Cable's top clown doesn't care: When last we looked in on the children of Flint, we had at least two basic questions:
First question: What kinds of health effects are the children of Flint likely to experience because of their exposure to lead in Flint's drinking water?
Second question: If Flint is AN AMERICAN DISASTER (as advertised on the Maddow Show), what are we supposed to say about Allentown, Pa., where children's exposure to lead seems to be many times worse?
Several weeks later, those questions remain, even after the "TRMS Special Report" which opened the Rachel Maddow Show on Thursday, February 11.
To watch that TRMS Special Report, you can just click here.
That TRMS Special Report struck us as rather odd. For starters, its total running time was 15 minutes and 25 seconds. That made it one of the shortest opening segments in recent Maddow Show history.
We're not sure why one of Maddow's shortest opening segments would be billed as a "Special Report." And by the way—only part of that Special Report was devoted to the many questions which still surround events in Flint.
In fact, that evening's TRMS Special Report started with three minutes and 35 seconds about an injury suffered by Gina Gogean, a Romanian gymnast, in 1996. This meant that Maddow's Special Report only devoted 11 minutes and 50 seconds to events specific to Flint.
Why did Maddow burn that time discussing a Romanian gymnast? Simple! Gogean's injury was treated by an unconventional laparoscopic technique. After spending 3:35 describing Gogean's medical treatment, Maddow began discussing the plumbing technique which may be used to replace lead pipes in Flint—a technique which might also be described as "laparoscopic."
Maddow went a very long way to set the stage for her discussion of that plumbing technique. After burning away 3:35 on the Romanian gymnast, she spent only eleven minutes and 50 seconds discussing events specific to Flint.
Maddow answered few questions that night in her TRMS Special Report. She did jack up the language she uses to describe the AMERICAN DISASTER in Flint.
On this evening, Maddow described events in Flint as "a humanitarian crisis of international proportions." Once again, this made us wonder how we're supposed to regard events on the ground in Allentown, whose children seem to display elevated blood lead levels at roughly six times the rate displayed in Flint.
If Flint is a "humanitarian crisis of international proportions," then what the heck is Allentown, Pennsylvania? Briefly, let's refresh ourselves on some basic facts:
Way back on February 3, Sarah Frostenson reported at Vox that "eighteen cities in Pennsylvania report higher levels of lead exposure than Flint." As Frostenson noted, quite a few of those cities show much higher rates of exposure.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 23.1 percent of Allentown's children had elevated levels in 2014. In Altoona, the figure was 20.4 percent; in Scranton, the figure was 19.4 percent.
By way of contrast, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha's original report on Flint showed the rate of elevated lead in the blood rising from 2.1 percent before the switch in the city's water supply to 4.0 percent after the switch. According to Maddow, that rate of exposure—4.0 percent of Flint's children—helped identify Flint as AN AMERICAN DISASTER and as "a humanitarian crisis of international proportions."
If that is how we should think about Flint, then what should we say about Allentown, Scranton, Altoona, Johnstown, Reading, Easton? Maddow viewers will never have to worry their heads about that! This alternate reality has never been mentioned on Maddow's increasingly ludicrous show, where a very strange corporate host is feeding us liberals a partisan morality tale in which no children seem to matter or exist except the children of Flint.
Just this Wednesday, Sarah Kliff presented another detailed report for Vox about the rates of elevated lead exposure among the nation's children, in those Pennsylvania cities and elsewhere in the country.
If you read Vox, you're able to learn about this. You've never heard a word about this on the horrible Maddow Show, which stopped devolving long ago and has long since crashed and burned.
In that ridiculous "TRMS Special Report," we learned about an injury to a Romanian gymnast in 1996. We also got an exciting new tag—"humanitarian crisis of international proportions!"—and a new set of "geniuses" to join the pre-existing geniuses and heroes with which Maddow has peopled her tale.
(Who are the new "geniuses" of our tale? Simple! Click here, then search!)
We weren't given a Special Report about the likely health effects faced by the children of Flint. We weren't given a Special Report concerning the extent to which Flint's water may or may not be usable now.
We weren't treated to an interview with Professor Marc Edwards. (Maddow still hasn't done an interview segment with Edwards, nor has she explained why he hasn't appeared.) Most remarkably, we weren't told that exposure rates are much higher in many cities than they are in the city of Flint, the magical kingdom where our silliest corporate child is staging her current story.
We weren't told something else. We weren't told why Maddow devoted less than 12 minutes to Flint in the segment she dubbed a "TRMS Special Report." She spends more time than that reading polls, mugging and clowning virtually every night of the week.
Allentown has never been mentioned on the Maddow Show. As far as that program's star is concerned, that city's kids can go hang.
In her self-serving treatment of Flint, Maddow is giving us heroes and geniuses and one perfect villain, the villainous Governor Snyder. She's also giving us an "indefatigable mayor," Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, as part of the childish story she tells as she sends us to bed.
(That description of Weaver was offered during the TRMS Special Report. Maddow also lionized Weaver that night as "the tireless and aggressive Flint mayor.")
Mayor Weaver is an attractive public figure. That said, we don't know how to assess her current plans for Flint, in large part because Maddow spends so little time examining such questions.
Maddow spends enormous amounts of time mugging, clowning and discussing herself. She spends gigantic amounts of time reading worthless polls and offering inane remarks about various Republican candidates, not excluding the animal sounds she thinks she hears them making.
She spends extremely little time on Flint. Consider what happened this Wednesday.
Omigod! On Wednesday night, Maddow announced, at the top of the show, that "we've got news from the nerves-of-steel mayor in the America's number-one lead poisoned city," by which she seemed to mean Flint.
Later, Maddow reported that the mayor in question "has shown a remarkable ability to get things done for her city through sheer force of will since she took power in the middle of this crisis."
Late in the program, Maddow featured the nerves-of-steel mayor in an "interview" which lasted roughly three minutes. The interview involved only two questions. To watch the full segment, click here.
The actual interview lasted roughly three minutes. Earlier in the week, Maddow had spent roughly that much time on Candidate Bush's animal sounds, which mainly exist in her head.
Now, Maddow decided to grant equal time to the mayor who is trying to solve "a humanitarian crisis of international proportions." She doled three minutes to Mayor Weaver. Question: Did anyone learn anything at all from this very brief session?
Believe it or not, what's shown below was the second Q-and-A in this three-minute, two-question drive-by.
To watch the entire segment, click here. See if you have any idea what Weaver was talking about or what she actually said:
MADDOW (2/17/16): You know, you said today that you're planning to get this pipe replacement plan that you've come up with, you're planning to get it started next week. Do you actually have the money to start?That ate the bulk of the three minutes Maddow surrendered to this interview. Frankly, it sounded like a double-talk demonstration—and Maddow did nothing, nada, zero, zilch to make this short exchange turn out to be clear and informative.
WEAVER: Well, you know what? We thought we had some money to start. In fact, I was surprised by the press release that you talked about earlier, that came out yesterday, because that's what we were going to do.
We thought $500,000, five—half a billion dollars, let me say that. We thought that was going to be coming. And it didn't come to us.
Instead, the governor has decided to put his own plan in place. And I thought we would be working together. What we talked about was using the money that he had to get started and that's where we were going to do those homes that had been identified that we talked about.
And instead, he's put his plan in place to go ahead and get started and then do this testing. Well, what we wanted to do was to get started, and while that was going on, we know we would be working with Lansing Board of Water and Light, we were going to be working with our own people, we were going to be training people, and we wanted to have a vetting process for the engineering company that was going to come in and put all of the teams together.
So now, what we are going to do is we're going to continue to get started. I've talked with the Board of Water and Light down in Lansing and they said they are still willing to help. We're going to start the test run and if they have to come and just, you know, do two houses a day, we're going to do one child at a time, one house at a time, but that home that was tested that you referred to earlier, we need to guarantee that the child that lives in that home has clean water they can drink, and we need to get started there.
One of the other things that we need to do is I hope that by the end of this week or the first of next week, I'm getting a phone call, because right now we need some things pushed through. We cannot continue to have the state saying, "We're going to wait," the federal government saying, "We're waiting for the state," and in the meantime our kids, our families in the city of Flint are still dealing with toxic water. This is unacceptable.
MADDOW: Mayor of Flint, Michigan, Karen Weaver, you have brought this to a head through your own sheer insistence that it can be done quickly. We have been documenting the way everybody else has been dragging their feet. You are not, ma'am. Thank you for helping us understand it. We will stay with this.
WEAVER: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
We can't really judge her perspective or her assessments. That said, we think Mayor Weaver is an attractive public figure.
By way of contrast, we think Maddow has degenerated into a total clown.
Starting with Judy and then with Elvis, wealth and fame have eaten many people alive in our modern show business history. Wealth and fame seem to have turned Maddow into an untrustworthy clown.
On Maddow's show, there are no children in Allentown. In fact, no children exist in this country at all, except the children in Flint. She's telling us a pleasing story peopled with heroes and geniuses and a nerves-of-steel mayor—and of course with that perfect villain, to help us sleep soundly at night.
Maddow's story is a classic bedtime tale. It has little to do with journalism or information, or with this nation's actual problems, or with this nation's actual children, most of whom don't live in Flint.
It has nothing to do with the children of Allentown, who seem to be "poisoned" by lead at rough six times the rate of the children in Flint. The children of Allentown can go hang. Our own tribe's victim of corporate wealth just doesn't seem to care.
If you only watch one tape this weekend, we think you ought to watch this. Instantly, you'll see our own Rhodes scholar mugging and clowning and acting out and drumming away on her desk.
In a culture which hadn't collapsed, that person would, long ago, have been removed from the air. When we watch this persistent behavior, we often wonder if the person in question may not perhaps need some help.
Maddow is massively rich and famous; Frostenson and Kliff are not. If you want to learn about your nation, you should click on the work they've done, not on That Crap Over There.