From the annals of plush toilet paper: A week ago Monday, David Carr profiled Anderson Cooper in the New York Times.
In our view, Carr fawned to Cooper too much, though that's required by Hard Pundit Law. But at various junctures, Carr conveyed the depth of this cable anchor’s intellectual degradation:
CARR (11/7/11): In addition to his journalistic interest in global calamity, Mr. Cooper is a professed fanboy of the conjured drama and celebrity of shows like ''Real Housewives.'' Rather than try to blend those high/low interests on his evening news program, Mr. Cooper decided he would host a daytime talk show.Here at THE HOWLER, we don’t give a flying falafel about what makes Cooper “personally happiest.” That said, he was never any good on his evening news show—and now he wastes many hours each day exploring “the merits of plush toilet paper.”
"I am having fun doing this, learning about how to do it right," he said. "I want to have real conversations with people and tell their stories. I am personally happiest when I do multiple things, and I think people understand that we all have multiple interests."
Maybe so, but after watching a recent episode of "Anderson" in which Mr. Cooper discussed the merits of plush toilet paper versus bargain brands, and engaged in a race to see which roll runs out first, I wondered if I would watch his next dispatch from a hurricane with new eyes. And that assumes he will have the time to put on the parachute and go. With an hour as a prime-time news anchor and an hour spent during the day, oh, say in a "Toddlers and Tiaras" debate with a woman who dressed her 3-year-old daughter as the hooker from "Pretty Woman," who has time to get to the next earthquake?
In our view, anyone who would do such a thing even once shouldn’t be allowed to anchor an evening news program. But Cooper still hosts that evening “news” show—though he’s even less prepared to conduct his discussions, thanks to the hours he wastes each day on his low-IQ, soul-crushing topics.
This makes this stupid man “personally happiest.” It also leads to disgraceful discussions like the pair he hosted last night.
Let’s skip past Cooper’s first discussion, in which Sunny Hostin again displayed the predictable, un-American fury of the cable TV “former prosecutor.” (To read the transcript, click here. Hostin got mad when Mark Geragos mentioned other famous cases where the cable lynch mobs got things wrong.) Let’s move ahead to his second discussion, in which two pundits saddled up and rode with the mob, displaying the remarkable lack of intelligence which typifies pundit culture.
In this second segment, Cooper invited Christine Brennan and Buzz Bissinger to star in the role of the lynch mob. They would soon be dragging their knuckles and braying out various thoughts that had popped into their heads. But first, the expert on plush toilet paper reviewed some new facts in the case.
Uh-oh! Someone had tried to defend himself! On cable TV, that’s just wrong:
COOPER: So far tonight, you've heard Jerry Sandusky describe what happened in a shower with a 10-year-old as “horseplay.” His lawyer says it's what jocks do. And you saw Mike McQueary, who witnessed it, try to retroactively redefine "Call my father" as “I stepped in and stopped it when talking about what he did.”Did Mike McQueary "step in and stop it" and “go to police?” Like Cooper, we have no idea. Of course, total ignorance rarely stops Cooper! He quickly suggested that McQueary is lying, making his snarky remark about the way McQueary is “try[ing] to retroactively redefine” what he said.
Well, tonight, breaking news! The Associated Press is now reporting that he's also claiming—McQueary is also claiming by e-mail that he actually went to police.
If this new report by the AP is correct, then McQueary has claimed in an e-mail that he actually went to police, that would be a significant change in, up until now, what was in the grand jury report and what many people were led to believe. There was no indication up until this e-mail from McQueary that the AP is reporting that McQueary had gone to the police.
Just for the record, McQueary isn’t quoted saying he “went to police” in that AP report. He is quoted saying this: “I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police.” There is no claim about who went to whom. As usual, Cooper was overstating the facts. It’s the one thing these life-forms do well.
Did McQueary “make sure it stopped?” Did he “have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police?” He has now made these claims in a pair of e-mails. Like Cooper and his various guests, we have no way of knowing what’s true.
But uh-oh! A target of the cable mob has tried to defend himself! Cooper’s pundits were soon expressing their fury, even as their fatuous host kept misstating facts. The plush paper expert faced Brennan first. We’re sorry, but this is just wrong:
COOPER: Christine, there's a report from CBS News citing the Associated Press, quote, "In the e-mail dated November 8 from McQueary's Penn State account and made available to the Associated Press by his friend on Tuesday, the assistant coach writes that he stopped the sexual assault and discussed it with police afterward."Sorry. For those of us who know how to read, the grand jury report doesn’t say that McQueary “didn't go to police.” Nor does McQueary’s e-mail say that he did. Cooper might have known these things if he spent a full day at this job—although we'll admit it's likely. But as Brennan responded, she lived up to Cooper’s low pundit standards:
That is clearly a big disconnect from what we've heard before which is in the grand jury report that McQueary didn't go to police. What did you make of this?
BRENNAN (continuing directly): Clearly McQueary has been, you know, hit with a load of bricks here. I'm sure he's as shocked as anybody at how this exploded, I'm sure everyone at Penn State because of that cocoon they were living in, the thing that we've been describing, Anderson, in the story.Serving a lovely word salad, Brennan began to imagine how the past ten days has felt to McQueary. She also imagined two possibilities concerning his e-mails, neither one flattering. According to Brennan, McQueary may have “changed his story.” Or he may have “remembered new things.”
I'm not siding with him at all. But I think that this is a classic example of this sequestered new reality world of college football. All of a sudden being bombarded by real life, thankfully in this case. And now McQueary, whether he's changing his story, whether he remembered new things, but I'm sure that this is his reaction to the unbelievable firestorm that accurately has occurred here over the last 10 days or so.
Christine Brennan has always been stupid. But cable dumbness turns ugly and dangerous when peoples’ lives are so plainly at stake. In fact, Brennan has no earthly idea what McQueary told the grand jury about these matters. She has no idea if he has “changed his story” in any way or “remembered new things” at all.
She does seem to know that the previous work on cable TV has been “accurate.” But then, these drooling sub-humans always say that. They never say that they themselves may have been wrong.
Can we talk? Brennan is making a judgment here: If she didn’t see X in the grand jury report, then X must not have been said. That judgment isn't real bright, if we understand the purpose of such a report. The grand jury isn’t writing a novel—a novel these pundits can stroke themselves to. The grand jury is explaining the reasoning behind its indictments. Such reports tend to leave out shit that isn’t relevant to those legal judgments.
(In its report, the grand jury says this: “The graduate assistant was never contacted by University Police and no other entity conducted an investigation until he testified to the grand jury in December 2010.” Presumably, the grand jury cites the first fact because it was the responsibility of the two men they indicted to make sure that the University Police acted. “No other entity conducted an investigation?” That doesn’t contradict McQueary’s e-mails, which make rather imprecise claims. Are the e-mails true? We don’t know.)
What did McQueary tell the grand jury about the topics now at question? Cooper and his cable droogs don’t have the slightest idea. But Bissinger does know the rules of his tribe. As the conversation turned to him, he managed to top Brennan’s dumbness:
COOPER (continuing directly): There's also this e-mail which obtained by NBC in which McQueary is telling former teammates that contrary to the grand jury report he did intervene, stop Sandusky's alleged rape of a young boy in a locker room shower. What do you make of the, of the inconsistency?Do we have inconsistencies now? Bissinger has no idea. Beyond that, he seemed to assume that the authorities would have wanted to McQueary to “shut up about this.” Is it possible that McQueary asked their permission to float these additional facts in the face of the frenzy being generated by cable goons like Bissinger? Bissinger has no idea. But in the mind of this fiery pundit, a person who is getting death threats isn’t supposed to tell the truth because it creates “inconsistencies”—that is, because it contradicts the pleasing tale the pundit corps wants to tell.
BISSINGER: It's bad. I think it's bad. I mean I am ceaselessly amazed at the stupidity that comes out of Happy Valley and State College, whether it's the judge, whether it's Sandusky, whether it's his lawyer and now McQueary. Because now there's inconsistencies.
And the one thing that made this case different from other sexual abuse minor cases was you had an adult eyewitness. And now he has managed to put himself in an inconsistent situation. We all know what defense attorneys do. They grab a herring and they go with it and they go with it.
And I don't know why the attorney general or someone said, “Mike, it's hard for you. Don't e-mail. Shut up about this.”
Of course, facts mean nothing within this tribe. Within this tribe, Story is all—and most of the story is simply invented. As they continued discussing McQueary, the goons showed their skill at imagining things that must have been going on in his mind. Here you see the terminal dumbness of this pre-rational tribe:
COOPER: Christine, you were talking about this sort of closed atmosphere of college sports. Explain that a little bit to somebody who hasn't been in a big school like Penn State or with a big program like this. I mean, how powerful are they on a campus?Brennan is “sure” about McQueary’s thoughts. These two know all about what McQueary was thinking—also, everyone else!
BRENNAN: Oh, I think more powerful than the police, probably than the governor. Often we're talking about small towns, Anderson, with these football programs that loom so large not only in the area but also in the nation. And the coaches, the fiefdom, the hierarchy here is unlike anything else.
You talk football, we talk about religion, talk about war and the military, and I think there's a lot of similarities there in terms of the structure. And the head coach is king. And especially someone like Joe Paterno, who's just this untouchable god to, like, a grad assistant like McQueary and all of these people...I'm sure that McQueary thought in the original, the grand jury version of McQueary's statements, going to Joe Paterno on a day off, going to his house—I'm sure McQueary thought that was way above and beyond what someone would do, because in this case McQueary is probably thinking Paterno is more important than the police.
BISSINGER: McQueary was scared to death. Christine makes a great point. In his going to Joe Paterno's house, that is like visiting God. I'm convinced that Paterno knew in 1998 and everyone clammed it up because it's football and they closed ranks. That's what they do. Not just the Penn State, every major college program.
This is the way a novel gets written. This is not cable “news.”
By the way: This is exactly the way Nancy Grace knew that Richard Ricci had plainly kidnapped Elizabeth Smart. It turned out Grace was totally wrong. But by that time, Ricci was dead.
Yes, this culture kills people. But so what? When the next cable chase comes around, these low-IQ hooligans always think they know what all the players must have been thinking. They don’t know how to read or reason well, but they're quite good at imagining. They knew all about the Duke lacrosse case; before that, they knew about the McMartin preschool case and the other bungled child sex abuse cases of the 1980s and 1990s. They knew that Kathleen Willey was credible. When the special prosecutor called her a liar, they knew they mustn’t tell.
Do you recall when this gang of goons was sure that Gary Condit had killed Chandra Levy? Remember all the disgraceful shit they dreamed up in that case?
Our pundits are exceptionally dumb and dishonest—and they’re usually happy to show it. For one especially stupid remark, just check Bissinger, discussing Sandusky this time:
BISSINGER: This idea that towel snapping is normal for a guy in his 50s to be towel snapping with a 10-year-old? I mean, Sandusky, get a life!Bissinger is sick and tired of defense attorneys defending their clients! And by the way, it’s hard pundit law: Anyone as dumb as this has won a Pulitzer Prize.
What he is trying to do—he is trying to woo and coo us and convince us just like he did woo and coo these victims. And I am convinced. I have read a lot of grand jury reports in my life. I won a Pulitzer Prize for investigating the Philadelphia court system. I have never seen a grand jury report like this. And I am sick and tired of defense attorneys saying, “It's allegations.”
Can we talk? No one knows what McQueary actually told the grand jury. Nor does anyone know what he did that night in any detail, or whether he ever spoke to police in some manner or form. But the lynch mobs were having a grand old time getting rocks thrown through his windows and getting death threats called in on his phone. As always, they got angry when he dared to say they had some basic facts wrong.
These are very bad people. Their lofty leader now spends his days examining plush toilet rolls.