Part 3—Along with a long line of others: Yesterday, we discussed Monday night's Maddow Show. What occurred on the program last night?
Last night, the award-winning show was basically all Alex van der Zwaan all the time. The opening segment about the young hunk burned roughly 21 minutes. Two subsequent segments—one with Paul Fishman, one with Ken Vogel—added a combined 9:37 to the van der Zwaan total time.
Maddow closed with another 4:49 about the maddening conduct of the Russkies. Along the way, she did 3:04 about Jared Kushner's security clearance conundrum.
As such, the program was largely about van der Zwaag, completely about The Chase.
It isn't clear that there's anything "wrong" with programming like that. Indeed, the programming would make perfect sense if MSNBC was The Legal Minutia Channel which, in theory, it isn't.
(In theory, even Court TV no longer exists In 2008, it became TruTV, a place for "reality shows.")
At this point, the Maddow Show concerns itself with little except The Chase. That's true of MSNBC prime time generally, but it's especially true at 9 PM, a place of ratings success.
Last evening, Maddow went into her usual overwhelming detail about All Things Van Der Zwaan. In this morning's Washington Post, the topic rated a full-length news report on page A2 (1026 words). On last evening's Maddow Show, it was Attorney van der Zwaan pretty much all the way down.
Is there anything "wrong" with this diet? We would say there pretty much is. For starters, we would point to the way it makes the rest of the world go away, not excluding the fascinating, reality-drenched world of Patrisse Khan-Cullors.
Who the Sam Hill is Patrisse Khan-Cullors? Your question makes our point! Khan-Cullors, who was then Patrisse Cullors, is one of the three founders of Black Lives Matter. Also, she's the author of a new book which was on the New York Times best-seller list on two recent Sundays, falling off this past week.
Over Here in our pseudolib tents, we pretend to care about Black Lives Matter—indeed, about such lives. If a young person gets shot and killed, though only by police, we start inventing and bruiting false facts about what occurred to prove how much we care.
For better or worse, that seems to be the exetnt of our investment. Rachel serves us porridge each night about The Chase after Donald J. Trump. You'll never see Khan-Cullors on the corporate liberal goddess' program. Nor will you see the issues which animate Khan-Cullors' book get discussed.
The Maddow Show is our tribal playpen. Khan-Cullors and such can suck air.
We became aware of Khan-Cullors' book as we relaxed with the analysts two Sundays ago, enjoying a long, leisurely day of C-Span 2. Khan-Cullors did the full hour on After Words, interviewed by Toure.
To watch that program, click here.
Toure didn't do the greatest job; like almost everyone else, he's not a professional interviewer. We heard a lot of things that hour which didn't exactly seem to make sense, but we were struck by Khan-Cullors' tremendously cheerful demeanor.
The combination of these forcings led us to skim her book, and good grief! Early on, we ran headlong into the passage shown below.
Khan-Cullots grew up in low-income/impoverished L.A. At the start of this passage, she's referring to an incident with that city's police when her older brothers were 13 and 11:
KHAN-CULLORS (page 15): I will not think of this particular incident until years later, when the reports about Mike Brown start flowing out of Ferguson, Missouri, and he is morphed by police and the press from a beloved 18-year-old boy, a boy who was heading to college and a boy who was unarmed, into something like King Kong, an entity swollen, monster-like, that could only be stopped with bullets that were shot into the top of his head. Because that is what this cop did to him. He shot bullets into the top of his head as he knelt on the ground with his hands up.Good grief! Khan-Cullors had already described Trayvon Martin in the standard way. She'd mentioned the Skittles and the iced tea while mentioning nothing else.
But that description of Michael Brown's death seemed to take the cake. It seemed to us that it had been years since we'd seen anyone continue the "kneeling with his hands up" imagery. The additional image implied in that passage—the image of the policeman standing over Michael Brown shooting down into "the top of his head"—seemed to take this imagery farther than we'd ever seen it taken.
Other parts of Khan-Cullors' book take the tools of selective reporting about as far as we've seen them taken. We recommend the anecdote she tells on pages 171-172, in which a young man she's mentoring ends up in the L.A. County jail, then received a ten-year prison sentence, even though "in fact no one was physically hurt, although I'm sire they were terrified."
As best we can tell, Khan-Cullors seems to be describing an armed robbery in the passage in question. It's amazing to see how far she goes to avoid making her meaning clear.
We find a lot that's puzzling in Khan-Cullors' book. Because the bulk of the book make us admire and wonder about her spirit, we've decided to blame these incidents on asha bandele, her co-author.
That said, you can see Khan-Cullors on that C-Span tape telling Toure that Sandra Bland "was killed in that jail cell, there's no way she committed suicide...it's my opinion she was dead before they fashioned that noose and put it on her. And that's unfortunately common." She bases this theory on her claim that many women are being murdered before they are hung inside a certain women's prison in California. (On the tape, this conversations atarts around minute 31.)
We've googled the topic and read the reports. We find no one making any such claim about the suicides in question, not even prisoner rights' groups. You'll see Toure make no attempt to question any of this, though interviewing on the fly is a difficult task.
Given these apparent problems, why do we, heartily, recommend Khan-Cullors' book? We do so because of Khan-Cullors herself, because of her strong spirit and spirituality, but also because of the topics with which she's long been engaged.
She has long been engaged with important topics. You will never see these topics discussed on The Rachel Maddow Show, or on MSNBC generally.
With what sorts of topics is Khan-Cullors engaged? Consider her remarkable claim about California prisons:
KHAN-CULLORS (page 44): In 1986 when I am three years old Ronald Reagan energizes the drug war that was started in 1971 by Richard Nixon by further militarizing the police in our communities, which swells the number of Black and Latinx men who are incarcerated. Between 1982 and 2000, the number of people locked up in the state of California grows by 500 percent.Could that statistic be accurate? The leading authority on this topic states that very statistic in this award-winning report. Back in 2016, PolitiFact fact-checked a statement by Cory Booker and offered this overview concerning the nation's prisons:
POLITIFACT (7/10/16): A spokesman said Booker’s statistic comes from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy organization. It says the current incarcerated population is 2.2 million—including federal prisons, state prisons and local jails—which is a 500 percent growth over the past 40 years.Obviously, this topic isn't unique to Khan-Cullors. But her discussions of prison culture seem to be informed by years of work in the area, and by experience with the incarceration of family members and loved ones. Our only point is this:
Experts told us that the Sentencing Project’s statistics are credible.
The state and federal prison population grew from 218,466 in 1974 to 1,508,636 in 2014, which is a nearly 600 percent increase. For comparison, the overall United States population has increased just 51 percent since 1974.
The state and federal prison population remained fairly stable through the early 1970s, until the war on drugs began. Since then, it has increased sharply every year, particularly when Reagan expanded the policy effort in the 1980s, until about 2010.
This isn't a topic which gets discussed on The Rachel Maddow Show. On the Maddow Show, you get to enjoy The Chase at this point and you get little else. You receive the joy of The Chase, and the rest of the world goes away.
Regarding Khan-Cullots herself, we think the tone of her book is deeply fascinating. We dislike the apparent propaganda. We're deeply struck by the person in whose name it's offered.
Her relentless discussions of family and love remind us of the early Dr. King, the young author who was so in love with "the love ethic of Jesus." What a shame that Khan-Cullors can't be on your TV screen, to better to make room for the latest pointless discussion with Michael Beschloss.
Khan-Cullors talks about the lives of low-income urban kids in the same sort of way Ta-Nehisi Coates did in his award-winning book. That said, we don't care about those kids, and we never have.
Patrisse Khan-Cullors is only one of the people you won't see on The One True Channel. Mass incarceration is only one such topic.
We're currently being sold The Chase, an entertaining tribal porridge which is ratings gold. It makes us feel very good inside, and it makes the world go away.
Tomorrow: Among the missing