Which news orgs was Maddow talking about?


Tabloidy star likes to clown: Unless you enjoy watching millionaires making convincing chicken sounds, Rachel Maddow is increasingly a waste-of-time hack. (For link to clucks, see below.)

In recent weeks, Maddow has been telling a tabloidized tale about the death of Ibragim Todashev, whom the FRBI shot and killed during an interrogation on May 22, in Florida. Previously, Todashev had lived in Boston, where he was an associate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

He was being questioned about those associations when he was shot and killed.

Maddow is certainly right on one point—the FBI ought to be made to explain the circumstances under which Todashev was shot and killed. But last night, Maddow authored one of her “rodeo clown” performances as she discussed the way the press corps has reported this matter.

The FBI has refused to explain how Todashev ended up getting killed. Yesterday, the Todashev family’s lawyers held a press conference in Florida.

Here’s the way Our Own Jerry Lewis described the press corps’ ongoing conduct. To enjoy the performance, just click here, then move to 2:45:
MADDOW (8/13/13): There were a lot of reporters at this press conference in Florida today asking questions, which I have to say is nice to see, given how terrible some of the press has been about just writing down, and not challenging at all, the contradictory claims by anonymous law enforcement sources about this case—including the totally contradictory reports that the dead man was brandishing a weapon when he was killed. It was definitely a knife or a blade of some kind! No, it was a ceremonial sword! No, it wasn’t a ceremonial sword, it was a broomstick! No, it wasn’t a broomstick, it was a pole. No, actually, maybe it was nothing? It was nothing, he was unarmed. But who knows?

They’ve all been reported as fact, citing anonymous self-congratulatory law enforcement sources, usually without any reference at all to the fact that other anonymous leaks in this case made totally different claims. Mr. Todashev’s brand-new lawyers today were asked about those conflicting reports.
Viewers enjoyed a top-notch performance as Maddow clowned her way through this text. But which news orgs was she talking about as she hammed it up?

Which news orgs have been “just writing down, and not challenging at all, the contradictory claims by anonymous law enforcement sources?” By whom have these claims “been reported as fact, citing anonymous self-congratulatory law enforcement sources, usually without any reference at all to the fact that other anonymous leaks in this case made totally different claims?”

Which news orgs have done this? Who was Maddow talking about as she wondrously clowned?

As Maddow hammed it up with this text, a Boston Globe report appeared on the screen behind her, complete with pull quotes about broomsticks and poles. It appeared on the screen for a full 35 seconds, possibly seeming to brand the Globe as a prime offender in this matter.

Sorry. That report, by Wesley Lowrey, made the same sorts of points Maddow was making last night. And it appeared on June 1, ten long weeks weeks ago.

Below, you see what the Globe was saying by June 1, just nine days after Todashev’s death. Warning! Lowrey’s report is highly misleading in one important respect:
LOWREY (6/1/13): In the absence of authoritative information, national media outlets have reported at least five different scenarios of how Todashev came to be killed.

Some media outlets, including the Globe, initially reported that Todashev attacked the officers with a "blade"—with reports differing on whether it was a knife or a sword. More recently, The New York Times reported that Todashev's weapon was a "pole" that could have been a broomstick.

Still others, including the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, have reported that Todashev was unarmed when he was killed, but that he could have been reaching for the agent's gun.

Attempting to clarify the confusion, a person who was briefed on the shooting of Todashev told the Globe on Thursday that investigators had initially thought Todashev had wielded a sword at the FBI agent, but later concluded that it was a pole. Adding to the chaos at the shooting scene, this person said that Todashev did own a ceremonial sword which was in the room.
That was the Globe ten weeks ago, way back on June 1. Last night, Maddow suggested that the press corps has just now started to question the conflicting reports from (unnamed) law enforcement authorities.

In truth, Lowrey’s June 1 report was quite misleading in one key respect. In truth, his own Boston Globe had never “reported that Todashev attacked the officers with a ‘blade’” full stop.

On May 23, in its first report on the killing, the Globe attributed that report to law enforcement officials. It didn’t report the claim in its own voice as a fact. Similarly, when the New York Times mentioned the pole and the broomstick on May 31, it too attributed the account to a law enforcement official. And sure enough, the Times was already noting the problem involved in the shifting stories which had emerged from such officials:
SCHMIDT AND BARRY (5/31/13): A man who was killed in Orlando, Fla., last week while being questioned by an F.B.I. agent about his relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, had knocked the agent to the ground with a table and ran at him with a metal pole before being shot, according to a senior law enforcement official briefed on the matter.

The official's account of the shooting, the most detailed to date, came several hours after the man's Chechen father claimed at a news conference in Moscow on Thursday that his son, Ibragim Todashev, was unarmed when he was killed on May 22. The father, Abdulbaki Todashev, displayed photographs of his son's bullet-ridden body and demanded that the United States government explain how he was killed.

On the day of the shooting, federal law enforcement officials provided differing accounts of the episode, initially saying Mr. Todashev had a knife. Later they said Mr. Todashev had ''exploded'' at the agent and might have had a pipe or might not have had anything in his hands.

The shooting occurred after an F.B.I. agent from Boston and two detectives from the Massachusetts State Police had been interviewing Mr. Todashev for several hours about his possible involvement in a triple homicide in Waltham, Mass., in 2011, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

Mr. Todashev, according to the F.B.I., confessed to his involvement in the deaths and implicated Mr. Tsarnaev. He then started to write a statement admitting his involvement while sitting at a table across from the agent and one of the detectives when the agent briefly looked away, the official said. At that moment, Mr. Todashev picked up the table and threw it at the agent, knocking him to the ground.

While trying to stand up, the agent, who suffered a wound to his face from the table that required stitches, drew his gun and saw Mr. Todashev running at him with a metal pole, according to the official, adding that it might have been a broomstick.

The agent fired several shots at Mr. Todashev, striking him and knocking him backward. But Mr. Todashev again charged at the agent. The agent fired several more shots at Mr. Todashev, killing him. The detective in the room did not fire his weapon, the official said.
Ten weeks ago, on May 31, the Times was already noting the conflicting accounts from law enforcement. Its new account was again attributed to officials, not stated as a fact.

Who was Maddow talking about as she entertained us last night? Granted, Maddow can be a barrel of fun, especially if you don’t really care if what you’re hearing is accurate.

But which news orgs have behaved in the way she so colorfully described? MaddowBlog presents no links. We’ll guess there pretty much aren’t any.

Increasingly, Maddow is a tabloid-leaning rodeo clown. What a shame that the suits picked her as the voice of the new liberal world.

Rachel can sound like a chicken: Did Walter Cronkite ever imitate a chicken on the air?

We doubt it! Last night, Rachel entertained us the rubes with her masterful impression. To enjoy all the fun, just click here.

The first two clucks come at 3:30. The third cluck comes a few minutes later. What's our review of Rachel's clucks?

All three are convincing, and sad.

(By the way, those claims about Elizabeth Warren around 4:40 are pure BS. Charitably, let's assume that Rachel's staff didn't understand the statistics.)


  1. ive seen madow be less than honest in various clips. on the other hand, the ends, to some extent or other, can justify the means, imo.

    imo, this is one such case. she maintains a light-shining vigil, however spotty, on a killing, which if it was in fact a government assassination, has great importance in understanding whether or not the boston bombing was a false flag operation conducted at some level by our government, or much less likely, outsiders, with the government allowing it to occur.

    madows motivation is to keep the 'crazies', millions, including myself, from believing such things. she realizes that having the fbi investigate itself on the matter makes it look all the more suspicious.

    madow is an authoritarian at heart when it come to most things to my eye, exluding culturally liberal policies. here she is trying to help the authorities cover up better, as i see it.

    1. Maddow: "less than honest," "authoritarian at heart."

      Why are you attacking Lesbian Americans? -- to keep them down, second-class citizens??

      Oh well.

      "if it was..." "whether or not..." "much less likely..."

      Today, at least, you acknowledge that "the crazies" includes yourself. So, that's something anyway.

      Baby steps...

    2. unlike bob somerby, with his over decade long jihad against americans of irish catholic heritage, ive exhibited no pattern of attacking members of any particular group: ethnic; religious; gender; sexual orientation or any other except perhaps bobanistas, a particularly vile group of sycophantic fans of sophistry or just angry bigots and anti-liberals. print this comment out troll and re-read it till u get it. yer welcome.

  2. and like i said about odonnell yesterday, i dont often see the show, but if she can be, as somerby says, "a barrel of fun" then that would be in keeping with a late night cable news show in order to maintain an audience. she doesnt occupy walter conkrites august position. the problem would come when they lie or twist facts or leave pertinent things out.

  3. Considering that almost the reports rely on leaks from anonymous sources, it's amazing that anything coherent has emerged about the incident. If reports about the victim's hotheadedness and propensity to violence are proven to be true, it's not illogical to suspect that he did in fact lose it and attack an FBI agent. Once that happens, it's not surprising that the attacker ends up wounded or dead. To conclude that instead, we must be covering up an extralegal assassination seems to me to be irresponsible when it comes from anyone except a relative of the deceased.

  4. @ AnonymousAugust 14, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    but arent fbi agents, the ones who are not desk jockeys, supposed to be big burly men trained to defend themselves without having to kill the suspect. how many did there have to be of them to overpower him with their hands or mace or a taser? how long would backup have taken to get there if needed?

    do they deserve to have their jobs as *peace* officers if they cant as a group take down one guy without having to resort to the use of a firearm. at the very least, they should be relieved of field duty.

    my answer is that they were obviously able to take him alive, but for whatever reason they did not. the question is, did they want to take him alive? not whether they were able or willing to take him alive. my answer is obviously not, hence assassination by process of elimination.

  5. btw, when did a *peace* officers life become more valuable than any one elses generally? and in this case more valuable than a man who 'potentially' could shed light on the boston bombing which could result in countless lives saved in the future, *if* all was on the up and up.

    1. The peace officer's life is *always* more valuable than the criminal's who attacks him. Attacking a law officer is not sanctioned in civilized society.

    2. as dangerous and potentially admirable as a cops work can be, an infantrymans in wartime is far far more dangerous and also more admirable.

      yet a soldiers life is considered very expendable. we expect them to routinely risk their lives. but somehow we have made societies referees (police) in america into the star players.

      i apportion a great amount of the blame for this on the plethora of tv shows and movies glorifying police and the criminal justice system generally.
      "The peace officer's life is *always* more valuable..."

      >>> the life of the man who allegedly attacked the fbi agent was far more valuable as a possible source of information which could potentially have prevented other bombings (assuming the generally accepted story, which those fbi agents or supposed fbi agents did not believe, i submit).

      soldiers regularly go to extremes to capture alive high ranking officers which endangers them far more than attempting to kill a low ranking enemy.

    3. This particular informant had already confessed. Further, the person he was implicating was already dead, so there was no question of someone escaping justice without his confession.

      Police officers are trained to shoot to kill because if they do not stop an attacker immediately, they risk not only their own lives but those of bystanders and other officers. They do not wait to see how dangerous an attacker actually is, and they do not shoot to maim because that would risk not stopping the attacker and endangering others. People need to understand this about their training because they seem to believe that cops can and should shoot attackers in the arm or foot, or stop them in non-lethal ways. That expectation leads to protests about police brutality that are exacerbated when officers are cleared after investigation because they followed procedures -- which do not require them to preserve the life of an attacker at the risk of their own, no matter how remote that risk might appear after the fact.

    4. "...no matter how remote that risk might appear after the fact."

      >>> great system. another step which further enables the establishment of a fascist state.

  6. I think we are watching the death rattle of her prime time career.

  7. HBO's "Newsroom" just aired. There was a story line in which an associate producer edited Zimmerman's non-emergency call audio in exactly the same way NBC did, cutting out the dispatchers question, "Is he white, black or Hispanic?"

    Trouble is,in the "fictional" scenario portrayed on HBO, a beyond reproach staffer within the network catches the discrepancy right away and takes it to the associate producer who did the editing, who appears horrified and immediately informs the producer. An on-air correction is issued immediately. When asked, the associate producer insists she edited for timing, just as the NBC culprits insisted.

    In the actual NBC case, the conservative "Newsbusters" blog exposed the doctoring, discovering it after NBC ran the doctored tape for a full week.

    After it was exposed, NBC conducted an "internal investigation" and issued an apology, but not on the air.

    This Newsroom episode comes just as Zimmerman revs up his lawsuit vs NBC again.

    Atta boy Sorkin!

    1. Zimmerman didn't tell the dispatcher the "suspect" was black until he was asked. I don't really understand why this was made to be such a significant issue by the Zimmerman booster club. It doesn't prove anything one way or the other.
      After all the calls Zimmerman made to 911, does anybody seriously think he didn't know the first question they were going to ask him was a description of the "suspect"? Does it prove he didn't profile Martin based on his race? How exactly?

    2. Apparently you are not a regular reader else you would know the "all the 911 calls" is another media lie.

    3. mm?

      Long-time reader; infrequent thinker.

      "Zimmerman booster club. ""All the calls."

      HILARIOUS, mm.

      "Does it prove he DIDN'T profile Martin based on his race?"

      Because, unless Zimmerman can prove he didn't profile on race, mm (and others) will prefer to assume he did!

    4. mm by removing the question it sounds as though Zimmerman volunteered the racial information before being asked, and that it was included in his description to the dispatcher of why he was suspicious.

    5. Zimmerman can challenge the assertion that he profiled on race by denying it. That is all. You can't get into his mind and sort our what combination of

      "mm by removing the question it sounds as though Zimmerman volunteered the racial information before being asked, and that it was included in his description to the dispatcher of why he was suspicious."

      That is a fair point, but I never argued or claimed that the media didn't do anything wrong by editing the tape to remove the question. You're absolutely right, it was idiotic, unprofessional and misleading.

  8. Bob: I share your discomfort with Maddow. Every time I try to watch, I feel that I am being treated like a kindergartener by a well-meaning but too verbose teacher, and I hate being talked down to by anyone, including MSNBC's liberal coterie. I've been around a long time, have read thousands of books, and know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. It grinds on me when someone like Maddow doesn't just want to inform me, but wants to TEACH me, and make me LEARN what she knows to be the truth.

  9. My, the audience we are building!

    It is clear that by not naming names, Maddow curries favor with the press she is "shaming" in order to bring home the big bucks. By fearlessly naming names, our host has foregone the remuneration, but rests secure at having made a difference among people who know lots of stuff about stuff and can spot a false flag or race hustler at a safe distance from their neighborhood at night.

    1. Aiming for that bungalow on Nantucket?

  10. When I was running around with some rather unsavory characters as a teen my mom told me that you are known by the company you keep. When you realize that Maddow rubs/ed elbows with the likes of a Chris Matthews and a Kieth Olbermann it tells you all you need to know.

  11. "Rachel can sound like a chicken: Did Walter Cronkite ever imitate a chicken on the air?

    Not sure but Orwell warned about Duckspeak.