ALL ROADS LEAD TO BIAS: Rachel Maddow’s week that was!


Part 3—Scandal culture hits critical mass: Last evening, a guest on Hardball made a sensible statement.

The guest was Robert Del Tufo. From 1990 through 1993, Del Tufo was attorney general of New Jersey, serving under Governor Florio, a Democrat.

An excited cable host threw to his guest. The guest made a sensible statement:
MATTHEWS (2/5/14): Let me go to Mr. Del Tufo. Thank you for joining us about this, legally. And I’m looking at this question, which any reasonable person asks:

All these people running around speaking for the governor. A young woman in her early 40s saying, “OK, it`s time for some traffic problems.” A guy over at the Port Authority says, “Yep!” Everybody operating on the governor, it seems, governor’s authority at least, his authority.

You’ve got the lieutenant governor saying, “If you don`t play ball, you`re not going to get the money,” operating on the governor’s authority. The same with the attorney general, appointed by the governor. Everybody’s moving around saying, “I’m here from the governor’s office” implicitly.

Now, where does the law come in? Where does RICO come in? Where’s racketeering coming in here? Where does the law say, wait a minute, there comes a point when all these moving parts have to be pointed back to somebody who started this machine?

Your thoughts.

DEL TUFO: Well, let me say that we have to analyze all of the facts, and we don’t have all of the facts now. And I think we ought to be patient and prudent about that.
Say what? “We ought to be patient and prudent about” acquiring “all the facts?”

In fairness, Del Tufo had made a sensible statement. But when scandal culture takes hold, that isn’t how cable “news” works.

With regard to several scandals, this has been a week that was on cable news. Major pundits behaved very badly, on several cable shows, with regard to claims against Woody Allen. As of last night, Piers Morgan was embroiled in a somewhat peculiar fight regarding transgender issues.

But this was really a week that was regarding the scandals Del Tufo had been asked to discuss—the scandals involving Chris Christie.

As Del Tufo correctly noted, “we don’t have all of the facts now.” Concerning the extremely peculiar Fort Lee lane closings, we probably won’t all the facts for quite a while.

That said, cable news tends to want its facts now. If we don’t have all the facts, cable stars tend to invent them.

In our view, that process has reached critical mass on MSNBC this week. We have been especially struck by Rachel Maddow’s work.

Forget the themes we planned to pursue this week—the themes you see headlined above. For today, let’s try to cover a few of the ways Maddow has performed during this week that was.

Last night, Maddow was at it again, driving a highly tabloidized, scandal-ripe pseudo-news culture. As always, her performance was histrionic—and her facts were perhaps a bit less than clear and complete.

In her first segment, Maddow primarily expressed shock and amazement at the idea that David Wildstein was paid $150,000 per year for his job at the Port Authority. A job no one can even explain!

Oops! In the next hour, someone did explain the job to Lawrence on The Last Word. In a later post, we’ll look at parts of Maddow’s journalistically embarrassing segment. We’ll also give you the latest dope on how much Maddow is paid.

In her second segment, Maddow rocked and rolled with the journalistically tortured claim that Christie had suddenly changed his story during his radio interview this Monday night. In our fourth post today, we’ll look at chunks from that embarrassing segment.

By the time that second segment was done, it was 26 minutes past the hour. In terms of broadcast minutes absent commercials, about half the program had aired (22 minutes).

Judged by journalistic standards, the program had been an embarrassing mess. That said, Maddow has been making selective, tabloid-fueled presentations all week.

Go ahead—watch the tapes! Whatever those snark- and shoutfests represent, you are not watching news presentations by a broadcast journalist.

Last night, Maddow’s first two segments were trivial, time-wasting stage shows. She built thrilling new scandal claims on beds of selective baloney.

Whatever Christie will turn out to have done—and it might turn out to be a great deal—Maddow wasn’t plowing new ground in these segments. That said, cable news tends to need a new scandal each night, or the appearance of same.

In the posts which follow today, we’ll examine the segments we have cited. We’ll start with the Monday night segment in which Maddow made a very familiar but very fuzzy claim.

Next: In search of the “false cover story”


  1. "Judged by journalistic standards, [Maddow's] program..."

    Yes, Maddow's "journalism" is awful.

    But you always point that out. So you're worse.

    1. Go away. Your pseudonym is unworthy of this blog.

    2. On the evidence, it's a letter-perfect name.

      "Douche Troll's" comment is just a distillation of what the douche trolls on this blog always say. If that gets your goat, you're probably a douche troll yourself.

    3. That is a juvenile name not befitting this post, which strives for a higher standard for our culture.

    4. Using the term douche is offensive to women. You do know what a douche is, right? It is part of what makes the internet a hostile place for female commenters.

    5. "Using the term douche is offensive to women."

      No, it isn't. But regardless, you have no idea who is and isn't female on this board.

      That post wasn't hostile to females, but to trolls. No wonder you took offense.

    6. Oh, and the internet isn't a "place," dick.

    7. Word games -- hallmark of the troll.

  2. I didn't see Hardball, but is that all Del Tufo said? Sounds to me like a preface to something else.

    1. Sadly the octogenerian had much else to say. Perhaps
      when the transcript is available TDH will link to it.

  3. I am not sure I read this correctly:

    "Major pundits behaved very badly, on several cable shows, with regard to claims against Woody Allen. As of last night, Piers Morgan was embroiled in a somewhat peculiar fight regarding transgender issues."

    "Forget the themes we planned to pursue this week—the themes you see headlined above."

    "That said, Maddow has been making selective, tabloid-fueled presentations all week."

    "Last night, Maddow’s first two segments were trivial, time-wasting stage shows. She built thrilling new scandal claims on beds of selective baloney."

    Are you saying that Maddow and the MSNBC crew have kept you from devoting a week to Wooday Allen and Piers Morgan?

    Are you saying you had to forget about those because of the "baloney" and trivial work of Maddow?

    Forget? I had never even heard of the controversies involving an aging comedian who has thrilled a generation of boomers with tales of his neuroses, much less the "peculiar" fight the Brit on CNN was having.

    I was hoping you would cover the sizzling Tom Sizemore tape.

    1. A preceding paragraph is not a headline. He is more likely referring to his planned series begun earlier this week, also mentioned yesterday. This was not an invitation to talk about Woody Allen, etc.

    2. That is why I made my comment a question. The headline is the same theme from the last week. We have no idea what he planned for this week and the only thing else above is mention of Woody Allen and Piers Morgan. It seems like this post is still on the "Road to Bias" so I am confused.

    3. He tells you what he has planned because he teases his future posts. Now he is telling you that he is setting aside that plan in order to focus on Maddow's Monday night show. If this is too confusing, just read the posts and don't worry about whether they are according to plan or not.

  4. OMB (Ruminants Rechewing)

    Recent retelling of old tales in reverse order:

    Pig Killing Ruminations: Gore as Wooden Apollo and assorted other resurrections. Back in the good old days we only heard about honest Abe's log cabin and George Washinton's cherry tree as youthful role model building tales.

    Lost in Thread Wherein out intrepid blogger first admits disability: thread loss due to bullroar volume during service in War on Gore.

    Peckish and Peeved What, no Gore? Well at least we have Rice, a Trayvon allusion (happy 19th) and Clinton. We'll always have Clinton!

    Worst Night Ever! Of course it was the worst.
    We had Clinton and Rice (& Everything Nice) But arrgghhh!!! Gore chased by prehuman droogs!

    Worst Night + Walsh R-Bombs, O-bomba and O-Really, and Rice and Rich, with a big nostalgia helping of Gennifers Flowers topped with Allusions to Lesbofu.

    Did I lose anything? Anyone see my thread? I know there was some thread in the wardroom ice locker.


    1. The interminable cuteness is becoming impossible to read.

  5. One thing about remaining calm and waiting for the facts (results of an official investigation) to come out was expressed in a Pete Townsend song: "People Forget."

    Press hounds gotta keep howling.

    I'm a Boomer who's paid for his own SS (the fund will outlive me) and wants to believe Woody Allen because he remembers that Mia Farrow has long been known as a flake -- "attacked" by a Hindoo holy man -- marrying a 50-year-old in her early 20s -- having relations with that man 20 years after their divorce while in a committed relationship with another -- adopting scads of children like a Hollywood octomom.

    I so desperately want to believe Woody, but now I'll always have doubts.

    I also remember the Warren Commission and Watergate.

    Yes, hold judgment in abeyance. But keep the pressure on. Howl. watchdogs, howl.

    Meantime, me and Bob will make your cars.

    1. If I were leaning toward purchasing an American made car from a foreign owned automaker, I'm sure my bootheels would be a wandering over to Chyrsler.
      Beats buying one of them Jap cars made by wetbacks down in Texas. I'll let you ride in my dream car if I can eat M&M's in yours.

  6. Emerson said "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Our critics here have adopted the tactic of insistence on all sorts of foolish consistencies by Somerby. Today it is adherence to his plans for posting. This is all silly distracting nonsense from people who are mentally ill or involved in some vendetta against Somerby that involves attack his blog by clogging the comments (which he doesn't appear to read anyway).

    In this situation (Christie, bridge), facts are not in evidence yet very strong conclusions are being drawn by Maddow in particular, Drum, and various partisans. In Woody Allen's situation, there were facts known at the time that tended to exonerate him, that are now being disregarded in the face of statements by his children, whom nobody wants to hurt. This is not interesting to discuss, nor is it relevant to anything important to the public. Please, lets ignore it and not be distracted by trolls wishing to hijack discussion here.

    1. Please explain how you escaped from the hijackers in Rachel Maddow's mob. Hundreds if not thousands of Somerby readers want to know so they can break free and add one line huzzah's to this comment box. Which, BTW, knowledgeble defenders insist Somerby does not and should not read. And if you do what's good for Bob, neither should you.

      Crazy Person with Vendetta

    2. You may have read my post but you don't seem to have understood it. Just go away.