Baby, let them take us on a sea cruise!


How the CNN tulip craze resembles the sexism narrative: In the late 1950s, Lloyd Bridges—father of Jeff!—starred in a syndicated TV series called Sea Hunt.

One thinks of CNN’s ongoing tulip craze when one reads this synopsis from the world’s leading authority on the TV drama:
Synopsis of Sea Hunt (1958-61)
Mike Nelson (Bridges) is a free-lance scuba diver who has various adventures. Nelson, a former U.S. Navy frogman (having left the service about 4 years before the series began), is a well-known expert on diving who is often called on for difficult or dangerous projects. Traveling on his boat the Argonaut, Nelson outmaneuvers villains, salvages everything from a bicycle to a nuclear missile, rescues children trapped in a flooded cave, and even a dog. In the pilot episode, Mike rescues a downed Navy pilot from his sunken jet...
In a somewhat similar way, CNN has been telling the world about all the junk that can be found in the ocean.

Last night, Jon Stewart did a funny segment on the astonishing downward spiral in which CNN is engaged. Disappointingly, he didn’t use the piece of tape in which Fredericka Whitfield reported that a search crew had found a dead jelly fish.

To read about Whitfield, just click this. To watch Stewart’s tape, click here.

Watching Stewart’s segment, we couldn’t help thinking of the narrative about the sexism in the Mastro report. This would be the connection:

CNN has been selling us rubes an exciting sea adventure. After three weeks of non-stop speculation and nonsense, we’re amazed to think that we the rubes are still tuning in. But we are!

Somewhat similarly, we the rubes have been buying the narrative about the “shocking sexism” found in the Mastro report. We’re quoting Salon’s Alex Pareene, direct from his fainting couch.

Don’t get us wrong! There’s plenty of sexism and misogyny in the world. We used to watch Matthews, then Olbermann, each night. We’re experts on the subject.

(Complaints from the liberal world at that time? Ice station zero!)

Today, we liberals are thrilling to a partisan tale about the Mastro report’s shocking sexism. (Also, its “slut-shaming.” We’re quoting the pitiful Maddow.) Just as CNN’s viewers are being sold an absurdly overdone sea hunt, we liberals are being sold a heavily overcooked tale.

Again, consider the way Kate Zernike started her report on this topic in the New York Times. Headline included, this was her first paragraph:
ZERNIKE (3/28/14): Irate Friends See Sexism in Report on Former Christie Aide

She “seemed emotional.” She was “habitually concerned about how she was perceived by the governor.” A boyfriend had ended a relationship.
Shocking! According to Zernike, the Mastro report said that Bridget Kelly “seemed emotional.” Everyone could surely see what that old dog whistle meant!

Kelly “seemed emotional!” To Zernike, that was Exhibit A in the bill of attainder concerning the report’s sexism.

Does the Mastro report really say that Kelly “seemed emotional?” Yes it does, in exactly one place in its 340 pages. One witness says Kelly seemed that way at the December 13 meeting where Christie demands that staffers report any knowledge they might have about the Fort Lee lane closings.

To peruse the full report, click here. This is the damning passage Zernike craftily quoted:
Reference to Kelly being, acting or seeming “emotional”
page 99: Senior staff observed that the Governor wanted to know whether anyone in his Administration might have had involvement in the situation, and he wanted to confirm this one way or the other before the press conference. During the senior staff meeting, most attendees looked only at the Governor or down; they did not observe other attendees’ demeanor. Orsen was sitting directly next to Kelly in the back of the room, however, and observed that Kelly seemed emotional during the meeting.
The writing there is rather vague. It isn’t clear what Orsen meant when he said that Kelly “seemed emotional” during that meeting.

Elsewhere in the report, other staffers are quoted saying that Kelly seemed upset or nervous during and after the meeting, at which Christie is said to have been insistent. The inference is clear. Because she was withholding information, Kelly was nervous, uneasy.

No one ever says that Kelly was “emotional” as a matter of course. Unless you’re truly a tool for the use, it’s hard to see how that one reference to “seeming emotional” at a tense moment could trigger a claim of sexism.

But that’s part of the story we’re being sold, just as viewers of CNN are being sold the news about dead jellyfish. And by the way—here are the references in the Mastro report to Governor Christie being, seeming or acting emotional:
Reference to Christie being, acting or seeming “emotional”
page 10: That afternoon, on January 8, 2014, the Governor called together his top aides and advisors at Drumthwacket. It was an emotional session, in which the Governor, welling up with tears, expressed shock at the revelations, directed Kelly’s immediate firing for lying to him, and also decided to sever ties with Stepien.

page 11: When documents were then publicly released on January 8, 2014, confirming Kelly’s participation in the decision to close these lanes and Stepien’s apparent awareness, Governor Christie called together his top advisors that same day and, in an emotional session, expressed shock at the revelations, directed Kelly’s firing immediately for lying to him, and also decided to sever ties with Stepien.

page 103: Starting around mid-day on January 8, 2014, the Governor gathered at Drumthwacket with senior staff and other advisors (but not Kelly or Stepien). The Governor was emotional and, with tears in his eyes, he asked if any other of his senior staff had anything to do with the lane realignment; each reassured the Governor that they did not. T

page 131: During the December 13, 2013 senior staff meeting, as all who attended described, the Governor ordered his staff in a heartfelt, emotional and, at times, agitated manner to come forward with any information about the lane realignment.

page 131: On January 8, 2014, when documents were publicly released reflecting Kelly’s involvement in the lane realignment and Stepien’s apparent awareness, Governor Christie called together top aides and, in an emotional session, directed Kelly’s immediate firing for lying to him and decided to sever ties with Stepien.

page 132: Indeed, when he finally learned the truth, Governor Christie was genuinely shocked and disappointed—welling up with emotion—as numerous members of his senior staff have confirmed.
Because of the structure of the report, there’s a quite a bit of repetition about Christie’s “emotional” sessions. That said, the report features six such passages concerning Christie, only one with Kelly.

In two of these passages, Christie is shown welling up with tears.

This doesn’t mean that the report isn’t “sexist” in some way. But Zernike started her indictment by quoting the use of a certain damning word to refer to Kelly.

In our view, she was selling a dead jellyfish. But then, we think Zernike is one of the worst reporters we’ve ever covered.

A lot of us rubes are getting conned on CNN these days. It’s stunning to see how gullible and undiscerning we the rubes are willing to be.

We chuckled as Stewart tore his hair about the inanity of CNN’s work. We also thought of the dead jellyfish we liberals are being sold.


  1. Is this sexism narrative being pushed so hard because progressives are worried that Christie will be able to blame everything on Kelly and will shed this albatross to his campaign prospects? Is that why people are working so hard to portray this report as sexist? Or is it simply that the press needs a hook and once they find one they all use the same one?

  2. It is clear the mainstream press gave so much attention to this report because leading blogs which muse on the mainstream "press corps" gave it considerable advance hype.

    For example: TDH, a blog which has covered media since "he got there" devoted two blogs to the report before it came out.

    Open minded journalists were alerted to what the report might contain due to phrases like this from the blog, which publishes journalism critiques which always get results!

    "In many instances, documents allow you to solve a case. And Christie said against last night that new documents will be coming forward as part of this report."

    “I think all the important questions will be answered,” Christie said, building up his report.

    "Wow! Will this review include real information about the “motivations leading up to the closing of the lanes?”

    Obviously, we don’t know the answer to that. But it sounds like that could be possible, given the materials to which the authors say they had access."

    "But based on what we read in the Times, we felt eager to see this forthcoming review."

    Alterted by the blogosphere, which has stolen many a scoop and reader away from the traditional press, they were ready to pounce on the Christie report.

    What did they find new?

    Hints of an affair between the two Christie insiders fired in January.

    Descriptions of an emotional Christie at meetings and hints at emotion by the person already publically known to be involved since January.

    And not much else. Zero, zip, nada on the "new documents" front So what was the alerted press corps going to do. Use the release of the report as a chance to guess the Governor's weight since the scandal really broke open in January?

    Or write about the only thing new in the report? It was, after all, the only thing to write about other than calling it the DUD it was.

    1. One observation: "Dud" was last week, before Bob learned the Christie Team talking points. It's been disappeared as Bob, now armed with the talking points, has rejoined the team to defend it against all side charges of sexism.

      It is the same schtick Somerby uses to immediately dismiss any and all allegations of racism while warning his rubes that we must carefully respect and try dilligently to understand buffons who wave around Confederate battle flags.

  3. "Progressives" have a negative view of anything associated with female gender such as a relatively higher level or frequency of expressing emotions. Masculine traits good feminine bad. That's a modern progressive's definition of "feminism" and a sane person's definition of misogyny.

    1. 442: as your post clearly illustrates, the quantity of your actual knowledge of Progressives can fit comfortably in Tom Thumb's thimble.

  4. "Watching Stewart’s segment, we couldn’t help thinking of the narrative about the sexism in the Mastro report."

    A high school freshman who wrote such a nonsensical non sequitur would be flunked.

    What next, Bob? How about, "Watching the sun rise this morning, we couldn't help help thinking of the narrative about the sexism in the Mastro report."

    Or even more truthfully, "Watching my daffodils bloom, we couldn't help but think of how that all ties in with the narrative I am selling my rubes about how there is not one hint of sexism anywhere Mastro's complete and thorough exoneration of the great and noble governor of New Jersey, who is incapable of telling a lie."

    Bob, you are now so obviously in the tank for Chris Christie, that the only thing left to do is laugh.

    Interesting, however, that you proclaim yourself an "expert" on sexism because you can spot it when one of your favored "bad guys" do it, but you remain blind when it is done on the behalf of the noble, honest-as-the-day-is-long Christie.

    You grow more desperate, lame, weak and pathetic by the day, Somerby.

    1. I see the connection. The "breaking news" jellyfish find and the "sexism" narrative are both current examples of bogus "journalism".

    2. Yes, how bogus of journalists to call a sexist report sexist.

      After all, Bob disagrees. So it can't be sexist. He has spoken to his rubes, and they believe.

    3. Mandelbaum ...Mandelbaum ...Mandelbaum!

    4. It's more obvious that ever that Bob is in cahoots with the Christie camp. This was planned.

    5. It's funny but not surprising. In Liberal World a week ago this is the crime of the century. Some media dog whistles and fabrication and the next thing you know the main perp is transformed into a babe-in-the-woods innocent victim.

    6. Where, exactly is Liberal World?

    7. Halfway between Fantasyland and Doucheville.

  5. Taking each of these elements individually and debunking them one by one is extremely dishonest. It is the totality of all the references to personal matters unlike the absence of any such analysis for other participants -- emotional upset, constant concern over standing with the governor, upset over family issues, upset over former relationship -- that gives rise to the complaints. Of course, TDH with his education in philosophy and logic knows that perfectly well.

    Kelly's friends can react the way they want to react. There is nothing wrong with Zernike reporting how her friends reacted. Pareene, of course, is doing commentary, not straight reporting. There may be exaggeration there, but there is plenty in the report to give rise to it.

  6. I would like to note that the "Matthews and Olbermann did it, too" card Somerby is playing is the same one he used to defend Rushbo when he called Sandra Fluke some pretty sexist names.

  7. This is such black and white thinking. Either Somerby sees things entirely your way or he is a conservative, supporter of Christie, admirer of Limbaugh. Where did the standing ground go for those who want to consider the complexities of facts and arguments without adopting the approved party line of either perspective?

    1. Let me assure you that I have no interest of discovering what little box -- or tribes as he calls them -- that Somerby fits into.

      Experience has taught me that people are quite difficult to categorize. Some are very conservative on certain issues, while being very liberal on others. It is far more often a question of "both/and" instead of "either/or."

      I am only reporting the pattern of Somerby's behavior. Whenever there is an allegation of sexism, expect Bob to attempt to debunk it with the Matthews/Olbermann card, and further use it to polish his own anti-sexist bonafides as he defends Mastro against rather fair charges of sexism in his report.

      Now whether Somerby or anyone else fully agrees with those charges is not as important as the question of whether Somerby's mind is open enough to accept the fact that others might view it differently than he does.

    2. Bob generally thinks that if you view it differently and want to accuse someone of sexism or racism or any-ism, you should have fairly significant evidence. That existed with Matthews/Olbermann and it doesn't exist with this story.

    3. Charges of racism/sexism are too serious to allow any type of embellishment. When it occurs it needs to be pointed out.

    4. Yes 12:24. You nailed it. When you charge something, don't embellish.

      For example, don't use the word "seem" to make a statement into something it is not.

      Another example, when decrying others crying "wolf", don't imply the wolf might be there after all.

    5. 12:40 are you saying this doesn’t mean that the report isn’t “sexist” in some way.

    6. The report may be sexist in some way. Just not that way.

    7. So if the report isn't sexist in its portrayal of Kelly as a behested woman, in what other ways is it sexist?

  8. OMB (The TDH Sexist Tulip Craze Continues)

    Churning out a two-fer in his repetitive coverage of CNN's plane search and the now nearly week old response to the Christie report, BOB reaches back to his childhood and, in so doing, continues to further the sexist charges his recent work en-genders.

    Can we talk? Commenters have noted that BOB has disappeared the male reporter who co-authored the NY Times article to which BOB has devoted the bulk of his bullroar in the Mastro Masterpiece Media Meme Musing. So how does BOB man-up when so charged? By focusing on man-down. Man deep down.

    Could BOB have picked a more manly TV series? Wait, you say. This is an ocean theme from CNN, there is nothing sexist about it.
    It is a lone male character in a lone male world. Not only was the hero male there were literally no women ever in a recurring character role.

    We are talking about airplane news folks. Air search. The least Bob could have done was use Sky King.

    Synopsis of Sky KIng

    "Although the series has strong western elements, King mostly captures criminals and spies and finds lost hikers with the use of his airplane, the Songbird. Although the airplanes that were used were changed during the course of the series, the later model was not given a number, but was still known as the Songbird.

    King and his niece, Penny (and sometimes Clipper, his nephew), live on the Flying Crown Ranch, near the (fictitious) town of Grover, Arizona. Penny and Clipper are also pilots, although they are inexperienced and look to their uncle for guidance. Penny is an accomplished air racer and rates as a multi-engine pilot, whom Sky trusts to fly the Songbird."


  9. That is a great point KD. Dutifully written. And in addition he refers to Stewarts "tape". It's not tape, it digital. Just more lies. And his motives have never been more obvious as you have shown.

    1. I wouldn't play the sarcastic card until I learned where the reply button was.

  10. A few points.

    "OB reaches back to his childhood...." No, Bob is too young for Seahunt to be a part of his childhood. But it is a part of mine.

    Bob is beginning to emerge for me as the perfect example of men of a certain age.... Men of my age are more obvious in their misogyny. Men of Bob's age, well, we're supposed to assume their enlightenment. Bull roar. mch

    1. Bob is too young for Seahunt? Heck I bet Bob got some of his first woodies when Sky King drove Penny up to the Songbird in their Woodie at the Ranch.

    2. Bob even tells us how enlightened he is because he saw the misogyny of Matthews and Olbermann right away. So when he proclaims that the Mastro report is free of any trace of sexism, he claims to speak with the voice of authority.


  11. Maybe Seahunt reruns were a part of his childhood.

    1. Seahunt was cancelled when Bob was still a child.

    2. To clear the record, the original 155 episodes of Sea Hunt aired for four years from 1958 through 1961.

  12. Maybe they continued to show it in syndication. Maybe then, he watched it.

    1. He watched in its original air time as a child. Maddow watched it in syndication when she was a child.

      Both enjoyed it in black and white.

  13. Your remarks look like another piece of Somerby performance art.

  14. Broad strokes: the vast majority of liberals are as bored with this story as everybody else.

    1. It is to Bob what a jellyfish is to CNN.