How the Mousketeers hustle us kids!


Alex Wagner adopts the position: Alex Wagner is spectacularly telegenic and she’s plenty smart.

For that reason, she is one of MSNBC’s gang of fiery new liberal Mouseketeers. They make us feel that we’re part of the gang. They’re youngish and they're lots of fun. They're our very best friends on TV.

If they came out one day yelling, “I’m Alex! I’m Chris!” would anyone be surprised?

When necessary, these Mouseketeers may adopt the company line. To see Wagner do so concerning the Chicago school strike, click over to Digby’s post.

One point is essential:

None of the people on that panel have any idea what they’re talking about! They don’t know what goes on in urban schools. Beyond that, they don’t care. They don’t understand the potential problems with the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers. They certainly don’t understand the reasons for the current strike.

They have no idea what they’re talking about. That said, they do know their scripts.

(In principle, we’re not opposed to using standardized tests as part of teacher evaluation. Key words there: In principle.)

After her initial presentation, Wagner adopts the corporatist line in every word out of her mouth. Here’s what she said in her second throw, the toss she made to John Heileman:
WAGNER (9/12/12): It’s worth noting, it’s hard to say, “Look, we don’t want to be evaluated. You just have to keep paying us what you’re paying us.”
Cute. You’ll have to watch to evaluate her tone, which we would describe as snide.

In her next contribution, Wagner snidely noted that Chicago teachers are being paid an average of $76,000. She forgot to say what she is paid for reciting the company line.

“Let me say one thing though,” the fiery TV liberal continued. “I mean, the narrative here is that somehow the teachers unions do not have the interests of children at heart. And the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of Chicago school children not in school doesn’t do much to ameliorate that image.”

Wagner snarked as she said it.

Once more, let’s stress a key point: Wagner doesn’t have any idea what she’s talking about. She doesn’t know squat about low-income schools. She has no plan to learn.

Like everyone else in the insider press, she does know her approved narratives. For whatever reason, NBC and its cable arms have always been weirdly involved in pushing the Bloomberg/Gates “education reform” agenda. In this post at the Atlantic, Molly Ball helps explain how these alignments are coming to the Democratic Party itself:
BALL (9/8/12): [Michelle] Rhee, the controversial former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor known for her hard-charging style, has worked with Republican governors to push her reform ideas in states across the country. Her ongoing pitched battle with the teachers unions has put her at odds with one of the Democratic Party's most important traditional constituencies.

Yet there are signs that Rhee's persona non grata status in her party is beginning to wane—starting with the fact that the chairman of the Democratic convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, spoke at the movie screening Rhee hosted at the convention earlier this week. Another Democratic star, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, spoke at the cocktails-and-canapes reception afterward. Across the country, Democratic officials from governors like Colorado's John Hickenlooper to former President Clinton—buoyed by the well-funded encouragement of the hedge-fund bigwigs behind much of the charter-school movement—are shifting the party's consensus away from the union-dictated terms to which it has long been loyal. Instead, they're moving the party toward a full-fledged embrace of the twin pillars of the reform movement: performance-based incentives for teachers, and increased options, including charter schools, for parents.
For ourselves, we’re not unalterably opposed to performance-based pay. On balance, we think experimentation with charter schools has been quite constructive. We’re not opposed to everything Rhee says and does. As we've said in the past, we like some things she says.

But the highlighted text explains what’s happening as liberals adopt the “reform” position. For whatever reason, big-money people like the Bloomberg/Gates version of “education reform”—and Democratic candidates adore those big-money people! Cory Booker ran out to kiss big-money ass during the dust-up over Bain Capital.

Now, Booker is kissing big-money ass over “education reform.”

Beyond that, big-money people have been behind NBC’s weird advocacy for the Rhee/Bloomberg line—and Wagner is paid by NBC. We’ll have to guess that she is paid much more than that $76,000 per year. The future pay-days will be vast, as long as she colors inside the lines.

For whatever reason, Digby singles out Heileman for (well-deserved) criticism, thereby giving Wagner a pass. That’s also a typical part of this process. But if you want to see a liberal Mousekeeter cheerfully adopt the position, click over to Digby’s site and watch Alex Wagner sound off.

Wagner is scornful toward Chicago teachers. Please understand that one key point:

She has no idea what she’s talking about! Performing like a good Mouseketeer, she’s simply reciting her lines.

Two final points: When Wagner forgot to say how much she's paid, all the other panelists forgot to ask her.

At the New Republic, Richard Kahlenberg notes that the median salary for Chicago teachers is $68,000. He'll never make it on TV advancing points like that! (His whole piece is worth reading.)


  1. I wonder how they are computing that salary. When auto workers were being trashed during the bailout conservatives claimed they made $75 per hour. This figer included not only their pension and health it also included the cost of those benefits for RETIRED workers as if that was compensation for those currently working.

    I would not be surprised to find that that kind of manipulation of numbers is going on here, too. I heard a Chicago public school science teacher on TV who has worked in the system for 10 years say he does not make that kind of money. Just wondering;

  2. Kenzo Shibata says average annual salary for Chicago teachers is ACTUALLY $56,720, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, blog post at

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. If only Joy-Ann Reid were a little cuter. Maybe they'd give her a show.

  5. The whole so called school choice, so called reform movement (backed by billionaires Gates, Waltons and Broads, Kochs, Devoses, Dell, assorted hedge fund magnates, etc., there are many more) is all about busting the unions, privatizing the schools and dumping our traditional public school system. Michelle Rhee is a toxic anti public school ideologue and she gets paid big money to trash public schools, public school teachers and their unions. The $74K or $76k supposed average salary for Chicago teachers is exaggerated, they are still earning less than the teachers in the suburbs. Chicago schools are falling apart physically, the kids live in high poverty neighborhoods with high unemployment, rampant crime and violence. Shootings are common, the kids come to school with an incredible array of social, emotional, physical and psychological problems. Rahm Emanuel has cut back on school counselors, school psychologists, social workers and even school nurses. Many schools don't have libraries, enough gym, music and art teachers. Some classes have as many as 40 pupils. In the meantime, Emanuel gets to send his kids to an elite private school with libraries, art, music, gym and class sizes of from 12 to 15 pupils. There is NOTHING good about Rahm or Rhee as regards their war AGAINST PUBLIC SCHOOLS, THEIR TEACHERS AND ESPECIALLY THEIR unions. It really is a war and the traditional public schools are losing because Rhee and Emanuel have the billionaires' boys club backing them up plus an adoring media. The corporate media is rabidly anti-union and never passes up an opportunity to smear and demonize the "EVIL" unions.

  6. If you think Wagner is snarky, you should see Lou Dobbs's red-faced nightly tirades on the subject of those Chicago teachers and their outrageous $41,000 pensions.

  7. iwillnotbepushed,filed,stamped,indexed,briefed,debriefedornumbered. oursocietyisourown.September 17, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    disturbing right wing messaging on the tape . . . given cover by the msnbc prime time hosts (and her show as well I presume) support of the idiosyncratic new 'left' or cultural 'left' agenda. im either for, or i go along quietly with, a lot of the cultural stuff in the interests of defeating the opposition radical agenda, but you have to eat your spinach (true left economic building blocks like the rights of labor) before desert or you will get sick...hmmm. priorities matter, as each party only has so much political good will to spend.

  8. wewillnotbepushed,filed,stamped,indexed,briefed,debriefedornumbered. oursocietyisourown.September 18, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    Somerby says:

    "One point is essential:
    None of the people on that panel have any idea what they’re talking about! They don’t know what goes on in urban schools. Beyond that, they don’t care. They don’t understand the potential problems with the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers. They certainly don’t understand the reasons for the current strike."


    "Once more, let’s stress a key point: Wagner doesn’t have any idea what she’s talking about. She doesn’t know squat about low-income schools. She has no plan to learn."

    >>> somerbys judgment is that wagner and presumably the others are "plenty smart" (likely no irish-catholic heritage on that panel, so why not?). he would seem to conclude that they are well able to understand the situation, ergo they are performing journalistic malpractice live on tv.

    maybe. but theres a darker possibility -- they do understand what goes on in urban schools but they are willing tools of the right.

    [todays so-called 'left' is an arm of the right.]

    1. Crikey! Even when you have a valid point ("theres a darker possibility -- they do understand what goes on in urban schools but they are willing tools of the right") it's eclipsed by your insanity:

      "somerbys judgment is that wagner and presumably the others are "plenty smart" (likely no irish-catholic heritage on that panel, so why not?)"

      Take your meds, son.

  9. Very simple rule: in any dispute between any unionized workforce and Rahm Emanuel, the union is right and Emanuel is wrong. That is a serious statement. Emanuel is an ego-maniacal jerk who gets off on being "tough" with unions -- or anyone else with whom he can posture by throwing around the f-word indiscriminately. (Obama likes that about him, too.) This strike is 100% the result of Emanuel's ego, in which the best interest of kids has no place except to the extent necessary to formulate some propaganda. The product of New Trier High School (one of the richest in the country) who sends his own kids to private schools (despite the fact that the Chicago public school system has some outstanding magnet schools) just knows how the schools should be run despite his glaring lack of pertinent experience. And by god, he is going to force it down their throats.

    The so-called "reform" movement, from Obama and Duncan to Rhee, Guggenheim and Bill and Melinda Gates, is populated almost entirely by people who attended expensive private schools. It is striking how little support it has from people who actually have experience working in public schools, even when they no longer have a direct interest and would probably benefit personally from some of their schemes. In fact, the movement is 100% fraudulent. Nothing useful is served by CYA statements like how "of course there are bad teachers," Michelle Rhee has some good ideas, or there have been some great things out of charter schools.

    1. "Michelle Rhee has some good ideas"

      ...and Mussolini made the trains run on time.

      "there have been some great things out of charter schools"

      ...and Mengele's "research" taught us a lot about anatomy and the resilience of the human body.

      You cannot take the good without acknowledging the bad, especially when the bad so clearly outweighs the good.

    2. It's odd to attack Somerby's rationality and common sense, his acknowledgement that his opponents' have good ideas and are not entirely wrong. So very un-MSNBC, I guess, I'm sure one thing he'd say is that tribal politics, 'my side is completely in the right & your side are demons', may work if you have billions of dollars and control of the mainstream media, but it doesn't when you have neither. Better for the authentic left to be reasonable and approachable. The Chicago Teachers Union as we speak is working for a 'testing' compromise that will introduce teacher evaluations that they can trust, incorporate standardized testing but not overvalue a single year's results, and will (I hope) revise the tests and testing procedures so that cheating is much less likely. In other words, the real world like Somerby is not black and white.

  10. My comment relates to Rhee...and the StudentsFirst outfit she started that asked for my support through

    To check them out, I ended up on your website and greatly appreciate learning more about Rhee's teaching "career."

    This item was of interest:

    I've sent a request to re: their policies regarding the veracity of their petitions. Should be interesting. And educational.

  11. Having read this I believed it was very enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this content
    together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading
    and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Here is my website ... atkinsons diet

  12. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering problems with your RSS.

    I don't know why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS issues? Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    Here is my blog post ... low carb nährwerttabelle

  13. Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my site thus i got here to return the choose?
    .I am trying to in finding things to enhance my website!

    I assume its good enough to make use of some of your ideas!

    my weblog: produkte ohne laktose
    My page: Ernährung ohne Weizen

  14. When I initially commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time
    a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

    My blog - logi-methode glücklich und schlank
    Also see my page - leicht abnehmen

  15. I read this article fully regarding the resemblance of most up-to-date and preceding technologies, it's remarkable article.

    Look at my webpage: oil massage