BOOK WORLD: We need better elites, Maddow said!


Our analysts laughed till they cried: Yesterday, we looked at Gail Collins’ new book. More specifically, we reviewed the four chapters which deal with the Texas schools.

At several points, Collins attempts to discuss, or pretends to discuss, Texas public school test scores.

For today, we’ll only say this: Good God! Also this: Inexcusable!

How do people like this stay employed? (They keep making jokes about Mitt Romney's dog.) At any rate, we’ll review Collins’ work next week. Last night, we were struck by the way Rachel Maddow described Chris Hayes’ new book.

Let’s give credit where it's due; Maddow is one of the genuine phonies. Here’s how she started her summary of Hayes’ book, which we look forward to reading:
MADDOW (6/20/12): The great Chris Hayes, who you know from this network, has a new book out that's called “Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy.” And in this new book, Chris makes the case that the people who are supposed to be good at stuff in our country are no longer good at stuff.

We’re sort of calcified in a way in this country, that we count on an elite to do everything. But for a very important reason, our elite [pause] sucks!
A few basic pointers:

First, when the children start introducing each other as “the great [insert name here],” a new elite is inventing itself—and you are getting hustled. As a general tendency, this new elite will “suck” just as badly as all the other ones did.

Beyond that, we were struck by the spectacle of Maddow complaining that “the people who are supposed to be good at stuff in our country are no longer good at stuff.” The previous night, she had basically lied in your faces, pretending that a pol she dislikes had done several things he just plain hadn’t done. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/20/12.

Maddow does this sort of thing rather frequently. Put it this way: The people who are supposed to be honest in our country are no longer honest.

As Maddow continued her account of Hayes’ book, we were struck by her list of elites. To watch this full segment, click here.

Maddow went on and on with her list. Can you see the one group she missed?
MADDOW (continuing directly): And it's kind of hard to argue with him on that. I mean, what elite institution is in good shape in our country if you judge by our recent history? If you judge by the first decade of the century, what Chris calls “the decade of fail”—well, it starts with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, an institution that embodies an ideal of pure, dispassionate, elite cogitation, handed to the presidency to a favored choice of a slim, five-person majority in a ruling whose legal logic was so tortured the court itself announced it could not be used as precedent.

Then the American security apparatus, the largest in the world, failed to prevent 19 men with knives and box cutters from pulling off the greatest mass murder in U.S. history.

Just a few months later, Enron and Arthur Anderson imploded. At the time, Enron was the largest corporate bankruptcy in the history of the nation, what once was the hottest company in America was revealed to be an elaborate fraud, aided and abetted by one of the most trusted accounting firms in the entire world.

So that's how we started, then there was the Iraq war, and then there was Katrina and drowning of New Orleans, and then there was the collapse of Wall Street and the collapse of housing and the onset of the greatest depression since the Great Depression.

Quoting Chris, "The dysfunction revealed by the crisis decade extends even past the government and the Fortune 500. The Catholic Church was exposed for its systematic policy of protecting serial child rapists and enabling them to victimize children.

"Penn State University was forced to fire its believed football coach and university president, after it was revealed that much of the school's sports and administrative hierarchy have looked the other way while former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly raped and abused young boys on its own property.

"Even baseball, our own national pastime, came to be viewed as little more than a corrupt racket, as each week brought a new revelation of a star who is taking performance-enhancing drugs, while owners, players and union leadership colluded in a cover-up."


The novel and arresting thesis we are getting now from Chris Hayes in this really important book is that we need better elites, which means there has to be some room for there to be new ones, which is why this is a reason to be cheerful actually.
Sometimes quoting Hayes, Rachel mentioned all the elites, right down to Penn State and the national pastime. But did you notice one major elite she forgot to add to her list?

We look forward to reading Hayes’ book. Accordingto Maddow, he presents a novel thesis: We need better elites!

Who else would have thought of that? At any rate, as you read Hayes' book, stay clear on this point:

Hayes and Maddow know one elite better than any other. They know that elite from within.

Maddow makes millions of dollars each year from her role within that elite.

Last night, she forgot to mention that elite, the one to which she belongs. She also pretended that the scandal of Campaign 2000 began with the Supreme Court. That is your country’s recent history as told by careerist liberals. (The Clinton-Gore years didn’t happen. Fools For Scandal was never written. Chris Matthews and all the other heroes didn't wage that twenty-month war against Gore. There was nothing to look at whatsoever. Then, the Supreme Court misfired!)

Hayes knows one elite especially well. As we read his book, we plan to watch the way he handles the work of that group.

He knows that one elite quite well. Will he or that hustler discuss it?

Meanwhile, in search of some comic relief: “We need better elites,” Maddow said.

Our analysts laughed till they cried.


  1. I will admit, I haven't read most of Hayes' book. Based on buzz, I did spend some time with it while others shopped the B&N.

    "[Hayes] knows that one elite quite well. Will he discuss it?"

    I don't think you're going to come away happy.

    We have a low bar for what makes a "great" book on our politics.

  2. The abuse of Al Gore by the spiteful press and the sickening performance of the The Supreme Court in handing the election to W are two different subjects, it's possible to discuss one without discussing another. If you want to get technical, I am always free to turn off the media (and most people do), but we all have to live with the calls made by corrupt and stupid Judges. You will notice that in his New Yorker Piece on Clarence Thomas, Toobin suggests that it's almost impossible to doubt Anita Hills testimony at this point. But he stops short of telling you what that means: Thomas perjured his way on to the Court, then did not recuse himself in a case involving the son of the man who appointed his undeserving ass, which made it possible to put more right ideologies on the Court, which gave us unrestricted Campaign Finance.... all this is much, much worse than not enough people reading "Fools For Scandal", but beating up on Rachel Maddow seems to pretty much consume The Daily Howler's dance card.
    And you can't help but notice that the one issue TDH seems unable to touch on is Defense, and Defense Spending, the subject of Maddow's fairly worthwhile book. Not just when She talks about it, but when anyone does. He will remind us, however, that liberals don't care enough about our fallen soldiers.

  3. I get so tired of people acting like Bob is supposed to review Maddow's book simply because he discusses her work night after night on MSNBC. That book will likely have zero to no impact on the way this country sees or talks about military spending or our aggressive foreign policy.

    But Maddow's work every night on MSNBC has a very profound impact on the way many liberals see a huge variety of issues today. Maddow's work on MSNBC is a big part of the way our failing liberal strategists frame and discuss The Other Side. Bob's work is all about narrative frames from the media and they way they distort information in the discourse. Maddow's book simply is not related to that.

    She's a big and well beloved player and as he points out time and again it's a racket. It's about the Rachel Maddow brand, not about progressive politics. She's a charlatan and if her supporters demanded better from her I have no doubts but that we would get better. But most of her supporters, it seems to me, are less interested in demanding the best from her and more interested in extolling her superficial virtues.

    1. Also, also, also -- her book just *luvs* the troops. It's very much NOT about ending our worship of the military.

      So, uh, Greg, just sayin'

    2. Look, ANYBODY saying anything negative about our wonderful military is needs to do some considerable ass covering, that does not mean her book is worthless. "That book will likely have zero impact on the way this country sees or talks about military spending or our aggressive foreign policy." And as Bob used to say about Hillary Clinton's negative poll stats: yeah, how'd that happen?"

    3. I didn't say it was "worthless." I mentioned its adoration of our military, which is factual, because *you* opened that door with your snide "Somerby will remind us, however, that liberals don't care enough about our fallen soldiers."


      Zero impact. "How'd that happen?""

      Yeah, Greg, it's because the Howler's not covering it!!!

      No, no -- I guess you'd say the Howler should be covering the lack of media attention to Maddow's book?

      Well *unlike* "Fools for Scandal", Maddow's book *isn't* about the press. Get that?

      (It also isn't the great gem you think it is. IMO.)

      But the bottom line is it really isn't relevant to this blog's concern: It's not about the press. Do you get that?

      [/The Howler should do what Greg says]

    4. Coyote, it's like this. If you think that Rachel Maddow is so doggone important that you would devote huge chunks of your only blog to her, day after day, then review the entire package.

      Within the confines of a very restrictive format, she has managed to do some original reporting from time to time, as well as write a pretty important book tracing how war powers have shifted from the legislative to the executive -- a very dangerous thing no matter WHO is in the White House at the moment.

      As for the impact of that book, I have no idea. But it was a best seller.

      What Bob does instead of serious criticism is to parse her every show for that one thing he can pounce upon, and on a live, one-hour show, there will always be something. It's a pretty lazy way to do a blog.

      And I am certain that if your major source of information about Rachel Maddow is reading the Daily Howler, how you arrived at the opinion that she is a charlatan.

    5. You, Anonymous, come across as a whiny foot-stomping baby.

      "review the entire package"

      Stop mentioning Rachel's lying, her deceptions, her clowning.

      Talk about all her wonderful characteristics. That's your demand.

      It's not fair! you whine.

      "There will always be something" -- Yes, as long as she continues to be a self-praising, deceptive host there will indeed always be something.

      She could change that.

      No reason for Bob to stop calling her out just to please the whiny Maddowphiles.

    6. Well, I used to watch Rachel regularly and thought she was vastly overrated. Bob points out that she sometimes gets her facts wrong, but which is bad, but what is worse are the stupid shallow snarky "gotcha" stories that she delights in broadcasting. Even if she got her facts right most of these stories would be a waste of time. Politicians often say stupid things inadvertently and when that happens you can count on superficial commentators (left right and center) to focus on this rather than do the hard work of examining serious issues closely.

  4. madow is a cultural or new 'leftist' to a great degree, probably only excceeded in that regard within msnbc by odonnell. true leftists value economic issues first and foremost. they largely are off the left/right chart.

    on the other hand theyre anti-republicans and so in a corporatist dominated media landscape they deserve support from even those who dont particualrly like their idiosyncratic politics.

    but whether you think theyre doing net good or net bad, its wrong headed to obsess on them as their audience is relatively small. people listen to political talk radio, right and left, a ton more than they watch them. brodacast tv ratings are far higher.

    if this was the early eighties and there was very little right wing hate radio and many fewer broadcast and cable tv channels and no internet, obsessing on a show like hers would be far more defensible.

    1. Bob should talk about the right wing, not our poor liberals! Wahh!

      Also, twirling4freedom, get coherent -- m'kay? "true leftists value economic issues first and foremost. they largely are off the left/right chart." Seriously? That's not even communication, much less an accurate thumbnail of Maddow.

      "people listen to political talk radio, right and left, a ton more than they watch them." Your links don't support that claim; never mind that the claim's irrelevant anyway.


      If Maddow's show didn't exist it would be okay to point out how it sucks.

    2. I think if you read twirling's post again, he/she is calling Maddow a cultural leftist and contrasting that with a true leftist who is, and always has been, concerned with economic issues -- thus, last year's Occupy movement which was solely concerned with the increasing concentration of the nation's wealth into the hands of the super-rich.

    3. Nope.

      Maddow "deserves support."

      "It's wrong headed to obsess on" Maddow.

      "If this was the early eighties [i.e. when Maddow's show didn't exist] and there was very little right wing hate radio and many fewer broadcast and cable tv channels and no internet, obsessing on a show like hers would be far more defensible [but today it's indefensible]."

      You can try to insert good ideas into an incoherent mess if you like, but that quoted stuff is just dumb.

  5. I only got to see Rachel's segment on humblebrag. Slow news day? She tried to deflect any pot-kettle charges by showing a pic of herself with bad hair and a big (take that, Schultz)fish. Then she went after the RepSen from MA for his secret meetings with kings and such. Then she brought up again the bit about the RepSen alleging a Rachel candidacy. She didn't need the humble fish picture. As if without knowing it, she was the best example of the concept of "humblebrag." Don't the Germans or the French have a word for it?

  6. Bob seems to be angry at "the decade of fail" for not being "the dawn of fail" which of course was the media savaging of Gore.

  7. I haven't read the Hayes book, but his show is vastly superior to anything else on MSNBC and while I generally agree with Bob, if he judges Chris based on this one issue it would be a lapse in judgment on Bob's part, a kind of moral puritanism that he would normally condemn in other venues. Does he seriously expect Hayes to expose the idiocy that goes on in the rest of his own network? His own show is a standing rebuke to the nonsense that appears on MSNBC on weekday evenings and I for one understand that you can't have everything. If Chris Hayes said "The rest of MSNBC is a vast media wasteland" he'd be right, but he'd probably also lose his show, and I can't think of any liberal other than BIll Moyers who does genuinely intelligent television.


  8. A lot of this discussion seems to revolve around whether Bob (or anyone) should criticize Hayes or Maddow, given that there is this huge right wing noise machine out there. Frankly, I don't expect that any of the criticism that Hayes, Maddow or anyone from the left makes of the right wing affects the way they think about the issues. However, I do believe that criticism of Hayes and Maddow by their audience (us) can affect how their (our) message is framed, and this ultimately will determine whether our message is heard, understood and embraced. So our criticism of our own (Hayes and Maddow) could actually make a difference, where just scoring meaningless points against the other tribe is a waste of our time. Hayes and Maddow can defend themselves. Focus on the message we want them to promote and tell them how it can be better. That is what criticism is.