For liberals only: Do we want to be serviced this way?


What Rachel said about Rove: Do we liberals want to be conned when we turn on our TV machines? Do we want to be pleasured and serviced in silly tribal ways?

That’s the way Fox treats conservative viewers. Do we liberals want that treatment when we turn on The One True Channel?

That question popped into our heads as we watched cable last night. We were back on our sprawling campus—and we were soon handed this:
MADDOW (12/10/12): As the Republican Party and the conservative movement try to figure out who they are in the wake of this year’s elections and who is in charge, right, on the conservative cable news network, the Fox News Channel, it is reported now that the two political analysts most closely associated with not just wanting Mitt Romney to win the presidential election, but saying Mitt Romney would win the presidential election, those two analysts have been benched by cable executives.

One of them is Karl Rove, who famously on election night tried to convince Fox News-watching Americans that Mitt Romney had not really lost Ohio. That could not be. Not when he, Karl Rove, had spent $390 million raised from conservative zillionaires to make sure that never happened.

After that spectacle, Rove’s post-election appearances on Fox News are apparently being limited.
The analysts tried to cover their ears. But it was too late!

Maddow was dishing some tribal comfort food—the food which makes liberals adore her. Rove had behaved like a fool on election night! “Famously,” Rove tried to convince Fox viewers that Romney had not really lost Ohio—that this “could not be.”

That’s the comfort food Rachel served—and it felt good going down. But is that what Rove really said that night? Or is this just tribal bullshit?

No, it doesn’t matter that much. But here are some of the things Rove actually said during that “famous” episode, when he made a “spectacle” by saying that Romney had won:

Just for the record, it started with Chris Wallace. We'll highlight the places where Rove voiced his judgment:
WALLACE (11/6/12): I have great respect for our Decision Desk, and I see that they [Obama supporters] are very happy in Chicago, but I've got to tell you the Romney camp has real doubts about the call that's been made by us, and I guess other networks, about Ohio. They do not believe Ohio is in the Obama camp. I just got email from a top Romney person. I said, "Do you agree with our call?" They said, "Not really. It is less than 20,000 votes now with 20 percent of the vote still out in GOP areas.”

Karl has just been on the phone with somebody else and you got some more recent figures.

ROVE: And here it is. The secretary of— The networks, our network called it on the basis of 74 percent of the vote being in. The [Ohio] secretary of state web site has 77.49 percent of the vote in, and it shows 2,229,686 votes for President Obama with 49.19 percent of the vote, and for Governor Romney 2,228,695, a 991 vote difference, 49.17.

WALLCE: You're saying it's a 900—Obama is leading by 900 votes?

ROVE: When it was at 74 percent, it was 20 some-odd thousand votes. Now with 77 percent of the vote in, it is 991. One of the reasons why it's— One of the biggest blocs of votes out in the state are the Republican suburbs inside Hamilton County. And as they started to come in, they've narrowed that margin dramatically. The speaker pro tem of the House, his district had 3 percent of the vote in until very recently. Now it's started to come in.

WALLACE: I'm going to ask you a straight-out question. You went through this in 2000. You almost went through it in 2004. Do you believe that Ohio has been settled?

ROVE: No, I don't. And, look, if we are calling this on the basis of 74 percent of the vote being in and when 77 percent is in, secretary of state web site, I got the director of the Ohio campaign for Romney on the other end of the line refreshing the page every few seconds and this went from being, when we started this conversation three or four minutes ago, 1995 vote margin for President Obama to just now 991.


WALLACE: So you're not saying that Obama isn't going to win, but you're just saying he hasn't won it yet.

ROVE: No. I just think this is premature.
As it turned out, Obama did win Ohio. The call by the decision desk turned out to be right. But in that “famous” incident, Karl Rove simply didn’t say what Rachel told you he said. This was his next statement as the "spectacle" continued:

ROVE: Apparently the Web site is now being crashed because they can no longer refresh it. But look, I don't know what the outcome is going to be, but you should—we've got to be careful about calling things when we have, like, 991 votes separating the two candidates and a quarter of the vote yet to count. Even if they have made it on the basis of select precincts, I would be very careful about intruding in this process.

WALLACE: Well, folks.


BAIER: Thanks.

WALLACE: So maybe not so fast.

BAIER: Thank you. It's great to have you guys here.

KELLY: That's awkward.
Poor pundits! No one knew what to do when someone dared to go off script. But at no time did Rove “try to convince Fox News-watching Americans that Mitt Romney had not really lost Ohio,” that this “could not be.”

Repeatedly, Rove said he didn’t know who was going to win Ohio. He said he thought the decision desk was making a premature call—that Romney still might win Ohio.

No, it doesn’t hugely matter. But Karl Rove simply didn’t say what Darling Rachel told us last night. But then, Rachel embellishes her facts quite a bit. It makes us rubes love her more.

Fox hosts have played it that way for years. Do we liberals want to get pleasured in similar ways when we turn on our TV machines?

It's comfort food—and it tastes very good. As we note all the bullshit on Fox, is this what we want from the millionaires who get paid to service our needs?

By the way, a procedural question: When we mis-paraphrase Rove this way, do we have a right to complain when people like Bob Schieffer mis-paraphrase Susan Rice?

Not that Maddow would ever criticize Schieffer. Dearest darlings, it just isn't done!


  1. For myself, what bothered me about Rove's comments on election night weren't his arguments about whether the call would or would not be correct, but his claim that the networks should refrain from making a call because to do so would be "intruding in the process." At the time the networks made the call for Obama, I don't believe that any voting was occurring in Ohio, so I don't see how the predictions (correct or not) would have been "intruding" into anything.

    It sounded to me as if Rove was subtly suggesting that the networks' call for Obama was somehow placing a thumb on the scale in favor of the Democrats, which of course is a time-honored talking point on the right.


  2. I can't stand Karl Rove, but I did like the off script action that was occurring live. Megan Kelly even took the cameras down a long hallway to the geeks crunching the numbers. I specifically switched to Fox News election night to see their reaction when Romney lost and the call was made. I'm not a schadenfreude, so satisfaction was not the objective. As for live reporting, it was a memorable moment and I thought both Wallace & Kelly handled it professionally. Too bad they can't do it on a regular basis.
    On a side note..... I thought Wolf Blitzer and CNN was by far the best. Wolf reports each return with the urgency of someone calling a horse race and supported by outstanding graphics and key precinct data.

    1. The "off script" moment had actually been rehearsed beforehand, which you can see when you watch the bit. "This is right where the camera runs out of room when we rehearsed it," she said, or something like that. There was also a camera covering her from the front at the end of the hallway, which wouldn't have happened if they weren't expecting her.

      As for Rove, I've watched that thing several times, and it didn't look like a "meltdown" to me. He was expressing his oinion, which (as is often the case with Rove), turned out to be wrong, but he didn't seem emotional about it. The whole thing has been treated fraudulently by pretty much everyone, as far as I'm concerned.

  3. Poor, Rach-hell, Rove is back after a 27-day absence. I have banned my liberal friends from quoting her.

  4. Bob,
    I am not a big fan of Rachel Maddow but you are being a little unfair to her in this instance What she said was that Rove was trying to convince Americans that Romney had not lost Ohio . Well he was trying to do just that, he was trying to say that it was still too close to call in Ohio based on what the Romney camp was telling him. Only he was wrong as was clear as soon as Megyn Kelly went down to the number crunching room where the numbers guys told Kelly they were 99.9 percent sure, as I recall, that Obama had won Ohio and explained why. This part of the story you have omitted though it is quite pertinent - almost seems like you're shaping the facts a little to make your point. You need to choose your battles with Maddow a little more carefully.

    1. "That could not be. Not when he, Karl Rove, had spent $390 million raised from conservative zillionaires to make sure that never happened."

      There is only one way to read that quotation from Maddow: she 's saying that Rove claimed Romney couldn't lose Ohio. Not "hadn't lost," but couldn't lose. And Rove didn't, in fact, make any such statement. Somerby is correct about Maddow, unless that quotation is wrong.

    2. The transcript doesn't do justice to Rove's reaction. Of course, he used his words carefully, but he clearly was trying to hold on to his belief that Romney would win. This was not some dispassionate disagreement with the timing of the call. He was clearly upset at the content of the call.

      While exaggerated, if you actually watched it, you would have to say Maddow's description of Rove's reaction was a reasonable one for someone who never would hide her dislike for Karl Rove and who is trying to undermine his influence as much as possinble. Nobody was getting played. But The Script about Maddow must be maintained and refreshed every day or two.

    3. This is an embarrassing Daily Howler post and you are correct, Annom. To be precise, She might have said "tried to delay the bad News that Romney had lost Ohio", but her statement is still true and almost everyone is familiar with this moment and knows what She was talking about. It should be clear to Daily Howler readers that Bob has a nasty grudge against Maddow and it leads him to do this kind of terrible work.

    4. So it isn't what Rove and Maddow SAID, it's what people feel they meant to say, or feel they wanted to say, or feel they might have wanted to say, or meant to say differently, but didn't, so we'll just say they said whatever we want them to say. And everyone knows what they felt they wanted to say
      (but didn't), so we can all just move along now.

    5. til FTW!!

      100% spot-on description of the Maddow-worshipers' "thought" process.

    6. Gee, I (annon 12:37) just got back to the howler comments from yesterday and read til's response to my first post. First, fwiw worth I'm not a Maddow worshiper, I barely watch her and when I do I find her glib and not all that informative. I think some of Bob's complaints about here are spot on. But in this instance I think he's making way too much out of very little. Let's repeat what she said:
      "One of them is Karl Rove, who famously on election night tried to convince Fox News-watching Americans that Mitt Romney had not really lost Ohio."
      I don't think that's a wildly wrong description of Rove that night. He was trying to convince the other's at Fox that this was not over already, that Romney might still win Ohio.
      "That could not be. Not when he, Karl Rove, had spent $390 million raised from conservative zillionaires to make sure that never happened."
      I think quite obviously Maddow is engaging in mockery here, suggesting that for Rove the Ohio outcome was not something he could easily swallow, especially after convincing a lot of wealthy folks that he,Rove would help win it for Romney. I think it's clear from both the words and the inflection if you hear her say them that this is not intended as a verbatim quote of Rove, that she is mocking him for his reaction to Ohio results that would be hard for him to take. Is that too tricky an idea out there for you Maddow haters ? Bob needs to spend his energy on more important things than this nit.

  5. You mean Bob was hair splitting again with Liberals again??? No. That can't be.

    1. It's disappointing that Bob would focus on this one minor part and trivial comment about Rove in Maddow's well documented report about how the conservative fundraising circle jerk has become nothing more than a racket to fleece the rubes. I thought her report was excellent, with numerous examples. The kind of reporting you would see nowhere else on cable news.

  6. Greenwald not buying TDH line on Susan Rice...

    1. Anonymous, A Different OneDecember 11, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      Greenwald is ordinarily quite helpful. And his main point, that we aren't, in the discussion around confirming Rice, discussing much of substance, is true.

      But to the extent he "doesn't buy the TDH line" -- he's wrong, and sadly relies on characterizing Rice's speech rather than quoting her words.

      Here's the relevant quote from his piece:

      "[Rice] claimed that the Benghazi attack was primarily motivated by spontaneous anger over an anti-Islam film rather than an coordinated attack by a terrorist group"

      He's wrong about that characterization, of course.

      Oh wells.

    2. Quaker in a BasementDecember 11, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      Greenwald not buying TDH line on Susan Rice...


    3. Greenwald has proven himself a keen and critical observer of powerful politicians. Like our host at this blog, Greenwald is willing to criticize members of both parties and has little patience for tribalism in politics.

      TDH's line has been that we can't be certain that Rice was intentionally misleading us about Benghazi because her statements were so conditional and qualified. Now that we know that Rice was well aware of the sources of weapons available in Benghazi, that defense is absurd. She supported arming the rebels and then pretends that "stuff happens."

      It may well be true that some or even many pundits and broadcasters did not accurately convey the nuances of Rice's Benghazi statements. And that is indeed a shame. But that doesn't mean that what she said wasn't intended to deflect criticism from her and the Obama campaign--it seems that it was carefully crafted to make it hard to see how any responsibility should fall on her and her colleagues. That's misleading.

      Would TDH have spent so much time attacking John Bolton's critics had he given some misleading interviews? I hope not.

    4. Siorry, but there is no evidence whatsoever for what you are saying here. Her statements were perfect -- perfect -- for the state of the knowledge that could be disclosed at the time. Her warnings about the preliminary nature of the information were persistent and unmistakable, and she expressly acknowledged the possibility of an al Qaeda role.

      Greenwald, who normally is very careful, is simply wrong in what she said. The is no "TDH" line." It is unquestionably correct. There is no room in the actual facts for an alternative interpretation.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Greenwald is useful but always has a holier than now axe to grind, like a Counterpunch chatterbox. His waiting until Hitchens died to take him on was deeply chickenshit.

    7. Yeah, dumb old Greenwald....and chickenshit to boot!

      Only the TDH faithful can see the light on Rice. To everyone else she looks like Greenwald portrays her and has looked that way for many years.

      Maybe I read the last line of the above post incorrectly; maybe saying Rice was "mis-paraphrased" was supposed to be a climb-down from the previous TDH line on Rice. Is the new line just that although she was intentionally misleading on those TV shows, she was still mis-paraphrased?

    8. "[Rice] has looked that way for many years"

      In Other Words: Rice is a bad person, therefore mis-representing her words on Beghazi is OK!

    9. No, mis-paraphrasing her words is not ok. And I don't think she's a bad person. She is an ambitious career diplomat and politician. One would be foolish to take her words at face value.

      Seriously, when Rice said that it was unfortunate that heavy weapons were readily available in Benghazi, did you interpret that to mean that the US had been covertly supplying weapons to militants in Benghazi? In fact, that turned out to be the truth on the matter. Of course, Rice wasn't lying to say it was unfortunate, she was just misleading in the way that professionals in her situations often do. TDH fell for it.

      I agree with Greenwald's take on Rice. Her statements about Benghazi shouldn't disqualify her for the Secretary of State position, it's the fact that she hasn't been against any military interventions for the last 15 years that's disturbing. But that will likely be true of any nominee...still, I don't see why TDH should help her or any one else evade accountability for these interventions when they go awry.

    10. TDH fell for it?


      When did TDH opine on the question of whether US acts had led to Libyan militants being armed?

      Never. Nor have any of your detractors affirmed or denied this.

      Gain some cred: quit making sh!t up.


      Yeah, I'd say TDH fell for it.

    12. That link doesn't do what you want it to.

      You're still making sh!t up, no surprise.

      Give us the quote: Somerby commenting on whether, in your words, "the US had been covertly supplying weapons to militants in Benghazi."

      Put up or shut up.

    13. So you're saying that TDH does agree that Rice was misleading about the sources of heavy weapons available in Benghazi, but that it is irrelevant to TDH coverage of her being mis-paraphrased about other things?

    14. No, of course.

      Contrary to your seemingly endless fantasy, TDH has never expressed any opinion on Rice addressing "the sources of heavy weapons available in Benghazi."

      You got nothing, but you won't shut up -- In other words, business as usual for you.

    15. In other words, you've been asked, repeatedly, to bring a quote that supports your bullshit.

      You can't.

      In an equally surprising development, the sun rose in the east this morning.

    16. You're right, sort of. TDH has not expressed any opinion on Rice's sad, sad, dismay at how readily available heavy weapons were in post-revolutionary Libya. And TDH never will.

      Of course, I never said that TDH had opined on that. My point was that TDH was ignoring at least one way in which Rice's statements were misleading-- I think the topic was whether Rice was misleading on the TV shows back in September.

      TDH has demonstrated a number of ways in which Rice's comments have misconstrued. Ok, fine. But TDH has neglected to examine the ways in which Rice was indeed attempting to mislead, and instead became an advocate for Rice, cheering for Obama's support for her as in the link above.

      I hope you're thrilled by furthering Rice's career.

    17. Yes, I'm right.

      Your "Somerby didn't say what I want, therefore he fell for Rice's deception" schtick is without merit.

      More pathetic still is your continued "not agreeing with my baseless conspiracy theorizing equals uncritical support for Rice" knob-polishing.

    18. "I think the topic was..."

      Which goes to show how well you pay attention.

      The topic was never "whether Rice was misleading" but whether her remarks were accurately represented by a stupid and craven press.

      To understate things greatly, they weren't.

      Your contributions have added nothing, as always.

    19. I hope you email James Risen and inform him of his knob-polishing. He is under the fantasy that he is doing investigative reporting.

      Also you should let Greenwald know that his contributions have added nothing.

      It must be nice in the bubble there, Bob.

  7. Quaker in a BasementDecember 11, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Did Karl Rove say anything outrageous?

    I don't think so, but you might think differently. That said, Rove's disputing the "decision desk" live and on the air makes plain the complaint many of us have about Fox--that the definition of roles is blurred. Was Rove supposed to be acting as Fox's analyst? Or was he there as a Romney partisan?

    The answer, apparently, is both.

  8. There was a whole kabuki with Florida in 2000 - it seemed to matter to partisans that Gore never officially had a lead so never had post-election momentum, etc. To me, Rove was playing this sort of Inside Baseball - it was important to the GOP script in case things went to a recount that the media didn't necessarily give anything away to the Obama team.
    My take on the GOP strategy - including the voter suppression tactics - is that the GOP was counting on a closer race going into recounts - where they could move as many Democratic voters as possible onto provisional ballots - which then, in states where the process was controlled by the GOP, they could find a way to throw them out or otherwise shut the whole thing down with them being counted - ala Florida 2000.
    Rove is a political player and veteran of the process. I think it is very shallow to impugn his motives without considering the first and foremost. And I think it is extremely blind of the media to ignore the Inside Baseball posturing and jockeying and process tinkering that goes on - that stuff matters - as we saw in Florida 2000 - and which the GOP was prepared to go to the mat in Ohio (and other places) in 2012. Rove was just doing his job and playing along to the script.

  9. When Rove was saying the margin was 900 votes, the Fox scroll on the bottom of the screen was saying the margin was 30,000 votes. It wasn't a difference of opinion, Rove was making up numbers.