When Dorchester street toughs explode: In recent months, Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly have been called on the carpet for past misstatements.
Bill’s wild claims tend to be standard-issue self-promotional bluster. Brian’s claims, which have sometimes been quite a bit weirder, tend to bring the air of suffering and martyrdom in.
Did Lawrence O’Donnell get his due as those claims were being examined? It seems to us that Lawrence’s claim to have grown us as a Dorchester street tough put him right up there in the Bill-and-Brian class.
This thought came to mind when the analysts completed a recent research assignment. “List Mount O’Donnell’s greatest eruptions,” the assiduous youngsters were told.
The youngsters showed us three eruptions from their volcano files. In perhaps his craziest eruption, Lawrence challenged one of Mitt Romney’s sons to a fight—and he delivered his lengthy challenge in Dorchester accent and argot!
We’ll save that strange eruption for last. Below, we give you videotape of three of the greatest eruptions:
Lawrence swims after the Swift Boats: Lawrence’s most famous eruption occurred in late October 2004. Sadly, many liberals praised him for it.
This 11-minute eruption spewed lava all over John O’Neill, head of the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” group which had been attacking Candidate Kerry. Howard Kurtz described some of the action in the Washington Post:
KURTZ (11/1/04): When Swift Boat Veterans author John O'Neill appeared on "Scarborough Country" two weeks ago, MSNBC commentator Lawrence O'Donnell ripped into him and his "disgusting, lying book."Pat Buchanan was guest host in Scarborough Country that night. Midway through this famous eruption, he took a commercial break, hoping that cable firefighters could possibly put Lawrence out.
O'Donnell, a Democrat and "West Wing" writer, repeatedly interrupted O'Neill with his literary critique: "That's a lie, John O'Neill. Keep lying. It's all you do." And: "That's a lie. It's another lie. That's a lie." And: "You lie in that book endlessly." And: "You're just lying about it." And: "You're totally afraid of the truth."
Undeterred when O'Neill accused him of lying, O'Donnell kept firing: "You have no standards, John O'Neill, as an author. And you know it. It's a pack of lies. You are unfit to publish." And: "He just spews out lies." Not to mention: "I just hate the lies of John O'Neill." Oh, and there was: "He's been a liar for 35 years."
No such luck! After the break, Mount O’Donnell erupted again, producing a predictable outcome:
KURTZ (continuing directly): MSNBC said in a statement that O'Donnell "crossed a line. MSNBC believes he was disrespectful to you, the viewer, and that his insults did nothing to forward the debate or the understanding of a very critical issue. We have spoken to Lawrence O'Donnell, and he agrees."Thoughtfully, Lawrence acknowledged that he had engaged in “an uncontrollable outburst,” but he stood by the things he had said. Liberals had been “coming out of the woodwork,” he insultingly said, to tell him how great he had been.
Except that O'Donnell, who didn't know the statement was coming, doesn't agree. He was "too loud," he admits, in what was "an uncontrollable outburst on my part," and "my manner was everything I hate about cable TV shouting matches." But, O'Donnell says, "I don't apologize for a single word that I said...People have been coming out of the woodwork to tell me how great they thought it was. There's a big 'mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore' contingent out there on this subject that feels I was giving voice to their position.”
Had Lawrence O’Donnell really been great in his uncontrollable outburst? Actually, no, he had not. His outburst occurred on October 22, long after clarification of any claims was likely to do much good.
Beyond that, uncontrollable outbursts tend to have perverse effects. To the undecided voter, they tend to make the uncontrollable party look like the crazy guy in the room.
Lawrence made O’Neill a victim. After that, he was disappeared from MSNBC for the next several months.
In fairness, the outburst did produce great tape. To get the flavor of this eruption, you can just click here.
You can smell the lava and feel the ash as the smoldering mountain explodes. That said, we were saddened when liberals praised Lawrence for his great eruption. Here’s why:
Here at THE HOWLER, we had spent a lot of time on the 35-year-old incidents at issue in the Swift Boat attacks. We’re going to guess that Lawrence pretty much hadn’t.
Because of his standing, Lawrence could have had an article published about these damaging attacks. It’s possible that a high-profile analysis piece of that type could have helped Candidate Kerry.
There was one problem with that approach—it would have required work on Lawrence’s part. Perhaps for that reason, Lawrence waited until late October, then exploded on the air.
Lawrence pursues the Mormons: At various times, Lawrence has had to apologize for his eruptions concerning the Mormon faith. In this tape from the McLaughlin Group in 2007, you’ll see Lawrence making Pat Buchanan look like the sensible one again.
For videotape of the fuller segment, click here.
In 2012, Lawrence erupted about the Mormons again, this time on his own MSNBC program. Eight days later, he apologized on the air, acknowledging that he had made inaccurate statements about Mormon history.
We won’t even try to explain what was wrong with these eruptions, which often included factual misstatements. In our opinion, neighborhood types like O’Donnell and Dowd performed good imitations of religious bigots during the two Romney runs.
Boston street tough seeks fight: For our money, the greatest eruption occurred in 2012, when Lawrence challenged Taggart Romney to a fight. The greatness lay in Lawrence’s use of a Dorchester accent during his choreographed invitation.
By way of background, “Dorchester chic” has gained a substantial toehold in Hollywood, thanks to such films as Good Will Hunting. For unknown reasons, Lawrence seems to think that he emerged from that roughhouse Boston subculture.
Did Lawrence grow up as a street tough? As best we can tell, his persistent insinuation to this effect ranks with the greatest crazy misstatements of O’Reilly and Williams. And yet, he rarely seems to get credit for being as nutty as they are!
To watch Lawrence go all Dorchester on us, just click here, then move ahead to 9:25. And yes, that’s a Dorchester accent he intermittently brandishes.
The lunacy starts as shown below. Soon, Lawrence walks out from behind his desk, gesturing at the hated Taggart, who had made an ever-so-slightly dumb offhand remark:
O’DONNELL (10/18/12): OK, Taggart, let’s have a little talk, just you and me, yoooou—The invitation to fight follows as Lawrence walks out from behind his desk. Truly, this ridiculous person seems to out of his mind.
[angrily draws out the word]
When I hear you talk about taking a swing and taking punches, why do I get the feeling that you’ve never actually taken a punch? Or thrown a punch?
I didn’t have that luxury in the part of Boston that I grew up in. But in your rich, suburban Boston life, with your father filling a $100 million trust fund for ya, I don’t know. I just get the feeling that things were kind of different for you.
Now, I know you’ve got a lot, a lot to be pissed off at these days, starting with the name “Taggart,” which you got every right to be wicked pissed off at for every day of the 42 years of your life. So let me help you try to deal with all this aggression you’re feelin’ right now...
Warning! Wealth and fame will often attract the wrong types of people to “journalism.” In our view, the world would be much better served if Lawrence returned to his greatest love, the writing of fatuous Hollywood scripts.
For the record, Lawrence’s most appalling performance occurred in Campaign 2000, when he kept calling Candidate Gore a liar right through a dismaying performance on the McLaughlin Group in October 2000. He was a leading dead-ender in the war designed to punish Gore for his connection to the loathed Clinton, who had received those ten blow jobs.
The Iraq war came after that.
Right to the end, Lawrence worked to send George Bush to the White House. Our Dorchester street tough achieved this goal by making up “lies,” lies no one had told.
Wealth and fame may attract the word crowd into the journalism racket! Our own street tough from St. Sebastian’s and Harvard may be the ultimate proof.