What kinds of people are we: Immediately after lunch, we started watching the videotape of last night's Maddow broadcast.
All things considered, we were doing well—until the star offered this pleasing claim, early in her show:
MADDOW (10/23/17): The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, made himself available to the Pentagon press corps today to actually deliver some information about what happened to these four soldiers in Niger. Between his prepared remarks and the very lengthy list of questions he took from the sharp Pentagon press corps today, General Dunford spoke to the press about this matter today for nearly an hour, and he did advance our understanding about what happened.Did Graham and Schumer actually say that?
At a time when even senior U.S. senators from both parties are admitting that they had no idea that the U.S. had troops in Niger, General Dunford clarified today that not only are there something like 800 U.S. troops serving in Niger right now, there are more U.S. troops serving in Niger right now than in any other country in Western Africa.
If senior U.S. senators with national security responsibilities like Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer didn't know that we had any troops in Niger, let alone more than any other country in that part of the world, you could guess that the American public had no idea of that either. But General Dunford made that clear today.
Their statements were made on Meet the Press. Did they actually say they didn't know we had any troops in Niger?
Actually no, they didn't. Everything is possible, of course, but that isn't what they actually said, and Chuck Todd made no attempt to clarify what they meant.
Using Nexis, we find no sign that anyone has tried to clarify what they actually meant. There's an obvious possible reason for that. No one actually cares!
On liberal entertainment TV, the murky statements by Graham and Schumer became fuel for the type of embellishment we liberals tribally love. Hint:
Everything has to be totally wrong during this reign of Trump! Aside from tribal uses like that, no one actually cares about any of this, as has been clear for years.
Also, does anyone care about the deaths of American soldiers? When did anyone care about that, except as a way to invent Benghazi tales for use against Candidate Hillary Clinton or, now, Niger tales for use against Donald J. Trump?
(Our pitiful tribal voices in action: "This will be Donald J. Trump's Katrina! This will be his Benghazi!" Oh please, please, please let it be!)
You think it's tribal in western Niger? How about in the U.S.? Over here in the States, every utterance or event is used to serve the goal of tribal ululation, full and complete freaking stop.
Maddow embellishes pretty much nightly, but does so for a good cause. (Michael Flynn was on the payroll of the Turkish government!) As Willa Frej noted at The Huffington Post, these techniques produced ratings gold for Hannity and Jones before her.
That said, does anyone actually care about the deaths of American soldiers? Except for the opportunity to produce tribal lore, we see few signs of that.
We expect to extend this point with a post about the way CNN may have triggered the whole "condolence call" gong-show on the weekend before Donald J. Trump made his ridiculous claims about which presidents have actually called the families of the fallen. This takes us back to a type of gong-show we recall hearing when we were maybe nine years old, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was the president.
We refer to a CNN report about Donald J. Trump—what else?—playing too much golf.
Since we were maybe nine years old, those "too much golf" allegations have never stopped. (Ditto for the standardized "but he cheats at golf" brain cell-killers.) But then, on the level of our elites, we're silly and empty and not very smart and we like to stick with what works.
Modern nations can't function this way. But the stars can have lots of fun, and the tribes can get upset.
Graham and Schumer spoke on Meet the Press. To check the transcript, click here.
To watch the videotape, click this. Go ahead—check one or the other out. See what they actually said.
Their statements to Todd were quite unclear. According to Nexis, no one has followed up.