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Part 5—Slowest children love novels: In last night’s opening twenty minutes, Rachel Maddow joined David Corn, Our Man from Mother Jones.

She threw Paul Krugman under the bus! So it goes in Potemkin press culture.

We’ll review that segment in our next post. For today, let’s consider a pleasing novel Rachel gave us near the end of last evening’s program.

This novel involves Richard Carmona, Democratic candidate for the Senate from Arizona. On election night, Carmona conceded.

This week, he may be taking that back, Maddow said last night:
MADDOW (11/12/12): One of the few bright spots for Republicans in the election this year was the Senate race, the U.S. Senate race in Arizona. Jeff Flake's race in Arizona was one of the few contested Senate seats that was in reach for the Republicans, but it appeared the Republicans actually did reach.

But today, the Democrat in that race, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, kind of essentially hinted at un-conceding that race. Mr. Carmona's campaign today is saying they might have declared defeat too soon. They say they are now watching the vote count in Arizona very closely.

As of this weekend, Arizona had not counted roughly one in every four votes that were cast in the election. Still, half a million votes left to count and a bunch of close races in the state are hanging in the balance. This botched election in Arizona, which is still not over, and this remarkable, potential un-concession in the U.S. Senate race by Richard Carmona, ultimately may go back to this guy [Joe Arpaio].
For whatever reason, Carmona may have conceded too soon. (Or not. This is Maddow’s source; its analysis is quite thin.)

At any rate, hurray! Carmona has “kind of essentially hinted at un-conceding that race!” This completes a triptych of novels you’ve received from the Maddow program in the last week:
Karl Rove was stupid and crazy: Karl Rove was crazy when he urged Fox to wait a while before declaring Ohio.
Mitt Romney was vain and ridiculous: On election night, Maddow complained for roughly an hour about the ridiculous way Romney was delaying his concession, thereby pushing his speech out of prime time in the east.
Richard Carmona is valiantly battling back: Hooray for Carmona! His brave campaign has now presented a remarkable un-concession!
Given the recent history of these things, Carmona was probably foolish to concede, Rove and Romney much less so. But on The One True Liberal Channel, you’ll be given the novels you like.

Some of these novels involve Maddow herself. One is the novel in which she’s Our Own Former Rhodes Scholar, one of the smartest people on the TV machine thingy. Boy howdy, is she ever smart!

The other is the (self-generated) novel in which Maddow is a stickler for accuracy, a person who loves to self-correct, a broadcaster who is determined to get her facts right.

In fact, Maddow is a lusty purveyor of novels. She constantly misstates facts. If we take her pronouncements at face value, she is also often quite dense about domestic politics.

For these reasons, it would be wrong to leave Maddow out if we’re listing the press corps’ slowest children. Consider her first full segment on November 2, the Friday before the election.

To watch this full segment, click here.

A few days earlier, Rove had written a column in the Wall Street Journal in which he predicted that Romney would win. This is standard conduct for political partisans as elections draw near.

But Rachel wanted to give us a novel we'd really enjoy. So she began to embellish, in rather comical fashion:
MADDOW (11/2/12): Mr. Rove took to The Wall Street Journal this week to patiently explain to all these people who don’t understand that these numbers that look so bad for Mr. Romney do not matter or they are wrong, or they are wrong and they don’t matter, because he says Democrats are not winning early voting by enough. And he says the polls make assumptions about turnout that he describes as absurd.

He also describes some intangible stuff that makes him believe that Romney is going to win, things like crowd size and closing arguments. According to him, all of that together shows that Mitt Romney is totally, definitely going to win this thing.

So both sides are trying to convince the country that it is obvious that they are going to win.
Pleasing! But had Karl Rove actually said that Romney was “totally, definitely going to win?” Had he said it was “obvious?”

The analysts started, then laughed out loud—for good reason. This is the actual quote from Rove which appeared on the screen as Maddow spoke. We have omitted no words:
The actual quote which appeared on the screen:
...the anecdotal and intangible evidence—from crowd sizes to each side's closing arguments—give the sense that the odds favor Mr. Romney.
Even as her staff showed a quote in which Rove only said that “the odds favor Romney,” Our Own Rhodes Scholar was having her way with the crazy wild thing Rove had said.

Self-flattering bullshit to the side, Maddow does this with great frequency. Indeed, as she continued, she quickly did it again, this time with a statement by Romney from Campaign 2008.

Maddow grossly misstated what Romney had said. Like glorious Homer’s gods on Olympus, the analysts roared with laughter:
MADDOW (continuing directly): So, both sides are trying to convince the country that it is obvious that they are going to win. And I think it is worth listening to the arguments and checking to see if these arguments are based in good sense. But honestly, it is also worth recognizing that every campaign on both sides does this every time.

For example, here is how this particular phenomenon looked the day before the election in 2008 when this sort of bragging that we get every year was being done by prominent John McCain Republican surrogate named Mitt Romney.

(Begin video clip)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside a campaign, what do you get on the inside that we don’t get on the outside because you’re doing your own polling?

ROMNEY: You see the widest array of polls. You look at Mason-Dixon, for instance, that came out yesterday. You take that apart, it’s close to the internal polls. It shows that John McCain is leading in the states that he’s got to lead in, like Ohio and Florida. We’re going to pick up Pennsylvania. We think we’ve got a real good shot in Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada.

You know, that’s the pathway to victory for John McCain. We’re excited. We’re hoping to see a lot of people out there in Chicago on election night with Barack Obama experiencing a long, cold night, as they learned that John McCain surprisingly won.
(End video clip)

MADDOW: It’s nice he wishes physical discomfort on his political enemies there at the end, just gratuitously throwing that in even though he wasn’t asked. But notice what exactly he was so confidently predicting there. The day before the election in 2008, it was Mitt Romney. The day before the election, and again, these were his predictions for states that John McCain was definitely going to win.
Back in 2008, what had Romney actually said? He actually said that Candidate McCain “had a real good shot” in Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada.

But so what? Just like that, Maddow translated that into a "confident prediction" that McCain was "definitely" going to win those states. In case her bullshit wasn't clear, she played that tape a second time and bullshat her viewers again:
MADDOW (continuing directly): It’s nice he wishes physical discomfort on his political enemies there at the end, just gratuitously throwing that in even though he wasn’t asked. But notice what exactly he was so confidently predicting there. The day before the election in 2008, it was Mitt Romney. The day before the election, and again, these were his predictions for states that John McCain was definitely going to win.

ROMNEY (videotape): John McCain is leading in the states he’s got to lead in like Ohio and Florida. We’re going to pick up Pennsylvania. We think we’ve got a real good shot at Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada. You know, that's the pathway to victory for John McCain.

MADDOW: See how all those states were blue? His confident predictions that John McCain was going to win Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada in 2008 were wrong in every single instance. They lost every single one of those states, even though he seemed like he was going to win all of those states the day before the election.

And he didn’t say that he just felt like they were going to win. He said they have the polling data that showed they were going to win in all those states, and they did not win in any of those states.
That’s plainly not what Romney said. But Maddow ladled the bullshit to three million viewers. By now, the analysts were roaring with laughter, enjoying the manifest nonsense as Maddow embellished her pleasing tale.

(At this point, our child went off on a tangent. She quoted a very weak AP report about Paul Ryan’s career prospects should Romney lose. She wondered why the AP report wasn’t generating more attention, since it supposedly showed that "Ryan's supporters are fairly clearly assuming that Romney and Ryan are about to lose." In fact, the report was absurdly weak in its sourcing and it contained no actual quotes. On a special Sunday night Maddow program, Steve Schmidt patiently explained these facts to his host, who was still amazed that the AP report, and an equally worthless Politico piece, weren’t getting big play in the press. If Maddow was acting in good faith, she is just ginormously clueless.)

Back to that Friday night segment: By now, Maddow had offered two laughable embellishments. In each case, even the sleepiest viewer could see that her statements did not comport with the actual facts.

Now, she brought Nate Silver on—and just like that, she apparently did it again! Can you spot the apparent embellishment in her first question to Silver?
MADDOW: I sort of can’t believe [that the AP report] didn’t get more attention when it came out yesterday afternoon. Not only must it have caused some dyspepsia inside the Romney campaign, but it is also the purest and most direct rebuttal of that campaign’s own rather heroic efforts to project some super human confidence about how much they think they are going to win on Tuesday.

Joining us is a man who is in the business of knowing who is going to win on Tuesday, Nate Silver, editor of the FiveThirtyEight political calculus blog for the New York Times. He’s the author of real excellent new book, "The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail, But Some Don’t." Nate, thank you for being here.

SILVER: Yes, thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: A lot of headlines say that, since Mitt Romney is going to Pennsylvania, that must mean that Pennsylvania is in play. From the numbers, do you believe Pennsylvania is in play?
Was that highlighted statement true? Were there really “a lot of headlines saying that, since Mitt Romney is going to Pennsylvania, that must mean that Pennsylvania is in play?”

Rachel was letting us gullibles think that the press corps was pimping the Romney line. But were there any such “headlines” in the press, let alone a lot of such headlines? The next day, we couldn’t find them in major newspapers. And at the Maddow site, no links to such headlines were offered.

The site provided 36 links in support of Maddow’s claims from that show. None of these links took us to any of those alleged headlines. We’ll guess that Maddow was dreaming them up. Despite the self-flattering bullshit she pimps, she often invents her facts.

By now, the analysts were weak with laughter. For ourselves, we sat back, sober, thoughtful, concerned.

Rachel is sold as Our Own Rhodes Scholar. But she’s also a persistent clown. Beyond that, she isn’t especially truthful and she often seems extremely clueless about domestic politics.

She gave us a pleasing novel that night—a pleasing novel about the way Rove and Romney kept overstating. As she did, she kept overstating the things they had actually said!

Presumably, Rachel would score well on an IQ test. At the same time, she is one of the slowest children in the current corporate version of the American “press corps.” That night, the analysts roared with laughter as she kept proving this point.

In fairness, she gave us a novel we liked. But is this good for progressive interests? Is this good for American interests?

Our answer would have to be no—although we liberals derive great joy from this willful child’s novelized tales.

Next post: Krugman under the bus


  1. "she often invents her facts"

    Once again Somerby's demanding perfection from Maddow, the perfection of not making shit up.

    1. Zzzzzzz ...[no thought on his own, so he/she makes up strawmen opponents of his Saint to feel clever] ....zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    2. Yeah, "strawmen opponnets," that's it!

      For example, you're definitely not that clown who always shows up here in comments to defend your beloved Maddow, by claiming that whatever criticism is leveled at her amounts to nothing less than a unreasonable requirement by Somerby that she be "perfect."

      That certainly must be a "made up" fact.

      No claim implied that noticing your bullshit is "clever," however. It's pretty straightforward.

    3. Anon. 2:01

      Opponent is spelled o-p-p-o-n-e-n-t.

  2. Looking for Maddow to complete her review of election prognostications:

    “Here is what will happen in November. Democrats will keep control of the House. Period.”

    Nancy Pelosi, 2010

    And in 2012:

    House Democrats hope to pick up a minimum of 27 seats to reclaim the majority, most of them in states that are not battlegrounds in the presidential election, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Tuesday.

    Although House Republicans are confident they will add to their majority, Pelosi described the estimates as the “most conservative, cold-blooded, clear-eyed, worst-case scenario,” citing a recent Democracy Corps poll showing the Democratic candidate ahead by six or more points in the 27 seats.

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