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 be...in 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 Santorum.com!

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 “dogpeecantstopsantorum.com.”
And we set it up so when you go to “dogpeecantstopsantorum.com,” 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 “dogpeecantstopsantorum.com,” 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.

“Dogpeecantstopsantorum.com” 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: “Empathizseonyourbehind.com?” 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?

(CROSSTALK)

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.

MCKINNEY: OK.

MADDOW: Congratulation on your new jacket.

LAUGHTER, CLOSING GRAPHIC
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 “dogpeecantstopsantorum.com,” 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”

Supplemental: Can this possibly be true?

FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2015

The New York Times does it again:
At 10:25 this morning, Kevin Drum basically said that the Times had done it again.

The Times had written a front-page report about Candidate Clinton. The exciting report had opened with a startling claim:

“Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information....”

Say what? Two inspectors general had requested a criminal probe of Candidate Clinton? The claim sounded very dire. Then, as always, the story changed! The new version of the Times front-page report was suddenly starting like this:

“Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled....”

The alleged criminal probe was no longer centered on Clinton.

Drum thought this apparent bungle by the Times was worth a post all by itself. His post carried this headline:

“Hillary vs. the Press, Round One Million: The Times Screws Up a Scoop.”

Now, the story seems to have changed again! From the AP and the Washington Post on down, numerous news orgs are now reporting that no one ever requested a criminal probe at all.

You can forget your Times front page. Apparently, there never was a request for a criminal probe.

The New York Times defies belief. This has long been the case.

That said, a general code of silence has long surrounded this newspaper’s deeply peculiar workings. Within the guild, one doesn’t discuss the things the mighty New York Times does.

This morning, Kevin Drum did! We have his next headline for him right here:

“The New York Times vs. Clinton/Gore/Clinton, Round One Million and One.”

OUR SELECTIVE REPRESENTATIONS, OURSELVES: “Are race relations generally good?”

FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2015

Part 5—The sources of our perceptions:
This morning, in a front page report, the New York Times offers a fairly lazy assessment of an important topic.

The Times reports a new national survey concerning “race relations.” Under a gloomy headline, the paper offers an early attempt at analysis:
SACK AND THEE-BRENAN (7/23/15): Poll Finds Most in U.S. Hold Dim View of Race Relations

[...]

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President Obama took office said they believed that race relations were generally good.

The swings in attitude have been particularly striking among African-Americans. During Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, nearly 60 percent of blacks said race relations were generally bad, but that number was cut in half shortly after he won. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.
“Respondents tended to have much sunnier views of race relations in their own communities,” the Times reporters soon write.

Let’s consider the generalized gloom concerning the state of race relations in the nation. In particular, let’s consider “the swings in attitude among African-Americans,” which are said to be “particularly striking.”

According to the Times reporters, the number of blacks who say race relations are generally bad “has now soared to 68 percent.”

Why do they say the number has “soared?” The scribes seem to make that assessment by comparing current reactions by black respondents with the more upbeat reactions which were recorded in the aftermath of President Obama’s ascension to office.

In fact, the current number isn’t gigantically different from the gloomy reactions of black respondents during the 2008 campaign. The number hasn’t “soared” since then. The comparison which produced that exciting verb was perhaps a bit selective.

A bit selective, and less than instructive! We decided to see how that number has changed down through the years.

The Times is working with a limited number of surveys. Below, you see the way that number has changed in recent years, dating back to June 2000.

How have black respondents assessed “race relations” in the past fifteen years? We’re including all the surveys at the Times’ disposal:
Percentages saying race relations are “generally good” versus “generally bad,” black respondents only:
6/29/00: 51-40

4/2/08: 42-46
7/14/08: 29-59
4/26/09: 59-30
1/17/12: 55-37
8/11/12: 46-41
3/30/14: 55-40

5/1/14: 46-46
8/20/14: 44-48
12/9/14: 34-54
3/2/15: 32-58
5/3/15: 28-65
7/19/15: 28-68
Reviewing the larger set of data, we can see that negative assessments by black respondents actually have soared. But this change has largely occurred just within the last year!

As late as March 2014, black respondents were saying race relations were “generally good,” not “generally bad,” by a 55-40 margin.

By the August 2014 survey, a substantial change had occurred in the numbers. A steady move toward “generally bad” has continued from there.

Today, 68 percent of black respondents say race relations are “generally bad.” In truth, that number has pretty much “soared” just since the spring of last year!

Why has this change in outlook occurred? At the Times, the scribes were able to link a number from 1992 to the aftermath of the savage beating experienced by Rodney King. Their assessment of the current number is found in this paragraph:
SACK AND THEE-BRENAN: The nationwide telephone poll of 1,205 people, which focused on racial concerns, was conducted from July 14 to July 19, at the midpoint of a year that has seen as much race-related strife and violence as perhaps any since the desegregation battles of the 1960s. It came one month after the massacre of nine black worshipers at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., apparently by a white supremacist, and after a yearlong series of shootings and harassment of blacks by white police officers that were captured by smartphone cameras.
The implied explanation seems basically sensible. That said, the reporters fail to mention a high-profile event which wasn’t captured by smartphone cameras—the killing of Michael Brown in August 2014, a massively high-profile event which almost surely helps explain the way the numbers have turned.

(Beyond that, we’ll speculate: The May 2014 survey was being taken just as the ludicrous racial behavior of Donald Sterling entered the national discourse. It’s in that survey that the numbers take their initial turn.)

Should the numbers have taken the turn which began in 2014? There’s no objective way to answer that question. This survey question asks respondents, white and black, to offer their subjective assessments. There’s no objective way to determine if “race relations” are “generally good” or “generally bad.”

That said, the change which can be seen in those numbers drives home an important point. Americans’ basic views of the world may change based on the way they understand and perceive certain high-profile events.

The killing of Michael Brown is a significant case in point. In Wednesday’s report, we noted the way a grandiose writer at Salon still doesn’t seem to have heard about the Justice Department’s assessment of that event.

Alas! Back in March, we liberals worked hard—we worked very hard—to keep the public from learning what the Justice Department had said. Four months later, a ludicrous article at Salon was showing us the fruits of our conduct, in which we happily showed the world that we may perhaps be less than obsessively honest about such freighted events.

The killing of Michael Brown was a very high-profile event. We’ve been struck by the role it plays in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new book, which we’ve been reading in the past several days.

We’ll be discussing Coates’ book at some point, most likely starting next week. At first blush, it strikes us as stunningly good as a personal memoir, stunningly bad as an attempt at social analysis.

The killing of Brown plays a significant, recurrent role in the book. If you blink, you might miss the disguised disclaimer which seems to occur quite late in its 152 pages.

As a matter of fact, you might miss Coates’ disclaimer even if you don’t blink! Can you discern the disguised disclaimer which seems to be administered here?
COATES (page 131): Michael Brown did not die as so many of his defenders supposed. And still the questions behind the questions are never asked. Should assaulting an officer of the state be a capital offense, rendered without trial, with the officer as judge and executioner? Is that what we wish civilization to be?
For the record, we can answer Coates’ questions:

We don’t think assaulting an officer “should be a capital offense, rendered without trial, with the officer as judge and executioner.” That isn’t what we wish civilization to be.

That said, how many readers will understand the disclaimer which seems to occur in that passage, in which Coates obscurely says that Brown didn’t “die as so many of his defenders supposed?”

How many readers will understand what that statement seems to mean? How many readers will see Coates saying what he seems to say as he continues—that Brown “assaulted” that “officer of the state” before he was killed, which is what the Justice Department judged in its official report?

That seems to be what Coates has said, although he says it in a way which seems intended to keep his meaning hidden. Is that what we wish civilization to be? We’ll go with Coates’ own question!

So-called race lies at the heart of our nation’s brutal history. Thanks to the legacy we’ve been handed, it lies at the heart of endless interactions, policies and decisions today.

Belief in “race” is one of the many poisoned gifts our benighted ancestors crafted for us. For whatever reason, our own exalted liberal tribe began inventing selective representations of racial events in the spring of 2012, after Trayvon Martin was killed.

We’ll guess that the killing of Martin played a role in the change in black responses, as shown above, between the Times surveys of January 2012 and August 2012. We’ll assume that the killing of Brown has played a central role in the change in responses since August of last year.

In those changing numbers, we discern a basic fact. It actually matters how people understand and perceive such high-profile events as the deaths of Martin and Brown. Rather plainly, our tribe has invented and disappeared facts concerning both events.

Unless we’re mistaken in our understanding, Coates has perhaps been less than obsessively frank and forthcoming at times concerning both these events. Conceivably, a person could make similar complaints about his discussion of the fatal shooting of Prince Jones in September 2000, another key event in his book.

“Michael Brown did not die as so many of his defenders supposed?” Very few readers will understand what Coates is saying there—and in the paragraph which precedes it, he offers a scripted, hackneyed explanation of the reason for Martin’s death.

In our view, Coates has written a brilliant personal memoir. We’re not sure why a person of his caliber can’t give other people plainer, simpler, more accurate versions of basic external facts.

That said, our entire liberal tribe has headed down this road in recent years. We used to howl about Rush and Sean’s endless misstatements. We roared in anger when Keith would complain, dissembling in ways which weren’t disclosed, about BillO’s dissembling!

By now, our tribe seems strongly inclined to carry the purple robes draped behind Rush and Sean. Bring Keith back, we cry in comments to this piece. We loved his inaccurate tales!

There’s more to say about all these topics. That includes those statistics in the Washington Post about fatal shootings by police.

What can we learn from those very large numbers? We’ll continue such topics next week.