Interlude—Back to the past: We’ll go ahead and admit it.
We’d prefer that our intellectual leaders not go on TV and play with dolls—or even with their toy cars.
It does make them easier to adore, if only in a dim-witted way. It may be smart to encourage such reactions, if the suits are paying you $7 million per year.
That said, the analysts were crying last month as Rachel Maddow played with her toy car one night, then with her paper dolls the next. They began to wail when she fashioned a virtual Chucky doll, which she used to assail the national press in one of the dumbest segments we’ve ever seen on TV.
For background, just click here.
Does it serve progressive interests when TV stars behave in these ways? For a further example of Maddow’s odd work, consider the botched executions.
Here at THE HOWLER, we oppose capital punishment. In fact, we always have. (This is easy for us to say. We’ve never run for office.)
To state the obvious, we also oppose botched executions, of which there have been several in the past few months. You almost surely know that fact if you watch the Maddow show, whose host has seemed to make this situation a marker of her achingly pure, perfect liberalism.
We have two main objections to her endless displays. First, though, consider what happened in the week of July 21-25, the week before Maddow played with her dolls, then headed off on vacation.
On Wednesday, July 23, the state of Arizona staged the latest botched execution. In a fairly short, 800-word front-page report, the New York Times described it:
ECKHOLM (7/24/14): In another unexpectedly prolonged execution using disputed lethal injection drugs, a condemned Arizona prisoner on Wednesday repeatedly gasped for one hour and 40 minutes, according to witnesses, before dying at an Arizona state prison.We oppose this practice when it takes 10-15 minutes. We certainly oppose it when it drags on for nearly two hours.
At 1:52 p.m. Wednesday, one day after the United States Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution granted by a federal appeals court last Saturday, the execution of Joseph R. Wood III commenced.
But what would normally be a 10- to 15-minute procedure dragged on for nearly two hours, as Mr. Wood appeared repeatedly to gasp, according to witnesses including reporters and one of his federal defenders, Dale Baich.
State officials insisted that Mr. Wood had been comatose throughout the procedure and did not suffer.
That said, we oppose a lot of things; this is only one. Watching the Maddow Show that week, a liberal viewer might have felt encouraged to think that this unfortunate series of bungled executions is the most important topic in the world.
Maddow mentioned the execution every night that week. On Monday, she did a 9-minute preview report. This was followed by a short mention on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the botched execution occurred. That evening, Maddow opened her show with a 15-minute segment about the event, followed by a pair of segments on the same topic which totaled nine minutes more.
This set the stage for Thursday night, when she went all-botched for the bulk of her time once again. She opened with a somewhat ghoulish, long-form report which ran more than twenty minutes. She followed with a second botched execution segment which ran 9:27.
All told, the two segments burned 29 minutes and 59 seconds of Thursday’s program, almost three quarters of Maddow’s total broadcast time that night. On Friday night, we got one last segment on the topic, running more than eight minutes.
(To watch Thursday’s first segment, just click this. Warning! More than twenty minutes! To watch that evening’s second segment, click here.)
In the course of the week, Maddow spent about 71 minutes on the Arizona execution, roughly a third of her total broadcast time for the week. That said, there was nothing especially new about this remarkable emphasis. In May and June, she had devoted large chunks of time to earlier botched executions.
Let’s state the obvious. There’s nothing wrong with opposing capital punishment, though we’re not sure that Maddow ever stated that view. There’s also nothing wrong with opposing botched executions.
We oppose botched executions! We want to make that clear!
There’s nothing wrong with opposing capital punishment. Why then were the analysts crying as they watched Maddow that week, the week before they saw her play with her toy car and her dolls?
We asked the analysts that very question. They stated two objections.
Their first complaint was political. Scoldingly, they said we’re old enough to remember when Democratic candidates got massacred on a regular basis for opposing capital punishment.
According to Gallup, support for the death penalty is substantially down from its high point in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That said, we the people are still “in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder” by a margin of 60 percent to 35, or so it seemed last year.
We’re in the minority on this question. But after having our memory jogged, we did remember the bad old days when Democrats got their brains beat out for opposing this ultimate punishment.
(This hasn’t happened for a long time, in part because major Democrats all say things like the following: “While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes—mass murder, the rape and murder of a child—so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment.” That was Senator Obama in his book, The Audacity of Hope. He was running for office.)
Once our memory was prodded, we were a bit annoyed with Maddow’s achingly pure liberalism, but that was just a political matter.
On a substantive basis, this is why our gorge has occasionally risen as she stages these pleasing if occasionally ghoulish exhibitions of her strange moral greatness:
We oppose capital punishment. Then too, we sometimes flip to CNN and to Fox News, where viewers are allowed to hear statements by relatives of the people who got murdered in the cases in question.
In the case of the botched execution in Arizona, this involved statements by Jeanne Brown, whose sister and father were murdered in August 1989.
For transcripts, see below. In all the time Maddow devoted to this topic, she never let us liberal viewers hear a word from Brown that week.
This helps us recall the way achingly pure liberal TV stars can get Republicans elected. But on the substance, our objection is different from that.
Why do we sometimes get annoyed when Maddow burns the airwaves with concern for convicted murderers? Because it makes us recall the many other people for whom she has no apparent concern.
We oppose capital punishment and botched executions. When Maddow lets her heart break over this topic, she shows her achingly pure concern for a relative handful of people who have been convicted of murder.
Do you know who Maddow never discusses? Like almost everyone else on her network, Maddow never discusses the interests of black kids, at least until someone gets shot and killed.
There are millions of deserving low-income kids in this country. Until someone is shot and killed, their interests never get discussed on Rachel Maddow’s program.
Maddow aches for convicted murders, scorns our deserving kids. And please don’t tell us she doesn’t!
Maddow doesn’t deign to tell viewers that our black and Hispanic kids seem to be doing much better in school. For whatever reason, NBC News has been up to its ears in “education reform” in recent years. Like all the other stars on her channel, Maddow refuses to rock the boat on behalf of our wonderful black kids, or on behalf of their much-maligned public school teachers.
By way of contrast, Maddow’s heart has been breaking of late on behalf of convicted murderers. Given the context we’ve just outlined, this will sometimes make our gorge rise, though we oppose capital punishment too.
Was Rachel Maddow playing with dolls in those botched execution segments? You can judge that as you will.
But good God! We remember the days when people like Maddow were expert at getting The Others elected! We’ll draw a single hopeful thought from her spate of botched execution coverage:
Rachel Maddow’s sluggish ratings may offer a hopeful sign. They may suggest that other liberals are tired of her fakey heart too.
Tomorrow: Rick Perlstein’s Nixon doll
As heard that week on Fox: In the week of the botched execution, Jeanne Browne was allowed to speak on CBS News and CNN.
She was also heard on Fox, where she said these things:
HANNITY (7/24/14): Joining me now to react to what some are calling a botched execution is Jeanne Brown and her husband, Richard. Jeanne's sister and father were both murdered by Mr. Wood. Thank you all for being here. Jeanne, let me start with you.On CNN, Brown was shown saying this: “So everybody here [was saying] it was excruciating. You don't know what excruciating is. What's excruciating is seeing your dad lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying there in a pool of blood. That's excruciating. This man deserved it.”
One of the things that infuriates me about the American media is so much time is put in to talking about the guilty party. Let's talk about the pain that your family went through. You lost your sister, you lost your father. Tell us about that pain.
JEANNE BROWN: It's been horrific. Since the day of notification of what happened and going through ups and downs throughout the last 25 years is something that I can't even explain. It's just horrific. I know I have to continue with my life and move forward. And thank God I have my husband here to support me and our wonderful daughter who's behind us on everything. It's just—there's no words to explain what we've gone through. So many ups and downs in the appeals after appeals that he's been allowed. It seems like it's all for the victim.
HANNITY: Again, this goes back to 1989, what 25 or so years ago?
BROWN: August 7, 1989, is the time that it had happened. So it's been a long 25 years. And why—my husband and I question, why does it take this long for something like this to happen when they know he's guilty?
HANNITY: I'm very sorry, what happened to your sister and your dad. How old were you when that happened?
BROWN: I was 18.
HANNITY: You were 18 years old, 25 years ago. Tell us, do you think that the media spent enough time listening to victims' stories? Because I've met a lot of victims in my life, I've interviewed a lot of people that were victims. It seems like we ignore their stories. It seems the media wants to focus we're not being humane to murderer, to the rapist, to the pedophile. Tell us brutality of the deaths your sister and father endured.
BROWN: Well, thank you for bringing that up, I appreciate it, because it's always brought up of what he did and what he is going through and how he is suffering through the last 25 years. It's never about the victims and the family and what they have to go through and having to live the rest of their lives without their father to look up to and older sister to look up to. It's always about the other side.
And then until this day, yesterday, it was always about him, him, suffering, which he never did suffer. Everything revolves around the criminal or inmate. It's never for the other party. And everybody that is against the death penalty, and I say this: If you've never experienced what we have experienced, you'll never know what we're going through. And seeing what we saw, and having to go to a morgue and see your dad and your sister laying there, and there is nothing you possibly can do, it hurts you inside. It really does. And all of these anti people against the death penalty don't realize it until it would happen to them and one of their closest relatives, husband, wife, daughter, son, whatever it should be.
In the narrow sense, none of this speaks to the issue Maddow was exploring that week at enormous length. The fact that the victims were found on pools of blood doesn’t mean that states should botch executions. (Brown and her husband disputed some descriptions of the Arizona execution.)
Brown’s subsequent suffering isn’t relevant to whatever it was that Maddow was aching about. That said, we watched Maddow and Hannity that Thursday night—and Fox viewers were plainly being given a fuller human picture.
How do Democrats lose elections? Playing with dolls, the achingly pure multimillionaire Maddow seems all too happy to show you.