CHILDHOOD’S END: Don’t blame the ditto-heads!


Part 3—Learning to blame the purveyors: Are we liberals creating our own ditto-heads as we develop our “liberal” “news” organs?

If so, you can’t exactly blame us rubes for believing a lot fake, phony facts—for becoming ditto-heads of the left. If you’ve been watching MSNBC in the past month, you’ve encountered a blizzard of fake, phony facts, served by the intellectual leaders you probably think you can trust.

On the right, this has been the norm for decades as people have swallowed oceans of guff from the likes of Rush and Sean. Now, the piles of guff are being shoveled at us.

Consider one more example from the coverage of the killing of Trayvon Martin.

On March 27, Big Ed Schultz was helping us stoke our fury. Here's the way he opened his show. We’ll highlight one point:
SCHULTZ (3/27/12): Good to have you with us tonight, folks. Thanks for watching.

Well, the lead investigator in the Trayvon Martin shooting wanted to charge George Zimmerman with manslaughter but the higher-ups told him not to press charges. This is the biggest piece of information to come out of this case since the day Trayvon Martin was killed. This latest report comes from ABC News, according to multiple sources.

Investigator Chris Serino was instructed not to press charges because the state’s attorney office headed by Norm Wolfinger determined there wasn’t enough evidence to lead to a conviction.

Serino filed an affidavit on February 26th, the night Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman that stated that he was unconvinced by Zimmerman’s version of events.

Now let’s grasp that for just a moment. The lead homicide investigator was questioning the shooter’s story. He didn’t buy it. He recommended a manslaughter charge. But the state attorney who has since been removed from the case told the investigator, “Back off.”

Want to know why there’s outrage? George Zimmerman was not charged and Trayvon’s body sat in a morgue for three days before his parents were contacted. Don’t you think somebody needs to explain that?

If you’re still wondering why there’s so much outrage surrounding this case, these latest reports really ought to clear that up for you, folks.
Big Ed was all fired up, as always. As always, Big Eddie was wrong.

Did Serino file that affidavit? If so, this contradicted waves of propaganda we liberals had been fed on MSNBC concerning the attitude of the police officers who arrived at the scene on the night Martin was killed.

Big Eddie didn’t help us see that these earlier claims and insinuations had been wrong. Instead, he fed us a new misstatement, helping us keep our tribal fury stoked.

Question: Is it true? Did Trayvon Martin’s body “sit in a morgue for three days before his parents were contacted?” That’s what Big Eddie told us this night—and he told us we should be outraged.

Unfortunately, this latest claim was false, like so many other claims he has made. Because we had seen so many people seeming to pimp this claim on The One Liberal Channel, we were surprised when we read the 5000-word news report in the New York Times on April 2.

Dan Barry was the lead reporter. He described the process by which Trayvon Martin’s father learned of his son’s death:
BARRY (4/2/12): Early next morning [after the shooting], no sign of Trayvon, still. Mr. Martin called his son's cellphone, which again went to voice mail. He then repeatedly called the cousin until he answered, only to share the distressing news that he had not seen Trayvon.

Now it was Mr. Martin calling 911. He reported that his son was missing, and then described what his son was wearing. Soon he was outside, meeting a couple of responding police officers. One of them took out a photograph of a dead body from a folder.

''Next thing I heard was a scream,'' Ms. Green said. ''I never want to see anybody in that kind of pain again.''

Mr. Martin cried and cried. At the police station later that day, he said, detectives told him that they had not arrested the man who had shot and killed his son. They explained that George Zimmerman was claiming self-defense.
In fact, Martin’s father learned of his son’s death the morning after the shooting. Trayvon’s body did not “sit in a morgue for three days before his parents were contacted,” the bogus fact Big Eddie had pimped, telling us we should be outraged.

But so what? Big Ed, a ghoul, has been stuffing his pockets with the thrill of such outrage, outrage he has repeatedly stoked with his store of bogus facts. Nor was he the only person pushing this fake fact around.

Did Big Eddie really believe that Trayvon’s body sat in a morgue for three days before his parents were contacted? We don’t know, but if he did, he may have been misled by something he heard on Lawrence O’Donnell’s horrible program. Eight days earlier, radio talker Mark Thompson had angrily offered this:
THOMPSON (3/21/12): Those who killed Emmitt Till left him missing for three days. [Sanford police chief] Bill Lee kept Trayvon missing from his family for three days. Not only did he say that, he also said, if you recall, I’m looked at unfairly—I’m paraphrasing—because I’m a white man in uniform, as if to invoke some type of sympathy or empathy for his situation.
Carefully parsed, that isn’t the same thing Big Ed later said; Thompson’s statement can perhaps be defended as technically accurate. But as various hustlers were crafting such statements, other folk were being misled—and they were feeling upset. Example: Two days later, columnist Annette John-Hall offered this remarkable portrait in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
JOHN-HALL (3/23/12): As a mother, I'm upset about a lot more than that.

How about the fact that authorities bagged Martin's body and tagged it as a John Doe. Even though they had his cellphone and could easily have reached his father, who called it repeatedly when his son didn't come home.

It was three days before Martin's parents were notified of the death of their son—the teen who loved football, his little brother, talking to his girlfriend, and who clearly had parents who loved him unconditionally.

Discarded as a worthless stray.
Just a guess: John-Hall had heard a set of carefully phrased statements, like the statement made by Thompson—and she had been misled. She thought she heard these people saying that Martin’s parents weren’t notified for three days—and she transmitted this bogus fact, saying it had her upset.

Her bogus fact led her to say that the Sanford police “discarded” Martin like “a worthless stray.” On line, no correction has been added to her work.

Four days later, Big Eddie repeated this same inaccurate factual claim, telling us we should be outraged. One night later, Jesse Jackson repeated that factual claim to Schultz—or he may have seemed to. (Jackson: “Since they know who Trayvon Martin was, why John Doe? And why keep him in the morgue for three days away from his family?”)

In fact, Martin’s father learned of his son’s death the morning after he was killed. What had led John-Hall and Schultz to state this inaccurate fact?

Here’s the basic background:

The morning after Big Eddie’s show, the Orlando Sentinel published one of its efforts to stop public figures like Schultz from making so many misstatements. In her very first point, reporter Rene Stutzman addressed the claim which lay behind Schultz’s misstatement:
STUTZMAN (3/28/12): The Trayvon Martin case has generated thousands of news stories and scores of speeches and public proclamations. Sometimes the facts get confused. Here are a few examples:

The Volusia County Medical Examiner's Office refused to release Trayvon's body to his family for three days, an unusually long wait.

Not true, according to the Medical Examiner's Office. It picked up the body at the scene just after 10 p.m. Feb. 26 and notified a Fort Lauderdale funeral home 39 hours later that the body was ready. The funeral home, Roy Mizell and Kurtz, did not pick up the body for an additional 24 hours, the medical examiner reported.
Oops. Judged by this rendering, Schultz had even misstated the claim. According to Stutzman, the claim was that the examiner’s office refused to release Martin’s body for three days—not that Martin’s parents hadn’t been notified of the death. According to Stutzman’s reporting, even this claim was false. But Schultz had made a more heinous claim, a claim which was plainly false.

As he made his bogus claim, Schultz told us liberals that we should be outraged. We tend to agree, though we’d suggest that serious progressives should be outraged by the conduct of people like Schultz.

This is only one of many fake facts which have been pimped by the hustlers, harlequins and hoors found on The One True Liberal Channel. (We’ve been detailing such bogus facts for weeks.) This conduct is highly reminiscent of the long-standing conduct of hustlers on Fox—and of the long-standing conduct of Rush Limbaugh, who helped invent the modern culture of fact-averse tribal pimping.

For decades, we liberals laughed as Limbaugh’s “ditto-heads” recited the bogus claims he spewed. Now, the hustlers are found on our “liberal” channel, and we have our ditto-heads too!

A childish dream has come to an end as we see our own liberal world working this way. Absurd gullibility isn’t just for the other tribe's rubes any more!

Go ahead! Just visit any comment thread and you will see the new generation of ditto-heads—ditto-heads pushing bogus facts they’ve heard from the likes of Ed Schultz. Stutzman has fact-checked various points in the Sentinel—but fact-checking seems to play little role in the work that is now being done on The One True Liberal Channel.

As they stoke our fury and our rage, they move from one fake fact to the next. Sometimes they drop a discredited claim—but have you ever seen one of these horrible people go back and admit to their liberal viewers that they were actually wrong on a factual claim?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at another fake fact Our Own Ditto-heads have been pushing this week. But let’s repeat what we said at the start: It’s understandable, if undesirable, when we see so many gullible liberals repeating so many bogus facts.

As with Rush, so now with Big Ed: Gullible liberals turn to his show, thinking he’s dealing with them in good faith. Sorry! Big Ed Schultz has been pimping fake facts as he stuffs lots of dough in his pockets.

Tomorrow: Three words you can’t say on TV

Where it began: Where did this bogus claim begin? MSNBC began its coverage of the Martin case on Monday evening, March 19. On that night, the New York Times’ Charles Blow served this confusing stew to Schultz:
BLOW (3/19/12): But what has really troubled me and the questions that really arise from this case are how the investigation may or may not have been unfolded with respect to this family. For instance, the fact that the father—

By all accounts, the child left the house with his cell phone, we don’t know if he had a wallet, we don’t know if he had it with him. But he had his cell phone on him.

After he was killed, according to the attorney, he was taken to the medical examiner’s office and he was held there for three days. Now, I don’t know if that includes the day he was shot or not. But the family attorney says three days.

The child has a cell phone on him. So, the father is calling the cell phone to see where his son is. He calls missing persons as well after he doesn’t get called.

I’m trying to figure out, are you telling me that the police did not answer that phone when the father is calling that phone?
The bogus fact may have started here. From that jumbled narration, aothers may have gotten the impression that Martin’s father was calling his son’s phone for three days while the callous, uncaring police refused to answer.

The facts were wrong—but the fury felt good. Where have we seen this before?


  1. Yeah, Bob. "We liberals" are just flocking to the TV set to see what Big Ed says next.

    You know what his ratings are in the key 25-54 demographic? Try about 200,000.

    My goodness, what a threat to the republic he poses.

  2. So, because he has fewer viewers it's okay to advance inaccurate information? Wow, what standards you have!

    Horace Feathers

  3. Hey, Bob. Surprised you haven't jumped all over this one:

    "Trayvon’s body sat in a morgue for three days before his parents were contacted."

    Obviously, that's a lie, and a pretty big one, too. Trayvon's body wasn't sitting up. It was lying down.

    Or is that going to be the subject of tomorrow's post?

  4. Horace, since the point flew over your head, allow me to state it more simply.

    It's the old "if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it," thing.

    If Big Ed and the rest of the MSNBC crew are blabbering utter falsehoods and virtually no one is tuning in, then what effect is it having on "american discourse" and why is it worth so much attention from Bob "Chicken Little" Somerby?

    1. Trees are falling all over the place; Bob focused on just one of them.

      MSNBC is not the only source spreading a false narrative. Various race hustlers, such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the New Black Panthers are spreading myths for all they're worth.

      And, IMHO the mainstream media and the Federal Government could be doing more to dispel myths that are already out there.

    2. @David in Cal:
      Your invocation of "race hustlers" and "the New Black Panther Party" lets me know right away that you are no racist, nor are you prone to repeating talking points fed to you by Fox News Channel and hate radio.
      Also, I want to extend my gratitude for all the work you did pushing the mainstream media and the Federal Government to do more to dispel myths back during the Bush/Cheney administration.

  5. Bob, it would be funny if it were not pathetic that you are now quoting very New York Times report you worked so hard to discredit just a few days ago to support a new point you are trying to make.

    But let's take your new evidence and assume it to be true.

    Trayvon Martin is shot at approximately 7:16 p.m. Feb. 26.

    Trayvon's father doesn't learn about his son's death until "early the next morning" after HE calls 911, and after HE goes to the police station.

    You see anything wrong with the police procedures in that account, which you seem to think is accurate?

    1. Need to clarify. According to the April 2 New York Times account, apparently a couple of Sanford detectives did go to the Martin home to tell the father that his son was dead. The next morning. After the father contacted 911.

      You got a homicide and the shooter is known. Presuming that the victim wasn't carrying identification, don't you at least start knocking on doors in a gated community to see if anyone knows him, had seen him before, and/or knows where he lives?

      For all the cops knew on Sunday evening, the victim and the shooter could have had a running feud, or it could have been a drug deal gone bad.

      Instead, they don't bother to find out anything about Trayvon Martin, including his next of kin, until AFTER they heard Zimmerman's story and cut him loose.

    2. Do you know none of that was done?

  6. Can we have a separate comment thread for the ex-wives of Bob Somerby?

    I know, I know ... I am one of his "tribe" (see what you did there, see - Bob talks about "tribes" all the time, but he has his own, what an awesome gotcha - 100 points!) ... I can't think for myself ... I'm really right wing ... I can't see how Bob's changed ... I don't understand what's really important (hint: it sure isn't what Bob want to discuss) ... I agree with EVERYTHING Bob says, and NOTHING else is worth writing about ... and, of course, I'm on Zimmerman's side and HATE BLACK KIDS!

  7. Gullible liberals who tune in to Ed to feel good don't like facts acknowledged and especially don't like being called out for the rubes they are. It only pleasures them to read such things about Fox and its audience.

    1. Ah yes. If Somerby says there are vast numbers of gullible liberals who depend on Ed to do their thinking for them, then it must be true.

    2. Did Somerby say that? Well, no, he didn't.

      But anyway... If an Anonymous idiot says readers of this site depend on Somerby to do their thinking for them it must be true, too!

      And many (or is it just one?) Anonymous idiots have been saying exactly that.

      Anonyomous idiots seem wedded to the phrase "do their thinking for them" and its variants.

      It's a phrase that lets them pretend.

      Any Anonymous idiot can pretend that when someone points to a liar, a dissembler, a faker-of-facts that the guy doing the pointing out is trying to "do your thinking for you." It's a form of being an apologist.

      If you disagree with the apologist, they insult your ability to think. Not a very becoming trait.

      But what can we really expect from the Anonymous apologists (or is it just one idiot?)

    3. That is exactly what Somerby said, unless you think he meant "we liberals" to mean himself and the two or three people here who think exactly like he does on his command.

      Here's another shocker for you: I already know that Ed Schultz and every other talker on TV or radio -- conservative and liberal -- embellishes, stretches, dissembles and fakes facts.

      You know the real difference between you and me? You needed Bob Somerby to tell you that.

    4. Ah, so it's not Bob's readers who think they're smarter than everyone else, as you've implied in the past -- it's you, the Anonymous idiot -- you are smarter than everyone else. Thanks for letting us know!

      We're still waiting, by the way, for your hyped refutation of Somerby's opinion on Dionne. When did Dionne push back against all the lies about Gore?

      As always, Anonymous, you got nothin'!

      Hint: When Somerby said Dionne was "silent" in the face of all the lies, he hadn't forgotten Dionne wrote a column! We all know Dionne didn't become a mute!

      We all know, even you, Anonymous, that what was meant was Dionne did nothing to refute, push back against, or call out the liars.

      In the present case, we also all know (even you) that "We liberals are creating our own ditto-heads" is not equivalent to "vast numbers of gullible liberals depend on Ed to do their thinking for them."

      Like always, Anonymous, You. Got. Nothing.

    5. Bad case of projection there, Swanny.

      I don't claim to be smarter than everyone else. That is the territory of The Tribe of Bob Somerby to look down their noses at people on "both sides" who are so easily misled, then of course to focus only on one side being misled.

      Yep, these are the "true liberals" as Bob now calls his tribe. The non-readers of E.J. Dionne.

      I will claim, however, to be smarter than someone who can only repeat Bob Somerby spin. Sure gives the impression that is all you know.

    6. Oh, Anonymous! You show up saying you'll prove Somerby wrong.

      When you don't prove a thing, you complain that people believe Somerby rather than you?

      No one could make it up!

    7. Again with the projection. I don't give a shit whether you or anyone else believe me or not. My self-esteem isn't tied up in the opinions of morons on an blog combox.

      So you got any more lies you want to spread about me? Projection is usually a sign of an immature little twit who just got his butt spanked during a debate.

  8. I don’t know the current numbers on the audience of MSNBC except that Rachel Maddow has the highest ratings.

    I live in a solid red state, and in an overwhelmingly Republican gated community in a (slightly) blue county.

    The TV’s in our community workout room are almost always tuned to FOX News all day long. Occasionally CNN, but never MSNBC.

    Of the (few) liberals I know that watch TV news, they like Rachel Maddow, and think she is an important spokesperson for liberals. These same people also read the Huffington Post and think it is an important and credible source of information. This tiny group does seem easily swayed by the rhetoric of MSNBC. (And the Huffington Post).

    That said, most other liberals I know don’t quote MSNBC or The Huffington Post, or refer to them as sources of information.
    I can’t really believe that those sources exert a strong influence on liberal thought in the US.

    Of course, people living in large liberal enclaves may be more complacent in their acceptance of slanted news than liberals here. I simply don't know.

    We liberals in Arizona are embattled by some of the most extreme right wing politicians in the US, whose legislature, governor and sheriffs have simultaneously made themselves into international laughingstocks AND darlings of the Tea Party.

    It keeps us on our toes.

    1. Well, I live in a very blue county (Jackson) in a state growing redder by the day (Missouri).

      Can't think of the last conversation I had with a liberal friend about something Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O'Donnell said the night before.

      But we do talk a lot about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert --- must-see TV!

      Wonder when Somerby will start taking them on?

  9. The sound point is made here, Right Wingers flock to this stuff, but liberals mostly ignore it. AND.... why is the Daily Howler ignoring Rachel Maddow's rather good book on a matter of huge national import? It's a unbreakable rule of "our tribe:" only the stick, never the carrot....
    Oh, and if Shultz is out of line on Martin/Zimmerman, shouldn't Bill Maher be put in Jail? Check out the podcast of his last show.

    1. Interesting, Greg. And will Bob Somerby now issue a pass to Ed Schultz because Bill Maher said bad things, too?

      Sure seemed to work with Rush Limbaugh.

    2. Greg, come on! You can't expect Chief Bob Somerby to tip off his tribe about a book written by the vile Rachel Maddow and actually discuss the issues she raises, do you?

      He's got more important things to lose sleep over, as he attempts to advance the "american discourse." Like what Ed Schultz said last night.

    3. Greg, your point is valid. When a right wing lie is provocative, it immediately goes viral, and can be found in hundreds of blogs, almost word for word.

      Feel-good left wing myths appear in far fewer blogs, and one can usually find liberal bloggers questioning or debunking the falsehoods, although many pass along the original story without question.

      One major exception on blogs, and one I visit regularly, is the Frum Forum, by David Frum. He is a conservative that has his ideology, but he also strives to keep his facts straight.

      These modern myths rely on pushing hot buttons, hoping the reader will get too emotional to fact-check.
      The emotional wording is too good to paraphrase, so it is cut and pasted all over the Internet.
      This makes it difficult, but not impossible, to track down the original source.

      It reminds me of a technique used by the government to catch leakers, called "the barium meal".

      Classified copies of reports are handed out at meetings, one copy per person.
      Each copy contains provocative language that is irresistible to a leaker and to an editor or producer.

      The trick is, each copy is worded slightly differently, so when the quote becomes public, the principals know who was given that exact copy. They have found the leak.

  10. I keep wondering how anyone can know exactly what happened that night, except for two people.
    What we do know:
    1) Trayvon Martin is dead.
    2) George Zimmerman killed him.
    Zimmerman will do anything to escape culpability, including lying. There is no one to contradict him.

    TV personalities are concerned about creating "buzz", ratings and their salaries.
    The NYTimes has been feckless and credulous for years.
    Martin was 7'7"? Zimmerman weighed 300lbs?
    The police answered Martin's phone or waited until his father called 911 before responding? His body was available to the funeral home which waited another 24 hours before picking it up? The lead investigator wanted to file charges but was overruled?
    I could give a shit.

    We will spend the rest of our lives expecting the media and the police to do differently. The new definition of insanity?

    Trayvon Martin is dead.
    George Zimmerman killed him.

    Truth & Justice? Not in my lifetime.
    I grieve for the parents whose son was killed.

  11. Well, it's in the hands of the court system now.

    The Somerby/Zimmerman tribe is probably warming up its story about how the prosecutor was thoroughly misled by Lawrence O'Donnell.

    1. How thoughtful of you to name Bob Somerby as an ally of the child-murderer.

      Perhaps next you can see your way to implying Somerby was a co-conspirator with George Zimmerman in the premeditated murder of a young black child.

      What glorious outrage at the historic injustice of Somerby/Zimmerman you've displayed!

    2. Well, Bob certainly has been throwing sweet hay to the "Zimmerman is being railroaded" crowd by showing how the "liberal press" has been misleading great swaths of the public.

      Brent Bozell hasn't done a better job of that than good, ol' "liberal, progressive" Bob.

    3. You're so right: Bob Somerby has shown insufficient loyalty to the cause, it's rather suspicious.

      His disregard could even lead him to speak in ways that aid the enemy!

      A purge may be in order...

    4. I really don't care what "cause" Somerby is loyal to.

      I just wish he had the honesty to admit what he has become and stop pretending to be spokesman and arbiter for "true liberals."

      He's had many "jump the shark" moments. But instructing "true liberals" that they must quit reading E.J. Dionne is a new one.

    5. Anon 7:30,

      You are just pretending to not understand these rhetorical devices, right? Next thing you'll be telling Bob to come clean and tell us that he really doesn't have all these "analysts."

  12. Do the recent killings in North Tulsa and the history behind them tell us anything?