Prize-winner Krugman gets in a few words!

TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2012

As Maddow returns to the air: Rachel Maddow had laryngitis last week.

Last night, her problem was different. In many ways, we thought this program, end to end, revealed the basic problems with Maddowism in a striking manner.

For today, let’s restrict ourselves to her rather strange segment with Paul Krugman, one of the very few people from whom you can actually expect to learn something.

Maddow claimed to be excited that Krugman would be on her program. Midway through the show, as it often does, it all came back to her:
MADDOW (6/18/12): All right. Frank Rich was here, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was sitting here. And coming up, Paul Krugman will be here! I don’t have much of my voice, but this is probably my best night at this desk in quite some time.
As viewers, we finally got to relax, knowing that Rachel was happy.

In fact, Maddow made extremely poor use of Krugman’s appearance. Before she brought him on, she did an entire segment in which she herself, and she alone, set the stage for his segment. This preliminary segment wasn’t especially sharp, but it ran almost six minutes (5:39).

To watch this segment, click here.

Maddow’s political analysis wasn't real sharp during this stage-setting segment. But did we mention the fact that Krugman didn’t appear in this segment at all?

In the segment which followed, Krugman was finally allowed to intrude on the set. But good grief! This segment—her actual segment with Krugman—ran only a little over four minutes! (4:16). Aside from his thoughtful, “Good to be on,” Krugman didn’t get to say a word until slightly more than one minute was gone. In all, he answered only three questions from Maddow—and her questions just weren’t all that sharp.

To watch this segment, click here.

Leaving aside his “Good to be on,” Krugman spoke 461 words in all. Maddow herself spoke more than a thousand just in her stage-setting segment!

Maddow’s political judgment is weak—and her self-involvement is vast. That said, it was the earlier apparent dishonesty which really grabbed us—that, and the program’s plaintive last sentence!

We’ll return to this hour by the end of the week. The transcript may yet show up here.


  1. Too much TV, but I saw Krugman three times last night: BBC, Maddow, and Cobert. I expect Colbert to step on hefty lines with necessary funniness. He understands the needs of his audience better than I. Perhaps Maddow understands the needs of hers better than Howler. Strange, however. The media blitz felt like a book tour, but his latest has been out for a while. Perhaps his publisher understands the needs of their readers better than...

    1. She understands her audience, alright. She knows they like being stroked with phony platitudes about THEM. I've seen some of their comments, and she is a goddess to them.

      How much does she pay you to run interference for her?

    2. Sorry, meant to put my full name. Don't like posting as an entity you can't address.

  2. Word counts aren't everything, and I'm grateful for even brief appearances by Krugman, but viewing the two segments together does reinforce the impression of windiness by Maddow.

    Also, JS, Krugman is everywhere now, you're right. There are short segments scheduled every day this week at PBS:

    1. I haven't watched these segments and haven't watched Maddow in weeks, but "windiness" is a big part of her problem. She loves to hear herself talk. She will do these several minute spiels where she tries to make some sort of clever point, but the problem is that the point frequently isn't that clever.

      She's a Rhodes scholar and can't be stupid, but to me she comes across as someone who treats her audience like a bunch of morons who need to have issues reduced to humorous partisan sound bites in order to be entertained. That might work if she were as funny as Stewart or Colbert, but she's not funny at all.

      The fact that she is popular with some liberals is evidence that Bob is right--we liberals have our tribal tendencies too.


    2. I just watched the two segments. Neither was terrible, though I thought the first could have been cut way back--Maddow always has to make the same point multiple times. And if one is excited about having Krugman on, why give him so little time? The guy is a rock star with at least many of us liberals. Why not give him ten minutes or even half an hour (which is what would happen on a real show where the point was to have intelligent discussion). Is there anything on a typical Maddow show that couldn't be tossed aside for the sake of listening to Krugman for a significant amount of time?

      But I suppose MSNBC is out to make money and they must know their audience. That doesn't speak well for the audience.

  3. Well, you can just change the channel and watch the Hannity Show!

  4. I long for a simpler age, when a politician could say one thing that was true (that he had read somewhere that he was the inspiration for a character in Love Story) and one arguably true (that he was present at the creation of the internet) and be branded a pathological liar by the press. Now, no matter how hard Mitt Romney tries, he just can't get the press to acknowledge what a truly massive lying a**hole he is.

  5. O/T: You call this a political blog, and yet you've let Romney skate on donutgate!?

    Why aren't you writing about this vitally important matter that MSNBC has tried to inform voters about, while other supposed tribunes of the people sleep on the job?

    1. Is David Pakman on MSNBC? That's where your link sent me. And that particular video had all of 7,000 views.

  6. Whether the line of questioning is the highest and best use of Krugman is certainly debatable, but as a matter of fact, from the time the interview started, Krugman talked almost three times as long as Maddow. But the public sector offset against private employment growth was the subject matter, and it is her show. the Howler might find her every second of performance offensive, but she has the highest rating of any MSNBC performer -- so most inclined to watch that network don't share that revulsion.

    1. We liberals are smart, and don't need to be fed all this policy information and importanttalk. We already know everything -- you can see that by the success we've had at shaping the public debate and getting our agenda enacted. Why, we got a black man elected to President! And he said he was for gay marriage! And some governor somewhere said nice things about legalizing pot! WE. Are. KILLING. IT! We're much better than those idiots who watch Fox, who don't know anything to begin with, and who can't get anything accomplished! So we can indulge in worshipping Dear, Sweet Rachel while she preens and panders. We've earned it, after all, and so has she.

  7. Not seeing a lot of huge flaws in the two segments. It does seem to be an error to imply that it is impossible for Republicans to win Wisconsin. Gore barely won Wisconsin in 2000 and Kerry barely won it in 2004. Obama won handily in 2008, but generally Wisconsin has been a swing state even since Nixon won it in 1968.

  8. On the flip side, we have this nonsense from the Washington Post, telling us how Romney is suddenly "one of the guys" and has "loosened up" --based on one quote from a supporter named Marge, the fact that some people wanted to shake Romney's hand, and that he ate ice cream. Go ahead, read it and weep. Now THIS is some good reporting!

    By Philip Rucker, Published: June 18

    NEWARK, Ohio — Mitt Romney is still awkward sometimes, a bit robotic and stilted at the lectern. But a turnabout seems to be happening: Voters say they are seeing him through a new prism.

    “He’s not stiff. He’s letting his own human nature through, talking like you and I are talking now, not guarded and watching what he’d say,” Marge Sowa, 69, said of the Republican presidential candidate after sizing him up at a pancake breakfast in Brunswick, Ohio, during his tour of potential battleground states. “He showed personality — oh, big time. He was one of the guys.”

    One of the guys. That’s a far cry from how voters described Romney during the tumultuous GOP primaries. Now that he is their likely nominee and running an extremely close race against President Obama, Republicans are demonstrating fresh enthusiasm.

    Instead of polite clapping, Romney’s campaign speech riffs are cheered with hoots and whistles and chants of “Rom-ney! Rom-ney!” As he builds to the crescendo in his remarks — saying it’s time to take the torch and hold it up high so the United States can again become “that shining city on a hill” — his words are drowned out with bursts of applause.

    And when he steps off the stage to work the rope line, supporters reach out their hands six or eight deep. They put an arm over his shoulder, hug him or, as Barbara Morris did the other day in Milford, N.H., place their hands over his, look him in the eyes and say, “Bless you, Mitt.”

    Barack Obama circa 2008 he is most certainly not. But Romney is campaigning with more confidence, in part because of his standing in the polls. While just 58 percent of Republicans viewed him favorably in mid-March, 78 percent had positive opinions in late May, according to Washington Post-ABC News polling.

    Romney’s advisers argue that the state of the economy alone will decide the November election. But they acknowledge that Americans expect a level of zeal from their presidential candidates. They orchestrated a five-day bus tour for him through six battleground states to show him connecting with voters in a variety of settings.

    In a New Hampshire park, he scooped ice cream (mostly vanilla); along a Pennsylvania highway, he stopped by a Wawa convenience store for a meatball hoagie; in Ohio, he served pancakes at an apple orchard on Father’s Day; and along the Mississippi River in Iowa, he went on a riverboat cruise and briefly took the steering wheel for a photo op.

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