Former Rhodes Scholar gets crushed by James Inhofe!

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2012

Is Maddow the world’s greatest hoax: Senator Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) has published a new science book.

“The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” That’s the name of the book.

Last night, Inhofe appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show. He was interviewed for two complete segments, totaling 21 minutes.

Next week, we’ll discuss this program in more detail. But you owe it to yourself to watch last evening’s debacle.

In the first segment, Maddow was crushed, then left for dead, concerning the science of climate change. A high school senior might have been better prepared. Putting her haplessness to good use, Inhofe steamrolled the world’s most smartest liberal.

(Early on, Rachel said this: “Wait. Hold on. I don’t have an opinion on it.” That wasn’t exactly what she meant, but things went straight downhill from there. You owe it to yourself to watch. To do so, just click here.)

The second segment may have been worse. Rachel completely switched the subject, building a long complaint around the claim that her own work is misrepresented at one point in Inhofe’s book. (The self-importance was simply astounding.) In the process, Maddow quit on the topic of climate change, switching to the topic of the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill.

This might have produced a worthwhile exchange. But Maddow was poorly prepared for this topic too. This snark-driven cable clown simply can’t do it. To watch this segment, click here.

Have we ever seen a more hapless performance? Our thoughts drift back to the pitiful work of Ted Koppel and Lawrence O’Donnell in the fall of 2004 when they failed to prepare themselves for interviews with Swift Boat captain John O’Neill.

Koppel and O’Donnell were truly awful. But Maddow was utterly hapless last night. The interview should be sung to the tune of “Helplessly Hoping.” You really should click and watch.

(To watch the six-minute segment which set the stage for this painful performance, go ahead: Just click here.)

Inhofe is one of the world’s biggest kooks. Last night, he ate Our Own Rhodes Scholar for lunch. This was corporate cable “news” at its least varnished. Was the Times' Brian Stelter watching at home? If so, was he “intellectually stimulated?”

More on this miserable effort next week. But you should click and watch the way Maddow was crushed, then left for dead, by our top climate denier.

Keep a few words in your mind as you watch: Incompetent. Sad. Unprepared.

Snark-driven. Worthless. Can't do it.


  1. Crushed??? You wasted a half hour of my time with outright nonsense!In no way did Inhofe crush or even make a good or new point,he sounded mentally impaired or drunk!As usual he was garbling nothing but Koch Brothers and Murdoch News Corps bought propaganda and the main fact that the Deniers big email ploy was total bullshit!!! !The only people looking stupid in this little debate were Senator Denier Liar and yourself!I am not a big Maddow fan but your problem with her must have some other genesis because you just look idiotic with these types of attacks!**Cold or Hot I don't give a damn,JUST STOP DESTROYING THE PLANET!**

    1. Oh, I wholeheartedly agree! Maddow had obviously read the book and was quite well prepared. Her takedown of Inhofe just on the issue of "Climategate" was thorough and quite remarkable.

      Sometimes you get the feeling that Bob already had his mind made up before he watched the segments.

      And this has been an extremely sad thing to watch on a blog that once was rare beacon of light.

  2. Rachel Maddow isn't hapless and unprepared. That wasn't her problem. The reason she didn't dominate the discussion with Inhofe is that she is too courteous to her wingnut guests. She doesn't slam them with interruptions and talk over them. Inhofe is a seasoned ideologue and he had the best of the conversation because he insisted on making his points.

    1. I didn't read it as being overly courteous. Sometimes when your "debate opponent" (if we can call it that) starts digging himself into a hole, the best thing to do is shut up and let him dig.

      The more Inhofe talked, the more it became apparent that he had no idea what he was talking about. It left me wondering at the end who wrote his book for him and if he himself had even read it.

  3. Yes, she was crushed. If you want to discuss climate with someone like Inhofe, you must know your FACTS and stick to them. This is very difficult for those with very big egos, as they see it all as an attack on them, instead of a denial of the facts. The fact is that over 95% of the peer reviewed articles BY CLIMATE SCIENTISTS in the last 10 years say that global warming is real and caused by human activity. Inhofe said over half of the stories about climate by scientists say it is a hoax. (Note the difference) So what should have been said was You send me your peer reviewed articles by climate scientists, and I will send you mine, then we will meet and compare.

    1. Dude, how many times did Maddow have to say exactly that before you will acknowledge she said it? Because she said the "consensus of scientists" thing several times in several ways.

      But I guess, like the climate change deniers, if you only want to hear what you want to hear, then you won't hear what you don't want to hear.

    2. Good gried! About the fourth or fifth time Maddow brought up the broad consensus of climate scientists, Inhofe accused her of repeating a lie so often that "her audience" believes it:

      "You say something over and over again and your audience, particularly your liberal audience, they want to believe it."

      Then we got this rather delightful and crushing take down when Maddow challenged Inhofe to support his statement that those who warn about global warming are outspending those who deny it by 2 to 1 in the media:

      Inhofe: "You got your Move On's, Michael Moores, George Soros and Hollywood..."

      Maddow: "I'll put Exxon against Michael Moore's spending any day."

  4. She should watch Jon Stewart talk to Grover Norquist & take copious notes Yes, Inhofe ate her lunch & it was painful to watch

    1. Great point! Jon Stewart Grover Norquist interview incredible!

    2. Think again. Stewart successfully kidded Norquist on his hypocrisy and inconsistency, but this was no take down. There was plenty that could have been said (Grover's got quite a dossier), but wasn't, because it wouldn't have been nice, and other right-wing celebs would think twice about going on the John Stewart show.

      This is a show for the "haves", who are content with entertainment value, rather than substance. The American tragedy, as it were, merchandised for limousine liberals.

    3. This is a fake news show on a comedy channel & he showed how to talk to the "other side" in an adult manner The notion of a "takedown" is chidish FYI when he says something critical of the "haves" the limousine liberals scream false equivalence

    4. @anon 2:28 a.m.

      I don't understand you're second sentence, but in any event, if this is how we're supposed to "other side", what exactly do you expect to gain from the discussion, other than a few laughs?

    5. Perhaps you didn't see the interview-in addition to a few laughs he managed to ask serious & reasonable questions about why the rhetoric had to be so over the top-that may be good for ratings but bad for real discussion--no gotcha questions-does Rachel operate that way? JS tried to explain to her that their jobs were different I don't think he got through to her

  5. You're pissing into the wind. Until after the election, almost nobody wants to hear anything except paeans to Obama's chess playing greatness, fear mongering about how much worse the Republicans are than the Democrats, and some of the same empty-headed anger baiting that the right wing base gets 365/7/24. For the next several months, we will be them. Then we'll recover into the same feckless gang of rudderless, but ever-sneering, losers we usually are. Over the years, I have come to understand why so many people dislike liberals, while agreeing with them on the actual positions. Many liberals just aren't pleasant people, and they give themselves far too much credit for being smart. Maddow is the archetypical liberal.

    1. What a joke!Rightwingers are the nastiest beings on the planet,they revel in hate,bigotry and outright baseless lies,just watch Faux"news", it's their manta!Your protest against liberals is nothing but jealousy and guilt,when have the Repubs done a damn thing for working Americans or for that matter been right about anything in the past fifty years?

  6. If she actually read the *whole* book (her emphasis), she didn't present any lucid counter arguments. Her big point seemed to be that the Senator got big money from the energy companies and that compromised his positions. Why even read his book, then (if she did)?

    She stumbled over that "97%" factoid, came up with no names, nothing to dispute his contention that the United Nations found problems with important studies, tried to impress with her knowledge of British media (which was faulty - Sky News is a big player in TV news there), laughed at him for no apparent reason, and let him buffalo her with flattery. Inhofe got to show his book cover right behind him the whole time, and said many serious-sounding pieces of infomation that sounded like they came from the book he was flogging. She just looked and sounded like she couldn't believe he had the audacity to say anything that contradicted global warming (again, did she really read his book?).

    She did take issue with his point that it was big news not so long ago that many scientists thought that there was a coming ice age. She said, correctly, that it did not prove that global warming wasn't true. But it doesn't prove that global warming is actually happening, either. Many people will easily agree that the media often pumps things out of proportion, so she presented one of his talking points for him. She said absolutely nothing that would help one present a case for global warming, even to a willing listener.

  7. I'm an AGW skeptic. I wasn't impressed by either speaker. Neither of them articulated or supported their points effectively. I thought it was a draw. I would like to see Somerby explain in more detail why I am wrong.

  8. People who are interested in global warming/climate change should visit the website below for reliable information:

    1. that's nice 'n all - I'm sure that those of us who haven't made up our minds will check it out. But I really want to read Bob's views on the science; he is really adamant that Maddow was "destroyed" by Inhoff. I think "destroyed" is an exaggeration here - kinda like Maddow's comment about Romney's 3% loss in the Mississippi primary. So, his explanation about how Maddow was "utterly hapless" will be interesting.

    2. I watched the video, Inhofe clearly came out on top. Maddow was very hapless and unprepared. The "Kill the Gays Bill" thing comes off as desperation. The sad thing is, it didn't have to be that way, with a little knowledge and debating smarts Maddow could have done better, but I think I know why it turned out the way it did. One of the things that I think Bob misses, is that conflict like this sells. I can remember listening to a radio host on ESPN radio say once that conflict was the most important thing you could do on a talk show on the radio, or on cable news. Conflict is what drives listeners to tune in, not well argued or meaningful discussions. People want to hear people disagree violently, they want to identify with those who support their side of the issue, regardless if what they are saying makes any sense. I would presume Maddow's higher-ups at MSNBC know this, and so that's what she's told to give us, or she knows this herself and that's what she provides. Each side gets to have it's red meat and walk away feeling superior for having rooted for "their" side. It's all very sad and predictable.

  9. What an unilluminating debate. There are many points of contention in the climate debate. E.g.,

    -- Has the earth been warming?
    -- Did the warming stop during the last 15 years?
    -- To what degree is man's activity responsible for the earth's warming?
    -- Did the climate models from the late 1990's fail to predict the current climate?
    -- How confident should we be in the various models?
    -- Are we near a tipping point that requires radical action? If so, will Cap and Trade provide sufficient CO2 reduction to save us?

    After watching the segment, I'm none the wiser regarding any of these points.

    P.S. The term "climate denier" is modeled on "Holocaust denier" -- an label implying anti-semitism. Bob should avoid this offensive language.

    1. p.s. False Equivalency!

    2. Gee, Dave. I thought it was modeled on Bob Dernier, former centerfielder for the Chicago Cubs.

    3. Actually, it's a label implying an obstinate refusal to face facts, and instead, cling to opinions shaped by ideology, and only believe things that conform to that ideology. I can see why you resent it so.

    4. Exactly what is the proof here that climate denier is based on Holocaust denier?

  10. I don't watch the Maddow show so I don't know much more about her then what I read in your posts. This was a pitiful performance. It wasn't an interview. Imhoff simply repeated the global warming denier's cant while Maddow blubbered trying to get a word in. Another commenter said she is too polite. Maybe so but she's in the wrong business then. A liberal watching this 'interview' can only be disgusted. A conservative can only be justified.

  11. As far back as 1959, I remember reading articles in scientific publications such as Scientific American about the rise of greenhouse gases.
    Only a few people were alarmed then. The term is not much used now because greenhouse implies that heat enters a closed system and can’t escape, which is not true of the real world.
    I have kept reading through the years, and as an automotive technician and Arizona Emissions Fleet Agent, I was required to take classes in the atmospheric effects of R-12 (Freon®), and it’s replacement R-134a, and I had to take classes on CO, and CO2 and NOx emissions from automobiles, and their effects on the atmosphere.
    Because of this training, and additional reading and research, I was able to understand much of the science involved, and I understood why Al Gore and most climatologists were alarmed.
    A few years ago (Feb, 2009), Sen. Inhofe had his grandchildren build an igloo in the National Mall in Washington DC, calling it Al Gore’s New Home.
    The message being that the snowstorm proved that global warming was a hoax.
    Inhofe hasn’t built ant igloos lately.
    Inhofe was using information that was outdated. He was describing “Climategate” a Breitbart-style analysis of e-mails that has since been debunked, and in fact exposed extreme ignorance and dishonesty on the part of the Global Warming deniers.
    Maddow obviously didn’t know the very recent history of the massive disinformation campaign engaged by the right.
    Maddow doesn’t know the difference between consensual validation and scientific consensus, yet her PhD and Rhodes Scholarship are trotted out frequently for our delectation.
    On her radio show, she featured a segment, “Ask the Doctor”, where she consistently misinformed her readers. I am reminded of the Steve Martin line from the Grandmother’s Song, “Criticize things you don’t know about.”
    There was almost no science in the discussion. Inhofe even claimed that his side was winning because the Global Warming side was spending more money spreading their message, yet were still not convincing the public.
    It’s same old question I have been asking for 40 years. “Whaddya want? Clean air or cheap gas?” The answer has been consistently the same.
    “Cheap gas now! The scientists can clean the air later."

  12. I would suggest to David in Cal and others that what IS clear after watching this segment and reading this Post is the The Daily Howler's hating on Maddow has simply gone off the rails, and it should be suggested that Somerby himself confront his own feelings about Woman/Lesbians being employed in high profile positions in the media. At least before he goes on again about the "good old days" of Walter and David.
    It's true, Maddow does not get into much substantive debate on climate change or anything else, but that's clearly due to Inhofe's utter refusal to offer a straight answer to anything! He goes on the typical right wing offensive of answering a question with a question based on cherry picked phrases from left wing sources that, as Maddow does manage to point out, are hardly left wing! Rightfully, She points out that Inhofe's take is the one utterly compromised by money, and he has ZERO response! I guess when you're one of the world's biggest kooks it doesn't take much to impress the Howler.
    Only someone with both thumbs pressed full force on the scale against Maddow could look at this as any clock cleaning by the nutball Senator. Somerby can't even stick to the interview for more that a few lines, and has to fade back to another hated performance, not even by Maddow, to round out his post. You can almost write his next week post on this for him: Maddow will be flogged for not getting someone who refused to answer questions to answer questions, and Inhofe's ties to the Ugandan "kill the gays" bill will be presented in the most sympathetic possible light.

    By the end of his career David Brinkley was working as a spokesman for Archer Daniels Midland who's Ads ran DURING the "This Week" broadcast. Perhaps Bob will remember this aspect of the good old days, when a healthy majority of White Males held down the news beat and lesbians were occasionally seen and never heard.

    1. It's her show. If Inhofe isn't answering, she has the ability to point it out and keep pressing him. I think Stewart is something of a softie when it comes to that, but even he tries to force straight answers out of his guests. I don't watch Maddow as a rule and haven't yet seen this segment, but the times I've seen her with a non-cooperative guest, she doesn't press them, doesn't point out their inconsistencies, and doesn't bring up evidence and facts to counter their nonsense. Instead, she postures and preens and tries to look clever. I suspect that's what Somerby is talking about here.

    2. - what Greg said.

    3. Bob must have been screwed over by a short-haired woman at some point, since the very sight of Maddow seems to enrage him.
      Of course, he hasn't appeared on TV lately, so envy may be a factor. Thom Hartmann's show on RT is great, and I would love to see Bob invite himself on.

  13. What's silly is holding a debate about climate change between a journalist/talk show host (however you want to characterize Maddow) -- unless maybe the journalist specializes in this subject (Maddow doesn't -- her degrees are in PoliSci, after all) -- and a politician (even Al Gore, who I am confident is infinitely more informed than Inhofe). How about Rachel conducting a show/show-segment where actual scientists debate, scientists carefully selected for being articulate with non-science audiences and respectful toward those with whom they disagree? Ah, that would require real research, real effort, staff who were expert and experienced enough to demand substantial salaries ("substantial" here = more than an intern fresh out of college). Rachel might have to cut her annual salary to $1 million.

    This too Frontline or Bill Moyers for us? I truly believe that there'd be a cable audience for at least a few hours a week of a Bill Moyers. All those hours of cable TV. Wasted. Because cable execs lack business imagination? (Entirely possible.) Or because they're loading the deck for another game? (Possible, too.) Or both? (Very possible.)

    Meanwhile, catch John Oliver's story about US's withholding of our $60 million contribution to Unesco, on last night's Jon Stewart. More of real value in 5-10 minutes on Comedy Central than in days and days of cable "news."

  14. I haven't watched the segment and I look forward to reading Somerby's analysis next week. I would venture though that if the debate ended similarly to Maddow's deabate with Pat Buchanan over his statement about Sonia Sotomayor OR her debate with that guy who ran in 2010 for an Oregon congressional seat who claimed you could get rid of radioactive materials by dumping them in the ocean, then I would agree that merely interviewing such people is insufficient.. THEY are well schooled in how to crush opponents in a debate and we on the left need to learn how to do the same.

    it's no accident that Falwell's Liberty University has perhaps the best debate team in the country and it is why the right does well on broadcast radio and tv.

  15. Liberals think of themselves as rational, well informed humans.
    Rachel Maddow tells liberals they are rational and well informed humans.
    The Rachel Maddow we see on TV is frequently neither rational nor well informed.
    That's why Bob Somerby disses her show.

  16. I honestly tried to watch that segment but after several minutes I was so appalled and disgusted by the inanity on both sides that I had to shut it down.

    The right's great advantage in this argument is that most of the science is simply beyond the average person, and someone like Maddow is ill-equipped to handle it at best.

    1. This is about right. Like MCH says, this type of thing should be a substantive, moderated debate between folks who know the science. Maddow's type of interview can't provide us with much, regardless of her preparedness or understanding (or lack thereof, per Somerby).

    2. Not only is the science beyond the average person, I'm afraid most of the science is beyond almost all of us. I regularly read the scientific debate on some of the blogs, particularly , These bloggers are very smart scientists. Many of the commenters are also scientists. They conduct high level scientific discussions.

      I have worked with and designed lots of models, including models for hurricanes and earthquakes. I know a fair amount of statistics. Nevertheless, I don't know nearly enough physics and chemistry to judge those aspects. And, much of the statistics is so specialized that I can't judge who's right and who's wrong. When two scientists disagree on some climate-related paper, I think there are very, very few people who have the background to confidently judge which one is correct.

    3. In that case, David in Cal, can we assume you now accept the scientific consensus on global warming, and will no longer refer to the inexpert outliers in the pay of the fossil fuel industry?

    4. That's a great point David in Cal.

      That is why Sen. Inhofe's list of "scientists" who deny climate change is rubbish. Many of those on the list are non-specialists; i.e., people who have not put in the years and decades of hard work needed to truly understand the field.

      Rachel Maddow did NOT call out Sen. Inhofe on this point. She let the claim go unchallenged and missed a perfect opportunity to embarrass Inhofe.

      Can you imagine her asking these questions? "Are TV weathermen qualified to talk about climate science research? I want to know because your list contains several of them." If Inhofe says yes she can reply, "You do? So you don't believe that credentials are necessary to be an expert in the field? In that case, would you let a nurse perform open heart surgery?"

      "You also mentioned Richard Lindzen. Did you know that Richard Lindzen takes money from the oil and coal industries? That's a conflict of interest, don't you think?"

      As a result, people watching were left with the image that there may be thousands of scientists who deny global warming when this is NOT, in fact, the case.

      This is what Bob Somerby means when he says that Maddow got her butt kicked.

    5. And it's so easy after the fact for both you and Bob to sit at your computer after thinking it over and come up with questions Maddow "shoulda, coulda" asked.

      And since both you and Bob could think of these brilliant questions a day later, well obviously you would have done a much, much better job than the hapless Maddow.

    6. Dear Anonymous at 9:20 PM

      Please explain why it's unreasonable to expect Maddow to to think of tough-to-weasel-out-of questions BEFORE an interview with an obvious crackpot?

    7. Although it's often claimed that there's a scientific concensus on GW, that's not the case. There isn't even a concensus among the warmists.

      E.g., how much the globe will warm if CO2 doubles? Skeptics aren't sure. The warmists have models showing anywhere from 2 degrees C to 6 degrees C of warming. That's not a concensus. Suppose physicists disagreed about the relationship between mass and energy, with models ranging from e = mc^2 to e = mc^6. That would hardly be a "concensus" or "settled science."

      Like Anon, I worry that scientists are affected by money. That's one reason I'm a skeptic. The amount of financial support for warmists is about a thousand times as much as for skeptics.

    8. @David in Cal

      We've gone over this before; there's no other conclusion that that you're a paid right-wing shill. These arguments clearly aren't taking place in good faith.

      And paradoxically, you're the best refutation to Bob Somerby understanding of political discourse in this country. It's really quite hopeless; one might as well just seek rhetorical advantage, because we won't get an honest discussion with folks like you.

      It's also hilarious to hear a market fundamentalist like you worry that maybe money corrupts judgment, but that's neither here nor there.

    9. This is Anon Mar 17, 9:13AM.

      "Like Anon, I worry that scientists are affected by money. That's one reason I'm a skeptic. The amount of financial support for warmists is about a thousand times as much as for skeptics."

      Financial support for scientists should only be worrisome if there's a conflict of interest, i.e., if the source of the money has a vested interest in the scientists reaching a predetermined conclusion. Maybe I'm wrong, but I only see conflicts of interests arising with climate scientists taking money from fossil fuel industries.

      "E.g., how much the globe will warm if CO2 doubles? Skeptics aren't sure. The warmists have models showing anywhere from 2 degrees C to 6 degrees C of warming. That's not a concensus."

      Yes, it is.

      It isn't necessary for everyone to agree on the exact degree of warming for there to be a consensus that the planet is warming and that the warming is caused, in the main, by human activity.

      Similarly, it isn't necessary for all anthropologists to agree on the exact timing and mechanism of speciation for there to be a consensus that evolution accounts for the variety of life on the planet.

  17. If you ever wondered what happened to liberalism in the U.S., and at how very successful corporate America has been at denaturing the movement, look no further than this post. Here we have an analysis of the failings of a cable TV broadcast, but no mention, not a word, of its basis in profit.

    Imagine the "Left" not only without Marx, but as if the guy never existed. What we're left with is liberalism as attitude: what we like, what we don't like. No economic analysis, no populism, no consciousness of class. Sort of like Al Gore, when you get down it. Admirable as far as it goes, but it goes nowhere.

    Let's consider what we're talking about:

    1) the Maddow show exists to make money for MSNBC

    2) the show earns money for MSNBC by attracting sponsors

    3) it attracts sponsors by attracting mass audiences

    4) it attracts mass audiences by attracting celebrities

    5) it attracts celebrities by giving softball interviews and allowing them to sell their products (books, movies, tours, political careers, etc.) on TV

    Now, you'd think this would be obvious, to anyone living in America today. But you'd be wrong. We Americans -- and here at The Howler -- have never heard of the profit motive, despite the fact that profit drives the behavior we claim to abhor.

    But no matter. Just keep complaining about Rachel. It's bound to produce results, sooner or later! I mean, it's done great so far, no?

    1. This.

      I don't watch Maddow anymore, or Olbermann or Schulz or O'Donnell. They're all too much about the shtick: the cute illustrations, the cute puns and, most of all, the trivial news items of the day that they cover, proving only that their interns have read the same blogs as I did that day. I like snark but I don't like it presented as serious content.

      Not one of these hosts was hired to break new ground and so they don't. Their job is ratings, and profit for the corporation who pays them. Somerby has indeed made this point before, but it's not one he makes over & over again in the repetitive writing style he employs. I wonder why?

    2. Really? Bob doesn't make this point "over & over again"?

      Good gravy, it's just about the only thing he seems to be able to write about these days. That, and Gail Collins' dog obsession.

    3. Anon 09:47 PM LOL, you're so right about this blog's increasing crappiness. It reads like a Media Matters for the right, except since it can't focus on facts it focuses on shortcomings in delivery, aka aesthetics.

  18. Rachel did 2 segments on inhofe in the famous dec show one about kill the gays and one where she introduced us to James Mountain Inhofe and the segment was all about his position on global warming with a mention of earlier inclusion in conservative group from kill the gays in Uganda segment. He said he had no idea about kill the gay bill segment she said that was the context of her mention of him on the date. She weakens herself with such tactics.

  19. Hieronymous, because a debate doesn't work like that. Sure, you prepare in advance the questions you want answered. But you also have to think on your feet. You don't get an entire day to think up questions you "shoulda, coulda" asked.

    A debate is also unlike a sporting event in which the "victor" is obvious by the final score. But is also like a sporting event in that people sitting on the sidelines get to second-guess, ex post facto, all the things their team "shoulda, coulda" done while they were actually playing the game.

    And of course, like the second-guessers on the sideline, they are assured with 100 percent certainty of mind that they're "couldas, shouldas" would have succeeded.

    1. "You don't get an entire day to think up questions you "shoulda, coulda" asked."

      What was she doing when she was reading his book?