Supplemental: At the Post and the Times, they get letters!


What Richard Cohen said:
Two weekends ago, we ascended the stage at Benny’s Bar and Grill in Potomac, Maryland. We were taking part in the establishment’s “Journalists in comedy” night.

We followed Clarence Page, the sanest person in journalism today. But why was he subjecting himself to the miseries which could ensue?

“We’re just here to find out why you’re here,” we told him when he arrived. “When we learn why you’re here, we’re leaving.”

Page couldn’t exactly explain his presence. And so we ascended the stage.

Eventually, we discussed the “Problems in philosophy” class we took in our freshman year in college. Masterfully, we offered our thoughts about one of the six “problems” we studied:

“How do you know that 7 plus 5 equals 12?”

“Who are these problems problems for?” we recalled ourselves masterfully wondering. But first, we shared a few observations about that day’s “Free for All” page in the Washington Post.

Each Saturday, the Post devotes a special page to letters from its readers. We sometimes imagine that they pick those letters which will portray us the readers at our nit-picking, overwrought worst.

Is “Free for All” really a portrait of readers as hecklers? We’ll let you decide:

That morning, a reader had scolded the Post for a politically-charged spelling choice. In a recent news report, the Post had referred to the “Dnepropetrovsk region” of Ukraine, he scoldingly said.

The reader said the Post should have used this spelling: “Dnipropetrovsk region.” And that wasn’t all! “Also, please don't begin using ‘Slavyansk’ for Sloviansk, ‘Makeyevka’ for Makiivka, ‘Gorlovka’ for Horlivka and so on,” he pre-emptively warned.

We weren’t even saying the reader was wrong. We were simply saying!

Today, the “Free for All” page spills with reader outrage. Why did the Post describe a graffiti vandal as a graffiti artist? What did a headline refer to Elizabeth II as the queen of England?

Why can’t Warren Brown’s car column have a regular space? One reader even offers a narrow complaint about a crossword puzzle:

Aleve is not an “Alternative to Tylenol,” as the 2 Down clue suggested. If one is allergic to aspirin, one cannot take Aleve.

For ourselves, we were struck by the letter shown below. A reader batters Richard Cohen for his sexist, misogynist comments about Candidate Clinton.

The letter appears at the top of the “Free for All” page. Here it is, headline included:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (4/25/15): Hillary Clinton is no victim

Richard Cohen’s description of Hillary Clinton in his April 14 op-ed column, “A campaign where she is the message,” was sexist and misogynistic.

He implied that Clinton’s main problem is being “a woman of some years of womanly experiences.” This insulted all women,
but especially those of us “of some years.” To stress his point, he added “a woman of some years who has led a hell of a life.” In case we misunderstood, Cohen commented, “She has been around.” (Did he not realize this may imply promiscuity?) To emphasize further, he wrote, “She has been walloped. She has been publicly betrayed and damaged and hurt.” Was he trying to evoke images of Hester Prynne? Anne Boleyn? Uppity women in general?

Cohen used highly charged language, language often used to disempower women in general.
Like so many hackneyed crime dramas and old-fashioned fairy tales, he tried to portray Clinton as a victim, and not the strong, intelligent, goal-directed woman who is successful in her own right and resilient in the face of a flawed husband.

In the end, Clinton’s biggest problem may be the inability of men “of some years” like Cohen to overcome the old stereotypes of women—the very sexist cliches they grew up with.

B— A— F—
We recalled scanning Cohen’s column last week. We didn’t remember it as an insult to Clinton, let alone to all women.

Incomparably, we reread the piece. In the end, this was Cohen’s assessment of Clinton and her Republican rivals:
COHEN (4/14/15): Hillary Clinton has been a lawyer. She has been an advocate for the poor, especially children. She’s been the first lady of Arkansas and of the United States of America. She’s been a senator from New York and Obama’s secretary of state. Her record in all those positions is worthy of a fair critique, but the fact remains that she’s unique in American political life.

Scanning the mob of Republicans now seeking the White House, there’s no one who approaches Clinton in experience or standing.
Jeb Bush comes close. He was the governor of a major state and he impresses with his fidelity to some distinctly un-Republican positions on immigration and education. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is interesting, but he has the “lean and hungry look” that Caesar noted in Cassius. He is not quite ready. As for the rest of the field, it is a political bedlam, quarreling, quibbling and kvetching over same-sex marriage, abortion and immigration, and in general waging the good fight against social progress.
In our view, Cohen led his piece with the standard, silly criticism with which a gang of other pundits led their Post columns that week: Candidate Clinton hasn’t laid out an agenda!

To us, that criticism is utterly silly at this early date. But everyone at the Washington Post recited that script that week.

Basically, Cohen proceeded from there to an endorsement of Clinton. But so what? In Arlington, one reader was outraged by the insulting, misogynist way in which he endorsed her for president.

Our guess? Such cluelessness from Clinton supporters may represent her “biggest problem.” As Cohen was writing his endorsement, the New York Times was fashioning the very large puddle of front-page piddle which we’ll review all next week.

This very morning, the Times has published four letters about its front-page report. Alas! Those hand-picked letters may well represent a great deal of the public reaction to that Rolling Stone-flavored report.

Does the reader in Arlington know what’s wrong with that front-page report? Because we’re so clueless about such matters, we the liberals have long been easy to roll.

We liberals! We do know that seven plus five equals twelve. Beyond that, a great deal seems to escape us, thanks in part to the corporate hustlers we accept as our tribal leaders.

That fill us with our narrow rage. As they do, the plutocrats who pay their fat wages just keep rolling along.

We haven't forgotten: Coming Monday, what Brooke Gladstone says she has heard


  1. So glad Somerby is now finding his material in letters to the editor and online comments.

    Guess "we the people" aren't so dumb after all. Nor does the Washington Post and NYT seem to have the stranglehold on American public opinion that he told us they have.

    1. Soon Somerby can focus on his own combox. Here is a priceless one just in from the previous post edited slightly.


      I won't be voting for her, just as I didn't vote for Obama... but she's still better than any viable alternative in the current system.

      The alternative is a Republican, and no sentient human who cares about their future is dumb enough to pull that lever.

      April 26, 2015 at 8:55 AM"

      Sometimes when you put comment paragraphs in reverse you can see the sentiency flowing really clearly..

  2. "Nor does the Washington Post and NYT seem to have the stranglehold on American public opinion that he told us they have."
    Perhaps TDH has had something to do with that.

    "A message to my fellow journalists: check out media watch sites like, and It's good to see ourselves as others see us. I've been finding The Daily Howler's concept of a media ''script,'' a story line that shapes coverage, often in the teeth of the evidence, particularly helpful in understanding cable news."

    I am sure that I am not the only person to take Paul Krugman's advice.
    The Howler really has gotten results, despite nitpicking sophistry by a gaggle of trolls.

    1. I share Somerby's disdain for professors. Most are a waste of parents money.

    2. Really, 2:08? If you read The Daily Howler, things are not only as bad as they ever were, they are even worse with all these young whippersnappers and their fancy college degrees and big paychecks.

      I'll also admit this. At one time, Somerby and The Daily Howler did have at least some influence, and was fairly well read.

      But it's been a long time since Krugman wrote that in 2004, and how often has it been since then that anyone, including Krugman, has referenced anything Somerby has written as a "must-read"?

      This was a guy who was considered a pioneer of political blogging, and was once linked to and referenced all the time, which is how many of us discovered this blog in the first place.

      But he squandered all that, and his readership has all but vanished as he put his petty jealousies of people younger, smarter and more successful than he is on full display to the point where he has driven away friends and enemies alike -- including Krugman.

      Good grief, the man has become exactly that which he has preached against. It's not enough for him to disagree. He's got to add the worst possible names he can think of, and the worst possible motives to anyone who won't toe his line, and write or say exactly what he wants in exactly the way he wants.

    3. By your comments 5:54, you do agree that Somerby has had a positive influence on the media:
      "I'll also admit this. At one time, Somerby and The Daily Howler did have at least some influence, and was fairly well read."

      "This was a guy who was considered a pioneer of political blogging, and was once linked to and referenced all the time, which is how many of us discovered this blog in the first place."

      That was pretty much all I said.

      I never thought Bob Somerby's mission was to "clean up" journalism, so I never charged him with that duty, as you seem to have done.

      So Somerby has feet of clay, so what? So what if he has turned into an angry old "Get off my Lawn!" curmudgeon.

      This is about fact-checking, not personalities, and there has been a revolution in that. As a matter of fact, you give Somerby more credit than I did.

      A lot has changed in the way people look at the media in just the last ten years.
      Some good reading: (On my email) (On my email)
      And of, course, Paul Krugman.

      and occasionally:

      Here's an excerpt. I recommend you read the entire article. It's short.

      “The new findings come from three studies, conducted by scholars at six universities, which were published today by the “Fact-Checking Project” of the American Press Institute, the nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational affiliate of the Newspaper Association of America.
      One of the studies said, “More than eight in ten Americans (84%) say they have a favorable view of fact-checking, including 36% who say they have a ‘very favorable’ view.” That came from a paper co-authored by Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College, and Jason Reifler, a political scientist at the University of Exeter in England.
      Furthermore, the study reported that the more people know about fact-checking the more they like it. The study found fact-checking is viewed favorably by 94 percent of polling respondents who said they were familiar with it, and by 73 percent who said they weren’t familiar with it.

      The authors also found that fact-checking is “viewed more favorably by Democrats than Republicans, particularly among those with high political knowledge at the conclusion of a political campaign.”
      The authors also found that “people who are less informed, educated, and politically knowledgeable have less positive views of the [fact-checking] format.”
      Both findings were what the researchers had expected to find. They cited a general distrust of “liberal media” among those who identify themselves as conservatives or Republicans, for example."

      You know, a few days ago, conservatives considered the NYT to be the apex of liberal lies, now many of them defend it on the basis of one article that is instantly recognizable as a mishmash of post hoc ergo proptor hoc fallacies.

      Clay Thompson, who writes a breezy Q & A column in the Arizona Republic, refers to his "masters" as evil creatures residing in the "Dark Tower."
      He's kidding.
      Somerby isn't.

    4. Re: Fact checking is more popular than politicians

      "Go ahead—scroll down the endless lists of Politifact’s daring fact-checks. You’ll see powerful public figures get checked—and people no one has heard of.

      The one group you won’t see on their list is the powerful people at Fox—along with those at MSNBC and CNN.

      At this point, it’s pretty obvious—Politifact doesn’t do “journalists.” Those people can bullshit as much as they want."

      Bob "So what if he has turned into an angry old "Get off my Lawn!" curmudgeon." Somerby

    5. April 26, 2015 at 5:54 AM writes:

      >>>[QUOTE] But it's been a long time since Krugman wrote that in 2004, and how often has it been since then that anyone, including Krugman, has referenced anything Somerby has written as a "must-read"?

      This was a guy who was considered a pioneer of political blogging, and was once linked to and referenced all the time, which is how many of us discovered this blog in the first place [END QUOTE]<<<

      I guess that explains wither the influence of Big Three News:

      >>>[QUOTE] The Big Three television networks are the three traditional commercial broadcast television networks in the United States: ABC, CBS and NBC. From the 1950s to the late 1980s, the Big Three networks dominated U.S. television.

      For most of the history of television in the United States, the Big Three dominated, controlling the vast majority of television broadcasting. DuMont folded in August 1956; the NTA Film Network signed on that year and lasted until 1961. From 1961, and lasting until the early 1990s, there were effectively only three major networks. Every hit series appearing in the Nielsen top 20 television programs and every successful commercial network telecast of a major feature film was aired by one of the Big Three networks.

      There were attempts by other companies, such as the Overmyer Network, to enter the television medium, but all of these ventures lasted for brief periods. The prohibitive cost of starting a broadcast network, coupled with the difficulty of competing with the massive distribution of the Big Three networks, and the infancy and complexities of UHF broadcasting before cable television became commonplace in the 1980s, led to the downfall of almost all new network ventures; most media markets were limited to no more than three VHF channels, and even after the All-Channel Receiver Act was passed in 1961, the VHF stations were far more efficient and their signals could reach a greater range than their UHF counterparts.

      [But they squandered all that according to Bill O'Reilly and the logic of 4-26-15 5:56 AM.]

      Today, the "Big Three" control only a (relatively) small portion of the broadcasting market in the United States, which in 2005, was estimated at a combined 32%. The Big Three's market share has dwindled considerably as a result of growing competition from broadcast networks such as Fox, The CW and MyNetworkTV and more recently Spanish language networks such as Univision and Telemundo, as well as national cable and satellite channels such as TNT, ESPN and AMC.

      [END QUOTE]<<<

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. As to the dearth of Krugman shout-outs to Somerby since 2004, there have been several of these over the years but here's one from the Howler in 2013 [LINK].

      >>>[QUOTE] Do we liberals have any idea how to talk—how to talk pork to the people? By light years, Krugman has been our most valuable journalist (MVJ) over the past dozen years. In today’s column, he proposes a peculiar idea—the minting of a magical coin.

      Does Paul Krugman know how to explain this rather peculiar idea?

      On balance, we’d have to say no. As Krugman continues, he starts to explain why we may have to mint that trillion-dollar piece of change—the coin which sounds a bit like a joke.

      In the passage which follows, we’d have to say that Krugman starts talking over the head of the people, in the manner of those who will fail...

      Krugman gigantically fails to explain. But he name-calls the opposition in a way all voters will recognize. He then makes a proposal which, he admits, sounds a great deal like a joke!

      What do we liberals think of the people? Quite often, we’re all too happy to tell you! As we’re happy to explain, we think they’re racists—and we think they’re authoritarians. We think the voters in North Dakota are part of the “neo-Confederacy.”

      ...Can we talk a bit of Tom turkey for once? We liberals aren’t any nicer than anyone else—and we’re often dumbly tribal.

      Paul Krugman has been a light to the world—and he doesn’t seem to know how to talk to the people! Most people won’t know what he’s talking about—until all that name-calling starts.[END QUOTE]<<<

      Which is a hint to Bob Somerby, if he's desperate to win back 5:56 AM's to be highly coveted affections, "Leave [Rachel Maddow] alone."

    8. Actually, CMike, since Bob did his utterly embarrassing and simultaneous faceplants on Govs. Christie and Ultrasound, he has, with only occasional lapses, left Rachel Maddow alone.

      My chief complaint with him is that you get Fox News "talking points" right here. Nothing original, nothing unique. Just ammo to use against "dumb liberals."

      And that utter lack of original thinking stands in sharp contrast to the early days of this blog, and has driven readers away to the point that this blog has squandered all the "influence" it might have once had, and has driven people away.

      This struck me a few years back during the brief "Tuffy the Rodeo Clown" incident.

      Bob could have weighed in about how anybody with a Smartphone and a Facebook account can break a story that goes world-wide in a matter of hours. In other words, the stranglehold of defining what is news by the "gatekeepers" in the mainstream media is over.

      Instead, Bob waited four days until after Fox News spun this into "Poor Tuffy the victim," and then repeated that because it fit his "There go those dumb liberals with their 'R' word" narrative.

    9. Or, if Bob really cared he could have discussed the abuse of animals which the whole rodeo tradition symbolizes.

      Instead he defended Tuffy the Clown and portrays women as wearing clown shoes.

    10. @ 9:39 AM,

      Your point I take it is that Fox never makes a point that resonates beyond elderly white male hicks who were not Bush dead-enders to begin with and that, in any event, Democrats should be protected from hearing about any of the discussions taking place on that channel. That's one approach, intra-tribal I'd guess you'd call it.

      Your reference to Christie is in regards to the bridge access lane closing scandal -right?- which, even you would have to admit, has yet to deliver the knockout blow to the Jersey governor's national aspirations over a year after the news about it first broke and the early weeks thereafter, that have stretched out over months, which MSNBC has spent hyping the story.

      As to the animal rights issue, you may have a point but you do concede it would be a political net loser for liberals/lefties as a national message and is likely to remain so for years to come, don't you? But you think, nonetheless, to prove his Democratic party bona fides Somerby should be arguing that position. Your litmus test is noted and I for one wouldn't mind seeing your own tangents on the subject of animal rights in these threads in lieu of your endless efforts to avenge Rachel Maddow.

  3. I agree with Bob. The letter writer should have mentioned Cohen did not note that when Hillary was "walloped" she got more votes than Obama. And what Maureen Dowd did to her.

  4. The Howler really has gotten results. Beyond that a great deal seems to escape us, thanks in part to the corporate hustlers we accept as our tribal leaders.

    That fills us with our narrow rage. As they do, the plutocrats who pay their fat wages just keep rolling along.

    1. It is true, the fat wages paid by the plutocrats to our tribal leaders cause us to miss misleading facts about plutocrat donations to our politicians through foundations. Hopefully Somerby will correct that this week when he takes on the Times.

  5. I think it was very shortsighted of Somerby not to mention all four of the nasty letters to the New York Times were from men.

  6. "Our guess? Such cluelessness from Clinton supporters may represent her “biggest problem.”

    Poor Hillary. All those dislikeable lazy dumb liberals in her tribal camp will sink her yet, despite what clearly will be a strong defense all next week by Bob. He clearly couldn't save the career of Susan Rice, done in by the silence of the liberal leaders putting the plutocrat plunder in their pants.

    1. Hillary should take a trick from Bill's stash and have a Sista Souljah moment with some of the "sisters" making her look silly.

    2. That comment is so wrong.

  7. Replace "dislikeable [or dislikable] lazy dumb liberals" with "compromised liberals" and put "liberals" in quotation marks (ie: "liberal" leaders) and you are onto something.

    The NYT makes it easy to hate liberals if you're not one. Do you see the pattern yet?

    1. Shove it up your pseudo-conservative troll ascot. If Bob Somerby says liberals are dislikeable so will I.

  8. You trolls think this is all a big joke but this election matters.

    1. All presidential elections matter. But thanks for the stunning insight.

    2. 11:43 claims "trolls" think the election is a joke?

      From this post I'd say Somerby seems to think Hillary supporters are a joke and that he still knows how to tell one.

      Perhaps the trolls think the election is a joke. I see no evidence in this combox.

  9. Is the performance available for viewing?

    1. It is a good thing to keep your skills honed. Your never know when this lucrative .com business will turn bust, forcing a blogger to return to the timeless, but grueling, comedy circuit.

  10. Peter Schweizer: Can you show where Hilary approved anything because of what the Clinton Foundation got?

    1. Does he have access to the deleted e-mails?

      Do we see the problem now with someone who, in a high position, decides to do something solely "out of personal convenience?"

    2. Headlines you will never see in major newspapers:

      Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker make surprising announcement. Pledge to stop taking money from Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and various other billionaires due to appearance of quid pro quo.

      This weekend, Republican presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), will travel to Las Vegas to audition for billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s backing at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s spring meeting. In their speeches, the candidates will make their pitch to Adelson that they mostly closely share his interests.
      Mega donor Adelson and his wife Miriam spent nearly $150 million on the 2012 election — more than the Koch brothers — and are likely to match that amount this campaign cycle. With his $32 billion net worth, Adelson was the single largest campaign donor in American history.


  11. I see a disturbing trend here at the Howler. Bob Somerby has chosen to attack a woman who wrote a letter to the editor defending Hillary Clinton from misogynistic and ageist language that person thought was used by Richard Cohen. Rather than discuss the language Cohen used, Somerby offers a different portion of Cohen's column to defend him, saying, in essence "all's well that ends well.".

    Then Somerby uses the language perpetually used by men to portray women as empty headed. Concern over misogyny by her "clueless"
    supporters is Clinton's biggest problem.

    Given the track record Bob Somerby has of demonstrating the misogyny used against Clinton in 2008, I am surprised to see this drift
    by TDH. Perhaps he holds Cohen to a different standard than others like Matthews and Olbermann. Nonetheless I am surprised.

    Inability to appreciate how one's words affect others is a symptom of autism or front lobe injury. Does Bob imagine those of us who are Hillary's age or gender enjoy seeing her described the way Cohen did. He called her old, beaten, betrayed.

    I fully anticipated that this would be a sexist campaign season but I didn't fully appreciate Bob would find a way to apologize for it, then use insensitive terms to describe others who express their concern. If this is trend of things to come I am ashamed.

    1. Exactly. In Bob's world, misogynistic and sexist language doesn't exist unless HE sees it. Never mind if other people, especially women, find it rather easily. They are always wrong, Bob is always right. And his mind is never open to any other possibility.

    2. I read that letter. I read that column. So did my wife (a woman!)...

      We find the letter writer's accusations of misogyny and sexism ridiculous and tendentious. (Do you know what "tendentious" means? It means you will only find sexism there if you are predisposed to find it. It's easy to find it then. Even if it doesn't exist, you'll find it anywhere you want to.)