HERE’S THE OUTRAGE: Welcome to the Balkans!


Interlude—Lawrence O'Donnell's galloping Hannityism: If you watched the Hannity program last night, you were treated to a mountain of disinformation and nonsense concerning Obama’s troubling days at the Harvard Law School.

Hannity has treated voters this way for a very long time. But one hour later, if you watched The Last Word, you pretty much got the same treatment.

MSNBC has been aping Fox News with ever-increasing fidelity. Last night, in his opening segment, Lawrence O’Donnell helped us see how the culture of Fox is being reworked for us liberals.

Lawrence spoke with two guests about Rush Limbaugh’s recent problems. Limbaugh “insult[ed] 52 percent of the population,” Howard Dean said. “This is an attack on 82 percent of women in the United States of America who Rush Limbaugh essentially called sluts,” Dean opined.

Where’s the outrage, William Bennett once asked. Last night, the outrage was strong on this “liberal” news channel. Eventually, though, O’Donnell played tape of Sarah Palin commenting on the Limbaugh episode.

At this point, we got to see the way our own liberal channel is aping the culture of Fox.

Almost anyone who watched Hannity’s program could have explained Palin’s remarks. In the course of Hannity’s show, Palin’s general point of view was fleshed out in some detail. But if you were watching MSNBC, Lawrence and one of his guests pretty much lied in your faces about these remarks. They treated their viewers precisely the way Sean Hannity has always done.

In our view, this exchange should count as a milestone. To watch the full segment, click this. Here’s the way it began:
O’DONNELL (3/7/12): Let’s listen to Sarah Palin’s version of a defense of Rush Limbaugh.

PALIN (videotape): I think the definition of hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize and retract what it is that he said in exercising his First Amendment rights. And never is that, the same applied to the leftist radicals who say such horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless. So I think that’s the definition of hypocrisy.
Were Palin’s remarks “a defense of Rush Limbaugh?” Not exactly, if we’re still speaking English. In the clip O'Donnell played, Palin doesn’t defend what Limbaugh did and said. She claims that liberals (“leftist radicals”) do similar things without generating similar outrage.

Palin’s statement is basically accurate, although our lizard brains may resist. Indeed: As they continued, O’Donnell and Melissa Harris-Perry pretty much proved Palin’s point—not that we, the rube liberal viewers, were encouraged to understand that:
O’DONNELL (continuing directly): Melissa Harris-Perry, as a leftist radical, I assume she’s including me in this group. I can’t remember saying any of those things she’s talking about. That’s the classic, you know, kind of deflection defense that has no meaning. That’s the best she could do, I guess.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it is and it isn’t. I mean, I want to pause for just a second here and point out that the right does not in fact have a monopoly on saying really horrible things about women with whom they disagree. Sexism and misogyny and the way that it ends up in our political discourse actually does end up on all sides.

For me, what is most dangerous and horrifying here isn’t the language of “slut” per se, as disgusting as that was and as much as it was directed at an individual person. I just want to keep our eyes on the fact that what the right has a monopoly on right now are a set of policy positions that actively remove the ability of women to make choices for themselves around their own health care and around their own family planning decisions.

So I worry both around race questions and gender questions when we get so fundamentally up in arms around the language? Because, you know, I hear you, that maybe we can’t find, you know, radical leftists who say mean things. But look, I have been called extremely nasty names from both the left and the right that are deeply gendered. What I care about here are the policies around the availability health care for women. And what the right does have a monopoly on is their willingness to silence women and exclude them from their own health care decisions.

O’DONNELL: Howard Dean and Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you both very much for joining me tonight.
Poor Lawrence! He didn’t seem to have any idea what Palin was talking about! In response, Harris-Perry did say that misogyny “actually does end up on all sides.” She did say that “the right does not in fact have a monopoly on saying really horrible things about women with whom they disagree.”

But Harris-Perry named no names. And as she closed, she seemed to suggest that, like Lawrence himself, she pretty much couldn’t come up with such names. What follows is such a remarkable statement that we’ll run it again:

“Because, you know, I hear you, that maybe we can’t find, you know, radical leftists who say mean things.”

Really? We can’t find liberals (“radical leftists”) “who say mean things”—who engage in this type of misogyny? Unless we’re hiding behind the one silly phrase in Palin's remarks, that's basically a lie.

Harris-Perry knew who Palin was talking about. So did O’Donnell. Unfortunately, both work for a corporate “news” channel which has employed such “liberals” in prominent posts and isn’t willing to tell you about it. So they kept you from knowing some things that all viewers know at Fox.

Welcome to the Balkans! As in the Balkans of the 90s, so too on the cables during this era. The two different tribes speak different languages—are allowed to hear different facts.

On Fox, you’re allowed to know what Palin meant; obvious examples are cited. On MSNBC, you sit there and watch your tribal chieftains as they pretend to be bollixed.

In that striking exchange, O’Donnell and Harris-Perry played it dumb, just as Hannity always has done. They kept you barefoot and clueless—and tribally happy. This is the formula which has been followed at Fox.

It has made Fox anchors rich and famous. It has left Fox viewers clueless.

Last night, Hannity’s viewers heard about the unfortunate names Bill Maher has called Sarah Palin. (This includes the C-word and the Tw-word.) But over on the “liberal” channel, O’Donnell and Harris-Perry couldn’t even think of Bill’s name as they racked their brains concerning Palin’s remarks.

And of course, the repulsive conduct of Keith Olbermann will never be discussed on this channel. Watcvhing this channel, you will never have to darken your skies with thoughts of what our hero did!

Everyone at MSNBC knows about the misogyny Olbermann spewed at this channel. (He kept it up for years.) They know that he called individual persons “sluts.” They know about all the other offenses—the offenses that led those progressives to discuss his “misogyny” and his “contempt for women,” as long as they thought there were speaking in private. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/6/12.)

They know what Matthews did all those years. They know about all the names he directed at the "she-devil" Clinton. Who knows? They may even recall the sickening way he slimed Naomi Wolf!

O’Donnell and Harris-Perry know these things. They just don’t want you thinking about them! These people are your tribal friends. They want your outrage aimed at Rush—at Rush, and at Rush alone.

Lawrence and Melissa distributed soma last night, knowing it would make you happy. As we speak, your lizard brain is telling you that what they did was highly moral.

Your lizard brain is lying again. Just as the lizard brains do in the wild tribal lands where the folk are condemned to watch Fox.

Tomorrow—part 4: Rachel, not unlike Mitt


  1. On last night's Countdown KO defended himself against misogyny charges, but only for two right-wing pundits. He conveniently forgot (as far as I know; being a reader of TDH I couldn't stand to watch more than half) his treatment night after night of Prejean.

  2. I’ve never watched Chris Matthews. I quit watching KO and Rachel during the 2010 elections.
    I do watch Rev. Al, because he covers civil rights and the plethora of voter ID laws springing up all over the country.
    These subjects are not well covered in the MSM.

    I watch KO on Current. He has toned down his sexism and tea bagger comments, but still does the Worst Person. To his credit, he does cover the OWS movement, and not just when there is police violence.

    What you say about MSNBC is true, but I don’t agree that there is equivalence with Sarah Palin’s comments.
    Her comment about leftist radicals saying horrible things about the handicapped is obviously a reference to Rham Emanuel’s use of the term retarded, and her complaint is bogus. It was an attack by Palin on the Obama administration, nothing more.
    Palin also paints in broad strokes, and also refrains from naming names.

  3. No, I'd say that was a defense by Palin. "forced to apologize and retract what it is that he said in exercising his First Amendment rights." is an attack on the left but it simultanteously paints Rush as just using his right of free speech. I can't see any way she's not defending him.

  4. The Celebration of The Lizard: When Bob talks Lizards, you can pretty much count on the fact that he's trying to breeze some bullshit by ya. Palin doesn't defend Limbaugh, no NOT much! By the way, does The Howler also have the examples of examples of the handicapped people liberals ALSO routinely mock? EVERYTHING about Palin's statement portrays Rush as the victim, But Bob is the Lizard King, he can write anything.

    Most newspapers observe a policy where the writers are not supposed to beat up on each other, perhaps cable stations have the same rule. But yes, O'Donell and his guest could have named names. On the other hand, I think Salon sticking Michael Moore's mug on the front of a post about liberal woman haters based on his defense of Assange to be highly unfair.
    As a historical note, if we are going to throw the treatment of Hillary Clinton in 2008 into the mix (as the Howler's best argument in trying to let Rush slide(HE TOLD THE WOMAN TO MAKE A PORNO TAPE, BOB!!)) we might recall with Katha Pollit pointed out at the time: a lot of the worst misogyny came from women! Randi Rhodes called Hillary a Whore, and Stephine Miller laughed along! Ariana Huffington hired the fat slob, half insane Marc Cooper to cover the campaign and he trashed women (not just Hill) up and down the block. Nora Ephron had no problem with this! It was not a time when many behaved well.

  5. @ gravymeister:
    Yup. As often is the case with the daily howler treatment, this "both sides do it" mindset, though it points out a degree of liberal self-protection, serves also reinforce the talking point that "liberal journalists" are just as guilty so it's all a wash. Although I dislike the rhetorical language used by many politicos, civilian-player distinction is legitimate. Also, what the heck on the "liberal" side compares with Rush's 3 days of individual attack mode against Sharon Fluke? This is truly a difference in kind, not just degree.

    Secondly Harris-Perry actually had a good point, the most significant issue isn't bad language, it's bad policy positions. I think we need to at least address the latter when we talk rail against the former.

  6. Quaker in a BasementMarch 8, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    "But Harris-Perry named no names."

    Dirty pool, sir! Harris-Perry responded to a charge from Palin--who also named no names.

    Or is it your expectation that Ms. Harris-Perry should oblige Ms. Palin by doing her research for her? Yes, perhaps she could have called out the hated millionaire Mr. Matthews or the bawdy showman Mr. Maher. However, Palin didn't name them in making the charge--why should Harris-Perry be expected to oblige? To prove Ms. Palin's ill-considered point for her?

    As I understand it, we liberals are not only responsible for policing our own, but we're also supposed to charge off to frame up a suitable culprit every time a conservative kicks a few bits of straw into a pile.

    In case you haven't looked, there are plenty of lefty sites (and no, I won't go look them up and name names) where writers have taken Maher to task for his naughty language.

  7. Every week wallowing self-indulgently in rage against Rush is a week not spend addressing the policy positions. It's almost as though it were some kind of deliberate distraction.

  8. The Real AnonymousMarch 8, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    I never thought I'd see the day when a cable talking head is excoriated by Mr. Somerby for wanting to rise above the circus and talk about issues.

    Ms. Harris-Perry clearly states neither side of the debate has cornered the market on virtue but she'd rather talk about women's reproductive rights, keep her eye on the ball as it were.

    This is what Mr. Somerby claims makes MSNBC like FOX.

    It's a shame the way Mr. Somerby is bending himself into a pretzel in order to convince us to worship at that altar of false equivalency.

  9. Sorry, Bob, Chris M and Kieth O are not "radical leftists". There are no "radical leftists" who have TV shows in this country. I completely agree with you that Chris Matthews is an embarrassment to all multi-cellular life, but his misogyny is not imputable to anyone but himself. You (of all people) have fallen for the false equivalence fraud perpetrated by the Right and the Village. Listen carefully: No one in public life in the US is a fraction of the distance to the Left that the GOP mainstream (e.g.,McConnell, Cantor, etc.) is to the Right. AND, I defy you to name one true leftist who has made any misogynistic comments in the last 10 years. (I am confident that Bernie Sanders has not done so and I don't know of any other prominent leftists in public life.)

    1. About time somebody pointed this out. To call anyone working in the mainstream media "leftist radicals" is patently absurd. Palin is a gutter-level clown who exploits her own children to further her own ends. That idiot understands irony even less than she understands hypocrisy.

  10. You guys don't get it. Bob lives for being right, not for being informative or relevant or responsive to actual policy and political realities. Consider this: if, instead of inventing tales about Al Gore, the American media had offered truthful, substantive coverage of Al Gore, we would have had a most interesting election.

    That media would have had to point out (for example) that Clinton/Gore eagerly adopted any number of anti-consumer, anti-worker, anti-citizen, anti-democratic policies. A truthful portrait of those 8 years would have dismayed most liberals -- real ones, that is. And at best, Gore would have been reduced to arguing that things would be even worse under GWB, than under him.

    Did this absence of truthful reporting about Al Gore trouble Mr. Somerby? Apparently not. Far better to concentrate on inaccuracies in the larger fairy-tale, because that larger fairy-tale doesn't trouble Mr. Somerby in the slightest! Who cares how misinformed the American public is, as long as the media doesn't blame Al for inventing the internet!

    Very much like his heroine, Gail Collins, Mr. Somerby is actually indifferent to results. He also has a dog on the roof. As long as he can find errors, the man is happy, happy, happy.

  11. I think Real has used the term "false equivalency" more than Collins has citied Seamus. Bob's thesis is simple: they have hijacked our nation's political discourse. They being the reporters, columnists, editors, and owners of the newspapers and cable news shows. He hates it when politics is presented as hissy name-calling entertainment. And he hates it more when self-described liberals indulge. Because he thinks liberals should be better than that. Because he thinks liberals have truth and justice on their side, and they're throwing that away to get on the TeeVee.

    Anonymous March 8, 2012 12:12pm, you are wholly incorrect, Bob often bemoans the absence of straight policy talk in the media. He has had many posts on the cost of health care in other countries, on inner city school issues, on tax distribution, on debt/budget issues, on the war drumbeat, and many others. Actually, his main complaint involving the truthfulness of reporters is how they just make shit up to advance their pre-approved scripts. Do you see? It's not about the mindless finding of errors, he's trying to point out the agenda.

    Bob is not perfect, and like us all, makes mistakes of comission and omission, but these complaints seem like a willful misreading of his thesis.

    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 8, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      "He hates it when politics is presented as hissy name-calling entertainment."


      When Professor Harris-Perry refuses to name-call and instead wants to discuss women's reproductive rights Mr. Somerby compares her to Palin and Hannity.

      How far off the road and into the woods does Mr. Somerby need to go before you realize what's going on here?

    2. No, you are the one changing the subject. Even though Rush was nominally discussing the contraception issue, the reason everybody is talkiing about Rush's misogynistic rant is because it was just that. It had no reasonable points about the contraception/health care provider rules or reproductive rights for women, it was just an ignorant hate-filled invective against all women.

      There is a substantial issue here, and you, Real, refuse to confront it. There is an ugly gender bashing that is perpetuated by some prominent media members, helped by their employers. Rush's outburst is a golden opportunity to call out the media for allowing this to go on, and for a very long time. By changing the subject to reproductive rights gives Rush, and importantly, others like him, a pass on their horrible, destructive conduct.

      Also, Real, you said that Bob complained about Harris-Perry "for wanting to rise above the circus and talk about issues." You just made that shit up. Reread the post. He complained about her playing dumb about others in the media being sexist. It's easy to win an argument when you get to write both sides.

  12. Yep Annom, Al Gore would have been forced to run on balanced budgets, a booming economy, and wise use of the Military.

    At any rate, the fair answer to the question "Are we as bad as them?" The Daily Howler seems fixed on is clearly: sometimes yes, more often no.

    1. Oh, please. The dotcom bubble was in the wings, "free trade" (i.e. investors' rights agreements) were bleeding the U.S. of decent jobs, Bill and Al had just sold the Democratic party to Wall Street, deregulated the financial industry, repealed Glass/Steagal, and consolidated media conglomerates.

      As for wise use of the military, it depends on who you asked and which civilians got bombed. If you mean Bill Clinton didn't get us into a endless disaster of a war, I guess I agree, but if that gives boasting rights, our standards are dangerously low.

      Did you ever think that if Bill Clinton had been an actual liberal, and pursued actual liberal policies, we might not be in this mess?

    2. The Real AnonymousMarch 8, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      Clinton was president not king.

      There's a little thing called congress all presidents have to deal with.

      Have you such a lack of historical context you don't understand what the elections of '94 were?

      Christ almighty... Gingrich is claiming credit for running the country then.

    3. Funny! There's always an excuse for Democrats, acting like Republicans. When there's a Republican congress, it's the Republicans' fault. When the Democrats control Congress, as they did in 2009-2010, then it's the *convervative* Democrats' fault. Never mind that Democratic president always manage to twist arms and succeed, when it's something they really want.

      Remember the "public option"? And how we thought it was a few reactionary democrats refusing to pass it? And how the president claimed to be "for it", despite various ambiguous assertions? And then it turned out that Obama had actually negotiated it away, months before?

      Ah, but I forgot! It's all the fault of the Republicans!

  13. It's good Mr. Somerby defends Palin, someone has to. This woman is standing up for what she calls the "Real America." Just think of what we would have gotten had she become the Vice President.

    Bill Maher is also equivalent to Sean Hannity. Sean is on the radio and the most watched TV news channel, and has a show every single day where he gets to discuss the liberal media and call out President Obama and the Democrat Party. Bill Maher is on once a week on a premium TV channel. I think that's very equivalent.

    Anyhow just think of Sarah Palin as Vice President. She calls them as she sees them, yes she does.

    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 8, 2012 at 7:56 PM

      Let's not forget Hannity's 3 hours daily on talk radio too.

      Sometimes I think Mr. Somerby just doesn't understand the media landscape of 2012.

      It's quite different from 2000 when Gore ran for president.

  14. Well, I think Bob missed Harris-Perry's larger point which was, and I apologize for not quoting precisely, that while both sides engage in name-calling and the right wing has no monopoly on that, the right wing does have a monopoly on those calling for the denial of insurance coverage for a medicine that millions of women and their doctors consider essential to their physical health.

    She went on to say that not only is birth control prescribed for the treatment and prevention of ovarian cysts, but also that some women suffer severe symptoms during menstruation, and birth control relieves and reduces those symptoms.

  15. Is Bill Maher on the left? I remember his original Politically Incorrect show deliberately firing in all directions and providing a safe haven for Ann Coulter and sundry imitators. He supports Obama now, but his politics don't seem liberal nearly as much as libertarian hedonist a la Hefner.

  16. "As we speak, your lizard brain is telling you that what they did was highly moral." Speak for yourself. You don't know what my lizard brain is telling me.

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