No further posts today: As we do every few months, we’re heading north on Amtrak today to continue our tour of Medicaid-funded long-term care facilities.
As we do, we’re in a state of mild depression over the things we saw and heard yesterday—or perhaps over our inability to discuss them today.
What ever made us think that the Ray Rice matter was going to fade? Yesterday, the AP’s Rob Maaddi updated his earlier report about the claim that a copy of the damning second tape was sent to NFL offices.
In this update, we’re told who the tape was sent to—Jeffrey Miller, head of NFL security. But uh-oh!
We’re also told that there are two different Jeffrey Millers at NFL headquarters. We’re also told the following things, several of which are new:
MAADDI (9/25/14): The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release details of the case, said he doesn't know if Miller ever saw the DVD or opened the package. His only communication with the NFL was a 12-second voicemail on April 9 from league offices confirming receipt of the package, in which a woman says, "You're right. It's terrible."(Just for the record: Two weeks ago, we were told that the anonymous law enforcement official didn’t want to name the NFL executive to whom he sent the tape because it might blow his cover. Maaddi doesn’t explain why that fear no longer obtains.)
The official told the AP two weeks ago that he sent the video to the NFL, but asked the AP not to report that he had addressed the package to Miller. He eliminated that restriction Thursday.
"Since the NFLPA and NFL have launched separate investigations into the league and the Ravens' handling of Ray Rice's case, I want to make a few things clear. No one from the NFL ever asked me for the inside-elevator video," the official said Thursday. "I mailed it anonymously to Jeff Miller because he's their head of security. I attached a note saying: 'Ray Rice elevator video. You have to see it. It's terrible.' I provided a number for a disposable cellphone and asked for confirmation that it was received. I knew there was a possibility Mr. Miller may not get the video, but I hoped it would land in the right hands."
Assuming the basic facts in that passage are correct, did anyone actually look at the tape when it apparently reached NFL offices? We have no way of knowing.
But we find it easy to imagine that some receptionist dropped the tape from the anonymous sender with the 13-word cover note directly into her office waste basket, assuming it was the tape that everyone had already seen and assuming that it had been sent by a semi-nut.
(Every one of our sainted aunts would have called the anonymous mailer back, sharing the conventional view that “You’re right, it’s terrible,” as of course it always seemed to be, just based on the first tape.)
We can also imagine incriminating possibilities. By law, only those possibilities can be considered on cable.
Chris Hayes and Mike Pesca did another horrible job with this topic last night. (Hayes was worse than Pesca.) Two weeks later, Hayes still hasn’t noticed the obvious problem with ESPN’s original “four sources,” the sources who said that Rice was honest with Goodell in their June 16 meeting (which Hayes think occurred “early on”).
As we noted way back when, ESPN never claimed that these sources actually attended the meeting in question. Beyond that, the sources were identified as “sources close to Rice.”
To Hayes, those rather shaky four sources remain the thrilling definitive sources. On cable, complications and uncertainties aren’t allowed to spoil the chase. In fairness, this is good for business. It supports a ripe salary structure.
At ESPN, the highly underwhelming Bill Simmons has been suspended. At Slate, Josh Levin gives us a look at Simmons’ background.
As it turns out, Simmons is the kind of Boston guy who likes to call people whores while thrilling us with his interactions with porn stars. Levin doesn’t seem to have a strong grasp of the overall matter here, but he does issue the definitive statement of the way these chases work:
LEVIN (9/25/14): The problem for ESPN is that Simmons said what everyone in America wants to hear right now. The only way Roger Goodell could be less popular is if video emerged of him burning the Ray Rice video, cackling maniacally, and whispering, “I’ll never tell.” Simmons said what he believed, with no bullshit and no filter. This was the Sports Guy at his best: righteous, angry, and probably correct. (On Thursday the AP reported that a law enforcement official sent the Rice video to the NFL’s head of security back in April.)We have no idea why Levin thinks that Simmons was “probably correct” when he called Goodell a liar, dropping his F- and BS-bombs to show us he really means it. But in that passage, Levin defines the essence of the cable chase:
In our Salem Village chases, people like Simmons “say what everyone in America wants to hear right now,” if possible in a “righteous, angry” manner. People like Levin then tell us that these people are sincere.
The game has been played this way a long time. It’s very good business for people like Simmons. Here's the problem:
In the 1990s, the object of the chase wasn’t Roger Goodell. The object of the chase was President Clinton. Then it was Candidate Gore.
Are you happy with the way that chase worked out? We’re now in our second war in Iraq because people like Hayes and Levin played along, all through that era, with the righteous, angry assertions of people like Simmons.
Today, that low-IQ culture continues. Luckily, it’s only Goodell they’re chasing this time. But people! Just wait! Give them time!