ALL ROADS LEAD TO BIAS: Losing the thread!

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2014

A postponement: In our view, this has been a remarkable week.

We were especially struck by Monday night’s Maddow Show. In particular, we were struck by the exchanges between Maddow and John Wisniewski, co-chair of the New Jersey Assembly’s investigation into the Fort Lee lane closings.

Maddow was expanding the list of people she wants to see drawn and quartered. We felt her list of wanted posters was moving well beyond the state of the facts in this case—and Maddow has been rather selective in the facts she has chosen to report.

What was actually behind those ludicrous lane closings? The truth is still a long way off, but cable wants its conclusions right now.

That is the business model of cable, and Maddow is all business.

We were almost shocked by some of the exchanges between Maddow and Wisniewski. We were especially troubled by some of the things Wisniewski said.

We thought Monday night was as bad a night as we’ve ever seen on cable, and that’s going back a long way. In the process of sorting this matter out, we’ve pretty much lost the thread of the series we’d planned for this week.

When scandal stories reach critical mass, the misdirections are pretty much everywhere. When that happens, it’s very hard to keep up with the poop.

There were times in the twenty-month war against Gore when the bullroar was overwhelming. This week has seemed like that.

Tomorrow, we’ll try to sift that Maddow segment to tell you why we found it troubling. For our money, we thought Wisniewski was starting to flirt with plain old dishonesty for the first time since he became the legislative face of these events.

Meanwhile, Maddow was extending her witch hunts in a way we thought was very bad. Assuming the worst of the Christie crowd, we’ll have to say she seems quite a bit like them.

It may turn out that Christie has behaved very badly in the Fort Lee matter (or not). However Christie’s conduct shakes out, the conduct of the press corps in this matter has reached a critical mass.

These are very puzzling people—they’re very inept, and not very honest. It’s been this way for a very long time. The guild has agreed not to notice.

39 comments:

  1. "For our money, we thought Wisniewski was starting to flirt with plain old dishonesty for the first time since he became the legislative face of these events."

    Oh yeah, it's just media criticism here at TDH.

    "It may turn out that Christie has behaved very badly in the Fort Lee matter (or not)."

    Christie has already fired some aides and spent 2 hours telling the nation how saddened he was the the whole thing. So it's not really up in the air at this point. The only question is how badly it can be proved that Christie behaved.

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  2. Bob surely you realize that this investigation has expanded well beyond the Ft. Lee bridge closing to an allegation that Hurricane Sandy aid was withheld from cities in retribution for not endorsing Christie. For some reason Maddow makes you see red and lose it. You don't seem to be able to admit that she was right and you were wrong when you said there was nothing there, that the Ft. Lee thing was minor and not worth investigating or bothering with. Those weren't your exact words, but that's the sense of what you said.

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    1. Erin managed to type a 9-line paragraph without addressing Bob's argument. She said, in short, "allegations are being made about Sandy too!".

      Stay focused, commenters.

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    2. Erin,

      So TDH was wrong when he said there was "nothing there," that the traffic jam was "minor," and the whole thing was "not worth investigating or bothering with"? Oh, wait, he didn't write those things.

      Please allow me to heap contempt on your head. You couldn't be bothered to quote TDH? Why is that? What he said on December 16th was that the scandal was "massively ginned up" and that Darlin' Rachel's reporting tells us "nothing about the substance of this currently pointless story."

      Now, I happen to think that TDH underestimated the size and seriousness of Bridgegate, but given what we knew in December, the story was ginned up. That doesn't mean the story wouldn't have legs. And if TDH erred in counting the story pointless, he nevertheless was criticizing Darlin' Rachel for too much hype and not enough accuracy.

      And there was nothing -- repeat: nothing -- about the story being not worth investigation.

      But I'll have to give you points for chutzpah in coming on this blog and excusing your mischaracterized paraphrases because you think you got right the "sense" of things.

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    3. "but given what we knew in December, the story was ginned up."

      What was already out in public in December, when Bob called the thing not just "ginned-up" but "massively ginned-up" was Foye's red-hot e-mail (obtained by the WSJ in early October), the testimony of Baroni, Fulton, Durando and Foye, and the resignations of Baroni and Wildstein.

      Yep, no "there" there. Time to call Maddow a "partisan hack" for paying attention to this story.

      "he nevertheless was criticizing Darlin' Rachel for too much hype and not enough accuracy."

      Not enough accuracy? Maddow has been right on this particular story far more often than Bob.


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    4. Anonymous @7:57A,

      I have no objections to anyone pointing out that TDH underestimated the importance of Bridgegate. I do, however, object to Erin's paraphrasing TDH to the effect that he didn't think the matter worth investigating.

      I have no objections to anyone pointing out that TDH has been, er, shall we say "intemperate"? when it comes to characterizing Maddow. I do, however, object to your characterizing Darlin' Rachel as "right" on this particular story with regard to TDH's criticisms. Her shows have been disgraceful hype for the most part. TDH is not objecting to Darlin' Rachel for "paying attention" to the story but to the manner in which that attention is delivered.

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  3. TDH masters the titillation form of headline so popular on the Web now: how did Wisniewski come flirt with lying? How outrageous was Maddow this time? Tune in tomorrow.

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  4. Somerby didn't say there was nothing there or that the Ft. Lee thing was minor. Those not only weren't his exact words, they weren't the sense of his posts either. His posts were about not jumping to conclusions in the absence of evidence. This blog is about not participating in witch hunts.

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    1. Well, shall we examine Somerby's actual words?

      "By now, there can be little doubt. Rachel Maddow is an official party-line, partisan hack.

      "She’ll fill your head full of stupid shazam. Last Friday night, the current episode continued.

      "Good God! Once again, Maddow opened her show with a 17-minute segment about Chris Christie and the traffic lanes leading onto the George Washington Bridge.

      "She could have been discussing something that actually matters—the interests of low-income children, let’s say."

      -----

      "Finally, she got to the “issue” at hand—the massively ginned-up controversy about lane closings at the George Washington Bridge and Christie’s so far non-existent role in same."

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    2. It was all too true though.

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    3. Isn't it obvious that even if everything about Christie turns out to be true, including Sandy hurrican shenanigans, it is stll less important than the interests of low-income children, or the vote about Iran sanctions, or what is happening with the economy this week, or reducing the disparity in incomes in our country, etc. A few people in NJ were made late for work due to political in-fighting by someone who might run for president in two years. This matters, but how can that not be considered far less important than any number of more pressing issues? There doesn't have to be "nothing there" or "trivial issues" for this whole Christie thing to be much less important than many other issues.

      I don't understand what you trolls are so upset about. Somerby is saying pretty obvious things here.

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    4. 7:14, If BOB thinks there are more important things to discuss, why doesn't he discuss them?

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    5. "...it is stll less important than the interests of low-income children, or the vote about Iran sanctions, or what is happening with the economy this week, or reducing the disparity in incomes in our country, etc."

      All issues well covered in the "media" especially if you broaden your scope beyond the NYT and MSNBC to include media in the 21st Century.

      But Bob has chosen to live in a large pile of horseshit of his own creation, then conclude that the entire universe must be made out of horseshit.

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  5. S'matter, did Maddow say the closed lanes were on the bridge?

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    1. Maddow attribute redacted emails to whoever best fits her narrative. She conflates statements made by Christie's staff with Christie personally. She apparently cannot tell the difference between an untrue statement and a deliberate lie. She uses Foye's statement that he didn't know why the lanes were closed and didn't know of any traffic study as damning evidence that everything Baroni said in his testimony was a fabricated cover story. She then accuses attorney Kwan of coaching Baroni to tell the story. At one point she refers to his testimony, saying "which we know was a false cover story." Then she introduces Wisniewski to back up everything she said, proving that he is far from an impartial investigator. Throughout she refers to Wildstein as a Chris Christie ally and she doesnt' seem to be able to tell the difference between things Christie said and things his "people" sent out as email to discredit Wildstein. Go read the transcript yourself.

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    2. A perfect recitation of Somerby's pleasing tale. Congratulations.

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    3. And yet this didn't come from Somerby but from the transcript of Maddow's show. Go figure!

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    4. I read the same transcript, anonymouses 3:27 and :36

      Who did she list as wanting drawn and quartered?

      That is the only substance in this post.

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    5. I found myself wondering how she could suggest so strongly that Kwan had coached Baroni and still not be sued for defamation. Knowingly concocting a cover story in public testimony would get an attorney disbarred, and I don't think it matters that it wasn't sworn testimony. Any attorneys can please correct me if I am wrong. How can Maddow assert that without any evidence except the tenuous statement by Foye? But MS-NBC's attorneys must have approved her, right? Or are pundits allowed to say such things?

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    6. It is a shame Maddow used Foye's testimony as damning evidence. I mean she could have used Fulton's, the head of Bridges and Tunnels for the PA.
      Or she could have used Durando's, head of the damn GW Bridge itself. Or she could have trotted out the internal e-mail indicating Wildstein wasn't looking for the data on EZ pass addresses central to Baroni's testimony until after the closures and the media started snoopping around.

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    7. Please, anonymous 3:27, tell us the difference between things Christie said and things his "people" sent out as email to discredit Wildstein.

      Since Maddow could not, surely you can.

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    8. Anon 357,

      The coaching of Baroni is from a WSJ piece by Ted Mann:
      http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303442704579359122606230960?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303442704579359122606230960.html

      I guess the WSJ is just another arm of MSNBC.

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    9. That Durando or Fulton said they wouldn't do a study the way Wildstein did, doesn't mean there was no study. It also does not prove the study was a cover story. It just means the study was unprofessional, casual, or incompetent. Maddow doesn't have the evidence to justify concluding it was a cover story and go from there to speculating about how many people were in on devising the testimony given by Baroni. Neither does Mann. Are you suggesting that she cannot be sued because Mann and the WSJ said it first?

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    10. You are flailing, 7:18.

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    11. Anon 718,

      No, Maddow could not likely be successfully sued. My understanding is that Baroni is a public figure with regard to his function at the Port Authority, so Baroni would have to show that Maddow somehow knew that Mann's work was false at the time she did her show.




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    12. Watch a few more shows.

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  6. I think MSNBC is attempting to disprove the adage "The more you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets."

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    1. Bob disproved it in the War on Gore. Journalistically.

      Doesn't keep him from running it up the flagpole every other post to see if the rubes salute.

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    2. The more you run over a dead pig, the flatter it gets.

      Doesn't this apply to Maddow, since she seems incapable of coming up with content for her show that does not involve Christie?

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    3. Now that's odd because the Rachel Maddow Show I saw last night had segments on a marriage equality ruling expected in Virginia, the West Virginia chemical spill, and a cockeyed proposal in Oklahoma to ban all marriages if they have to recognize gay ones.

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    4. So what are you saying Anon: 7:53? Maddow still doesn't care about black kids?

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    5. You know, I recall Bob sometime in the early 00s announcing he was going to turn The Daily Howler into an education blog.

      Then he found out he really didn't have all that much to say, and his audience quickly grew bored and moved away to more interesting blogs and Web sites that were springing up all over the place.

      So Bob abandoned the idea and went back to beating on his favorite media targets, calling that "criticism."

      So I guess Bob doesn't care that much about black kids either.

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  7. "In the process of sorting this matter out, we’ve pretty much lost the thread of the series we’d planned for this week."

    BOB seems to be saying the talented Ms. Ripley got a free run for a week over at Talking Points memo. BOB was too busy ferreting in the pig stye looking for subhuman droog excrement that black kids of America got abused unrebutted for a week.

    I wonder how black kid coverage fared during the awful times in the War on Gore.

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  8. OMB

    Robert Durando, general manager of the George Washington Bridge, has testified that data was collected during the days when the Fort Lee access lanes were closed. This is meaningless. It was tolls data, which is collected routinely every day. The fact that this is the only data that was collected is evidence against the the notion that there was a real traffic study being conducted, not evidence for it.

    KZ

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    1. Again, no one claims this was a "real" traffic study. Toll data would presumably be sufficient to figure out whether traffic improved on the bridge at the expense of Fort Lee. As TDH points out, it may be ruse or a hoax to claim that this data (or something else) was used to figure out things about traffic lanes.

      But no one is claiming there was a "real" traffic study.

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    2. You are correct, deadrat. What Bob is merely claiming is that the mountain of evidence before him and the rest of the world is insufficient to him to "disprove" the notion that exists only in his head that this was a real "traffic study."

      Fashioning that silly idea into what he thought was a club, he tried to beat Rachel Maddow in particular with that over and over and over again.

      Now he seems to be on to the critical point of how well Christie and Wildstein knew each other in high school.

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    3. Q: What's the difference between a George Washington Bridge Troll and a George Washington Bridge Toll?

      A: You only have to put up the GWB tolls half the time.

      TDH does not claim that whatever Wildstein was up to might have been a "real" traffic study.

      No matter how many times you claim he does.

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  9. Mr. Somerby seems to have got extremely bitter (and perhaps jealous?) in his old age. Sad.

    Speaking of the "traffic study":

    http://firedoglake.com/2014/01/25/come-saturday-morning-how-the-experts-know-christies-traffic-study-excuse-is-bogus/

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