Carrying us back to old Virginny!


Rachel Maddow runs us rubes about those very long lines: In fairness, Rachel Maddow covers some perfectly decent topics.

Her play list is limited for our taste, and her political sense is quite weak. But worst of all, she just isn’t overwhelmingly honest.

As part of that problem, she sometimes peddles big piles of bogus facts. Consider what happened on Monday night, which was, after all, April 1.

The state of Virginia had passed a new law requiring more documentation to vote. That was a perfectly worthwhile topic, but Rachel just couldn’t help it.

The darling child started out like this. To watch the full segment, click here:
MADDOW (4/1/13): Epic lines for voting in Florida and Ohio last year were a national scandal when it came to the election.

But you know what? Virginia was right there with them! Get in line!

The November elections found voters in Virginia standing for three hours, four hours, five hours—seven hours? Seven hour lines to vote in a state that considers itself a cradle of American democracy.

Seven hours!

Only four states had longer average wait times than Virginia did in this past election. A survey by the New York Times found that it took twice as long, on average, to cast a ballot in Virginia as it did in Ohio. And in Ohio, it was really bad.
As far as we know, almost everything Maddow said can be defended as technically accurate, if you’re willing to stretch a bit, then self-medicate later on. We will assume that, somewhere in the state of Virginia, someone actually did have to wait seven hours to vote.

Seven hours!

That said, we reviewed the list from the New York Times to which the darling child referred. According to the Times, these were the average wait times for the states she cited:
Average wait time to vote, November 2012 election:
Florida: 45.0 minutes
District of Columbia: 33.8 minutes
Maryland: 28.8 minutes
South Carolina: 24.8 minutes
Virginia: 23.6 minutes


Ohio: 11.0 minutes
Florida was pretty much in a league of its own. But was it “really bad” in Ohio? In fact, the average wait time in the state was just eleven minutes! According to the New York Times, Ohio actually ranked near the middle of the nation on this measure. It had the twenty-first longest average time, if you count D.C.

To her credit, Rachel’s statements were sometimes technically accurate. For example, it’s true that “it took twice as long, on average, to cast a ballot in Virginia as it did in Ohio.” But in Virginia, the average wait time was 23.6 minutes. Rachel made it sound like the poor field hands had to wait all day.

Here in Maryland, our average wait time was five minues longer than in Virginia—and we have a Democratic governor and legislature. In Maryland, no one was trying to make minority groups and/or students wait in long lines that day. But you can see how it turned out.

Rachel does this sort of thing quite often. Who knows? Maybe her staff typed up this shit and she didn’t even realize. That said, we’ll offer two objections to this practice:

First, this is exactly what Hannity does. He peddles bullshit to the rubes. This convinces them that they’re pitiable victims. They’re grateful to Sean for his lies!

Our second objection is perhaps more serious. Rachel has played this card ever since November. It substitutes for real reporting about who had to wait how long where.

Rachel constantly shows us video of people standing in very long lines. But she is too lazy, or perhaps too dishonest, to get off her keister and make her staff perform research.

Where did people have to wait in absurdly long lines? Why did it happen in those places? Is some racial pattern visible? This would be valuable information.

Rachel doesn’t waste time with shit like that. She takes the short cut. She plays you!

Sorry, Virginia! Very few residents had to stand in those seven-hour lines! (To quote Rachel, "Seven hours!") That may have been Rachel running us rubes, playing her Sean Card again.


  1. Of course, averages have nothing to do with anything, since it could be five seconds in the overwhelmingly Republican precincts and seven hours, or two hours or one hour, in the strongest Democratic areas. You could readily still come out with a 23 minute average. Either TDH understands this and knows he has enough rubes in his audience to come to his defense -- and that being honest doesn't matter if he is attacking Maddow's honesty -- or he got sloppy or he still doesn't get it.

    1. But wait, wasn't it Rachel Maddow who switched from maximum wait times to average wait times without bothering to note the important distinction you just made above ? Obviously a state with average wait times of 20 minutes could also have very little variation with maximums of only 30 or 40 minutes say, while a state could have a lower average but much higher maximum waits. But again, it's Rachel Maddow who jumped from exclaiming about 7 hour wait times to statewide averages, thereby confusing the matter, which I think is Bob's point.

    2. Bill Gates walks into a bar...

    3. I think you just made Bob's point, urban. I'm sure he would love to know whether voters in Republican precincts wait 5 seconds while voters in Democratic precincts wait an hour or two. His point is that you wouldn't know these crucial facts from watching Rachel Maddow because she doesn't bother going into that sort of detail.

    4. "Rachel constantly shows us video of people standing in very long lines."

      But of course, to Bob and his few remaining sycophants, that's not evidence of people standing in very long lines.

    5. Wrong, dumbass -- What it's not evidence of is lines being longer due to GOP tactics.

      Your beloved Maddow can't be bothered with that. And you can't be bothered to construct more than a strawman argument. No news there.

    6. How dishonest can you get? Did you even watch the segment? Because it wasn't about the long lines of 2012 created by the GOP.

      It was about how the Virginia legislature, instead of enacting legislation to fix the long lines, has not only defeated such legislation, but passed a bill to make the process even more complicated with new ID requirements.

      You can argue with her all you want, but at least have the honesty to argue with what she actually reported, not with what you imagine she reported, or (more likely) what Somerby told you she reported and you lack the curiosity to even click on the link to find out whether he was shooting straight.


    Looks like long lines to me.

  3. @urban legend: Yup. Which is it Bob?

  4. Didn't watch Maddow nor do I know how the average worked out over the state, but I worked at a polling place in Woodbridge, VA the whole day. The shortest the line ever got was about 90 minutes, and it ranged from 2 to 3 hours for most of the day. We only had 5 voting machines for a precinct of about 4,000. So by 10pm, we had about 57% of the precinct that voted. That was about the maximum we could really do with so few machines. But I lost count of the number of people who left the line because they couldn't wait that long. A number came back later in the day hoping the lines would be shorter. They weren't.

    Yes, this precinct had a large minority population. It also would have been an easy problem to fix if the state wanted to: get more voting machines. So it seemed like a real problem to me, and one that hissed me off greatly as I stood outside for 15 hours or so.

  5. Have to say one topic Maddow has covered and tried to draw attention to is the Defense Budget. A major problem with our Media is it's almost complete blackout on the subject. Yet it's one that the Daily Howler continues to behave, in lock step with almost everyone, just isn't there.

    1. Doesn't fit TDH novel, Greg. And with posts like this one --- and distortions and cherry picking in others --- TDH is fast losing credibility. Kind of sad, because it seems that Bob does have some good things to say. Blinded by axe-grinding.

    2. Cover what *I* tell you to cover! WAHHHHH!

      And this post is bad -- Why? I can't say. WAAAHHH.

      I hate the Howler. WAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    3. And Rachel Maddow is being dishonest because the average wait in Virginia was just 23 minutes, and "very few" waited in seven-hour lines!


      Let me tell you how stupid that is, since your brain is so far up Somerby's keister.

      First of all, if there is a seven-hour line, lots of people are waiting in it. Capiche? And she even shows footage of a particularly long Virginia line, which seemed to have more than "very few" people in it.

      Second, there is documented evidence of thousands upon thousands of Virginians waiting hours in several locations. If that is "very few" to Somerby, well then I'd like him to lend me "very few" dollars.

      Third, Somerby doesn't even address what Maddow was reporting -- that instead of addressing the problem in those places where voting lines were extremely long, Virginia lawmakers have instead passed legislation to complicate the voting process even more.

      Finally, and I hope you are sitting down, when somebody with a blog writes a bullshit post, expect people to call bullshit.

      I know how hard it is to accept that your hero isn't infallible, but if that's all you got, you are even more pathetic than he is in his quest to bring down Rachel Maddow, even if he has to make up stuff to do it.

      In fact, the very thing he accused the "press corps" of doing to his buddy Al Gore.

      So face it. Your hero has morphed into that which he claims to despise.

    4. Happily, I utterly lack "heroes."

      But Maddow's game is thin indeed, as Somerby shows.

    5. Right. "Very few" people were in line for seven hours. Just as Somerby doesn't show.

  6. I too worked the polls in Woodbridge VA and there was NEVER a 23 minute line. It was always a minimum of two hours, and sometimes considerably longer. Many people left because they had to go to work, pick up kids from daycare, etc.

  7. I wonder why people bother to comment here and get into it with Bob. It's pretty clear that he just doesn't know very much. This post in a brilliant study in ignorance, wilful or otherwise.

  8. This is an shameful and uninformed post. My criticism has nothing to do with Rachel. I dont watch her show and dont care about her or her channel. This post is going out of its way to be ignorant.

  9. In VA Beach, in a predominantly Republican district, we had to wait 3 hrs. The line looked longer when we (finally) left.

    1. That's irrelevant, because it was a GOP district. Long lines there don't count!

    2. Which is not something that anybody, including Maddow, says.

    3. No. She implies it. That's her game.

      "LONG LINES!! A GOP war against the Democratic districts!!"

      "What? Evidence to the contrary? Whatever!"

    4. Oh, I see. She doesn't actually have to say it. She just has to "imply" it. That's your pitiful game.

      Well, fella. To cheer you up, Maddow has flat out said it many times. And backed it up with quotes from state Republican lawmakers bragging about it as well.

      But this time? She was reporting on two bills to shorten lines that were killed in Virginia while they were passing a bill to complicate the voting process.

      You don't have to take my word for it. Watch the segment.

  10. Stock footage on a loop while massaging state average statistics. It's lazy "journalism".

    Rachel and her team just don't seem to have the chops to address the all-important "how" aspect of this story.

    1. Really? She started off this segment by noting that Virginia lawmakers have rejected laws to expand early and absentee voting, and for rejecting another bill that would have set a maximum one-hour wait for anybody, anywhere in the state, and instead passing legislation that requires not only voter ID, but a new form of ID that wipes out all previous forms of voter ID

      Also, that "stock footage" was also taken at John Rolfe Middle School in Henrico, Va.

      Is it hard to predict Somerby's reaction had Maddow said "Look at all those minorities standing for hours in long lines!" Would it have been, "There goes Our Own Rhodes Scholar, playing the 'R' card again!"

  11. "Sorry, Virginia! Very few residents had to stand in those seven-hour lines!"

    Huh? You concede there were seven-hour lines, but state that "very few residents" were standing in them? Oh, my!

    By the way, Bob. Practice what you preach and do at least a minimal bit of research before making outlandish statements like that;

    Long lines in Virginia Beach:

    Long lines in Prince William County:

    Long lines delaying the vote tally in Virginia:

    Voters still waiting to vote long after polls had closed in northern Virginia:

    Long lines in urban precincts, short lines in rural precincts:

    1. The averages tell us that VA was no standout in voting line length.

      Do you care?

    2. Which is not the point that Somerby makes, is it? Nope, he says "very few residents had to stand in those seven-hour lines" as he accuses Maddow of being dishonest.

      Which is, of course, self-contradictory, besides being absolutely wrong.

      Or do you care?

  12. "But was it “really bad” in Ohio?"

    Long early voting lines in Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Cincinnati, where early voting was reduced to just one weekend:

  13. This comment is not about Maddow, but instead about Hayes, Matthews, and the 911 Truthers. A few days ago Somerby was refusing to give Hayes any slack in his avoidance of criticism of Matthews; not allowing Hayes to choose his battles, as it were.

    Yesterday, Matthews had a segment on the PPP recent poll regarding people's beliefs in conspiracy theories. Matthews was taking particular delight in lumping 911 Truthers with those who believe that Lizard People control our societies. Does Bob think that is a fair comparison?

    How is it that, other than on the Truther sites, nobody expresses slightest reservations about the official explanation? Sure, much of what appears on some of the Truther sites comes from the very far out fringes: fear of flouridation, UN black helicopters, and the like. But there are more serious sites that have little of that kind of stuff. And even the fairly crazy ones have postings that bring up questions that are difficult to dismiss.

    I did searches on the old and new Daily Howler sites and found nothing about media coverage of the 911 Truthers. Isn't the possibility that even Progressive media figures are pulling their punches on this topic worthy of any discussion? Do they all really find the 9/11 Commission's report satisfactory? None of them is troubled by the NORAD stand-down? The lack of much airliner debris on the Pentagon lawn poses no difficulty for any of them? It's not puzzling to them that only one undecipherable security video of the Pentagon hit has been released, when there must have been a hundred cameras surrounding that building? They all find acceptable that the Commission didn't even address the fall of WTC 7? The list of troubling questions and coincidences is long, but it apparently causes no well-known progressive to entertain doubts.

    I recently read Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism". In it she lays out in excruciating detail how the Neo-Liberal elite has, since the 1970's, used natural and man-made disasters to implement the Chicago School program of privatization, deregulation, and cutting public services. She starts the story with Pinochet's Chile, and moves on to Bolivia, Argentina, Indonesia, Poland, Russia,the Asian "Tigers" etc. As she explains, many of the disasters were purposely engineered with the specific intent of implementing the program. But in the chapters that show how 9/11 was used as an excuse to privatize huge sections of the American government in a way that perfectly fits the mold she's been describing, she doesn't even hint that 9/11 also might have been engineered.

    Have all of these progressive authors and bloggers made the calculation that even a smidgen of credence given to any one of the doubts about the official story would subject them to ridicule, ruin their reputations, and permanently marginalize them? Are they just picking their battles, deciding that there is enough to work on without completely undermining people's faith in the fairness and goodness of their society's fundamental arrangements? Is the thinking that such a deep challenge to people's belief systems would backfire and burn the messengers? Is it just resigned cynicism?: "That's the way the world works. You can't do anything about it. Get used to it."

    And what is Bob's position on this? Does he agree with Matthews that having doubts about the official story on 911 puts one in the same category as believers in the Lizard People? Or is he just picking his battles?

  14. Mejimenez, I don't think you get it. To the "bright young people" on MSNBC, people who have doubts about the 911 official story ARE "believers in the Lizard People."
    Regrettably, this is sad but true.
    911 Truth is simply one area where highly-paid American mainstream news narrators/reporters/storytellers/pundits do not wish to trod. People who are right on 99% of the other issues - like Naomi Klein, whom you mentioned, or Matt Taibbi, whom I respect for his excellent work on the bankster shenanigans - just will not go there.
    Even the "dean of the American Left," Noam Chomsky, shot back angrily at a We Are Change questioner this angry retort: "911 was an inside job...SO WHAT?" Huh? So what? And Chomsky is of the age and prestige where standing up for alternative theories on 911 couldn't possibly hurt him financially.
    It surprises me (and I'm sure you too) that the Mainstream EVEN TODAY is willing to accept the totally bullshit government story on the Kennedy assassination. But, apparently, that's how the news business works in this country. We don't need censors when truth-tellers are willing to censor themselves.
    As for Bob, I don't know where he stands on 911 truth, and to be honest with you, if he endorses the official bullshit theory, I'd rather NOT know.
    They all pick their own battles, pal; i.e., battles they can win. The country is just NOT ready for the paradigm shift that would occur should the official 911 theory be discredited. Any opinion-maker who wants to advance knows this. Bob's certainly right about that point.

    1. Anonymous, apparently we agree on the fundamental analysis: opinion-makers who want to advance, or just maintain, their position are censoring themselves about some of the most significant events in recent history. Frankly, it's reassuring to read someone else who has come to the same conclusion, especially one who bolsters the argument with anecdotes like the one about Chomsky.

      The fact that people who have a voice in the public media pick their battles is not surprising to me, nor even particularly troubling. As an adult and someone who works for a living, I have a clear understanding of the Realpolitik of everyday life. I accept that strategic and tactical thinking are always part of the job.

      My beef was with Somerby, for two things which, when combined, make him look like a hypocrite. One, why is he picking on Chris Hayes for his failure to criticize Matthews' two-faced behavior? In view of the fact that Markos Moulitsas was banished from MSNBC for criticizing Scarborough and the fact that Hayes is now accepting the hand-off every night from Matthews, for Hayes to call out Matthews would be nuts.

      My other beef with Somerby was that, as far as I could tell, he had not done the analysis of 9/11 coverage that both you and I have done. As a media critic, doing that kind of analysis is his job. If he avoided doing it because he wanted to protect his credibility, that's understandable; he was picking is battles. But, then, his giving Hayes a hard time is hypocritical.

    2. I wouldn't particularly single out Hayes in that case either. It is however a sad state of affairs when during a much promoted "special encore presentation" of the "most watched, most important show" in their network's history, Chris Matthews begins the proceedings by shamefully and falsely nominating himself for a Profile in Courage award and all the panel of assembled "greats" dare do before their Grand Poobah "elder statesman" is murmur approvingly in bobblehead agreement. Welcome to the machine.

    3. Know what? I'm kinda glad that this bullshit blog is being taken over by bullshit conspiracy theorists.

      Yep, 9/11 was an inside job that's been kept quiet for 12 years now. And of course JFK was bumped off by a massive conspiracy involving the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, the military industrial complex. the Mafia and Fidel. And that has beek kept quiet for going on 50 years.

      Meanwhile, we live in a country where presidents of the United States can't keep either burglaries or blowjobs quiet.