NO JOURNALISM, NO JUSTICE: Two men walk into a White House photo!


Part 3—The dreams of Baker and Dowd: Do journalistic values matter at times like this?

Does it matter if we deal in facts instead of cartoons and novels? Are life-forms of our type even able to tell the difference?

We asked those questions all last night as we rotated through the three news channels. That said, this morning’s New York Times is a tribute to non-journalistic values.

Let’s start with the novel Peter Baker typed for the paper’s front page.

Baker’s piece is presented as a “News Analysis.”
As it starts, it’s built around what Baker sees, or thinks he sees, in a White House photo:
BAKER (8/20/14): The two men in open-collar shirts sat facing each other, papers and a BlackBerry strewn on a coffee table, sober looks on both their faces. One leaned forward, gesturing with his left hand, clearly doing the talking. The other sat back in his chair, two fingers pressed to his temple as he listened intently.

When violence erupted last week after a police shooting in Missouri, President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. huddled on Martha’s Vineyard where both were on vacation. But as the most powerful African-Americans in the nation confront its enduring racial divide, they come at it from fundamentally different backgrounds and points of view.

Mr. Holder, 63, is the one leaning forward, both in the photograph released by the White House and on the issues underlying the crisis in Ferguson, Mo. A child of the civil rights era, he grew up shaped by the images of violence in Selma, Ala., and joined sit-ins at Columbia University where protesters renamed an office after Malcolm X. Now in high office, he pushes for policy changes and is to fly on Wednesday to Ferguson to personally promise justice in the case of a black teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer.

Mr. Obama, 53, is the one seemingly holding back in the White House photograph, contemplative, even brooding, as if seeking to understand how events could get so out of hand. He was too young and removed to experience the turmoil of the 1960s, growing up in a multiracial household in Hawaii and Indonesia. As he now seeks balance in an unbalanced time, he wrestles with the ghosts of history that his landmark election, however heady, failed to exorcise.
Do Obama and Holder come from “fundamentally different backgrounds?” If we might borrow from the bard, it’s pretty much as you like it.

Do the two men have “fundamentally different points of view” about the nation’s racial divide?

To the extent that we know what that means, we find it hard to believe. But we certainly wouldn’t base our judgment on what “seemingly” can be seen in a single White House photo.

Good God! The New York Times may as well give Baker an etch-a-sketch machine! Just for starters, go ahead—just look at that White House photo!

Is it really clear to you who is “doing the talking?” It isn’t real clear to us! But if Holder is the one doing the talking, wouldn’t a second photo, moments later, perhaps show the roles reversed?

The caption beneath the photo says this. Truly, we are lowly:

“After returning from vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told President Obama at the White House on Monday that he would go to Ferguson, Mo.”

How do we know that Holder told Obama? How do we know that Obama didn’t tell Holder where to go?

Is the New York Times run by rational animals? As he continued, Baker constructed a “News Analysis” which would have struck us as dumb as an op-ed column. Quoting some highly personal claims, he continued discussing “the differences between the two men:”
BAKER (continuing directly): The differences between the two men have drawn criticism since the death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, as some African-Americans praise Mr. Holder for his outspokenness and lament or even denounce Mr. Obama for his caution. Michael Eric Dyson, a prominent author and Georgetown University professor, called the president’s public statement on Monday a “stunning epic failure” that seemed to blame black men rather than armed police.

“This is a community aflame with a passion to know the truth, and Obama is treating it dispassionately and with distance,” he said. “There is no blood flowing through the veins with empathy.”

On the other hand, Mr. Dyson said: “Eric feels it in his gut. It rises to his brain. It’s expressed on his tongue.” Mr. Holder, he added, is “an up and down race man who understands the moral consequences of the law on the lives of black people.”

Such sentiments exasperate the White House, which denies any substantive distance between the two. Aides to Mr. Obama said he has been less visceral in his public remarks than his comments after the Trayvon Martin case because there is still an active investigation.
Duh! On the surface, those comments by Dyson strike us as rather excessive. But then, Baker made little attempt to explain Dyson’s remarks.

Question: When did Dyson call Obama’s statement a “stunning epic failure?” Using Google and Nexis, we find no record of any such comment.

On that basis, we assume that Dyson said these things in an interview, though Baker doesn’t say.

That said, in what way does Dyson think that Obama “seemed to blame black men rather than armed police” in Monday’s press conference? And by the way—what did Obama supposedly blame black men for?

As he repeated those aggressive statements, Baker didn’t even try to explain what Dyson actually meant. The level of insult is rather high. Attempts at elucidation barely exist.

Inside the hard-copy paper, Baker’s editor got into the act. Pathetically, the Times offered this boxed sub-headline:

“A child of the civil rights era whose views resonate with many.”

Needless to say, Holder’s real or imagined views are also loathed by many! That silly sub-headline is simply a version of the widely-mocked hook, “Some say.”

Baker was soon lost in the weeds of Pleasing Insider Gossip. He noted that Obama and Holder are so close that their families vacation together. Their wives are “even closer!”

It didn’t seem to occur to Baker that these revelations undermine his basic hook—the notion that Obama and Holder have “fundamentally different points of view” about our “racial divide.”

Baker’s piece was built upon the way a photograph seems to seem. Judged by journalistic norms, the piece strikes us as empty, dumb, unhelpful, clueless, unfortunate.

That said, Maureen Dowd’s column in today’s Times may be the dumbest she’s ever written. And that covers a lot of piddle from a deeply piddle-prone scribe.

Dowd is fuming and spouting today about the fact that Obama 1) plays golf and 2) refuses to fly to St. Louis “to raise consciousness” (her actual words).

The problems with this suggestion would occur to anyone other than Dowd. Meanwhile, this is her boxed sub-headline, as written by Dowd herself:

“Barry is bored”

Dowd’s act about the debutante “Barry” is just amazingly old. Today, she ratchets her tired old themes even further. But nothing will keep this piddle from appearing over the next few years.

Can we talk? As we’ve long noted, Maureen Dowd has been visibly crazy for years. But here is today’s most instructive fact:

At the Times, no one can’t tell!

Do journalistic values matter at all at the Times? As we’ve long noted, Dowd built seven columns in Campaign 2000 around Candidate Gore’s deeply concerning bald spot.

Her final column of the campaign appeared on the Sunday before the nation voted. Pathetically, it started like this, Dowd-written headline included:
DOWD (11/5/00): I Feel Pretty

I feel stunning
And entrancing,
Feel like running and dancing for joy . . .

O.K., enough gloating. Behave, Albert. Just look in the mirror now and put on your serious I only-care-about-the-issues face.

If I rub in a tad more of this mahogany-colored industrial mousse, the Spot will disappear under my Reagan pompadour.
In a journalistic world, a caring person would have taken this person by the arm and lead her away to a safe, quiet place. But life-forms at the New York Times have never been able to see the ugliness or the craziness of Dowd’s never-ending work.

As we said at the start of this piece, it isn’t clear that we the humans know how to process journalistic values. This morning, the life-forms at the New York Times are determined to showcase this fact.


  1. And when floundering, pull out the Maureen Dowd doll.

    Bob is so predictable.

    1. And a 14-year-old column, no less!

    2. Exactly. Blogger is as predictable as he is pathetic. That said, Maureen's column was a bit dumb and cartoonish. The new one and the old one too. Both are a bit crazy. But you are right about Bob.

    3. Yep, but there is no fruit easier to pick than the low-hanging fruitiness of Maureen Dowd.

      I think that Bob had established, and few disagree, years ago that Dowd isn't exactly dealing from a full deck.

      But it sure doesn't stop him from dipping his broad brush into that single can of tar, does it?

    4. I think fruitness is like an aura. It surrounds. It radiates.
      It does not hang. Or maybe I am thinking of fruitessence.
      Just a passing attempt at consciousness.

    5. It just shows that Bob is bereft of ideas and really, at this point, talking to himself. And to see why the Times lets someone who is clearly without all their cards continue to write with such prominence is easy. Her commentaries are always the "most emailed". Ie. Like a train wreck, people watch and that translates into money. And idiot Bob sits there and puzzles why she is allowed continue - pretending that journalism plays a part in it or is even a factor.

    6. I understand the Dr. Ukaka has a program which auto e-mails all of Dowd's columns to happy spell bound couples healed by Ukaka's spells.

    7. But don't forget. The nation -- nay, all of Western Civilization -- is so fragile and weak that it cannot possibly survive even one Maureen Dowd.

      And Chris Matthews almost got someone almost killed.

    8. Don't forget? It is too hard to remember, squashdarn it!

      I thought:

      Civilization is collapsing.
      Intellectual culture is crumbling.
      The West is already dead.

      Of course everybody knows about Chris Matthews. They just won't talk about it.

    9. I am pretty sure it is both society and the liberal mind which are crumbling.

      But yeah, Tweety almost got somebody killed deader than the west.

    10. (Just for variety, I'll give this "anonymous" an additional name -- call me Sue).
      As long as that wretched woman goes on wasting space on the op-ed page of the New York Times, and spewing her vacuous nastiness into the national discourse, Bob Somersby has ever right to blast her for it. Personally, I couldn't get past that idiotic subtitle, "Barry is Bored." When an American city is convulsed with race riots, ISIS has forced the U.S. to become involved in Iraq again, Netanyahu seems hell-bent on slaughtering every civilian in Gaza and a huge volcano in Iceland is about to blow, the President of the United States may be many things, but "bored" is not one of them.

      And that infantilizing, patronizing "Barry," again! Maureen the Mentalist Manque is sure yet again that she can read the mind of someone she doesn't even know and print her bad fiction on an opinion page. And yes, it is quite relevant to remind this country how she was instrumental in getting Bush elected in 2000. It's also worth mentioning that she predicted again and again that Obama couldn't win in 2008, because he was too weak to stand up to Hillary Clinton. First he couldn't win the primaries. Then when he did, he wouldn't be able to stop Hillary from hijacking the convention. When that didn't happen, then he was going to be too weak to prevent Hillary from conniving with John McCain. Well, oops again, but nothing stops Dowd from believing her own narrative once she's written it. I think now the main reason why she won't give Obama a break is that she's furious at him for not following her script.

  2. OMB (Picking and Choosing for the Jillioneth Time with OTB)

    Part 3--One Codger Cranks on a Keyboard

    We salute the restraint shown by BOB in handling inflammatory and/or indadequate "journalism" from life forms regarding the Missouri matter.
    It took three parts (plus one interlude) before Bob gave in to the uncontrollable urge to inject Al Gore into the Missourri breakage.

    That said, we could applaud BOB more. This might not really be Part 3 if you count Parts 3 and 4 of the Doll series, plus the uncategorized post postponing the Tour of Life Forms known as Journalists Homes
    (Will Chuck T get a cottage on Nan T? Will it have a doll house inside?)

    We admit, the post providing the Death Notice of the West cannot be counted.

    1. Yes, but just think what kind of African-American leadership Ferguson, Mo., would have today had Dowd not written multiple columns about Gore's blind spot.

      Why mothers all over the nation would be teaching their kids Croatian by now.

    2. Excellent point @ 1:38! Two rough ruled thumbs up!!

    3. Congrats. You trolls have driven away every single substantive commenter.

    4. Gyrfalcon, Cecelia, Urban legend, HardinDR

    5. urban legend commented as recently as last Saturday.

      Gyrfalcon's most recent comment we could find during the Christie affair resulted in him being called a troll by a Somerby supporter.

      CeceliaMc's posts praising Bob as a national treasure have dwindled. So has her own Twitter activity forwarding posts from Ace of Spades, Hot Air and Dana Perino. She was last seen denying she had tweeted about Al Sharpton.

      As for hardindr, Hardindr or hardinDR, we cannot be sure who or what he was. He seemed to be a "go away" commenter toward the end. You may find that substantive. I do miss his insult trading with Hieronymous Braintree, whose absence you did not note.

    6. gyrfalcon is posting happily away at Uncle Drum's place.
      You know, where Bob reads and makes comments himself. Fewer rubes I suppose. Higher quality clientele.

    7. Somebody must have driven urban legend back. He is commenting today at the "Ripley or not" post Bob has up now. Funny but the lead commenter was everyone's favorite troll, too.

    8. I've never hid the fact that I'm conservative, Anon 101pm.

      I don't like Twitter. It's better suited for shopping than politics.

    9. I never went any where, still read this blog daily. I only comment when it is appropriate. I think Bob should not allow any commenting, since he is unwilling to moderate it. At the very least, he should require people to register before they comment, through something like Google/blogspot or disqus.

  3. Once again, "Boxcar Bobby's Greatest Hits".

    1. Who doesn't want to hear another verse of;

      Talking Bald Spot Blues
      Piddle Prone Polka
      Make an Ugly Crazy Columnist Your Wife
      Value Addled Rag

  4. There's a lot of bad journalism waiting for TDH analysis in this NJNJ series, but Dowd's piece wasn't primarily about Ferguson. MoDo wrote an op-ed that was an extension of the NYT article she cites about Obama's loss of support among Dem legislators. "Raise consciousness" was just wordplay around "raise money."

    It does seem like passing a health care bill was the pinnacle of legislative achievement in Obama's administration. That was some years ago. So criticism here is not crazy. You may disagree, but it's not crazy.

    1. If passing the first national health care insurance plan in history is the pinnacle of Obama's legislative achievements, then it is still one hell of an achievement.

      But I would also add the stimulus package that halted the slide to Great Depression II and rescued the American auto industry.

    2. Ok, not in the same league as the ACA, but even if you count the stimulus, these were 5 years ago.

    3. Yes, then the Tea Party took over the House.

  5. I agree with Dyson. Shame on Somerby for being a wuss and calling Dyson's remarks "rather excessive." Gee, Bob, it's not like he accused the President of not mentioning black progress on NAEP scores. Which he hasn't by the way, proving he doesn't care about black kids and would rather jump out of Marine One before discussing them.

  6. When Bob objects to the use of the word "seems" the west IS dead.

  7. "As we said at the start of this piece, it isn’t clear that we the humans know how to process journalistic values."

    Actually Bob, you didn't say that.

  8. Ah, I was expecting this:

  9. I heard NPR say this morning that so far our President has been on the fence regarding the Ferguson matter, that he has been cautious in not taking sides either way. If this is truly so, bravo for him.

    The last time a POTUS took pretrial sides in a case of national clamor, the esteemed Richard Nixon opined that Charles Manson was "guilty of eight murders."

    As Press Secretary Ron Ziegler later explained, the Whittier Law School-trained Nixon simply forgot to say the magic word "allegedly." Nevertheless, the nation fell into an uproar. The defense screamed for a mistrial. It was all very embarrassing. Would these monsters be freed because of Nixon's big mouth?

    Mercifully, the prosecutorial skills of Victor Bugliosi delivered us all from the ruinous effects of Nixon's blunder, and the mad dog Manson and his merry band of Woodstock rejects were removed from decent society forever...

    ... not that I'm comparing the officer who pumped six bullets into an unarmed schoolchild to a bunch of drug-crazed hippie ritual mass murderers. That would be premature.

    ...I mean, allegedly.

    1. Wait until the drug tests come back with the throw down PCP sample!

    2. Brown was 18 and working as a mover while deciding whether to go to vocational school. Not exactly a schoolchild, or were you being sarcastic? Brown was 6'4 and weighed 290. He was not eating Skittles.

  10. Tell us Zarkon, which Popeil product works best for processing journalistic values, Veg-o-Matic, Chop-o-Matic,
    or Dial-o-Matic?

  11. I would say the renowned Pocket Fisherman.

  12. The old KZ was much better.

  13. WE fessed up in another thread. We liked you better as "deadrat" and wish you would let Cecelia Mc come back and play.