Rachel unloads on “the Beltway press!”


We think of Jack Coen’s old joke: We haven’t seen Jack Coen in years. He’s one of our all-time favorites.

Today, he’s Leno’s head writer (or some such thing). Thirty years ago, he was a young, very strong comedian we worked with in various places, from Atlantic City and Baltimore all the way down to Fort Myers, where we jointly chickened on getting towed behind a boat, high up in the air.

We’re sure there’s a name for that.

For two main reasons, plus several more, he’s one of our all-time favorites, a guy we admire. Moving right along:

Way back then, Jack did a bit about the brave new world in which women were (gasp!) pursuing careers. (This was the early 1980s.) In reality, the butt of the joke was the poor behavior of certain types of men. But as the joke played out, Jack pictured career women coming to resemble such men in the future: throwing down too many drinks, laughing about the way they were cheating on their “old men,” and of course sporting highly elaborate comb-overs.

We’ll assume Jack hasn’t turned out like that! Increasingly, we find ourselves thinking of Jack’s old bit when we watch Rachel Maddow.

Good lord, can she shovel the shit, just like The Others have always done! Last night, the analysts started wailing when they heard her peddling this:
MADDOW (11/5/13): NBC has projected the winner in the Virginia governor’s race tonight. It’s the Democrat in the race, Terry McAuliffe, over Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

You know, when you read the Beltway press about this race, all along there has been the gauzy wonder about how it is that Terry McAuliffe is doing disproportionately well among women. What is it about Terry McAuliffe?

Is Terry McAuliffe particularly appealing to voters of the lady persuasion? Is Terry just an androgynous name—maybe people think he is a woman? What could this be? Why would women has such a strong partisan preference in this governor’s race?

It may be hard to believe. This is not the way we are wired as a country to understand politics, but it could possibly be a matter of policy!
Already, the wailing was general. Rachel was playing her familiar “Beltway media” card, in which she invents all kinds of outrageous things “the Beltway press” are said to have been saying.

In this case, had “the Beltway press” really been puzzled by the gender gap in Virginia polls? We found that claim a bit hard to believe. But Rachel was working very hard to pimp this shit to the gullibles.

For the ten millionth time, she discussed the gender policies of “Governor Ultrasound,” Bob McDonnell. At that point, she played her card again:
MADDOW: But now, heading into tonight’s race in Virginia, the Beltway press, the national press, have been sort of mystified at this big gender gap in the Virginia polling.

It turns out, you know, Ken Cuccinelli is not that much of a mystery. He is the harder to spell, dark-haired, human embodiment of Bob McDonnell’s social conservative agenda.
That goddamned Beltway/national press! They had refused to explain why Ken Cuccinelli was losing the women’s vote!

Third time being the charm, Rachel went there again:
MADDOW: History says Republicans should have had this election tonight in Virginia in a walk. There is a Democratic president. For more than 30 years now, that means it has been guaranteed a Republican would win the Virginia governorship.

If you ask Virginia men tonight, that would have been the case, but Virginia women are so strongly against the way Republicans have been governing in Virginia and propose to keep doing so that they have changed that political streak entirely.

The Beltway press has never seemed to understand that this is about policy.
That goddamned “Beltway press!” They had refused to understand Virginia’s gender gap!

To stop the wailing of the analysts, we had to make them a promise. First thing today, they could look at Maddowblog, we said.

Like us, they thought Maddow’s repeated claim was extremely implausible. Would Maddow offer any links to support her repeated claim?

We promised them they could check. Soon, they were fast asleep.

This morning, the analysts checked it out. Who in the Beltway press had been mystified by that gender gap? Who in the national press had expressed that “gauzy wonder?”

Was it perhaps the Washington Post? Clearly, they’re part of the Beltway press.

But uh-oh! Below, you see part of the front-page summary of the race from this Sunday's Post. Marc Fisher and Laura Vozzella didn’t seem mystified about that gender gap:
FISHER AND VOZZELLA (11/3/13): The gender gap

Holsworth said a gender gap of "unimaginable proportions" was clear from the day in 2012 when hundreds of women "showed up at the Capitol—organized by Facebook, not the parties—to protest transvaginal ultrasounds," the invasive procedure Republican legislators proposed requiring of women seeking most abortions. "Cuccinelli’s folks underestimated the continuing and fervent interest that many women have in this campaign as a result," Holsworth said.

Former governor L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat who publicly flirted with endorsing Cuccinelli before siding with McAuliffe, said the Republican unnecessarily "united women against him."

Cuccinelli could have maintained his principled opposition to abortion yet assured women, as McDonnell did four years ago, that he would not roll back their rights, Wilder said. He said Cuccinelli should have told women that he opposes abortion on religious grounds but that " 'I am a protector of the law, and the laws relative to the rights of women will not be changed under my direction. . . . I am going to be a governor for all Virginians.' "

John H. Hager, a former lieutenant governor who later served as head of the state Republican Party, said Cuccinelli has been damaged by McAuliffe's ads focusing on abortion and by Cuccinelli's decision to withhold support, along with only three other state attorneys general, when the Violence Against Women Act was renewed last year.

"He's got his reasons he did what he did, but they're easy things to use against somebody," Hager said.

Campaign advisers say they urged Cuccinelli to find ways to appeal to women and independents. One adviser, who asked not to be named because internal deliberations were confidential, said he pressed the candidate to adopt the cause of Elizabeth Daly, a University of Virginia student who was arrested and charged with three felonies after state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents saw her outside a supermarket carrying a carton of bottled water. The agents believed that Daly was an underage customer who had just bought beer. Charges were dropped, but only after Daly spent 36 hours in custody.

"Hundreds of thousands of Virginia women who find Ken anathema to some degree would have rallied to how that unfortunate young lady was bullied by the ABC thugs," the adviser said, but Cuccinelli was reluctant to criticize law enforcement.
How odd! The Washington Post explained the gap the same way Maddow did!

Was USA Today the culprit? Oops! Yesterday morning, a page 3 news report ran under this double headline: “Virginia's race for governor may rest in women's hands/Gender gap gives Democrat McAuliffe significant edge.”

Catalina Camia didn’t seem mystified by the gender gap:
CAMIA (11/5/13): The portrayal of Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, as a hard-line social conservative has gained steam in recent months. President Obama and Vice President Biden both focused on Cuccinelli's opposition to abortion rights and his views on women's health issues as they helped McAuliffe make his closing arguments before Tuesday's election.

McAuliffe, a former national Democratic Party chairman, has been leading Cuccinelli for several months in statewide polling, with women voters providing a significant margin in his favor. The Democrat had at least a 14-point advantage over his GOP rival among women in polls released last week by Christopher Newport, Quinnipiac and Hampton universities. A Washington Post poll had McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli among women by 24 points.

By comparison, Obama defeated Mitt Romney by 11 points among women voters in 2012 and John McCain by 7 points in 2008.

"Women voters are energized around issues of health, concerns about abortion and birth control," said Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University in Newport News and director of the Wason Center for Public Policy. "The gender gap is real."

In Arlington, as she waited for Obama to rally support for McAuliffe on Sunday, Precious Crabtree used a phrase that Democrats often trotted out last year against Republicans.

"I believe there's a war on women," said Crabtree, an elementary school teacher from Burke, Va. She said she supports McAuliffe because she believes women would have "opportunity and make decisions on our own" if the Democrat were governor.
Frankly, we were puzzled. Who in “the Beltway press” had behaved the way Maddow described? Maddow seemed to say that they all played dumb.

At her blog, where her staff presents links, did they have any examples?

Pathetically, they offered one link, to a piece at The Hill. The headline said this: “Enormous gender gap costs Cuccinelli.”

We’re sorry to be the killjoys here, but The Hill didn’t seem real mystified either. (“McAuliffe’s lead in the polls was built on a clear gender gap. The former Democratic National Committee chairman exploited a big fundraising edge to deluge the airwaves with ads focused on Cuccinelli’s opposition to abortion, his views on contraception and his failure to support the federal Violence Against Women Act.”)

We’d have to say that Maddow has become a routine dissembler. She constantly plays this particular card, in which she tells us gullible viewers that “the Beltway press” has been conspiring against us.

She rarely names specific culprits, presumably because there are none. She’s simply making this bullshit up, filling us full of faux rage.

Maddow was treating her viewers like fools as he pimped that shit last night. Once again, we thought we saw our own fiery leaders behaving a great deal like Them.

We couldn't help it! When we saw Rachel playing that card, we thought of Jack Coen’s old joke.

Coen way back when: The Los Angeles Times previews Jack at the Irvine Improv, December 1993.


  1. "We're sure there's a name for that."


  2. i dont see what madows motivation here was.

    "She constantly plays this particular card, in which she tells us gullible viewers that “the Beltway press” has been conspiring against us." - b. somerby

    assuming somerby has summarized the situation correctly, this doesnt make sense to me on two levels. what is her motivation in downing the main stream medias attitude towards womens issues? they seem very good in this area as far as i have noticed. (but horrible on non-cultural issues)

    secondly, if one cares about ones journalistic credibility, you dont make an argument where theres very little supporting evidence to defend it.

    i dont often catch her show. does she have a vendetta against the msm?
    does she wish to develop in liberals a similar distrust of the msm as the right has so that her audience will feel they have to tune into her show and her network only -- if they want the truth, a la fox, limbaugh et. al.?

    1. It isn't so much that the mainstream media is being maligned. It is that she is stoking up viewer's sense of outrage by implying that no one takes women seriously as people motivated by policy issues at the polls. The rationale she puts into the mouths of the mainstream media are: (1) that women vote for whoever they consider physically attractive, or (2) women are easily confused by things like Androgynous names because they don't know anything about the candidates. Both explanations are very insulting to women and thus elicit strong feelings, especially if you are female. It is manipulative of viewer emotions using statements that are factually untrue for the purpose of making people feel strongly (and thereby entertaining them?). It is sad that she has to use false issues when there are so many real situations in the world to feel strongly about.

    2. "It is manipulative of viewer emotions using statements that are factually untrue for the purpose of making people feel strongly (and thereby entertaining them?)."

      >>> if thats it, and i cant think of a better explanation, its a crass and dishonest attempt to improve ratings which speaks very poorly for someone with a phd and a large staff -- that they couldnt come up with a better segment on one of the "many real situations in the world to feel strongly about.", and gain ratings that way.

      perhaps she (or her producers or higher up bosses) feels a need to minimize the the possible defection of women from her show to her new female same-time competitor at fox, megyn kelly, by being a defender of women, even if the stated attack is specious.

  3. Of course, there are two gender gaps. Women (on average) tilt liberal, while men (on average) tilt conservative. I wonder why the latter gender gap seldom gets mentioned.

    1. Probably because men are so inconsequential in this society.

    2. Maybe it seldom gets mentioned because it always gets mentioned. Remember the angry while male vote that even the Republicans realize isn't large enough?

      In 2012, the gender gap was larger for women than for men (11% compared to 7%), and it bucked the racial divide. Historical Footnote won the white vote by 20%, and the white male vote by 25%, but the white female vote by only 4%.

      Also the female demographic is more important in elections because women outvote men. In 2012, by 6%.

  4. I think she graduated with some New Age major in being coy and smug.

    1. From Wikipedia:

      A graduate of Castro Valley High School in Castro Valley, California, she attended Stanford University. While a freshman, she was outed by the college newspaper when an interview with her was published by the student newspaper before she could tell her parents. Maddow earned a degree in public policy at Stanford in 1994. At graduation she was awarded the John Gardner Fellowship. She was also the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and began her postgraduate study in 1995 at Lincoln College, Oxford. This made her the first openly gay or lesbian American to win an international Rhodes Scholarship. In 2001, she earned a Doctor of Philosophy in politics at Oxford University. Her thesis is titled HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons and her supervisor was Dr. Lucia Zedner.

    2. Well, I had no idea that she had a graduate degree, has attended Oxford, or was a Rhodes Scholar.

      That's information you never hear about in the media. Just like there's never any referencing of the fact that Joe Scarborough is a former Republican congressman, and Mika Brzezinski is the daughter of the Nation Security Advisor to Pres. Carter.

      MSNBC and these hosts just keep all their accomplishments and connections on the down-low.


    3. Well, I had no idea that she had a graduate degree, has attended Oxford, or was a Rhodes Scholar.

      That's information you never hear about in the media. Just like there's never any referencing of the fact that Joe Scarborough is a former Republican congressman, and Mika Brzezinski is the daughter of the Nation Security Advisor to Pres. Carter.

      MSNBC and these hosts just keep all their accomplishments and connections on the down-low.


    4. And when all else fails, get snarky, Cecelia.

    5. What's failed? I made a snarky remark about Maddow to start with and this idiot Wikipediaed.

  5. off topic

    heard msnbc will be giving a m-f show to a famous actress's 25 year old son.

    how about signing people to do shows who have name recognition as liberal fighters over many decades? bobby kennedy jr comes to mind. his broadcast partner mike papantonio as well. neither would probably do it as theyre mainly lawyers, and i understand very successful. but if msnbc could convince either or both to do a prime time show, i think it would not only get ratings, it would actually edify the viewers.

    but there must be a number of others who have name recognition and know what they are talking about and who would present interesting and educational shows and get good ratings. . . . but true economic left people, not johnny one note cheerleaders on the cultural issues. jim hightower is another in the style im thinking of.

    funny, of all the many ive seen, none of the msnbc paid contributors fit the bill. maybe governor dean.

    im guessing msnbc neither wants independent minded true left people nor even good ratings for its current monotonous cultural left fare. they let on advertisements from competing cable news networks.

    1. How about Al Sharpton?

      Whether or not you consider them to be fighters enough, Chris Matthews credentials go back to the Carter Administration and run through Tip O'Neill. Lawrence O'Donnell served for Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

      MSNBC is obviously shooting for a younger demographic against CNN and Fox. This is why Big Ed got switched out for Chris Hayes.

  6. Once again, TDH proves it is the "go-to" blog to discover the latest sins of Rachel Maddow. And Maureen Dowd.

    How civilization could cope without this valuable service, I have no idea.

  7. Bob also unloads regularly and selectively on the Beltway press, and on various other cohorts, like The Professors. Then commenters astutely point out examples of what Bob says are press or The Professors didn't cover. Seems like TDH is quite the glass house.

    Can someone explain the difference please between what Rachel is doing and what Bob does almost daily?

    1. OK, Confused, let me give it a try.

      TDH targets the mainstream press (or the Beltway press, if you wish) and their cohorts (often called "the elite") because TDH thinks they often cover piffle instead of important issues and because when they do cover important issues, they do so badly because of their laziness, cowardice, bias, and love of standard narrative. Most of his ire is directed at liberal or progressive perpetrators, and much of his focus is on reporting about education.

      If you think press malfeasance in general is an important issue and that reporting about education is an important issue in particular, then it's clear that almost everything TDH blogs about is important and on topic. Opinions on TDH's accuracy differ within his commentariat, but if you've read his endless entries on Ripley's book, you'll know he's right about the statistics and Ripley hasn't a clue.

      Maddow is a favorite target, and the work TDH criticizes tells you why. Contrary to Maddow's claim, the Beltway press did talk up the supposed Virginia gender gap. Not only that, but the gender gap wasn't that big. The story should have been how wrong was the accepted wisdom about a gender gap that was to make McAuliffe a shoo-in.