DITTOHEAD WATCH: What makes Maddow’s conduct so strange?


Chapter 3 of a disordered tale: We’ve often wondered why Rachel Maddow takes such liberties with the truth—and with the most basic norms of journalistic and intellectual functioning.

As we said Tuesday, this new profile of Maddow in Rolling Stone may start to suggest an answer. Tomorrow, we’ll review two other recent episodes which made the analysts marvel at Maddow.

For today, we thought we’d add a few more thoughts to what we wrote on Tuesday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/3/12).

That profile struck us as very strange. Here’s why:

The profile is built around a recent incident in which Maddow made an error. On April 29, she appeared on Meet the Press. She said women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for doing the same or equal work.

She said this several times.

Alex Castellanos challenged Maddow’s presentation. As the debate unfolded that week, he too made some inaccurate statements about this policy matter. But Maddow’s basic assertion was mistaken:

In fact, no one claims that the “77 cents on the dollar” statistic is a measure of discrimination. No expert claims that women are underpaid to that anywhere near that extent, as compared to men, for the same or equal work.

Maddow made a mistake that day. Indeed, the expert she brought on her show the next night implicitly said that she'd been mistaken. But she did so in such a jumbled way that few viewers may have realized.

(Elites tend to cover for other elites. “Of course, these numbers from BLS and Census Bureau are not really talking about discrimination,” the expert told Maddow that night. This meant that Maddow’s statements on Meet the Press wrong. But this expert's fuller discussion was so jumbled that few viewers may have realized.)

Maddow made a mistake on Meet the Press. We humans make mistakes all the time! Castellanos also made mistaken statements as the week proceeded—although, on a purely statistical basis, his basic claim seemed to be closer to the truth than Maddow’s original claim was.

Rachel Maddow made a mistake—unless you listen to Maddow! That next night, on her own show, she said she still couldn’t understand why someone might want to challenge her point. (She said she had “spent a long time going through the Republican side of this argument today just trying to understand how you could look at these very blunt numbers and come up with the opposite truth.”)

She said she still couldn’t understand why someone might want to challenge her claim. But the simplest fact-check would have shown her what was wrong with her presentation on Meet the Press. On its face, it’s hard to believe that she wasn’t perhaps pretty much lying by then.

On her own program, Maddow doubled down on her own erroneous claim from the day before. In the new profile in Rolling Stone, she gets a third chance to clarify this matter—and she triples down on her position, even harder this time. At no point in the profile does she note that she made a mistake. Even worse, she how seems to be saying that Castellanos “lied” when he challenged her (erroneous) claim.

It isn’t enough to say that he was wrong in certain ways, just as Maddow herself was wrong. If you challenge Maddow, you can’t be wrong:

It has to be said that you lied.

We know, we know—the representations in the profile belong to its author, Ben Wallace-Wells, not to Maddow herself. It may be that Wallace-Wells introduced the topic of that discussion with Castellanos. It may have been his point of interest.

But by now, Maddow surely understands that her claim on Meet the Press was mistaken. That said, there isn’t the slightest sign that she said any such thing to Wallace-Wells. Instead, she seems to have shared with him, on a word-for-word basis, the wonderful thoughts that went through her head when she instantly realized that Castellanos was “lying.”

This is amazingly dishonest conduct—but Maddow does this stuff all the time. For quite some time, we’ve wondered why.

Granted, we liberal ditto-heads cheer her on. But why does she engage in such deeply disordered conduct?

We’ve wondered about that for a long time. As she triples down on this latest bad act, Wallace-Wells’ fuller profile may start to help us see why.

Tomorrow: Brown and Bain


  1. "She said women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for doing the same or equal work."


    Stop telling us what she said! We can think for ourselves!

    Maddow is on the side of the angels!

    If she said that (and that's a big if) then either: she's actually right whatever the facts, or else what matters isn't being right but having the best intentions. Which she has.

    Personally I never watch Maddow, and don't know anyone who does. So I bet she never said that.

    Or if she did, she's right about it.

    Or if she's wrong, so what? You have to admit, calling Rachel Maddow wrong is a pretty right-wing thing to do!!

    But as I said, I never watch her. I just come here to defend her against the facts. I mean, against Somerby. Sorry.


    1. "what matters isn't being right but having the best intentions."

      Um, no. The Road to Hell and all that.

      "Which she has."

      Intentions can't be observed, so you are just guessing.

    2. Someone doesn't recognize satire...

    3. Oh, it was *that* "Anonymous". ((blush))

  2. So there is a wage gap just not "for the same doing the same or equal work." Or is there a wage gap "for the same or equal work" just not 23 cents on the dollar.

    Or is there no wage gap at all?

    So how does this "lie" become "liberal ditto-heads cheer her on". Which ones?

    I don't buy into your idea that Rachel Maddow is this super influential person you make her out to be.

    1. There is a wage gap for doing the same or equal work. It is difficult to measure but experts believe it is around 5% (i.e. women get paid about 95% of what men get paid for same or equal work). (See wikipedia)

      There is a general wage gap of 23% (i.e. women who work full time get paid 77% of what men who work full time get paid). (see wikipedia)

      Maddow used the latter statistic but incorrectly claimed it was the former. Castellanos called her out.

      This is significant because a 5% wage gap is not nearly as urgent-sounding a problem as a 23% wage gap.

      Since then, Maddow has refused to retract and has called Castellanos a liar.

      What troubles me is that Maddow clearly made a mistake. It was obviously unintentional. Yet instead of simply acknowledging that she misspoke, she doubles down, pretends to be mystified that Castellanos could dispute her and calls him a liar.

    2. Anyone who has their own cable show and frequently appears on "Meet the Press" is, by definition, an influential person as millions of people actually listen to what she has to say. She can certainly influence swing voters to think that liberals are morons if they catch her spouting manifest bullcrap. Take the Zimmerman/Martin case. She repeated virtually every piece of misinformation touted by her and her liberal pals to "prove" that Zimmerman attacked Martin and issued no retractions or apologies or said anything really since the case started falling apart and her "facts" have been shown to be made-up horse manure. His nose was broken. The police kept his gun and his clothes. He was taken in for questioning. The police recommended that he be prosecuted. He stayed put after the police told him not to follow Martin. His relationship with the Sanford PD was presumably dicey seeing as the racist bastard Zimmerman stood up for a black homeless guy he felt the police had wronged. The list goes on.

      I'm not sure if Maddow got every one of them wrong but she got a whole lot of them wrong clearing indicating her conviction in Zimmerman's guilt. Thanks for helping the Republicans, Rache.

      And this from a person who has lectured us on how important her integrity is to her. Way to go, kid.

      The 77-cent-gap claim is flagrantly misleading. Men work longer hours, take greater risks, work at jobs that are more lucrative but less existentially satisfying and get killed on the job at only eleven times the rate women do. I don't see how screaming victim w/o taking into account such mitigating factors can do anything but make Republicans tremble, can you?

    3. Score one point for "I don't watch her and I don't know anyone who does."

      Try to digest these facts:

      *Of course, there is a gender wage gap.

      *Of course, part of the gender wage gap is due to gender discrimination.

      *Part of the gender wage gap is due to other factors, factors that are not gender-discrimination.

      *Yes, there is almost surely a gender gap even for "same or equal work." (The study in question wasn't even close to looking at this issue, though.)

      *None of the above facts justify claiming that the study's gender wage gap of 23 cents on the dollar is about "same or equal work." It isn't.

      *None of the above facts justify claiming that the study's gender wage gap of 23 cents on the dollar is entirely (or even mostly) due to gender-based discrimination. It isn't.

      *Maddow made exactly those claims, stood by it, and shouted down all criticism.

      Given that, wouldn't it be more sensible to say:

      "Yes, Rachel Maddow has a lot of viewers -- Certainly more people are paying attention to her than to Bob Somerby. It is therefore a damn shame that she seems to be so cavalier about the facts."

  3. Maybe satire should be left to the professionals, in any event; these threads are getting too bitchy. I have not been able to truly respect Maddow since her conduct in the 2008 primary, and it's too bad, because She on occasion does good work. Just as Pat Bucannon always did when caught in a lie, She amps up the volume, starts blathering, and brazens it out. This is the kind of narcissism that sends you to the top in America, and that, as they say, is show business. I happen to be around (though not in line) at a signing of her recent book. Some in line struck me as fan types who might not even read the thing; some quite the opposite. And that's good, because the book is worthwhile, perhaps even important.

  4. Read this Bob and get an education on something you think you know all about but don't. Bob, by whinging on and on this matter- which you apparently as as guilty as you like to claim Maddow, et all are, you sound like the ignorant fauxgressives "dudebros" on Kos:


    Maddow was a far sight closer to the truth than you are so certain you are. For once Maddow actually stood up for a real feminist issue and you jump to the defense of a misogynist right wing who was just as ignorant as you apparently are on pay equality. Oh but I guess it's the same old stuff we saw in 2008- "Bros not..." (you know the ending, it was all over Kos in 2008...)

    1. According to that document's executive summary:

      "In this analysis the portion of the pay gap that remains unexplained after all other factors are taken into account is 5 percent one year after graduation and 12 percent 10 years after graduation. These unexplained gaps are evidence of discrimination."

      12 cents on the dollar, not 23.

      But even here, one has to be more careful than you probably want to be.

      The authors *still* are not talking about "same or equal work" when they say "after all other factors are taken into account."

      That's because one of the factors they can't take into account is that many fields/jobs are dominated by men and it isn't possible to compare "equal" positions.

      And, yes, of course, *duh* -- one reason why that's true is because of discrimination. But it isn't the *only* reason.

      That, in part, is why the authors (but not you, or Maddow) are careful to say "These unexplained gaps are evidence of discrimination," rather than saying they are entirely due to discrimination.


      So, in a different study the number is much less than what Rachel prefers to quote. And even that number is not "same or equal work."

    2. I've been in the work force long enough to at least question this. A position for a job pays X amount..Doesnt matter if it is a man or woman who takes the job, that is the pay and that is the law. What are all these "jobs" where they can pay a woman less than a man?

  5. Reductio ad absurdum

  6. "Score one point for 'I don't watch her and I don't know anyone who does.' "

    You then follow that with lot's of stats about Maddow's "lie" but regarding her influence you got nothing; Somerby's got nothing.

    Why so "cavalier about the facts"?

    1. Asked and answered Mr. Bullshit Artist:

      "Anyone who has their own cable show and frequently appears on "Meet the Press" is, by definition, an influential person."

      To Braintree's comment I'd only add that the fact of a profile in Rolling Stone also suggests a certain level of fame and influence.

      The fact you drag your sorry ass over here every time her name is mentioned to defend her by claiming she doesn't matter is another thing entirely.

      Happily, I'm sure *you* are not very influential, just very useless.

    2. Try writing it this way, and you might be right:

      "Anyone who has their own cable show and frequently appears on "Meet the Press" is, by MY definition, an influential person."

      You see, this is the snobbery of the Bobinistas: Its all those OTHER stupid, unwashed masses who are "influenced" by celebrity and people who have their own cable show and appear on Meet the Press, regardless of how few people actually see her on her own show or on Meet the Press.

      Certainly YOU, the educated Bobinista are not "influenced" one bit by Maddow. In fact, you are so clever and smart that you see right through her.

      With, of course, the proper amount of assistance from a certain blogger who helps you with your thinking.

    3. Right, right.

      She's not influential.

      She just has her own highly watched TV show. And she just gets profiled in Rolling Stone.

      Only non-thinkers would think she's at all influential.

      But nothing gets by you!

    4. That's all you got... she has a cable TV show with about a million viewers and she's on MTP. That's quite a jump. BTW, MTP has lost about half it's audience in the last decade so, I guess that means it has half the influence from a decade ago. The coverage of politics has changed a great deal since MoDo, Gore, and the 2000 election.

    5. No, no you must be right.

      Only someone who really drank the Somerby Kool-Aid could ever believe that a person having a daily news/analysis program was in a position of influence.

      I don't even know why they bother profiling the irrelevant Rachel Maddow in Rolling Stone, why they even bother calling her up to appear on other news/analysis programs.

      She's got NO influence. Bob Somerby on the other hand is a pernicious influence on the small coterie of like-minded people who read his blog.

      Correcting (well, bullshitting) his blog is a very important work you've got to keep up.

    6. But not as important as fluffing Somerby. This entry is headlined DITTOHEAD WATCH.

    7. Yes, Somerby's pointing out Maddow's flaws is illegitimate -- And so of course it follows as night follows day that pointing out your bullshit is "fluffing Somerby."

      It would be impossible to invent a douche-bag as complete as you.

    8. Saint Bob's DITTOHEADS are such charming people.

    9. Yes, yes -- The incivility is all one-way.

      Why, you sir are a veritable model of charity, respect, forthrightness and honesty.

      But that's enough of the pretty lies bouncing around in your own head...

      Meanwhile, back in the world of reality:

      You're just getting whiny because you don't like getting what you give.

  7. Isn't one of our basic problems here that Maddow's claim "sounds" like something it really isn't claiming? Isn't it that the real claim is that women, through possible discrimination, work less than men, while it "sounds" like employers are downgrading their pay rate on the same work done by 23 cents on the dollar?
    And doesn't this smack of "divide and conquer" when the real problem is too low pay for the working poor?

    1. Greg, that is just so lame. Her claim is exactly what she said it is, that women make only 77 cents to the dollar for men doing the same work.

      "There really is some discrimination," while entirely correct, is no defence of Maddow.

      Too low pay for the working poor I must agree is a real problem.

      Trotting it out in defence of Maddow (which is exactly what you are doing when you say calling her out is "divide and conquer") -- that is just bogus.

    2. Noooo, that isn't quite "her" claim.

      But it is what Bob Somerby has trained you to think she is claiming, and that she just made it up.

    3. I watched her say it.

    4. Still doesn't make it "her" claim.

      She is citing statistics from both the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      Bob cites . . . nothing. He just "knows" Maddow can't be right. After all, she is Rachel Maddow.

      This is very much like the climate change debate. Simply dismiss the data that you want to dismiss, by claiming it is "flawed." It's very easy to do, but not very thoughtful.

      In fact, how can you discuss anything with a person who simply discounts all empirical evidence?

    5. "She is citing statistics from both the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."

      Yes, dumbass.

      And then she's lying about what they say. That makes it her claim. Not Somerby's, not BLS's.

      It's not the data that's dismissed. We accept the data.

      We don't accept Rachel Maddow's mischaracterization of it.

    6. The data says what the data says -- across every racial and ethnic line, women earn less than men. White women earn less than white men. Black women earn less than black men. Hispanic women earn less than Hispanic men. That is undeniable.

      So since you can't deny the evidence before you, you take the tact of the climate change deniers you claim that those who cite it "mischaracterize" it as evidence of gender discrimination.

      "Sure the planet is warming up at a pretty fast rate, but you can't say that throwing millions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere has anything to do with it."

      So what now? You going to blame the gender gap in wages on sun spots?

    7. Anon @ 9:34 is the dumbest commetne ront he tienrnets.

      Maddow: Women make 77 cents for every dollar men make for the same or comparable work"

      Wikipedia: Women make 77 cents for every dollar men make ACROSS ALL FULL TIME JOBS. (i.e. not for the same or similar jobs)

      Wikipedia: About 5% - 7% of the pay gap is attributable to discrimination.

      Somerby: Maddow is wrong.

      Anonymous @ 9:34: Saying Maddow is wrong is akin to global warming denial.

  8. Sorta puzzled by one of your last lines. "By now, Maddow surely knows that her claim on MTP was mistaken." How can you know that? Why would you believe that?

    Where would she have learned that she was wrong? Would one of her staffers have told her? One of her guests? Both of those seem to play the same role - suck up to the star.

    By now she has probably been shown hundreds of emails of support - cheering her for thrashing that big liar Castellanos. Even here on the Howler comments there are people still saying "Rachel was right." Not to mention the larger liberal blogosphere. For example http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002644737#post79 where there are far more "hurrah for Rachel and fock Somerby" replies than the other way around.

    Rachel has probably not heard any discouraging word about this to trouble her beautiful mind. She doubled down because of the applause from her first salvo, and tripled down because of the applause from her second salvo. Her sermons are making the choir happy and that keeps them coming to her church and keeps those big bucks rolling in.

  9. I think I've given Maddow a fair shake on a case by case basis, and I'm down with the anti Maddow Anoms on this one. Just citing something doesn't mean anything, Ann Coulter's books have "footnotes." Please site a business who has been caught literally paying women less to do the same work. I think if you can these would be extremely isolated cases. Corporations don't care about giving women less money. They care about maintaining low pay for everyone.
    And if you think "divide and conquer" is fair fetched, let Maddow start doing some hard reporting on abuse of American workers, like companies who use large pools of workers, give them limited hours so they never have to give benefits, no matter how they perform. Rachel's tenure as a millionaire talking head will be over very fast. Best to keep the resentment level among the plebs high, so they never get together and only ask for things in terms of divisive "identity politics."
    The stuff you site reminds me of The Nation cover story insisting the Hillary Clinton campaign was racist. Lot's of theory and high sounding terms, little or nothing in terms of facts. So why in the end could Maddow claim Hillary Clinton was trying to have Obama assassinated? Because She said so, that's why.
    I question whether this sort of self involved identity politics injures the left to the extent TDH claims it does, but it doesn't help. Again, most of the people tough enough to get to the top display these narcissistic tendencies, in all walks of The Show Business. It's even true of the often wonderful Amy Goodman, who led a really ruthless campaign to drive rivals out of Pacifica, which now pulls ratings comparable to dead air. Nobody bats a thousand, but the potential of Rachel Maddow as opposed to her ultimate effect of the world is likely to be just another sad story for left.

    1. "Please site (sic) a business who has been caught literally paying women less to do the same work."

      Sure, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, where Lilly Ledbetter worked.

    2. well said...and f the Nation.

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