Richard Cohen is wrong on the facts!


So is Amanda Marcotte: Should Romney release more tax returns?

That is a matter of judgment. In our view, the press corps could write reams of informative reports based on what is available now.

The truth is, they don’t want to do that.

In his current column, Richard Cohen muses about those returns. At one point, he says the following. On the facts, Cohen is wrong:
COHEN (7/24/12): In general, presidential and vice presidential candidates have released their returns. Maybe this was because most of them were public servants whose salaries were already known and whose wealth was modest. Others, though, were persons of considerable wealth—Lloyd Bentsen, John Kerry, John Edwards—who laid it all out on the table.
Cohen is wrong on the facts. To the extent that Kerry was a person of wealth, he didn’t “lay it all out on the table.” (We’re not saying he should have done so, or even that he could have.) The wealth was in his wife’s tax returns. Despite demands from the Post and the Times, she released no full tax returns.

(She released two-page summaries for two years of returns. She released the summary for the second year late in the fall campaign. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/20/12.)

These are very simple facts, but a headlong chase is on. Misinformation can lost a long time when the press corps has a preferred story.

Misinformation can last a long time: Recently, Armanda Marcotte penned the following passage at Slate. It concerns the killing of Trayvon Martin:
MARCOTTE (7/17/12): Sexual abuse is a form of bullying, a violent crime whose pleasure for the attacker is far more about enjoying their power and dominance over the victim than it is about sexual urges. Subsequently, sexually violent men tend to be more violent generally, particularly against people they believe are lesser or weaker. If you're trying to establish that Zimmerman had it in him to hunt down and murder a teenager who is much smaller than himself, than a history of sexual assault does help demonstrate this.
Did George Zimmerman ever commit sexual assault against his cousin? We have no way of knowing.

We do know this: In the matter of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman didn’t kill a teenager who was “much smaller than himself.” MSNBC pushed that inaccurate claim for weeks. (The channel’s viewers were falsely told that Zimmerman outweighed Martin, 250 pounds to 140.)

Marcotte still seems to believe it—and she’s still passing it on. Plainly, she thinks it’s relevant.

Cohen is wrong on the facts; so is Marcotte. Misinformation can last a long time, especially when it drives preferred stories.

The official data, such as they are: Trayvon Martin’s autopsy listed him as 5-11, 158 pounds. When Zimmerman was taken into custody, he was listed as 5-8, 185 pounds.

Zimmerman wasn’t measured or weighed on the night of Martin’s death. That said, MSNBC’s claims were plainly wrong. In this, as in many other matters, the claims went uncorrected.

Misinformation can last a long time when "journalists" refuse to correct.


  1. Ah, again the quantum leap from Mitt Romney's tax returns to the relative height and weight of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.

    1. Oh,'s just ever so...difficult and complex... to comprehend how misstatements about either topical subject might be illustrative of a larger point about the effects of journalistic misinformation...

    2. Cecelia, sorry to inform you of this, but "journalistic misinformation" has been around roughly since the time of Gutenberg.

      Of course, "journalistic misinformation" has no effect whatsoever on smart people like you. It's the rest of us dummies who are so easily mislead.

    3. Wow! SHOW and TELL!

      Much obliged...

    4. "Misinformation can last a long time when "journalists" refuse to correct."

      I can't contradict Bob's point, which anyone can understand.

      So instead I pretend that two things shouldn't be mentioned together.

      Then I insist you're calling me a dummy.

      When really I know, you're just noticing that I'm a troll.

    5. Both. He/She really IS a troll and an utter dummy.

    6. Right. Just because I think there could be other possible explanations for the charges against Zimmerman than "journalistic misinformation>" I'm the dummy.

      And just because, since Romney is claiming that increasing the effective tax rate on the wealthy would be onerous and disastrous, that I want to look at his tax rates to see the burden he's under, I'm the dummy.

      Nope, let's instead make the quantum leap Bob makes. The only reason Zimmerman is in jail is because Al Sharpton and Lawrence O'Donnell got some things wrong in their reporting. Ergo, Romney should not release his tax returns because they'll just lie about that, too.


    7. tl;dr "I can't refute anything Bob said, nor make any worthwhile point, so I'll just type up some random shit."

    8. argument's justification is that it IS more specific than that...

      It is... just because you're arguing that Kerry "laid it all on the table" via his fabulously wealthy wife's SUMMARY of her tax returns (rather than her actual RETURNS).. doesn't it so...

      And just because you're arguing that Trevon Martin was attacked by the Incredible Hulk... doesn't change the reality of the situation.

      "Zimmerman wasn’t measured or weighed on the night of Martin’s death. That said, MSNBC’s claims were plainly wrong. In this, as in many other matters, the claims went uncorrected."

      That's finite question that sincere critic or troll should be able to ascertain.

      And it's the ascertaining that defines the difference.

    9. "The only reason Zimmerman is in jail is because Al Sharpton and Lawrence O'Donnell got some things wrong in their reporting."

      Translation: "Why, yes, I am certifiably insane. And no, I can't read."

    10. Cecelia, in the real world, police investigations seldom wrap up every loose end. And in this case, we don't even have any very loose ends.

      Here's an analogy. Suppose there is a dead body, a gunshot wound to the head, the gun in the deceased hands and a suicide note. Only the deceased is not wearing his left shoe, and Lawrence O'Donnell says he was.

      The coroner rules it a suicide without explaining the mysterious missing left shoe, and obviously did so because he was pressured O'Donnell saying he had both shoes on.

      So obviously, it's not a case of suicide. It's just another case of media misinformation leading a public official into a gross dereliction of duty.

      So once again in answer to your "finite question" whatever that means, NO, the fact that MSNBC misreported Zimmerman's height and weight (based on his previous arrest records) has nothing to do with the charges against him today. Absolutely nothing.

    11. It's an analogy because I say it is!

      The shoe is analogous to, um...

      Well, I mean the suicide note is clearly analogous to the bump, I mean the lack of, um...

      Well, look, if you don't understand analogies, it isn't my fault. I'm a free-thinking anonymous troll, er I mean genius.

      Wait a sec...

      I'll be up in minute, mom!

      Damn it. Gotta go, losers.

  2. Cecelia, my answer to that is "So what?" The fact that Zimmerman wasn't measured or weighed on the night of Martin's death doesn't mean shit to a tree.

    He still got out of his vehicle with a loaded gun to pursue an unarmed kid who was walking back to the house he was staying with his father in the rain from a trip to a convenience store, and the kid wound up dead.

    Now please, inform me what any of that has to do with Romney's tax returns.

    Oh, I forgot. I'm the one "typ(ing) up some random shit," certainly not the Great Bob Somerby.

    You know, just maybe you should entertain the possibility that your hero is just sitting at his computer first thing in the morning with a quart of Jack Daniels, and typing up whatever thoughts cross his mind.

    And he'll continue to do that as long as he's got six people who think every word is just brilliant!

    1. How do you know that he got out of the car to follow Trayvon? That's no evidence of that in either the disclosures by the state or consistent with Zimmerman's defense?

      I hope you realize you just proved Bob's point about the shelf life of misinformation. Thanks for playing.

    2. Annon, What drives you onward?. Your responses are illogical and fantastic. Your arguments are fallacies and you seem foolish. So again, what drives you on?

  3. ^ Hahaha beautiful.

  4. A special prosecutor -- a person widely characterized as "tough" and "conservative" -- thought Zimmerman deserved to be indicted. If we're serious here, let's assume that Angela Corey wasn't basing her evaluation on the misinformation bob somerby reports. That doesn't make Zimmerman guilty of the charges, but it suggests that more than press misinformation may be fueling some people's suspicions about Zimmerman. (Some of us do read and watch beyond the NYT and MSNBC.)

    I appreciate bob somerby's watchdogging for misinformation. I believe he tends to generalize far too much from the misinformation he chooses to tag and, more generally, to mislead many visitors, who often don't recognize that he's not even bothering to criticize the likes of Fox News. He is a good liberal (if I may hazard a lot here): he still holds out hope that reform is possible and has faith that reform (rather than much more radical change) would make a big difference in the future's direction. (Me, I'm attracted to that hope but less optimistic than I think bs is -- hey, am I calling bs optimistic? yes.)

  5. The usual reasons the usual suspects are jailed is that the physical evidence doesn't jibe with the witness's or suspect's testimony, requiring further investigation.
    Then the detective has to make a case that the local prosecutor agrees is probable cause that a crime has been committed.

    If early reports are true, lead investigator Chris Serino wanted a charge of manslaughter against Zimmerman from the git-go.

    Zimmerman isn't guilty of murder, but he pissed off the judge by pleading poverty.
    Zimmerman was stupid.

  6. Bob Somerby provides a valuable service. Conservatives tend to go after what they perceive to be liberal BS. Liberals go after conservative BS. Few are willing to call out their own side. Bob is one of the few.

    Amanda Marcotte is a self-discrediting machine who has operated as an unintentional Republican fifth columnist for years to the infuriating applause of our rank and file. That she hurts our side is not a theoretical statement as she was obliged to resign from the Edwards presidential campaign when he unbelievably hired her as his top blogger along with the almost equally appalling Melissa McEwan who tolerates virtually no dissent on her blog Shakespeare's Sister--further proof that feminists have all the answers.

    By rights, Marcotte, should be all but unemployable as a writer in view of her beyond-colossal screw up of the Duke lacrosse case. She didn't just screw the pooch, she somehow managed to get him pregnant with a dose of radiation poisoning on the side.

    Consider: Not only did Marcotte ignore obvious questions about the accuser's story and history of deranged behavior, not only did she ignore conclusive DNA evidence that the players could not have raped Crystal Mangum and not only did she call those who turned out to be correctly skeptical "rape apologists" and "rape-loving scum," she went on to even greater glory by calling CNN talking heads "evil" for sympathizing with the falsely accused and then WENT ON TO REACCUSE THEM ALL OVER AGAIN AFTER THEY HAD BEEN EXONERATED BY THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL by declaring, "Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair."

    Instead of rejecting the amazing embarrassment our side chose instead to rally around her. She even got invited to Skepticon, a convention supposedly dedicated to the importance of good critical thinking as a speaker!

    You know why people think liberals are crazy asses who hate America? It's because we're victims of a right wing smear campaign! Our own behavior has nothing to do with it.

    1. And for good measure, let's discuss Duke lacrosse along with George Zimmerman as we argue why Romney shouldn't release his tax returns.

      After all, as Bob has argued before, he's very wealthy. And the wealthier you are, the more reason you should have of stonewalling on how you got that money, as you call for more tax cuts to the very wealthy and the "job creators."

      Yep, Rush Limbaugh and the whole Fox crew couldn't say it any better. I guess that makes them part of "our side" too.

      "Calling out their own side" is one thing, if you happen to think that people like Dowd are on any side.

      But why mock Chris Hayes for saying he loves his wife? Is Somerby jealous of that, too?

    2. "why Romney shouldn't release his tax returns"

      Yes, I really do think that's what this column is about.

      Of course that does mean I am insane.

      And yes, I will wash it all down with a dose of "I'm a free thinker unlike you all."

    3. Anonymous at 9:01,

      I'm not sure what your point is but mine is this: In the political fights ahead credibility is precious. We are squandering that credibility in our zeal to attack white men for things they definitely didn't do and, in the case of Zimmerman, most likely didn't do (hunt and kill Martin rather than act in self defense). Every moment wasted abusing the public on some stupid identity politics issue where we end up bared as manifestly having our facts wrong is time not spent talking about more important things like global warming. And then when we do talk about stuff like global warming people don't want to listen because they've quite reasonably decided that we're a bunch of self-righteous a-holes.

      It's really very very simple. Perhaps that why all the super geniuses on our side can't see it. Such obvious realities are perhaps beneath the minds of such glorious political brainiacs.

  7. Teresa Heinz Kerry's tax returns are a red herring. John Kerry's returns for at least five years were public.

    1. What's *not* a red herring is the press saying "we've got to have her returns -- we need to know more about all this wealth" -- and then, when they don't get released, saying "the Kerrys came clean about their wealth."

      That's not a red herring.

      That's press corp bullshit.

      Does it mean "Romney shouldn't release his tax returns?"

      Only if you're a troll fool.

  8. Of course, it IS a red hearing, nobody, for starters, is asking about Mrs. Romney's tax return. When defending poor abused Mitt, all of Bob's fish tend to run to the scarlett, and
    it's said to see he can't even show up Richrad Cohen these days.
    Bob disliking Anom is on the money, but it's wrong to blame booze, this is what many progressives did to let the freakish Christopher Hitchens off the hook for many years. Hitch, no doubt, along with Camila Paglia, must have been a hero to CeceliaMe, who has emerged as little more than a dim bulb right winger. And we had such hopes.
    And once AGAIN we are off to Calvary with Braintree bearing the LaCrosse of Duke. This may be an east coast/west coast thing, but has anybody even heard of this Marcotte women ( seem to remember one very negative article) and this great liberal waterloo? Is she a "liberal" like Andra Dworkin was, that being, a liberal who hated liberals and was in turn hated by most liberals? Come, we must have answers so the integrity of Skepticon is never sullied again.
    And Bob disliking Anom is right once again: all roads must always lead back to the true Jesus of our day, George Zimmerman (you may call him Zimmy). If we don't know that he got out of the car at this point, can't we blame Sean? This idiot should have considered working on his story a little more and forgot about the comped hotel rooms. I have a feeling the DA's are salivating over punching holes in his story. Oh yeah, that tacky non-apology apology to Martin's parents should play well with his jury pool.
    The last time such a dubious martyr raised the Daily Howler ire he was quite single minded in his condemnation of those bastards who were suggesting Mel Gibson might be an anti-Semetic nut case. That misjudgment seemed to draw about the same level of self scrutiny as the Zimmerman story did at MSNBC.

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