Joy-Ann Reid and the loaf of bread!


Ten thousand hacks of Harvard: We heard it last week at the bagel joint.

In part for that reason, we were surprised when we heard Joy-Ann Reid say it to Lawrence last night.

Reid is a Harvard grad (class of 91). She’s also a Standard Press Corps Hack, of the new pseudo-liberal variety.

Good God! Yes, she authored these comments:
O’DONNELL (10/15/12): When has a moderator ever gotten a candidate not to use a talking point in the history of televised debates?

REID: I would argue that Martha Raddatz did it. But in these kinds of debates, town halls, it’s not so much the answers. I think Karen is right. Remember the history of these debates. It’s those other moments that people remember. They don’t remember what was said.

They remember George Herbert Walker Bush not seeming to know the price of a loaf of bread. They know Bill Clinton walking up to that woman and feeling her pain. It’s those intangible moments in those debates, not necessarily the moderator.
Question: How do they get anyone to repeat this bullshit, let alone a Harvard grad?

Lawrence is a Harvard grad too. He just sat there and took it.

Piously, Reid recited the creed, as all the saints before her have done. “People remember” those "intangible moments!" They don’t remember the things the candidates say!

There is no evidence for that, of course. This is the bullshit the guild repeats so they can keep telling the silly tales which take the place of thought.

That said, we were struck by Reid’s fervent claim about that loaf of bread.

According to Reid, people remember “George Herbert Walker Bush not seeming to know the price of a loaf of bread.” Plainly, she thought this happened during a presidential debate. We were struck by this false memory, because a friend of ours at the bagel joint had told us the same thing last week!

We were puzzled then; watching Reid, we writhed. As far as we know (and yes, we searched), no one ever stumped George Bush about the price of a loaf of bread. But that definitely never happened at a presidential debate. Where did Reid get this idea?

Last night, we searched and we found. Below, you see the transcript from an episode of the (Sunday morning) Chris Matthews Show.

Last February, a group of hacks were discussing the hoary old incident involving Bush and the supermarket scanner. Andrea Mitchell understood that this hoary old tale is bogus. But she then mentioned another old groaner—and Richard Stengel came up with the loaf of bread.

As far as we know, this loaf of bread never existed. It definitely never existed at a presidential debate:
MATTHEWS (2/5/12): Some very rich presidents were in touch with the average person like Teddy, Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy. They'd gone through leveling experience, if you will, such as battle or in FDR's case, polio. Other very rich politicians never did seem to know how most Americans live, including Nelson Rockefeller of New York, and George Herbert Walker Bush. Remember that famous campaign stop where Bush Sr. was discovering, if you will, the wonders of a supermarket scanner? He'd never seen one before.

Well, Republican leaders are terrified that Romney's in that same category.


MITCHELL: A quick word about the supermarket scanner. That was an inaccurate pool report which followed him everywhere. I think even worse was, "I'll have a splash of coffee."

MATTHEWS: Okay, why was it an inaccurate pool report?

MITCHELL: Because he was actually asking how this particular scanner worked. He wasn't really asking—

MATTHEWS: Well, I'm looking at the picture there. It looks like he hadn't seen one of those before.

STENGEL: And he didn't know the price of a loaf of bread.

MITCHELL: He didn't know the price of a loaf of bread.

MATTHEWS: Okay, I'm not letting him off on that!

Everyone must end up agreeing on these pitiful shows. At any rate, our friend at the bagel joint sometimes watches this Sunday morning program.

Truly, the media gods are crazy. The scanner incident turned out to be (apparently) bogus, though major pundits like Matthews still love to cite it.

But that “splash of coffee” seemed bogus too when we researched it years ago. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/23/07.) It looked like another invention by Dowd. But so what?

As of last February, Mitchell was still repeating that hoary old tale. According to Mitchell, this apocryphal comment was even worse than the scanner event!

Eventually, Stengel jumped in, apparently dreaming that loaf of bread. Stengel, managing editor of Time, is a Princeton grad.

Stengel didn’t say that Bush got whacked about the loaf at a presidential debate. But by last night, the credulous Reid had taken this loaf of bull there.

We know of no incident when President Bush was stumped by the old “price of a loaf of bread” trick, though everything is possible. (In February 1992, he was asked the price of a loaf during a Dallas TV interview—and got the answer right.) Stengel may have been thinking of Lamar Alexander, who was badly harmed by such an inquiry in the 1996 New Hampshire primary.

(According to press corps lore, this silly old trick was invented by David Broder, long ago, as a way of spotting the phonies. Truly, these gods have been insane for at least the past forty years.)

Last winter, Stengel put Bush and the loaf of bread into play on the Matthews Show. By last night, Reid was saying that Bush was stumped about the loaf during a presidential debate.

It’s the kind of intangible moment the voters remember! The kind that didn't occur!

The scanner story turned out to be bull. The splash of coffee is stupider still, and it too seems to be bogus. Last night, we could find no sign that anyone ever stumped Bush about a loaf of bread.

It certainly never happened at a presidential debate. If it had, you would hear the tale recited in every pre-debate story. You would have heard the pleasing tale for the past twenty years.

Reid is a Harvard grad; Stengel went to Princeton. Once again, the obvious question:

Are these life-forms actually human? If so, what explains the acts these life-forms perform on the TV machine?

Lamar and the price of a dozen eggs: Alexander was badly damged by this nonsense during the 1996 New Hampshire primary. It may have cost him the win.

At USA Today, reporters punned till the race was done. To recall their remarkable level of nonsense, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/16/04.

Without any question, these gods are insane. But they specialize in intangible moments, moments which never occurred.


  1. Well, they say on TV "the voters remember..." -- And they make it so.

    It means only: "WE have told the voters what they are to remember."

  2. I'm not even sure of what the press thinks is important about "knowing the price of a loaf of bread." I do the shopping for my family every week, usually purchasing a loaf of bread, and I'd be guessing at the price if asked.

    1. If you asked the press, you'd probably get a response like this: "If a candidate doesn't know the price of a loaf of bread, then it shows they're out of touch with the concerns and problems of average Americans."

      In reality, it's because it's much easier to talk about than, say, tax or social insurance policy. It's a way to pretend to talk about bread-and-butter issues without actually having to do so.

  3. Reid = Harvard
    Stengel = Princeton
    O'Donnell = Harvard
    Matthews = Holy Cross
    Mitchell = Penn

    There's your problem right there.

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