Supplemental: Lawrence O’Donnell, horribly wrong!


Cable star praises the Times: Lawrence O’Donnell has broken the law on each of the past two nights, as described in this morning's post.

On Wednesday night, he named the New York Times by name, savaging the famous newspaper for its featured front-page report about the death of Michael Brown.

Last night, he committed an even greater offense. Criticizing the Times again, he savaged a Timesman by name!

Here's the background:

Yesterday afternoon, the New York Times public editor wrote a post agreeing with O’Donnell’s criticism of the famous paper. In the course of her post, she mentioned James Dao, a deputy national editor at the Times.

Dao didn’t seem to agree with O’Donnell’s critique.

Last night, O’Donnell savaged Dao by name, over and over again. According to normal guild procedures, this sort of thing mustn’t be done:
O’DONNELL (8/21/14): James Dao still doesn’t understand how bad the reporting, writing and especially his editing of that article was. He’s obviously the editor responsible for it, and the language used in that article is his fault.

James Dao’s terrible job of editing a badly reported article infected the New York Times lead editorial today, just as I expected it would.
There was much more. This sort of thing isn’t done!

In our view, O’Donnell was perhaps unfair to Dao at several points; he may have blamed Dao for problems with the public editor’s piece. That said, there’s no doubt that the Times report in question was very poorly written and edited, just as O'Donnell had said. O’Donnell assumed that Dao was responsible, although public editor Margaret Sullivan never exactly said that.

Whatever! It’s very unusual for cable stars to attack Times stars by name. Within the guild, this sort of thing is simply never done.

That may explain why O’Donnell went to such lengths on each of these nights to praise the Times’ general brilliance. At one point last night, he even said this:

“In 30 years of studying the New York Times coverage of these cases, I have never been critical of their work until yesterday.”

Sadly, we believe him! In truth, though, that is a hideous statement. It defines a giant problem with the journalistic center and pseudo-left.

In fairness, O’Donnell has kept his praise for the New York Times rather narrow this week. He keeps saying how brilliant the newspaper’s police reporting typically is.

We find that very hard to believe, in large part because we actually read the Times. In fact, the New York Times does terrible work in a wide range of domestic areas. Career players like O’Donnell refuse to acknowledge this fact. This is a terrible problem for liberals and progressives.

Should anyone be surprised to see Dao performing lousy work, if that's what actually happened? We thought back to the front-page reports he wrote in early May 2000, when he was on the trail as a Campaign 2000 reporter.


Candidate Bush was in the process of unveiling his proposal to partially privatize Social Security. Candidate Gore was in the process of strongly opposing that proposal.

The entire press corps—left, center and right—was in the process of savaging Gore for daring to do such a thing.

As we noted long ago, there was virtually no difference between the media left and the media right in the themes which were used to massacre Gore on this high-profile topic. On May 4 and 5 of that year, Dao wrote front-page reports for the Times which crazily pimped the prevailing scripts against Gore:

Gore was being dishonest again. Even more important, Gore was being too nasty and negative!

In his May 4 report, Dao criticized Gore for his “cascade of attacks” against Bush. His 1600-word May 5 piece expressed a theme which was becoming press corps dogma. According to that article’s headline, Gore was “Giving Bush the Bradley Treatment”—was trying to tear poor Bush apart the way he’d savaged poor Bill Bradley in the Democratic primaries.

Dao barely mentioned Candidate Bush’s relentless attacks against Gore. But how sensitive was the scribe to attacks, real and imagined, against Candidate Bush? Incredibly, this was Dao’s first example of Gore’s troubling conduct:
DAO (5/5/00): Even some Democrats seem to think that Mr. Gore’s attacks occasionally go over the top...Today Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat who supports investing some of the Social Security trust fund in private markets, took issue with [Gore’s use of] the word “privatization.”

“That’s a scare word,” said Mr. Moynihan, who supported Mr. Bradley in the primaries but has since endorsed the vice president.
Dao was stretching mightily. Moynihan’s delicate sensibilities to the side, the term “privatization” was being widely used to describe Bush’s proposal. The budget reporter at Dao’s own paper had used the term four days before. The AP was also calling Bush’s plan an example of “privatization.” So were Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News—and so was the conservative Washington Times, in editorials supporting the Bush proposal. George Will—and a string of other conservative pundits—were using the nasty term too.

Incredibly, Gore’s use of this commonplace term was Exhibit A in Dao’s front-page critique. Gore’s use of the term was a troubling sign of his nasty ways.

How crazy was Dao willing to be as he extended this theme against Gore? This crazy:

At the end of his May 5 piece, Dao quoted five examples of Gore’s “cascade of attacks,” examples drawn from a seven-week period. Incredibly, you see them below, exactly as published by Dao and the Times.

These were the five nastiest things Gore had said in the prior two months! On this basis, Dao and the Times had run two successive front-page attacks against Gore’s “cascade of attacks:”
DAO: Some Strong Words About Bush

In recent weeks Vice President Al Gore has used a variety of derisive words, including "risky," "irresponsible," "smug" and "reckless," to characterize the proposals of Gov. George W. Bush. Here is a sampling.

MARCH 16—“Governor Bush's tax scheme is so risky, so reckless, that just yesterday the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, given an opportunity to vote for it, turned it down, turned the other way, said, 'We don't want to even cast a vote on that thing.’”

APRIL 25—“We fell prey to the politics of illusion during the decade of amazing deficits. Now we have to avoid the politics of illusion in the decade of amazing surpluses. This is a test of our memory. Have we forgotten the dangers of irresponsibility? Have we forgotten the virtues of responsibility?"

APRIL 30—“Just this past week, Governor Bush used his brief meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov to issue a warning that his intention would be to build and deploy a global Star Wars system that he believes could defend the U.S. and all our allies against any missile launch from any source. In the 1990's, most serious analysts took a look at the implausibility of this endeavor, the fantastical price that our taxpayers would be expected to pay and the dangerously destabilizing consequences of traveling down that path and rejected this notion. Governor Bush wishes to return to it, and chose the worst possible venue in which to launch, for lack of a better phrase, his risky foreign policy scheme.”

MAY 3—“What about the waitress who's carrying a heavy tray, what about the longshoreman, what about the steelworker and the auto workers? When they get to the current retirement age, they don't want to be told that in order to finance some risky tax scheme for the wealthy, they are going to have to keep on working until they are 70 years old.”

MAY 3—“How does the Bush plan propose to deal with the bankruptcy of Social Security that his privatization scheme would cause? He doesn't even bother to provide an answer. He just smiles and goes on with the smug assumption that there's no need to share with you the details of what he wants to do."
“What about the waitress who's carrying a heavy tray?” This was one of the five nastiest things Gore had said over a seven-week span!

It’s amazing to think that a person like Dao still has a job in journalism. It’s even more amazing to think that a man like O’Donnell could make a statement like this:

“In 30 years of studying the New York Times coverage of these cases, I have never been critical of their work until yesterday.”

Back in May 2000, O’Donnell fully understood what the Times was doing to Gore. We know that because he explained the whole thing on TV, just a few weeks after those pieces by Dao appeared.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you what this awful man said—and what he went on to do in October 2000. The dead of Iraq look up from the ground into the face of this cable star.

Final point:

In the public editor's piece, she quoted two readers who echoed O'Donnell's complaints about Wednesday's report. One of the readers said this:
SULLIVAN (8/21/14): Arthur Silen of Davis, Calif., was one of those who wrote to me. He detailed a list of complaints, referring to what he called clear lapses of professionalism and integrity, and told me that he “expected much, much better” of The Times.
Why does Silen expect so much of the Times? In large part, because people like Lawrence refuse to tell him the truth.

More on this problem tomorrow.

Just to be completely clear: We didn’t invent those five examples, nor were they stolen from The Onion. Dao and his editor ran them as the most troubling examples of Candidate Gore’s deeply concerning “cascade of attacks” on George Bush.

This was one small part of the twenty-month war against Candidate Gore, the war which sent George Bush to the White House. Has a single liberal ever told you that this act of fraud even occurred?

E. J. Dionne will never tell you! Some things simply aren’t done.



  2. O'Donnell has criticized Dao. Since Digby started writing for Salon, she has not criticized Dowd.

    1. Nobody worked harder to elect Bush than Dao.

  3. Another dead kid in the streets. Somehow it all relates back to Campaign 2000 in Bob's fevered mind.

  4. Yes and Obama went out and played golf which was very bad too because people can only keep one thought in mind, care about one thing, and if they do two things it means they just don't care at all about that very sad tragedy.

  5. I don't think Bob reads the Onion.

  6. I believe the NYT editorial that was allegedly affected by Dao's report is at

    1. Obviously, James Foley cared nothing about black kids.

    2. Would Foley have died if Bush hadn't attacked and destabilized Iraq?

    3. Would Foley have died if Bush hadn't attacked and destabilized Iraq?

      He might have been killed by a nuclear device that Saddam would have developed.

  7. Our apologies to BOB. The Dao articles were linked here. they were not in the second piece on Dao, which we read first.

    So please. Read them and judge for yourself.