Interlude: Wonderful work if you can get it!

MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2012

A pundit of very few words: Charles Blow’s role at the New York Times? It's nice work—if you can get it.

The fellow composes one column per week. In Saturday’s newspaper, this was—no edits!—the good doctor’s latest:
BLOW (4/18/12): Young People’s Priorities

Judging by this week’s debate, you would think that student loans are young people’s only priority. They’re not. In fact, a cleverly designed survey released this week by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics asked respondents ages 18 to 29 to choose between pairings of issues to determine which ones they felt were more important. Among domestic issues, creating jobs almost always won, while combating climate change almost never did. Immigration is also a losing issue (except when paired with climate change), while access to affordable health care is a winner. I found the results so interesting that I wanted to share them. Enjoy.
The doctor was IN—and we left nothing out! Blow’s piece ran 103 words—106, if you add in the headline. His prose was accompanied by a large, semi-bewildering graphic, which he basically cut-and-pasted from the appendix of this Harvard report.

“Enjoy!” Blow instructed as he closed, sampling a generation of underemployed young wait-persons.

Enjoy! It would be easy to do with a job like Blow's!

We were struck by Blow’s pithy work product as we perused last Saturday's Times. But then, we had a similar reaction to the latest Gail Collins column, which appeared right next to Blow’s on that day's op-ed page.

Collins discussed, or seemed to discuss, a lengthy list of serious topics, not excluding the privatization of education, the worth and value of charter schools, the current state of high-stakes testing and the fate of a bunny who didn’t get strapped to the roof of anyone’s car. She received a long stream of complimentary comments from grateful liberal readers.

Today, we’re returning to our sprawling campus, leaving behind twelve first-week geese. Full services resume tomorrow.

As the week proceeds, we’ll look at Collins’ piece—and at the hundreds of comments which praised her work. We’ll also finish our delayed ruminations on David Carr’s Potemkin press coverage from last Monday’s Times.

We were very much struck by the Collins piece—and by the polymorphous praise it received from those grateful readers. In our view, the full package fully captures the age.

Our pensees will spill as the week proceeds. But for now, just click here! And enjoy!

Social Security semantics watch: Drum emits a howler!

SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2012

And the young analysts sob: We’re big fans of Kevin Drum around here, although we’d like to have full control of his topic list.

But uh-oh! On Monday, we had to sit the analysts down and tell them that, when Drum makes a mistake, he makes it a genuine doozy. Having read Drum's post about the economic health of Social Security, the young analysts were crying, quite hard.

As he started, Drum said the AP had “embarrassed itself” in its coverage of the recent trustees’ report. The analysts cheered when they read those words. But as he closed, Drum offered this aside, and the tears started to flow:

DRUM (4/23/12): On a related note, I'm going to annoy a few of my fellow lefties and say that we should stop getting bent out of shape when people respond to the Trustees report by saying that Social Security is "going bankrupt" or "running dry" or some similar formulation. There's a hyperlegalistic sense in which this isn't accurate, but honestly, it would be a helluva dramatic event if the trust fund ran out of money and Social Security suddenly had to slash benefits by 25% in 2033 (see chart above). Referring to this as "bankruptcy" isn't all that big a rhetorical stretch, and everyone on both left and right should put away their fainting couches, ditch all the tired excuses, and get to work on a fix that would involve—say it in unison, folks!—a very modest and phased-in cut in benefits combined with a very modest and phased-in increase in taxes. This isn't a hard problem.
“Annoy!” If Drum could have seen the analysts’ tears, he might have regretted his word-choice.

It would indeed be a very bad thing if the Social Security trust fund ran dry and promised benefits had to be cut. (The trustees now project that this will happen in 2033.) But people have been led to believe, for the past three decades, that Social Security won’t be there at all by the time they reach retirement age. Almost surely, the terms “bankrupt” and "bankruptcy" have played a key role in this disinformation campaign.

Because we’re away from our sprawling campus, we won’t provide any links. But voters have been deeply misinformed about the future of Social Security dating to the 1980s.

This isn’t a hyper-legalistic matter; we're not talking about a minor "rhetoriocal stretch." This is one of the greatest disinformation campaigns of the past fifty years. This campaign should be studied in detail, although orgs like the AP never will, and you know all about our professors!

Of course, when people are led to believe that Social Security won’t survive at all on its present course, they can easily be persuaded to favor extreme “reforms.”

The analysts sobbed after reading Drum’s comment. We did our best to maintain control. But we'll admit that we were surprised, even puzzled, by what we read.

Calling for the fainting couch, we pondered the fate of the world.

A mission of national import!

FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2012

Two columnists and those new clothes: We’ve been called away from our sprawling campus on a mission of national import.

We expect to finish our current, award-wining series on Monday. Tomorrow, we expect to post about a recent, very rare error by Kevin Drum.

For today, we recommended the new column by Paul Krugman.

Krugman has written this column many times. We congratulate him for doing so, although we very much doubt it will help.

For today, we offer this reading assignment: Analyze this passage from Krugman as a version of The Emperor’s New Clothes:
KRUGMAN (4/27/12): None of this should come as news, since the failure of austerity policies to deliver as promised has long been obvious. Yet European leaders spent years in denial, insisting that their policies would start working any day now, and celebrating supposed triumphs on the flimsiest of evidence. Notably, the long-suffering (literally) Irish have been hailed as a success story not once but twice, in early 2010 and again in the fall of 2011. Each time the supposed success turned out to be a mirage; three years into its austerity program, Ireland has yet to show any sign of real recovery from a slump that has driven the unemployment rate to almost 15 percent.

However, something has changed in the past few weeks. Several events—the collapse of the Dutch government over proposed austerity measures, the strong showing of the vaguely anti-austerity Fran├žois Hollande in the first round of France’s presidential election, and an economic report showing that Britain is doing worse in the current slump than it did in the 1930s—seem to have finally broken through the wall of denial. Suddenly, everyone is admitting that austerity isn’t working.
An embarrassing problem was obvious. But everyone was in denial.

Finally, something broke through the wall of denial. Suddenly, everyone is admitting the problem!

Alas! Krugman’s column also refers to “policy elites.” In the original tale, were there highly-placed, wealthy interests determined to extend the illusion?

Opposing Krugman on today’s op-ed page, David Brooks starts his column in the following manner. Note the slight sleight-of-hand about “Nobel Prize winners”—reinforcing the (unstated but suggested) idea that no one can figure this out:
BROOKS (4/27/12): In 2009, we had a big debate about whether to pass a stimulus package. Many esteemed and/or Nobel Prize-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz, Larry Summers and Christina Romer argued that it would help lift the economy out of recession. Many other esteemed and/or Nobel Prize-winning economists like Robert Barro, Edward Prescott and James Buchanan argued that positive effects would be small and the package wouldn’t be worth the long-term cost.

We went ahead and spent the roughly $800 billion. What have we learned?

For certain, nothing. The economists who supported the stimulus now argue the economy would have been worse off without it. Those who opposed it argue that the results have been meager. It’s hard to think of anybody whose mind has been changed by what happened.
Has Brooks learned something? Has his mind been changed in some way? Does he think our minds should have changed?

For whatever reason, Brooks doesn’t say.

Krugman says the lesson is obvious. Directly oppposite him on the page, Brooks advances a different perception.

Did your country seem smarter the past few weeks?

THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2012

Perhaps we can explain: Did your country seem smarter the past few weeks?

That may reflect the fact that Gail Collins was “off,” to use New York Times terminology.

Collins hadn’t written a column since April 7. Somehow, the world seemed smarter.

This morning, Collins is back at her post—and her noggin is as empty as ever. She had three weeks to stockpile ideas. But this is the way she began:
COLLINS (4/26/12): Well, the results of the latest wave of primaries are in. The people have spoken, decisively. All 10 of them.

I am exaggerating. In Rhode Island, well over 3 percent of the eligible voters flocked to the polls on Tuesday, as the overwhelming majority declared their enthusiasm for Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee. We are totally talking mandate.

And I cannot tell you how much excitement there was in New York. Six percent turnout! In my neighborhood, the atmosphere was electric. Voters had not been so politically exercised since that year we had a primary pitting a recently deceased congressman and a member of a cultlike group led by a Marxist psychotherapist.
As always, Collins has nothing cluttering her mind. In every cycle, turn-out at primaries drops through the floor once the race has been decided. Tuesday’s low turn-out was no surprise.

But Collins has no ideas.

As she continues, she talks about Mitt Romney’s recent reaction to cookies, and of course she revisits his dog. But then, she even revisits Rick Perry’s coyote! Aw, what the heck! Why not post the whole passage?
COLLINS: Did you ever notice how many of the Republican candidates seemed to have animal issues? Rick Perry shot that coyote, and Jon Huntsman got bitten by a goat—really, that was the high point of the Huntsman campaign. Also, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the veep front-runner, recently imitated a chicken on television. You will be hearing more about this incident because I think I speak for the entire national media when I say that we are planning to discuss possible Republican vice presidential candidates nonstop through the spring and summer.

And the winner is the guy who drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car!
In the highlighted passage, she rolls her eyes at the way the guild will waste time discussing the various VPs—as she does the same thing herself!

In truth, there isn’t a single real idea inside Collins’ head. She even discusses campaign background music, the final refuge of “political journalists” who don’t have squat, squash or even squadoodle to say.

In fairness, Collins seems a bit less addled than her successor, Andrew Rosenthal. Here’s how he starts today's editorial about the Supreme Court hearing on Arizona’s immigration law:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/26/12): Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. had barely started his argument against Arizona’s immigration law on Wednesday at the Supreme Court when Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. signaled where he stood—in sympathy with the state’s defense of the statute.

His first question for Mr. Verrilli made it clear how little Chief Justice Roberts was focused on its pernicious effects and how little he wanted that discussed in the court: “No part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling, does it?” The solicitor general had to agree. The government’s case turns on the doctrine of pre-emption, not on the injustice of the Arizona law.

Mr. Verrilli then found himself in a debate about the statute as Chief Justice Roberts portrayed it, not the one that is actually law.
To the extent that we can determine its meaning, the highlighted statement is just very dumb. Solicitor generals don’t have to agree, unless the statement with which they’re agreeing is accurate.

The news reports in today’s Times suggest Roberts’ statement was.

By the end of his piece, Rosenthal quotes Roberts using the phrase “these people,” trying to make him sound like a bigot. Truly, Rosenthal is pathetic, even compared to Collins.

After fourteen years on our sprawling campus, we would have to say the following:

People have a very hard time understanding how dumb these people are. In the end, this may be the most significant thing we rubes just completely can’t grasp.

That said, Rosenthal may be farther over his head than anyone we’ve ever seen in a major “press corps” position. Today’s editorial is painfully dumb.

But then, his work typically is.

CARR WRECK: The case of the alleged racial slur!

THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2012

Part 4—O’Donnell could hear it quite clearly: Incredibly enough, David Carr got one thing right in Monday’s “Media Equation” column.

In an otherwise grossly misleading piece, Carr made an accurate statement about TV “news” operations.

“What is it with television news and corrections?” the Potemkin-based New York Times columnist asked. “When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves. But network news acts as if an on-air admission of error might cause a meteor to land on the noggin of one of its precious talking heads.”

Do most parts of the journalism world generally self-correct? Sorry—that claim is absurd on its face. But TV “news” program almost never self-correct, except for the bogus, pseudo-corrections of which Rachel Maddow is making an art form.

TV news programs don't self-correct. To draw from the topic Carr was discussing, MSNBC has routinely failed to correct its mistakes in its coverage of the killing of Trayvon Martin—and those mistakes have been legion.

The channel has also been very selective in what it allows its viewers to hear. Consider the claim that Zimmerman uttered a racial slur in his call to the Sanford police on the night Martin died.

MSNBC loved this claim; it neatly fit the thrilling race novel the station’s employees were selling. With apologies, did Zimmerman utter a word which rhymes with “goons” during his phone call that evening? Anyone with an ounce of sense would have known, right from the start that this was a very shaky claim—that it was very, very, very hard to hear any such statement.

It was extremely hard to hear what Zimmerman said—except on MSNBC! All the way back on March 20, one of the channel’s leading clowns encouraged its viewers to believe that Zimmerman uttered this slur.

Lawrence O’Donnell was speaking with Jasmine Rand, one of the Martin family's lawyers. As they spoke, O’Donnell said he heard the racial slur “easily;” attorney Rand then said the same thing. In all the instances which follow, we will present the transcripts exactly as MSNBC does:
O’DONNELL (3/20/12): I want us all, and the audience especially, to listen to this new portion of the 911 tape that was revealed today. Most people have heard the rest of this tape. But I want to give the audience a heads up, it gets profane. George Zimmerman uses the f-word very clearly. There is absolutely no dispute about that.

He says “f-ing” and it’s the word after that. And the network has kind of bleeped out the word “f-ing.” And so it’s a little bit hard to hear the flow into the next word. But the next word is the big word that’s at issue here.

This is the part of the transcript where the dispatcher is going to say to him, OK, what entrance is it that he’s heading towards? Zimmerman says the back entrance. Then there’s a pause. Then there’s f-ing and there’s a word. And he’s calling, he’s calling Trayvon this word.

RAND: Okay.

O’DONNELL: And I want everyone to listen to it, everyone in the audience. We’ll play it more than once. I want everyone to make their own judgment about what they’re hearing. Let’s listen to that tape now.

DISPATCHER: OK, which entrance is that that he is heading towards?
ZIMMERMAN: The back entrance. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (INAUDIBLE)
DISPATCHE: Are you following him?
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah.
DISPATCHER: OK, we don’t need you to do that.


O’DONNELL: All right. I just want to let the audience hear it one more time. I’ve listened to it a few times. The first time I heard it, I recognized that, the second word easily. I want to let the audience hear it one more time and then we’ll talk about it.

[Plays audiotape again]

O’DONNELL: Jasmine Rand, what do you hear him saying?

RAND: I hear him saying “f-ing coons.”
O’Donnell and Rand could hear the slur; O’Donnell could hear it "easily." O’Donnell then asked Congresswoman Corrine Brown what she heard.

“I didn’t hear what he said,” Brown said, to her vast credit.

Brown couldn't hear what Zimmerman said—and she didn't lie about it! But at this point, O’Donnell drove home his claim about the slur, even as he semi-acknowledged that some folk were saying that they heard something different. In our view, the statement by Attorney Rand brings in the eternal note of sadness:
O’DONNELL: Attorney Rand, I heard what you heard. And I heard it repeatedly. I’ve played it repeatedly. There are people saying when they hear this word, they hear the word "punks." I know people are saying that with honesty. I think, to some extent, it depends on what computer you’re listening to it on.

But let’s get to your interpretation of it legally. Those two words, the F-ing and then saying the word that you attributed to George Zimmerman, it seems to me constitutes obvious evidence of hateful intent. This is a racial slur that you're hearing him say minutes, seconds possibly before he shoots a black teenager to death for having done absolutely nothing.

RAND: Well, I mean, I think as you said, the racial overtones to me, they couldn’t be ignored to begin with. And certainly, you know, after I went back and analyzed what I heard, too— I didn’t hear it the first time. But I certainly went back and listened to it several times now. And that’s what I hear.
So sad, and so revealing of the way these processes work. Rand couldn’t hear the slur the first time—so she went back and tried it again! Meanwhile, O’Donnell left little doubt with his viewers as to what they should think about this. He had been able to hear the slur easily, repeatedly. If others couldn’t hear the word, it must be their computers!

Can we talk? Lynch mobs have always behaved this way—and people do die in the process. One week after O’Donnell started stirring us rubes, Spike Lee—a decent, intelligent person—did something exceptionally foolish. He tweeted out the supposed address of Zimmerman’s parents; the people who lived at this (mistaken) address were thereby forced to move into a hotel. Can we talk? Horrible people like Lawrence O’Donnell were doing their best to get other folk killed. And others would swear they could hear the slur before this disgraceful cable “news” channel was done with this horrible episode.

(In standard fashion, MSNBC didn’t burden its viewers with knowledge of what Lee had done. CNN, Fox, even NBC News reported Lee’s amazingly bad decision. According to the Nexis archives, MSNBC never did.)

O’Donnell could “easily” hear the slur. But he and Rand would not be the last to prime this channel’s viewers in this highly inflammatory manner. On March 23, Chris Matthews invited black conservative-turned-pseudo-liberal Michelle Bernard to spread this claim a bit further. He too pimped the corporate line, as he has done for many years, through various corporate regimes:
BERNARD (3/23/12): I have listened to the enhanced version of the tape. ... I’m going to say it. I don’t think we should hide it. The American public needs to know. If you listen to that tape, he says "F-ing coon" under his breath. That is a racial slur.

MATTHEWS: Yes—

BERNARD: It is unmistakable. It is undenial—if you listen, undeniable, if you listen to the unenhanced version. That in and of itself makes it a hate crime. That’s why the Justice Department is involved. It’s why the FBI is going to have to investigate this case.

[...]

BERNARD: You can hear it very clearly on the tape. The police ask him, Are you following this person? And he says yes. They say, We don’t need you to do this. He keeps doing it. Then you add in what sounds like him saying “F-ing coon."

MATTHEWS: No, I heard it. And it’s not just “sounds like.” Anybody watching this show, if they were sitting in my office a few minutes ago, listening—

BERNARD: Would have heard it.

MATTHEWS: —would have heard it. It’s— Let’s do it again. It’s the "F-ing" word followed by a word we all recognize, unfortunately, as racially evil, really. Go ahead.

BERNARD: It is evil!...You have motive, and it’s clearly based on racial bias.
On this appalling channel, viewers were repeatedly primed to believe that Zimmerman uttered that slur.

On March 28, Big Ed Schultz booked a liberal hero to advance the company line. Avert your gaze as Alan Grayson makes a series of grievous misstatements:
SCHULTZ (3/28/12): Breaking news in the Trayvon Martin case tonight! ABC News has obtained video of George Zimmerman being brought into the police department on the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

I am joined by Alan Grayson, former Florida congressman, who is from the Orlando area. Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. You have, you have been at these rallies for Trayvon all week, and have been paying close attention to the case. What are your impressions of this police house videotape that was obtained tonight?

GRAYSON: Well, I think it blows apart the Zimmerman argument that he was acting out of fear rather than out of hatred. But I’ll tell you, I sometimes wonder why people think that’s some kind of good defense. I don’t believe it in his case. I think if you call someone "f-ing coon," then you`re animated by nothing but hatred.

But still he seems to be operating under the illusion that if he simply says that he feared, then somehow that excuses the death of a young boy. It doesn’t. It just doesn’t. The boy is dead. If you do the crime, you’re going to have to do the time.

SCHULTZ: Do you believe that this videotape is inconsistent with the police report?

GRAYSON: Yes, I’ve read the police report. I saw the tape. And I think there is an inconsistency.

SCHULTZ: And what would you be thinking right now if you were representing the Martin family in this case?

GRAYSON: I think that it proves their point. This is someone who— Zimmerman should under no circumstances be allowed to have a gun. It should have been taken from him a long time ago. And he should have been arrested a long time ago. He should have been tried. And it looks to me like he’ll be convicted.
Good God. They should have taken Zimmerman’s gun! And of course, Zimmerman uttered that slur! (Grayson also implied that the videotape debunked the claim of injuries.)

MSNBC never let up on its treatment of that alleged racial slur. On April 2, Bernard was back on Hardball, preaching to guest host Michael Smerconish with back-up from E. Michael Collins:
SMERCONISH (4/2/12): Michelle, I’ve been saying that I need to know two things. I need to know who’s crying for help at the end of that 911 call. I also want to know, was a racial epithet said by Zimmerman under his breath at a time when he appears to be, by audio, in pursuit of Trayvon Martin. You know what I’m referring to.

BERNARD: I absolutely know what you’re referring to. I have listened to that tape over and over and over again. If you listen to it closely, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, beyond a shadow of a doubt—

COLLINS: There’s no doubt.

BERNARD: —that under his breath, that George Zimmerman called Trayvon Martin an "F-ing coon." If you listen to it closely, there's no doubt about it whatsoever.
There was no doubt, two guests exclaimed. Smerconish offered no rebuttal or challenge.

On April 3, one of Al Sharpton’s “legal experts” simply stated, as a fact, that Zimmerman uttered “an aside, f-ing coons. That would be dramatic evidence of what his state of mind was and what his attitude was towards Trayvon Martin, not as a human being, but as a black, an unnamed black.” Neither Sharpton nor any of his other “experts” challenged this factual claim. On April 5, Sharpton noted that an audio expert had now said that Zimmerman really said “punks.” But he quickly warned his viewers against placing faith in such “experts.”

On April 4, the most irresponsible hack of them all was at it again on his program. As always, he spoke with Charles Blow:
O’DONNELL (4/4/12): I would say there’s a jury credibility issue moment in there where the police—the dispatcher says to him, are you following him? Yes. We don’t need you to do that. Zimmerman`s response is "OK," which anyone on the other end of the phone believes, OK, I’m not going to do that.

He then goes on to do it. There’s also upcoming in the 911 call this racial slur. Let’s just play that very quickly.

ZIMMERMAN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) coon.
DISPATCHER: Are you following him?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes.
DISPATCHER: OK, we don`t need you to do that.
ZIMMERMAN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) coon.
DISPATCHER: Are you following him?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes.
DISPATCHER: OK, we don`t need you to do that.


O’DONNELL: Everyone—not everyone. A lot of people listening to that think they hear a racial slur.
Aside from the ugly performance concerning the slur, O’Donnell said that Zimmerman continued following Martin after the dispatcher spoke. This factual claim has not been demonstrated—and Zimmerman says it’s wrong.

Can we talk? Anyone with an ounce of sense would have understood, right from the start, that it was very, very hard to hear what Zimmerman said at the point on the tape where a racial slur was alleged. On Hardball, this produced the clownish moment when Matthews and Bernard actually thought the tape had been cut off because they couldn’t hear the alleged racial slur—the racial slur they had “undeniably” heard just moments before. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/24/12. Prepare to squirm and burn.) On O’Donnell’s program, this produced the sad but instructive moment where Attorney Rand said she couldn’t hear the slur the first time—so she went back and tried again, getting it right this time.

It also produced the grown-up moment when Rep. Brown, speaking the truth, said she couldn’t hear what Zimmerman said. But the rest of this lynch mob simply pretended, as such mobs have always done all through our benighted history.

By now, you may know the rest. This case was given to Angela Corey, who is perhaps the most aggressive prosecutor in the state of Florida. On April 12, she released her formal criminal charges against Zimmerman—and she said that he hadn’t uttered a slur, that he had actually used the work "punks." On MSNBC, O’Donnell, Sharpton, Schultz and guest host Smerconish made fleeting statements to this effect, with Sharpton suggesting that “fucking punks” was almost as bad.

This is what was said by the most degraded hack of them all. This was Lawrence O’Donnell’s full attempt at a correction/ clarification/ retraction/ explanation. He spoke with his trusted companion:
O’DONNELL (4/12/12): I want to now dig into this affidavit today, because it’s short, but it is I think very revealing of the prosecutor’s case. It begins by saying Zimmerman observed Martin and assumed Martin was a criminal.

So she has gone into his state of mind about what he was thinking there. She said, during the recorded call, Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins.

She determines, the prosecutor has determined that one of the things he said on that 911 audio tape, after saying “these people”—you know the word I can’t say on TV, they always get away with this stuff. And then he also said, these “f-ing punks.”

Charles Blow, the prosecutor seems to have determined that it’s the word “punks” as opposed to the specific racial slur word many of us have thought we have heard on that tape.

BLOW: Right. So that is one of the only kind of points of clarification that you get in this very short affidavit. In fact, you know, I’m not a lawyer. I do not know. I am just a reader of this.
After weeks of running his lynch mob around, that was O’Donnell’s full discussion of what this bulldog prosecutor said she had determined.

Was that a sufficient correction/ clarification/ explanation? Should people like Matthews, Bernard and O’Donnell explain their previous conduct?

The coverage by this disgraceful channel has included tons of factual errors, errors which have gone uncorrected. But should these horrible people have explained their jihad about that alleged racial slur, in a case where it was always clear that it was very, very, very hard to hear what Zimmerman said?

In a case where people were warning, right from the start, that he hadn’t uttered that word?

You’ll have to judge that one for yourself. But in the mind of David Carr, this disgraceful, month-long performance constitutes “aggressive coverage” by MSNBC! That was all this hackworthy creature could say in Monday’s pretense at a column.

But then, Carr was writing a piece of Potemkin press criticism, of a familiar type.

In fact, mainstream journalists almost never challenge the work of their colleagues, even when their colleagues have engaged in disgraceful misconduct. Instead, they offer work like Carr’s, in which a pseudo-journalist pretended to fly-speck the work of NBC News.

Crackers, you can bet the house! Carr will never discuss this channel’s actual conduct. But then too, neither will Howard Kurtz, mayor of Potemkin Village, U.S.A.

Kurtz is our best-known “media reporter”—and he’s actually very smart. Question: Why has he failed to discuss the conduct displayed by this disgraceful channel? Also this:

Why has he failed to discuss the work of Fox News down through all these years?

Coming: A familiar type of “press criticism”

CARR WRECK: MSNBC’s “aggressive” coverage!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2012

Part 3—Carr averts his gaze: What sorts of lessons can we learn from the killing of Trayvon Martin?

Even without fully knowing the facts, we can perhaps agree on these points:

If you go to Target at 7 PM, you might think twice about bringing a gun. If you see someone you think is suspicious and you call the police, you might think twice about attempting to follow this person yourself.

Here’s a third lesson we might learn from this incident: Police departments play very key roles in our communities. If you listen to the six or seven 911 calls which were made on the night of the killing, you hear deeply concerned ear-witness citizens being assured that the police were on the way to the scene.

You can hear these people's sense of relief when they see, or when they are told, that police have arrived on the scene.

People rely on the work of police. For that reason, police departments should be held to professional standards. But then too, police departments shouldn’t be recklessly slandered, even if it helps corporate entities and their overpaid hirelings build their cable ratings.

With that in mind, let’s consider the way MSNBC has reported on the work of the Sanford police. This is part of this channel’s “aggressive coverage of the incident,” as described by David Carr, the New York Times’ train wreck of a media columnist.

Has MSNBC presented “aggressive” coverage of this tragic, important event? Or might some other term apply? With respect to the work of the Sanford police, MSNBC personnel and guests have made these charges:

For weeks, MSNBC viewers were told that the Sanford police let George Zimmerman “walk away with his gun” on the night of the shooting. By now, it seems quite clear that this inflammatory charge was false.

For weeks, MSNBC viewers were told that the Sanford police didn’t collect Zimmerman’s clothing for forensic analysis. No one is making this claim any more—and the Orlando Sentinel has reported that this claim was false.

Did Sanford police take crime scene photos, including photos of Zimmerman’s possible injuries? For weeks, viewers were told that this didn’t occur. No one is making this claim any more. We’ll guess that this claim was false.

At Salon, MSNBC contributor Joan Walsh told us rubes that the Sanford police didn’t even take Zimmerman down to the station. By now, everyone knows this ludicrous statement was false—though Walsh’s piece at Salon still bears no correction.

These points barely scratch the surface of the disgrace this channel has authored. At MSNBC, viewers heard weeks of false, inflammatory charges about the work of the Sanford police. These claims were part of a thrilling crime novel, in which the cracker-laden Sanford police didn’t care if the son of a former Virginia magistrate shot a black teen-ager.

Nothing would stop this channel’s hacks from extending their thrilling crime novel. At one point, the channel began reporting that the lead investigator at the scene, Chris Serino, had wanted to charge Zimmerman with a crime on the night of the shooting. This created an obvious logical problem: If the lead investigator viewed the matter this way, why would he have led a bogus investigation?

This contradiction would have occurred to a distracted six-year-old child. But it didn’t occur to the corporate hacks who pimp their manifest bullshit on The One True Liberal Channel. These circus performers simply continued extending their novel, offering all manner of “evidence” to support their exciting narrative.

Logic plays no role in such novels. When the case was handed to Angela Corey, Florida’s craziest prosecutor, it took her a full three weeks to file a criminal charge against Zimmerman. But on MSNBC, the novelists continue to rail against the fact that the Sanford police didn’t charge Zimmerman with a crime on the very first night. By the way: Who made that initial decision? What role was played by the Sanford police? We still have no clear idea about that—in party because we watch this channel, a channel which has made no effort to sort out this obvious question.

On Monday night, Charles Blow finally jumped the land shark in the attempt to craft this novel. Speaking with the dim-witted Lawrence O’Donnell, Blow lodged two new complaints against the Sanford police: They wiped their feet on a mat when they took Zimmerman down to the station! And someone leaned against a wall! (No, we really aren't making this up. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/24/12.)

We don’t understand those claims either. But Blow actually lodged them—and O’Donnell thanked him for his service, telling him that he had presented “a perfect summary of where we stand.”

This is part of this disgraceful channel’s coverage of the Sanford police. Concerning their coverage of Zimmerman himself, consider a recent development:

Last Friday, ABC News released a photograph taken at the scene of the shooting. It shows the back of Zimmerman’s head, which was awash in blood. (To see the photo, click here.)

How much does this photo tell us about Zimmerman’s apparent injuries? We have no idea.

It’s commonly said that head wounds bleed a great deal. Not being medical experts ourselves, we can’t assess the medical meaning of this photo. But the photograph makes one thing clear; Zimmerman did seem to sustain some sort of injury to the back of his head that night.

Unless you’re watching Sharpton or O’Donnell on MSNBC. In that case, this new photograph doesn’t exist!

Sad, ain’t it? For weeks, viewers of these cable “news” programs were told that Zimmerman may not have sustained any injuries at all. Below, we see Sharpton speaking with Lawyer Crump, one night before the original, grainy videotape from the Sanford police station was released.

(For the record, Crump is not an invention of Charles Dickens, although his name, his words and his demeanor may sometimes convey that impression.)

Warning! Many of Sharpton’s factual claims in this passage seem to be false. But you can see the thrust of his claims regarding Zimmerman’s alleged injuries:
SHARPTON (3/28/12): Let me ask you this, something that doesn’t make sense to me. We’re told that the Zimmerman side of the story was that he was beaten, his head was being crashed by Trayvon and that his nose was broken.

Wouldn’t you think if the state prosecutor was there that night that they would have made him go to the hospital to document that he had a broken nose and these bruises? Isn’t it strange that if the prosecutor was there, the police chief was there, chief investigator was there, that they didn’t make this young man go to the hospital and document his wounds, or document his injuries?

And also, if he had those amounts of injuries, how clear-headed was he to give a statement that would convince them that it was all self-defense and that he, in fact, had done no wrong? I mean, a lot of this just does not add up to me.

CRUMP: And you’re right, Reverend Sharpton. It doesn’t add up. And it’s one of those things that you would think if he was as injured as they claimed in this second police report, because you remember in the first police report, they didn`t put any of that in there. And–

SHARPTON: There were no injuries mentioned in the first police report, am I correct?

CRUMP: None whatsoever, Reverend Sharpton.
None whatsoever! In such conversations, Sharpton’s viewers were encouraged to think that there may have been no injuries at all—that the Sanford police may have invented the claim of injuries after the fact.

That was a very serious charge. It was also profoundly irresponsible, like so much of the unfolding conduct on this gruesome “news” channel.

The very day after that discussion, grainy videotape surfaced from the Sanford police station. Anyone with an ounce of sense could have seen that this grainy tape provided a very poor view of any possible injuries. But Sharpton was crafting a brilliant crime novel; he and his hand-picked guests began encouraging viewers to think that the grainy videotape contradicted the claim of injuries. As of April 2, Sharpton was saying this:
SHARPTON (4/2/12): Welcome back to Politics Nation.

George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense is central to his version of events, but the more we learn, the more shaky that claim becomes. His supporters say George was in the fight for his life that night. His father says, quote, "It’s my understanding that Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him in the face, in his nose, hitting his head on the concrete." His brother said, quote, "George was out of breath. He was barely conscious. His last thing he remembers doing was moving his head from the concrete to the grass.”

The video in the police station did not show those injuries.
Last Friday, a photograph from ABC News did show some sort of injury to the back of Zimmerman’s head. What was Sharpton’s reaction?

Simple! To the day, Sharpton’s viewers haven’t been shown the new photograph. Last Friday, the photograph was briefly shown on Hardball and The Ed Show, but Journalist Sharpton took a pass on the new photo, despite spending his program's first thirty minutes on the Martin killing. Sharpton’s viewers have never been asked to look at that new photo.

O’Donnell hasn’t shown the photograph either. In his case, let’s consider his inane conduct regarding George Zimmerman’s nose.

Did Zimmerman sustain a broken nose? Like O’Donnell, we don’t know. But Lawrence O’Donnell has been very busy constructing a novel about these events. On April 5, this dumbest of humans, speaking with Blow, shared his thoughts about the work of Zimmerman’s original lawyers.

Zimmerman’s lawyers had been unclear about the status of any medical records. Showcasing his world-class dumbness, O’Donnell made it clear that he deeply doubted the claim of a broken nose.

Blow pretended to be a medical expert, which he plainly isn’t. O'Donnell also spoke with Natalie Jackson, one of the Martin's family's lawyers:
O’DONNELL (4/5/12): Charles Blow, my feeling has been if they could say, “We will produce medical records of him visiting an emergency room that night or the next day or any doctor within 24 hours of this event concerning a broken nose,” they would say they had the records. If they weren’t really thrilled with how good those records were, they might not show them to us. But they’d say they had them if they had them.

BLOW: Right. That is the crucial point here. Is there a broken nose? And if George Zimmerman’s head was being smashed into the pavement, is there some evidence of a concussion?

And those things can be proven, and if he actually did receive medical care. What we know now is that the second ambulance was canceled because the person who was attending to George Zimmerman did not believe that he had sufficient enough injuries to warrant even an ambulance. [Note: To judge from the actual dispatch, the second ambulance was canceled when it became clear that there was only one gunshot victim.]

And what we also know is that we see George Zimmerman 35 minutes after the fact. We see him not even reaching for the nose, not trying to—a broken bone is excruciating. There are a zillion nerve endings in the face. You would be in excruciating pain.

We know that that is not what we see on the tape. We know that the one witness that was interviewed on CNN, on Anderson Cooper's show, said that the person, George Zimmerman, sprang up after the shooting, did not appear hurt. He never says that he reaches for his head. He never says that the person is holding their nose, none of that.

So what we know flies right in the face of the idea that someone has a broken bone in the face...


O’DONNELL: Natalie Jackson, two things, what would you take as proof that George Zimmerman suffered a broken nose that night? Or even reasonable evidence tending toward proof? Don’t even go to the proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard.

And then, secondly, in the representation of George Zimmerman at this stage, can you think of any conceivable defense reason why they wouldn't answer that simple question on CNN last night of do you have any records? He wasn’t asking them that they produce it and put it on the table on the show last night. But just answer the question, “Do you have any medical records of how this broken nose was treated?”

I cannot think of a single reason why a defense lawyer for Zimmerman wouldn't want to say now, if they had them, “Yes, we do have records of that. We will produce them in the right forum at the right time.”
After a preamble, Jackson said this: “So when we talk about a broken nose and we talk about those things, that is for the defense to present in court so that the evidence can be evaluated by a jury. Now do I personally believe that they have that record? I do not.”

The New York Times should be deeply embarrassed by Dr. Blow’s obvious quackery. Eventually, though, Journalist O’Donnell showcased his fairness of mind:
O’DONNELL: Yeah, Charles, I mean, listen, it would slow me down on this broken nose thing if they would just say, “We have medical records that will satisfy everyone that he was treated for that broken nose as a result of this incident.” The fact that they are not, the fact that they refuse every time they’re asked the question about—I asked the empty chair the question when he walked out.

BLOW: I thought I heard him answer.

O’DONNELL: Do you have medical records of this? And the empty chair didn’t answer either. It’s the same thing. You get them on the show or not. It doesn’t matter.
O’Donnell referred to an incident in which one of Zimmerman’s original lawyers canceled a scheduled appearance on his program. But on this evening's program, viewers were strongly encouraged to doubt the claim of a broken nose—though O’Donnell said he would change his mind if the lawyers would only say that they did have medical records.

Uh-oh! Last Friday, in Zimmerman’s bail hearing, his new lawyer, Mark O’Mara, clearly said that he does have medical records of a broken nose. How did O’Donnell react?

Crackers, please! He hasn’t shared this fact his viewers! They haven’t been asked to look at that photo—and they haven’t been told that O’Mara seems to have taken The O’Donnell Challenge concerning the alleged broken nose.

To media reporter David Carr, this is all part of the “aggressive” coverage that has been staged by MSNBC. Questions:

Why would an actual media reporter describe this disgraceful behavior that way? Why wouldn’t such a journalist leap at the chance to challenge this ridiculous conduct? Why would he do what Carr did instead in Monday’s column? Why would he single out just one of the roughly three million mistakes by NBC News and its cable affiliates, pretending to watch-dog NBC hard about this troubling error?

Tomorrow, we’ll return to these basic questions. But O’Donnell and Sharpton have been “disgraceful,” not “aggressive,” in their coverage of this killing.

The rest of the “press corps” averts its gaze from this blindingly obvious fact. But this has long been the game within the guild we still describe as a “press corps.”

Tomorrow: An endless charade

Celebrity can be a punishing friend!

TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2012

Dumbest pundits in show: Lawrence O’Donnell has always been the dumbest peacock in the show.

During the Clinton years, O’Donnell served as chief of staff to Senator Daniel Moynihan. In 1994, a Clinton staffer said this of O’Donnell: “He's adopted Moynihan's intellectual arrogance, but without the intellect.”

Very little has changed. Last night, O’Donnell spoke with Sanford city manager Norton Bonaparte. Near the end of their discussion, he showcased his failing math skills:
O’DONNELL (4/24/12): On the 3-2 vote today, was one of those votes someone who voted no confidence in the chief?

BONAPARTE: Yes. That was the Mayor Triplett.
Let’s tease out O’Donnell’s question:

Back on March 21, the five-member Sanford city commission voted “no confidence” in police chief Bill Lee, by a 3-2 vote. In response to the vote, Lee stepped aside from his post on a temporary basis.

Yesterday, city manager Bonaparte reached an agreement with Lee by which Lee would leave his post for good. But the city commission voted not to accept this arrangement, by another 3-2 vote.

Obviously, someone who voted “no confidence” back in March had voted to keep Lee on. But O’Donnell had to ask if someone had “switched”—and no, it didn’t seem that his question was rhetorical.

(You can judge this point for yourself. To watch this full segment, click here.)

As it turns out, it was Sanford mayor Bill Triplett who voted “no confidence” back in March, but voted to keep Lee on. And no, this really isn’t illogical or inconsistent, though O’Donnell spent the rest of the segment insisting that it was.

Even worse, he brought on the New York Times’ Charles Blow to discuss these events. Warning: If you want to hate Charles Blow, we’ll suggest that you watch the tape of last evening’s segment.

We don’t know it’s the dumbness or the grinning that we found most offensive. Celebrity can be a horrible friend—and Blow has achieved his measure of fame through his fact-challenged, incompetent punditry concerning the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Last night, Blow seemed to be hugely enjoying himself as he chatted with O’Donnell. But then, Blow never seems to have as much fun as when he goes on the TV machine to discuss Martin’s death.

You can examine his grinning for yourself. In the rest of this post, let’s examine his “logic.”

In his unfortunate conduct concerning this case, Blow is constantly trying to turn Sanford into Black Rock (click here). In his low-IQ novelizations, nothing in Sanford can ever be said to make any sense at all.

So it was when the grinning Blow discussed this latest 3-2 vote. O’Donnell is dumb—but Blow may be dumber. Here’s what the twinned fellows said:
O’DONNELL: Joining me now is Charles M. Blow, opinion writer for the New York Times. Charles, this is as strange as it gets in that town, politically. I just can’t fathom this thing.

BLOW: You say “strange.” I say this is a joke. I mean, this is like “Real City Officials of Sanford, Florida.” It’s like a sitcom or something. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.
O’Donnell “just can’t fathom this thing?” No real surprise there! To his credit, Blow remembered to say that this matter is “tragic”—although, to our jaundiced eye, his grinning said something quite different.

As he continued, Blow tried to explain why yesterday’s vote made no sense:
BLOW (continuing directly): You can’t say, on the one hand, that you vote no confidence and ask the police chief, Bill Lee, to step down and willing to pay him to step down—which I wish I had that job, where you could just not work and get paid your full salary—and then turn around and say, “We need to wait for the investigation to be completed in order to accept a resignation that will actually save the city of Sanford money.”

Those two things just don’t go together. Either you should have waited for the investigation to be completed in order to vote for, take a vote of no confidence, or you had enough to believe that that police chief was not capable of doing that job, which is what they said when they voted no confidence, and be willing to say, “We are willing, as a city, to move forward from this episode with a new management in charge of our police force.”

The fact that they are saying these two competing things is absolutely ridiculous.
We’re sorry, but that’s kind of dumb. Yesterday, Triplett explained his vote; he said he wants to wait for the city’s full probe of the Martin case before he turns Lee out. As everyone surely knows, it’s quite common to have an official step aside on a temporary basis while his conduct is being examined. There’s nothing "absolutely ridiculous" here—and Triplett is the only member of the commission who, in effect, “switched his vote.”

Four of the five members voted “consistently”—and Triplett’s switch is not illogical. Despite that, Dumb and Dumber took this event as a marker of Sanford’s total craziness. If you want to learn to hate Charles Blow, watch how he smiles his Cheshire smile as he fulminates further:
O’DONNELL (continuing directly): You know, my sense of Norton Bonaparte, from the first time he appeared on this program, is that he really is a city manager. He really is trying to manage things in a very, very difficult situation. He seems to do things patiently, carefully, but things that make sense.

This outcome he was trying to achieve makes perfect sense. And then when you take it to the city commission, you find once again one of these demonstrations about what a strange town Sanford can be.

BLOW: Lawrence, you’re asking for something to make sense out of this situation. I mean, this whole thing has never made sense. I think that’s probably the reason we’ve been talking about it for so long. The case doesn’t make sense. The behavior of the police doesn’t really make sense.

The way that they treated George Zimmerman taking him into that police station, from what we saw from videotape, leaning against walls, rubbing your feet on the mat when you walk through the door, none of that makes sense. The idea that he shot and killed a 17-year-old boy who was unarmed, was able to talk his way out of that police precinct that night, doesn’t quite make sense.

I’m not sure that that police department is capable of making sense. And what happened today was that the city commission, and in particular the mayor of Sanford, Florida, basically became the contradiction that the police department of Sanford is by voting no confidence in the beginning and then saying, I refuse to let him go; I`m not ready to do that; I’m just ready to pay him, until the trial is over or until the investigation is over, which makes no sense.

O’DONNELL: Well, that is a perfect summary of where we stand. Charles M. Blow, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Only one person on the commission “switched his vote”—and we’re sorry, but his conduct does make sense. (That doesn’t mean you have to agree with his judgments, of course. The votes of the other four members also “make sense.”) But to the widely grinning Blow, this provided the perfect chance to declare that nothing in Sanford makes sense.

According to Blow, it didn’t even make sense when the Sanford police wiped their feet on the mats that night! It didn’t make sense when they leaned on the walls! And of course, it didn’t make sense that Zimmerman wasn’t charged with a crime that first night.

Sadly, it’s Blow and his possibly dumber host whose analyses rarely make sense. When this case was handed to Florida’s toughest prosecutor, she herself waited three full weeks before she brought criminal charges against Zimmerman. She didn’t charge him with a crime on her first night with this tragic case either!

On The One True Liberal Channel, all the pundits grinned when she did that. They failed to note that she herself didn’t bring charges on the first day, or even in the first several weeks.

To the “Real Pundits of MSNBC,” it was wrong, oh so wrong, when Zimmerman walked away that first night. It was heroism when Angela Corey brought charges—but only after three full weeks investigating the case.

Blow and O’Donnell rarely make sense. Last night, could you see their hearts—and their low IQs—by their incessant grins?

We wish that too: Charles Blow wishes he had “that job, where you could just not work and get paid your full salary.”

Finally something on which we agree! We wish Blow had that job too!

Good solid major league waste-of-time watch!

TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2012

Parker examines the veeps: Yesterday, Paul Krugman asked a rare silly question: Will the press corps do a good job covering issues of substance during the White House campaign?

Of course they won’t, we thoughtfully said. Today, as if to prove our point, Ashley Parker came along with a wonderful piece of time-wasting.

At this juncture, it’s required by Hard Pundit Law! Silly scribes will waste everyone's time reviewing the possible VP picks. The exercise is utterly pointless, but it serves one key purpose:

It gives flyweights like Parker one more way to avoid real reporting. Her editors tell her to do this.

How stupid does this "reporting" get? This morning, Parker reviews a Pennsylvania campaign event in which Candidate Romney appeared with Marco Rubio.

In our hard-copy Times, her report, accompanied by a large photo, eats the whole top half of page A14. This is the wonderfully silly way this consummate flyweight began:
PARKER (4/24/12): Rubio Is Latest Possible Running Mate to Join Romney on the Campaign Trail

CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa.—Senator Marco Rubio of Florida looked on respectfully Monday afternoon as Mitt Romney addressed a group of reporters in a suburb of Philadelphia. He clasped his hands behind his back, rested them on his hips and folded them in front of him. He nodded almost imperceptibly at the appropriate times and, later, clapped along with the crowd.

As Mr. Rubio campaigned with him on Monday, standing at his side quietly as Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, fielded questions on illegal immigration, he also became the latest member of the up-and-coming Republican establishment to try out as a potential vice-presidential candidate with the party’s likely nominee.
Parker showcases her skills as a novelist—and as a world-class waster of time:

She tells us that Rubio looked on “respectfully” as Romney spoke. From this, we can assume he didn’t roll his eyes or make funny faces during Romney’s remarks.

In paragraph 2, we learn that Rubio stood there “quietly” as Romney fielded his questions. Presumably, he didn’t hum, pop gum or sing favorite songs as Romney took those questions.

Parker wasted oodles of time helping readers know what Rubio did with his hands this day. Just for the record, he sometimes clasped them behind his back. At other times, he rested them on his hips. Or folded them in front of him!

Three or four months from now, Romney will announce his vice presidential pick. Until that time, people like Parker and Lawrence O’Donnell will waste oodles of everyone's time on pointless presentations like this.

They engage in this foolishness every four years. It helps them avoid the thing they hate—the real events of the real world.

Will the press corps examine the actual issues? Kruggers! Why did you ask?

Direct from the world of true bromance: Parker, one of the corps’ top flyweights, got her start as Maureen Dowd’s “research assistant.” This morning, the Dowdism crept in on little cats’ feet as Parker hissed and spat:
PARKER: Though Mr. Romney carefully noted that “the process for selecting a vice-presidential running mate is just beginning,” Mr. Rubio did seem to be one of a series of potential running mates who have campaigned with Mr. Romney in recent weeks. These men and women—including Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and Senator John Thune of South Dakota—have helped him stump in early primary states, but their presence has also given Mr. Romney the chance to learn who is perpetually late, who might overshadow him, who relates well to him and who, of course, is a great campaigner.

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia flew on a small chartered plane in South Carolina with Mr. Romney; Ms. Haley barnstormed around her home state with Mr. Romney, as well, clocking many hours of rallies—and face time.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio campaigned with Mr. Romney during his state’s primary, and hosted a small dinner with members of the news media and several Romney staff members.

Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, meanwhile, introduced Mr. Romney to Culver’s for butter burgers and chocolate malts, and exhibited all of the telltale signs of a “bromance”; the two laughed and riffed off each other so frequently that Mr. Romney joked about having to deny that Mr. Ryan was one of his sons.

Though Mr. Romney and Mr. Rubio did not share notable personal chemistry and or the easy banter of longtime friends, they did spend some time together on Monday. They met at the airport, and rode and chatted on Mr. Romney’s bus.
This is good, solid, thought-provoking stuff. It comes from the world of true bromance, the silly world Maureen Dowd made.

Self-flagellation watch: Watching us get more like them!

TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2012

Kilgore and Stans run the rubes: Last weekend, Adele Stans subbed for Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly blog.

In her final post on Sunday, Stans complained about the folk who appeared on the Sunday news programs:
STANS (4/22/12): No, your eyes weren’t deceiving you as you watched those Sunday shows today. There really were a whole lotta Republican white guys on. ThinkProgress has the deets on the demographic make-up of the Sunday show guest contingent, noting that, in Sundayshowland, women are most likely to be represented by Michele Bachmann, and African-Americans, by Herman Cain.
Stans was making it hurt so good. “There really were a whole lotta Republican white guys on” the programs, she said.

In his first post Monday morning, Kilgore took up this charge. As he started, he complained about the near-"domination" of Sunday’s shows by those Republican men:
KILGORE (4/23/12): You may have heard about a new report last week from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting about the domination of the big Sunday TV talk shows by Republican men. It didn’t get much better yesterday as the big topic of discussion, believe it or not, was the mini-scandal involving the Secret Service and Colombian hookers.
Kilgore proceeded to quote several paragraphs from a news report in The Hill. In the paragraphs he quoted, Hill reporter Cameron Joseph quoted statements by two Republican congressmen, Issa and King, on Sunday’s Meet the Press.

Kilgore and Stans made it hurt so good—but they were running the rubes. In fact, Sunday’s shows weren’t dominated by white Republican men. In fact, a wide array of players appeared on the shows to discuss the Secret Service matter.

By our count, 36 different guests appeared on the five major Sunday shows. Eleven of these people were women, including three black women. Seven blacks and one Hispanic appeared; our own congressman, Elijah Cummings, appeared on two of the programs.

Democrats and Republicans were equally represented.

Issa and King appeared on Meet the Press—but they were balanced by David Axelrod, who got his own stand-alone segment. The portrait drawn by Stans and Kilgore was grossly misleading. And alas! Readers might have understood this fact if Kilgore had quoted more of that Hill report.

This is what Cameron Joseph wrote in The Hill—immediately after Kilgore stopped quoting:
JOSEPH (4/22/12): Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said that the Secret Service scandal has raised concerns about whether enemies of the state might try to attack President Obama in the near future.

"It's not only important that you be excellent, but we also don't want people to even imagine that they can pierce the shield of the Secret Service," House Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said on CNN's "State of the Union." "It bothers me a lot because I know that there are a lot of folks who are perhaps looking for opportunities to do harm to the president or others the the Secret Service guards ... Will they think that there's a moment of weakness? That's the time that they may think that they can act."

"For the Secret Service to go forward the cancer must be carved out," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on CBS's "Face The Nation." Jackson Lee called for for "zero tolerance" for anyone involved in the scandal.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said the Obama administration had handled the scandal well so far and warned against dramatizing the issue.

[...]

All of the members of Congress praised Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan for reacting quickly and decisively to the burgeoning scandal.

"I know he's on the case. He's committed. He's working hard," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said on ABC's "This Week," while cautioning that all the facts were not known yet. "Let's see his report. The president is standing behind him and will look at his report and make a decision."

"Based on everything I've seen so far," King said, "I have full confidence in him."

David Axelrod, a top Obama campaign adviser, said the president has confidence in Sullivan and thinks he should keep his job.

Maloney and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, called for the Secret Service to recruit more women.
Cummings and Jackson Lee are black. Maloney, Collins and Jackson Lee are women. Coburn and King are “Republican white guys”—but they were quoted saying that the administration has handled things well. And people: Tavis Smiley nsd Cornel West even did Face the Nation!

Those posts were straight outta Hannityland. In our exquisite self-flagellation, we continue to grow more like them.

CARR WRECK: Does the press self-correct?

TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2012

Part 2—The claim is absurd on its face: Do news orgs correct their own mistakes?

In a wonderful bit of insider clownistry, that’s what David Carr told readers of the New York Times. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/23/12.

We know—the claim is absurd on its face. But plainly, that’s what Carr said. The gentleman made his ridiculous claim in his “Media Equation” column:
CARR (4/23/12): What is it with television news and corrections? When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves. But network news acts as if an on-air admission of error might cause a meteor to land on the noggin of one of its precious talking heads. NBC used all of the powers at its disposal to amend the mistake, except the high-visibility airtime where the bad clip ran in the first place.
According to Carr, TV news programs don’t self-correct. But generally speaking, everybody else does.

This claim is turtles all the way down, as Bertrand Russell once said. Consider a recent pair of mistakes in Carr’s own New York Times. These mistakes concern the killing of Trayvon Martin, the very topic Carr pretended to discuss in yesterday’s column.

One of these mistakes occurred in an editorial on Thursday, April 12. As always, the editors posed themselves under a high-minded headline: “Searching for Justice in Florida.”

But uh-oh! As they proceeded, the editors repeated a widely-made factual error concerning this case. This misstatement has been widely used to drive a certain view of the killing:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/12/12): Angela Corey, the special prosecutor, declined to discuss details of the case but said that if the Stand Your Ground law is invoked by the defense, ''we will fight it'' with evidence that the shooting was unjustified. In this case, Mr. Zimmerman exited his car to follow the teenager despite a 911 dispatcher's warning: ''We don't need you to do that.''
The highlighted statement is almost certainly false, as the editors should have known or suspected long before April 12. It had long been fairly clear that Zimmerman had already left his car when the dispatcher made the quoted remark. It now seems clear that Corey herself claims that Zimmerman was already out of his car when the dispatcher made this remark.

(This sequence is rather clearly implied in Corey’s affidavit and in the testimony of her lead investigator at last Friday’s bail hearing. To review the relevant testimony, click here, scroll halfway down.)

Almost surely, Zimmerman was already out of his car, following Martin on foot, when the dispatcher made his remark. But on those TV news programs which don’t self-correct, very loud people have endlessly claimed that Zimmerman ignored the dispatcher’s order, instruction or request that he should stay in his car.

This claim has been used to fuel the charge that Zimmerman behaved irresponsibly—against police instructions—in following Martin that night.

By April 12, the editors should have known that this claim was almost certainly false. But so what? The editors followed the lead of the cable screamers and made their inaccurate statement.

Twelve days have passed, and no correction has appeared. Nor will any correction appear; Homey don’t play it that way, and he never has. But writing live and direct from Dreamland, David Carr informed the world that denizens of the “journalism world” do in fact generally self-correct.

That’s pure nonsense. It’s the latest ad for the guild from one of the guild’s own members.

A second misstatement appeared two day later, in Charles Blow’s weekly column. Blow’s statement was less specific than that of the editors—but his claim was also bogus.

Like the editors, Blow posed himself beneath a high-minded headline:
BLOW (4/14/12): Justice for Trayvon

America has heard the calls for justice from a Florida family.

A boy’s blood had been spilled on a rain-soaked patch of grass behind a row of mustard-colored condominiums by a man who had pursued him against the advice of 911 dispatchers. That man carried a 9-millimeter handgun. The boy carried a bag of candy.
Did Zimmerman “pursue [Martin] against the advice of 911 dispatchers?” Like Blow, we don’t know. That is the claim of the prosecution, as is clear from the affidavit charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder and from testimony in last Friday’s bail hearing. But this claim has not been proven. People speaking for Zimmerman have repeatedly said that he began returning to his truck after the dispatcher’s remark.

Blow doesn’t know if his statement is true. In the world Carr has imagined, a correction or a clarification should have appeared by now. But no such statement has appeared—and no such statement will.

The editors made a statement which is almost certainly false; Blow made a statement which is unfounded. But no corrections will appear; Homey don’t play it like that. In fact, the New York Times has created some of the most comical examples of non-correction in the annals of modern press history, a disastrous fact we will review before the week is done.

TV news programs don’t self-correct. But as a general matter, neither does the Times.

Is it possible that Carr doesn’t understand this unfortunate fact—a fact which is blindingly obvious? We can’t get inside people’s heads. But Carr’s highlighted statement—We journalists typically do self-correct—represents the latest staging of a common morality play, in which the guild misleads the public about the guild’s own conduct.

Carr made a ridiculous statement in yesterday’s piece. But he also acted out a familiar drama in this highly familiar column. In his piece, he pretended to dog NBC News about one of the roughly three million mistakes it and its cable affiliates have made in their coverage of the killing of Martin.

Through such presentations, tribunes like Carr give us rubes the impression that the guild is on the job. The Times is watch-dogging NBC News, this newspaper’s readers may think.

When we buy this false impression, we rubes get deceived—again.

Tomorrow: Carr and MSNBC—and also, Brian Stelter

Sometimes, news orgs do self-correct: If their mistakes are sufficiently trivial, big news orgs do self-correct. With regard to the killing of Martin, the New York Times offered this self-correction on April 2:
CORRECTIONS (4/2/12): An article on Thursday about how Skittles, the candy Trayvon Martin was carrying when he was killed, has become a symbol of protest rendered incorrectly the name of a powdered drink that also became a symbol of protest after the cult leader Jim Jones laced it with cyanide to kill more than 900 people in Guyana in 1978. It is Flavor Aid, not Flavor-Aid.
Thank goodness they straightened that out!

As a general rule, big news orgs will correct their own mistakes as long as the mistakes are trivial. When it comes to the killing of Martin, the Times has corrected the spelling of Flavor Aid. But it has failed to inform its readers about those highly-charged claims concerning Zimmerman’s conduct.

Four days later, the clownish newspaper authored another correction:
CORRECTIONS (4/6/12): An article on March 17 about appeals for a Department of Justice investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman misstated the time period in which Mr. Zimmerman made 46 calls to 911. The calls were made over the course of about eight years, not over 14 months. The error was repeated in a front-page article on March 21 about Florida's self-defense law known as Stand Your Ground.
It only took the Times three weeks to notice this error. Here at THE HOWLER, we detailed the press corps’ ridiculous bungling of the 46 phone calls on March 27. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/27/12.

According to Nexis, the Times has made one other correction concerning the killing of Martin. Blow’s columns have been full of misleading, bogus or unproven statements. But the Times wanted you to know this:
CORRECTIONS (3/28/12): An article on Monday about news coverage of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old who was fatally shot on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., misstated the age of George Zimmerman, the man identified as the shooter. He is 28, not 26.
Our big news orgs do self-correct—when their mistakes don’t matter. In the case of the Times, no one reads these self-corrections, which don't appear in the parts of the paper where the original errors occurred.

This is the very type of conduct against which Carr dramatically railed. NBC News did correct the editing error he cited, one of the roughly three million errors the news org has made in its coverage of the killing of Martin. But they didn't correct it on the Today show itself, our Potemkin watch-dog railed.

Will the media cover this policy question?

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012

Why does he even ask: At the start of this morning’s column, Paul Krugman pops a basic question:

“Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are?”

We’re not sure how to answer that question. (In part, we don’t know who the “we” is in that question.) That said, we’ll assume Romney knows that our political discourse is just monumentally stupid.

That fact is the dog that doesn’t bark in Krugman’s new column.

In his column, Krugman describes a slightly awkward performance by Candidate Romney last week. Romney spoke at a closed drywall factory in Ohio, criticizing “the failure of this President’s policies with regards to getting the economy going again.”

What made this performance slightly awkward? Here is Krugman’s description, right at the start of his column:
KRUGMAN (4/23/12): Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? If you’ve been following his campaign from the beginning, that’s a question you have probably asked many times.

But the question was raised with particular force last week, when Mr. Romney tried to make a closed drywall factory in Ohio a symbol of the Obama administration’s economic failure. It was a symbol, all right—but not in the way he intended.

First of all, many reporters quickly noted a point that Mr. Romney somehow failed to mention: George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, was president when the factory in question was closed. Does the Romney campaign expect Americans to blame President Obama for his predecessor’s policy failure?
Ha! This drywall factory closed during the tenure of President Bush, not under President Obama! “Many reporters” noted this point, Krugman said.

But uh-oh! As best we can tell, no reporter ever mentioned this fact at Krugman’s own New York Times. On-line, Krugman is forced to link to this news report at ABC News.

In her report, Emily Friedman mentioned that slightly awkward fact ever so briefly, in passing. But she also recorded what Romney actually said:
FRIEDMAN (4/19/12): Standing on the floor of a shutdown factory visited during the 2008 campaign by then-senator Barack Obama, Mitt Romney suggested that workers would have returned by now if it weren’t for the President’s economic policies.

“So, as you can tell, we are in a factory,” said Romney, speaking at the National Gypsum Company in Lorain, with a massive sign that read “Obama Isn’t Working” hanging behind him. “This factory is empty.”

“It was closed in 2008 at the beginning of the economic downturn,” he said. “Had the President’s economic plans worked it would have been open by now. But it is still empty. And it underscores the failure of this President’s policies with regards to getting the economy going again.”
Uh-oh! Romney explicitly said that the factory closed in 2008; George Bush was president then, as many people know. Here's his argument, and it may be a very weak one: The factory would have reopened by now if Obama’s policies had worked.

In the rest of his column, Krugman explains why Romney’s larger argument is very weak. “Drywall is mainly used in new houses,” Krugman explains, “and while the economy may be coming back, the Bush-era housing bubble isn’t.” But Romney’s misstatement wasn’t quite as striking as Krugman made it seem—and no reporter at the Times seems to have “noted [this] point.”

In part, we would offer this column as another small sign of a very bad trend—Krugman’s increasing tribalism, a trend we regard as a defeat for progressive interests.

Then too, as he ends his column, Krugman displays another small weakness. He pens a Pollyanna’s question about the campaign to come:
KRUGMAN: So am I saying that Mr. Obama did everything he could, and that everything would have been fine if he hadn’t faced political opposition? By no means. Even given the political constraints, the administration did less than it could and should have in 2009, especially on housing. Furthermore, Mr. Obama was an active participant in Washington’s destructive “pivot” away from jobs to a focus on deficit reduction.

And the administration has suffered repeatedly from complacency — taking a few months of good news as an excuse to rest on its laurels rather than hammering home the need for more action. It did that in 2010, it did it in 2011, and to a certain extent it has been doing the same thing this year too. So there is a valid critique one can make of the administration’s handling of the economy.

But that’s not the critique Mr. Romney is making. Instead, he’s basically attacking Mr. Obama for not acting as if George Bush had been given a third term. Are the American people—and perhaps more to the point, the news media—forgetful enough for that attack to work? I guess we’ll find out.
Forget “the American people” for now. Will "the news media" explore this general policy question in the months of campaigning to come?

Krugman asks, but we can tell you right now:

People! Of course they won’t!

Should the Court let SB 1070 stand?

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012

At the New York Times, them perfessers strike again: Should the Supreme Court strike down Arizona’s immigration law, the infamous SB 1070?

We’re not sure, in part because of them perfesser fellers!

The Court is scheduled to hear arguments about several parts of SB 1070 on Wednesday. In this morning’s New York Times, Professor Peter J. Spiro pens an op-ed column about this matter.

Spiro is a law professor at Temple—though you wouldn’t guess that fact from reading his column.

Early on, Professor Spiro states his view of the Arizona law and similar laws in other states. Spiro doesn’t approve of these laws, which is fine by us:
SPIRO (4/23/12): Such laws are misguided at best, mean-spirited and racially tainted at worst. The conventional wisdom among immigration advocates is that immigrant interests will be best served if the Supreme Court makes an example of Arizona’s law by striking it down.

But in the long run, immigrant interests will be better helped if the Supreme Court upholds S.B. 1070. Laws like Arizona’s are such bad policy that, left to their own devices, they will die a natural death—and their supporters will suffer the political consequences.
According to Spiro, SB 1070 is “misguided at best.” It’s “mean-spirited and racially tainted at worst.”

But is SB 1070 constitutional? Spiro is a professor of law—but as best we can tell, he never offers a single word on this rather basic question.

All through his column, Spiro voices a type of political judgment; he says “immigrant interests” will be best served if the Court lets SB 1070 stand. But how should the Court rule on the constitutional merits? We can’t find a word about that.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it! But down through the years, we have found that people often have a hard time getting clear on the Court’s role in cases like this:

In a case like this, the Court is supposed to decide if a given law is permitted by the constitution. It isn’t supposed to decide if the law constitutes good policy, or if it helps various "interests."

This morning, the Times employs a professor of law to speculate about the policy implications of the Court’s decision. No one helps us figure out if the law is constitutionally valid.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it! But we’ll be featuring the work of them perfesser fellers on several occasions this week. And by the way:

It isn’t just “immigrant interests” which will be advanced if SB 1070 is permitted to stand. As he continues, Spiro hands us this bit of Classic New York Timesism:
SPIRO: Similar anti-immigrant laws are often introduced but rarely enacted, as corporate interests work quietly to kill or defang them. Mississippi became the latest state to refuse to follow in Arizona’s footsteps when an illegal-immigration bill died in a State Senate committee earlier this month in the face of opposition from prominent local business groups.
Hurrah! “Corporate interests” will also be served if SB 1070 stands!

On this morning’s front page, the Times offers a news report on this question. It helps us see that agricultural interests want this law struck down.

In her front-page report, Julia Preston boo-hoo-hoos about a “conservative” farmer in Georgia who wants to have plenty of good cheap labor to hire for work on his farm. Just like in the old days!

In such ways, the Times engages in its greatest crusade. It pretends to stand for high-minded racial justice, even as it makes a joke of all it pretends to survey.

CARR WRECK: Is David Carr just an industry shill?

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012

Part 1—Don’t answer too fast: Is the New York Times’ David Carr really this clueless?

Careful! Don’t answer too fast!

Is David Carr really this clueless? We found ourselves asking this question as we read Carr’s new column this morning.

Carr’s weekly column, “The Media Equation,” deals, or pretends to deal, with various media issues. This morning’s column is the New York Times’ version of press criticism.

Question: Is today’s column a serious effort? Or is David Carr just an industry shill, a critic straight outta Potemkin?

Carr’s column deals with a groaning error in the press coverage of the Trayvon Martin killing—one of about a thousand such “errors” the mainstream “press corps” has made. In fairness to Carr, this particular error occurred on the Today show, a major platform for NBC News—and it was a doozy.

In fairness to Carr, he explains the error quite well. On the Today show, George Zimmerman’s original call to the Sanford police was edited in a grossly misleading way. This is Carr’s account of the error he worries about today—an error he says was “misleading, incendiary, dead-bang wrong:”
CARR (4/23/12): After broadcasting an audio clip on the “Today” show about George Zimmerman last month that hit the trifecta of being misleading, incendiary and dead-bang wrong, NBC News management took serious action: it fired the producer in charge and issued a statement apologizing for making it appear as if Mr. Zimmerman had made overtly racist statements.

[...]

Here is how NBC edited the clip of Mr. Zimmerman, who is now charged with second-degree murder in the Trayvon Martin case:

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good. ... he looks black.”

Here is what Mr. Zimmerman actually said:

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” The dispatcher then asks, “O.K., and this guy—is he white, black or Hispanic?” Mr. Zimmerman pauses and replies, “He looks black.”

The clip was first broadcast on March 22, but no one noticed until it was rebroadcast on March 27. Later, when word of the misleading edit got out, everyone from Sean Hannity to Jon Stewart reacted with disbelief, with good reason.
Without any question, that was a horrible bit of “editing.” The edited version of the phone call made it sound like Zimmerman featured Martin’s race in his call to the Sanford police. It made it sound like race was the very first thing on his mind.

Needless to say, this bungled edit perfectly fit one novelized version of this event, which ended in Martin’s death.

In typical New York Times fashion, Carr overstates the nature of this editing bungle. Can we talk? Even after NBC fashioned its horrible edit, George Zimmerman wasn’t shown making “overtly racist statements.”

On its face, that claim is just silly. But if you work for the New York Times, you’re expected to shriek in such ways. That said, this truly was a horrible editing bungle. As Carr notes, many observers reacted to this error—and they did so “with good reason.”

(Did these people react “with disbelief” to this latest error by NBC News? If so, they’re just as clueless as Carr seems to be, if we assume he worked in good faith assembling this morning’s column.)

Carr is covering some very old ground in recounting this editing error. As he says, many folk screeched about this edit during the last week in March.

Why does Carr revisit this ground? He has a lofty new question to ask: Why didn’t NBC News issue a formal correction right there on the Today show?

This is a rather narrow concern. In fact, NBC News took many actions in response to this ludicrous error. As Carr notes in his opening paragraph, “it fired the producer in charge and issued a statement apologizing for” this groaning error.

NBC’s statement of regret was widely reported. But NBC failed to take one additional step; it didn’t make a formal correction on the Today show itself. Carr is very disturbed by this failure. It forms the basis for the concern—or for the fake concern—around which he builds today’s column.

Should the Today show have aired a correction? Probably yes, though for various reasons, we don’t think it matters all that much. But Carr is very concerned about this failure, or at least he pretends to be.

In this passage, he voices his vast concern. For the first time, he makes us wonder if he can be this clueless:
CARR: What is it with television news and corrections? When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves. But network news acts as if an on-air admission of error might cause a meteor to land on the noggin of one of its precious talking heads. NBC used all of the powers at its disposal to amend the mistake, except the high-visibility airtime where the bad clip ran in the first place.
Are you kidding? “When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves?” On which planet has Carr been stationed over the past thirty years?

That highlighted statement is baldly absurd—a piece of obvious nonsense delivered to New York Times readers. But then, the analysts came right out of their chairs when Carr typed one additional groaner. We’ll ask you to focus on one key word as we extend his analysis from what we have posted above:
CARR: The clip was first broadcast on March 22, but no one noticed until it was rebroadcast on March 27. Later, when word of the misleading edit got out, everyone from Sean Hannity to Jon Stewart reacted with disbelief, with good reason.

Some went on to draw a line from NBC to MSNBC and its aggressive coverage of the incident and then on to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has tried—awkwardly and unsuccessfully—to tread the line between talk show host and advocate.

People I talked to in and around NBC say it was idiocy, not ideology, that led to the edit, and that seems like a reasonable explanation, so I’m not buying that part about it being one more example of the liberal plot to subvert America.

But even absent motive, it was a remarkable lapse in editorial process that inflamed a highly emotional issue, and it created suspicion that journalists and media outlets were picking sides. Erik Wemple of The Washington Post called the incident “high editorial malpractice” because it took the tape of the 911 call—the only hard and fast piece of evidence in an otherwise murky case—and mangled it beyond recognition.
The analysts came out of their chairs when they read that key word: “aggressive.”

Incredible, isn’t it? Confronted with MSNBC’s astonishing conduct of the past month, all Carr can do is tell his readers that the network has been “aggressive!” As he does, he stages a familiar type of show trial:

Carr pretends to be very upset by one of the thousand-and-one instances in which NBC News and its cable affiliate have “mangled” the facts of this case “beyond recognition.” He voices concerned about that one instance—and he deep-sixes the rest!

As we’ll help you see all week, this is a very familiar type of “press criticism.” In this type of Potemkin criticism, the guild pretends to challenge its own, even as it directs your attention away from the full extent of the guild’s misconduct. In today’s iteration, Carr pretends that the guild usually does step forward to correct its own mistakes—and he keeps Times readers from understanding what the guild has done in this case.

Can David Carr possibly be this clueless? People! Don’t answer too fast!

Tomorrow: Will there be blood?

Three cheers watch: The Young Turks do care!

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2012

A glimpse of some basic facts: This Monday, we got a good impression of a small American public school. To read our report, just click here.

Two weeks earlier, we got a similar impression of Cenk Uygur’s Young Turks. Say what? A news enterprise that’s interested in basic facts about public schools?

Who ever heard of such an unusual thing!

We taped a brief segment for the Young Turks, to be used in a discussion of public schools. To view the whole outing, click here.

Three cheers for the Young Turks! That said, what are the facts about the NAEP data, which we discussed in our brief taping? (We refer to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the endlessly ballyhooed “gold standard” of American testing.)

What are the facts about the NAEP? Funny you should ask:

For our money, Richard Rothstein has presented the most dramatic account of the score gains which have been recorded by black kids and Hispanic kids on the NAEP. The fact Rothstein cites is truly amazing. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/30/11.

In October 2010, we challenged the liberal world to write about and examine these score gains. We tried to lick every pundit in the house. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/15/10.

Fullest information: In September 2010, at the start of the school year, we ran through the NAEP scores as they then existed, showing the gains which have been recorded by black kids and Hispanic kids. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/1/10.

They won’t discuss these data on MSNBC; they'd rather clown about Mitt Romney's cookies. They won’t attempt to figure out what these striking data might mean.

But then, those hustlers simply don’t care. Do you care? You have to decide.

Let's close again with three cheers for the Turks! But much, much more ought to be said about the true state of our public schools—about the children who go to those schools, about the teachers who work there. Why don't "liberal" news orgs discuss this world?

We complain. You can decide.