WHO IS RACHEL MADDOW: A hint of Pyongyang!


Part 1—Bold leader since earliest youth: As a young person, did Rachel Maddow think she might be on her way to the Olympics?

We’ve semi-wondered about that question for some time now. After a fact check last week, it seems our curiosity may trace to Newsweek’s profile of Maddow in December 2008.

Maddow started her nightly cable program in September of that year. As Newsweek’s Jessica Baird profiled the emerging star, she recalled her teenage years:
BAIRD (12/1/08): As a teenager, her dreams revolved around basketball, swimming and volleyball—she wanted to be an Olympic athlete until a serious injury dashed her hopes. She was a fierce performer who insisted on playing through injuries and amassed a collection of crutches of varying heights.
Other profiles say this injury occurred when Maddow was a senior in high school.

Did Maddow tell Baird that she had Olympic dreams even as a senior in high school? We’ll guess that she did not.

We find no reference to the Olympics in other profiles of Maddow. Concerning Baird’s construction, journalists often misreport things they’ve been told when they compose a profile.

In a matter such as this, the subject may make a joking remark, then see it reported straight. Someone else may have said something that was wrong or misunderstood.

That said, we’ve occasionally wondered about that alleged Olympic dream. We’ve wondered about it for a reason.

It concerns a question we’ll ponder all week:

Who is Rachel Maddow?

We’ll assume that Maddow didn’t tell Baird that she had Olympic dreams. That said, it’s easy to see how Baird could have developed inflated ideas about Maddow in the course of composing her profile.

All through her Newsweek piece, Baird quotes Maddow, along with her family and friends, making grandiose claims about the subject of her profile. These claims seem to be torn from the pages of a North Korean leadership bio.

The brilliance began at an early age, according to Maddow’s mother. Rachel never spoke baby talk, and things just developed from there:
BAIRD: Maddow was, according to her parents, a curious, serious child who never spoke baby talk. When her mother, Elaine, would walk into the kitchen to prepare breakfast, the 4-year-old Rachel would be perched on a stool, with her nightgown and bed socks on, reading the newspaper.
That may be exactly how it went down. But could Kim Il-Sung have done better?

As the profile proceeds, so do the marvelous claims. By her own admission, Maddow was a political seer by the time she was 7. Around that time, her father was struck by her athletic prowess and her determination:
BAIRD: Maddow remembers when she was 7, standing in front of their black-and-white television during the 1980 election and loathing Ronald Reagan, although she is not sure why now: "All I remember is the feeling of dislike," she says, laughing. "Maybe I have reverse-engineered it into my memory."...When she wanted to learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels, she circled the streets day and night. Her father, Bob, says it took one weekend.
To judge from Baird’s profile, few things happen to Maddow that aren’t extraordinary in some way—elevated as compared to the things which happen to mortals. Examples:

Later in the profile, Maddow describes the extraordinary way she fell in love with her partner, Susan Mikula.

It happened instantly, on first sight, with Maddow’s entire life instantly changed. In turn, Mikula describes the amazing events which took place on their somewhat peculiar first date:
BAIRD: Their first date was at a shooting range—they fired muskets, pistols and rifles and threw tomahawks. Mikula says Maddow was so “unbelievable” with the AR-15 that people stopped to watch.
Did Maddow swim the Connecticut River during a storm later on that evening? Perhaps she did, but Baird left it out of her profile.

Maddow is different in every way. Here’s the way she was feeding herself at the time of the Newsweek profile:
BAIRD: For Maddow, the job never really stops. She regularly works 16-hour days, only eating once she has finished. She often has just one large meal at 2 a.m., purchased from street vendors.
Presumably, she would then return to the Central Park cave where she was living with wolves.

In other profiles, some of these tales come out sounding substantially different. By 2012, here’s how that first date was being described in a profile for Rolling Stone:
WALLACE-WELLS (6/27/12): Maddow and Mikula met in 1999. On their first date, they went to an NRA event, which was only partly ironic: They both like to shoot firearms. ("Susan has the hand-eye coordination," Maddow says. "But I can't control my movements.")
What happened to the trick-shooting display which had the whole range transfixed?

Whatever! Students of the Maddow profile will recognize the familiar element in the statement Wallace-Wells quotes. In that statement, Maddow presents herself as much more helpless than you and me, a familiar trope which is often used to make us want to care for her more. The endless tales about not (quite) owning a TV set falls into this category.

(According to Wallace-Wells, here’s what happened after the visit to the shooting range, at which Maddow either amazed the elders or fired uncontrollably into the night: “Shortly thereafter, they went for a stroll in a cemetery in western Massachusetts where they were both living, and at a moment of nearly transcendent silence and beauty, while they were looking serenely at 19th-century gravestones, Maddow took a gigantic pratfall. Mikula says that was the moment when she fell in love with Maddow.” As in chronicles from Pyongyang, nothing happens to this Dear Leader which doesn’t involve “moments of nearly transcendent silence and beauty.” Such moments may be joined to the self-confessed, lovable dorkiness to which we’ve just alluded.)

The firing range happened two different ways. Then too, after having her show for three years, the daily feeding had greatly changed, according to a quote by Maddow in a profile by the Hollywood Reporter:
GUTHRIE (10/14/11): “I eat three meals a day at my desk, if I eat three meals a day. If I eat two meals a day, they're both at my desk. All of my meats are at my desk.”
Over time, people change their habits, of course. If you’re scoring these profiles at home, this description helps us see Maddow’s amazing devotion to duty, which is often described in these profiles by the corporate suits who marvel at her preparation time.

(Avert your eyes when these fellows describe the way she spends eight hours preparing for every program. In part, their horizons have been set by the habits of Chris Matthews, who seems to spend about five minutes preparing himself for each show.)

To our ear, that Newsweek profile drifts toward the unintentionally comical. This drift occurs as Maddow herself, and all around her, marvel at her Olympic-sized past deeds.

Grandiose statement is fairly common with Maddow. Six months after that Newsweek profile, she was interviewed by Charlie Rose. We don’t exactly understand the highlighted statement:
ROSE (6/19/09): What do you like about your job?

MADDOW: I love my job.

ROSE: I know. I can tell.

MADDOW: I`ve had about 150 jobs in my life, and this is by far the best.


ROSE: And how did you end up here? I mean, was it somewhere in the back of your head when you were at Stanford, when you were at Oxford, when you, you know, decided you had to get a job, was it, “Man, what I’d love to do is sit on television and engage interesting people about important subjects?”

MADDOW: Never in a million years...I thought I would be an activist.

ROSE: Really?

MADDOW: Yeah. That’s sort of what I’d done. I was an old ACT-UP kid from back in the day, had been an AIDS activist for a very long time. I was traveling around the country running campaigns to overturn some of the worst HIV policies in the country, and having a brilliant time, and I thought it would be my life’s work until there was a cure and all my friends came back. I never planned to do anything other than that. But I’m not much of a planner, It has to be said. I just thought I’d do that for a while.
Maddow was 36 when she said that to Rose. Based upon her standard bio, we have no idea when she could have spent “a very long time” at some earlier juncture “traveling around the country,” running campaigns to overturn some of the worst HIV policies in the country.

We’ve never seen a fully detailed account of this part of Maddow’s life. But given her standard bio, how long a time, back in the day, could this really have been?

Does Maddow tend to embellish her stories, perhaps in slightly peculiar ways? We would say she possibly does.

To the extent that she was doing good work on the air, this wouldn’t matter a lot, if at all. But her work, especially her scandal work, has been increasingly awful.

Often, her work is extremely dumb; it’s sure to make viewers much dumber. All too often, her work looks dishonest. Increasingly, her work looks morally objectionable in ways which go beyond that.

Technically, Maddow is very bright. She has superlative manners on the air. When she isn’t trying to get people thrown into jail on the flimsiest possible basis, she focuses on a set of very significant topics.

Presumably, Maddow could be a superlative journalist if she had competent supervision. But she seems to have no journalistic supervision at all.

Quite literally, the people above her at MSNBC have no background in news. To our eye, it shows.

It’s hard to know why someone like Maddow is doing so much terrible work. But much of her work is dumb and dishonest. It’s time for serious liberals to insist that it stop.

Who is Rachel Maddow? Given her basic ability and her massive pay, why is she doing so much horrible work?

We’ll be exploring those questions all week. Forced to don our shrinking caps, we’ll suggest that some of the answer might be found in other parts of that Newsweek profile.

Parts of that profile read like something that came to us by way of Pyongyang. Combined with other parts of the piece, could that explain Maddow’s horrible work—horrible work the liberal world keeps refusing to notice?

Tomorrow: Recurrent horrible work


  1. So Maddow is a great shooter who also sucks at controlling her movements? Somerby is correct in that Maddow's life was embellish by the pseudojournalist in question.

    1. Let's put a little Bobalogic to this seeming contradiction.

      The first description says nothing about Maddow being a great shooter, and it is a quote from her lover.

      The second description comes from Maddow saying Mikula is coordinated and she "can't control my movements."

      Put an AR-15 in the hands of someone who can't control their movements and you easily have someone who was "unbelievable" and attracted a lot of attention.

      Put two lesbian women of disparate ages at an NRA shooting event in rural Massachusettes and you can also understand why people might stop to watch.

    2. Yes, Bob certainly takes Julia, aka Jessica, Baird's description of Mikula's description and turns it into "What happened to the trick-shooting display which had the whole range transfixed?"

      Another case of vile speculation beyond the known evidence?

    3. The tendency to inflate past events in one bio is similar to the tendency to inflate current events being reported on her show. These sorts of facts apparently don't matter much to Maddow, and perhaps they don't matter to her family (which may be why she is that way herself). The point is not whether Maddow can shoot or not. It is whether she can tell a factually accurate story consistently from moment to moment with embellishing it in confusing ways.

    4. I am waiting to find out if this "spawn" of the "demon"
      Matthews suckled the wolves with which she lived in the Central Park cave as if they were pups of her own.

      Think we'll get that in Part 3, Part 4, or will it be tucked somewhere in a mere "Interlude"?

    5. "It is whether she can tell a factually accurate story consistently from moment to moment with embellishing it in confusing ways."

      Again, read the shooting range story without the interpretation Somerby wants you to believe.

      As 12:49 so succinctly put it: "Put an AR-15 in the hands of someone who can't control their movements and you easily have someone who was "unbelievable" and attracted a lot of attention."

    6. This is specious. If she were unbelievably bad at shooting, different words would have been used.

    7. At the heart of this ugly story is the practice of casual accusation.

    8. "If she were unbelievably bad at shooting, different words would have been used."

      That's your evidence for belieiving Bob when he accused her of being Annie Oakley?

      That if she was "unbelievably bad" a different word than "unbelievable" would be used?

  2. Well, since Dear Leader Somerby starts by getting the Newsweek reporter's name wrong I guess it will be a fun week.

    1. Such simply avoided, fundamental errors such as the inability to distinguish "Julia" from "Jessica" are only consequential -- if not history changing -- when one of Somerby's targets commits them.

      Surely Somerby will issue one of those famous corrections he demands of others instead of merely "disappearing" his mistake.

      But as we learned, even an apology on top of a correction is no indication of giving a rodent's posterior.

    2. Holy mackerel, I assume that you know the difference between people making a living (sometimes a very good living) publishing a newspaper, with editors and other support, on the one hand, and Bob, who does his work for free with no help?

      You can dislike Bob's repetition, you can disagree with his judgment about the importance of certain items, you can even get annoyed at his writing style. But the reason that I read this blog regularly is that Bob is one of the truly original thinkers on the Internet. His opinions are the product of his own thought processes, not the result of a decision to push one viewpoint or another in lockstep with other opinions.

      I don't always agree with him, but I've learned a lot by trying to understand what he's saying when I don't agree with him.

      I usually think that comments add to a blog. On some blogs, I learn more from the comments than I do from the original post. For some reason, Bob seems to attract readers who like to post comments that have nothing interesting or insightful to add. I don't get it.

    3. Perhaps you don't get it becaused all you read from Bob, as you call him, is the nasty things he says about important personages here on his blog. You should hear the nasty things he says about US in Group.

    4. "Bob is one of the truly original thinkers on the Internet."

      Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. Where else can you go on the Internet to read a thinker who blows the dust off old profiles of Rachel Maddow to compare her to a North Korean dictator?

      Truly "original."

    5. I love the spell of Pyongyang in the morning. Smells like vendetta.

    6. Does anyone here believe she was reading the newspaper at age 4? I don't. Even very smart children are not doing that. Does anyone believe she was headed to the Olympics in high school? Most girls going to the Olympics are already there at high school age. So, why must everything said about Maddow contain superlatives? What would be wrong if her past were described in real terms? If she went to a few AIDS awareness and fundraisers when in college or even high school, instead of being an activist for a long time? What would be wrong if she were a real person instead of larger than life? Who needs to be puffed up like that -- North Korean Dictators and Maddow, apparently.

    7. I don't believe the B+W TV set, either. Not in 1980-- everybody had color.

      It's obvious mythmaking. Next they'll be telling us she walked 10 miles to return a book.

    8. Only in the World of Bob would the nature of the Maddow's family TV in 1980 and the age at which she began to read the newspaper foster comparisons to North Korean dictators.

    9. Anonymous @ 1:43, see my reply to Anonymous @ 1:41, who may very well be you.

      Next you'll be telling me you once could walk 10 miles and chew gum at the same time. Reading a book would be a stretch.

    10. Anonymous @ 1:37 you wrote:

      "Does anyone believe she was headed to the Olympics in high school? Most girls going to the Olympics are already there at high school age."

      You obviously neither play sports or read much about them.You probably watch too much color television.

      Maddow was a six foot tall high school volleyball player when she was injured. Having Olympic "dreams" was the highest aspiration a woman in that sport could have at the time Maddow played. Every woman on the 2012 US Olympic
      volleyball team had college experience.


    11. 1:37 is yet another Bob Fan with a bad case of running way beyond the evidence.

      According to Julia/Jessica Baird, Maddow "wanted" as a teen to be an Olympic athlete. Her "dreams" revolved around sports.

      Nowhere in there does it say she was "headed to the Olympics in high school."

    12. My point remains that athletes who are going to the Olympics are already involved in national-level competition in high school. They aren't dreaming about it. Their parents have found them top coaches and they are working toward it.

      Are you suggesting that this wording was meant to imply that she was unrealistically ambitious (dreaming big) instead of high achieving (doing big things)? I don't believe for a minute that her parents would have let her set aside academic ambitions to pursue sports. I think it is easy to talk about being Olympic-level after being injured and there is no chance of it. "I coulda been a contender." It is self-aggrandizing if she brought it up, and I doubt a reporter would have gratuitously added such a dream if she hadn't mentioned it.

    13. I dreamed of hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium in the 7th game of the series. I wore Number 7.

    14. Your point remains atop your head 3:49. Do they make pins with titanium?

      First you wrote: "Most girls going to the Olympics are already there at high school age."

      When your flat out ignorance was shown to you by giving you a set of facts about the age of Olympic athletes in her sport, instead of going "oops" in quiet you waded back in with:

      "My point remains that athletes who are going to the Olympics are already involved in national-level competition in high school." That wasn't your point, you changed it. Then you asked, in a Bob like manner, if I suggested what the words a Newsweek reporter were meant to imply. I only know what they said. Her "dreams" were around sports. She "wanted to go to be an Olymic athlete."

      Maddow was in team sports. Women's team sports.
      You obviously know nothing about them. Most people who play team sports don't dream about being mediocre and most dreams are unrealistic and never fulfilled. Some Olympians are happe to get to the games. Others run down the gold medal winner after they win silver. Ask Bob about that.

      Finally, you write "I don't believe for a minute that her parents would have let her set aside academic ambitions to pursue sports." The world is full of things you don't believe. Do you think for a minute
      they would have let her announce to her freshman dorm mates she was a lesbian.

    15. I have a daughter slightly younger than Maddow who was engaged in team sports and gymnastics. I know about high school athletics in the 80's and what it takes to get to the Olympics as opposed to dreaming about them. That is part of why it is an affront for her to claim Olympic status after her injury when there are girls who have earned that distinction.

    16. She never claimed Olympic status you idiot. Your favorite blogger posed an idiotic question at the top of the post for the precise purpose of getting fools to fall for it. He then made several attempts to blame it on the reporter. It always amazes me to find people who can write but not read.

      Once again, volleyball and basketball Olympians are college age and older. Gymnastics is another matter.

    17. I don't believe she was that talented an athlete, nor that she read the newspaper at age 4, nor that she was a crack shot, nor that she spent a long time as an AIDS activist (though I'm sure she supports that cause as do many liberals). Why aren't her actual accomplishments good enough without embellishing them?

    18. As I said earlier, I don't believe you can walk and chew gum at the same time. Our disbeliefs are based on exactly the same evidence.

    19. 1. I do not know what "that talented an athlete" means in the context that Bob wants us to. She did compete in three sports in high school. And lots of kids dream of athletic glory. That doesn't make them North Korean dictators.

      2. Nobody said Maddow was a "crack shot". That was a conclusion Bob drew and led his rubes into by reading a single word in a 2008 profile -- "unbelievable." Her skill with firearms was later refuted by none other than Maddow herself. This still conjures up the image of a North Korean dictator in Bob's mind and the minds of his rubes.

      3. "Long time AIDS activist" also requires a very, narrow strict interpretation. She did right her doctoral thesis about AIDS/HIV in prisons, which would seem to me to indicate more than a casual support "as do many liberals." And she did hold part time jobs while writing that thesis advocating for HIV-positive prisoners.

      4. You can argue with her parents about whether she was reading a newspaper by age 4. They are the ones making that claim, not Maddow. Both of my children attended a Montessori pre-school and were reading before kindergarten.
      And yes, newspapers too. They aren't exactly written for PhDs.

      "Why aren't her actual accomplishments good enough without embellishing them?" A question right out of the Karl Rove playbook against Al Gore.

    20. I know it's been a long time since this was done, however Rachel did talk to Howard Stern about wanting to go to the Olympics before she injured herself and would need shoulder surgery to correct the injury. That was when she decided to go to Stanford at the age of 17 and came out as gay. She worked for the ACLU as an activist, along with a few other organizations.

  3. According to the bio posted on Wikipedia, there is no time period when Maddow might have been participating in AIDS activism around the country for a long time. Her dissertation is on AIDS, but it was written in England. She started a radio career immediately after graduating and has been on-air ever since. She might have done some high-school or college activism, but that doesn't fit the description well. So this does seem to be fabricated.

    Friday on the Bill Maher show, she was asked why she was devoting so much time to Christie. Cook, the Republican guest, suggested she was doing it to knock Christie out of the presidential race, as an MSNBC initiative. She claimed it was because she considers Christie to be the quintessential political scandal. She said Blagojevich had held that position before this thing with Christie erupted (paraphrasing). She kept insisting she was personally fascinated with it, while the other guests and Maher said it was local and didn't deserve such attention. I didn't find her assertions plausible, especially since there are better big-city boss-style scandals she might have focused on in the NE. Her other remarks were cogent and interesting. So, it doesn't make sense to me why she would be pursuing Christie if her supervisors were not insisting on it. I think this is politically motivated and that she is acting as a partisan operative. That is way out-of-bounds for a journalist.

    1. "According to the bio posted on Wikipedia . . ."

      I stopped reading there.

    2. She is not a journalist. She is an opinion show commentator. She is a broadcast performer.

    3. "So, it doesn't make sense to me why she would be pursuing Christie if her supervisors were not insisting on it.."

      Check with the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Newark Star Ledger, the Bergen County Record. They're doing all the pursuing of this story. Ask them why?

      Maddow is only presenting the unfolding story as it is reported out by these other news organizations.

      It is also noteworthy that the only people who have voiced political opinions about this scandal are conservative republicans who would like to see Christie knocked out of the race.

    4. These sources are reporting what key Democrats involved in this issue are telling them. Maddow is not one of those key Democrats, so why is she pushing this story so hard on her show? Clearly, she is a partisan with skin in the game.

    5. Let us return to those thrilling days of yesteryear and apply the same logic. And yes, very similar things were said then.

      "Woodward and Berstein are reporting what key Democrats involvled in this issue are telling them. Woodward and Bernstein are not two of these key Democrats, so why is she pushing this story so hard in their newspaper? Clearly, they are partisans with skin in the game."

    6. To repeat. Woodward and Bernstein printed stories when they had facts to support them. They were not permitted to print anything that wasn't supported by two independent sources (according to the book/movie). Maddow goes on the air and speculates beyond any evidence in highly partisan ways. Woodward and Bernstein never did that. I would have no quarrel with Maddow if she were reporting news about Christie. She is reporting her own fantasies as if it were news -- deceiving viewers.

    7. "They were not permitted to print anything that wasn't supported by two independent sources (according to the book/movie). "

      And yet they still made mistakes, some of them colossal.

      Mr. Woodward, there were mistakes made during Watergate, you have said in the book. What were some of the mistakes?

      Bob Woodward: We accused some people of things they didn't do that were based on some reports, written reports. We said Haldeman had controlled the secret fund, according to the Grand Jury testimony of the Nixon Committee treasurer, and he had not testified to that. The story was true, but he had never testified to it because they never asked him.

    8. Boy howdy, and did they ever piss of Sirica by approaching grand jurors and asking them to reveal testimony.

      Huge mistake that could have easily landed them in jail.

    9. By the way, 3:53, since the point went over your head, I will repeat it hoping that it might sink in this time.

      Everything that is said around here about Maddow inventing stories and working for partisan interests were said about Woodward, Bernstein, Ben Bradlee, and everyone else from every newspaper that was on the Watergate story.

      Even an earlier Bob named Dole once tried to peddle off the whole thing as a nothing burger, a "third-rate burglary" and nothing else than that.

      Fortunately, reporters then didn't listen to that crap, as I hope reporters from the Bergen County Record, Newark Star-Ledger, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and even Rachel Maddow aren't listening to your crap today.

    10. That makes them less accomplished as journalists -- it doesn't mean it is OK for other journalists to do a shoddy job by making the same kinds of mistakes.

    11. I wouldn't describe the work that Woodward and Bernstein did on Watergate as "shoddy" -- mistakes and all.

      But neither would I describe it as perfect, either. But that is the standard Bob holds his "bad guys" to, while never holding his "good guys" to the same standard.

  4. "Holy mackrel...Bob is one of the truly original thinkers on the Internet."
    J. Scrum-Half

    "Rachel Maddow is a phony."
    A. Baldwin


    1. Does anything about Alec Baldwin's life make Maddow less of a phony?

    2. That was one truly bizarre and long screed. Never liked Alec Baldwin much before. Now I hope we are never in the same state together. This is truly a very ill man.

    3. No, Anonymous 1:39, the fact that Alec Baldwin and Bob Somerby think alike means Bob is not "truly original." In fact he's just an Alec Baldwin copycat.

    4. In fact, substitute "Chris Matthews" for "Shia LaBeouf" and Baldwin's rant is the stuff that TDH dreams are made of.

    5. Shia LaBeouf only almost got somebody killed in the movies, silly.

    6. Nevertheless, one ordinarily must read TDH to witness the kind of spleen-venting re: MSNBC that Baldwin displays.

      FYI, I am sure MSNBC chief Phil Griffin was grateful for the opportunity that Baldwin provided to pull the plug on the show. I watched about the first 15 minutes or so of the premier, being fascinated with Bill de Blasio, and it struck me that Baldwin was drunk and put in no preparation. I never tuned in again, and apparently was part of a large swath of the audience that night that found the show embarrassingly bad. By the fifth and final week, his show was down to 400,000 viewers, with about 110,000 in the 18-54 demographic.

    7. Has anyone asked Somerby whether he is prepared to take full responsibility for everything Alec Baldwin says about MSNBC?

    8. We must first determine if Baldwin is among the 1,000 to 2,500 "unique visitors" to this blog daily, a number quoted to me by a Bob Fan to demonstrate how wildly successful this blog is.

  5. I don't believe for one SECOND that Rachel Maddow's family had a "black-and-white television" in 1980. Nobody did-- unless it was left over from 1964 or something. I tried to buy one in 1981 and had a helluva time finding it-- had to go to Zodys for a cheap Samsung! Like $65.

    So, it's obvious these people lie-- and for what?

    1. Clearly, it's just to give you a reason to live.

    2. Yes Anonymous 1:41 And just like you many FOX TV viewers don't believe the earth is warming becasue they remember how cold it was when they went out to walk their dog this morning.


      From a 1987 UPI Article:

      Nationwide, sales of black and white TV sets of all sizes dropped by 2.01 million from 1982 through 1985, according to figures supplied by the Washington-based Electronic Industries Association.

      The EIA and TV manufacturers would not disclose figures breaking down black and white sales by screen size.


    3. My apolgies @ 1:41, I thought I had copied and pasted the key paragraph:

      Black and white sales totaled 5.76 million in 1982 and 3.75 million in 1985. Sales increased 5.5 percent to 3.96 million last year, but EIA spokesman Allan Schlosser said small-screen models fueled the rise. Sales of color TV sets topped 15 million in 1986.

      You didn't know any of those 3.96 million black and white purchasers I guess, so they nobody had one.

    4. I have a friend who is color blind. I once asked him if he owned a color TV. He said, "I don't know."

    5. I generally like Bob and think Maddow is a jerk. However, I found it was no problem to buy a B&W TV for like five bucks at my local thrift store in 1992, you know?

    6. I have a friend who is deaf. I once asked in he had an FM or AM radio. He did not reply.

    7. One suspicious statement in a bio will just seem odd. Two start to raise suspicions. A bunch of them add up to a load of crap. Quite a few celebrities make up things about their pasts. Some, I suspect, are trying to preserve some sense of privacy and some don't care what is printed about them. The difference here is that Maddow is in the business of providing information to her audiences. If she cannot be trusted about her own life, how can she be trusted on any other topic? The other question is what it means when someone's distortions tend to inflate that person's accomplishments? I'd trust a person who was self-deprecating before I'd trust someone who inflated their past because the latter is self-serving whereas the former works against self interest. That Maddow builds herself up seems consistent with promoting interests of her employers in exchange for a large salary and inconsistent with taking a principled stand in favor of the truth when pressured to promote corporate interests instead. Character is found in both large and small matters.

    8. I didn't get my first color TV till the early 1980's. And I wasn't weird. What idiocy here, to be quibbling over TV sets.

      What others report about Maddow is not necessarily (very probably not) her responsibility. To insinuate otherwise, especially with the N. Korean stuff thrown in, is despicable. Just despicable.

      Yes, some children do read newspapers at age 4. I am willing to believe that's true of Maddow. Why not? (But then, I believe Anne Frank wrote her own diary.) What has this to do with the price of tea in China?

      Yes, Maddow has been celebritized (if I may, maybe, coin a word). But so has just about every other prominent "journalist." Why go after her so hard? Very strange, especially when she still does better work than, say, a Tom Friedman.

      I could go on.

      If Mr. Somerby isn't just totally confused (a real possibility), he is conducting some weird experiment (a possibility I prefer to entertain -- I don't like imagining Mr. Somerby as a middle-to-old-aged man full of frustration, regret,anger, even hate). People need to find other bloggers to comment on, bloggers who aren't using them. mch

    9. And, I'd add, what's really missing from this "comic's" bag: love of life. He's more a satirist, and to do satire right (not that comedy isn't hard, very hard), you have to be really brilliant. Sometimes I feel for these Harvard folks who don't get gigs on late-night TV. Without love of life, they must feel lost and useless. me again

  6. Is a hint of Pyongyang better than a lotta rythym in your Seoul?


    1. Maddow fans are obviously as silly as she is.

      She really is an embarrassment at times. But oh so cute! It's such an appealing trait to be so cutesy at-- what -- 45 years of age?

  7. I don't believe for one second that an affluent family from Castro Valley was watching a B+W television set in 1980. So Maddow's people are lying for effect.

    Everybody had color by '69 or '70. I had an almost impossible time finding a B+W set in 1981, and that was in LA.

    I suspect most of those "sales" were in foreign countries-- no way in HELL were people in the US buying B+W sets in 1980.


    1. First, what precisely is the "effect" Maddow gains by her people lying about the family having a black and white set in 198O?

      Second "everybody didn't have color by '69 or '70. 1971
      was the first year more color sets were sold in the US than black and white.

      Perhaps you should demand the Maddow's show you their TV's birth certificate, er, sales receipt.

    2. Why should she lie about any of her past when the truth is just fine? Why does she have to lie in some of the reports she is presenting on air? It seems like she wants to tweak her stories just a bit to make them more interesting. That may be a fine trait in a novelist but sucks in a journalist.

    3. First, one must jump to the conclusion that she is lying about anything.

      You seem very willing to do that. Without any evidence.

      Gee, who has been accused, virtually on a daily basis of doing that very thing on this very blog before?

      And if the "evidence" is "Everybody had color by '69 or '70" then you are hopelessly and irretrievably lost in the morass of your own biases.

    4. She might be head of the Mob. According to Bob.

  8. OMB (The OTB Teaches Guild Members a Lesson)

    We rarely wade into a BOB opus this early in the first episode, but this first piece shows the master at his most brilliant.

    BOB is not trying to show Maddow to be a serial exaggerator. He is proving his life long point about the guild while at the same time teaching the cable clown and her almost-killer mentor a lesson.

    BOB is demonstrating, by reprinting things written by lazy reporters about Maddow that are inconsistent, how easy it is to make her appear to be embellishing.

    He is doing a "War on Gore" on Maddow. And, knowing his readers to be rubes, he is allowing you losers to make your own stupid inferences.
    They dot the commentary box already. "There was no black and white TV in 1980."

    Rachel dreamt of being an Olympian? Sounds as funny as Al invented the Internet.

    Rachel the AIDS activist? As phony as Al's sister, the Peace Corps volunteer.

    Trick shot Rachel? As preposterous as Farm boy Gore.

    And you Rachel fans, if there are any out there. BOB doesn't want to stop Rachel from becoming the first Lesbian network news anchor. So don't get you big bucks stuffed panties in a bunch.

    He wants an apology for the things her friends in the press did to Gore. And a promise to never, ever do it again.


    Coming - We spare stories how Maddow would lick the bathroom floor to get the network anchor desk while discussing who cleans her farmhouse bathtub ring.

    1. Once again, your brilliant insight leaves me awestruck.

      Sir/Madam/It/Whatever, you are truly an "original thinker."

      Of course, Bob the Comic is merely writing the most brilliant satire/parody of a serious political blog since Jonathan Swift and/or MAD Magazine!

      I see the light!

    2. Everything is possible. When you see silly Larry
      O'Donnell perp walked next to Crispy Creme for Bridgegate, you will know the genius of the OTB.


    3. Yes, and Bob who would wish no ill to befall a Rolex-accepting public official longs for a pundit to be thrown out onto the streets for blurting out a name and almost getting someone killed.

      And Bob longs for journalists to name names in the War on Gore, but also wants journalists to name no names in the War on Clinton lest someone get almost killed. So Bob blurts out the same name 15 years later.

      And yes, "unbelievable" can only mean "See: Oakley, Annie" in much the same way as "Maddow invented the AR-15."

      Brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant.

  9. I don't know (or care) what kind of TV Maddow did or didn't have -- or when she did or didn't have it.

    But there is a word for the type of biographical treatment we generally see Maddow getting: hagiography. Frankly, it's an all-too-common approach -- and not just for the sainted Maddow. So for once I agree with the douchebag trolls: there isn't a whole lot of there there in this piece by Somerby.

    Still, some of those douchebags of course insistently miss the point: It isn't that Maddow's like Jong-Il -- it's that those who write about her treat her as if she were similarly beyond criticism, except in that familiar, pathetic "her worst fault is that she works so damn hard" way.

    Nevertheless, I do find Maddow unbearable, primarily for her undeniable "cutesy" schtick. The "oh I can't believe I have to tell these tea-bagging jokes" days were a very clear sign of her fundamental fakeness -- IMO!

    1. Are you saying that the biographers added all those inaccuracies and that Maddow told them all the plain truth? It seems unlikely they would have made up stuff like her sitting and reading the news at age 4, etc. I can see them using extra fluffy adjectives, but not making stuff up whole cloth.

    2. Yes, journalists never do that.

    3. If Rachel the bull wasn't such a crack shot with the AR-15 do you think her mother would have made up that story about her reading at age 4?

    4. And the evidence that her mother "made up" that story? Pretty much the same evidence that leads one to conclude Maddow is a "crack shot."

      In other words, "whole cloth."

    5. "all those inaccuracies"

      Which inaccuracies would those be?

      You see, Bob uses three sources -- a Newsweek profile, a Rolling Stone profile, and a Charlie Rose interview all years apart -- parses them carefully for anything he can stretch into an inconsistency, comes up with a couple that are absolutely silly on their face, then uses that to compare to a North Korean dictator.

      And this of course leads to a Sheep Stampede.

      She couldn't have once dreamed of the Olympics because she got injured her senior year in high school. There were no black and white TVs in 1980. "Unbelievable" can only mean "crack shot." No child is able to read at age 4.

      Yes, Bob has certainly convinced the choir that Rachel Maddow is a North Korean dictator.

    6. "Still, some of those douchebags of course insistently miss the point: It isn't that Maddow's like Jong-Il . ."

      And Bob's most loyal fans also miss the point. Jessica/Julia Baird wrote some very nice things about Maddow nearly five years ago, and who does that remind Somerby of?

      Kim Il-Jong.

      And that is a totally bizarre line of reasoning.

    7. I must correct myself, unlike Somerby who still can't tell Julia from Jessica.

      The North Korean dictator he named was Kim Il-Sung, the first dictator of North Korea and the father of Kim Jong-Il and grandfather of Kim Jong-Un.

  10. Bob, this commentary is a gem. Wildly funny and telling.


  11. This post by Bob is just brilliant.


  12. Lesbians are mysterious. They mystify me.

  13. An incoherent claim doesn’t come clear if you repeat it many times and say it even more loudly.

  14. In response to an earlier Anon comment, Maddow is not 6' tall. Around the internet she is listed as 5'11" or 5'10"; however, I at 5'8.5" have stood next to Maddow on a few occasions and she is no taller than I am. Pretty much everybody is a phony, tv probably exaggerates that trait.

    1. Sorry. Your blogger chose as his first link a Newsweek article which described her as six feet tall. It was one of the few items he did not call into question so we felt it was safe to move forward. We should have known he would question that in a later post in this series.

    2. Yes, how North Korean of her to claim to be six feet tall when she is only 5-11.

    3. And we now have it authoritatively and definitively revealed a person who actually stood next to her that she can't be more than 5-8 and a half!

      You just can't buy better comedy than this, and here it is for free!

    4. My Aunt, who was around in the late 70s said she kept her black and white television for decades because it made tall women look slimmer.

  15. Maddow doesn't claim to be 6' tall. The article, written in 2008, clearly states Maddow was wearing thick-soled shoes.

    You can't buy more "clever" comments than the ones provided here for free by assholes!