiracy" to get Trump elected—a conspiracy "on the part of the Russians and others."

Who else took part in this conspiracy? For some reason, Todd didn't ask. But then, throughout the interview, which he aired in two parts, Todd spoke to Lewis as if Lewis were six years old.

Was Trump himself, or the Trump campaign, involved in the conspiracy Lewis alleged? For whatever reason, Todd never asked.

We have a relentlessly childish discourse. That said, Todd's exchange with Lewis was grown-up stuff compared with what happened when he spoke with Reince Priebus.

In the passage shown below, Priebus makes an inaccurate claim two times. Todd just sits there and takes it:
PRIEBUS: James Clapper, the intelligence community—I don't know if John Lewis knows more than they do, but they have concluded that there's no evidence that anything that was done in the course of this election by Russians, or whoever, changed the course of this election.
Say what? Clapper and the intelligence community "have concluded that there's no evidence that anything that was done in the course of this election by Russians changed the course of this election?"

Obviously, that statement by Priebus was false. When the IC issued its public report about the hacking, they explicitly said that they hadn't attempted to assess whether the Russian conduct affected electoral outcomes.

("We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election." They said this plain as day, right there on page i.)

Obviously, Priebus' statement was false. Seconds later, he said it again. When he did, Todd jumped in to issue a non-challenge challenge:
PRIEBUS: There is nothing here in regard to this issue and Russia—

TODD: Wait a minute.

PRIEBUS: —and all of the defense intelligence agencies have concluded that.

TODD: I'm just curious. when you say there's nothing here, there's—

PRIEBUS: I mean evidence that changed the outcome of the election.
Priebus' grammar doesn't parse, but in context, his meaning was perfectly clear. Priebus had said it two more times. The intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia's interference didn't change the outcome of the election.

This statement was false every time Priebus said it, but Todd just let it go. Here's where he took things from there:
TODD (continuing directly): You're talking—you're not disputing that there is a lot of evidence of Russia's attempts to interfere in the election?

PRIEBUS: I'm not disputing that the Russian entities hacked the DNC, but I am—I'm not going to go back to our interview of a few weeks ago. I am also going to say that when you don't have any defenses on your computer system and you basically hand over 50,000 emails, obviously, that makes it a whole lot easier...

TODD: OK, but Mr. Priebus, does that excuse a foreign government from attempting to interfere in the United States election?
Sad! Priebus agreed that Russians did hack the DNC. He agreed that this behavior was wrong.

But he had also repeatedly said that the IC has concluded that this didn't change the outcome of the election. That repeated statement was false, but Todd just let it go.

In fairness, Todd is hardly alone. Last night, Don Lemon and two of CNN's liberal hacks let the same statement by a Trump hack go unchallenged. Last week, Jon Meacham let the statement go unchallenged when it was made by Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe.

It's an RNC/Trump talking point. The stars are letting it go.

What does John Lewis actually think? Todd didn't bother to ask. Subsequently, he let a glaring repeated misstatement by Priebus go unchallenged.

The world of our public discourse is an extremely childish world. On the bright side, many stars are receiving millions of bucks for their roles in this silly charade.

CONWAYISM AND BABEL: Always willing to make the next ludicrous claim!


Part 2—The essence of Conwayism:
What actually happened the day before Kellyane Conway's tiff with Anderson Cooper?

Conway's absurd performance during that tiff created an instant Babel. Her performance showcased the essence of Conwayism, an offshoot of the better-known rhetorical form, Trumpism.

What actually happened on Tuesday, January 10, triggering this giant tiff? Thank you for asking:

First, CNN aired a breathless report about Donald J. Trump's intelligence briefing the week before. Then, BuzzFeed published a 35-page document—a document full of unverified claims about that same Donald J. Trump.

According to CNN, a two-page summary of this document had been presented to Trump, in some manner or form, during or after the intelligence briefing. After CNN made this report, BuzzFeed went ahead and published the full dossier.

Did Donald J. Trump have reason to fault CNN for its slightly breathless report? Did he have reason to fault the unnamed "U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings" who had served as CNN's sources?

Did he have reason to fault BuzzFeed for publishing the dossier? These are perfectly sensible questions, but all such matters were obscured by the crazy burst of Conwayism with which Cooper was confronted on Wednesday, January 11.

Kellyanne Conway is, at present, Trump's most aggressive spokesperson. In our view, she could have made some reasonable, limited complaints about CNN's report from the day before.

At present, there's no apparent reason to believe any of the unverified claims in the 35-page dossier. As best we can tell, one of the claims in that document instantly turned out to be false. The sexiest claim was so over-the-top that it recalled crazy unverified claims from the past, such as the claim in a number-one best-selling book that First Lady Hillary Clinton used drug paraphernalia for ornaments on the White House Christmas tree.

You'd pretty much have to be nuts to have believed something like that, but many people did believe it. In certain respects, the sexiest claim in the new dossier is almost as unlikely as that pathetic claim from the past.

Still, CNN adopted a slightly breathless air as it unveiled its new report. Here's the way Jake Tapper took the throw from Wolf during the 6 PM hour:
TAPPER (1/10/17): That's right, Wolf, a CNN exclusive.

CNN has learned that the nation's top intelligence officials gave information to president-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama last week about claims of Russian efforts to compromise president-elect Trump.

The information was provided as part of last week's classified intelligence briefings regarding Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 U.S. elections.

I have been working on this story with my colleagues Jim Sciutto, Evan Perez and Carl Bernstein. They all join me now.

Jim, let's walk through the basics here of what we know.

SCIUTTO: We will. To be clear, this has been an enormous team effort by my colleagues here and others at CNN.
For full transcript, click here.

Tapper and a cast of thousands announced that the "CNN exclusive" had resulted from "an enormous team effort" at CNN. Minutes later, Tapper introduced "the legendary Carl Bernstein, who also worked with the three of us on this story."

There was a hint of Oscar night as everyone on the team took his turn at the microphone, explaining the enormous team effort. And uh-oh! Getting way out over his skis, Sciutto was soon suggesting, wink wink wink, that the unverified claims in the dossier just might perhaps maybe be true:
SCIUTTO: The synopsis was considered so sensitive that it was not included in the classified report about Russian hacking that was more widely distributed, but rather in an annex only shared at the most senior levels of the government, this, of course, including President Obama, the president-elect and those eight congressional leaders.

But, Jake, we should also note that including this in these briefings given to the president and the president-elect, taking the time, while they are not verified, to take the time and include them in those very important meetings is a measure, gives a measure of at least importance to it. Not credence yet, because they haven't established it's factual. But you don't put that in there for no reason.
Wink wink, hint hint! These claims just may be true, Sciutto suggested. You don't put stuff like that in a briefing for no reason!

Sciutto didn't suggest a second possibility. He didn't suggest the possibility that the Intelligence Community included this material in the briefing, then leaked the fact that they had done so, as political payback to Donald J. Trump for the ridiculous insults he has thrown at the IC in recent weeks. Thoughts like this didn't seem to have entered the enormous team's head.

Our view? From the legendary Bernstein right on down, the CNN stars did seem to have their thumbs on the scale a tad during their somewhat breathless report. Even if all the narrow factual claims in CNN's report were accurate, it seems to us that Kellyanne Conway could have lodged a few basic complaints about the network's performance.

In our view, Kellyanne Conway could have lodged some sensible complaints about CNN's report. That said, Homey doesn't play it that way.

Conwayism has never been about the presentation of sensible observations, claims and complaints. Conwayism runs on a different fuel, and here's what it is:

The constant willingness to advance the next ridiculous claim.

Yesterday, we reviewed one striking part of Conway's performance with Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, January 11. Again and again and again and again, she kept insisting that CNN had linked to BuzzFeed's presentation of the unverified, 35-page dossier.

Almost everyone in the press corps agreed—BuzzFeed shouldn't have published the unverified collection of claims about Trump. Again and again and again and again, Conway kept insisting that CNN had linked to BuzzFeed's publication, making CNN just as guilty as BuzzFeed in this regard.

As far as we know, Conway's repeated claim was inaccurate, false, bogus, wrong. As far as we know, CNN didn't link to BuzzFeed's report, though the channel hasn't exactly broken its back to settle this apparently bogus claim in a definitive manner. (Again and again, our mainstream press corps doesn't run on facts.)

Again and again and again and again, Conway had made a cutting claim—a cutting claim which seems to have been false. That said, please understand today's basic point:

False claims are a common part of Conwayism, but they aren't its essence.

The essence of Conwayism is something slightly different. It's the willingness to advance a stream of ridiculous claims, no matter how ludicrous and absurd the various claims and complaints may be.

Conway has been practicing this culture since the mid-1990s. As she spoke with Cooper that night, she showcased this ludicrous culture in its purest form.

Even after she seemed to see that her claim about the link may have been wrong, she jumped from one ludicrous claim to another. In the process, she created a Babel—though she did so with Cooper's help.

Tomorrow, we'll look at some of the ludicrous claims Conway advanced that night. Gorilla dust was all around as her nonsense continued.

"Gorilla dust?" Ross Perot introduced the term into the political lexicon in 1992. We'll offer some background below.

That said, gorilla dust was all around as Conway created a Babel last Wednesday night. Increasingly, our public discourse functions this way.

People like Cooper help.

Tomorrow: No charge or complaint too absurd

What the heck is gorilla dust: Fortune magazine explained the term in 1987:

"Gorilla dust: When gorillas fight, they throw dust in the air to confuse each other." The magazine referred to Ross Perot as it offered this explanation.

Ross Perot commonly used the term within the political context. Within the political context, the term refers to the attempt to create massive confusion through distractions and asides, thereby eliminating the possibility of a clear discussion.

In 2011, White House press secretary Jay Carney used the term in a press briefing. Inevitably, the youngsters at the Washington Post had never heard the term.

Finally, one old-timer—he was 56—explained Perot's use of the term.

Conway threw plenty of dust during her pseudo-discussion with Cooper. In the process, she created our latest Babel.

Her crazy pseudo-discussion with Cooper produced plenty of heat but almost no light. More and more, this is the culture we've chosen.

Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, how much else sails over young journalists' heads? Youth may keep salary structures low, but it does have disadvantages.