Plus, comical Thanksgiving tales: On Saturday morning, we forced ourselves to sit before our keyboard and share a depressing tale.
The chain of events had started last Monday night, on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time. Louisiana's Senator Kennedy had appeared on the overtalk-driven show to acknowledge that he'd been wrong in something he had said.
He'd been wrong to say that it may have been Ukraine which hacked the DNC emails during Campaign 2016! So the homespun solon now said.
Senator Kennedy said he'd been wrong! As we showed you on Saturday, this was the passage in question:
CUOMO (11/25/19): I want to hear it from you. Do you really believe that it wasn't Russia?"I was wrong," the solon had said. He called the evidence "overwhelming." "It was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer," the homespun solon said.
KENNEDY: I did that interview yesterday with, with Chris Wallace. Damn good reporter. I was answering one of his questions. And he interjected a statement, and asked me to react to it.
What I heard Chris say was, he made the statement that only Russia had tried to interfere in the election. And I answered the question.
That's not what he said. I went back and looked at the transcript. He said only Russia tried to hack the DNC computer.
Now, Chris is right. I was wrong. The only evidence I have, and I think it's overwhelming, is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer. I see no—
CUOMO: That's what the consensus is.
KENNEDY: Yes. I've seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.
(Full disclosure: We don't know why the strange fellow said "tried." But your lizard will urge you to go there.)
"I was wrong," the senator said. "It was Russia," he said; the evidence is "overwhelming."
Some would say that this should count as a reasonably clear statement. That wouldn't include MSNBC's Brian Williams, the disordered fellow who spent months, in 1999 and 2000, attacking Candidate Gore for the number of buttons on his suits and for his alleged psychiatric problems.
Let's be fair! Back then, the slippery, slick multimillionaire was working for the oligarch Welch. To appearances, he played "pool boy" for his owner all through that campaign.
Today, Brian is working for somebody else. And so, this past Tuesday night, he told us this about what Kennedy said, carefully forgetting to play the actual tape of Kennedy's actual statement:
WILLIAMS (11/26/19): [Kennedy] made his first comments on Fox News with Chris Wallace, attempted the cleanup last night on CNN with Chris Cuomo—a cleanup which still left the strong whiff of, "It was probably Ukraine."Williams didn't let viewers see or hear what Kennedy actually said.
Instead, he played the Joe McCarthy card. Plainly suggesting that Kennedy was pimping Russkie propaganda, he told viewers that Kennedy's statement "still left the strong whiff" in which it was probably Ukraine which hacked the DNC emails.
(If the slackers at MSNBC ever get around to posting a transcript of Tuesday night's show, you'll be able to find it here. As of now, they're still on vacation.)
If you didn't know who and what Brian is, you might be surprised by his behavior that night. Also, if you didn't have a clear understanding of the nature of the (highly tribal, war-inclined) species to which the foppish fellow belongs.
To those who live on the slightly more rational end of our species' wading pool, Williams' behavior that night might even be viewed as heinous. In all honesty, it was fairly clear what Kennedy told Cuomo last Monday night:
He'd said that Russia hacked the DNC emails, but also that Ukraine, or at least some Ukrainian officials, had meddled in the 2016 campaign. That closely resembled what the sanctified Fiona Hill had said in the recent impeachment hearings, with her statements about those Ukrainian officials quickly disappeared.
As noted, Williams has done this sort of thing before. People are dead all over Iraq because of the way he, and more influential colleagues like Russert and Matthews, behaved during Campaign 2000.
That said, Tuesday night's demagoguery seemed extreme even for Williams. But good God! Yesterday morning, our old friend Chuck Todd staged one of the dumbest interviews we've ever seen when Kennedy appeared on Meet the Press.
We like our old friend Chuck a lot, but good God, was that interview stupid! (We'd say that three fourths of The Stupid came from Chuck, perhaps one fourth from his guest.)
That interview was stunningly unintelligent. It led to outright modern McCarthyism on today's Morning Joe.
In an overwrought opening segment, Joe kept accusing Kennedy of being a Russian tool. Periodically, Mika would offer supporting statements, such as "Wow," as Joe conducted his rant.
Eventually, Joe threw to Edward Luce, U.S. national editor at the Financial Times. When he did, Luce, a new favorite on Morning Joe, brought us right out of our chairs.
You see, Kennedy had cited various publications which had reported that Ukraine meddled or intervened in the 2016 campaign.
No, Ukraine hadn't stolen the DNC emails. But Ukrainian officials had "meddled" too, according to these publications. Or so Kennedy had told Chuck, as others had said before him.
On this morning's Morning Joe, Scarborough threw to Luce. As a representative of the Financial Times, did Luce have any idea what Kennedy was talking about?
That's what Morning Joe asked. Responding in a Maddow-reminiscent manner, Luce said that he and his editors had no idea what Kennedy could be talking about!
That's what the wonderfully dandified Luce said to Mika and Joe. Instantly, we fired up the Google machine, and within maybe 90 seconds, we were reading this report from the Financial Times.
The FT report had started like this. Headline included:
OLEARCHYK (8/28/16): Ukraine’s leaders campaign against ‘pro-Putin’ TrumpOlearchyk used the word "intervene," not "meddle." Given the non-rational nature of our species, that may help explain the total puzzlement to which Luce swore allegiance today.
For years, Serhiy Leshchenko, a top Ukrainian anti-corruption campaigner, worked to expose kleptocracy under former president Viktor Yanukovich. Now, he is focusing on a new perceived pro-Russian threat to Ukraine: US presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The prospect of Mr Trump, who has praised Ukraine’s arch-enemy Vladimir Putin, becoming leader of the country’s biggest ally has spurred not just Mr Leshchenko but Kiev’s wider political leadership to do something they would never have attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a US election.
Did Ukraine really intervene in the U.S. election? Stating the obvious, it all depends of what the meaning of "intervene in" is!
That said, it took us maybe 90 seconds to find the article Kennedy was talking about. Beyond that, the Ken Vogel Politico piece—the piece Hill praised for its accuracy during her impeachment testimony—has also been kept from view on "corporate liberal" cable and in all such tribal venues.
Kennedy cited Politico too. That said, Hill's comments in praise of Vogel's piece have of course been disappeared.
Did Ukraine "intervene" or "meddle" in the last election? We don't regard that as a hugely important question. That said, it would be amazingly easy to report what Kennedy is talking about, and then to proceed from there.
We humans aren't wired to play it that way! In recent weeks, people like Williams, Scarborough and Luce have agreed that you must never be told what Kennedy's talking about.
This morning, the feel of the early 1950s crept from our TV machine. Morning Joe went palpably Tailgunner Joe. And as we fact-checked Luce, we thought of our tribe's Darling Rachel.
Way back when, in April 2012, she appeared on Meet the Press and made an inaccurate statement. On that day, she said, again and again, that women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, compared to men, "for doing the same work."
No specialist actually makes that claim; no specialist claims anything like that. Yes, it's sacred tribal text—but it's also bogus, and that's easy to learn.
Rachel was challenged on Meet the Press that day; she kept insisting that she was right. That sacred text had always struck us as hugely improbable on its face, but we'd never fact-checked it before—and so, that day, we did.
It took us maybe three or four minutes to see that the sacred text was ginormously bogus. But so what? The following night, Rachel went on the air and claimed that she had spent the whole day trying to figure out why she'd been challenged. She devoted at least half her program that night to this blatant charade.
Presumably, Rachel was lying to her viewers that night. Skillfully, though, she even brought an academic on her program that night to acknowledge the fact that the tribal scripture was wrong while seeming to do the opposite. In these, and in similar ways, our species plays with words.
This is the way our "human race" is actually built to function. When push comes to shove, the truth becomes clear:
In the end, we aren't "the rational animal" at all! According to expert anthropologists, we've always been something different:
Man [sic] is the highly tribal, war-inclined animal, given to tribal fictions.With the current impeachment fight sealing Donald J. Trump's re-election, our own hapless "liberal" tribe is becoming more and more frantic. We'll examine this horrible fact all week, with reference to recent behaviors, some of which we'll try to treat as comic relief.
At the New York Times, Charles Blow's screed about Thanksgiving involves some of the most comical attempts at "journalism" we've ever seen. The screed was accompanied by Professor Silverman's screed on the same topic, a screed which brought a slightly stronger whiff of Stalinism in.
We're going to try to treat those screeds, and others like them, as comic relief. Also, though, there was the essay at The Root which called Candidate Buttigieg "a lying MF"—an essay which has been granted full tribal respect wherever our failing tribe's unhelpful loathings are sold.
Then too, the complaints about "likability." What risible creatures are we!
In the past few years, we've tried to tell you that you have to adopt a new paradigm, viewpoint or framework. You have to stop seeing other humans as "rational animals" who occasionally stray.
Instead, you need to see us as we are:
Man [sic] is the tribal, war-inclined animal given to dealing in fictions.At present, our tribe is working to keep Trump where he is. We'll try to see the comical side of this tribal disaster all through the rest of the week.
But if we might borrow from demonic Nietzsche, our species is nonhuman, all too nonhuman! Don't believe the voice which tells you that this can't be true.
Coming next year: From the wall of the cave to "the set of all sets!" It all started with Socrates, and other high comical tales