O'Donnell plays the Mormon card!


A nasty and dumb piece of work: Lawrence O’Donnell is a real piece of work.

Last night, he did a segment on the killing of Trayvon Martin. His basic misstatements were legion.

This will never stop.

But at least he stopped playing the Mormon card on last evening’s Last Word. On Monday and Tuesday nights, O’Donnell had toyed with this card, diddling himself as he did and showing the soul of the bigot.

O’Donnell’s a nasty and dumb piece of work—always has been. Let’s review his behavior on Monday night.

Earlier that day, a Ron Paul supporter had asked Mitt Romney “a very strange question about his religion” during a town hall meeting. That was O’Donnell's account of the question—but so what! Rather than ignore this “very strange question,” O’Donnell teased the topic all through Monday’s program:
O’DONNELL (4/2/12): In the “Rewrite” tonight, Mitt Romney was asked a question about sin today that he answered with one word—but the real answer just might be a bit more complicated.

O’DONNELL: Coming up, a Ron Paul supporter asked Mitt Romney a very strange question today about his religion. Does Romney think it is a sin for a white man to marry and have a child with a black woman? Mitt Romney gave a one-word answer to that question, but Mormon teachings on that subject have been rewritten over the years. That’s in tonight’s “Rewrite.”

O’DONNELL: Next, Mitt Romney runs away from a somewhat complicated question about his religion today. That’s next in the “Rewrite.”
Oh boy—this was really going to be good! And finally, the segment arrived! O’Donnell played tape of that “very strange question,” after which he started to talk. As has been clear for a fairly long time, this guy is a dumb piece of work:
O’DONNELL (4/2/12): In tonight’s Rewrite, another episode of the politics of religion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess my question is, Do you believe it is a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black woman?

ROMNEY: No. Next question.

O’DONNELL: That question is not as crazy as it sounds, especially when you consider the teachings of Brigham Young, who just happens to be the only Mormon leader Mitt Romney has ever publicly praised while running for president.

Brigham Young was president of the Mormon Church for 30 years. And Mormon belief holds that the president of the church talks directly to God. So when the president of the Mormon Church tells you what God is thinking, Mormons listen very carefully.

On March 8th, 1863, Brigham Young said in a sermon, "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man, who belongs to the chosen seed, mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so."

So there is Mitt Romney’s hero, Brigham Young, telling him if he has sex with a black woman, he will die, on the spot. And this will always be so. Bret Hatch, the 28-year-old Ron Paul supporter who are asked Romney today if it is a sin to marry and procreate with a black woman, tried to quote something written by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.

Mitt Romney cut him off when he heard the beginning of these lines: Quote, "and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people."

Racism’s grip on Mormon practice has been so strong during Mitt Romney`s lifetime that it was not until 1978, 10 years after Martin Luther King was assassinated, 1978, that the Mormon Church suddenly decided to allow black men to become priests in the Mormon Church.

Mitt Romney was 31 years old at the time. If we had a candidate running for president today or any nominee facing Senate confirmation who belonged to a racially exclusive club until he was 31 years old, that man’s candidacy for the presidency or for the cabinet or a federal court would be doomed.

But in America, the politics of religion has spared Mitt Romney the embarrassment of having to address this issue because it is the virtually unanimous position of the political press corps that no candidate should ever be asked any challenging question about the candidate's religion.
As he continued, O’Donnell made it clear—he thinks journalists should ask Romney what he thinks about matters like this. What he thinks about statements by Brigham Young from 1863.

Just for the record, Romney did “address this issue” in 2007, though O’Donnell knew he mustn't tell his viewers. On Meet the Press, Romney told the late Tim Russert that he recalled the day in 1978 when the Mormon church said that blacks could become priests.

O’Donnell could have played this tape Monday night. As a dumb, nasty hustler, he didn’t:
ROMNEY (12/16/07): I can remember when I heard about the change being made, I was driving home from—I think it was law school—but I was driving home, going through the Fresh Pond Rotary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I heard it on the radio, and I pulled over, and literally wept. Even to this day it's emotional. And so it's very deep and fundamental in my life and my most core beliefs that all people are children of God. My faith has always told me that; my faith has also always told me that in the eyes of God every individual merited the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter, and I have no question in my mind that African-Americans and blacks, generally, would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had and that God is no respecter of persons.
O’Donnell could have played that tape. But he holds his viewers in low esteem, so he didn't.

More broadly, stop for a minute to imagine Lawrence O’Donnell’s America.

In Lawrence O’Donnell’s America, every dumb-ass in the "press corps" would feel free to ask White House candidates about the pronouncements of their church's leaders from hundreds of years in the past. Do you know how stupid this country would be if that was standard practice?

Pope Pius IX was the head of O’Donnell’s church in 1863. Do you know how many ridiculous things he said? Should Candidate Kerry have been quizzed on these matters in 2004?

If Candidate Kerry had been quizzed, what would Lawrence have done?

One more point about the small tiny mind of the instinctive bigot:

O’Donnell complained that Romney’s church didn’t allow blacks to be priests until 1978. O’Donnell’s church doesn’t allow women to be priests right to this very day! Such awkward comparisons will never occur to pieces of work like O’Donnell and Dowd as they display their instinctive bigotry toward The Other’s religion.

Should journalists have hounded Candidate Kerry about this matter? If they had, what would Lawrence have done? Trust us: He would have screamed and bellowed and yelled.

Trust us: That is precisely what this major dumb-ass would have done.

We recommend that you watch that whole segment from Monday evening’s Last Word. (To do so, just click here.) You’re watching the work of a genuine dumb-ass—and of a nasty man.

O’Donnell’s a very dumb piece of work. Corporate bosses on cable “news” channels will always put such folk in charge.


  1. What O'Donnell said about Mormonism made me cringe.

    But what he said about Romney launching a "swiftboat" attack to paint Obama as a "secularist" (code word to the right for "Atheist") out to conduct a "war on religion" (Romney's words), and thus turning religion or lack thereof into Obama's problem instead of Romney's, well, that was pretty good.

    And you know, Bob? Been working that way with pundits since time began. They can make you cringe and think at the same time.

    And you know something else, Bob? People are generally smart enough to do both.

    1. then you, mr. anonymous, have far more faith in the average american than i, or mr. somerby does:

      "People are generally smart enough to do both."

      sorry dude, the average american is barely smart enough to remember how to zip up their fly from one day to the next, much less think, cringe, chew gum, walk and breathe simultanously. if your assertion were true, we'd be discussing the past 8 years of the al gore administration right now. as you might have noticed, we aren't.

    2. You have made my point for me. This blog is rapidly deteriorating into just another vanity blog where the author and his followers can tell each other how smart they are.

      And soooo much smarter than the "average american".

    3. Oh, and Mr. Smarter than the Average American?

      I doubt we would have been discussing "the past eight years of the al gore administration" since they would have ended four years ago.

      More likely, we would be discussion the first four years of his successor's administration.

      And a whole bunch of other stuff.

    4. I don't think the Zimmerman lynch mob is stupid, just so excited by the prospect scoring political points where there are none to be scored, and excited by the prospect of lynching George Zimmerman,they have taken leave of their senses.

      You can make your own judgment about people who get so excited about such prospects they become willfully blind to facts and supportive of lies and the liars who tell them. Doesn't mean they're stupid, though.

    5. I have been trying to get this question answered since the "c'mon Bob, people who watch and read this are smart enough to know better" meme stared here.

      Isn't this massively elitist? The commenters that have been advancing this meme have been the same ones that have complained that Bob doesn't provide enough criticism of Fox News and other right-wing outlets. Doesn't that translate to "the rubes are all on the other side"? The people who watch Fox need to be told that they are being fooled, but we are so smart, we don't need to be warned. We get it, but they are dumb.

      Pride goes before a fall.

      Are these the people so upset with Bob? Is it because Bob insults them by equating all of our credulity?

    6. "And you know, Bob? Been working that way with pundits since time began. They can make you cringe and think at the same time."

      Nah. Just cringe.

    7. Again, speaking for myself, I am "upset" (if you want to call it that) with the new Bob because the old Bob used to be an equal opportunity analyst.

      He did a brilliant and extensive takedown of Ann Coulter's "Slander," pointing out how poorly researched it was despite the reviews that were so impressed with her voluminous endnotes, which they called footnotes. And when you looked at her cited sources, they seldom said what Coulter claimed, and often said the opposite.

      Same with Bernie Goldberg's "Bias" in which Somerby also noted what a free and frequent ride Goldberg was getting on Fox to peddle the old myth about liberal bias in the media and how rarely "conservative" voices were heard -- a claim laughable on its face.

      And now, we meet the new Bob feeding off that very myth -- that somehow, there is a great liberal media conspiracy out to get poor George Zimmerman.

      It's really a sad thing to watch.

    8. Braintree here from a public computer.

      I'm not Bob Somerby, but it seems to me that times have changed. The news media is no longer the eternal swallower of right-wing propaganda it once was where every crackpot accusation against the Clintons or Al Gore was breathlessly repeated by dimbulbs terrified of being accused of liberal bias. And then there was the infinite BS of what a great plain-talking stright shooter Bush supposedly was. P.U. Today, the Republicans get roasted occasionally by the networks that aren't Fox and we even sort of have our own network with MSNBC. It seems sort of natrual to me that that being the case Bob's focus is going to land somewhere else to reflect the new reality.

      Now that we have our own network, wouldn't it be great if we had really competent hosts who were a lot more in the habit of getting their facts straight? I'm a big fan of Chris Hayes but otherwise it looks to me as if we're asking far too little of Those Who Blab at Us.

  2. I would like to note the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) did not ordain women until the early seventies and gays until the last two years. O'Donnel is a ding dong. While he may someday say something intelligent, I can't watch the junk waiting for him to do that.

  3. And there is that troubling context.

    Lawrence O'Donnell didn't wake up Monday morning and decide to go after Mormonism.

    Instead, he was reacting to comments Mitt Romney made about Obama's religion, calling him a "secularist."

    And O'Donnell said the page out of the Karl Rove playbook that is entitled "Swiftboat" all over again.

    Remember how unfair it was to look at G.W. Bush's military record while they were trashing Kerry's?

    That's how the game works, Bob. Something that eluded you both then and now.

    1. I think that Bob would say that it is not a game (how many lives were lost because of the "game" that was played before the 2000 election), that journalists and pundits should not play to the tribal instincts, and could instead use their abilities and intelligence to actually educate us about the real problems with what the other side proposes to do. Finally, Bob's point has also been that people like O'Donnell and Dowd have no loyalty anyway. Next cycle, they will just as quickly trash one of ours, as they have done in the past.

    2. Who do O'Donnell and Dowd owe loyalties to? If Bob's point is that they aren't loyal to one ideology or the other, then he's making it very badly.

      My problem is with Bob writing out of his own narrative then picking and choosing only those things that fit that novel inside his own head.

      In this case, I thought O'Donnell also said some very important things about an attempt by Romney to "swiftboat" Obama. Romney is spreading lies about Obama's religiousness in order to turn Romney's "religion problem" into Obama's "religion problem."

      But ignore that. Who wants to bring up such things. Darlings! It's so boring.

      And not nearly as much fun as calling O'Donnell an anti-Mormon bigot instead.

    3. The old Bob would say it isn't a game.

      The new Bob loves playing it.

    4. The old Bob hated the media for lying when it tried to advance right wing causes.

      The new Bob hates the media for lying when it tries to advance left wing causes.

      I hate the new Bob.

  4. could instead use their abilities and intelligence

    assumes facts not in evidence

  5. As he pursues his merry obsessions, Bob might do well to take note that the only remaining interest of The Daily Howler is its sociology: the effect of David in Cal, Swan and Sherrlock, in increasing order of loathsomeness, on the on the discourse and the [rapidly disminishing?] readership.

    David in Cal has always looked like a right-wing plant; somebody actually paid to disrupt the conversation with the usual stock of right-wing talking points and opposition research; it being very hard to see how a real person could be quite that oblivious to his own dishonesty. By contrast, Swan and Sherrlock are so noxious and unpersuasive that their only likely function is to reduce readership.

    Of course, this view is probably a bit vain, for the blog: the more likely explanation (with respect to at least Swan and Sherrlock) is that we're dealing with individuals with few social skills and even fewer social resources, who can be as offensive as their natures demand here, without consequences of any kind.

    Perhaps the only important question, for Bob, is whether he may not deserve this new readership.

    Whatever the answer, his new readerships is, at this rate, likely to be the only readership.

    1. I'm not really familiar with what you're describing in terms of the "few social skills" of various commenters at this blog with whom you apparently disagree.

      Even less am I familiar with what "fewer social resources" means, which commentary is particularly "offensive," or what "their natures" have to do with anything.

      Also, I can't imagine what kind of legitimate "consequences" one might expect to be enforced by whom upon people on the internet with whom one disagrees.
      The repercussions of publicly pining for blog moderation to erase the "loathsomeness" of other human beings whose "noxious" opinions happen to be different than yours might be to your own [rapidly diminishing?] credibility, though, if that's what you mean.

      I feel compelled to say that, if bitter partisans and vapid ideologues abandon Somerby's blog in droves, and the "only readership" left, i.e. those whose interest happens to be the current quality (or lack thereof) of a profession enumerated in the Bill of Rights, it would be exactly what his decent work deserves.

      In other words, don't let the door hit your sociology on the way out. The intellectually honest folks here who've managed to find interest in Somerby's analysis year after year will probably be just fine without your ad hominems.

    2. When did following the commentary become mandatory reading on the Daily Howler?

    3. To Anon 11:52:

      Goodness, take that pot off the boil, Anon. You just blew your top.

      Noxious, unpersuasive, loathsome... Sigh. So my wife tells me at least once a week. It's just my charming personality that keeps us hooked.

      I won't argue the point again - aside from suggesting that perhaps you take yourself just a bit too seriously; the pompous schoolmaster routine gets old fast. Now. Was that too vitriolic for you?

      Thing is, Anon, what investment do you have here? When you blithely attack me and others - signal point here: isn't it interesting that all those you attack actually have IDs? - you do so as a drive by shooter, tinted windows rolled up.

      You know exactly who I am. I'm here to observe and learn...and correct my mistakes when I make them. I do so publicly, under a single identity, and have revealed my actual name.

      I'll admit, it gives me pause when an anonymous someone calls me the names you just did. I suggest you google me and prove your points. Show us all the evidence for my lack of social skills and resources.

      In the end, perhaps I'm loathsome, offensive, and all the rest. At the very least, I'm not a coward, flinging insults from deep cover.

    4. Anon 11:52, while I see you and your brethren's posts as pompous and bullying, I read Swan's and Sherrlock's posts as grounded in reality and comprehension. They definitely are more closely aligned with the spirit of the blog, which is criticism directed at improving the strategies and tactics of the liberal/progressive interests through honest and competent reporting.

    5. "They definitely are more closely aligned with the spirit of the blog,"

      You know, once upon a time the old Bob Somerby wrote about closely aligning oneself with such chosen spirits, and called it "tribalism."

    6. You completely misunderstand what Bob means by tribalism. It means, as he has explained countless times, going along with a side's position while not caring about the veracity of the assertions. You do not site such an instance.

    7. Well, sorry to disrupt your understandings of the sacred scripture of the Religion of Bob, but the old Bob used to throw in things like relevance and importance as well as veracity.

      For example, Al Gore did indeed "sigh" audibly during the first debate. George H.W. Bush did indeed look at his watch. Mondale and Ferraro did indeed embrace rather awkwardly.

      None of that should have mounted to a hill of beans. But they were certainly spun into pleasing tales.

    8. @Stuart_Zeckman

      "I'm not really familiar with what you're describing in terms of the "few social skills" of various commenters at this blog with whom you apparently disagree."

      Ah, no sir, disagreement has nothing to do with the matter. We're talking strictly about the personas and tactics of the individuals in question. However, if you're as puzzled as you pretend to be, and find these folks delightful, then you've come to the right place.

      As for abandoning the blog -- you can already see that significant numbers have already apparently decamped, leaving the blog to your little club. But in such capable hands as yours, that can only be a plus, good luck with it.

    9. Misdirection. So you nit-pick to include exaggeration to my definition. Why did you ignore my assertion that you did not site such an instance when you called me tribal? Even with your change to my definition, it did not dispute the premise, which your tone pretended it did. Misdirection.

    10. anon 3:38, the misdirection post was for you. I wonder if you will answer?

    11. No, I won't. Because a nitwit who doesn't know the difference between "site" and "cite" is beyond education, and is trolling.

      Once is a mistake. Twice in two posts in the span of 38 minutes is stupidity.

    12. My spelling is atrocious. I am sorry.

      Your logic is still faulty.

    13. As Sherrlock said, the "schoolmaster routine gets old fast." How's that for a site?

    14. Wow, did you write Anon 11:52? If so, pot, kettle, black.

  6. Quality control over at MSNBC


  7. Two things can be independently true:

    1) O'Donnell's jibbing at Romney is selective and cheesy, even though, as a poster
    points out here he has grandstanded on Religion himself.

    2) There may be something in what O'Donnell is saying, this is suggested by
    the absurd lengths The Daily Howler goes to in ignoring the point he's
    making, or trying to make. If Romney believes Young was a great leader
    in spite of his racism, it's fair to ask him to clarify the point. It's not that
    big a deal, it's like admitting Edgar Allen Poe was a crude racist (he was)
    but still believing he was a great writer.

    This reminds me of the absurd lengths The Daily Howler went to
    in defending Mel Gibson from charges of anti-semitism. Yes, Mel
    said he believed The Holocaust happened, but he also said his father
    (who spent his life denying The Holocaust) never lied to him. If you
    take the Holocaust seriously, then you have to expect Mel to clarify
    the point, but The Daily Howler chose instead to brow beat a very
    wise reader who pointed this out. Later events seem to shed light
    on weather Mel Gibson had a problem with jews or was insane, but
    by then the Daily Howler was disengaged from the Gibson issue.

    It seems to me Romney was berating Obama for belonging to a church
    which had in it's own way moved on from the likes of Brigham Young,
    and so why shouldn't he be asked about his own faith? But at this point
    The Daily Howler has reduced itself to silliness, and the only real point
    is to get O"Donnell.

    1. Exactly, Greg.

      Somerby is so fixated on O'Donnell that he gives a pass to Romney for questioning Obama's religion, and even clearly calling him a code-word atheist.

    2. An eye for an eye?
      Why didn't O'Donnell simply point out that Romney was trying to paint Obama as an atheist

    3. Without the context of explaining Romney's "religion problem" as evidenced by the Gallup poll to explain why Romney was "swiftboating" Obama's religion?

      Like I said, I found O'Donnell's comments about Mormonism over the line, while at the same time, Romney's attempt to "swiftboat" Obama to be right out of the Karl Rove playbook with one exception -- he did it himself and not through a surrogate.

  8. Yes, O'Donnell was disgusting. He should be summarily fired for that ugly, vicious bigotry.

    I would quibble with Bob's last sentence, attributing that sort of behavior to "cable 'news' channels" generally. Some of the hosts on Fox News Channel can be obnoxious or ill-informed, but AFAIK FNC has never attacked a member of a minority group based on ethnic stereotypes the way O'Donnell did.

    1. Did you follow any of Fox's coverage of the "Mosque at Ground Zero"?

    2. How about Fox's coverage of immigration?

    3. I did not follow any of Fox's coverage of the "Mosque at Ground Zero". However, I would bet that Fox did not use the allegation that Mohammed married a 9-year old child to belittle current-day Muslims. That's a fair analogy to what O'Donnell did to Romney IMHO.

    4. David, your original statement was that "Fox has never attacked a member of a minority group based on ethnic stereotypes."

      I gave you an example. Now you say it doesn't count because Fox didn't accuse Muslims of marrying a 9 year old.


  9. Not only does this column by Julianne Malveaux contain many errors, it implies that Zimmerman hunted down Martin and shot him in cold blood. E.g., discussing a nephew who was confronted by an armed policeman (who happened to be black!) Malveaux says, "Anyi had so many witnesses around him that the police officer could not pull a Trayvon on him." She says, "This is post-racial America. You can shoot and kill a young black man in a hoodie then claim self-defense because you find him threatening."

    What I find sad and worrisome is that Malveaux's POV is probably common in the black community. No good can come from this level of misunderstanding.

  10. Actually, I remember quite a bit of hay being made out of Kerry's Catholicism at the time, and whether his pro-choice position was going to cost him Catholic votes, earn him excommunication, etc. Perhaps Bob was napping in the woods?

    1. Yep, quite a bit of media speculation about the quality of Kerry's Catholicism. Guess it's one of those "It's OK If You Are Republican" things to bring up a Democrat's religion, because the new Bob certainly doesn't have a word to say about Romney calling Obama a "secularist" waging a carefully thought out War on Religion.

  11. Now I remember why I stopped reading your shrillness. You're as bad as those you rail against. how about some plain facts, and let the reader draw their own conclusion.

  12. When a liberal gets declared "shrill," he or she has won the internet. So go bob.

    Eye for an eye leaves us all blind. Going after Romney's religion because he called Obama "secular" (no, that does not mean "atheist," and no there's nothing wrong with being an atheist) wouldn't even be justified if Romney had made fun of Obama's actual religion, like by saying that Martin Luther was anti-semitic and asking Obama to respond to anti-semitic statements from 500 years ago.

    1. Romney can't go after Obama's Protestantism because Obama's supposed to be a closet Muslim, Alex. Romney won't sully himself by stooping to that level of wingnuttery, but invoking Obama as a secularist is the next best thing.

    2. Romney can't go after Obama's Protestantism because most voters are Protestant. Romney can go after Obama's secularism, because most voters are religious.

      In the old days, opponents could have gone after Obama's race, but that kind of bigotry is unacceptible today. Similarly, antisemitism against Joe Lieberman would have been unacceptible as would anti-Hispanic bigotry against Sonia Sotomayor..

      Unfortunately, bigotry against Mormons is acceptible and prevalent. Bigotry against Mormons is strange, because Mormons are particularly upright citizens. Look at all the famous Mormons, such as Jon Huntsman, Harry Reid, Harmon Killebrew, Johnny Miller, Danny Ainge, Jack Anderson, Billy Barty, the Osmunds, and a host of others. Meanwhile, I cannot think of a single Mormon infamous for being a gangster, a murderer, a welfare cheat, a swindler, a criminal of any sort, nor any Mormon noted for being an adulterer or otherwise immoral. Really, Romney's religion ought to be a plus.

    3. Ever heard of the Fancher party?

    4. Yes, some Mormons behaved despicably in 1857. I'll amend my comment to say that I can't think of any Mormons who behaved badly in the last 155 years.

  13. Jack Anderson was one sleazy (if wonderfully colorful) character.

    As I've said, I've no problem with Politicos being asking, in a respectful fashion,
    to put their political positions in the context of their religions faith. Had Nixon
    been asked to behave like a Quaker, the lives of Millions of people might have
    been spared.