PLAYING WITH DOLLS: In this case, with an O’Reilly doll!


Part 3—Joan Walsh toys with the facts: Early this morning, we could tell that Salon was quite upset about last night’s events in Ferguson.

In part, we could tell because of the site’s top front-page post:
Nightmare in Ferguson: Cops become a brutal occupying force
Journalists are arrested, tear-gassed as protesters are abused for another night. Where is the political leadership? VIDEO
Had police become “a brutal occupying force?” For our money, that language seems a bit overwrought, based on what we’ve seen so far.

That said, we could tell Salon was upset. This was the site’s third post, as capsulized on its front page:
“He slammed my head against the glass”: Ferguson police arrest HuffPost, WaPo reporters
Video released by the Washington Post shows the confrontation that led to the arrests VIDEO
WEDNESDAY, AUG 13, 2014 11:20 PM EDT
Those were the first and third front-page posts when we looked at Salon this morning.

We could tell Salon was upset—or at least that it wanted to give that impression. Why were we less than entirely sure?

As we looked at its front page, this was the site’s second post:
“I’d go out in public wearing tight pants to shock people”: Life as the man with the world’s largest penis
Jonah Falcon boasts 13.5 inches, but otherwise he’s just an average overworked American who dreams of so much more
WEDNESDAY, AUG 13, 2014 07:00 PM EDT
Salon was concerned with that brutal occupation—and with the world’s largest penis!

All around us, we think we see the rapidly growing clownishness of major American news orgs. We also see our major orgs being turned into children’s crusades.

Two quick examples from the Washington Post:

A few weeks ago, we asked a deathless question: “Who is Alexander Becker?” On the front page of the Post’s web site, the paper was pushing a piece by Becker—the Post’s three millionth worried report about the Clintons’ vast wealth.

We weren’t familiar with Becker, nor could we find a record of who he was. Later, we learned who Becker is, or seems to be—he seems to be an undergraduate at Dartmouth, entering his senior year.

Except from the standpoint of paying low wages, we think it’s strange that a major newspaper would have a college student doing such work in such a major area. We had a somewhat similar reaction when we read Wesley Lowrey’s latest report for the Post.

Lowrey got arrested in Ferguson last night, along with the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly. We’re supposed to regard this as part of the brutal occupation.

Watching the tape of Lowrey’s arrest, then reading his account of same, we got a somewhat different impression.

Lowrey is two years out of college (Ohio University, class of 2012). We’d say he performs that way, at least a tad, on the videotape. In his report about his arrest, he even offers this:
LOWREY (8/14/14): Once at the station, we were processed, our pockets emptied. No mug shots. They removed our restraints and put us in a holding cell. Ryan was able to get ahold of his dad. I called my mom, but I couldn’t get through. I couldn’t remember any phone numbers.
If we might borrow from our Spielberg: Major reporters, phone home!

(Lowrey also reports himself making semi-unprofessional threats as he’s driven to the station: “This story’s going to get out there. It’s going to be on the front page of The Washington Post tomorrow.” Renee Witherspoon with a snootful couldn’t have said it better!)

As bosses all over the country know, paying low wages is a great way to increase profits. That said, we don’t think the practice has been yielding great results at our major corporate news orgs.

In fairness, Joan Walsh’s work can’t be blamed on the low wages of youth. In another post at Salon, we’d say that Walsh is playing with dolls—in this case, with her O’Reilly doll.

Walsh’s post concerns a segment from O’Reilly’s Tuesday night show. During the segment, O’Reilly discussed events in Ferguson with Ben Carson.

Sadly, Carson has been establishing himself as one of the nation’s most unbalanced commentators. But because we happened to watch the segment in question, we were struck by Salon’s characteristically screeching headlines, which, in fairness, are conceivably being composed by junior high kids at this point:
Bill O’Reilly’s Ferguson disgrace: Host spews sick lecture to Michael Brown’s family
The Fox host argued the unarmed teenager's supporters should trust the authorities. Then Ben Carson went off script
WEDNESDAY, AUG 13, 2014 12:07 PM EDT
We’ll be honest. We didn’t recall O’Reilly creating a “disgrace” or “spewing a sick lecture” that night.

Nor did we recall seeing Carson go “off script.” On the contrary, we thought he struggled to stay on script and agree when O’Reilly expressed “100 percent confidence” that Attorney General Holder will conduct a full probe of Michael Brown’s death.

At one point, O’Reilly did pull out his Sharpton doll, as Walsh correctly notes. But Walsh is playing with her own doll here, or so it seems to us:
WALSH (8/13/14): But then, weirdly, Ben Carson goes off script. After blandly insisting conservatives must let the Brown family know “we feel their pain” while making clear “police are individuals too, they have feelings also,” Carson tells O’Reilly, “We must hear from this police officer.”

That’s interesting: That’s exactly what the Brown family wants too, but the Ferguson Police Department won’t even release his name, let alone allow him to face public questions. Carson went on: “You know, they are trained to shoot to kill, or shoot to stop. We need to hear why he decided to shoot to kill.”

O’Reilly literally harrumphed and cut him off. “Yes [clears throat]...well...I don’t think that’s going to happen. So you’re going to have the one side that’s suffered a terrible loss, and the other side’s not going to say anything, and that’s what we have to process.” Then he thanks Carson, who has apparently failed to help him “process” the right way, and abruptly ends the segment.
Did Mr. O “literally harrumph and cut [Carson] off?” Did he “abruptly end the segment,” annoyed by Carson’s remarks?

You can watch the relevant chunk of the tape at Mediaite. We’re fairly sure you’ll see no harrumphing, literal or otherwise, since no harrumphing occurred.

Meanwhile, did O’Reilly abruptly end the segment after making the statement Walsh quotes? Here is the full transcript of the segment’s conclusion:
CARSON (8/12/14): I think we have to speak out and help people to understand that, yes, we feel their pain. There's, you know—how can you possibly even understand how these parents felt?

But at the same time, we also need to recognize that police are individuals, too. They have feelings also. And we need to hear from this police officer.

You know, people—they are trained to shoot to kill or to shoot to stop. We need to understand why did he decide to shoot to kill—


CARSON: —instead of shoot to stop.

O'REILLY: But I don't think, right now, you know, I don't think that's going to happen. So what you're going to do is, you're going to have the one side that has suffered a terrible loss, and the other side is not going to say anything. And that's what we have to process.

Now, I was going to ask you about your presidential aspirations, Doctor, but I'm not going to do that because we don't have enough time tonight. But I want you to promise me—


O'REILLY: —you'll come back in a couple of weeks and tell me where you are on that scale, all right?

CARSON: Sounds like a good deal.

O'REILLY: All right, Doctor. And you might want to check out the doctor's book, One Nation, still a very strong bestseller and a great summer read.

Krauthammer on deck...
Did O’Reilly “literally harrumph,” then “abruptly end the segment?”

Actually, no; he didn’t do that. Joan Walsh’s O’Reilly doll did!

According to Walsh, O’Reilly’s conduct in this segment was “reminiscent of the good Christian leaders of the slaveholding South.”

The new Joan constantly says things like that. She may have been thinking of her Bill doll, whose penis is half an inch long.

Tomorrow: Who will play next with a doll?

In search of a full transcript or tape: We can find no full tape of this segment. The only full transcript we find is at Nexis, to which we can’t give you a link.


  1. I see.

    We've got a battalion of cops in full battle dress training truck-mounted machine guns on U.S. citizens engaging in a protest in broad daylight.

    And Somerby -- that great street veteran of the Vietnam erea -- turns his first thoughts to . . . Joan Walsh.

    1. Still, it's hilarious that the reporters called their parents when faced with the terrifying specter of the battalion in full battle dress. You have to admit that's funny.

    2. Adult reporters call their paper or their attorney or their significant other (last but not least). Somerby didn't call this hilarious nor did he imply that it was funny. He said it is too bad the press is paying low wages to children to do a job that used to be done by adults. He thinks this is a serious problem. So do I. Interns are not supposed to be placed in jeopardy as part of "learning" on the job. Those of us who were around in the 60's remember that demonstrations often became riots (or police riots if you will) in which people got arrested, seriously injured or killed. Twenty somethings think this sort of thing is exciting and kind of fun and feel very self-righteous when they become the target of police crowd suppression activities. Those a little older have seen footage of what happens during demonstrations in other countries and know that it can happen here too because crowds and crowds and police are police, no matter what the cause or the politics involved. And that's not at all funny.

    3. You think the young reporters are hilarious? How about the old man at the keyboard typing this:

      "A few weeks ago, we asked a deathless question: “Who is Alexander Becker?” On the front page of the Post’s web site, the paper was pushing a piece by Becker—the Post’s three millionth worried report about the Clintons’ vast wealth.

      We weren’t familiar with Becker, nor could we find a record of who he was. Later, we learned who Becker is, or seems to be—he seems to be an undergraduate at Dartmouth, entering his senior year."

    4. Is it wrong for Somerby to complain about college kids who will follow any direction their politically motivated editors will give them, because they are too inexperienced or clueless to know any better? Why didn't Becker ask questions about Clinton's wealth, such as "is she any wealthier than any other candidate?" or "What do others charge for their speeches?" and so on? He didn't ask those things because he is a kid. A more experienced reporter might not have been so willing to slant articles against Clinton simply because she is perhaps running for office in 2016 and the paper doesn't want that to happen.

      Becker should have known better and would have if he weren't fresh out of the egg.

      How noble that these kids are willing to get beaten up and jailed for social justice but how stupid they are not to realize that they are carrying water for conservative plutocrats when they attack Clinton (and other designated targets) over stupid shit. It makes these noble kids look like fools and they are too young to realize they are being played.

      I don't think that is funny at all.

    5. You assume Becker didn't ask questions then you state it is because he is a kid. Your then attribute motives to the paper and inidviudal editors.You have just committed the exact behavior Somerby attributes to the letter-to-the editor writer in the New York Times in the immediately preceding post.

      We think you didn't do this because you are a kid. But we did consider it.

    6. You object to my inferences but no thought or communication is possible without inference. I think my conclusions are supported by the facts. If you disagree, argue from fact.

    7. He called his mommy. That made me laugh out loud.

    8. Hopefully she packed him a nutritious lunch for his long night fighting the super-scary machine gun battalion.

    9. Hey @ 2:42. I'll argue a fact. I have no idea who your comment is directed to. I have no idea what your inferences were, your conclusions are, or your facts were.

    10. Hey @ 2:44. Does it make you laugh that police dressed in military gear are arresting reporters in a McDonald's in America?

    11. Anonymous @ 12:512 asks:

      "Is it wrong for Somerby to complain about college kids who will follow any direction their politically motivated editors will give them, because they are too inexperienced or clueless to know any better?"

      I don't know. Show me where Somerby has made such a complaint.

    12. 3:13. No, it doesn't. They were released in less than an hour and the 'military gear' seems to be a scare phrase. I wasn't worried that they were in any danger. It didn't scare me really. But the part about calling mom was what made me laugh. I could be wrong. It could represent a new low in the curtailment of our freedoms and advancement of our police state. I respect that you feel strongly about it, if you do, and apologize for being flip. (I'm an unemployed drug addict with mental problems so sometimes my impressions are kind of dumb and out touch. )

    13. @3:54

      Seems to be a scare phrase?

      You are:

      A) Blind, in which case you have an excuse and we apologize for what follows.

      B) A typical Bob reader who follows no links

      C) Stupid

      D) Both B and C

    14. Anonymous @ 12:51 it is wrong for both you and Bob to complain that anybody does anything because they "are college kids" other than go to college.

      Oily oligeanous old coot Somerby, born a wee two years after that crone Diane Sawyer, began his attacks on "new kids" by taking aim reporters with eight and nine years of experience.

      I am reminded of the link yesterday to the profile written about Bob a few decades ago. He had a scant ten weeks of training before he was, fresh out of college, given charge of a classroom of schoolchildren. I imagine he had no more supervision than an intern at the Washington Post.

      Philip Rucker, one of the "new kids" with an Ivy degree Bob disparages is about 30. Look at the description of teacher Bob Somerby at that age:

      "He was 30, an age when he had expected to know what he was doing and to be doing what he wanted. He didn't, and he wasn't. He taught two more years, this time at a junior high. One afternoon in the faculty lounge, he scanned the room and saw colleague after colleague exhibiting the symptoms of clinical depression. He felt the same."

      Is it wrong for Somerby to complain about college kids? Yes.

    15. I'm kind of stupid. I admit. I watched it though. Don't all those cops love that swat/military gear these days? Anyway - you're right. It's full military gear like one will see in Iraq. And I was stupid to question it.

      Still, the kid reporter calling his mommy was f'n laugh-out- loud-funny.

    16. It's typical for cops to show up in military gear these days. This article documents the militarization of American police which is a phenomenon that has been happening since even before 9-11 but grew rapidly after it. It's a big business and there's big grant money for local cops sporting those outfits.

      It's not a new thing for those cops to have been dressed like that. Maybe that is what the stupid drug addict meant by saying "scare phrase". Cops show up like that all the time. It's in no way unusual.

    17. 7:24 the reporter called his mother with his one phone call because hers was the only number he could remember.

      With all due respect, addiction or no, few people remember
      any numbers these days because they are all in your cell phone. I have had people sitting in front of me have to call
      me on my phone in order for them to remember their own.

      When the cops take your cell phone you find out how blank your memory is and how much you depend on the little thing.

  2. I think Somerby means Reese Witherspoon, not Renee.

    1. Or perhaps he was thinking of tough guy Arnold Zellweger. Hip cultural references are tough for a guy so old he makes reference to Chucky films.

      I would tend to think it is Renee Zellweger. Due to the coke reference.

    2. Chucky was a film? I kept asking. I thought he was a doll.
      I kept rewatching the Maddow clip to try and figure out what Bob was talking about. Who played him?

    3. An interesting thing about older people is that they are much more forgiving about these sorts of small errors that everyone makes. Young people make them too but younger people seem to think they matter when they don't.

      Lack of forgiveness of flaws is very 20-something behavior. When you hit 35 you realize that you don't have to please everyone. When you hit 65 you know what matters and what doesn't, and it isn't grasp of trivia that makes someone hip or worth listening to.

      Chucky was an evil doll in a horror film. It can be sinister to play with dolls in a way that puts wrong things into other people's mouths and heads. Fantasy isn't always benign. Get it now?

    4. Yes. Old people are much more forgiving. Which is why Bob needs to remind his readers frequently of nasty things written back in 1998, 1999, 2000 (and even 2002 by dead people). Because old people might forgive those writers if they read something they write today or even something written about them more than a decade after their death.

    5. Forgiving of minor lapses, not things that matter, like whether our democracy is functioning.

    6. @ 12:57 is it your point tat Bob is saying, by using the Chucky metaphor, that Rachel Maddow is trying to scare us by criticizing the media as trivial, and going for tabloid headlines?

    7. I'm still not sure what Bob meant by a virtual Chucky doll.

  3. Media Matters has been promoting the idea that O'Reilly lectured Brown's parents inappropriately. Walsh is picking her theme up from the progressive talking points. Our side is doing the Fox News thing to the other side and Walsh is echoing that theme.

    Personally, I do trust Holder to get to the bottom of things and I'm not sure why Salon or other progressives wouldn't. Now that Anonymous has revealed the name of the officer, he and his family will be targeted by any random vigilantes stirred up by Salon-style coverage and we may have a real down-home lynching for the slavering public to consume as an extension of this sad drama. If the police try to protect the officer so that due process can occur, of course, they are just closing ranks around one of their own and impeding justice, which consists of the crowd stoning the peace officer to death, without investigation or confirmation of what happened -- but then, we already know what happened, courtesy of neighborhood bystanders, so no investigation or trial is necessary. Cause that's how we roll in our democracy now.

    1. Surely the police can take him in one of their federally donated armored personnel carriers to the St. Louis airport where he can be flown to a safe place until his grand jury appearance.
      That's the way humvees roll in our Democracy now.

    2. Surely he should have to rearrange his life and live in hotels for months under fear for himself and his family when he has as yet been convicted of no wrongdoing and may be found innocent, as a consequence of doing a difficult and dangerous job.

      If this were really the police state demonstrators are decrying, Brown's family would be disappeared, not the officer involved.

    3. You are the one predicting death by stoning squads of vigilantes stirred up by Salon.

      I missed their intial coverage which caused the Ferguson demonstrations which began on the spot of the shooting while the body lay on the sidewalk. Do you have a link? I am glad all those young black people in Ferguson read Salon since its editor would rather jump off the Golden Gate bridge than cover the interests of young black people.

  4. I have no idea what argument Bob S is trying to advance here. I do wish he would learn to write clearly.

    Meanwhile, for some very interesting reading:

    1. Perhaps Bob can come up with some home courses to take in writing clarity. He can look on Google. Like he did for Alexander Becker. Whom he seems to have learned about some other way in the last two weeks.

    2. We should add, thanks for the excellent link. Kind makes the writer who has manned nothing tougher than a blackboard look a bit foolish when he describes "what we have seen so far" in Ferguson.

  5. Bob:

    A few weeks ago, we asked a deathless question: “Who is Alexander Becker?” On the front page of the Post’s web site, the paper was pushing a piece by Becker—the Post’s three millionth worried report about the Clintons’ vast wealth.

    We weren’t familiar with Becker, nor could we find a record of who he was. Later, we learned who Becker is, or seems to be—he seems to be an undergraduate at Dartmouth, entering his senior year.

    Earth to Bob:

    A few weeks ago an anonymous commenter immediately posted a number of links outlining many things Becker had done over the preceding four years all available in minutes on Google. Including his attendance at Dartmouth. You didn't "later learn." Your foolishness was exposed in your own combox.

    Bob Doll: Oooh, I'm Bob Somerby. I don't make mistakes. I make serious fun of how Krugman and Maddow respond to their own mistakes.

    Bobfan Doll: Oooh, I'm a Bobfan. Go away. And you did not mention Bob was complaining that a kid shouldn't get such major assignments.

    Earth to Bobfan Doll:

    Becker's piece was a follow up simply explaining on their blog why, when 66 year old Hillary Clinton could not or would not explicitly answer a question put to her by 56 year old Fusion reporter Jorge Ramos about her net worth. it was not possible for the Post to find out an exact answer either. It was a short piece in an online blog.

    Earth to Bobfan Doll:

    Oh, one more thing. If Becker's piece was the "three millionth worried report" about Clinton's wealth, how many unworried ones has the Post written?

    Bobfan Doll: Vile troll. Why are you here? Go away.

  6. Want to improve your writing? Read "The Sense of Style: the Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century" by Steven Pinker.

  7. Remember, nobody explicitly told the cops to stay in their armored vehicls.

    1. Nobody told those thugs they could walk in the damn street.
      Didn't they learn anything from Trayvon?

    2. Poor 6:43. Give it a while. When Bob starts defending the boys in blue from Ferguson against the heinous press, comments will come in which were not totally tongue in cheek like mine. I don't think Brown was a thug, but plenty of those defending Bob's point of view during the Zimmerman trial called Trayvon Martin one.

    3. High profile Liberal media deserved to get called out on that one.

  8. This tragedy deserves all the attention it's receiving. Still, one might keep in mind that the greatest threat to the lives of black Americans is from other blacks.

    America's media doesn't present it this way. When one black person murders another black person, that tragedy generally receives little media attention. (The killing of Trayvon Martin was a similar anomaly. The huge attention it received gave the impression that the biggest threat to black Americans comes from whites (or, in this case, Hispanics), rather than from other blacks.

    IMHO those who are concerned about the welfare of black Americans ought to focus more attention on black-on-black crime.

    1. Sigh. David oh David. I think just about everyone knows that blacks are more often killed by blacks than by whites --- which isn't really the same thing as saying that the greatest threat to the lives of black Americans is from other blacks (though I think you elide the two claims).

      If you hadn't noticed, we still live in a highly segregated society. Black, white, yellow, red, brown -- everyone is most at risk from the people they live among (especially family). Everyone is also most served and nourished by the people they live among. I bet more black children are fed and bathed and tucked into bed at night by black people than by white people, too. So what?

      All that is an entirely different subject from today's Jim Crow, which relies on new forms of intimidation to keep people of color "in their place."

    2. David, you seem to assume that black people in, say, NYC, have no idea what their own self-interest might be, so we (collectively) are to ignore their well-nigh universal sense that they are less often being protected and more often being harassed by the police who, e.g., stop and frisk them or stop them for "driving while black."

      More generally, I suggest fewer stabs at low-level social science research and more serious attention to American history. You might start with Jill Lepore's The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity.

    3. My take on Trayvon Martin is different from David's.

      When you can't walk home for fear of running into a gun-toting, trigger-happy wannabe cop who doesn't recognize you, how safe are any of us?

      Ferguson raises it a notch. Not only are we to fear yahoos with guns, but we now must live in fear of our own police.

    4. Anon 9:42, even if your interpretation of the Trayvon Martin tragedy were correct, your post shows how you have been misled by the media, and perhaps by your own desire to be misled. You talk about the fear of running into someone who is gun-toting and trigger-happy and point to one killing 2 1/2 years ago. However, since Trayvon Martin was killed, thousands of black Americans have been murdered by other black Americans. The black on black murder rate is particularly high in some cities, such as Chicaqo and Detroit. Yes, many blacks today do have to worry about running into a gun-toting, trigger-happy potential killer, and that potential killer is generally black.

      AnonymousAugust 15, 2014 at 12:50 AM -- You make a good point, but I do not agree. Fear of the other is all too natural in humans (and in many other species.) We can see examples everywhere. Horrendous tribal warfare in Africa and the Middle East is all too often in the news. Americans historically feared immigrants of all sorts. Malays feared Chinese immigrants and discriminated against them. Etc.

      It's as easy as pie to whip up fear of the other. That ugly practice has produced fame and riches for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Sadly, some Democrats win black votes by claiming to protect black people from supposedly rampant racism.

      IMHO those who over-claim racism do no favor for black people. No doubt there are some racists, but the overwhelming majority of non-black Americans behave well to blacks, as is proved by Obama's election.

      Minorities have succeeded in this country by discipline and hard work and by fitting into the economic system, despite prejudice and ethnic barriers. When fear of racism deters blacks from taking advantage of opportunities, that is a tragic waste.

  9. Bob should have gone directly to the Dick Nixon doll rather than stepping in this shit and on Bill O's imaginary little oompa loofah.

  10. Has anyone noticed that the trolls in this set of comments on Ferguson are nastier and less civil than the usual trolls?

    1. Someone should have called them trolls earlier and firmly told them to go away. It is like Bill O'Reilly said. You just can't stand by and say nothing while these savages take over the place.

    2. PS: I found the one correcting Bob on Renee Witherspoon particularly vile, didn't you?

    3. Is it trolling when people call out someone who claims to be something he is not? You know, like a liberal (or something) who cares about black children? Just wondering.

    4. There are three types of commenters here.

      People who praise Bob for the courageous vision he has and the service to our democracy with which he volunteers it.

      People who praise Bob because they are canned spam.


    5. How many anon critics of TDH are there? Are there 2? 3? 5? 10?

  11. You know, if Bob truly wanted to write an insightful post about the media and the national discourse, he might discuss how Information Age technology has advanced to the point where both mainstream and social media were telling us what was going on in Ferguson Wednesday as it happened.

    Instead exploring the plethora of issues Ferguson raises not the least of which is the militarization of police, he reaches for his Joan Walsh doll and focuses on the burning question of whether or not Bill O'Reilly "harrumphed."

    1. Fiddle faddle. After reading about Jonah's whale I wanted to see Bob lay wood on O'Reilly's behalf.