MONDAY, MAY 1, 2023

He was screaming and yelling, Joe said: It was Friday morning, April 28—the start of the end of the week.

Morning Joe went on the air at 6 A.M. sharp. As of 6:02, the eponymous host of the "cable news" program was emphatically saying this:

SCARBOROUGH (4/28/23): So, so again, I'm just a simple country lawyer, but I would think that an attorney, in New York City, would not be screaming at a woman who is saying his client raped her.

And, and time and time again, as E. Jean Carroll was telling the jury this, this just horrific story about how she was raped, Joe Tacopina was, was berating her, yelling at her. The judge repeatedly had to call him off. 

"It's not good," Scarborough said. So the morning began. 

(To watch the pseudo-discussion which followed, you can just click here. To peruse the discussion on a minute-by-minute basis, click here for the Internet Archive. For reasons which may be perfectly obvious, this channel presents no transcripts.)

So the morning began. As the poet once observed, "it was a normal day." 

As the broadcast started, Morning Joe's two co-hosts were present. They were joined by two sidekicks and by four additional guests. 

It was a morning like any morning! The seven who made it a Gang of 8 politely sat around as the male co-host delivered his harangues. They politely awaited their chance to say they agreed with his statements.

After a brief and very unusual start, Scarborough painted that portrait of events the previous day at the Donald J. Trump rape / defamation trial. At that point, Willie "The Echo" Geist jumped in, agreeing with what Joe said.

"By most accounts, it was pretty ugly in that courtroom yesterday," the dependable sidekick eventually said. Displaying one of his many skills, Geist had supported the general picture without repeating Scarborough's apparently inaccurate statements.

According to Geist, it had been "pretty ugly in that courtroom" the previous day! None of the participants ever mentioned an obvious fact:

None of the Gang of 8 had been present in the courtroom the previous day. No cameras had been there either.

That said, this was a typical "cable news" TV show. At 6:04, Scarborough turned to an NBC News legal analyst and returned to his basic portrait:

SCARBOROUGH: Danny, you're neither a country lawyer nor are you mediocre like me. So perhaps you can just verify for our friends at home, it's not good to yell at somebody who could have been a rape victim on the stand.

Scarborough was speaking to Danny Cevallos, one of the least political—and most capable—legal analysts available on this "cable news" channel. 

Cevallos is a defense attorney himself. He explained how difficult it is for a defense attorney to cross examine a woman who is alleging that she has been raped by the lawyer's client. 

That said, Cevallos didn't repeat the claim that Tacopina had been screaming and yelling at Carroll, or that he'd been "berating her. That said, so what? 

After Cevallos was done, Scarborough went there again:

SCARBOROUGH: Right now, think about it. We talk about all these other cases that are going on right now. This may be a civil case, but this is a case involving Donald Trump raping somebody. Raping somebody.

We talk about payoffs to porn stars? This is a case where he has been accused by E. Jean Carroll of rape. He's not even showing up. His lawyer is screaming at the possible rape victim, and it's not going well.

"It's not going well," Geist instantly echoed. 

(In this case, Scarborough's statement had been vague enough so that Geist was able to repeat it word for word.)

Before he was done with the eight-minute discussion, Scarborough would draw Al Sharpton into the scrum. Like Scarborough and Geist, Sharpton hadn't been present in the courtroom the previous day—but he too agreed to play along with what the host had repeatedly said.

In fact, the host had now said it three separate times! During Thursday's cross examination, Joe Tacopina had been screaming and yelling at E. Jean Carroll. "Time and time again," he had yelled at her and berated her!

It was a dumb thing to do, Joe Scarborough said. Sharpton and Geist backed him up.

In real time, we were a bit surprised by what we saw Scarborough say. Our reason?

We had already read this front-page report in the New York Times about the previous day's courtroom events. 

There was no mention of any screaming or yelling in the Times report.  Even worse, "Ms. Carroll’s interactions with Mr. Tacopina were curt but civil," the Times report had said.

We'd also seen Lisa Rubin on Thursday's Deadline: White House. Rubin, an MSNBC legal analyst, had been present in the courtroom that day. On Thursday evening, her report to Chris Hayes on All In had started like this:

HAYES (4/27/23): How does the cross examination start off?

RUBIN: The cross examination started off this morning, Chris. It was such a long day that I'm almost at a loss to remember exactly how he started off with her. But what I will say is that he was a lot gentler than I thought he would be.

Rubin's account continued from there. That said, she had actually been in the courtroom—and, as with other such observers, she made no mention of the screaming and yelling with which Scarborough opened his show.

In real time on Friday morning, we were surprised, but not surprised, by what Scarborough said. As it turned out, the multimillionaire corporate star was apparently making it up.

He was feeding us blue tribe viewers the kind of novelized story we love to hear. He fed us a very familiar picture, drawn from preferred Storyline.

Scarborough's presentation this day was one of the type of "promiscuities" we plan to discuss this week. As a minor point of fairness, let us say this about that:

Except for Tacopina's possible need for additional security, nothing will turn on the unsupported, pleasing claims with which Scarborough opened Friday's broadcast. 

(This morning, as Scarborough discussed those same events, his claims about the screaming and yelling were gone. "Maybe he's been threatened with a defamation suit of his own," one ardent young analyst cried.)

Was Joe Tacopina screaming and yelling at E. Jean Carroll last Thursday? Among the promiscuities routinely served on cable news, it's pretty much as you like it. Feel free to embellish to taste!

Under current arrangements, cable hosts will be supported by sidekicks and guests no matter what they've said. If there were such a thing as terrible people, these corporate stooges would belong to that race—but our tribe continues to flock to their shows to be served with the bullroar we like.

Tucker Carlson is finally gone from this vastly dumbnified subculture. Round the decay of that colossal Wreck, Joe and Mika remain. 

Willie "The Echo" continues to serve, as he did last Friday. Tomorrow, we'll show you the brand of (apparently) dishonest script Nicolle Wallace served our grateful tribe ten hours later that day.

Tomorrow: Rubin and Jacobs were at the trial. This is what they said.

That very unusual start: We said that Scarborough's presentation followed "a very unusual start" to last Friday's program.

We refer to the way he began the show by flashing an exciting photo of a 20-year-old college student in a rather skimpy bikini, to everyone's amusement (except for Mika). You can see him trigger some "locker room talk" through the Internet Archive site.

For ourselves, we'll only say this: Here, as everywhere else in the past thirty years, the feminism comes and it goes.


  1. Somerby says Geist said: ""By most accounts, it was pretty ugly in that courtroom yesterday,"

    Then Somerby points out that Geist wasn't in the courtroom, so how could he know that? But the answer is right there in Geist's statement: "By most accounts..." Geist heard it from someone.

    Then Somerby turns to Lisa Rubin (on Nicolle Wallace's show), who he says was in the courtroom. She made an offhand remark that Tacopino was gentler than expected. Of course, the gentleness then depends on what she expected. But Somerby uses her remark to discredit Scarborough, claiming that she was in the courtroom and heard him.

    But Somerby himself wasn't there and he did hear the cross-examination himself, so how does he know which account was correct? He doesn't. He has chosen Rubin's version because it is closer to his preferred narrative, that's all.

    Somerby is right that Morning Joe's account doesn't matter. What matters is the jury's reaction. But there is more criticism of Tacopina out there than just that he yelled. Some legal experts have asked why Trump didn't have a female lawyer, as is common in such cases. It is harder to perceive a woman as berating the plaintiff. And there is the admonishment by the judge -- that too is evidence that Tacopina may have gotten out of line with Carroll during the cross-examination. And notice that Somerby ignores the people who have agreed with Geist and Scarborough, in their various reports of what happened. They get disappeared because they don't say what Somerby wants to hear.

    1. Kaplan is the judge's name. Here is what Robert Katzberg at Slate said:

      "So, it came as no surprise that Kaplan periodically intervened in the cross-examination, calling Tacopina’s questions repetitive and argumentative. Judge Kaplan’s frustration seemed to increase as the day wore on. “We’ve been up and down the mountain. Move on.” New York Times reporters in the courtroom noticed that just before the midday break, the “typically attentive jury seemed to be losing steam.” Late in the afternoon, when Tacopina asked Carroll to provide details about the dress she wore the day of the alleged assault, Kaplan immediately interjected and excused the jury for the day. Not exactly the impression Team Trump wanted the jury to be left with on the way home."

    2. Here is what ABC News says this morning:

      "Before cross examination of E. Jean Carroll resumes on Monday, Donald Trump's lawyers requested a mistrial in a letter filed at dawn.

      Defense attorney Joe Tacopina said Judge Lewis Kaplan has mischaracterized elements of the case and improperly shut down certain lines of questioning during cross examination."

      CNN and the AP said the same things.

      And then there is this on MSNBC, which Somerby ignores:

      "Donald Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina’s treatment of E. Jean Carroll on the witness stand on Thursday during Trump’s civil rape trial is slammed by legal expert Katie Phang. Reporter and producer for NBC and MSNBC Adam Reiss also joins Joy Reid with his report after being in the courtroom. "'He raped me whether I screamed or not,' she said,” Reiss reports of Carroll’s testimony. “She said that loudly. She was sobbing. It was a very emotional moment."

      This was after Tacopina accused her of having made things up because she didn't scream during the rape. Adam Reiss was there, so Somerby's claim that reporters are making things up about the cross-examination because they were not present, is not plausible. Morning Joe wasn't there, but it isn't his job to attend and he is not a reporter. He is discussing and analyzing the reports by the people who were there. Somerby always glosses such distinctions.

      And why shouldn't a host of a talk show have sidekicks? Even nightly news anchors on TV news shows have sidekicks, partners, co-anchors. And of course they are saying what is scripted, not making up their show content on the spot. These are specious non-criticisms that Somerby uses to paint his targets as fake, incompetent, biased. But this is fatuous (to use Somerby's word) because he cannot find real criticism so he invents this trivial nonsense. Notice Somerby's feeble attempt to make Joe seem sexist, as if that would discredit everything said about Tacopina's heavy-handed cross-examination.

      Too bad Somerby doesn't actually care what happened to E. Jean Carroll. His main intent is to undermine her credibility by shoring up Trump's case against her.

  2. The second amendment is evil.

  3. "You can see him trigger some "locker room talk" through the Internet Archive site."

    Somerby's link goes to the show's transcript, with pictures, but it doesn't show any 20 year old in a bathing suit, not even in the commercials (which were included in the transcript).

    1. The best I can tell, at about 3:02 am, Scarborough halfway holds up the Friday cover of the New York Post, which features Olivia Dunne in a skimpy outfit (I found this out by googling it. I couldn’t discern that from the Morning Joe video.) Viewers aren’t really able to see the cover, because he withdraws it after about a second. Meanwhile, Scarborough is complaining about what he mockingly calls the “paper of record” saying: “what is this? Sports illustrated time? Forgive them for what they do.”

      How was Somerby able to focus in on this one-second event and read volumes into it?

    2. Somerby wants you to think he is unaware of how the internet is mostly used, free porn.

      Brother please, nobody gets excited over a college kid in a bikini other than those that wish to weaponize such things due to their own trauma of unresolved childhood abuse.

      Somerby, get some help, you creep.

  4. "For ourselves, we'll only say this: Here, as everywhere else in the past thirty years, the feminism comes and it goes."

    And having read this blog almost since it started, Somerby has not ever been a feminist, nor has he ever supported feminism. He has attacked feminists on several occasions, accusing them of being insufficiently feminist, hypocritical.

    Beyond that, supporting a woman who has been raped as she seeks justice is not "feminism" but is supporting justice. A justice system where a woman cannot get a fair hearing after being raped, is not just, and feminism has nothing to do with that. Trump has routinely used the courts to bully the people he has wronged, male or female. The judges are wise to him and have been trying to limit his ability to do that. That is at the heart of Trump's request for a mistrial. Tacopina behaved like a bully but Somerby cannot see that. He instead hints that this is part of a liberal campaign against Trump and on behalf of Carroll, that the press is repeating an anti-Trump narrative because it is pleasing. Somerby himself starts with disbelief of Carroll, because his own attitudes toward women lead him to see Carroll as a grifter (like Stormy and any number of other women discussed here over the years).

    Morning Joe may be an inconsistent feminist but I would take him over Somerby's constant disparagement of women any day.

  5. We all knew Somerby would get around to defending Trump and trashing Carroll eventually.

  6. It seems Somerby may have misinterpreted Joe's parody of Phil Hartman's SNL caveman lawyer routine.

  7. "Scarborough's presentation this day was one of the type of 'promiscuities' we plan to discuss this week."

    Thanks for the warning.

  8. It may be that Tacopina's unnecessary harshness with Carroll may have been designed to evoke the judge's interventions, with the intent of requesting a mistrial due to the judge's bias.

    By claiming that Tacopina was not belligerant, Somerby may be undermining Trump's strategy -- but I'm sure no one filled Somerby in on their plan (if Tacopina's questioning was indeed clever and not just stupid or playing to the MAGA crowd).

    In previous situations we've seen that Trump selects people to represent him based on toughness. Tacopina also may be coming across heavy-handed because he is playing to Trump's demands and Trump thinks being a thug is the way to win in court.

    Having not seen the cross-examination himself, Somerby's knee-jerk reaction is to assume that reports are exaggerating Tacopina's behavior. That reveals Somerby's bias.

    1. Or maybe that is just today's right-wing talking point, to support Trump in his request for a mistrial.

    2. I find re-purposing Right-wing talking points to be a barrel of fun.
      Nothing better than reminding Right-wingers complaining about "illegal immigrants" that "All Lives Matter".

  9. Joe does go on, and this is hardly an extreme example of it. When he started screaming, berating Bill Clinton for refusing to cooperate with the upstanding Ken Starr (2018) Bob had nothing to say about it. Fans of the show obviously like it when he’s in full blather.
    Most commentators seemed to agree that A) Trump’s lawyer would have to go after Carroll and that B) it was dangerous as a legal way to go. We won’t know til the verdict comes in.
    Trump made a weird, desperate comment about why don’t they force Carroll to bring in the dress. It was obvious grandstanding to the Clinton hating peanut gallery, though it is TRUMP who had refused DNA testing.
    But it does remind one that it all the rewriting of what went down with Clinton, and the absurd press veneration of the ridiculous Juanita Broaddrick Bob has never raised an objection. But he SURE is concerned that Morning Joe gets it right.

  10. I have agreed with possibly zero of Tucker Carlson's positions over the years but can vouch for him as a solid and genuinely good person with not an inkling of a disordered personality. And it wasn't what I expected. This blog does the same kind of demonization it accuses others of and in his case could not be further from the truth.

    1. Tucker is a good, decent person.

    2. Well then you would have to stick to his race bating and ludicrously dishonest commentary. Can I judge your own integrity by the extent you abide Carlson’s support of Trump’s election lies and editing of the Jan 6 footage? I’m afraid that does not bode well for the content of YOUR character.

    3. The question is whether it is "disordered" to seek wealth to the point where you would sacrifice all other values.

  11. Republicans should support statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

  12. Defund the Supreme Court.

  13. Here comes Bob Somerby!

    With his “kinder, gentler” version of The Turner Diaries.

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