RODEO CLOWNS: Blackface, she said!


Part 4—From Rush Limbaugh over to Capehart: Did American rodeo clown Tuffy Gessling really do something wrong last week, along with a second such clown?

Possibly! For ourselves, we’d be just as happy if rodeo clowns stopped telling stale jokes about American presidents, as seems to be their wont.

Is it wrong to tell stale jokes? If so, Gessling did something wrong. That said, a more powerful charge quickly pervaded “liberal” circles—and, in accord with current law, it’s a question which answers itself:

Did Tuffy Gessling do something “racial” or “racist” last week? Inquiring minds didn’t want to know. By law, the answer was yes!

Did Tuffy Gessling do something racist? The preordained judgment was quickly stated all over the emerging pseudo-liberal world.

A three-minute tape of the famous event didn’t seem to display the Klan rally vibe which was initially advertised—and yes, that actually was the comparison Lawrence was instantly pimping.

So did the clown do something racist? By law, the answer was yes. The liberal world which is currently forming is built around such stirring claims. As vampires need to drink human blood, we need to hear about racist outrages, whether conducted by rodeo clowns or perhaps by tow truck drivers.

As we pleasure ourselves with these tales, we tell ourselves the world’s oldest false tale: We are the very good people!

Only people who doubt themselves need to tell themselves such stories. We seem to doubt ourselves a great deal, as we plainly should.

Did the clown do something racist? Last Thursday, one of our cable thought prescribers helped us understand and enjoy the racism of The Other.

Alex Wagner, with a scripted panel, began with a pleasing assertion and a strange formulation. To watch this discussion, click here:
WAGNER (8/15/13): To the notion of whether the country has changed. This rodeo clown, the one which ruled up the crowd, this blackface rodeo clown, that’s what he is, at a Missouri state fair last weekend while wearing a President Obama mask, has been condemned by nearly every state official and banned from the Missouri State Fair for life. But what is outrageous and offensive in Missouri and most of the rest of the country apparently is not in the state of Texas.
Wagner’s sweeping statement about “the state of Texas” was based on a remark by one Republican congressman. But this gave her presentation its requisite tribal punch:

Those People in Texas are not good people, the way We People are! For millennia, death and destruction have been prompted by such assured declarations.

Wagner is highly telegenic, verbally skilled and completely reliable. She will always recite the tribal creed, as is required for those will carry the proudest of titles: MSNBC host or contributor.

Wagner’s presentation may have been a bit fact-challenged this day. In fact, the three-minute tape of Gessling’s performance didn’t seem to show any crowd getting riled up at all. Nor did Wagner feel she had to explain what was “outrageous and offensive” about a clown wearing this mask, a rodeo practice which seems to predate Obama.

To watch Gessling's clown act, click here. (Do you see a Klan rally happening?)

Newspapers don’t employ rodeo critics. Despite this shortcoming, the Nexis archives contain reports of rodeo clowns wearing masks of other political figures, including Presidents Bush and Clinton and even Hillary Clinton.

In the 1994 rodeo show which involved President Bush the elder, a clown who was posing as a dummy even had a “broomstick shoved up his bottom” too, as occurred with the clown in Missouri last week.

In each of these shocking incidents, people were supposed to think that the broom was propping up a dummy. The joke occurs when the non-dummy dummy, frightened by bulls, suddenly runs away!

Were these admittedly hilarious clown acts offensive? They were if they strike you that way. But was the Missouri incident racist?

Before we examine Wagner’s conception of race, let’s note a trend which is developing as pseudo-liberal corporate employees create a world of Us and Them, a highly pleasing world built around gender and race.

As outrage spread about Gessling’s vile acts, some conservative voices objected. On the Fox News Channel, Colorado native Dana Perino explained how rodeos work:
GUTFELD (8/14/13): Dana, you are the resident expert at Fox News on rodeos.

PERINO: I might be the only one.

GUTFELD: ...Is this offensive, or is it part of the rich history of presidential parody that occurs in such rodeos?


PERINO: I grew up on rodeos. And my Uncle Tom, who has since passed, he used to go calf roping. That was his thing. And we would go on Friday night...The rodeo clown is there because usually you have a dummy and you use the dummy so the bull can hook the dummy, get it? Play on words? “Dummy?”


PERINO: OK. So every president is always made fun of. They are the subject of ridicule.
According to Perino, this is standard rodeo fare. A bit later, she described an earlier incident in which a rodeo clown got in trouble for this sort of thing:

“Right before 9/11, eight days before 9/11, a rodeo clown had a mask of Bill Clinton, and someone in the audience got offended, said he was anti-Semitic, made the rodeo announcer resign. He lost all of his sponsorships, all because people don't understand what it's like to go to a rodeo.”

Using Nexis, we find no record of that incident, which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. More broadly, it seems that she may have been right when she said the use of presidential dummies has been standard rodeo fare.

Indeed, it was Rush Limbaugh who took to the air last week to describe the 1994 rodeo involving the Bush dummy. And good God! For one of the first times in modern history, Limbaugh turned out to be right!

The Philadelphia Inquirer had described that show in some detail, although its writer hadn’t suggested that the clowning was offensive. For the text of that report, see part 1 of this series.

How common is this type of thing? We can’t tell you that. But as our cable rodeo clowns build our new pseudo-liberal culture, a remarkable trend has begun to take shape. Pseudo-conservative voices have often turned out to be right!

When’s the last time you ever saw Limbaugh be right on a fact? But Limbaugh was right in what he said about that Bush rodeo dummy! Based on the evidence we found in Nexis, we’ll guess that Perino was also right when she said that this sort of thing has been common practice among the artists still known as rodeo clowns.

In a similar vein, comment threads about the Zimmerman trial often featured conservative commenters, some with an obvious racial jones, making accurate factual statements about the events of that trial. Again and again, we saw a new beast:

Conservative commenters correcting our tribe’s phony facts, knowing all the while that their tribe's facts were more accurate.

The liberal world invented fake facts, suppressed accurate facts and assumed the truth of unfounded facts at a world-record rate in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death. In the process, we created a story we found very pleasing. And how strange:

In many settings, conservatives got a more accurate set of facts than we dumbed-down liberals did!

For decades, conservative media worked very hard to dumb down and misinform like-minded voters. As our emerging liberal (corporate) media invent a pleasing racial politics, that appalling, decades-old practice has rapidly spread to our tribe.

Can this possibly be good for progressive values and interests? Sorry. Wagner is an overpaid reader of corporate script who is expected to churn pleasing cant. She may believe the things she says. But that doesn’t mean that her statements aren’t dumb, or simply false.

Concerning the things Wagner said on that program, let’s consider her claim, which she stated three times, that Tuffy Gessling, or his associate clown, was working in “blackface.”

For our money, Wagner betrays a hint of racial throwback with that statement. Here’s how Katheen Parker parsed that concept in the Washington Post:
PARKER (8/18/13): First, let's correct a popular mischaracterization. Wearing an Obama mask is not tantamount to "blackface," which is implicitly racist. When the president's face is "black," then the president's mask is necessarily "black."

Unless, apparently, the person wearing the mask is white, as was the rodeo clown.
In this column, Parker agrees at some point with every position anyone could hold on any aspect of this topic. Whatever you think about this event, Parker states your view at some point in that skillful column.

That said, she makes a fairly obvious point in the passage we’ve quoted. To the extent that you think of Obama’s face as black, a mask of his face will, in that sense, inevitably be “blackface.”

Let us tell you a secret about the mind of Wagner:

Wagner thinks of Barack Obama’s face as being black. For people like Wagner, such people are first and foremost, always and evermore, enduringly one key thing: black.

Black is the first and last trait they observe in such people. Put another way, black defines such people. Any comment about such a person must therefore be a comment about a black person. Any such comment must be about the fact that the person is black.

The black is the only thing Wagner can see. Such people, who may be very good people, tend to assume it’s the only thing that exists. By definition, it must be the thing other folk have in mind when they discuss Obama.

But why? Presumably, use of the George Bush mask wasn’t a racial act. Neither was the Bill Clinton version of same.

If the tradition continues with Obama, why is that a racial or racist act? Why would we want to say “blackface?”

In fairness, people like Wagner can answer that question, at considerable length. What they can’t do—it isn’t permitted by law!—is consider the possibility that someone like Gessling might not be a Klan-worthy racist.

We the rubes badly want to be pleased! And in the world of corporate cable, liberal politics is increasingly being organized around the racism of Those People, the people who aren’t just like us.

Go ahead. Watch that tape of Wagner’s discussion, which runs a bit more than three minutes. You’ll see her and her hand-picked panel talking about Gessling’s “blackface,” his “minstrel show”—his “racism,” his act of “minstrelsy.”

You’ll hear that he performed a “racialized clown act,” without any clear attempt to explain what made it “racialized.” You’ll hear Wagner say, “This is a decidedly racially loaded move, to wear a mask of the president and invite yourself to be run over by a bull.”

You may think it’s disrespectful to do such a thing. But why is it “racially loaded?” You won’t see Wagner attempt to explain. Soon, she’ll be saying this:
WAGNER: On the front of the blackface rodeo clown, it’s like the Westboro Baptist Church, right? People accept that they are a hateful group, but they exist because we have freedom of speech in this country.
Poor Gessling! On Monday night, he was like the Klan. By Thursday, he was like the Westboro Baptist Church, the craziest people we have.

Wagner may be completely sincere. That said, her comments were extremely dumb. We'd even suggest they were disrespectful to the brutal history of race in this country. No matter! This is the politics being constructed on Our Own Corporate Cable Channel. Soon, Jonathan Capehart chimed in:
CAPEHART: For us to say that this is disrespectful to the president, to President Obama, and disrespectful to the office, is true! And it has racial implications, and for those people who can’t, who don’t want to see that and don’t accept that, well they are completely part of the problem.
We sometimes see Capehart as part of the problem, where the problem is plutocrat governance.

Capehart started out as a hack to Bloomberg. From there, he has kissed his way to the top, from which post you’ll never see him discuss the looting of regular people on both sides of the aisle.

Jonathan Capehart will never teach cable viewers to ask where all their health care money is going. Instead, he will hand you this silly mess, in which he may fully believe.

Tuffy Gessling is getting massively looted in the arena of health care. So are liberal cable viewers. But Jonathan Capehart doesn't care. He'll never refer to that fact.

People like Capehart invented fake facts all through the year of Trayvon Martin. As he did, he played the role which was pioneered by Rush Limbaugh and Sean.

For decades, citizens on the other side got misled and dumbed down by trusted talkers. Now, that appalling, destructive culture has come to our world.

We liberals get dumber in the process. The increasing tribal division guarantees that nothing will ever get done.

Not a word will ever be said that upsets the people paying the bills, the plutocrats who pay the large salaries of Our Own Rodeo Clowns.

Tomorrow: Good decent person gets hurt


  1. Here's my take on it...

    1. Chris,

      Love the cartoons! Especially the parodies of Julius Streicher's work in Der Stürmer.

      Oh, wait.

  2. So the only people who took offense at this performance were liberals? And you know that how?

    Is the Republican Lt. Gov. of Missouri also a liberal? If so, the voters of this state will be very surprised to learn that of Mr. Kinder.

    And I knew you'd get to "Rush Limbaugh was right" sooner or later. After all, you've been parrotting the Right Wing Noise Machine about this incident perfectly. Poor Tuffy the Clown. He's the real victim here.

    Now did you ever pause to think that the reason the 1994 incident didn't create the same firestorm is the same reason you didn't blog about it in 1994? Because you didn't have a damned blog then?

    And you know what? If some ordinary guy had a Smartphone and a Facebook account in 1994 to put this on, it may or may not have created the same firestorm.

    Of course, there were no ordinary guys with Smartphones or Facebook accounts back then, but don't let that stop us. Let's pretend that everything then is exactly the same as now.

  3. somerby says,

    "As vampires need to drink human blood, *we need* to hear about racist outrages, whether conducted by rodeo clowns or perhaps by tow truck drivers."

    not "we". only those who are deceived by the corporate medias emphasis on anything but the economic rights of the people...and that the stories they do put out are the most important ones to them. Not that they arent also important, just not as important as ones involving the econoomic welfare of the masses.

    the question is what percentage of people are still buying the corporate moneyed interests narrative and at what rate are people catching on to their public relations work for the uber wealthy, big internationalized businesses and their tools.

    1. Except for one, tiny, inconvenient fact.

      This thing began with a single Facebook post, and went viral from there before the sun rose the next morning.

      It wasn't until mid-afternoon Sunday when the "corporate media" noticed the firestorm and began to report on it.

      In other words, a perfect example of citizens leading and "corporate media" following in the Information Age.

    2. instead of just local paper coverage, now everyone is potentially a local paper. the transmission methods to the big corporate media vary now, but the real damage is still done there. what is said on tv is more real to people, especially on the news or pseudo-news shows. they have a perceived authority that social media hasnt. but good point.

    3. I'm not so sure about that. I think the "damage" (for lack of a better word) had been done long before TV got hold of this.

      Let me explain my fascination. I'm from Missouri, so this story piqued my interest. I first learned of it early Sunday morning when a friend "shared" it on his Facebook page, which put it on my news feed.

      I googled "Obama rodeo clown" and the thing lit up like the proverbial tannenbaum. It was already all over the place, in all kinds of places, including widely read blogs -- but not a single "traditional" media.

      Utterly hooked by the phenomenon unfolding before my eyes, I continued to monitor the growth of this story (off and on, of course) throughout the day. "Firestorm" is a pretty good analogy. It kept spreading and spreading.

      There were "updates" all day long, with one politician weighing in, then another, then the rodeo association, then the state fair commission, and on and on and on.

      Finally, somewhere mid-afternoon, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted about it on their Web site, and that is the first I could find of a "traditional" media taking up the story. Then the AP picked up the Post-Dispatch's story, and it began to hit other "traditional" media from there.

      It was just utterly fascinating for me to watch.

    4. what percent still give the big corporate media great legitimacy and how fast are they losing that legitimacy? you seem to think they are losing it faster than i do. i hope youre right.

  4. As for what Capehart said, yes it is a perfect summation of the offense some people had: Offensive to the president with racial implications. Otherwise there would be no firestorm for cable and radio gabbers to react to. And that's what they were doing. They were reacting. The firestorm was already well underway.

    Now if you want to lecture people about the proper things to take offense from, go right ahead. But don't be too surprised if many of them decide not to seek your permission first before they express themselves again.

    And I also notice how quickly you spin away from what Capehart said into an ad hominem.

    Who is spinning "pleasing tales" here, Bob?

  5. regardless of whether the rodeo peoples intentions were benign racially or not, there is the perception problem they should have considered, and because they should have considered it, it becomes a factor in speculation on their intentions.

    obama has been ridiculed based on his race considerably, unlike other presidents, obviously. everyone knows this or should know this, so liberals are weighing up their intentions as though the rodeo people live in the real world, not a uninformed vacuum.

    1. "For decades, conservative media worked very hard to dumb down and misinform like-minded voters. As our emerging liberal (corporate) media invent a pleasing racial politics, that appalling, decades-old practice has rapidly spread to our tribe."


    2. i disagree if youre saying that there hasnt been significant real use of race against pres. obama... that its been mostly or all ginned up by "our emerging liberal(corporate) media".

      btw, i never called somerby a racist. ive called him a possible secret republican and a bigot. but i have often clarified that he is bigoted against americans of irish catholic heritage which is a patriotic thing to do. it provides order by helping to maintain the ethnicity of the founding fathers and mothers, english, as most revered, by putting down their most obvious apparent enemy - the irish and their progeny around the world.

      no, somerby speaks for a lot of people and is a good patriot...a very small man, but a good american.

    3. Speak, then, lnc. Where's the significant real use of race against Obama?

    4. out in the open is a portion of right wing talk radio, limbaught etc. under the radar are mass emails sent to lists of certain web sites etc.

    5. Matt, why let the lunatic choose the subject?

      The question shouldn't be whether there's racism against a black man who's President. Of course there's going to be some. (Did Somerby say there isn't any, can't be any? Duh, no.)

      The question is:

      Is what Somerby says true? Is the (so-called) liberal branch of mass media involved in a dumbing-down of its audience?

    6. "(Did Somerby say there isn't any, can't be any? Duh, no.)"

      Oh, please!

      Quaker in the Basement asked the $64,000 Question on Monday:

      "Has there ever been an allegation of racism you found credible, Bob?"

    7. Bob Somerby: Not calling enough people racist to comfort his trolls. So sad.

    8. Without trolls Somerby would be a lonely old
      Cotter. Although, some say it is not hard to reply to yourself. Studies show bloggers are more likely to do it when posting about headlines over Test results.

  6. There is an extremely important (at least in my view) aspect to this whole thing that I would love to have an intelligent discussion about. Perhaps it is too late since this has already devolved into yet one more tribal war.

    But it seems to me that the underlying importance here is not what was reported, but how.

    Are we, ordinary citizens, free from the media "gatekeepers" and are now able to break a story ourselves immediately through modern communications technology? After all, this began with one guy on Facebook. Then it was blogged about, shared, tweeted, re-tweeted, and spread far and wide in a matter of just a few hours at most.

    If so, if we are truly living in a new Information Age, what are the implications of that for society at large?

    Will it all descend into a massive Tower of Babel that is impossible to sort through? Or will we have heretofore unimagined access to stories that might well have been ignored before? Or both?

    Perhaps this isn't the place to discuss it, since Somerby apparently thinks the real story is what MSNBC hosts are saying about it.

    But I think it is a topic very much worth discussing.

    1. As commenters have noted, the story went viral and was negative before MSNBC talked about it -- that suggests that people have already incorporated the idea that any criticism of Obama must be racially motivated and racial in nature, even when an innocuous bit of rodeo folklore.

      Another example -- anyone who criticized Obama's experience, policies, voting record in 2008 was called racist on any number of progressive blogs, simply for not supporting his candidacy.

      We are a nation that is very confused about race if race, as Somerby points out, cannot be disassociated from other characteristics of an individual. That means that Trayvon Martin cannot be a wayward teen without all black teens being similarly wayward, so anyone trying not to be racist must assume Trayvon was angelic and all black people are angelic as well. Conversely, all white people must be racist if any white people are racist.

      How do we become a post-racial society if these kinds of meanings are attached to race so widely by you-tube viewers and the general public, never mind the MSNBC hosts who egg them on? It doesn't matter to me whether MSNBC is leading or following a trend. It does matter to me that one cannot criticize Obama's policies on NSA spying or student loans without coming across as racist. That isn't a pseudo-democracy I want to live in.

    2. "that suggests that people have already incorporated the idea that any criticism of Obama must be racially motivated and racial in nature, even when an innocuous bit of rodeo folklore."

      Oh, so that's what it suggests.

      You know, I tried to start a serious discussion about the role of social media in the spread of this story, and the first response is the Somerby party line.

      I feared this wasn't the place for intelligent, thoughtful analysis of an underreported, underdiscussed, and very important (my view all) aspect of this story. Sadly, I was right.

      Now here is another "suggestion". Perhaps your knee-jerk reaction deomonstrates how well you have been conditioned to think that nobody can think for themselves without the invisible hand of MSNBC guiding them -- even a full 36 hours before those vile hosts go on the air.

    3. I was taught in school (long ago) that one of the biggest reasons that the United States was created as a representative democracy was the fear of mob rule. This social media spreading sure smells like a mob to me. Hey, being with the mob can be a whole lotta fun. If you believe in due process, not so much.

    4. This is very true. The Constitutional Convention was called in the wake of Shays' Rebellion and that had a major impact on the deliberations over the need of a strong central government with the ability to suppress insurrections.

      That said, I am somewhat more optimistic than you. A hammer can be used as a building tool or as a murder weapon. It depends on how we used it.

      I read an article about the role social media played in Egypt during the Arab Spring, and no doubt is continuing to play a role there today.

      No doubt social media also helped mobilize both the Tea Party and the Occupy movements. And it is certainly at work in North Carolina with the "Moral Mondays" movement that Rachel Maddow reported this week.

      The aspect of this story that I find fascinating is that everybody with a Smartphone in their pocket or purse is now able to record an event and instantly post it on the Internet, where it can quickly spread around the globe.

      Yes, that can be good, or that can be bad. And that is why, at least in my opinion, I think it is begging for a good, intelligent discussion.

      And thank you for your response.

  7. Short Order of Poop:

    Uh, look there is not actually any law that says this incident was racist -- you can look that up for yourself, like I did.

    Also, there are no vampires, so to say these "need to" drink human blood may be pleasing -- but it's also false.

    And that kind of thing is exactly what you're supposedly trying to denounce, you hypocrite!


  8. I discovered John Derbyshire in the wake of the early Martin/Zimmerman affair when he was fired by National Review for an essay in another online site about what white parents tell their kids (as we were at the time inundated with black elites telling us how they had to warn their sons about how awful and dangerous all white people are).

    Derbyshire was absolutely right about what white people tell their kids about black people, all white people, including liberals.

    Anyway, Derbyshire wrote about the rodeo clown and said that they now have sensitivity training for rodeo clowns. As he put it, it misses the whole point of rodeo clowns.

    George W. Bush sometimes looked like a monkey; Bill Clinton looked like W. C. Fields sometimes; Rush Limbaugh is sometimes very fat; Oprah Winfrey is sometimes very fat; Michelle Obama has buck teeth; Laura Bush is cross eyed. Fair game for comedians, all of it.

    1. Sensitivity training is a good idea for comedians and other performers because if you are going to insult someone it should be on purpose.

    2. Interesting point, and my thoughts jumped immediately to the late Andy Kaufman. He was a clown in that he adopted many characters, some of them quite offensive.

      The two most offensive were Tony Clifton and the Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion. And that was the joke.

      Kaufman knew his entire audience had experience with an overbearing, egotistical bastard and Clifton and Champion became the butt of the joke -- the characters he knew his audience was anxious to love to hate.

      He was after that strong reaction. And he got it. Brilliantly. And on purpose.

  9. It's an unfortunate coincidence that Dana had an Uncle Tom. Couldn't she have said "my uncle" and left it at that?

    As for Kathleen Parker, the only blacks to do blackface that I know of were the actors in Spike Lee's "Bamboozled." I'm sure I'm wrong on that.

    Olivier played Othello in blackface, not Al Jolsen's blackface, not Ted Danson's blackface, but blackface. Are we to lump all these performances together under the same racially charged rubric?

    When a clown (or a protestor, or a Mardi Gras participant) dons a mask bearing a satiric likeness of a specific individual public figure, is that really blackface? When a cartoonist draws an accurate caricature of a specific person and indicates his subject's skin tone with colored (in the artistic sense) ink, shading or cross-hatching, is he committing a form of blackface?

    If artists can't attempt likenesses by approximating the skin color of specific people, what if their colorless portraits achieve their likeness by means of so-called "racial" characteristics, including noses and lips and hair. Will artists be restricted to portraying, especially in a comical or satiric way, only members of their own "race."

    Some might consider Al Sharpton showing his mug in public to be an affront to African Americans when they have all kinds of beauties available to represent them.

    1. And in that vein, I read an interesting take from a professional clown on CNN (Yes, Somerby fans, a real clown, not a CNN clown) who found the performance offensive primarily because it violated what she said was a deeply held principle of clowning.

      You never, ever make another human being the butt of the joke. The fall guy who draws the laugh must always must be the clown, in character, and not the clown pretending to be any other person in effigy.

      She said this principle applies not only to Obama, but to everybody. And why? Because by ridiculing a real human being, you are always going to offend someone, even if it is only one person, and that is not what clowning is about.

      It is about good, clean, family fun that can be appreciated and enjoyed by all. And that's what makes good clowning so hard. And when it happens, that's what makes clowning so much fun.

    2. Rodeo clowns are not clowns in the traditional sense of the term. Their job is to protect the riders from being gored by the bull after they have fallen off. That is their only job. The clowning is secondary to that. In humor, making fun of an authority figure is a sure way to a laugh. These guys use corny jokes and pluck the low hanging fruit humor-wise because they are primarily "protection specialists" not clowns, so the work doesn't go into their jokes, it goes into their efforts to distract the bull so that others can get the fallen riders to safety. Traditional clowns don't have to get into a ring with a large, dangerous animal, while performing.

    3. Yes, but by the same token, rodeo clowns are NOT the stars of the show, albeit their primary jobs are important.

      They are a sideshow and must never take the spotlight from the real stars, the people the audience paid to see.

    4. Homer Simpson was studying the Itchy and Scratchy Show, and with a clipboard in hand, watching the television, he said, "I never knew mice led such interesting lives!"

  10. That this has long been traditional fare at past rodeos is not going to be enough to temper the fury.

    Neither will the fact that the reputation and the lives of real people hang on such trivialities.

    As the posters here attest, this sort of outrage has a life of its own, with an angry mob heart and soul. Irrational, exacting, implacable.

    1. LOL. "Fury", "angry mob heart and soul"? Such silly drama. This is and has been a minor tempest in a teapot which has mostly run it's course except for the predictable right wing backlash and even that has almost died out.

      What's amusing to me that this whole story was started not by Bob's usual suspects but, from the guy who was, unlike Bob, actually there! and posted his account on Facebook. I know Bob tried to bury that in a word fog and downplay the guy's interpretation (even including a Twain reference) to take another whack at his usual suspects.

    2. One person banned from his job in the state and impugned all over the internet.

      The head of the association resigned.

      The audience likened to the KKK.

      A public rebuke from POTUS.

      A 'minor tempest"...huh?

      All in a weeks work.

    3. Yes, again despite your dramatic and distorted imaginings, a minor tempest at best.

      As has been told to you before, the rodeo clown has not been banned from his job in the state. He's been banned from future state fairs in MO and not all rodeos and he's received a lot of offers for other work.

      "Likened to the KKK". More drama but, take that up with the person who first brought it to public attention and who, unlike Bob or you, was actually there.

      There was no "public rebuke from the POTUS" himself. You do like to exaggerate. A WH spokesman simply said the incident was embarrassing for the state which, based upon the actions/statements of the MO. Rep. and Dem. politicians and State Fair officials prior to that spokesman's statement, they apparently agreed with that assessment.

      Yes, again, a very minor tempest that's mostly over except for the rightwing media hustlers playing their tribe. Bob has arrived at this several days late and several dollars short but, it's good fodder for his usual narrative.

    4. "Likened to the KKK". More drama but, take that up with the person who first brought it to public attention and who, unlike Bob or you, was actually there.

      This completely concedes the point to CeceliaMc.

    5. Yet another example of the callous disregard for people's lives.

      No one was killed, and the impugned rodeo worker is getting job offers, so everything is just fine.

      Claims of racism do taint people. They will follow this rodeo clown around. They did cause a man to resign his career. They did initiate a WH response that further validated a bogus story that further stereotypes people. These charges generally are divisive and dumb.

      If we're going to make tributes to an attitude of restraint and moderation ( while applauding mass Youtube driven outrage) why can't it be on the side of NOT ginning up a firestorm of racial animus, just once in awhile?

    6. Oh please anon and CeceliaMc. First anaon, my comment doesn't concede anything.

      Both of you are doing your best melodramatic spinning to avoid the main point. It wasn't any of your of Bob's usual suspects that started this tempest in a teapot. It was the guy who was actually there and recorded it, characterized the event and posted it on his Facebook page.

      Then it took off well before the "traditional media" and others got involved. Of course, like Bob, you mostly focused on part of the latter while trying to downplay the former.

      After all, that many other people happen to agree with they guy doesn't matter, huh? They are just being driven by their masters to tribal frenzy. Even if some of those agreeing people are not part of the same tribe! They couldn't have any actual opinions of their own. Just mere sheep being led to chase after a "bogus story" whereas you know better.

      Oh the callous disregard for the opinions of others! Such wanton disrespect for the opinions of regular people! Oh woe! Where is my fainting couch when I need it?

    7. You can't have it both ways. You can't protest that the entire brouhaha was a tempest in a teapot, and then argue that it was grassroots uprising of indignation.

      It's hardly illogical for anyone to suggest that such pin-prick fact-free sensibilities have been cultivated by the media (both sides of it), and indeed off to the races the media went with this thing, making sure it stayed context free and reached all the way to a WH presser.

      Conversely, it is illogical to argue that this was a spontaneous...tempest in a teapot?... from outraged citizens, that hurt no one really... because being called a racist on the Internet and on national tv doesn't about to much, oh drama queens...


    8. CeceliaMc,

      Sheesh indeed. I'm not arguing that way. That's YOUR again, dramatic, spin on my argument. Tempest in a teapot vs. grassroots uprising of indignation! Gosh, how dire! The rest of your post is simply you indignantly carrying on from your own creation.

      Back to reality again, despite your rendering of garments, this story is a tempest in a teapot and has almost faded except for here where, it's still going strong though I'm not sure that Bob will reach "Oscars/McFarlane" level of obsession with this though, on second thought, it might be close.

    9. Again, you can't have it both ways. You can't logically argue that the video was so egregious that it went viral, quite apart from media influence, AND say the story went nowhere (unless nowhere means that it was dropped when after days of drama, some context was provided.)

      Neither can you say that the resignation if one man, the censure of another, and the smearing of a great many people, on national tv and the Internet, was of little consequence.

      Perhaps you should ask the opinion of THOSE people who were there TOO.

    10. "Likened to the KKK". More drama but, take that up with the person who first brought it to public attention and who, unlike Bob or you, was actually there.

      Since you didn't understand why this conceded the point to CeceliaMc, I'll try to explain. Your rebuttal to CecelaMc was that this was, not just a tempest in a teapot, but a minor tempest in a teapot. Then, you admit that the originator compared the scene to a KKK rally, and that this post generated so much agreement by itself that you chided others for insinuating that it was the media that had created it. So which is it, it was very minor and the media pumped it up, or it wasn't minor and the media jumped on the bandwagon?

    11. CeceliaMc,

      I'm trying to follow your line of argument, but I keep getting distracted by the image of rendering garments. Can you help me?

    12. The vicissitudes of auto-correct, deadrat.

      (Here's hoping that isn't changed into vivisections.)

  11. Here's another disturbing thought.

    After a brief lull, Somerby has found the next Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case for which to attract hits to his blog, repeating the same things over and over again, and attracting the same comments over and over again, until the last drop has been milked.

    And once again the issue is race.

    And once again, I'm swallowing the bait, hook, line and sinker. And that is what disturbs me the most.

    1. I agree, your posts are disturbed.

  12. Bob, who was President in 1994? George Bush? 2002? Bill Clinton?

    You have shown ex-Presidents are fair game in the rodeo clown world. Give me an example of a sitting President being mocked in a rodeo, since that appears to be the point you are FAILING to make.

    1. Don't bother Bob with such trivialities. Nor dare mention that Smartphone technology and Facebook weren't even around in 2002, let alone 1994.

      He's got a narrative to sell.

    2. Are you willfully misunderstanding (Anon 3:05)? These Presidents were mocked at rodeos during their terms, not recently.

    3. Quoth the Somerby:

      "In the 1994 rodeo show which involved President Bush the elder"


      “Right before 9/11, eight days before 9/11, a rodeo clown had a mask of Bill Clinton,"

  13. Once again Bob articulates why so many of us have rejected the Democratic Party.

  14. We should know that progressives ARE color blind. Jesse Jackson said that the behavior of the teens (oh, "children") who murdered Chris Lane in cold blood is "frowned upon." Open season indeed.

    1. Jesse Jackson said:

      "In particular black on black violence that disproportionately affects every facet of black life in America. These horrific episodes that leave all rationally thinking people appalled and others feeling paralyzed cannot be addressed by our silence and or abdicating our personal responsibility. We urge all persons who believe as we do in the (Martin Luther) King principle of peace all over the globe to rise to the challenge to pursue and promote peace and its principles. We must learn to live together in peace or we will most assuredly die apart in our own neglect."

    2. Disproportionate black crime, black on black and black on white violence affects every facet of black and white life in America. It's not a problem of guns either. The thugs that beat to death the WWll veteran used their fists like others in recent news. It's too bad Shorty didn't have a gun.

  15. So Somerby readers which is more likely;

    Bob calling out the rightwing media race baiting surrounding the Chris Lane murder which included falsely identifying all of the suspects as black and attempting to bait the POTUS to comment base on that false information?


    Bob calling out his usual MSNBC, etc. suspects when they invariably point out the rightwing media race baiting surrounding the Chris Lane murder?

    I know which option I have my money on.

    1. All three of the suspects are indeed black, including the driver.

    2. Don't worry. We will soon hear from the president and he will muse that his grandfather looked like Shorty or his son might have looked like Chris Lane. He will talk about the epidemic of black teen thugs attacking white people, won't he?

    3. Wow, great answers. One blatant lie ("all three suspects are black") followed by one bit of hysterical nonsense.

    4. Anon 10:30,

      I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and grant that you are pretending not to understand the years-long tenor of this blog. Over and over (and over and over), Somerby's context is that we all know the right-wing media is horrible, and the question on the table is are the left-wing elements of the media starting to use the same shameful tactics?

    5. Nice dodge. I understand what Somerby's context is and I understand what you are claiming it is which, may or may not be the same thing though they do intersect on occasion.

      So, instead of dodging answer my question instead of trying to insert your question "on the table". When somebody on MSNBC invariably points out the rightwing race baiting surrounding the Chris Lane case what will Somerby do? Btw, how would MSNBC pointing that out be an example of the use of the same "shameful tactics"? Pointing out race baiting is the same as race baiting? That doesn't make sense.

      Anyway, my point and option stands. Somerby might get around to it sometime next week but only to criticize a Chris Hayes "White Noise" segment or something like that.

    6. Anon10:43, as titillating as it is to imagine MSNBC pointing out race-baiting, I do recognize that such dynamics can legitimately be scorned by less than perfect people.

      By the same token I don't think it's de facto hypocritical to ironically illustrate hypocrisy in politicians.

      How about you?

    7. CeceliaMc,

      C'mon now, that's very bad spin. It's funny how you propose that pointing out race baiting, particularly one which is based on factual errors as is the case here, is merely "a dynamic that can legitimately be scorned by less than perfect people". Too funny.

      Your following statement is merely a attempted diversion that I'm not interested in following.

      Back to reality as opposed to theoretical word games, in this instance, there's nothing titillating about it. I think it should be corrected because it's an incorrect report that's part of an attempted race baiting. How about you?

      Do you have any relevant comments about the case at hand or are you going to simply dither until Bob informs your opinion.

    8. So it's "bad spin" when I state the obvious by saying that MSNBC doesn't have to be pure as the driven snow to point out race-baiting? That each accusation should be judged on the merits of the charge, not MSNBC history.

      I would have thought that to be a reasonable.

      Accordingly, it's not hypocritical to ironically illustrate hypocrisy in politicians.

      The contention is that the president's remarks, both before and after the case, lent credence to the false notion that Martin's shooting was another tragedy inspired by endemic societal racism.

      You don't have agree with that premise, but it's not hypocritical to make that point with irony.

      It is wrong in the sense that it's an compassion-free use of a dead boy. It needs to go no further than it has gone.

    9. Anon 10:47,

      I was trying to point out that, if you understand this blogs context, your first "choice" in your little puzzle was a dog bites man story that everyone knows would not be pursued here. So your comment was like many others complaining that Somerby picks on MSNBC when they do all of these great things.

  16. I think it's some compensation that the Alex Wagner show's ratings are stunningly low, just 26,000 viewers in the 25-54 age group according to this link (the most recent I can find):