A parody of analysis: Mimi Rocha, NBC's new hire, seems like the nicest person on earth.
She also seems like an increasingly familiar "cable news" type. She seems like the type of former federal prosecutor who never heard an audiotape in which she couldn't quickly detect "a consciousness of guilt."
Rocha performed this feat for Brian Williams on Thursday's Eleventh Hour. Flawlessly working from tribal script, Gene Robinson immediately cast himself in the "old reliable" supporting role, saying he too was now able to hear the consciousness of guilt.
Robinson's performance was disqualifying; Rocah's was an embarrassment. Williams played ringmaster at this gong show. It's time for them all to go.
Children are dead all over Iraq because Williams and Robinson played these roles way back in 1999 and 2000. They helped get George W. Bush elected to office, where he was capably served by the talented ghoul, Nicolle Wallace.
It's time for all these walking dead to go! And yet, "This is the way the species was wired," future experts have consistently told us.
You can see The Consciousness of Guilt Three in action simply by clicking the link we'll offer you below. The background to their ride in the clown car goes exactly like this:
We start last Friday, May 31. That afternoon, the full transcript of an underwhelming voicemail was released.
A partial transcript of the voicemail had appeared in the Mueller report. The voicemail had produced little cable discussion because, truth to tell, it formed part of an episode on which the Mueller report placed almost zero emphasis.
At issue was a possible attempt to influence Michael Flynn in an inappropriate way when he decided to cooperate with the Mueller probe. The voicemail in question had been left by Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, for Flynn's personal lawyer.
Had President Trump behaved inappropriately, perhaps even criminally, in connection with that voicemail? The Mueller report spends the tiniest amount of time on this matter. Below, you see the full discussion of Donald J. Trump's possible criminal intent:
MUELLER REPORT, VOLUME II (page 132): Evidence concerning the President’s intent related to Flynn as a potential witness is inconclusive. As previously noted, because of privilege issues we do not have evidence establishing whether the President knew about or was involved in his counsel’s communications with Flynn’s counsel stating that Flynn’s decision to withdraw from the joint defense agreement and cooperate with the government would be viewed as reflecting “hostility” towards the President. And regardless of what the President’s personal counsel communicated, the President continued to express sympathy for Flynn after he pleaded guilty pursuant to a cooperation agreement, stating that Flynn had “led a very strong life” and the President “fe[lt] very badly” about what had happened to him.That's the full discussion! We take the "And regardless..." passage to tilt the scales in Trump's favor, though the writing is so murky here that it's hard to tell.
The Mueller report makes little attempt to charge Trump with misconduct in this small, tedious matter. To the extent that the Mueller team was concerned with the conduct here, their concern didn't center on the original voicemail, but on a subsequent phone conversation between Dowd and Flynn's lawyer.
It's that phone call which is being discussed in that passage from Mueller's report, not the initial voicemail.
Beyond that, the Mueller report never suggests the possibility that Dowd had committed a crime in this episode. But none of this would keep Rocah from her appointed mind-reading rounds, in which she detected "consciousness of guilt" on the part of Dowd, who had clearly committed a crime.
Let's return to our background. Last Friday, May 31, the full transcript of Dowd's voicemail was released. On cable, the children quickly swung into action, offering dramatic readings of the voicemail's text and entertaining Rubes Like Us with serial "mob movie" references.
We recorded this stupid behavior in this report on Monday.
Was Dowd's voicemail like Goodfellas, or was it more like The Sopranos? Our cable stars kept this bullsh*t up from 4 PM until midnight. Children are dead all over the world because these overpaid corporate defectives have long behaved in these ways.
Last Friday, these overpaid defectives agreed—the voicemail by Dowd was straight outta a famous bunch of Mafia movies. They were able to make this assessment just by reading the voicemail's text!
This Thursday, the audio recording of the voicemail was released. You can listen to it here, but Dowd's super-laconic delivery may well put you to sleep.
We'll only say this. If some future "mob movie" is built around a voicemail like that, the film will go straight to videotape—or more likely, straight to the studio's trash can.
In truth, the voicemail doesn't sound like any Mafia film ever made. That doesn't tell us whether Dowd's behavior was appropriate, but Chuck Rosenberg can finally lay down his weary head. Ray Liotta and Robert de Niro don't have to worry about competition from Dowd.
Dowd barely seems awake, or even alive, as he leaves his voicemail. Absent explanation from dispassionate legal observers, it's hard to know what he's talking about, or whether his conduct is wrong.
On the brighter side, MSNBC executed a slippery edit to the audiotape in order to "keep script alive." They could have played the entire voicemail, but the channel eliminated the part of the tape where Dowd tells Flynn's attorney that he doesn't want him to "hav[e] to give up any confidential information."
This calls for a bit more background:
After the full transcript of the voicemail was released on May 31, the Mueller report was criticized for having omitted that leavening phrase from its own (edited) transcript. Now, MSNBC had the full audiotape of the full voicemail—and they proceeded to execute the very same edit, protecting us from having to hear Dowd make that leavening remark!
At 6 PM, Ari Melber played the audiotape of Dowd's voicemail—and the leavening phrase had been edited out of what we were permitted to hear.
Rachel played the audiotape at 9 PM; the leavening phrase was MIA on her program too. One hour later, Lawrence played the audiotape, and he too played a version of the tape from which the leavening phrase had been disappeared.
Only Brian played the full audiotape, letting viewers actually hear what Dowd had actually said. By 11 PM, someone had restored the "edit" to the audiotape! But Brian threw to Mimi Rocah, and Rocah went to work:
WILLIAMS (6/6/19): So much to talk about there. Just an hour to do it.Just that quickly, Rocah had been able to detect "a certain consciousness of guilt" on the part of Dowd.
Mimi, you get to go first, with a very simple question. What do you learn from listening to a human voice on that recording?
ROCAH: You learn a lot, Brian. You know, as you said, it's one thing to read the words, but when you hear his intonations, when you hear, frankly, his hesitancy, he's struggling with the words because there is a certain consciousness of guilt going on here. He knows he shouldn't be doing this.
It explained why Dowd was speaking so slowly. He knew he shouldn't be doing it!
For the record, prisons are full of innocent people because people like Rocah have learned to approach the world this way. MSNBC has filled the air with former prosecutors of this type in the past two years, all of them understanding the corporate mandate when discussing Trump:
Criminal guilt must be detected in every possible instance!
That said, Rocah's mind-reading tricks weren't yet done for the night. As she continued, she blew past a leavening question she herself had raised. Eventually, she even revealed that Dowd had committed a crime!
ROCAH (continuing directly): Now, you can question why would someone leave this in a voicemail. It seems pretty dumb, frankly. But he's uncomfortable with it.By the time this ridiculous fortune-telling session was done, it was even clear to Rocah that Dowd had committed a crime!
I think he knows, on some level, "You know, I really shouldn't be doing this," but it tells you the importance of what he feels he's doing because he's doing it anyway.
And he is—there are so many clues in what he says. I mean, for example, he says, "You know what we've always said about how the president feels about Flynn." Well, first of all, this isn't the first time this has come up. They've had these conversations before. That's what that says.
"We have always said." I mean, this isn't Dowd going out and saying how Trump feels about...Flynn. This is what Trump has told Dowd about how he feels about Flynn to pass it on.
So look, Mueller didn't go there. Mueller didn't subpoena Dowd and try to sort of pierce the veil of the attorney-client privilege and find out how involved was Trump in this, how—what discussions did they specifically have about this.
It's clear to me that Dowd is committing a crime here. The question is, how involved and what would the evidence be against Trump? I mean, common sense tells us he's involved, but what would the proof be? But Congress can go there. They don't have to stand by the attorney-client privilege in the way that Mueller did.
No such possibility is suggested in the Mueller report—and since Dowd isn't a sitting president, he presumably could have been charged with a crime if he'd committed one.
Why didn't Robert S. Mueller charge Dowd with this obvious crime? Brian Williams seemed to know that he mustn't ask such an untimely question. Nor did he return to the implied question with which Rocah had started:
If Dowd had a "consciousness of guilt"—if he thought he was committing a crime—why would he have done so by voicemail?
Brian didn't ask these fairly obvious questions. Instead, he agreed to let Rocah pretend she knew what she was talking about, thanks to her vast experience and expertise:
WILLIAMS (continuing directly): You know your way around a recording as a former Fed. Most of them, of course, organized crime and not presidential politics, but there is that certain element that reading a flat transcript on a page doesn't deliver.Rocah has listened to dozens and dozens of tapes! Let us guess that she may have been able to detect "consciousness of guilt" every time she did!
ROCAH: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I've listened to dozens and dozens of recordings of organized crime and other people, and, you know, if you play a recording for a jury, I mean, every trial lawyer knows this, it just brings home what is happening in a way that a transcript doesn't. And this shows you, you know, we've seen this again even with Mueller's 10-minute press conference. Hearing words, hearing someone speak as opposed to reading a report, is so compelling. And this is why Congress needs to get going as best they can on having witnesses, whether it be playing recordings like this.
I think they should subpoena Dowd. I really don't see any barrier to that. You know, I'm not saying he'll just willingly come but there, frankly, are not a lot of legitimate privileges he could invoke on that. And having Mueller testify, even though he doesn't want to.
Cable has spilled with such "hang em high" types over the past several years. They make a joke of cable news, but they add to partisan cable profits as viewers thrill, on a nightly basis, to their mandated assessments.
Brian made no attempt to challenge Rocah's mind-reading act. Instead, he threw to Robinson, and Robinson played the fool:
WILLIAMS: Why leave a voicemail like that on somebody's machine?All of a sudden, Gene was able to hear what Dowd had been doing too! "Cable news" works this way in this pitiful age of decline.
ROBINSON: I don't know. I don't know. But, you know, i read the transcript like everybody, and I didn't get all of that out of the transcript. You're right about that.
And it is the hesitancy and the consciousness that this isn't—and, you know, "I've got to sort of talk my way around this because I can't go at it directly because I really shouldn't be going at it at all."
You can watch this gong show by clicking here, then moving ahead to the 5:30 mark. If you do, you'll be watching a parody of journalistic analysis.
Back in 1999, Williams conducted such parodies night after night as he attacked the disturbing wardrobe of the psychiatrically troubling Candidate Gore. Years later, he got himself kicked off the air for inventing Mittyesque hero tales about his own glorious self.
Now he's back, and he's never going to change. This is simply what the species was like, or so future experts have told us.
Rocha was an embarrassment this night; Brian and Gene may have been even worse. If you can't see what a ridiculous clown show this segment was, then our society's existential problem pretty much starts with you.
The children were toying with a minor part of the Mueller report. There's little suggestion in the report that Mueller thought Trump had done something wrong in this minor episode.
There's zero suggestion that Mueller thought Dowd had committed a crime. But that was Mueller, and this was cable—and cable news runs on clowning, even on edited tapes.
Rocah was willing to dazzle us rubes with a ridiculous mind-reading act. Rocah seems like a very nice person, but it's long past time for her to go. Decent people can only hope she'll take Brian and Gene with her.
"That will never happen," anthropological experts have gloomily said. "The species wasn't wired that way. It was wired for tribal fictions."
So these scholars repeatedly tell us. They speak to us in a gloomy past tense, reporting to us from the future.