Professors engage in full-tilt Salonsplain!


Canaries seen dead in the mine: An obvious question came to mind: Who could Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg possibly be?

We wondered because their new piece at Salon starts as shown below. You might say the pair have engaged in a fiery bit of Salonsplaining:
BURSTEIN AND ISENBERG (4/7/14): In the recently released report he commissioned on the bridge closing scandal, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s lawyer depicts the client as the innocent who was ensnared in the web woven by an “emotional” woman. No longer is Bridget Anne Kelly his hard-working deputy chief of staff, doing the bidding of a canny, no-nonsense governor; instead, she is your run-of-the-mill hysterical female lashing out against the multitude of commuters to get revenge, somehow, for being dumped by a guy.

Does this scenario make any sense? Why is it so common to subject to psychoanalysis a public official who is a woman? Why must she be cast as the dangerously “emotional” one in a political drama that paints Christie as a properly sensitive, duly caring public servant with “heartfelt” concern for his staff? Kelly’s attorney reacted to the obvious gender bias: “The report’s venomous, gratuitous, and inappropriate sexist remarks concerning Ms. Kelly have no place in what is alleged to be a professional and independent report.”
That account has nothing to do with the contents of the Mastro report.

The writing in the Mastro report is almost as dumb as that of Burstein and Isenberg themselves. But it doesn’t portray Bridget Kelly as “your run-of-the-mill hysterical female lashing out against the multitude of commuters to get revenge for being dumped by a guy.”

Nor does the Mastro report portray Kelly as “an ‘emotional’ woman.” That just isn’t what it says.

In the 340 pages of the Mastro report, the word “emotional” is applied to Kelly just one time. In that one instance, Christie staffer Melissa Orsen is quoted saying that Kelly “seemed emotional” at a rather difficult moment in December 2013.

The incident has nothing to do with Kelly getting dumped by a guy. Unless we assume they’re lying, Burstein and Isenberg simply haven’t read the Mastro report.

(Just for the record, the Mastro report applies the term “emotional” to Christie in six different passages.)

After reading that remarkable passage, we wondered who Burstein and Isenberg were. We were surprised by what we found. Here’s why:

When one checks the background of Salon writers, one normally learns that they are extremely young.

In this case, the news was worse. Burstein and Isenberg are professors at LSU. And they’re not on the youngish side.

Isenberg got her B.A. from Rutgers in 1980. Even more grotesquely, Burstein got his B.A. from Columbia in 1974.

Isenberg seems to be working on a book called A History of Poor White Trash. It’s “under contrast with Viking.”

Burstein lists his “current research interest” as “a cultural history of dreams.” On the bright side, that may explain where he got his knowledge of the Mastro report.

Let’s say it again—the account we’ve posted has nothing to do with what it says in the Mastro report. Unless they’re lying, Burstein and Isenberg simply haven’t read it.

They aren’t the usual kids working for burgers at the new Salon. In the latest dead canary sighting, they’re university professors.

Salon is trying to dumb down the world. This pair has performed an impossible feat—they’ve managed to dumb down Salon!

That isn’t what the Mastro report says. Click here, then search on “emotional.”

Go ahead—check the actual text. As the canaries continue to die, you’ll be one step ahead of the scholars!


  1. The tulip craze continues.

  2. Unless these people are professors specializing in the area of their commentary, they have no more authority than anyone on the street. They are as much entitled to their mistaken opinions as Maddow is, surely?

  3. Will Bob keep banging on and on about this long after Christie resigns?

    1. I see two possibilities.

      One is that Christie, upon resignation, disappears from this blog as quickly and mysteriously as Gov. Ultrasound.

      The second is that Bob will go on for years about the "War on Christie."

    2. Yes, damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

    3. But not damned if Bob says, "Wow, was I ever wrong. This really was a rather big, important story."

      And that goes for either Gov. story -- Virginia or New Jersey.

      Excuse me if I fail to hold my breath waiting.

  4. Yeah - this is getting up there with "he was told to stay in his car". I am sure blogger's fans could use some Zimmerman - its been so long.

    Surely he has seen that his writings don't stand the scrutiny he applies to his targets - I can't imaging anything except mild insanity that is making him continue.

    1. Now, now. Bob's rubes have constantly reminded us that Bob is a blogger, not a journalist. And Bob's job is to write rules for journalists, not follow them himself.

  5. Next Bob, you must attack those who criticize ex-CIA director Hayden who tries to justify torture because Feinstein is "too emotional"

    1. Bob must first count the number of times Feinstein is called "emotional" to see if it crosses a certain threshhold known only to him. Then he must consult Nexis to see if Dick Cheney was ever called "emotional" regardless of context.

      For instance, if he finds that Cheney welled up with tears after he shot his friend in the face, that means criticism of the "emotional" Feinstein is justified, and yet another case of "career liberals" throwing around the "S" word.

  6. Now then, when was the last time you read of a female gang member who shot up a neighborhood; or a young, disturbed female who went on a rampage in an elementary school, a mall, a military base; or a congresswoman who slept with an intern, a male prostitute or a campaign aide’s husband?

  7. OMB (BOB is right!)

    The Mastro report only said "emotional" once, but the Salon article also only covers the Mastro report as one example of a topic BOB does not mention.

    If the Mastro report reall wanted to paint a sexist picture of Kelly it could have used phrases like this in just one page:

    "undisguised clown"
    "extreme histrionics"
    "misbehaving very badly"
    "lost cable soul sells her undeveloped eggs"
    "her pitiful viewers"
    "defiantly stupid"
    "screeched to the skies"
    "morally ill"
    "wierd bouts of dishonesty"


    1. None of that is sexist unless you already ascribe those traits to females.

    2. "lost cable soul sells her undeveloped eggs"

      Yes, an insult also and frequently directed at men.

    3. Anon @ 10:30 You might have a point if they were applied equally to the men and women of the One True Channel.

      We'll go back and check the Chris Matthews Almost Murder Mystery Series and see what, besides spittle flecking, BOB has to match "perspiring pimp of piddle"
      in equal opportunity language.


    4. We checked, Anon @ 10:30. We used the post where Chris M. almost got somebody killed, 2/18/14.

      "undisguised clown"...for Chris it's "still...clowning"
      "extreme histrionics"...nothing comparable
      "misbehaving very badly"...for Chris "behaivior heinous, bizzare and appalling"

      "lost cable soul sells her undeveloped eggs" sperm count for Chris

      "her pitiful viewers" direct audience insult
      "incoherent"....Chris is always depicted as "frothing"
      "defiantly stupid"...Chris "plays the fool"
      "screeched to the skies"...Chris "trumpets"
      "morally ill"...Chris is "heinous, bizzare, appalling"
      "wierd bouts of dishonesty"...Chris "works hard" and "triggers" a lot. No bouts of anything.

      In the post we selected, Matthews salary is mentioned.
      He is not depicted it as stuffing it in his pants.


    5. Do you really imagine you're making a compelling case here?

      I ask that honestly. I mean, we all know you're insane, but I'm trying to gauge just how insane you are.

    6. Matt, does it bother you that the only person you find worth responding to is us? And that we are the only person who responds to you? Or haven't you ever noticed?


  8. Could anything be less interesting than a continuation of the "bridge scandal" war being waged against Chris Christie? People are actually dying in wars and starving in famines, and we are still blatting about a two day traffic delay.

    1. If you are searching for criticism of how the media is covering current wars and famines, you've come to the wrong blog.

    2. Bravo Anonymous 10:40

      And might we also point out it was a four day delay, not merely two. It might have been a five day delay or more had it not been for the courageous local press catching on after only four and alerting the highest up in the Port Authority
      what was actually happening on their busiest bridge (indeed the busiest bridge in the whole wide world!).

      Of course, since the press doesn't cover war and famines, and only misreports test scores, we won't be hearing anything about the first two. And merely corrections about the latter.

    3. If your point is that the coverage is out of proportion to the importance of the story, calling it a "war being waged against Chris Christie" tends to undercut your point. I would call it "media are finally paying attention to the misdeeds of a corrupt asshole." I suppose that would tip you off to my bias, as your comment tips me off to yours.

  9. Chris Christie is barely an asshole but he is corrupt.

    Secondly, these professors aren't even political scientists so why is this even a topic?

    Thirdly, Seriously?

    - The Blogging Boss