Supplemental: Creating the cartoonized hero of Flint!


In search of the health effects:
If you watch the Maddow Show, you're often watching cartoons. The program's coverage of Flint is a case in point.

A cartoonized story will often come with heroes, villains and victims. One of the perfect heroes of Flint has been Virginia Tech's Marc Edwards, whose actual views you've rarely heard on the Maddow Show.

Even as she avoids his views, how did Maddow cartoonize Edwards, making him one of her perfect heroes? This was her first portrait of Edwards, offered during her second report on Flint:
MADDOW (12/18/15): Turns out there was a broad problem with the drinking water in Flint. And the Snyder administration so obviously not caring about it spurred other people to action when they saw that the state did not care.

A MacArthur genius, award-winning drinking water expert drove 15 straight hours from Virginia Tech to start testing Flint's water. When he got the results, he went back to Flint and held a press conference on the lawn in front of city hall to show Flint's water eating through an iron nail. He told the people of Flint, "Do not drink this water."
The MacArthur genius, award-winning expert drove fifteen straight hours to get to Flint! On its face, this statement is a bit strange, since MapQuest says the trip from Blacksburg to Flint should take a bit more than nine hours.

Whatever! Four nights later, Maddow told the heroic story again. On this occasion, she added an additional hook about the award-winning genius:
MADDOW (12/22/15): So Rick Snyder's government got that news from the federal EPA in February and they did not say a word about it to the public for the better part of a year.

We knew that as of Friday. Now there's something new.

The MacArthur genius, award-winning drinking water expert from Virginia Tech who dropped everything when he heard what was going on in Flint and he drove 15 hours straight to start testing the water in Flint, that Virginia Tech professor now says, in addition to ignoring the EPA telling them what was wrong, the state of Michigan under Rick Snyder also intentionally withheld even its own data—the Snyder administration's own data which showed the levels of lead in blood tests in Flint going up.
In that account, the genius hero expert "dropped everything," then drove fifteen straight hours to get to Flint. Surely, we all can see the cartoon elements here.


Did Professor Edwards really "drop everything?" We're going to guess he did not.

Despite that disinformation from MapQuest, did he really drive fifteen straight hours? Maybe not!

According to this detailed report in the Detroit News, "Edwards was among a team of five who drove 11 hours from Virginia Tech to Flint to conduct a broader examination of the water."

All of a sudden he's part of a team. Not being the brother of Annie Hall, he didn't drive fifteen straight hours!

We seem to looking at cable cartooning versus news reporting. By the time the Detroit News got through, Edwards had no longer driven fifteen straight hours, apparently by himself, to get to Flint and start his testing. He had driven eleven hours with a team of researchers—and they'd perhaps possibly stopped for lunch, explaining those two extra hours.

Judging from appearances, it looks like Maddow created a bit of a silly cartoon with that portrait of Edwards. That said:

By all accounts, Edwards' work in Flint has been indispensable, all-important. That's why it's so odd that Maddow has made so little effort to inform her viewers about the views of the genius hero expert who drove those fifteen straight hours.

Uh-oh! Edwards has been at this type of work a long time, and he's a savage critic of the EPA. But uh-oh! In her cartoonized story-telling, Maddow has been playing "the federal EPA" as one of the good guys of the piece—as one of the heroes arrayed against her arch-villain, the evil Governor Snyder.

Here's another problem. When he testified before the House, Edwards seemed to say that a small group of state employees bore the primary responsibility for the initial horrific error in Flint, then for a wide-ranging cover-up.

At one point, he seemed to say that these state employees even lied to Governor Snyder. Just a guess: That sort of thing can't be discussed on the Maddow Show, where Snyder has been portrayed as the all-knowing evil genius of the cartoonized tale.

Whatever the explanation might be, Maddow's genius expert hero has never appeared on her show, except for a truncated appearance during her Flint town hall. Beyond that, his views have not been explained to Maddow's viewers, who are being served a typical porridge of perfect heroes, perfect victims and perfect (Republican) villains.

There seems to be no room in Maddow's story for any complexity—for anything which doesn't advance her simple-minded partisan story. This may explain why the genius hero hasn't been interviewed on her program.

In future posts, we hope to discuss other aspects of Maddow's cartoonized story-telling. We'll show you the way she has fluffed the role of the EPA, an agency which has been savaged by Edwards.

We'll marvel at the absence of LeeAnne Walters, the remarkable Flint resident and parent who got Edwards involved in the first place. Walters didn't even appear on Maddow's "town hall" program from Flint. Warning! She's also very tough on the EPA. Beyond that, there may even be a second problem with Walters!

In our view, Maddow's treatment of this topic has been a journalistic disgrace. For today, let's close with one more point. Let's return to the letter which appeared in Tuesday's Washington Post.

The letter was written by Joseph Cotruvo, director of the EPA’s drinking water standards division from 1976 to 1990. We continue to wonder about the highlighted point concerning the CDC:
COTRUVO (2/9/16): The EPA has taken some flak for its regional office’s inaction. But the EPA should get credit for the major nationwide reduction in lead exposure when it eliminated leaded gasoline, the dominant source of lead exposure, years ago. The average lead blood level for children was 16 micrograms per deciliter in 1976.

A recent report from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services indicated that 3.4 percent of the child blood measurements in Flint were greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter, and 0.6 percent were greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that fewer than 2.5 percent of U.S. children between ages 1 and 5 exceed 5 micrograms, its reference level. It recommends medical treatment at 45 micrograms per deciliter.
According to Cotruvo, the CDC "recommends medical treatment at 45 micrograms per deciliter." We're not sure what that means, but it leads to the most important question in this whole sorry mess:

What kinds of health effects are the children of Flint likely to experience? Maddow has toured the countryside bellowing about "mass poisoning" in Flint—more specifically, about the mass poisoning of "the entire town."

"Poisoning" is a very scary term. In this instance, what does it mean? Maddow has made exactly zero attempt to define the range of health effects which may appear in the children of Flint.

As with almost everything else, she simply doesn't seem to care about a trivial matter like that. She does seem to care about her cartoonized partisan yelling and about the heroism she drapes across her own shoulders.

What is the range of health effects those kids are likely to experience? As she continues to offer her relentless mugging and clowning, including her endless wasting of time and her "poofing" of head shots, Maddow hasn't taken the trouble to ask.

The clowning cartoonist hasn't addressed this most important question from Flint! More and more, we wonder it this peculiar person cares about anything at all, except her own bloated career.

More to come in the coming days. Sample questions:

What has "my friend, Debbie Stabenow" (Hillary Clinton, promising action) done about this matter in the course of the past two years?

Why hasn't Maddow asked?


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    1. Analyst Advocacy, Inc.February 11, 2016 at 4:41 PM

      Comment from one who has previewed the new Pavilion at the sprawling campus.

    2. Analyst Advocacy, Inc.February 11, 2016 at 4:41 PM

      Comment from one who has previewed the new Pavilion at the sprawling campus.

  2. To all intents and purposes, it was Governor Snyder's Republican Party which was wholly or almost wholly in charge in Flint.

  3. Obama agrees with Maddow.

    1. Clinton agrees with Maddow and Obama.

    2. Someone else agrees with Maddow:

      Trascript of first Maddow show on topic of Flint, December 18, 2015.

      "MADDOW: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Children`s Hospital in Flint – thank you
      for being here.

      me, Rachel.

      MADDOW: First of all, I have to ask you I did a big long rant and summation of this. Did I get any of that wrong?

      HANNA-ATTISHA: I think that was pretty accurate."

    3. That was actually the second show Maddow did on Flint.

      The first Maddow coverage was on December 15, 2015 and it appeared to have been inspired by the Mayor, Karen Weaver, declaring an emergency, the day before, December 14, 2015.

      Keep in mind that 18 months before Maddow's coverage, local media had been covering the negative reaction to the taste, smell, and ill effects of the water by Flint residents.

      Does Bob Somerby tell you what was in that first coverage by Maddow? No. He tells you she has been making a cartoon. He says:

      "Maddow has made exactly zero attempt to define the range of health effects which may appear in the children of Flint."

      This is such a lie it makes Somerby look like Donald Trump setting a 42% unemployment rate and makes his contempt and hatred for Maddow look like Donald Trump calling all Mexican illegal immigrants rapists.

      From the transcript of Maddow coverage on Day 1:

      "And then came the blood test results. A local doctor found that nearly twice as many babies and kids in Flint had elevated levels of lead in their blood as kids from other places. In some neighborhoods, it was
      nearly three times as many kids, all since the city switched the water.

      And all that lead flowing in the blood streams of the children and the babies of Flint, it puts them at risk for sickness and lasting neurological damage. Lead poisoning is not reversible."

      Absolutely zero attempt, Bob? No, more like zero attempt to tell the truth from you.

  4. Bob's Maddow obsession is really getting out of control. He really needs to start to seek professional help.

    1. Help totally should be sought.

  5. Marc Edwards' media humblebrag tour is in full swing giving Maddow and other children lead-free tingles up their leg.

  6. Drinking water that can corrode cast iron is indeed poison.

  7. Chris Matthews Got Away with Almost MurderFebruary 12, 2016 at 9:34 AM

    I'm glad Bob feels a deep moral obligation to defend another unfairly beseiged conservative Republican Governor from the wrath of Rachel and her Maddowsketeers.

    It is true that he is down 2-0 against her in this type of affair.

    It is true he is promising a "topic change" that might be seen as another shift in career direction.

    But the third time may be the charm. He may win one over Maddow on his way out.

  8. The emergency manager who signed that initial order to get ready for drinking from the river, he was appointed by and reported directly to Governor Snyder and to no one else. The emergency manager who sold the pipeline that should have been the escape hatch, he reported directly to Governor Snyder and no one else. The agency that did not tell Flint how to do this safely and that ignored the fast-rising lead levels in Flint`s water and that disparage the
    first – first, the EPA whistleblower and then the professor and then the local doctor who all tried to help, that agency reported to and continues to report only to Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan.

  9. HuffPo continues its assault on Bernie Sanders. Calls him delusional.

  10. Maddows cartoonized coverage seems to "come with heroes, villains and victims" according to LL Somerby.

    Here is a "cartoon victim" family:

    "It started in August 2014 when Walters’ four children and her husband got rashes on their skin and started losing hair. Then, her 15-year-old son became so nauseated, dizzy and in pain that he couldn’t go to school for three weeks.

    The worst of it came when one of her toddler twin sons fell behind his brother in weight and developed a bright red rash with scaly patches on his body after bathing. He was diagnosed with lead poisoning."