Scandal excitement on cable news!


Monday night, Tuesday morning: According to the New York Times, nothing gigantic has occurred in the past few days concerning the Fort Lee lane closings.

The paper has published news reports in recent days concerning the legislative probe into the lane closings. But the reports have appeared inside the paper, in the New York section—and generally not on that section’s front page.

That isn’t the way this topic has been played on MSNBC, which has committed to the lane closings as a signature event. Consider the treatment the topic received on the Maddow program in the past two nights.

On Monday night, Maddow devoted roughly the first three-fourths of her program to the topic of the lane closings. Last night, the first half of the program was so conceived and so dedicated.

Maddow is treating the topic as a signature, breakout event. On a nightly basis, she is now making portentous statements like these, from Monday night:
MADDOW (2/10/14): Tonight, we can report exclusively that the lawyer hired by Governor Christie to do this internal review, that lawyer has contacted the attorney for the mayor of little Fort Lee, New Jersey, Mayor Mark Sokolich. The mayor’s attorney telling us tonight it was Mayor Sokolich—the mayor’s telling us tonight that he received that communication from Governor Christie’s lawyer.


In his search for why someone would want to do that to him and Fort Lee, Mayor Sokolich suggested it was perhaps retaliation at him for not endorsing Governor Christie in his re-election campaign. Governor Christie has denied that allegation from the mayor.

But tonight, the lawyer for Mayor Sokolich tells us that the attorney that Governor Christie hired to conduct that internal investigation of his own office, that Christie attorney has reached outside the governor’s office to seek an interview with Fort Lee’s mayor. The attorney for Mayor Sokolich says the request came through this weekend. The mayor`s attorney did not answer when we asked tonight about how he responded so far to the request from the Christie lawyer.

But that’s not all. There’s more. We can also report tonight exclusively that the Christie attorney conducting this internal review has also written to the town of Fort Lee. Governor Christie’s lawyer filing an open records request today with the mayor’s office in Fort Lee requesting, quote, "any and all correspondence going back to August 1st about those lane closures in September”...
While you’re at it, note the invention of a novelized character—the adorable “little Fort Lee,” which novelistically stands at the base of “the busiest bridge in the world.” Back to our major point:

Maddow hasn’t explained why MSNBC is “can report those things exclusively.” Is the mayor’s lawyer telling them things he is telling no one else?

Maddow has made it sound that way, but clarity has been lacking. Nor has Maddow explained why the mayor’s lawyer would do that.

Whatever the source of these insights, this type of trumpeting is now routine as Maddow devotes the bulk of her show to the Fort Lee matter, pushing other topics over the side of the world’s busiest bridge.

Has Fort Lee merited this degree of coverage in the past two nights? Consider something that happened last night as Maddow continued to give her viewers the thrill and appearance, perhaps the illusion, of nightly revelation.

Ten minutes into last evening’s program, Maddow snarked at some of Monday’s “weird” press coverage of Fort Lee. After constructing an alleged contradiction in Christie’s conduct, she moved on to some conduct by the press—conduct she said was even weirder than Christie’s:
MADDOW (2/11/14): That paradox, that contradiction, between his personal public statements and what his office is doing in his name, that continues to be one of the weirder aspects of this story, which I think probably hasn’t had enough attention.

It is a weirder aspect of this story. It is not quite as weird [chuckling] as the reporting yesterday that Governor Christie might have done a fly-by of the traffic jam in Fort Lee by helicopter while those access lanes under the George Washington bridge were blocked.

Numerous press outlets yesterday reported that Governor Christie might have flown over the traffic jam that had been ordered up by his staff on his helicopter ride back to New Jersey from New York on the morning of September 11 last year and that that was why the aviation unit of the New Jersey state police was having its records subpoenaed as part of the investigation.
Maddow snarked at the “weird reporting” done the day before. She failed to note that she had devoted the first five minutes plus of her own program to that very topic on Monday night, and that she had questioned Assemblyman John Wisniewski about the same matter in her program’s second segment.

As she continued last night, Maddow reported that the New Jersey state police had pretty much killed the notion that Christie flew over the traffic jam on his way back to Trenton. She chuckled about the “weird reporting” which advanced that notion on Monday. As she continued, she seemed to criticize the “press speculation” which had occurred.

The night before, she herself had engaged in the same speculation! She had used that “weird reporting” to give us the thrill of possible revelation right at the start of her program. She had burned more than five minutes on that excitement, producing maps and other objets to help us speculate in greater detail. She then spent several minutes receivinging and accepting a non-answer answer from Wisniewski on the topic.

(Last night, she replayed the tape of that Q-and-A. She pretended that Wisniewksi’s answer had been more clear than it actually was.)

Now, to give us the thrill of advancement, she rolled her eyes at the silly reporters who pushed that theme on Monday. She now said that she could “add some brand-new reporting tonight,” because “MSNBC tonight has obtained a document from sources close to the investigation that explains what it is that” blah blah blah blah blah.

As we have often told you, Maddow isn’t obsessively honest. At present, she has adopted the Fort Lee lane closings as her signature topic. She and her channel seem to be trying to promote themselves as the place to come for exclusive revelations—the kinds of revelation which may fall apart the next day, with the excitement restored in various new thrilling ways.

Maddow isn’t gigantically honest, as we’ve often noted. But this general type of sleight of hand is now widespread on MSNBC as the channel pushes other matters aside to thrill you with scandal culture.

Last night, Maddow clowned in several ways. One hour later, Lawrence continued to underinform you about the facts surrounding the now-iconic statement that “there was no traffic study.”

On Hardball, Chris Matthews opened with some absolute nonsense about an alleged contradiction no one else on the planet had noticed. He spouted and name-called in the trademark ways he had used to savage Hillary Clinton for years as the liberal world politely looked on, saying and doing nothing. (For one astounding, appalling example, see yesterday's post.)

Meanwhile, Steve Kornacki continued to insist that Mayor Sokolich hasn’t changed his story about being asked for an endorsement. Serving as guest host for Chris Hayes, Kornacki devoted an entire segment to the notion that Sokolich hasn’t changed his story.

Do such interpretations help explain why MSNBC “is able to report exclusively” that X, Y and Z have occurred, apparently drawing on information presented by the mayor’s lawyer? The question entered our mind.

Has Mayor Sokolich “changed his story” about the request for his endorsement? We’d say he pretty much has, but one thing is certain: If a targeted pol ever changed his account of some matter as much as Sokolich seems to have done, he would be summarily fried by the press corps’ legion of boom.

Given three days to think it over, Kornacki was still saying that the mayor’s story hasn’t really changed. Tell that to Maddow, who devised a whole new theory of motivation for the lane closings based on the mayor’s original statement, in which he gave the impression that he hadn’t been asked to endorse.

The mayor’s current account may be perfectly accurate, but we’d certainly say his story has drifted. Except on MSNBC, where millionaire hustlers “are able to report exclusively” that various trivial events have occurred.

On Monday night, Maddow burned a large chunk of time on the fly-by speculation. By Tuesday night, she was snarking at the “weird reporting” done on that topic, weird reporting she ran with.

Almost surely, this is how it's going to go as MSNBC continues to sell Fort Lee as a partisan entertainment event.

If you read the New York Times, nothing of gigantic import has occurred this week with respect to this story. But MSNBC, a corporate entity, is making money off this entertainment event. Perhaps for that reason, they are going to fill your head with nightly excitement as they pretend that revelation may be right around the corner.

Almost surely, revelation is not right around the corner. You are getting conned and misled, hour by hour, as MSNBC and its millionaire hirelings treat you in the ways Fox News pioneered.

We’ll probably touch on this topic each day. MSNBC is defining itself through its treatment of this topic.

Turning to our Chekhov: As we often do, we’ve thought of a certain passage from Chekhov as we’ve watched Maddow excite her viewers over these past two evenings.

At the end of The Lady with the Lapdog, Chekhov describes the way Gurov and the lady in question yearn for a quick resolution to their painful personal situation. We’ve thought of this passage in the past few nights:
CHEKHOV (1899): And it seemed to them that in only a few more minutes a solution would be found and a new, beautiful life would begin; but both of them knew very well that the end was still a long, long way away and that the most complicated and difficult part was only just beginning.
So too here! Almost surely, the answers to the mystery of the lane closings is still a long way away. But you will be hustled night after night as people like Matthews, O’Donnell and Maddow make you think a solution may be found in only a few more minutes.

You’ll be told some things that aren’t true. Quite a few facts which really are true will land on the cutting-room floor.

We’ll probably touch on this topic most days. MSNBC is defining itself through its treatment of little Fort Lee as entertainment event.


  1. Bob, since Maddow et al began pounding the Fort Lee story, MSNBC raitings have shot up, and several of their evening shows are approaching, and even surpassing, the talk shows on Fox in the 25-54 demographic.

    Now you can call her a ratings whore if you want, but that obviously means that the news and political junkies that form the target audience of these shows are interested, while others still have a wealth of choices available to them across the cable/satellite spectrum.

    And please, let's not pretend that Fort Lee is the ONLY thing they are covering. As noted in a previous thread, Maddow is on top of the chemical spills in North Carolina and West Virginia.

    I would consider those to be pretty important stories.

    1. Was that previous thread you mention the one where BOB kept us up to date on the 15 year old rantings of Chris Matthews? Or was it the one on Boomer nostalgia over a rock group which disbanded in the 70's?

    2. Just my two cents and more of a personal reaction than a strictly reasoned thesis.

      I watched Maddow last night, which I rarely do. Based on my political persuasion and ideological leaning I should like the work she does. But all the breathless teases and the repetition of "exclusive" to really reveal what felt like a fairly minor and simple point (that the investigation was asking for documents to see who helped prep Baroni's testimony) make me feel I'm being sold something.

      It felt like entertainment. And as someone who is sceptical of corp news anyway, she really sets off some warning bells. I know the drive for ratings and ad dollars is important, and the 24 hr cycle is unrelenting. And she has an hour to fill. But it felt to me that she was really dragging it out and trying to hype up her "new reporting" to produce an entertaining hour.

      So, she might be doing some good work on the bridge scandal. Certainly she's keeping it in the spotlight, which may turn out to be a good things for liberals and/or Dems. But, just on the level of how it feels to watch her show, I find it difficult to get past the slick entertainer part of the presentation.

      Again, just a personal reaction. Your mileage may vary. And, whatever Bob's faults in criticizing her, he is reflecting my general uneasiness with her. And I wonder if any other folks are feeling that too.

    3. It would indeed be the one in which Bob pulled up the transcript of the thrilling interview Matthews did in 1999 with Gail Sheehy to prove how evil and vile Matthews is today.

    4. OK, 10:42, you watched and gave us your take on Maddow and the Bridge, which you find wanting.

      Tell us what you think on the segment she did on the debt limit bill. Or the segment she did on the power infrastructure. Or the segment she did on the toxic chemical spills.

    5. If there is something worth reporting, perhaps her personality and schtick won't intrude as much because the content will carry viewer interest. The larger question is whether viewer interest (demand) should dictate content of her show or whether choices should be based on what is happening that viewers should be told about because it is news. Journalism used to be about informing viewers not selling products (including oneself). I think it is a fair criticism. That Maddow also focuses on important topics does not negate this criticism. Surely there is enough happening in the world that she should never have to be filling time with self-promoting but empty segments.

    6. to throw this into some sort of context - the dog show doubled the ratings of Maddow. What I'm picking up from Bob's postings -- and let's remember that Bob's ice cream is free -- is that any victories Rachel's piling up as a result of Bridge!Gate!! are Pyrrhic in nature.

      So - yay - victories.

      Let us celebrate the shit out of this one.


    7. Oh, good God grow up. Here we are in an Information Age where all kinds of information is at our disposal at the mere click of a mouse, and you expect TV news to inform you?

      Even the great Walter Cronkite told us several decades ago that TV news was nothing but a "headline service," and if you wanted to be truly informed, you'd have to dig deeper. And you might begin, but not end, he said, by reading a good, daily newspaper.

      Unfortunately, newspapers are being squeezed out in this Information Age, but this bridge scandal is a perfect example of when good reporters refuse to accept bullshit answers from the powers that be and continue to ask tough questions.

      That Maddow DOES focus on important topics and brings them to a national state that might otherwise go grossly under-reporter -- toxic chemical spills to name one, voter suppression laws to name another -- after she's gotten eyeballs to tune in is EXACTLY the point.

    8. How exactly is that toxic spill important to any who does not live in that area?

    9. I will presume the above query was asked in a spirit of sarcasm and satire.

    10. No, really, how is the toxic spill relevant to anyone who doesn't live near it? Why is it worth so much of a national journalist's time? Why should people watching Maddow's show care about it beyond the first mention? What implications does it have for people elsewhere. For example, I live in CA and we don't have the total absence of regulation that exists in West VA. Our problem is lack of water not polluted water. We can empathize with people there but why is that report important to us? So important that Maddow fans brag that she is covering it? Seriously, please explain why this means Maddow is doing a great job.

    11. just to point you in the direction of your petard ....

      Maddow, by choosing which stories to spend her time on, indicates what she finds important and/or relevant. The BREAKING NEWS aspect to Bridge!Gate!! is her (ratings) choice.

      As for Rachel's interest in toxic chemical spills, I spoze that Rachel's reportage on New Jersey's SuperFund sites might give us an indication about her seriousness of purpose.

      Rachel is, to quote from Hot Shots Part Deaux, the 'Best of What's Left' Which is a sad thing for anyone on the left side of the aisle.

    12. My Bold Prediction:

      At current course and speed, Rachel will be reporting that Christie, perhaps while flying over the stalled traffic in the Ft Lee area in a helicopter that may have been painted black for this trip, was perhaps heard to say "Moo who wah ha ha" as he rubbed his hands together."

      This will be reported as breaking news.

      BridgeGate ... Christie would have gotten away with it, too. If it hadn't been for these meddling MSNBC kids.

    13. Actually, Christie and staff might have gotten away with it if the Road Warrior columnist had accepted "traffic safety pattern study" for an answer and stopped there, and had a Wall Street Journal editor not been caught up in the traffic jams.

    14. So, 11:52, if the news doesn't affect you directly, you can't see the importance of it?

      Wanna know how those regulations got so lax in West Virginia and North Carolina? You think those same forces aren't at work in California?

    15. There used to be a distinction between actual news and the manipulative exercise of emotion that empty people seem to need to fill their days with. Appealing to the latter builds ratings. People seem to find the former boring, no matter how important it is that they understand such news. We in California have figured out how to oppose such forces without stifling business. Figuring out how to keep Republicans from tying up legislative processes was part of that effort.If Maddow were to focus on such things, instead of how bad people feel when they cannot drink their own tap water, she might be truly useful to the public.

    16. "We in California have figured out how to oppose such forces without stifling business."

      Oh, aren't we special? No wonder we think we're the center of the universe, and precious time is wasted reporting on those nothing chemical spills elsewhere instead of stories about us.

    17. Obviously, no point in trying to talk to you. Bye, now.

  2. OMB (Oh Thank Heavens, He's Back)

    We were getting worried. Train travel had seemed to turn our OTB to mush. Beatles lyrics, praise for Obama, taunting, but not trashing Dowd, then a nostalgic trip down Chris Matthews Lane on the far side of the Bridge to the Twenty First Century.

    There was even a clear reference to age.

    But now we are back. On a Magic helicopter ride.

    Close your eyes girl, look inside girl
    Let the sound take you away


    1. And do note how Bob's combox took a nosedive when he explored the depths of early Beatles' music compared to that of Chrysler's latest salesman.

      And now we are back to Rachel and the Bridge.

      It is also quite interesting to note that Matthews and Dowd in particular are never permitted to say and write things today that Bob might agree with because of what they said and wrote on the other side of the millennium turn.

      Since pop song references are suddenly the rage at TDH, once inside the Somerby's Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave.

    2. OMB (Duly Noted)

      Yes. We particularly liked the combox on Climate Change.

      We inserted a completly plagiarized version of BOB's attack on Obama's State of the Union message on the salary gap. We just changed a word or two and applied it to the Obama SOTU one line throw away reference to climate change BOB and his NYTimes writer were praising.

      Check the results. To us it was as funny as the flip flop Maddow did on the helo nonsense. On the latter point, we must admit, we agree completely with BOB.

      She's a witch of trouble in electric blue.
      In her own mad mind she's in love with you


    3. A "combox" cluttered with troll garbage is not a measure of interest in Somerby's posts.

    4. I once thought I discovered the thread of consistency in Bob's choice of "good guys" and "targets."

      The "good guys" are those who agree with what his former roommate from Harvard once said. The "targets" were those who thought this same roommate was kind of a dud.

      But then I got all confused when I discovered that this former roommate actually cited a "73 cents on the dollar" gap in the median pay between men and women as evidence of discrimination against women in the workplace.

      Then again, if our president had said 73 cents instead of 77 cents, Bob might not have thrown his two cents in.

    5. Anon. @ 10:56

      You are exacty right. A combox filled with troll garbage is not a measure of interest in Somerby's posts when he is not dishing trash and being trashed back by his readers.

      That is why I referenced the post "ANYTHING GOES: For information, see page D3!"

      For over an hour it was devoid of comment save LTR's usual one line praise of all things BOB. Then I added my own panygeric to the style and substance of BOB. It generated praise for me from LTR and a spirited debate between deadrat and DavidinCal.
      And little else.

      Until the "troll" strolled in you saw a measure of exactly what interest there is.

      And, lest we forget, the post itself was a critique of the Times for burying this highly interesting and important topic deep inside the paper.


    6. Traffic here is related to when people get up in the morning, whether they are on the East or West coasts, whether they work or not, and many things that have nothing to do with you at all. A sense that you somehow control random events in the universe is a symptom of schizophrenia or other thought disordered mental illness.

    7. That doesn’t mean that his story is crazy. His recent statements may well be perfectly accurate. Indeed, we’re not asking you to judge KZ or Bob today. We’re asking you to understand the way the trolls work when scandal culture grips the soul.

      Here's how the blog functions:

      Bob busts his keister to insist that the “good guy” or the accuser has changed his story. Meanwhile, the trolls con you fifty ways to Christmas to insist that the target pol has.

      This is the way the troll works. This has been their approach to scandal reporting going the time of Job according to one non troll commenter.

    8. This is the troll version of "I know you are but what am I?" KZ comes across as mentally ill. Somerby, not so much.

    9. But we also noted in real time how Bob busted his keister to insist that the "targeted pol" had NOT changed his story, but was merely adding new details to an evolving tale of what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it.

      So we have the Mayor of a town of some 35,000 evolving from "good guy" reminiscent of Malala, into Bob's "targeted pol" in a rather short span of time, while "targeted pol" has always been a Somerby "good guy."

      In other words, he's playing the mirror image of the same game he accuses others of playing, picking and choosing how he treats statements from the mouths of people depending on whether they are his "good guys" or his "targeted pols."

    10. "KZ comes across as mentally ill. Somerby, not so much."

      And Bob once defined the very essence of tribalism as the ease in which people of the "other tribe" are dismissed with name-calling and allegations of evil intent, and how we cling to our favorite tales despite all evidence to the contrary.

    11. "It generated praise for me from LTR and a spirited debate between deadrat and DavidinCal."

      And what a thrilling debate that was. A joy to read that shed much light on this very critical issue.

    12. It reminded me of the post in which DavidinCal put up about how Pete Seeger conned him into a two-day protest about an issue he can't remember without Seeger informing Dave of Seeger's communist leanings.

    13. Where the hell is Lionel? He lived in Jersey. Was he lost in the jam at the bridge?

    14. Lionel apparently drifted away along with the rest of the Zimmerman Defense Team when that particular piece of clickbait apparently played out.

  3. I agree with KZ. It's not what he says, it's how he says it. The overall point is not important.

    1. You and LTR are welcome to form a chapter of the
      Friends of Planet Doom. You write alike even if your sincerity differs.

      KZ (Z to our friends on your climate challenged orb)

    2. I agree with you. It's not what KZ says, because his moments of lucidity are few and far between. It's how he says it, which consistently amuses until you feel bad at the thought that you're getting entertainment from someone's mental problems.

      But I always cheer myself up by thinking, "Maybe it's not mental problems. Anything is possible."

  4. Here's something else that Bob fans might ponder if they think Rachel et al is the source of the dumbing down of America.

    Duck Dynasty's ratings have been in a nose dive ever since that controversy. It still draws three times the audience of cable news giant Bill O'Reilly.

    1. But, according to polls covered by TPM, which got the "change" in Sokolich's story before Somerby, the Patriarch of DD beats Mary Landrieu in a head to head Senate race in Laffyzana.

    2. Do you think this blog exists to break news about the bridge scandal? If not, why is it important that TPM "got" the change in the story before Somerby? This is a blog about commentary, called "musings on the mainstream "press corps" and the american discourse." TPM exists for other purposes. And why do you think popularity of a show or a blog determines worth or is even a goal worth pursuing?

    3. Which is not a "but" but an "and." Given the choice between entertainment and information, America has always chosen entertainment. And that phenomenon existed long before our aging blogger was but a twinkle in his daddy's eye.

    4. Once again, if this blog were more honest, the subtitle would read "musings on MSNBC and the New York Times."

      We can only hope that Somerby begins a blog about the "mainstream press corps."

    5. Seems to me the NY Times is pretty mainstream. What's your beef? He doesn't post often enough?

    6. Yes, I agree. the NY Times is indeed mainstream.

      But is it the only mainstream medium in existence. Well, not according to Bob. There is also MSNBC.

    7. I hate to suggest he waste his time by reading my newspapers or watching more cable channels. One guy has only so many hours in the day -- I don't really see your quarrel with his choices. I suppose he could critique People Magazine but they don't have the same pretensions.

    8. I also do not object to Bob limiting himself to the NY Times and MSNBC.

      But I don't think he is being entirely honest in continuing to bill that as "musings on the mainstream media."

      I do cite the "Rodeo Clown" episode as one that Somerby entirely missed.

      He waited until the tempest in the teapot was all but over, until after MSNBC hosts weighed in, and the right-wing backlash had begun, and he dutifully regurgitated that backlash -- down to turning the clown into the victim.

      What he missed was this whole story was launched by a guy with a Smartphone and a Facebook account. And that has huge implications which Somerby still not sees as more and more stories are launched by more and more people with Smartphones and Facebook accounts.

      The very definition of "mainstream media" has changed dramatically, and Somerby has chosen to limit himself to examining just two sources who provide him with nice, easy targets, against whom he can repeat the same things over and over and over and over again.

  5. I find it fascinating that MSNBC is driving the bridge coverage into the ground (I gave up when I tuned to Rachel last week and she was interviewing Hayes-a sure sign the sensationalism file was empty), but shows zero interest in finding which administration official barricaded an open air memorial so some old heroes could visit the monument the people built to their valor.

    1. Is that the same administration that recently flew a bunch of old heroes (surviving veterans from all over the country) to Washington DC and helped them tour the monuments, all expenses paid, to commemorate an anniversary of WWII?

    2. I find it fascinating that our friend at 11:52 can't tell the difference between staged news and real news.

      The real news was that the House forced the shutdown of the entire government, furloughing everybody including the rangers paid to watch over and protect these national monuments.

  6. Notice how quickly, after a one day sabbatical, that Bob's latest musings on Rachel and the Bridge surpassed in combox measurement anything he wrote the day before.

    Bob has found his new George Zimmerman in Chris Christie. Let us rejoice and be thankful.

    1. The formula is quite simple.

      1. Write something completely nonsensical.

      2. Hope that other bloggers comment on how completely nonsensical it is and include a link.

      3. Count the hits and the comments from the readers of the other blog.

    2. Bob is retired and doesn't care about money. He took the train up north to visit family or friends.

    3. The combox count proves Maddow is paying the trolls and they were pent up in frustration yesterday and are letting it all out today. That's what I think.

      And people got up late yesterday. You don't control the universe. Crazy or some other disorder person.

    4. Money? No, apparently not. That is why he continues to run a blog with only he and his "analysts" while other johnny-come-afters have actually turned their once vanity blogs into rather impressive, and money making, enterprises. And that includes a blogger who once went by the handle of Wally Edge.

      The independently wealthy stand-up comic, on the other hand, is content to provide his musings to a loyal fan club for free, and uncluttered by any bothersome advertisements.

      But then, one might suspect that he might be concerned with the size of that fan club. We don't know. It is possible.

    5. And while Bob might not be concerned about the money in his bank account, he is certainly concerned about the bank accounts of the likes of Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews.

    6. So what is the going rate that Maddow pays trolls? I would like to have some of that myself.

      And exactly when did America rise and shine yesterday morning, as compared to this morning?

    7. She must pay a lot more than that vicious misogynator Chirs Matthews. Just look at the combox count if you don't beleive me.

      Of course she makes more. We know that thanks to Somerby's expose.

    8. Well, I look at the combox and I see a lot from people who don't agree with the Great Oracle Somerby. I see no evidence that Maddow is paying them to say so.

      Of course, if you can't defend the Oracle, saying that those who hold other opinions just HAVE to be paid trolls is one easy way out.

      But that would be "tribal" of you, wouldn't it?

    9. If I were Maddow, I would be ashamed to be defended by trolls like these. Defense by someone who appears to be mentally ill doesn't strike me as much of an endorsement of her efforts. Those defending Somerby strike me as the saner voices, regardless of whether their stance is right or left (and there seem to be a few of each).

      When someone is not receiving advertising revenue from a blog, it does seem to me thanks are in order. I like it that at least one reader thanks Somerby regularly. I echo those thanks, but posting a me-too comment is an imposition on readers. I fantasize that defending Somerby may be helping to increase education and critical thinking (because that is what he does), but perhaps he doesn't need defending. It does seem to be important to oppose the forces of entropy in the universe -- one of them seems to be working daily here.

    10. Somone who finds it important to "oppose the forces of entropy in the universe" should find a more crucial battlefied than this combox. And quit commenting on the mental state of others.

    11. Do you think the universe distinguishes between entropy here and entropy anywhere else? My impression is that it doesn't care.

      So, if I stop calling KZ crazy then the trolls will similarly stop calling Somerby obsessed, deranged, bone-gnawer (and worse) and focus on the content of his posts instead of his personal characteristics? I don't believe in unilateral disarmament.

    12. I would remind you of the wise saying that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

      But if you think you can win arguments and influence people by calling names, don't let me stop you.

      I must also point out that much, though certainly not all, criticism of Somerby is certainly based on the content of his posts.

      Some critics have gone out of their way, for example, to point out the mountain of evidence that stands in the way of Bob's continuing assertion that this could all be over a real traffic study that simply went wrong. Kevin Drum among them.

      There are others who have taken rather specific objection to rather specific content as "massively ginned up controversy" by a "partisan hack".

      Or they bring up something Bob wrote a few days earlier that apparently conflicts with what Bob says today -- "additional details" vs. "changed story" for example.

      I would call those criticisms very much on point and on content.

      But those who believe their favorite blogger is beyond criticism might see that only as name-calling to call such content idiotic and insipid.

  7. Bob has never been more correct. The bullroar is deafening. You should salute him for his promise to touch on this topic each day. Just because she has novelized this into a tiny town at the foot of a big busy bridge doesn't mean it is that important.

    Keep in mind as she devotes night after night to this story that she never devoted days and days of coverage to that scandalous con job of a book about American exchange students in Finland and Poland that altered the course of American public schools.

    1. Yes, Bob becomes intensely interested in American public schools whenever a youngish female with an elite school pedigree has a book published.

    2. Is Ravitch a youngist female? I thought she was at least Somerby's age. Doesn't it seem like too many youngish females wind up being assigned to the education beat? Is that a kind of ghetto for women in journalism still?

      Maddow was interviewed in the new MissRepresentation documentary (available on Netflix). She talked about how her hate mail (about 20% of her total mail) is entirely focused on gender-based complaints. This commenter seems to think Somerby is making gender-based complaints against "youngish female" education writers. I think that he has done the opposite -- his complaints are not aimed at gender but at the substance of what is being said or written. That means taking their thoughts, ideas, competence very seriously and arguing the merits of what they have presented as work product, not focusing on whether they are male or female, gay or straight. When someone ignores your mistakes and refused to engage your arguments, you know they are NOT taking you seriously. Somerby has always taken each of the people he criticizes seriously, no matter what their age, gender, race, etc. Refocusing his discussion onto those personal characteristics, as this commenter does, seems to be committing that error -- why do these complaints only appear when a youngish female with an elite pedigree has a book published?

    3. No, Ravitch might not be "youngish" but Amanda Ripley certainly is. And her book was the subject of long and wordy Somerby rebuttals that went on for weeks, which included the specter of Somerby fudging test data to prove that Ripley was fudging test data.

      You can pretend that there is nothing gender-based about Bob, but weighing against that is the amount of time he spends criticizing pundits and authors of the female gender as opposed to the males.

      For an example, Rachel Maddow is the ONLY female host of a prime time MSNBC show. Every now and then, he will throw in a complaint about Matthews, Hayes or O'Donnell, but added together, they don't amount to near the effort he expends on Rachel Maddow.

      As far as guests on those shows? Joan Walsh is another of his bells to Pavlov's dog.

      Same with the NY Times op-edders. Read your Howler history. Count the times that Dowd or Collins has earned the ire of Somerby. Compare it to all other NYTimers added together.

      And he sometimes does it in very sexist ways. Classic example was Bob a few years back gloating for a couple of days that public editor Clark Hoyt had "spanked" (his word) Maureen Dowd.

      I have yet to hear him say that a male columnist had been spanked.

    4. Er, Sparky? You might want to talk to your therapist about your spanking fetish before you comment again.

      Clark Hoyt metaphorically spanked Maureen Dowd, not as part of your S&M fantasy, but as an errant child punished for her behavior. Which included some fairly sexist columns of her own.

    5. My S&M fantasy? I did not introduce the word "spank" to TDH, nor did I think of any sexual fantasy.

      Where did I say "S&M fantasy"? If that is your first thought and project upon me your own sexual connotation and believe that it requires therapy, then by all means, book your own therapist, though it is none of my business what two consenting adults do.

      But sexist? It certainly is. Perhaps you can point me to the post where Somerby said a male pundit or columnist was "metaphorically spanked . . . as an errant child."

    6. Take your defensiveness to therapy instead of inflicting it on me.

      The only columnist Hoyt spanked was Dowd because she's the only one to misbehave so egregiously. Why are you fixated on there being a male spanking victim?

      Never mind. I don't want to know.

    7. Thank you. You answered my question. You admit that Bob never used it against a male columnist/reporter/pundit.

      And on to of that, you find it sexually charged.

      Then we get to the great logic of deadrat and conclude that I am the one with the problem.

      Do you realize how totally useless you've become to your hero? Do you realize in trying to defend him so foolishly that you make both him and you look even more like idiots?

      Now take this test. Bob has divided the world into "targets" and "good guys." Make a list of Bob's targets. Not just one time targets, but the people he holds directly responsible for the decline in our national discourse and culture.

      Now make a list of the good guys. Won't be too hard. The list is short.

      Now look at the gender of those who dominate both lists of targets.

      And please, no more deadrat "logic" that the reason Bob spends so much time, energy and bandwidth railing against women is that they dominate the media.

    8. Yes, I answered a question you shouldn't have had to ask. You know what? When TDH criticizes Presidents, he never once criticizes a woman. How could he be that sexist? And when the NYT Public Editor once chastised a columnist, it turned out to be a woman.

      Before I take your little "test," how about we perform this little exercise: let's count in just your last comment your fixation on things that have nothing to do with TDH (the blog, not the person writing it).

      1. I think your initial comment was "sexually charged," and that you have a problem. The absurdity of my response to you should have tipped you off that I was just making fun of you. But let's go on.

      2. TDH is my hero.

      3. I am useless to him.

      4. I look like an idiot.

      5. TDH (the person, not the blog) is an idiot.

      6. TDH spends his time inappropriately.

      7. Item 6 because he has a problem with women

      Now, it 's not as much fun for me if I have to explain these kind of things, but your speculations are as pointless and as groundless as my claim that you're seeing a therapist for S&M fixations.

      TDH makes specific claims. It's possible for the most part to check his sources. When I do, I mostly find he's correct. Do I think he a bit, shall we say overdetermined? about Darlin' Rachel? Sure, but I have no real insight in his psyche, and neither do you. You certainly deny that I have any window into yours. What's the difference?

      Maybe TDH rails against women because they're women. What we can be sure of is that his jeremiads are about what they write.

      But I'd still get that S&M thing checked out.

  8. OMB (Strange Brew)

    The best part of this post is this:

    " Given three days to think it over, Kornacki was still saying that the mayor’s story hasn’t really changed."

    You TDH readers remember Steve Kornacki don't you?

    Kornacki knows what he’s talking about!

    "the press corps’ most valuable player concerning the Fort Lee fandango"

    BOB has long complained that nobody in the press is covering the obvious major change in the story of the Mayor of Ft. Lee.
    Nobody, of course, except that "perspiring pimp of piddle." *

    "Tell that to Maddow" Bob hissed on his keyboard to his ex-MVP.

    She's some kind of demon messin' in the flue.
    If you don't watch out it'll stick to you,
    To you.
    What kind of fool are you?


    * "perspiring pimp of Piddle" does not repreent novelization of a comment. This is a blog. Adding the adjective "little" to Ft. Lee does. That is television.

    1. Oh, say it ain't so! Kornacki is moving from "Gallant" to "Goofus" so quickly? He is becoming a "target" instead of a "good guy"?

      Who could possibly have predicted that the host of his own MSNBC show and the frequent guest on others could fall out of Bob's favor so quickly?

    2. Money corrupts.

    3. Did Kornacki get a big raise after he was "Gallant", showing the world the proper way to speculate without evidence?

      Then that would explain it. Just another money-grubbing MSNBC host.

  9. Dem. Party loyalists' logic: Rachel did a good job on the Christie helicopter story because her ratings have skyrocketed!

  10. For the record, he is a comment from another blog written on Oct. 26, 2009, back when other blogs occasionally paid attention to Somerby:

    "One of the dumbest aspects of Chic Bob’s anti-Maddow jihad is that he constantly complains that she should be focusing on something more important than whatever her topic is—something like education, health care, finance, etc.

    "And yet Chic Bob, a man not without connections and influence (as he constantly reminds us), spends the majority of his time pissing and moaning about Maddow when he’s not engaged in delivering painfully bad corporate comedy shticks. Mote, beam, etc., Chic Bob!"

    1. I don't understand. Is this comment designed to allege Mr. Somerby once performed for corporate clients? If so name names. Is it intended to deprecate the quality of his performances? If so, can you suggest how this commenter knew these performaces were painfully bad?

      Put up or shut up. Otherwise all you have proven is that Maddow had paid shills defaming TDH elsewhere back before forces of entropy were allowed at this blog.

      Finally this comment is alleged to have been written in 2009. Provide a link & tell us why anyone would care what someone said so long ago.

    2. Remind me when Chic Bob boasted about his influence.

      Remind me why Chic Bob shouldn't post on the topics he wants.

      Remind me why Chic Bob is chic.