CAN WE TALK: A night in the life of the tribe!


Part 2—Do you believe Lisa Bloom: As a people, are we able to hold a national discourse?

The evidence isn’t encouraging. Our policy discussions have been a joke for several decades now. They tend to be built around two kinds of facts: Facts which are simply wrong, and other accurate facts which are being withheld.

When we talk about politicians, we tend to get lost in the body wash of our own fatuous longings.

Some of the fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves! But a very large part of the fault is in the stars–in the famous TV stars seen on our cable “news channels.”

A lot of the fault is in these people, who are cast as members of our national “press corps.”

Consider one of the conversations which occurred last evening concerning the Zimmerman trial. This conversation involves Lisa Bloom, the “MSNBC legal analyst.”

First, a bit of background:

Who initiated the altercation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin? Beyond that, who was winning the fight?

Answering these questions wouldn’t necessarily settle this case. Even if it were somehow established that Martin struck the first blow and was winning the fight, a person could decide that Zimmerman’s use of deadly force was unjustified.

A person could reach that judgment even it were somehow shown that Zimmerman was walking back to his truck when the altercation occurred, as he continues to claim.

Still, a great deal of energy has been invested in that pair of questions. This leads to a third major question: Which person was screaming for help on that now-famous 911 tape?

Last week, the prosecution introduced this question into the trial. For its final witness, it called Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, to say the person screaming for help was her son.

Yesterday, two police officers testified that Martin’s father said the voice wasn’t that of his son when he first heard the tape. Or so they took him to say.

Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, then took the stand and testified that he didn’t say that. According to Tracy Martin, he only said, on that first occasion, that he couldn’t tell if the voice belonged to his son.

None of these questions would settle the case, but the road to acquittal would be much harder if it could be shown that it was Martin screaming for help that night. In a rational world, the testimony by Tracy Martin would heighten the sense that it’s hard to tell who was screaming for help.

You don’t live in that kind of world! Increasingly, we live in a world where corporate entities seek profit by fawning to tribal belief.

Within those corporate worlds, slimy people are paid large sums to maintain and extend the pleasing narratives preferred by the tribe in question.

And so it was that the exchange shown below occurred at the start of last evening’s Last Word. What’s shown below was the first Q-and-A in the pseudo-discussion which opened this program.

Lawrence O’Donnell played tape from the trial. Then, the cable star engaged in this peculiar, snark-ridden exchange with Bloom, the alleged legal analyst:
O’DONNELL (7/8/13): Joining me now, MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Bloom and Faith Jenkins, a former criminal prosecutor. Lisa, I can’t remember seeing a move like this.

This was so risky for the defense to be calling Trayvon Martin’s father. How do you think it worked in the courtroom?

BLOOM: I’m sorry, was Tracy Martin on trial today? Right? Because if he was, he was guilty. He was guilty of being grief-stricken and upset and putting his head down when he heard the recording of his son’s final moments before the bullet shot rang out that killed his son.

I mean, what a ridiculous distraction for the defense. This to me is one of the biggest blunders they’ve made, right up there with putting George Zimmerman on Hannity to say that killing Trayvon Martin was God’s plan. I mean, this was a disaster for them.
To state the obvious, O’Donnell had assembled a panel knowing that each of its members would follow the corporate line on this case. That said, riddle us this:

Do you think that Lisa Bloom really believes what she said? If she does believe what she said, are we able, as a people, to conduct a national discourse?

Just for the record, Bloom is a second-generation cable TV star. Her mother is Gloria Allred, also of cable fame.

Having established the brilliant gene line, we restate the question: Do you think that Lisa Bloom really believes what she said?

Granted, most of Bloom’s statement was snark, not assertion. As she started, Bloom pandered to gullible liberals with a bunch of snark about Tracy Martin being on trial and being found guilty of having been grief-stricken.

Having been treated like low-IQ fools, let’s set that stupid shit to the side. In your view, does Lisa Bloom really believe that calling Tracy Martin to the stand turned out to be “one of the biggest blunders” the defense has made?

Do you think she really believes that it was “a disaster?” A ridiculous distraction?

We find it quite hard to believe that she does. But then, we were also struck by O’Donnell’s reaction:
O’DONNELL (continuing directly): Faith, it was shocking to me to see them—Because it is so risky, and the one thing you lawyers don’t like to do is take risks in the courtroom where you don’t know how it’s going to work. And his testimony, I think it made perfect sense to me that he would have the reaction he did, basically being asked, you know, “Do you recognize that sound?” And he’s never heard that sound before.
In that statement, O’Donnell seemed to assume. among other things, that Tracy Martin’s testimony was accurate—he said it made perfect sense—while that of the two police officers was not. Jenkins proved reliable, as she reliably does:
JENKINS (continuing directly): Right. The substance of his testimony was very compelling and very believable to these jurors and I think to people watching today too.
There’s more, and we suggest that you watch it. But below, you see where this tribal tongue bath went, after O’Donnell played tape of a Zimmerman friend saying there was “absolutely no doubt in my mind” that the voice screaming for help belonged to his friend, George Zimmerman:
O’DONNELL: Lisa Bloom, I’ve got to say, I don’t know how a jury can accept that there’s absolutely no doubt in your mind. We’ve all listened to that tape. None of us can sit here and say, “Oh, that’s, you know, George,” or, “That’s Trayvon.” You can’t do it. You can make your best approximation.

And that’s why it seemed to me that the kind of humility in Trayvon’s brother, for example, when he talks about what he thinks he heard sounds more real to me than, “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
We agree with O’Donnell on his basic point. That friend of Zimmerman may be right in his judgment. But there is absolutely no way for the jury to know if he is.

We agree with O’Donnell on that point. But O’Donnell then praised “the kind of humility” displayed by Martin’s half-brother, Jahvaris Fulton. In what did that humility consist?

Presumably, this is what O’Donnell meant: Last year, Fulton “said in an interview that he was not sure who it was" on the tape, a fact he acknowledged in court last Friday. (We're quoting the news report from Saturday's New York Times.) But note how tribal cable works:

As O’Donnell continued the tongue bath, tribal viewers were allowed to admire Fulton’s humility without ever being told what he had actually said! O’Donnell forgot to mention what Fulton said last year and acknowledged last week.

In her response, Bloom provided more comfort, then reached on odd conclusion:
BLOOM (continuing directly): Right. Or Tracy Martin, who says initially he just hung his head down, kind of an "Oh, my God" reaction, and then he had to hear it a few more times. None of the witnesses has said for sure it’s either Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman said they heard any of them screaming hysterically in any kind of similar circumstances, which is obviously very different than normal conversation. And, of course, none of them knew both men’s voices so that they could compare.

Frankly, if I were on the jury, I don’t think any of this testimony would be all that significant to me.
Exactly! The day’s testimony washed away the hope of knowing who screamed for help that night. More specifically, it washed away the certainty expressed by Martin’s mother in her testimony last Friday.

Sybrina Fulton was one of the people whose testimony was being thrown away by Bloom! And yet, O’Donnell’s viewers were instantly told, at the start of the program, that this had been “a disaster” for the defense, the team our tribe is rooting against.

When tribal viewers tune to this show, they know their desires will be serviced.

Increasingly, cable entities pay large sums to people who agree to behave in the manner requested. Those entities are corporate entities, and they’re looking for profit.

TV stars accept the pay and provide the tribal services. This conduct largely started on Fox, but now it is spreading wildly. As this unfortunate conduct spreads, gullible members of various tribes can’t see that they’re being played.

Dear Brutus! Some of the fault is in ourselves. But oh, those (cable TV) stars!

More horror from a night in the life: We cringed at the always pathetic Piers Morgan, who CNN journeyed to England to obtain.

Also, at the increasingly fallen Chris Hayes, who spoke with a fully reliable three-member panel. Tomorrow, we’ll start with his panel—with this astonishing statement by Lehigh professor James Peterson, an “MSNBC contributor:”
PETERSON (7/8/13): I think it’s awful we have to settle for [a manslaughter conviction] ultimately, because the court of public opinion sees this case. They see that a kid went to a store to buy Skittles and iced tea, to walk back home to his father’s home and didn’t make it back. And we don’t see anything else beyond that.
“We don’t see anything else beyond that!” With brilliant clarity, Peterson stated the essence of tribal belief.

Hayes just sat there and took it! Increasingly, it’s hard to see him as an honest person.

Can we have a national discourse given the sums involved here?


  1. Here's a prediction: MSNBC will cheer against the innocence of Oscar Pistorius, because MSNBC's viewership likes to assume that anyone with a gun who is accused of something is guilty. Because these viewers cannot understand that one can be both pro gun-control and a believer in a gun owner's innocence during a trial.

    1. When anyone does something profoundly stupid with a gun, he/she should be criticized my friend.

    2. Does "should be criticized"= should be accused of being guilty?

  2. I think Bob Somerby should start analyzing the media reaction to the I.R.S. scandal. It is now clear that there never was any real scandal and that it was the illusion of a scandal caused by Darrell Issa and his right-wing cohorts. Nonetheless, most elements of the corporate media have simply persisted in their scandal narrative when they should be retracting and apologizing.

    1. Yeah, and someone should tell Mr Miller that losing his job in a high profile firing was only an illusion. Back in the real world:

      "Moving to quell a growing scandal, President Barack Obama on Wednesday fired the acting chief of the Internal Revenue Service and vowed to work closely with Congress in determining who ordered lower-level employees to target tea party groups and other conservative organizations.

      “It’s inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it,” Obama said at the White House after meeting with top Treasury Department officials. “And I’m angry about it.”

      Read more here:

    2. Typical scumbag fallback posistion from Anom, but one does have to ask, why is The Daily Howler Sdp disinterested in this? He got it right, does it drive him crazy that O'Donnell got it right too?

    3. At least this isn't another interpretation of the evidence in the Zimmerman trial.
      And I agree the IRS "scandal" deserves more coverage.

      But remember this: It was decades before even some "Patriots" stopped believing that Sen. Joe McCarthy lied about his "List" of card carrying communists in the State Department.

      Obama haters will go to their graves convinced that Obama ordered the IRS to squelch ONLY Tea Party requests for tax exempt status.

      Like McCarthy, Issa lied, but the media have decided that is not worth their time and effort to report on that.

      BTW, transcripts of the House Oversight Committee managed to get some of Issa's TV interview into the record without noting that the witnesses were testifying under oath, and Issa was not.
      Kinda like the old days.
      Has anything really changed since McCarthy and Nixon?

    4. The question is why did Obama fire Miller and say people were "right to be angry?"

      Either there is a scandal or Obama is prone to firing people and denigrating their work without good cause--which is it?

  3. Yes, these TV hosts know how to justify their desired conclusion. If the Zimmerman witnesses had been less certain than the M witnesses, then MSNBC would have said that meant Martin was screaming. But, the uncertainty is actually the other way, so MSNBC claims uncertainty is proof of sincerity.

    In some Platonic sense, we may never know who was screaming. But, IMHO those who are paying attention will conclude that Z, rather than M, was screaming, for several reasons.

    1. Z's injuries were consistent with being beaten up; M's were not.

    2. A larger number of witnesses said Z was the screamer.

    3. Z's witnesses were more credible than M's people.

    4. Z's witnesses were more certain.

    5. M's witnesses listened to the recording together. The Chief of Police criticized that as bad practice, because they might influence each other.

    6. M's witnesses were IIRC family members who could hope to profit financially from a finding that Z attacked M. Z's witnesses would not get financial gain if Z is acquitted.

    I think the jury will reason this way. In particular, I think Point #1, which is objective, will persuade them.

    1. If the jury reasons, there will be no conviction on any crime.

      If the jury convicts it will have done so in bad faith, deciding to use this case to advance a racist or anti-gun agenda, or it will have done so in good faith, but revealing intelligence well below average that renders them unable to assimilate evidence logically.

    2. You forgot
      7. There wasn't a shred of DNA evidence on M, which would conclude he broke Z's nose, tried to strangle Z, nor grabbed his gun.


    3. Or if you like counting:

      7. There wasn't a shred of DNA evidence on M, to support the claim M broke Z's nose.

      8. There wasn't a shred of DNA evidence on M, to support the claim M tried to strangle Z.

      9. There wasn't a shred of M's DNA on the gun, to support the claim M grabbed Z's gun.


    4. Berto -- nor was there DNA evidence showing that Zimmerman had been beating up Martin.

      In order for the absence of DNA to be considered significant, we'd need to know that DNA evidence would have been there in Z's scenario. I don't know how often DNA is present in cases like this. In particular, could the rain have washed the DNA away?

    5. Berto -- I just noticed your last comment. I may be wrong, but I don't think Z said M touched the gun. I think he said, M grabbed for the gun.

    6. I thought there was some DNA evidence on the back of Zimmerman's jacket consistent with the idea that Martin may have grabbed him there.

    7. Re: Grabbing for" the gun vs. "grabbed" the gun.
      Maybe, that might have been one of Z's stories.

      BTW, like all of you, I'm not sure what happened. I was just showing that if the jury is taking your points into account, they should certainly take these points into account as well.


    8. Only he doesn't need any evidence of grabbing the gun or grabbing for the gun. The jury can't know one way or the other and the presence or absence of DNA is meaningless for drawing any conclusion. Then you move on to other evidence like GZ having his head smashed against concrete.

    9. Since David in Cal is not satisfied with "we can't know" and insists on arguing as if we could, I will respond simply by way of anecdote (though every mother I have ever talked with about this has had the same experience).

      For many years after my children were little and were not anywhere near me, when I was in a store or public crowd and a child called out "Mom" or "Mommy," my whole body would freeze in alert and I would look up, ready to say, "Yes?" (It happens sometimes still, and my children are both in their early 30's.)

      The evidence presented in this trial die about who cried for help is useless. (And it's not even clear to me why it matters. If Zimmerman cried for help the question remains whether he reasonably feared for his life, by Florida law.)

      As for what I think of Zimmerman and Florida law, as opposed to whether he should be held accountable legally by current Florida law: if you're going to play cop, youse takes your chances.

    10. Scary. The anti-Zimmerman mob is actually arguing Zimmerman's agonized screams do not constitute evidence of Zimmerman's state of mind and whether he feared serious injury or death as he received his injuries. (We already KNOW such a fear would reasonable thanks in part to doc's testimony today, and would also be reasonable in the absence of visible injury.)

      Frighteningly, all too often this is the caliber of reasoning on the part of jurors.

    11. mch, I don't know what you mean by "play cop." I think the evidence reasonably shows that Zimmerman made no effort to accost Martin or to arrest him. Zimmerman's efforts were merely to identify him as someone worth checking out, to call the police to make the check, and, if possible, to tell the police where Martin was.

      If the development had a security guard or a police patrolman, we'd respect that person for helping to prevent the robberies that were frequent in the development. Zimmerman was providing that service in an official status, without pay, and in coordination with the police. The coordination wasn't just formal. He regularly called the police. His record shows that he didn't attempt to "play cop." He simply performed the function of a neighborhood watch person.

      Z may be found guilty or murder or manslaughter for all I know. But, regardless of the outcome, I think he deserves credit for making his community a better place on a volunteer basis.

    12. So Zimmerman regularly called the police. Did he mention in any of his "regular" calls that the punks are always getting away with it, or was that just on this call.
      BTW, Zimmerman was quickly proven wrong as the "punk" was dead from a bullet from Zimmerman's gun less than an hour later.
      Whether Zimmerman is guilty or not, you'd have to be an idiot not to be skeptical of his stories of self-defense after that statement.


    13. " But, regardless of the outcome, I think he deserves credit for making his community a better place on a volunteer basis."

      According to tonight's testimony that texts on Martin's phone revealed he tried to buy or sell a gun a few days before going to his father's because of school suspension. Looks like GZ's instincts were right but gun humper only applies to law abiding light complected neighborhood watchmen types, never thugs who are black.

    14. "He simply performed the function of a neighborhood watch person....

      "... regardless of the outcome, I think he deserves credit for making his community a better place on a volunteer basis."

      There's a world of people (including many in law enforcement) who hear the words "neighborhood watch" and cringe. Better to pay higher taxes to recruit and properly train more police; better by far to foster a society of social and economic equality and opportunity (and thereby reduce crime), than to sanction tin-horn vigilantes (visions of Bush clearing brush come to mind).

      Is Zimmerman's community a better place now for his actions? Yeah, sure. Martin's sure isn't. Would be nice if Zimmerman had been able to imagine these "two" might be "one."

    15. Foster economic equality"

      All that claptrap is pretty close to useless to Zimmerman and his law abiding neighbors forced to put up with rapes and burglaries and other thuggery police obviously couldn't handle.

    16. I've got an idea. Why doesn't a pampered scaredy-cat get himself one of them their guns and make himself feel like a tough-guy frontiersman. Zimmerman wouldn't be the first guy to fall for the NRA's marketing campaign. In fact, he wouldn't be one of the first 100,000 to do so.

  4. So uncertainty by people who know they are expected to say it was Trayvon's voice is "humility" instead of "lying" even though the voice does not belong to the person they claim they believe it might belong to.

    Confidence by people who recognize the voice as belonging to the person it DOES belong to are somehow offensive to these nutcases.

    1. How do you know who the voiced belonged to? Didn't the judge bar any of the audio tests because they were inconclusive.

      But it does help the defense because it's the prosecution that has to get over the reasonable doubt hurdle.

    2. John Good saw the altercation from a few feet away and said he saw and heard Zimmerman screaming for help. The idea that anyone can listen to that terrible recording of the 911 call with faint sounds of screaming coming from outside the house and discern that it belonged to a specific person are ridiculous. And it's Trayvon's family who forced this ridiculous situation by blatantly lying at the direction of Crump and claiming that they can identify the voice. Defense would not have bothered to call voice witnesses if it were not for the ridiculous antics of Trayvon's family claiming they could tell it was Trayvon screaming based on the recording. John Good should have been the final word on it and the prosecution should have focused on the reasonableness of the use of force, but instead they're trying to spin this insane impossible narrative that Zimmerman started the fight, Zimmerman was on top, and Trayvon was screaming, because they're playing this case to the gullible media rubes rather than to the jury.

  5. If Martin's family members recognized that it was not Trayvon's voice but did not wish to help exonerate Zimmerman, stating that they could not tell who was screaming would advance their own interests. I do not see any "humility" or honesty in their statements, especially given that two police officers, one observing unobtrusively and without the knowledge of the other, contradict the family's statements and Trayvon's brother said it was not his voice. His brother may have been the only family member telling the truth in this situation, since his statement does not advance family interests and was made outside the court context.

    I do not believe the facts of this case support only one interpretation of the honesty of Trayvon Martin's family members.

    1. You mean Martin's family may have lied to advance their interests? No wonder you'd be skeptical.

      I feel the same way about Zimmerman's stories (they advances his interests). I'm also skeptical because there is zero DNA evidence to support his claims.


    2. Do you think he broke his own nose?

    3. Berto --

      Medical expert Dr. Di Maio testified this morning that the procedures used to collect Martin's clothing were faulty, which could have degraded the DNA on his sweatshirts.

      Di Maio also explained that if clothes taken into evidence are wet and packaged in plastic bags, and not paper bags, it can ruin the samples since “bacteria multiplies and you get mold and it stinks to high heaven.”


    4. David in Cal,
      So I can't be skeptical of Zimmerman's defense claims even though there is zero DNA evidence to support his claims?

      How about this: Can I be skeptical of a guy who was pissed that "these punks always get away with it" being 100% wrong in his claim? Martin didn't "get away with it". He lay dead from a bullet from the pissed off guy's gun.

      If the answer to that question is "no, one shouldn't be skeptical", then I'd say you're the guy with the bias in this case.


  6. Then

    Listen to this tape! You can hear a child losing his life as he screams in agony!

    The Sanford PD didn't even arrest the white supremacist who shot a black boy armed only with skittles in cold blood!

    Look at these pictures of Trayvon! Anyone can see he was a normal sweet young boy!

    Look at this video! No injuries on Zimmerman's head! No broken nose either! He lied! Case closed!

    Neighbors said Zimmerman was on top!


    So what if he is Hispanic! That's still whiter than black!

    Trayvon's fights, thefts and gun photos on his phone are a red herring!

    Who the screams belong to is a red herring!

    The head injuries are a red herring!

    Broken nose is a red herring!

    Zimmerman on top is a red herring!

  7. White Supremist? The FBI interviewed dozens and dozens of people and they determined that Zimmerman was NOT a racist. This is a fact. Look it up. There will be no "civil rights" violations brought against him because he has already been cleared by the FBI of racism. Zimmerman spoke out against police brutality of a homeless black man. He tutored black kids. His great, great grandfather is black. You are incapable of seeing the case for what it is. A very tragic, very sad incident where a man shot a teen when he thought his life was in danger. Not all killings end or should end in a murder conviction.

    1. All the calls he made about dogs loose in the community involved brown or black dogs.

  8. Charles Blow tweeted this bit of profundity tonight. ("led.")

    Charles M. Blow ‏@CharlesMBlow 2h
    One lesson from this trial is this: when you're killed, not only do you die but so does your version of what lead to your death.

  9. they're trying to spin this insane impossible narrative that Zimmerman started the fight,

    The state-biased judge lost it tonight because the defense put her in a position she didn't like. Either let the phone evidence of Martin's thuggery in without requiring further proof they were his texts and photos (since the state concealed this information until June 4 and had it since January) or have herself reversed for not allowing it, which is a near certainty should there be a conviction.

    1. The fact that Judge Nelson didn't give the defense extra time to find evidence corroborating what's on the phone would seem to be significant in case of an appeal. IMHO she seems to have telegraphed that she isn't going to admit the phone stuff and she's not going to give the defense extra time.

      It's been said in open court that one Prosecutor (Bernie de la Renta, I think) is going to be sanctioned after the trial is over, because he withheld exculpatory information from the defense and lied to the judge and defense about it. Those are serious misdeeds. Yet, this judge apparently isn't going to do anything for the defendant. Yet, he's the one who was harmed by the prosecutor's misdeeds. The Constitution has various protections, to be sure that the defendant gets a fair trial. Judge Nelson's handling of this matter doesn't seem to follow that principle.

    2. I'm not convinced she won't let them in come tomorrow. She was looking for an out and doing some absurd reaching about authentic issues but there is zero doubt she would be reversed and she knows it. It's possible she was putting on a show of resistance because of the threats of violence hanging over the area but will do the right thing on this issue. Doesn't mean she won't stick it to the defense on other less clear cut matters if she stays true to form.

  10. If she doesn't let it in the only plausible explanation will be intimidation.