Rachel Maddow keeps selling the product!


A day that was jam-packed with news: Why were those Fort Lee access lanes closed?

Someday, we may find out.

Last weekend, our old pal Bill Maher came around to one part of our thinking on this topic, as we knew he eventually would. He complained about the way MSNBC had been immersing itself in the topic, pushing all else to the side.

Can we talk? The Channel has been selling Fort Lee as a TV mystery drama—as a cable product. Last night, the analysts chuckled as Rachel Maddow continued the sale.

She was finishing her latest interview with her program’s co-host, Assemblyman John Wisniewski. Does Wisniewski live at 30 Rock? He sure doesn’t seem to have trouble getting over the bridge!

As she finished, she couldn’t help it. The cable star blurted this:
MADDOW (2/17/14): Assemblyman John Wisniewski, co-chair of the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee investigating the bridge scandal, thank you for your time tonight.

Lots happening, all at once. I keep thinking this is going to slow down, but it doesn’t.


MADDOW: Not yet. Thank you, sir.
Are you kidding? Was a lot happening all at once? In fact, very little has been happening in this story, as all cable viewers can see.

That is the nature of such probes. Investigations take a long time. On most days, nothing happens.

That said, people selling the probe as a mystery/drama product have to pretend that things are constantly happening. Maddow kept soldiering on last night in her two Fort Lee segments.

Very little has been happening. Consider the topic Maddow placed first above all others last night—the question of the redactions.

Behold redactions! Here's how Maddow started last night’s first segment about Fort Lee:
MADDOW: Behold redactions! [Holding up pieces of paper] These black lines were not added by me.

I’m more of a highlighter kind of gal, rather than a black magic marker person.

When you get official redactions like in a publication, like in this book, Ali Soufan’s book, The Black Banners, about interrogating al Qaeda suspects, in a book like that, publications, the redactions are nice and tidy because they do them with a machine. But when it’s some guy crossing out things by hand, it admittedly looks a little more sketchy.

And in 908 pages of documents and e-mails and text messages that were handed over by Chris Christie ally David Wildstein when the bridge lane scandal broke open in New Jersey, either Mr. Wildstein or his lawyer just marked up by hand about 45 pages of the 908 pages. What’s underneath the black marks?

Well, today, somebody appears to have finally found out.
The Star-Ledger and Bergen Record reporting today the special counsel for the committee investigating the bridge scandal met with David Wildstein’s lawyer in private and looked at the un-redacted documents. At what was under the black magic marker.

So, the special counsel apparently has seen what has been blacked out in these documents. It’s not clear that anyone else has seen them, except him. But apparently he has, in private. Nobody else has seen them.
What a wonderful mystery! According to Maddow, someone had finally been able to see what’s underneath all those black marks!

Remember, this was the most important event in a day which was crammed full of action! By the way, does it sound like a lot of redacting was done? According to Maddow, it sounded like only 45 pages, out of 908, had been redacted at all.

To our admittedly unjaundiced ear, that didn’t sound like a lot.

Whatever! Maddow presented several other puddles of piddle, then took a commercial break before introducing Wisniewski. When she asked him about the redactions, he seemed to say, “Nothing to look at,” much as a bridge cop would:
MADDOW: Let me ask you about the redactions first...Reid Schar, the special counsel, has reportedly now seen what’s beneath these redactions. Why has he seen them and what does that mean about whether you’re going to see them and whether or not the public will?

WISNIEWSKI: It’s a process that counsel worked out with one another. We wanted to see them from that day. You showed the clip where he was first at the committee meeting and we wanted to see them. So, Mr. Zegas, the attorney for Mr. Wildstein, has agreed to provide them to our council who`s going to review them and they`re going to come to an agreement on what can be included.

What we’re told preliminarily is the statement that Mr. Zegas made that they were outside the timeframe or outside the subject matter, it`s pretty much on the mark. There are a couple of pages that our counsel says that probably should be included. So, we’re hoping to work that out and have them included with the record and I hope to have more to say about that in the near future.
Are we reading that correctly? Rather clearly, Wisniewski seemed to say that, preliminarily, the redactions seem to be justified. According to Wisniewski, the original statement by Wildstein’s lawyer was “pretty much on the mark.”

Wisniewski tried to cushion the blow, but this was hardly big news. But according to Maddow, this was the number one revelation in a day that was jam-packed with news!

Wisniewski broke it to her gently, then made his way back over the bridge. The analysts began to jest until we forced them to stop.

(“Lots of bullroar keeps happening, all at once,” one of the analysts said. “I keep thinking this is going to slow down, but it doesn’t,” an eye-rolling youngster replied.)

We aren’t making light of the probe, which may end up revealing criminal conduct. We are making light of the attempt to sell the probe as TV entertainment, a product.

For further exploration: Eric Wemple thinks Billmar went too far. We agree, and then too we don’t.


  1. Interesting how Bill Maher is Bob's "old pal" now.

    Just last year he was a liberal mysogynist who proved the hypocrisy of MSNBC hosts because they never went after the mean things he (and Andrew Dice Clay) said about women like they went after Rush for calling Sandra Flook a prostitute.

    You see, Bob. Some of your readers actually remember these things.

    1. Ironic phrase, like saying "Our old pal Rush Limbaugh is up to his old tricks." Somerby and Maher are different ages, so they couldn't possibly have gone to school at the same time. Maher lives in LA but Somerby lives on the East Coast. They may have shared a stage in a stand-up club at some point, and no doubt empathize with each other's career struggles. Maher is very rich, but don't expect him to donate $1 million to Hillary's campaign. He's saving his money for Rand Paul or Paul Ryan.

    2. Too bad your understanding isn't commensurate with your understanding. Tell me again why it's bad that TDH criticized Maher last year for one thing but praises him today for another?

  2. "Why were those Fort Lee access lanes closed? Someday, we may find out."

    Well, we won't if we follow the advice of Bob and his old pal Bill and drop the whole thing because they find it boring.

    I am reminded of a President who once tried to capitalize on the perceived "weariness" of the good people of America in his 1974 State of the Union when he proclaimed, "One year of Watergate is enough."

    Yep, just a third-rate burglary that also didn't amount to a hill of beans.

    1. Please quote any example of Somerby telling journalists to stop investigating what happened with the lane closures.

    2. Nasty troll. Go away

  3. From Eric Wemple: "Just a question to finish this out: When newspaper columnists and reporters stick with a story no matter what, they’re heroic and persistent. When TV networks do the same, they’re bloated and irresponsible. What gives there?"

    When journalists are pursuing a story but not finding out much new, they don't publish anything. They keep digging and publish when they have new info. Networks don't tend to do a lot of investigative journalism, relying on the work of others, but when there is nothing new to report they have to put on a show, so they rehash and try to build something out of nothing.

    I think Bill Maher is becoming a libertarian. It wouldn't surprise me to hear him announce it before the next presidential campaign. He doesn't like Hillary Clinton and he seems to be buying into some odd economic beliefs, such as his rant about how the old are stealing money from the young by accepting social security. Not much common ground with liberals there.

    I also don't think that noting Bill Maher's similar criticism of MSNBC (via Eric Wemple) makes Maher and Somerby best buddies (childhood friends?). Noting an accurate criticism of MSNBC doesn't make Maher any less of a misogynist in my opinion. He also makes a whole bunch of dubious racial jokes that someone with any sensitivity to racial issues wouldn't care for. But since when is agreeing with someone about MSNBC equivalent to buying into their whole mind set and all past statements?

    1. "Old pal" are Somerby's own words. I find it interesting when Maher is his "old pal" when he agrees, but a cruel mysogynist when Somerby wanted to defend Rush against those vile, hypocritical MSNBC hosts.

      And I am certain their old friendship would end if Somerby ever finds out how much money Maher makes.

      To me, both Maher and Somerby are old comics who ran out of material a long time ago, so now they are trying to lecture "those damned kids" about what's really important in life.

      And they are both boring as hell in their "smarter and more experienced than thou" pseudo-intellectualism, which may run a mile wide, but an inch deep.

      Yes, MSNBC's ratings have soared for all shows since the Christie scandal began. Yes, they are going to milk that for all it is worth. But you know what? That doesn't mean it's not important.

      As one of Maher's commenters noted, when a guy is a leading candidate for president of the United States, it might be a good idea to find out now how he operates.

      By the way, this notion that MSNBC covers nothing but Christie is wrong whether it is said by Maher or Somerby. Last night, Rachel Maddow did a great piece on the environmental consequences of fracking, which wasn't too complimentary of the Obama administration, which also seems to contradict their other theme song -- MSNBC = Fox.

      But you know what's really hilarious? Use the "Incomparable Archives" and check out what Somerby has been milking for clickbait for the past two months.

      He's found his new George Zimmerman in Chris Christie, the latest "victim" of MSNBC.

    2. Lots of word twisting there. No one is complaining about the investigation of Christie. Somerby is complaing about premature judgment, jumping to conclusions not yet supported by evidence. This is lynch mob mentality. No one is saying that Maddow ONLY talks about Christie. The complaint is that she talks about Christie when she has nothing to say and that she inflates that nothing by pretending it is a big deal. Today's example -- a lawyer looked at the redacted portions and concluded they were irrelevant to the investigation. That is a big bunch of nothing that Maddow hyped as if it were important. That seems like a fair criticism to me. It remains to be seen whether the accusations against Christie will amount to more than the kind of partisan attack represented by Fox's obsession with Benghazi.

      Doesn't the phrase clickbait refer to a link going somewhere else? Wouldn't Somerby have to have teasers on other webpages leading here to be using clickbait, or embedding links here going other places that he might receive revenue from? You pretty much have to come here to see what is being discussed and once you are here what would constitute clickbait? So, I think you probably mean some other word. Clickbait is what you find on Huffington Post -- 7 things cheerleaders can teach you about sex.

      MSNBC could be better than Fox, but it has to care about more than ratings and more than propagandizing viewers. People like Hayes and Maddow, who are smart and effective, need to care about more than their salaries -- they need to care about the values of progressives and make choices that are consistent with them. Some of Somerby's examples suggest they are not doing that. If viewers (including Somerby) do not campaign, what is the likelihood they will maximize their potential and make better use of the visible platform they have for doing good in the world?

      What good is accomplished by defending the poorer presentations offered by these MSNBC hosts? What do you hope to accomplish by getting Somerby to back off?

    3. Typo -- "if viewers...do not campaign" should say "do not complain". Sorry.

    4. Really? No one is complaining about the investigation of Christie? Well, Maher certainly is, and his "old pal" certainly linked to it.

      And since the get-go, Somerby has called this a "massively ginned-up controversy" and the product of a "scandal culture," the same one that brought us Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey, and the War on Gore, all of whom have made frequent reappearances in his "discussion" of how off the wall this all is.

      And this "scandal culture" at one time also brought us Gov. Ultrasound, although with his multi-count indictment, he's gone down the ol' memory hole.

      Let's not pretend here. Somerby is so deep in the hole of his own digging that this whole thing is much ado about nothing, that he probably prays every night for the miracle of a "real traffic study."

      It's the only way he will ever save face, even if it is with the four or five "fans" he has left.

      So let's not pretend that Somerby thinks this investigation is important. Or that it is worth the time MSNBC has spent on it, as he continues to spend every day on it as well.

      At least MSNBC will throw in another topic, such as the chemical spills in West Virginia and North Carolina, or the consequences of fracking, or the ongoing consequences of global warming, while Bob frantically searches for 15-year-old stories about Kathleen Willey to prove once again with geometric logic that Chris Matthews has hidden the key somewhere to the wardroom icebox.

    5. They are both complaining because time has been spent without anything new to report -- that is not the same as complaining about the investigation or saying the scandal doesn't matter (if it turns out there is a scandal there).

    6. You know, just because we are between "blockbuster" e-mails and documents at the moment, that doesn't mean that there hasn't been anything to report.

      But then of course, you wouldn't know that if your chief source of information was Somerby. In fact, you might think this was all just a "massively ginned-up controversy" cooked up by a "partisan hack" over a "real traffic study" and Christie's "phony childhood friends."

  4. Nothing to see here, folks:


    1. Holy excrement! Is Samson throwing Baroni under the bus? Samson? The guy who was "helping to retaliate" against the "NY side" and against Foye for "leaking?"

      Anybody want to guess who makes the immunity deal first? Baroni, Wildstein, Kelly or all of the above?

    2. How do you get from a simple apology to the Port Authority board for the inconvenience to travelers, to anyone being thrown under a bus? This is so general as to be pro forma. The lanes were closed and there was inconvenience -- nothing is being admitted. This means nothing at all.

      Will it be hyped as breaking news by Maddow?

    3. Sure. "A simple apology." Five months later. From David Samson, who has finally spoken his first public words, which were to blame "a few individuals" for the whole mess -- and guess who has lost their Port Authority jobs over this?

      "Pro forma"? With several investigations bearing down? Some of which are beginning to turn up serious questions of conflict of interest between Samson's PA position and the developer-clients his firm represents?

      Sure. Nothing to see here. Move on. This will surely turn out to be a "real traffic study" after all.

  5. Gotta say LOVE that investigative journalism is being attacked for, well, investigating and reporting ??

    -- amazing too how similar to Nixon and his gang attacking the 'press' for their persistence. Early on into Watergate, Nixon blamed the 'press' for "having created a story out of nothing" ... funny how that turned out.

    1. No, Maddow is being flogged for wasting time on empty reports built-up as if they were saying something new.

    2. Gotta say LOVE that you think Darlin' Rachel is doing "investigative journalism."

    3. Rachel Maddow is the host of a cable news program. She is not pretending to be an investigative journalistic. She invites the actual journalists onto her program to discuss their work. Pay attention.

      She tries to do this in an exciting way. That's her job, to get viewers. I'm sorry this bugs you.

    4. Her job is more than simply getting viewers. That is the point.

    5. Yes, we have learned from no less authority that Bob himself that Maddow is nothing more than a partisan hack, paid to gin up controversies about Repbulicans like poor set-upon Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell.

      Actually, unlike our intrepid blogger who abandoned the book about the 2000 campaign when he found out it was going to take some work beyond cutting and pasting his blog posts, Maddow actually does some interviews and some real research.

      But no, she doesn't even pretend to be the investigative journalists who have been dogging the Christie story since September. But she has had them on her show.

    6. How much slower do I have to type to be understood? My comment about Maddow and investigative journalism isn't directed at Maddow. I realize that's not her job. The comment was directed at someone who does.

      Believe it or not, I found Maddow annoying on other grounds long before TDH started to smack her down for her "reporting" on Christie.

  6. I wonder if they (MSNBC corporate Democrats) plan to try and play this out through November as a key National issue? This not not going to wear well. Reminds me so much of '10 when they took out Palin, took down the beauty contestant, and did their part to help piss away a mandate.

    1. Right. Congress was lost because Keith Olbermann said vile things about Carrie Prejean.

      And pray tell, how did "they" take out Palin in 2010? You are talking about the former Governor of Alaska who quit serving her people to go on a book tour, aren't you?

      Or are you talking about Michael Palin of Monty Python fame?

    2. No one expects the Alaskan disquisition!

  7. That is a really beautiful transformation and I cannot believe how clever and simple the idea of stacking the Ikea shelves is.
    who want to know more information about Dogging , dogging in the uk please visit