Interlude—Dumbnification is us: In modern journalistic culture, you are allowed to talk about a journalist’s alleged “bias.”

You aren’t encouraged to think about his or her level of dumbnification. Such assessments are considered rude, beyond the pale.

In our view, this constitutes a major flaw in modern press corps culture.

It’s hard to see how dumb our press culture is, especially when the topic is kept out of sight, out of bounds. And so it continues:

The inability to report even the simplest types of statistics. The inability to quote or paraphrase public figures in even the most basic ways.

The adoption of inane, absurd topics. The widespread adoption of ludicrous scripts, which fly in the face of the basic statistics we don’t know how to interpret and refuse to consult.

For our money, the dumbnification of Salon was the press corps event of the year. But nowhere is the press corps’ dumbness more clear than it is at times of scandal.

We saw some good work on cable last night about the New Jersey matter. To cite one striking example, Rachel Maddow actually warned us about the fact that we have been shown a very small number of the relevant e-mails.

We also saw elements of the press corps triathlon, in which journalists jump to conclusions, throw hissy fits and run far ahead of their facts.

For our money, no one displays these skills as ably as Gail Collins does. For that reason, the “liberal” columnist offers this chuckling reflection in her new column:
COLLINS (1/9/14): This is very big. Voters have been known to overlook financial chicanery or stuffed ballot boxes. They might continue to love a guy who screwed up the local bond rating or got evicted from the governor’s mansion by an irate wife. But could you ever trust a politician who was implicated in a deliberate effort to ruin rush hour?

We are, of course, going to refer to this as Bridgegate. Also, we will try to figure out some way to call it a political polar vortex.
“We are, of course, going to refer to this as Bridgegate,” Collins says, thus referring to it as Bridgegate. In such familiar ways, journalists chuckle at their gong-show behaviors even as they engage in those acts.

Among the range of such behaviors, they ask if you could “ever trust a politician who was implicated in a deliberate effort to ruin rush hour.”

“Implicated” is a fuzzy and therefore useful word. Soon, they are saying this:
COLLINS: Imagine what would happen if the mayor of Tijuana did something to tick off a President Chris Christie administration. Goodbye border crossing.
Uh-oh! When journalists ask us to “imagine” X, we’re really off to the races! Only late in their dumbnified columns will they deign to say this:
COLLINS: Nothing in the newly uncovered email exchanges came directly from Christie. Perhaps he did not know what was going on. Perhaps Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, appointed childhood chum and political blogger Wildstein to the Port Authority because of his in-depth expertise in bridges and tunnels.
Snark follows the highlighted admission, which otherwise kills the joy of scandal. For people like Collins, the joy of scandal lies in the way it frees them to play their snark-ridden games.

“I am really looking forward to hearing all this discussed in the Florida primary,” Collins says as she ends her column. In that way, she acknowledges the entertainment factor in the cult and culture of scandal.

As Collins often notes in her columns, policy discussions are boring and dull. Scandal of this type is not. Trust us—she really is “looking forward to hearing all this discussed.”

Inevitably, the joy of scandal is especially strong for those who want to take down the person being pursued. In this case, pseudo-liberals like Collins don’t care for Christie. Neither do quite a few pseudo-conservatives.

That said, we’re so old that we can recall the days when Collins was playing her schoolyard games at the expense of leading Democrats, and especially at the expense of Candidate Gore. One problem with careless scandal culture is this:

It can (and will) cut various ways. Beyond that, it serves as a way to avoid the more substantial discussions which bore many modern scribes.

We’ll admit that we’re unbalanced on the subject of Collins. We still think her column of late October 1999 included the most heartless jibe we’ve ever seen from a member of her guild.

We’ll admit that this reaction is somewhat strange, since a wide range of guild members offered the same set of scripted remarks concerning that first Gore-Bradley debate, in which everyone agreed to pretend that Gore had been tremendously awful.

(As it turned out, New Hampshire Dems who watched the debate failed to agree, for perfectly obvious reasons.)

Somehow, it seemed especially cruel when Collins mocked Gore for one of the long list of scripted offenses—for asking the mother of a sick child how old her daughter was, and if she had insurance. According to the mandated script, this simplest act of human decency could only mean that Candidate Gore was trying to act like Bill Clinton!

Many others made the same remark, which was copied from a script first composed by Jacob Weisberg. For reasons we can’t explain, we have never forgotten how especially heartless that comment sounded coming from Lady Collins.

Make no mistake—the adoration of scandal culture has been one of the leading causes of our remarkable dumbnification, a punishing state of affairs which can be quite hard to see.

The adoration of scandal culture sent George W. Bush to the White House. And as long as this dumbnified culture exists, it will work that way again at some point in the future.

Maddow raised a good warning last night, even as she joined her colleagues in jumping ahead of her actual knowledge:

A journalist will wonder why she has only been shown certain e-mails.

A journalist will want to see what the rest of e-mails show. A journalist will not tell her readers to “imagine” X, Y or Z, and certainly not before she notes how little we actually know.

For ourselves, we aren’t Christie fans. Regarding his drive for re-election, Christie took $12 million in state money last year to run a separate senate election in October, increasing the chance that he would run up a large win in his own November race.

This blatantly obvious act of theft was conducted right out in the open. Perhaps because it didn’t involve big bridges and wonderfully comical traffic jams, utterly silly people like Collins utterly let it pass.

Did Christie know about this matter, assuming this matter is what it seems? We still find it hard to believe that he would engage in something so loaded with the potential for backfire.

But this has become an intriguing story. That is precisely the problem.

Christie’s theft of $12 million wasn’t entertaining enough for Collins and her colleagues. When she wrote her book about Texas schools the previous year, she didn’t bother looking up the relevant data.

Looking up data is boring and dull. For Collins, such work is no fun.

When Gore engaged in the world’s simplest act, she typed the script just as Weisberg had done. A warning at this time of scandal:

Your press corps is often defiantly dumb. Scandal brings this out.

Tomorrow: CNN dumbs down a program

Dumbnification then and now: How did standard pundits like Collins cover that first Gore-Bradley debate?

According to three different journalists, the press corps hissed and jeered Gore in the press room throughout the event. For the full story concerning what followed, see chapter 4 of How He Got There, our companion site.


  1. I don't suppose you'd like to talk about Rachel Maddow's reporting on the bridge scandal, would you?

  2. Oh, it's about "scandal culture." I get it. Bob is spinning faster than Chris.

    1. That's the script there's a scandal culture, of which Maddow is a sweating part. Therefore, any scandal she reports on his bogus, not matter the facts.

      Actually i felt the same about Briebart, for good reason i think, but when it turned out he was right about Weiner, i admitted i was wrong and was thankful that Briebart saved me and my fellow NYers from potentially electing a lunatic as mayor.

  3. The blogger writes

    "wonderfully comical traffic jams"

    It is now documented that emergency vehicles were affected.

    Kool Aid gallery?

    1. Yes, let's all have a good belly laugh over the old lady who died waiting for the ambulance. There is "no evidence" that she wouldn't have died any way.

      And let's not forget the people injured in the traffic accident, when the ambulance took twice as long to get there. It was only five minutes or so. What a side-slapper!

      Finally, those kids on school buses stranded in traffic? They were the children of Buono voters anyway.

      Bob should use this material in his next stand-up gig.

    2. I want to make Bob late for work, 4 days in a row because he has to sit in traffic for no reason. Comical.

    3. So, you don't think the traffic jams were comical?

      But you also can't understand English very well, since you imagine Somerby, the target of your ill-thought out snark, does find them comical.

      Sadly, no, douchebags.

      Somerby, for those fluent in English, clearly doesn't say he finds them comical either. Those who have mastered reading see that Somerby bemoans the use of the jams as comic material by the like of Collins.

      Cue Douchebag Chorus:

      "Oh those sniveling BOBfans, always having to explain what he *really* meant!" "We know Bob Somerby really IS amused by those traffic jams, and he doesn't care what ills they caused." "It's right there in his own words! He thinks it's just a big joke!"

      You really don't care how stupid you have to appear to get that reading, do you?

    4. 12:45, comiical, not comical. While Bob's prose poetry is as usual, tough to decipher, it appears he is still saying the separate election (which he incorrectly and alarmingly calls "theft") was a crime that the press and pundits ignored. While the bridge issue was merely driven by some silly scandal mongering.

      But thanks for chiming in.

    5. Shorter 1:02:

      "12:45 was correct. May I change the subject?"

  4. Bob, if you are going to demand absolute accuracy from everybody else, then you can't call Christie's "special election" decision "theft" -- which is a very specific crime with a very specific definition.

    Yes, that decision could easily be called foolish, stupid, unnecessary and partisan. But since it was well within the powers of his office to make it, it can't be called anything close to "theft."

    Secondly, to pretend this decision wasn't widely reported, discussed and criticized because "Collins and her colleagues" (whoever they might be) didn't reported on it sufficiently to suit you is sweet hay for your cattle. But it is absolutely false.

    Finally, a decent person might issue an apology for repeatedly calling Maddow a "partisan hack" for reporting the bridge story. Will we get one from you, who loves to lecture others about name-calling?

    Oh, and one more thing. If you are going to persist in the claim that Maddow has jumped beyond the known facts in reporting this story, you should also produce some evidence. You know, the same thing you lecture others about.

    Again, sweet hay for your cattle, but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

    1. Ding, ding, ding. The special election was hard ball politics, done in the open and perfectly legal. And, well reported on.

      The bridge access closing for the most petty of reasons by his prime staff appointees (and long time friends) insane, truly insane. If it weren't for the local NJ reporters, MSJ and yes Maddow it would have been swept under the rug.

      In this case, Bob is doing exactly what he accuses others of doing, starting with a script "Maddow is a biased clown making up scandals" and playing his readers for fools.

    2. Actually, some of us went back and re-read the earlier Somerby reporting on the earlier Maddow coverage.

      Somerby did exactly what you pretend he doesn't.

      He made specific charges about where Maddow went beyond her facts.

      Here today, he, gives her faint praise. But that's not good enough for your trollscript.

      So you keep pretending.

    3. 12:51... i went back to, granted i only skimmed. Care to give some examples?

    4. Imagine that. A dedicated Somerby fan reviewed his previous posts and found nothing wrong.

      Boy, those scripts are hard shake, aren't they?

    5. Anonymous @1:08P,

      Do you understand what an ad hominem argument is?

      Even assuming that Anonymous @12:51P is a Somerby fan, his review of the Maddow coverage stands or falls on the evidence, not on his fandom. Perhaps his partisanship is grounds to examine the evidence. Something you failed to do.

      And, oops! The "fan" is correct. Back on 12/16 and 12/17, TDH wrote about Maddow's insinuating teasers and many minutes spent on a story with no evidence at the time, "currently worthless."

      A month later? Not so much, but there's still no direct link to Christie. Nowhere does TDH say that Maddow should stop investigating, just that she shouldn't pretend to have evidence that she doesn't.

  5. His first whopper that NOBODY cared about the special election was nailed by "trolls".

    He has now walked it back to GAIL COLLINS didn't care.

  6. And of course, this all ties into the 2000 election.

    Everything does. Always.

    1. "The adoration of scandal culture sent George W. Bush to the White House. "

      Bugliosi makes a convincing case that the 5 Republican Supreme Court justices sent W to the white house.

      The "war on Gore" is in the eye of the beholder. At any rate, it took place on cable and vehicles such as the NY Times.

      If Gore had carried Arkansas and Tennessee he would have won, even after ceding Florida. It is beyond belief that Tennesseans refused to vote for their son of the soil because of Gail Collins or Naomi Wolf.

    2. How about New Hampshire? It's been blue since 1992 except for one election. And that year, Ralph Nader polled more votes than the difference between Bush and Gore.

      Or Missour? In 2000, every Democrat on the statewide Missouri ballot won except one. Al Gore.

      And that included the late Gov. Mel Carnahan who unseated an incumbent U.S. Senator despite dying in a plane crash.

    3. It was the four button suit and lactation, I tell you. Can't tell you how many still talked to me about it over the Christmas holidays. All my smart nieces did.

    4. Somerby doesn't say press treatment of Gore was the only factor affecting the outcome in 2000. That election was so close that the constant mistreatment of Gore could have swung the balance. Setting aside that Gore actually won Florida and thus the election, absent the Supreme Court's decision, the constant ridicule of Gore by the media prevented him from overcoming that setback. Nader also affected the outcome. I think Gore made a mistake too by trying to distance himself from the still-popular Clinton. His own scandal over fundraising and the actions of Tipper trying to censor rock music didn't help him with liberals. But Somerby is not claiming these other influences didn't matter. He is saying the press tipped things and gave the election to Bush. These other influences were legitimate aspects of the campaign. The partisan leanings of a supposedly unbiased press were not legitimate -- they consitute malfeasance in journalism. That is a kind of corruption and that is as much worth complaining about as the Republican manipulation of the ballot in Florida and the Supreme Court's partisan decision. THAT is why Somerby keeps harping on this. You try to fix what's broken. He isn't upset that a decision didn't turn out the way he wanted -- he is upset because democracy cannot function properly without a working press corps. That is a BIG deal.

    5. Not even a nice try. For the past 15 years, Somerby has been selling trying to sell his script that the "War on Gore" and ONLY the "War on Gore" swung the election to Bush.

      But perhaps you can link us to where Somerby said that the many other factors you cite were also in play.

      For example, I can't recall him ever bringing up Tipper and her rock music censorship campaign.

      Nor can I recall him talking about how disheartened "progressive" voters might have been over his choice of Joe Lieberman to sit one heartbeat away, and how that might have driven those voters to the Nader camp.

      Nope, gotta be the "War on Gore" and nothing else.

  7. 11:54

    also to black kids and the librulz who don't care.

  8. You know, Bob can continue to worry about which scandal is worse -- the special election or the bridge.

    But for those of us who can connect the dots, they both are examples that Christie and high-ranking members of his administration do things for the partisan benefit of Christie, no matter what it costs as long as they are screwing Democrats.

  9. To most of us on planet earth, such a violation of public trust and such abuse of power is a pretty obvious example of a scandal. On planet Bob, however....

  10. It would be nice, Bob, if you could drop the insufferably smug tone and the dipshit neologisms long enough to type something simple and direct and honest like "Gee, It looks like I got this one wrong." Just like that, in the first person singular and everything.

    I know that this is a lot to ask from a monomaniac who writes some of the most graceless, laborious and unwholesomely self-celebratory prose on the Internet. But at some point, even you have to notice the disconnect between what you believe TDH is and what you're actually doing. Or capable of doing, for that matter.

    Seriously, just try apologizing and see how it feels. Because writing stuff like "this has become an intriguing story" -- as though you're somehow speaking for Journalism Itself instead of engaging in precisely the sort of point-missing and ass-covering for which you ridicule everyone else -- really isn't going to cut it.

    1. You should go back to the original Somerby coverage and say exactly what you thought has to be apologized for.

      But there's no there there.

      Because back at the time, Maddow did indeed behave like a clown.

    2. Glad to oblige you.

      From Dec. 16, headlined "Rachel Maddow Is A Nightmare!"

      "By now, there can be little doubt. Rachel Maddow is an official party-line, partisan hack."

      "Good God! Once again, Maddow opened her show with a 17-minute segment about Chris Christie and the traffic lanes leading onto the George Washington Bridge."

      "She could have been discussing something that actually matters—the interests of low-income children, let’s say."

      "Rachel Maddow doesn’t care about the interests of low-income kids! Instead, she keeps playing you with this stupid shazam, which comes from the world of Fox."

      "Finally, she got to the “issue” at hand—the massively ginned-up controversy about lane closings at the George Washington Bridge and Christie’s so far non-existent role in same."

      "This time-killing, exciting diversion tells you nothing about the substance of this currently pointless story. Rachel figured you wouldn't see that. "

      "Rachel Maddow is Fox."

    3. I'm embarrassed for Bob

    4. But wait! There's more!

      Dec. 18: "Previously enormous story gets bigger!"

      "At any rate, one day after becoming enormous, the biggest little traffic jam had finally made it to Washington."

      "Had the so-far non-story New Jersey story really taken a big leap? Not exactly, no. According to Rachel, New Jersey Democrats (described as “New Jersey lawmakers”) had “subpoenaed any and all communications between Governor Christie’s office and the agency that runs the bridge during the period when the shutdown happened.”

      "This was about as surprising as the fact that the George Washington still stood erect. Absent-mindedly, Rachel presented no evidence that any such communications had ever really occurred."

      "Rachel engaged in free insinuation, trying to provide us with our nightly Christie hard-ons."

      "What happens to the IQ of the liberal world with this very bad, very willful person behaving like an escapee from Fox News, to which she never personally applied for a job?"

      "She’s been playing us rubes every step of the way, turning her program into pure propaganda."

      "She doesn’t care about low-income schools. Maddow is playing her viewers for fools. How many viewers can’t see that?"

    5. "She could have been discussing something that actually matters—the interests of low-income children, let’s say."

      "Rachel Maddow doesn’t care about the interests of low-income kids!

      Let's see. We've got mindreading, plus a tendentious logical fallacy (false dilemma, in this case), plus witless axe-grinding. Throw in a few clunky terms like "dumbnification" and "stupid shazam" -- or better yet, a few dozen -- and you've got a splendid specimen of what passes for wit and insight among Somerby's dead-enders.

      But Maddow's the clown. Right.

    6. Somerby was complaining that Maddow was getting ahead of the facts then in order to tantalize her audience, and he's still complaining that the press is doing that NOW.

      That's a valid criticism of journalists. It matters. And one day it might matter to you when it's your ox they're goring.

      Reporting should not be made upon the basis of prescience. Hyping a story beyond what appears to be it's substantiated merits at the time, is not turned into good journalism on the basis of it becoming that big deal as new information is acquired.

      To suggest that it is, is tantamount to your wiping out the boundaries for people with microphones and monetary interests in ratcheting up your attention and emotions every chance they get.

      You would't throw over professional boundaries for other people with such power, such as public prosecutors and insurance companies, but you'll gladly do it for the media if you smell blood in the water!

      There are many liberal blogs where you can go and raise your battle cry with your fellows. There are many conservative blogs with your mirror-image partisans who come closer to meriting scatter-gun strafing than this blogger ever will.

      Unfortunately, you can't leave him alone. Politics and policy are just pretexts, you love war.

      Anyone who is capable of putting any consideration over a partisan victory is anathema to you.

      You are a daily illustration of this blogger's claims.

    7. Cecelia, thank you for once again explaining what Bob really means. What would he do without you?

      But here is a shocker for you: Bob is playing you for both a rube and a fool when he tells you that Maddow has gone beyond the evidence before her at any time she has been on this story.

      I know you there is no way you will believe that. And I know that you will also dismiss it out of hand, since Bob has already handed you the script and you lack the intellectual curiosity to question it.

      But for those of us who have actually watched Maddow's report and don't get our information second-hand from a guy with a documented jones against her so bad he ought to seek immediate medical attention, we know better.

    8. "Rachel Maddow doesn’t care about the interests of low-income kids!"

      And yet another lie.

      In addition to the reports on Christie and the Bridge, Maddow has also done segments leading up to the 50th anniversary of LBJ's "War on Poverty" State of the Union speech.

      She particularly highlighted the major Great Society programs, such as Medicare, that were wildly successful in reducing the proverty rate in a single decade -- more success in that regard than the nation ever experienced -- against ongoing right-wing spin that the War on Poverty was an utter failure and a complete waste of money.

      But of course, to a dedicated Bobinista like Cecelia, Maddow has only been reporting on Christie and the Bridge for the past month, because that's the only thing Bob has told her.

    9. Anon 4:19pm, Somerby claimed that she hyped the story beyond the evidence of it's merits at the time.

      That's a theme here about the news industry, if you haven't noticed.

      You know...that we're all being played by an industry with as many vested interests as pharmaceutical companies, which is reigned in by far fewer cultural and professional parameters than in the recent past.

      I could understand your throwing away any traditionally liberal concerns about media corporatists when there's partisan blood in the water.

      However, that does not justify what is an organized attempt to harass and troll a blogger.

      The only explanation for that is partisan extremism. That makes you the kool-aid drinker, not the people whose only crime is reading a writer and thinker they admire.

    10. "That's a theme here about the news industry, if you haven't noticed."

      Yes, I know that is a "theme" here. Others might call it "script."

      But the intellectually curious might want to examine the evidence and decide for themselves whether it applies in each and every case, including this one, rather than regurgitating the favored "theme" in knee-jerk fashion.

      Interesting how you offer no defense of Somerby's "theme" on Maddow's specific reporting of this story.

      That couldn't be because you have not seen one minute of Maddows reports, and are merely taking Somerby at face value. Certainly not.

    11. "The only explanation for that is partisan extremism."

      Yes, that's the only possible explanation. Spoken like a true Bobinista.

      Couldn't possibly be because between Maddow and Somerby, the only one completely off the wall and looking like a fool is Somerby as he continues to hunt down the "vile, bad" "partisan hack" (his words) Maddow.

      My, my what happened to all those lectures about behaving like King and Mandela? Or is Somerby and his merry band the only ones allowed to call names? Because he and they sure do it a lot.

      And as for "harass(ing) and troll(ing) a blogger" well, Harry Truman once said something about kitchens and heat.

      If you and Somerby are crying yourself to sleep at night over the mean, awful things said to him, I suggest you both find a new hobby.

    12. So now it's a "script" that 24hour news network have a vested interest and that they act unprofessionally and we should point it out when we see it?

      It's good that you guys found your soul in Internet trolling, because if you hadn't you'd be cutting off the tails of kittens under the pretext of championing social justice.

    13. You are a daily illustration of this blogger's claims.

      More mindreading, and another false dilemma: I must either agree with Somerby, or be somehow beyond the pale ideologically or morally. This is exactly the sort of reflexive wagon-circling and dumbing-down that TDH bitches about in the media.

      You're a good pupil.

      I'll leave it at this: If you want to say that Maddow's coverage was over the top or hysterical, at least admit that TDH's has been equally so. And that Maddow's was basically correct, while TDH's was basically wrong.

      Full disclosure: I find Maddow to be needlessly arch and repetitive. I feel the same way about Somerby. But the fact remains that one of them got this story right, and the other not only got it wrong, but is spinning like a lathe to avoid admitting it. If you're a standard example of his acolytes, he probably doesn't need to try quite so hard; you'll cover for him in order to continue feeling clever and unique.

    14. Anon5:59pm, in the midst of saying that you've been personally dissed for having an opposing opinion, thanks for making it clear what the true beef with Somerby is about.

      That is that he treated a potentially devastating charge against a political opponent in a skeptical manner. He didn't hit it like a sea gull on a shrimp boat.

      He aired questions about the charge that news shows should air through their guests.

      It's bad enough that Somerby includes the One True Liberal Channel as being right up there with the rest of them in encouraging and profiting from partisan war.

      He committed the ultimate treason of not salivating at Maddow's titillating teasers about the pending ruination of Chris Christie.

      You hit the nail on the head.

  11. Hey Bob, as a long time reader i suggest you delete the above nonsense and simply write

    "I was wrong." And leave it at that.

  12. 12:24

    Thanks. Thats closure, regardless of how the blogger and/or the Kool Aid drinkers spin this thing.

  13. I've never known Somerby to reply to a comment. I doubt he reads them.

    1. This has to be the funniest comment script of the sock puppet brigade around here. It gets repeated regularly so that even now those accused of being trolls by the sock hoppers are mocking it.

      Bob doesn't reply to comments on his blog. Doubt he even reads them.

      Of course he doesn't. He is too busy writing comment on other's blogs, and counting, copying, and pasting comments from other blogs into his own posts. How could he have time for reading the comments on his own.

      On the other hand we should be thankful. He coul react like Glenn Greenwald.

    2. Huh?

      It was a matter-of-fact, even banal observation. I'm honestly bewildered as to what you are going on about.

    3. n_n,

      Every comment here that could in any way be construed as supporting Somerby, regardless of the chosen name of the commenter, is actually the work of one person, the sock-puppeteer!!!

      [In a more interesting variant on this theme, the douchebag troll (played here, quite ably, by Anonymous at 1:56), rather than complaining that Somerby, damn him, pays attention to comments -- and even comments himself! -- anywhere but here, instead complains that another commenter must actually be Somerby himself!! Appearances of this variant are strongly correlated with usually the earlier comment's evisceration of some trollwork or other.]

  14. "But this has become an intriguing story. That is precisely the problem."

    Actually, this has become a federal criminal investigation.

    1. "But this was an intriguing story when Maddow/WSJ/Bergen Newspapers were reporting on it. I ignored that and read my script on Maddow. . That is precisely my problem."

      There fixed.

  15. Of course, what Bob fails to mention is that the "very small number of relevant e-mails" that we have seen so far are damning, in and of themselves.

    I am reminded years ago of a panel discussion I attended on the Rodney King beating. The conservative said "We only saw the part where the cops were beatng him. We didn't see what led up to it." A guy in the audience said, "Excuse me, but what I saw was pretty bad."

    I guess we'll know when they are released, but I don't see how more e-mails is gonna help Christie much.

  16. Am I correct in assuming that this Somerby guy has built his entire identity around the fact that he knew Al Gore in college and the press were unfair to Al Gore 15 years ago, and that a scandal as unconnected to Al Gore as the closure of lanes to the George Washington Bridge must somehow include a reference to Al Gore?
    Because that is seriously demented. I'm now stepping away from this blog slowly with both hands raised.

    1. It really is sad, because Somerby is one of the pioneers of political blogging, who used to write important, original stuff.

    2. 1:06, hmm not exactly. Anyway, do not give up on Bob, he often is brilliant. With this story and the Zimmerman story he seems to have caught the very same disease he has railed against for years.

    3. Hankest, I've been reading this blog since the late '90s, almost every day.

      And almost every day, I hope the "brilliant" Bob returns. And almost every day, I get posts like the above.

    4. Gosh, maybe you could write something brilliant yourself, instead of saying "dance, monkey, dance" to folks who you find insufficiently entertaining.

    5. This is ironic. Bob has repeatedly criticized Maddow for not focusing on what he wants, low income kids, instead of a story that is a national scandal and growing by the minute.

      "Gosh, maybe Bob could write something brilliant himself, instead of saying "dance, monkey, dance" to folks who you find insufficiently entertaining."

      There. Fixed it for you.

    6. "I'm now stepping away from this blog slowly with both hands raised."

      You've said it falsely so many times before -- but maybe you won't be lying this time?

  17. This post reminds me of Humphrey Bogart with the steel marbles in "Caine Mutiny."

    1. Yep. Instead of "strawberries" we get "War on Gore."

      Which must have something to do with Rachel Maddow and Chris Christie.

  18. OMG, the peasants are revolting today.

    In light of the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty speech, wasn't it the press's Watergate obsession that ended the post war boom and denied the world of the greatest peace president ever?

    Seems like I heard that. Paradises lost.

  19. Nice try 12:45. The Kool Aid must be really good.

    The problem is that you god (AFAIK) has not acknowledged TO THIS DAY THAT A TRAFFIC JAM TOOK PLACE.

    From his own words

    "the massively ginned-up controversy about lane closings at the George Washington Bridge and Christie’s so far non-existent role in same


    Maddow’s rather dishonest program:

    Losers, guess what? The volume of traffic on the bridge has nothing to do with this story. Traffic across the bridge was not affected, only access to the bridge from the town of Fort Lee.


    it is a perfectly valid inference that HE finds the alleged (alleged only, for him, given his words that I know of ) traffic jam comical.

    It is unfortunate for him that he was so dismissive of the traffic problems when the story broke that he cannot lay the charge of callousness on the hated Collins for finding human misery comical.

    1. OMB ( Be Fair to our ONE TRUE BOB)

      "Back in September, a minor New Jersey official had closed three lanes of traffic from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge. This created a week-long traffic jam which crippled the town of Fort Lee.."

      The BOBster from Part 1 of his multi part harangue about Maddow having a multi part harangue about something BOB deemed trivial.


  20. Why do all these trolls hate Bob Somerby so much?

    1. They talk about how horrible it is what he writes … and how few readers he has. Like the joke about bad food and small portions.
      Really, they are just like most people. Scared.

    2. Some may be angry Poles and Finns. Others work for Rachel Maddow. A couple may be Karl Rove staff angry that Somerby gives all the credit for Bush winning to press hatred of Gore. We are sure many of them are very nice people. We don't know.

    3. I dunno. Why does Bob hate Maddow so much?

      Couldn't possibly be that in the span of time since he began his blog to nowhere, Maddow has:

      1. Graduated from high school.

      2. Graduated from college.

      3. Earned a Rhodes Scholarship.

      4. Earned a doctorate from Oxford.

      5. Landed a radio gig.

      6. Landed a TV gig -- at a seven-figure salary.

      7. Is female.

      You know all the burrs that seem to get under his saddle.

    4. She doesn't do her job well.

    5. "Why do all these trolls hate Bob Somerby so much?"

      I can only speak for myself, and note the headline posted immediately (Dec. 16) in the Free Republic concerning Somerby's attack on Maddow that very day:

      "Liberal blogger catches Maddow lying about Chris Christie's 'Lanegate'"

      He's become quite the handy tool.

    6. And who are you a tool for? You complain that a liberal attacks a "liberal" and thereby benefits the right, but who do you benefit when you attack a liberal blog like this?

    7. "She doesn't do her job well."

      Well, she's done a hell of a lot better job on this story than Somerby has.

    8. Why do all these trolls hate Bob? Some of his fifth graders did learn to write. Others caught his comedy act.

    9. " . . . a liberal blog like this"

      Oh, my dear, sad, naive child!

    10. Liberal blogger catches Maddow lying about Chris Christie's 'Lanegate'"

      He's become quite the handy tool."

      You can't be serious.

      The Free Republic!

  21. In the discussion about that Rolling Stone article that caused an uproar on the right about socialist proposals for the US, the author stated that he spent most of his time trolling liberals from the left. I found myself wondering where our various trolls are coming from in their hatred of Somerby. Are they too trolling "from the left" or are they conservatives trolling from the right, or are they defenders of Maddow, Collins, Dowd, or other targets of Somerby's posts. They are not likely to be Ravitch trolls because this got bad before he focused on her new book. So, what exactly set them off, where did they come from, whose pay are they receiving, and why have they decided to clog up the comments here?

    It would be interesting to have real discussions on these various topics. We cannot do that when those who respond substantively are called names (Kool Aid drinkers, Bobists, etc). It is also becoming too difficult to scroll through the garbage to find someone who sounds real and rational.

    I have lost hope that anyone will be banned here, but it does seem to me the regular comments have disappeared because they don't want to bother wading through the sewage. I was one of the people who didn't like it when Digby removed her comments section. I'd hate to see that happen here, either through Bob's actions or de facto, as the comments become virtually unreadable. There are too few blogs left that have a readable volume of comments to create a community and also focus on interesting subjects in an intelligent way. This one is becoming unbearable and I will be sad to leave, but the trolls are winning in the sense that they are driving real people away.

    I suggest we take back our comment section by ignoring the noise and responding only to signal. Anyone else still out there?

    1. Yes. I am here. I longed for a voice of reason like yours for quite some time. There haven't been many since those who recognized Trayvon Martin was a murderous thug left. The trolls scared them all away.

    2. Yes, I am here, too.

      I also wish for the days when I wasn't tied to a chair, eyes propped open, and forced to read things I didn't agree with.

      Wouldn't that be just swell, Wally?

    3. Anon 2:17: what does "real" people have to do with you? Also, real sorry you didn't get a better fainting couch for Christmas.

  22. Thanks KZ.

    But he took that from a Dec 10 NY Times story that says

    " At a legislative hearing in Trenton on Monday, two Port Authority employees said that they were told to close the lanes by David Wildstein, a high school classmate of Mr. Christie’s and a former political blogger who worked as director of interstate capital projects; Mr. Christie’s chief appointee at the authority created the position for him.

    They said Mr. Wildstein instructed them not to tell anyone, leaving in the dark Fort Lee officials, the news media and the Port Authority’s executive director. They said they advised against the move but complied because they feared for their jobs and understood that Mr. Wildstein was working at the behest of Mr. Christie’s appointee, Bill Baroni. "

    If he used the story only as a librul attack vehicle after being aware of this - its really contemptible.

  23. From the Incomparable Archives, Comments Section Edition:

    "Save this one for reposting when we discover, inevitably, that Christie DID have something to do with it."

    Don't say you weren't warned. I warned you, and was of course mocked by the various subtle TDH minds and logicians. And others warned you:


    1. Bob thinks (or pretends to think) you were just making a lucky guess back then.

      It was a good call.

  24. Anon @ 2:22

    No, thanK YOU.

    It is rare to get thanks rather than invitations to suck on exhaust extensions of quaint combustion driven vehicles.

    I was merely refuting the notion that BOB did not acknowledge there was a mobility problem for such vehicles in this whole nasty business.

    I was inspired to do so by the Anonymous commenter who keeps correcting the trolls who accuse BOB of saying Maddow "sweats" instead of the accurate notation that he said she was "perspiring."

    It is very much like those who say Al Gore "invented" the internet. We must all quickly note he merely "created" it.
    Otherwise we might share blame for the death of millions in the future in some far off land.


  25. 2:45

    If he got praise from the freepers - thats a bullet item on his resume' for a winger pundit gig.

    1. He must screen test incredibly poorly, or he'd already have a gig on Fox as a token "liberal."

    2. Well, he's pretty old for TV and even old people watching Fox don't like looking at other old people.

      But, other than favoring his personal acquaintance for President 14 years ago, what is the most recent evidence of anything liberal at this blog?

    3. He certainly would be "liberal" by Fox standards, just as he is "liberal" by Freeper standards.

      And is there anything they love more than a pseudo-liberal punching bag?

  26. It's called aiding and abetting the enemy. Every time a BOB kool aid drinker mean mouths one of my kind, be it Rach, Chris, Gail, or Mo, it only serves to give comfort to our enemies.

  27. Trollmes

    Mar 5 2007

    "Many voters are breath-takingly stupid, and their tribalism will take them to the ends of the earth. These are the people the GOP has learned to address and marshal through Coulter (and through others like her)"

    Although the column was about trashing Dowd.

    1. The mention of Ann Coulter reminds me of the time before aliens kidnapped the real Bob Somerby and replaced him with the one we have now.

      Back in those glorious days, Bob did a multi-part series about the press reviews of Coulter's latest published screed, all of them praising her for her careful and meticulous researched, as evidenced by the number of "footnotes" (they were actually endnotes) that she had.

      Back before he got totally lazy and started typing up whatever thought crossed his head, Somerby actually took some initiative and looked up those "footnotes" to see if they actually supported whatever point Coulter was trying to make.

      Bob's work was so well done, well written, and concise, that it was being cited, linked to, and blogged about all over the place.

      It marked the beginning of the end for Ann Coulter, Her face used to be inescapable on every network and every gabfest on TV. Granted, she helped grease the skids under her own sled with her compulsion to be more outrageous than the last time.

      But nowadays, Coulter is so discredited that the only network that will touch her with the proverbial 10-foot pole is Fox, and she isn't even on there all that much. Not like the old days.

    2. OMB

      As the only commenter here claiming extra planetary experience I can tell you that the only aliens who engage in kidnapping are local on your planet and even they would not have replaced BOB with anything other than a drug trafficker (he's too old for the sex or vital organ trade).

      FWIW, aliens from beyond your gravitational pull do engage in the long rumored anal probing, but it is just for sport and their catch and release rules do not allow sufficient time for it to be considered kidnapping.


    3. I am NOT buying your lame excuses, oh Alien One! In fact, I am now more than certain that you have spirited the real Bob away and replaced him with the Christie-excusing, Maddow-hating fake.

      In fact, I am certain you are in cahoots with Wildstein and Christie, and I demand to see all e-mails you have exchanged with them.

      I can only hope you didn't get your anal probes from Gov. Ultrasound in exchange for a Rolex watch, "loans," and a ride in a Ferarri.

      Of course, nothing to see there, either.

  28. 84 comments so far and not a single one has anything to do with today's post.

    1. bob somerby has a moment of self reflection,

      " **We’ll admit that we’re unbalanced on the subject of Collins**. We still think her column of late October 1999 included the most heartless jibe we’ve ever seen from a member of her guild.
      **We’ll admit that this reaction is somewhat strange**, since a wide range of guild members offered the same set of scripted remarks concerning that first Gore-Bradley debate, in which everyone agreed to pretend that Gore had been tremendously awful."

      "Many others made the same remark, which was copied from a script first composed by Jacob Weisberg. **For reasons we can’t explain**, we have never forgotten how especially heartless that comment sounded coming from Lady Collins."

      >>> good for somerby...credit where credit is due...you gotta start somewhere. (if i understood him correctly)

  29. 6:53

    May be - but the blogger got the hiding he has been asking for, lo this many years. He may continue to nitpick, snark and hate, but he will only be a running joke from here on.

  30. Speaking of "scripts," the prevailing one in most of the media until very recently was about what how Christie was a moderate who was the great hope for doing away with partisan politics.