Supplemental: What a Cable Outrage Spectacular looks like!


Springer and Hayes do cynical:
In theory, a great deal could be learned from a discussion of domestic violence.

On cable, the current discussion has been transformed, to a large degree, into the latest entertainment/moral outrage spectacular. These episodes are good for business, less good for a societal learning curve.

Everyone knows the basic steps in a cable outrage spectacular. First, a target is selected. Everything follows from that!

Once a spectacular has begun, basic facts will be selected, discarded or distorted to drive The Preferred Cable Line. Also this:

Whatever the target has done or said, only the most negative possible explanation will be entertained.

So it was last Friday night when Chris Hayes spoke with grim-faced Shira Springer, sports enterprise reporter of the Boston Globe. By now, Roger Goodell had become the target of choice, so much so that Ray Rice was suddenly being cast as the good guy in the chase after Goodell.

A new story line had developed, one which hadn’t been established by any hard facts. In the absence of serious evidence, this was the Preferred Line:

Ray Rice told Goodell the truth in that June 16 meeting! Goodell has been lying about that, and about everything else, in the months since then!

That was the preferred story line last Friday night. Presenting like Death from The Seventh Seal, Springer joined forces with Hayes to drive this story line forward.

What did Ray Rice tell Goodell at that June 16 meeting? At present, there’s no way to tell. That said, let’s look at the way Hayes set the scene before bringing Springer on.

He started with a brand new statement from the NFL. According to the NFL, Rice had now been suspended indefinitely because he had misled Goodell in that June 16 meeting.

According to the NFL, the second videotape had made that fact clear:
HAYES (9/12/14): In a letter to the NFL Players Association today, that commissioner, Roger Goodell, laid out exactly why Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been banned from the league.

The Baltimore Sun points out that Rice was suspended indefinitely because, in Goodell’s words, “This video shows a starkly different sequence of events from what you and your representatives stated when we met on June 16th and is important new information that warrants reconsideration of the discipline imposed on you in July.”

This is the official explanation Goodell is giving for suspending Rice indefinitely. This, despite the ESPN report yesterday quoting four sources that, “Ray Rice told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on June 16th that he punched then-fiancée in a casino elevator, an assertion that contradicts Goodell’s statements this week, that when he met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened.”
To watch the whole segment, click here.

Hayes didn’t note the problems with that ESPN report:

The fact that none of the four (anonymous) sources are actually said to have attended the June 16 meeting. The fact that none of the sources is actually quoted saying Rice used the word “punched.”

Did any of those sources have first-hand knowledge of what Rice said to Goodell? On cable, such questions aren’t asked. Hayes simply let the point go, then cited another report:
HAYES (continuing directly): Another twist today from inside an NFL that appears to be trying to move the blame off of Goodell. According to an unnamed NFL owner in the Wall Street Journal, “Goodell privately told other owners that, during his investigation in a meeting with the Rices in June, Janay Rice said she had struck her then-fiancé and that she believed she was partly at fault for the incident.”

“After Goodell suspended Rice for two games in July, this person said, Goodell told several NFL owners he felt it would have been insensitive to question Janay Rice’s story because it would have come across as an indictment of her character."

Meanwhile a new poll out today from ESPN says that more than half of Americans surveyed do not believe Roger Goodell’s statement, that, to his knowledge, no one in the league offices saw the second video of the incident until this week.

Joining me now, Shira Springer, Boston Globe enterprise reporter.
Uh-oh! According to an unnamed NFL owner, Janay Rice told Goodell something on June 16 which had turned out to be false. The videotape didn’t show the story the Rices had told.

At this time, we know of no way to judge the accuracy of that claim. As far as anyone can say at this time, it’s possible that Janay Rice misled or even lied to Goodell. It’s also possible that she did no such thing.

For what it’s worth, Hayes omitted one point from the Wall Street Journal report. According to that unnamed NFL owner, “Goodell also said he left the meeting believing that Janay Rice had become unconscious because she had fallen during the scuffle.”

As stated, that doesn’t exactly make sense. But one version of what happened had always suggested that Janay Rice lost consciousness when she hit her head on the railing in the elevator. This may be a garbled version of that free-floating account.

What was Goodell told on June 16? Like you, we have no way of knowing! But as Hayes started speaking with Springer, he worked from the cable playbook.

Note the way he started:
HAYES (continuing directly): There’s a lot to unpack here, but I want to start with that Wall Street Journal report because a very cynical— The most cynical interpretation of that is that someone unnamed, one of the owners, is attempting to essentially cast the blame for this on, of all people, Janay Rice herself.

I don’t even understand the logic. Why you would have to publicly dispute her account to give a harsher penalty?
The highlighted presentation comes straight out of Outrage Spectacular 101. When discussing behavior by your target, you must always offer “the most cynical interpretation” of whatever the target has said or done.

In this case, the NFL was the target. Was one of the owners “attempting to essentially cast the blame for this on, of all people, Janay Rice herself?”

That’s certainly possible!

Of course, it’s also possible that the unnamed owner was “attempting to explain what happened.” But when you’re running an Outrage Spectacular, you only consider the most heinous explanation. “Nothing beside remains.”

For the record, Hayes’ second statement doesn’t seem to make sense. As we read it, the unnamed owner is saying that Goodell didn’t want to challenge Janay Rice at the June 16 meeting, not in some later public statement.

Is that true? We have no idea! But Springer knew the role of the guest in an Outrage Spectacular. She quickly agreed with her host:
SPRINGER (continuing directly): Yes. That was my take as well. It seemed like, unfortunately, more NFL spin with this unnamed NFL owner coming out and saying that Goodell didn’t want to press Janay Palmer, now Rice, when she told her story...
You must always agree with the host, and you must denigrate the target. By law, a statement like this is required to “seem like more NFL spin.” Even as a possibility, it can’t imaginably seem like “an NFL owner trying to explain what occurred.”

As she continued, Springer offered a general complaint about the quality of Goodell’s investigation. With grim determination, she concluded by saying this: “This was just yet another example of the NFL stance, where they see no evil, hear no evil and turn the other way.”

For the record, the NFL didn’t exactly “see no evil” in this case. In their original disposition, they suspended Rice for two games and fined him an additional $500,000.

Maybe they didn’t see enough evil. But they plainly saw some.

In fairness, Springer’s angry exaggeration added to the entertainment and the outrage. It just wasn’t journalistic. We thought she worked for the Globe!

As the exchange continued, Hayes moved to a new point. In the Q-and-A shown below, Springer’s response to Hayes comes in the form of a “translation.”

Wouldn’t you know it? Once again, Springer’s translation represents “the most cynical interpretation:”
HAYES (continuing directly): And part of the reason I think that polling shows that people don’t believe him when he says that no one, to his knowledge, no one in the NFL had access to the video is that people know that the league keeps very careful tabs on people. There’s—

CBS dug this up, which I have to read this:

In 2009, the NFL wrote up a job description obtained by CBS News that defined for teams the responsibility of the team security director, basically saying you guys have to have a team security director.

The description says the director is required to conduct, quote—and I’m quoting here—"personal visits to local casinos, night clubs, et cetera, requesting the cooperation of the establishment’s management in the event a player or team employee is perceived as a potential problem."

SPRINGER: Translation? We know we have problem players. We know they’re going to get into trouble. Please tell us before it becomes national news and we’re in a situation like we are now with Ray Rice.

HAYES: Right! And that’s exactly why I think people have responded so cynically to the kind of machinations from Goodell and the NFL.
Hayes’ initial speculation is utterly silly. Very few people have any idea about the way the NFL does, or doesn’t, “keep careful tabs on people,” about the way team security directors work.

Springer responds rather harshly. You have to watch her make her “translation” to see how grim and unpleasant—and cynical—she makes it sound.

A kinder, fairer person could offer a kinder translation, but that would require deflating the outrage. Such a person could respond to Hayes like this:

“It’s too bad the NFL has to waste its time doing things like that. It sounds like they try to keep the league’s screwballs from doing stupid things.” (Barney Fife used to call this “nipping it in the bud.”)

Make no mistake. During a Cable Outrage Spectacular, it’s the job of the cable guest to agree with the host and keep feeding the fury. As Hayes and Springer neared their grand finale, they decided to widen their attack, moving from the NFL owners to the nation’s tens of millions of fans.

This is where the game is always lost.

Hayes played tape of a woman who wore a Ray Rice jersey to the previous night’s Ravens game. His grim-faced guest by way of Harvard brought in an ancient sound:
HAYES: A friend of mine from Baltimore, saying tons of people on my Facebook saying, defending Ray Rice. I mean, this is the dilemma at the heart of this whole thing, isn’t it?

SPRINGER: It is, that you have a fan base, at this point, that is still supportive. And not only supportive, you have more than one, but multiple—I mean, I saw 10, maybe 10, 50, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 women that was reported wearing Ray Rice jerseys to last night’s game.

Not only that, sponsors have not taken any action yet. You still have this incredibly profitable machine going forward the way it’s always gone forward, doing business. And it seems that really, in the end, all that matters is the bottom line and that fans keep coming in to support players, whether they’re Ray Rice or Ben Roethlisberg [sic] or other players.
Profit definitely matters to the NFL, as it does to the increasingly degraded MSNBC. That said, Springer was sounding an ancient note as she tried to count the witches about whom she’d heard reports:

As it was in Salem Village, the grim-faced goody was counting the people who don’t share her point of view. She'd heard that as many as fifty people disobeyed her the previous night!

You really should watch her performance, which we would say is amazingly dumb. We'd also say it's eternally destructive of progressive interests.

Note to the parsons and goodies. Note to the Lawrence O’Donnells:

The average person will never be as pure or as great as you are. No matter how hard you to try to instruct them, they will never rise to the standards you maintain.

No matter how many times you dunk them in your lakes, your ponds, your streams and your rivers, they will come up wearing some jersey that you don’t like. They’ll be wearing it for some reason you’re too lazy to ask them about.

They will notice how much you don’t like them. As a result, they’ll vote for the other tribe. You accomplish this destructive task every single time!

At least today you have your own channel, on which you can stage your own trials.

From here, Hayes and Springer moved to their final point, where they pretended they didn’t know why Thursday’s game got such a high TV rating. By this time, they were basically lying.

For background, see this morning’s post.

There’s a dirty little secret about “progressives” like these—they don’t like average people.

Hayes didn’t start out like that. We don’t think those are really his values. But the suits have been working on him for two years, and he has changed a great deal.

He knew why the TV rating was high. Does anyone actually doubt that? Or would that represent the most cynical possible interpretation?


  1. "Whatever the target has done or said, only the most negative possible explanation will be entertained."

    And what an ironic statement for Somerby to make.

    1. That was an eternally destructive comment. You can't hide the dirty little secret that you don't like hypocritical blogging.

    2. Again, you guys seem to think that if Somerby is a hypocrite everyone else gets a free pass. You complaints about Somerby have no bearing on whether he is right or not in this post.

    3. OK, I will jump out on a limb and say what a few digits worth of readers among the tiny hadful of BobfanNfoe are thinking. Bob is wrong!

      Chris Hayes, regardless of whatever changes the crushing wheels of the corporate machine have wrought in him, is still bascially a wuss about sports. He probably really didn't know why the Thursday night NFL TV ratings were higher than last year. He wouldn't know an outside linebacker from a lobster bib. He's a doofus.

      There @ 8:33. Satisified now? And while I'm at it, Somerby is off about progressives not liking average people.
      They just hate covering sports. Because they were no good at them and know nothing about them. Like Al Gore. Which is why I was for Bill Bradley. Somerby was a traitor to his sport.

    4. Dear 8:33. I give no hypocrite a "free pass." Including Somerby.

      You give a guy who you admit is a hypocrite a free pass? Because you judge him to be "right"? Says a lot about you, doesn't it? And your ability to discern between "right" and "wrong."

      In my book, there can be nothing more "wrong" that a person who sets rules for others that he blatantly refuses to follow himself. But that's just me.

      You go ahead and bask in the glow of the hypocritical genius that you think is Somerby. After all, somebody has to do your thinking for you.

    5. The issue isn't about right and wrong in a moral sense. It's about whether an argument is correct or faulty. And arguments stand on their logic and the evidence gathered in their support and not on the moral qualities of those who present them.

      Is TDH correct that our democracy is undermined by an increasingly plutocratic class of jejune and lazy journalists? Maybe yes and maybe no, but the answer won't depend on TDH's alleged hypocrisy.

      In my book, there can be nothing more wrong (sans the scare quotes) than a person who say, murders a bunch of people. But that's just me.

      You go ahead and bask in the glow of your moral superiority in not handing out those "free passes" to hypocrites. That makes you a beacon to us all.

    6. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    7. "Is TDH correct that our democracy is undermined by an increasingly plutocratic of jejune and lazy journalists?"

      That's what is known as a loaded question, a form of faulty argument. Like the blogger, do as deadrat says, not as he does.

    8. "And arguments stand on their logic and the evidence gathered in their support"

      Exactly, deadrat. Now ask yourself if Somerby has proven his case that democracy is being undermined because of an "increasingly plutocratic class" of wealthy journalists.

      His evidence? The fancy digs of Meredith Vieira.

      Now I have asked Somerby to produce the average salary of journalists so we can see how "increasingly plutocratic" the industry has become, rather than focus on a handful of TV stars.

      But that even raises the important question of what is "journalism" in the Information Age, a question in all his years of blogging that Somerby has yet to touch.

      He had an excellent chance to examine that question during the "Rodeo Clown" incident which was broken by a guy with a Smartphone and a Facebook account, then went worldwide in a matter of a few hours.

      But Bob wouldn't touch that issue with a 10-foot pole. He was too busy using it to say, "There goes Darlin' Rachel and Co. throwing around the 'R' word again!"

      Even if it were true that the "mainstream press corps" is increasingly plutocratic -- which Bob is far from proving -- their stranglehold on the news and information we have access to has been shattered, and not the least of which is by thousands of people like Somerby with thousands of blogs and Websites upon which they get to write whatever brilliant thought crosses their mind with no "gatekeeper" standing in their way.

      And Bob's reaction to that? To lament the "good old days" when the sainted Walter and sainted David decided for us what we needed to know. Days, of course, that never really existed.

      As for, "not on the moral qualities of those who present them," thanks for the tip, but I am capable of judging for myself who is credible and who is not.

      And if I happen to believe that a person who not only doesn't practice what he preaches but violates on a daily basis the rules he demands others to live up to is not a very credible person, then deal with it. No skin of my nose if you continue to worship such a person, but it certainly does tell me how gullible you are.

    9. "increasingly plutocratic class of jejune and lazy journalists"

      Bullshit. The "media" in the Internet Age has never been more democratic than it is at this very moment. And that doesn't apply just to the United States. People all over the globe have access to more voices with more points of view than ever before.

      That's an issue that our deep-thinking blogger can't grasp because Walter Cronkite isn't around to filter it out for him any more.

    10. Even if the stranglehold is shattered there's still something of a "hold" which makes the plutocrat's incompetence worth recognizing.

    11. Yes, for all those "stupid" people other than you and me of course. We're too smart not to see through it all.

      The point isn't that there is no longer a "corporate media" with influence out there. The point is that even the "corporate media" can no longer be defined as a monolith as our sources of information continue to democratize.

    12. Nobody told that kid to jerk around in his car seat.

    13. Jejune? I haven't heard that since the second wave of Emo.
      Well, we don't have Jimmy Eat World to kick around any more either.

    14. Anonymous @4:53A,

      What didn't you understand about this not being a moral issue? Or were you doing combox performance art and I missed it?

    15. Anonymous @5:34A,

      No, it's not a "loaded question." But you shot your foot off with it anyway. Go figure.

      The question is the theme of much of TDH's blog entries. For a discussion about the answer to the question, you can't do better than Anonymous @9:03A if you ignore his last two paragraphs.

    16. Sometimes people seem to be careless in their use of firearms.

    17. Anonymous @9:03A,

      I do ask myself if TDH has proven his case, and for all the reasons you cite and some of my own, I have to say no. And I come to that judgment without having to consider TDH's moral failings as a hypocrite.

      I'm not trying to tell you whom you should find credible and whom you should not. Partly because I can't figure out how that would actually work, but mostly because I don't give a shit who's on your naughty and nice lists. TDH's credibility rests on whether what he represents as fact is factual. Since he almost always names his sources, I can check for myself. And when I do, I find they almost always say what he says they say. Whether he reasons correctly from there or whether his interpretations and opinions make sense is another matter. But another matter that again has nothing to do with his moral failings.

      If you find that Somerby as TDH violates the rhetorical rules he lays down for others, and if for whatever reason you think makes him untrustworthy, then you'd be wise not to loan Somerby money. If that also means that you dismiss TDH's claims of fact without checking, then you're a fool. But in either case, there's nothing for me to "deal with." I promise I'm not trying to dictate your thinking. As I said, how would that even work?

      TDH isn't a journalist and he isn't a broadcaster. As the trolls that infest this blog are always pointing out, he's the slimmest of narrowcasters. So I find most of the charges of hypocrisy inapt. Not to mention childishly simplistic, along the lines of "He said Darlin' Rachel was bad for saying mean things about Christie but he said mean things about her." But that doesn't mean that I "worship" TDH, and I suggest you refrain from making such trollish comments.

      But I emphasize that it's just a suggestion. God knows I wouldn't want you to think I'm telling you what to do.

    18. Anonymous @9:40A,

      OK, go back to my comment @4:23A. First sentence, second paragraph. See that squiggly thing at the end of that sentence. It's called a "question mark." Go here:

      Better now?

      (Oops! There it is again.)

    19. So, deadrat, you agree that Somerby has failed to prove his case about an "increasingly plutocratic" press corps.

      And you agree he is a hypocrite.

      But you love him anyway. Aren't you just so sweet!

    20. TDH is working a proof by example. To be fair, I'm not sure he's got any other means of analysis. I think his examples fit his thesis, but that really isn't enough to prove it for the general case of the press corps. So, no, I'm not convinced.

      I do not agree that he's a hypocrite. I'm saying that his argument does not stand or fall on his moral qualities.

      What is it with trolls? The negation of stupid invective is not love or hero worship. Where do you get the idea that I love somebody I don't know? I'll say it again: I'm interested in most of what TDH writes; I skip the rest. I agree with some of what I read; I disagree with the rest.

      Why is this even about me?

  2. "You really should watch her performance, which we would say is amazingly dumb. We'd also say it's eternally destructive of progressive interests."

    "There’s a dirty little secret about “progressives” like these—they don’t like average people."

    What a maroon.

    1. They don't. So get a clue.

      Especially the wealthy ones

  3. We know Bob is a one man show, but damn! We've moved on from killing the Rice and Commissioner pigs to slave whupping as a model for black parenting. Catch up, Bob. This ain't politcs. It is the fast lane of sports coverage.

    1. Interesting that Bob has not yet caught on to the race-baiting aspects of the Peterson case in order to lure back the Zimmerman Defense Team.

      Can't wait to hear how the Peterson kid was a "thug" who had it coming.

    2. No but Peterson is a thug.

  4. Gosh, this started in the afternoon and I am only the eighth to weigh in on this Cable Outrage Spectacular? Well, guess it beats the time way back when Bob caught a Flailing Cable Behemoth in a Tattered Transcript.

    So I turned on cable late this PM and was Outraged myself. There was Rachel, the only knife throwing, gun shooting, NFL fan among the Children of the One True Channel and what pray tell was she doing on behalf of this outrage spectacle? Covering a damn war? What kind of corporate conspiracy is this, anyway?

  5. Disdain for average people has been the defining characteristic of progressives since at least the 1950s.

    1. You can blame Adlai Stevenson for that. He coined the term "the little people."

    2. And who coined the term, "We, the people are dumb"?

    3. Liberals merely reacted defensively rather than proactively when George Corley Wallace launched his attack on "pointy headed intellectuals" back in '68. Hubert Humphrey lost the election due to the media's failure to show it cared.

  6. What progressives REALLY don't like are above average people. People who work, people who pay taxes, people who raise this children, people who don't beat up store clerks or attack police officers.