SALEM VILLAGE AND CABLE NEWS: Another perfect pundit performance!

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2014

Part 3—Sunny Hostin delivers:
In yesterday’s post, we saw Mike Pesca, a good decent person, deliver a bit of perfect pundit behavior.

On Monday’s Anderson Cooper show, another such performance occurred. It was delivered by Sunny Hostin, a “hang ’em high” former prosecutor with a warm, sunny smile.

Hostin is a familiar type of cable pundit. She’s a youngish, conventionally attractive, female former federal prosecutor for whom all people are plainly guilty and in need of extensive punishment.

Nancy Grace invented the type. By now, this type of casting on “cable news” programs is extremely familiar.

When Hostin shows up in Salem Village, the target will always be guilty. Let’s discuss the perfect moment she authored on Monday evening’s show.

Cooper spent his first half hour discussing the NFL’s various problems. Twenty-four minutes into the program, Jeffrey Toobin did something unusual.

Toobin made a positive statement about the current target:
TOOBIN (9/15/14): Now the NFL, I think to its credit, just hired four very prominent domestic violence experts to try to articulate and help them formulate a policy. One of the many problems of the NFL's response here is that the rules were very unclear, and basically dumped it all in Goodell's lap and he could be the emperor who decided, you know, how each case was resolved on its own merits.

The problem with that is, you don't have clear rules so that you have some people who have been convicted of domestic violence who are playing. You have some people who have been suspended. The length of the suspension is up for grabs. So the fact that they've hired these good people and at least in the future, I hope, we'll have—
Toobin is a former prosecutor who tends to take a more moderate view than Hostin does. On “cable news,” a figure like Toobin is often cast in tandem with a Nancy Grace knock-off.

In this passage quoted above. Toobin was breaking the basic rules of his trade. Here’s why we say that:

In the previous week, the NFL had become the obvious target of cable’s latest Entertainment/Moral Outrage Spectacular. In the Salem Village of cable news, the NFL was plainly the latest witch.

The parsons and goodies of the Village were chasing the NFL all around. Now, Toobin said that the NFL, “I think to its credit,” had done something constructive!

We were struck by the timing of Toobin’s comment. By now, twenty-four minutes had passed in the program, but Cooper hadn’t reported the hiring of these “prominent experts.”

Whatever! Out of nowhere, Toobin was saying the current target had done something constructive. Infallibly, Hostin interrupted, producing this superb example of perfect pundit behavior:
HOSTIN (continuing directly): I have to completely disagree with you, Jeff. And that is because we know, after the scandal erupted, what did Goodell do? He did implement a policy, right? He implemented this two-game suspension and then an indefinite—I guess, a lifetime ban from the league for a second offense for domestic violence.

He is playing catch-up! The NFL is playing catch-up. So to name these four women as domestic violence experts on his team at this point, I think, is too little, I think it's too late, and I think it's tone deaf.
Hiring experts on domestic violence? The conduct was tone deaf!

You’ll rarely see a better example of perfect cable pundit behavior. Let’s note what Hostin did.

Interrupting Toobin’s remarks, she said she completely disagreed with his statement. That represents the total oppositional dumbness cable news has long adored.

Why did Hostin disagree so completely? In honesty, her logic is hard to parse.

She started by saying that Goodell initiated a domestic violence policy in late August—a policy whose basic conditions she misstated.

On this basis, she said the recent hiring of the experts was too little and too late. She also said it was “tone deaf” to hire the four experts.

We’re not real sure how to parse that.

For starters, we’ll note that Hostin didn’t seem to know the basics about the policy Goodell put in place after the scandal erupted. Under that policy, a first offence for domestic violence will bring a six-game suspension.

Thundering loudly, Hostin seemed to think the number was two.

In fairness, everyone makes mistakes of this type; Hostin makes them quite often. That said, it’s hard to know what the NFL could possibly do this point, given Hostin’s logic.

Because Goodell announced a policy in late August, she says it’s “tone deaf” to hire four experts to help him further now. She says it’s “too late” to do that.

By that logic, what can the NFL possibly do if it feels the need for better advice with regard to this problem? By Hostin’s logic, all further action is wrong!

Hostin didn’t seem to know the basic facts; her logic was rather obscure. But she was exhibiting perfect behavior, like Pesca in yesterday’s post.

Below, you see the basic pundit rule Pesca and Hostin were following. This was the rule in Salem Village. It’s also the rule in the modern cable chase:

Whatever the target says or does, it can only show us, even more clearly, that the target is guilty as charged.

Everything must be taken to show that the target is truly a witch. Last week, the pundits had reached that judgment about the NFL. On Monday evening, Hostin knew that the target was guilty as charged.

Hostin isn’t especially lucid. As a pundit, her value lies in the fact that she will find every target guilty as charged.

She will “completely” disagree with alternate judgments, even if she’s a bit fuzzy about the issues at hand.

Hostin’s fuzzy thinking was on display all through Monday’s program. Cooper was quite fuzzy too.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s report, let’s examine the basic point of the current chase.

Early in his segment on Ray Rice, Cooper introduced Miguel Marquez.

On what basis is Rice appealing his suspension from the NFL? Marquez gave a clear explanation:
MARQUEZ: Roger Goodell [is]saying that he was either led astray, or misled, or lied to by Mr. Rice during that June 16th meeting. He has been saying that now several times over the last week while Rice, at least his side of the camp, [is] saying that it was Goodell that was told everything by Ray Rice, and that he didn't hear it and made his decision on the two-game suspension, and only changed his mind once that TMZ Sports video came out showing the inside of the elevator in that Atlantic City casino.

[...]

Goodell is saying that the indefinite suspension is because he was led astray, not for the beating of Janay Palmer back in February.
Goodell is saying that he was misled. Rice is saying that Goodell was given the whole ugly truth.

What was Roger Goodell told in that June 16 meeting? Moments later, Cooper and Hostin tried to puzzle that out. Each star was remarkably clueless. Pitifully, let’s start with this:
COOPER: It’s interesting now, Miguel saying that Roger Goodell had been saying, “Well, I was kind of misled.”

That's not what we heard from the coach of the team in that press conference who said, “Well, no, nothing Ray Rice said was any different—you know, everything that's come out is pretty much what he told us.” And there must have been a roomful of attorneys in that meeting between Roger Goodell and Ray Rice. I mean, at least Ray Rice's attorneys were there.

HOSTIN: Right.

COOPER: It must be pretty clear what was actually said.

HOSTIN: Well, no question about it. I mean, we know that the meeting took place and we know that there were representatives for Ray Rice and representatives for the NFL.
Cooper started by bungling a fact. John Harbaugh, “the coach of the team,” wasn’t present at the June 16 meeting.

(Ozzie Newsome, the general manager, was present. As far as we know, he hasn’t made a public statement about what was said in the meeting. If he did make a public statement, that wouldn’t mean it was true.)

After that, Cooper bungled an obvious bit of logic. Since Rice’s attorneys were at the meeting, “It must be pretty clear what was actually said,” the TV star deduced.

Hostin cheered him on. “No question about it,” she said.

Could they get dumber and live? If there’s an audiotape of the meeting, it may be “pretty clear what was said.”

(Even then, there could be disputes about what various statements meant and implied.)

Beyond that, it may be “pretty clear what was said” if a reliable transcript was created.

(We stress the word “reliable.” CNN’s transcript of Monday’s program has Toobin making the clueless remark, “It must be pretty clear what was actually said.” Does CNN ever bother getting its transcripts right? If we were Toobin, we’d want our name taken off that remark.)

At this point, can we talk? Absent tape or reliable transcript, it won’t be clear in any way what was actually said!

The teams of lawyers will disagree. The fact that Cooper and Hostin don’t understand that tells us about the types of performers CNN puts on the air.

As the pair continued to talk, they continued to flounder. Finally, Hostin asked the clueless question pundits have been asking for two weeks.

Tomorrow, we’re going to answer that question. Below, you see Monday’s exchange:
HOSTIN (continuing directly): But I think that the larger question is, how could Goodell and the NFL have screwed this up, have botched this up so much that Ray Rice now has the ability to appeal?

And I think, Jeff, that he has solid ground. I think he's standing on solid ground, quite frankly, because we know that he was suspended for two games. If he indeed told the truth—and there was a video showing the aftermath of the knockout—

COOPER: And a police report.

HOSTIN: —and a police report that clearly says he hit her and rendered her unconscious—I looked at the police report today—there was really nothing different that occurred, other than the fact that this videotape was shown to the public.

COOPER: Right. The only, the only thing that's different now, Jeff, is that—

HOSTIN: What did they think domestic violence looks like?
Haplessly, Hostin said Rice is on solid ground in his appeal “if he indeed told the truth” at the June 16 meeting.

Stating the obvious, this begs the basic question: How will anyone be able to show whether Rice told the truth?

Finally, the avenging angel of Salem Village fell back on the silly question our pundits have asked for weeks: “What did they think domestic violence looks like?”

In context, here’s what that question meant:

As the original tape showed, Janay Palmer was unconscious when she came off the elevator that night. For that reason, pundits have said, it was always obvious that Ray Rice had punched her, just as the second tape later showed.

When the second tape emerged, it showed Rice punching Palmer in a very violent manner. Pundits have stood in line to ask this exceptionally clueless question:

What else did Roger Goodell think the tape could have shown?

We can’t tell you what Goodell thought. Nor can we tell you what he was told at that meeting.

But we can very much tell you what he might have been told in that meeting. The outlines of what he might have been told have been floating around for months.

What might Roger Goodell have been told? In what way might he have been misled, even lied to?

Tomorrow, we’ll run you through these obvious questions, in precisely the way Cooper and Hostin never could—or never would.

Sunny Hostin seems to think that Roger Goodell should go. If CNN was a journalistic concern, Hostin would have been gone herself, several years ago.

Tomorrow: The basic question

12 comments:

  1. I think this is a step in the right direction for the NFL. They should also discuss a policy for recruiting players with previous domestic violence complaints against them. There are two such recruits being discussed on talk radio as examples of inconsistent treatment of Rice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hay-yo! Football and Witches! Cable talk and bitches!

    Better than airstrikes and ditches. Fancy homes and riches!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Real Cable News Extravaganza Rules:

    If you ain't got footage you got nothin at all.

    http://wonkette.com/560576/palin-bumfight-update-new-eyewitness-bristol-totally-punched-that-dude-in-the-face?utm_source=crowdignite.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=crowdignite.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. OMB (Toward a New Cable Outrage Paradigm in the Howler/Maddow Wars)

    Yesterday, during an interregnumata in his Salem Village interruption of his Houses of Journalist County Tour, courageous philosopher/blogger BOB Somerby reminded us out of the blue of the weighty, long-debated, but never-resolved question of the invention of foolishness.

    BOB bravely posited the theory that liberals may have discovered the art of foolish invention in their tribe when they roused from their sleep in the woods to the sound of Rachel Maddow lying in defense of the "77 cents on the dollar" statistic. BOB assures us nobody doubts she did this, but was it the first attempt by progressive interests to debase themselves like conservatives, who were several academic years ahead by any rough rule of thumb in the invention of foolishness.

    In today's post BOB demonstrates through Sunny Hostin how Cable Outrage is managed. While reading BOB's perfectly reasonable description of Hostin's instinctive performance in this by now familiar cable ritual, something bothered us. At first we thought it was BOB's description of this 45 year old woman as "youngish," or this biracial Hispanic/black woman as having "conventional" looks.

    Then it hit us. Bob is touching on matters that sounded a lot like things is his own coverage of Rachel Maddow's awful lying episode in the 77 cent scam back in ought twelve and ought thirteen.

    The Target, in that case, was Maddow, long a thorn in the side of advancing progressive causes whose antics gave BOB many a cause to complain.

    Think of BOB and Republican political consultant Alex Castellanos in the role of interruptors like Hostin.

    In the next episode we'll see how this works. If we are not interrupted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps Bob would be kinder to Ms. Hostin, esq., had he first gone to the World's Foremost Authority on Everything and read this in her bio:

      "She joined CNN from the Fox News Channel, where she was seen weekly on The O'Reilly Factor 's "Is It Legal?" segment, providing legal analysis and debate on top criminal cases."

      Delete
  5. Obama defended a player who shoved he heads of dogs underwater to drown them and hung them. Obama encouraged this player's reinstatement by the NFL. "Second chances" he called it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, and? Complete your "thought" there, bub.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Must've been interregnumataed.

      Delete
    2. When you think you can disguise a right-wing blog with the sheep's clothing of defending "progressive values," don't be surprised with whom you attract.

      Wonder which other right-wing blog post Obama Derangement Syndrome guy read that began with, "Even liberal blogger Bob Somerby said . . ." and directed him here.

      Well, it worked for the Zimmerman Defense Team. Anything for clicks, right Bob?

      Delete


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