Supplemental: Long ago, Lawrence told Matthews the truth!


Concerning the work of the Times: In our view, Lawrence O’Donnell won the week with some good press analysis.

Along the way, he sometimes overstated and erred. But he won his basic point:

The New York Times hasn't established the fact that “witnesses have given investigators sharply conflicting accounts of the killing” of Michael Brown.

Let’s be clear. It’s possible that witnesses have provided “sharply conflicting accounts.” But in its Wednesday front-page report, the Times offered no examples.

As usual, America’s most hapless newspaper didn’t come close to making the case. At the Times, public editor Margaret Sullivan agreed with O’Donnell’s assessment.

Despite some overstatements and errors, O’Donnell did a good job critiquing that widely-repeated assertion. But even as he did, he spent two nights heaping praise on the brilliance normally seen at the Times.

Ranking guild members will always do this. They grossly mislead the American people when they engage in this scam.

In its domestic political coverage, the Times is a terrible paper. This has been so for a good long time. Consider what O’Donnell told Chris Matthews fourteen years ago.

It was May 5, 2000. The mainstream press corps’ War Against Gore was in its fourteen month.

On two successive mornings, the New York Times had published front-page reports which savaged Candidate Gore for his “cascade of attacks” against poor Candidate Bush. James Dao, who O’Donnell trashed this past Thursday night, had written those front-page reports.

As we noted yesterday, Dao’s front-page reports had been absurd beyond inane. Appearing on Hardball that second night, O’Donnell broke every rule in the book:

O’Donnell explained what the Times was doing! Let's recall what happened.

(For our real-time report, just click here. Scroll down to 5/9/00.)

At the start of the segment, Matthews introduced two of his network’s O’Donnells. Then, he began reciting the script which was being repeated all over the press:
MATTHEWS (5/5/00): We've got Lawrence O'Donnell here with me in California. And we've got Norah O'Donnell back there on assignment in Maryland.

Norah, let's start with you about this amazing campaign. Who would believe that George W. Bush would look so clean and good right now after that bruising fight with John McCain?

He is up about five points in a number of polls this week. And yet you see Al Gore picking away at him with these left jabs of his—he's dangerous on Social Security, he's got a scheme out there on Social Security, he's dangerous on foreign policy, he's arrogant, he's smug.

It's the same thing he did to Bill Bradley. Attack, attack, attack!
Below, you’ll see major pundits on three other shows using the very same language. The corps’ preferred theme was clear at this point: Gore was being nasty and negative in his attacks on the “clean and good” Bush.

Suddenly, it was considered unseemly for Candidate A to criticize Candidate B's proposals. But good God!

When Matthews turned to Lawrence O’Donnell, he explained what the press corps was doing! He specifically cited the Times:
O’DONNELL: Chris, it's interesting. These are winning issues for the Democrats. When the Democrats demonize the Republicans on entitlements like Social Security, the middle-class entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, it has always worked. It has never failed.

There is a very interesting thing developing this week, which is the media, especially the New York Times, seems to be making a decision about how complicit they want to be in the Gore tactic. You notice they're doing less reporting actually now on what Gore is actually saying, and much more analysis about the tactic of it and why he's saying it. They didn't do that in the fall when it was Gore versus Bradley on health care stuff.

MATTHEWS: So the Times is avoiding being used as a weapon by Gore against the Republicans by simply trumpeting all his charges and scare tactics. They're saying he is using scare tactics.

O’DONNELL: There is a sense in the press corps that not only did Bill Bradley let Gore get away with taking those shots in the fall, but the press feels, it seems to me, a little bit complicit in helping deliver them, and so now you're seeing what I think, in many ways, is almost an over-analysis, in terms of the press, of the Gore tactic, as opposed to the substance of what Gore's actually saying, which does have some real merit.
According to O’Donnell, the press corps, especially the New York Times, had decided they didn’t want to be “complicit” in the Gore “scare tactics”—in the “tactic” of criticizing Bush for proposing the partial privatization of Social Security.

According to O’Donnell, what Gore was saying did “have some real merit.” But the Times was now presenting “almost an over-analysis” of Gore’s “tactic”—the outrageous tactic of criticizing his opponent’s major proposal.

They weren’t reporting what Gore was saying. They were discussing why he was saying it. They were discussing his “tactic!”

Readers, was it true? Had the New York Times been offering almost an over-analysis?

Almost an over-analysis? That very morning, Dao had listed the five nastiest things Gore had said in the previous seven weeks. Exactly as presented by Dao, this was one of the worst examples in Gore’s “cascade of attacks:”
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.”
Over the course of seven weeks, that was one of the nastiest things Candidate Gore had said!

Can we talk? Dao wasn’t offering “almost an over-analysis.” Dao was conducting a brain-dead war—part of a war which was being conducted all over the upper-end press. (For examples, see below.)

O’Donnell used some very soft soap that day, but he did something very unusual. Right there on a cable program, he was describing the mainstream press corps’ ongoing War Against Gore. He was describing absurd misconduct by the press corps, while using a bit of soft soap to help the misconduct slide down.

Dao’s front-page reports on May 4 and May 5 were just this side of crazy. On May 15, Bush formally unveiled his privatization plan in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Dao reported Bush’s speech with a “Cucamonga” dateline. In a slightly more rational world, the Times would have left him there.

O’Donnell savaged Dao this Thursday, but he heaped praise on the normally brilliant New York Times as he did. At one point, he even made this confession:

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

O’Donnell was slicing the cheese very thin. In that statement, he was referring to police reporting only.

Still and all, O’Donnell heaped praise on the Times for two straight nights this week. In truth, he knows much better that that. He just isn’t willing to tell you.

The dead of Iraq look up from the ground into the faces of people like Dao. Standing behind them are Matthews and O’Donnell, pockets stuffed full of Welch cash.

Matthews’ salary went from $1 million to $5 million as he trashed Gore for two solid years. Other guild members kept their traps shut.

Today, you can see them on cable!

For some strange reason, all the pundits were saying the very same things: How dare a person like Candidate Gore criticize proposals by Bush? All over the “press corps,” people like Matthews had memorized their scripts.

Below, you see excerpts from four cable discussions about this same topic. Everyone knew the script:
The Beltway Boys, Fox News Channel, April 30, 2000
KONDRACKE: Look, the dynamic here is perfectly obvious. Gore is behind in all the polls, so he's doing what worked with Bill Bradley, attack attack attack. And you know, and he's hoping that it'll work on George W. Bush. The difference is that George W. Bush is not going to take it forever. I mean, George W. knows how to counterpunch, and I predict soon that he'll start doing it.
BARNES: Yes, he's not going to be the guy on the ropes just getting punched. No rope-a-dope for him. But look, Gore was attack attack attacking, and he's—in the beginning, and now he's been going down as a result of that attack attack attacking.

Hardball, MSNBC, May 5, 2000:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Norah, let’s start in talking about this amazing campaign. Who would have believed that George W. Bush would have looked so clean and so good right now after that bruising fight with John McCain? He’s up five points in a number of polls this week, and yet you see Al Gore picking away at him with these left jabs of his...It’s the same thing he did to Bill Bradley—attack, attack, attack.

Russert, CNBC, May 6, 2000:
JOE KLEIN: The concern I have about the Gore campaign is that he has learned one lesson and he’s kind of becoming a one-trick pony.
TIM RUSSERT: Attack. Attack. Attack.
KLEIN: Attack. Attack.
RUSSERT: Governor Bush put forward a Social Security plan calling for a partial privatizing, and he attacks, saying that is risky...Why, why—why does Gore just, almost knee-jerk, attack, attack, attack?

Inside Politics, CNN, May 17, 2000:
CHARLES COOK: For Governor Bush, it’s a chance to show sort of bold leadership...But at the same time, getting into that area is certainly a risky thing and it’s going to test all of George Bush’s abilities of persuasion to sell this, because Al Gore is very good at the attack, just look at what he did to Bill Bradley on health care...
BERNARD SHAW: What comes to mind, Stu?
STUART ROTHENBERG: Well, in general, he has been attacking for months now and there’s been a lot of criticism that he’s been overly negative. Once again here, attack, attack.
“Almost knee-jerk,” Russert said, describing his own behavior.

Why were all those upper-end pundits saying the very same things? Cleaning it up for the public to hear, O’Donnell told Matthews the truth.

This week, he heaped praise on the gruesome newspaper which was up to its neck in that scam. Needless to say, other examples of gruesome work at the Times are endless.

The dead of Iraq look up from the ground at those highly obedient pundits. They also see the liberal pundits who still refuse to tell the public that this scam ever occurred.


  1. The dead of Iraq look up from the ground into the faces of people like Dao.

    Almost anyone with two IQ points to rub would understand this simple fact.

    The dead of Iraq look up from the ground at those highly obedient pundits.

    That said, how thin would you like your cheese sliced? Can we talk?

    1. You think the Iraq war is thin cheese? That's pretty offensive, in my opinion.

    2. Someone wrote this in 2003: "Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve never doubted that Saddam had WMDs. In fact, we’d be surprised if he didn’t."

      The same person wrote this in 2014 based on someone writing two articles about campaign tactics in May, 2000.

      "The dead of Iraq look up from the ground into the faces of people like Dao."

      You find my quotes from Somerby to be about the Iraq war?

    3. No, you are an offensive troll. Go away.

    4. Like the troops in Iraq?

    5. @ 4:32 no trolling is necessary here.

  2. OMB (Breaking Rules with OTB)

    Supplemental: Not so Long ago, BOB told Rubes the truth!

    "In 2000, Candidate Gore won the popular vote over Candidate Bush."

    Bob Somerby 2/3/2012

    1. The vote was so close that the Republicans were able to challenge Gore's numbers in Florida giving the Supreme Court cover to hand the election to Bush, as you well know. A more decisive victory and Gore would have been president. Why are you quibbling about this, aside from Somerby derangement syndrome?

    2. It's not relevant to this post, but it was the other way around. Bush initially won Florida. Gore challenged Bush's numbers on several bases, but Bush won each re-count. Later, an unoffical recount was done on a basis Gore hadn't asked for, and Bush won that one, too.

    3. Faulty ballots in two counties cost Gore sufficient votes to lose in Florida too. Nader hurt Gore, but people have the right to vote for whoever they prefer. The press does not have the right to slant coverage in order to tip voters a particular way (while pretending to be neutral). That is unethical. Despite this, he nearly won. It was so close that Somerby can argue that with a neutral press, Gore might have won.

      The point is that liberals should want to prevent something similar happening to the next Democratic candidate. The press should not be determining the outcome of our elections. That means we need to object when today's pundits behave in ways similar to what happened in 2000.

    4. "It's not relevant to this post, ...."

      What else is new?

    5. The "official" recount was halted before all the votes were counted. It took a monumental act of judicial activism to declare Bush the supposed winner. As it turned out, looking back, that was the exact moment America jumped the proverbial shark.

    6. Not quite, 6:06. All the votes that Gore asked be re-counted were re-counted. Gore never asked for a complete re-count. What the Supreme Court did was to preclude Gore asking for yet another recount yet another basis.

    7. Volusia County made the deadline. Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade didn't. Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State, refused to accept their explanations for why they needed more time. The Supreme Court's ruling had nothing to do with what Gore was asking for; the ruling overturned the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that mandated a state-wide recount.

      Bush v Gore was a transparent one-time manipulation to keep Florida in Bush's column (which doesn't mean that he wouldn't have won a state-wide recount). The decision itself says it's not to be relied upon as precedent.

    8. Bush v. Gore was a questionable SOCUS ruling, because it's not clear that the federal government had any right to intervene in state matter.

      OTOH, at the state level, the lawsuits were utterly corrupt by the Democratic Florida Supreme Court. First, the FL SC pulled a decision out of a$$es to give Gore a recount not allowed by Florida law. They simply made up a rationale that Florida Constitution required the type of recount Gore wanted.

      When Gore lost that recount, the FL SC decided that their first decision was wrong and the Florida Constitution actually required a different kind of recount, that Gore was asking for.

      When Gore also lost that one, the FL SC decided that their first and second decisions were wrong and the Florida Constitution actually required yet another type of type recount. The FL SC apparently was going to call for recount basis after recount until they found one basis under which Gore won. Then, that basis would become the one and only basis required under the FL Constitution. This is where the SOCUS stepped in and said enough is enough.

    9. The oddness of the ballots in two counties caused problems for voters (especially older ones) that benefitted Bush over Gore (because of the placement of the names on the ballot). It is unclear whether that resulted from stupidity or partisan bias. Either way, it affected the outcome. Then there were the hanging chads -- parisanship in the recount procedure.

      If you think Bush won Florida in any real sense, you are wrong. Voters preferred Gore. Beyond that, the damage done to the country by Bush speaks for itself.

    10. By all means, let's re-argue the 2000 election. We might even encourage Bob to finish his book.

    11. No matter when or if BOB finishes his book, after nineteen months of constant bombardment in the War Against Gore,
      Al can claim that during his service as a candidate, he took the initiative in winning the election.

    12. DAinCA,

      As usual, you have no idea what you're talking about. The Florida Supreme Court heard appeals from several counties about the particulars of their balloting procedures, and they heard an appeal of Gore v Harris in which they called for a state-wide recount. This is the case that became Bush v Gore in the Supreme Court.

    13. It is unclear whether [The oddness of the ballots] resulted from stupidity or partisan bias.

      In at least one of the counties, the ballot was designed by a Dem.

      Bush would have won FL easily, but for media malfeasance. Polls in the FL panhandle close 1 hour later than the rest of the state. The media announced that all FL polls had closed at a point where the FL panhandle polls still had another hour. These reports discouraged potential voters in an area that's conservative. It has been estimated that without this false media report, Bush would have won FL by 10,000 votes.

    14. And who did this fancy estimatin'? I'm sure it was a completely non-partisan entity.

    15. Yes, David. I am sure that another 10,000 people too dumb to know when their own polls closed and what time zone they lived in would have been dumb enough to vote for Bush.

      Lordy, can you at least try to pull some better "facts" out of your butt when it's getting kicked?

      Your little practice of making things up is getting far beyond ridiculous.

    16. This exchange has been very informative.

      Thousands upon thousands of Florida voters were so committed to express their opinions based on the media assault on Gore that they immediately decided not to do so based on media reports that the polls closed an hour earlier than these voters were expecting, so they just didn't vote.

      However, in counties where the polls closed at the expected time, recollection of two May articles by Dao
      in the New York Times caused enough people to sour on Gore because of his cascade of accusations against Bush
      that Gore could not win even with the last minute gift from the dumb people of the Florida panhandle.

      As a result, the dead of Iraq look up from the ground, presumably looking for something other than the Union label.

    17. "They simply made up a rationale that Florida Constitution required the type of recount Gore wanted."

      Translation: The FL SC wanted them to determine the intent of the voter as indicated by the ballot.

    18. 12:33 PM

      That is not KZ! The original one would never right something so banal!

    19. Exactly, 3:25, but you forgot one important point.

      None of that would have happened had E.J. Dionne said something.

    20. Anon @ 5:58 you are write. KZ didn't right it. BOB did.
      We quoted him.

    21. Go away. You aren't as cute as you think you are. Just annoying.

    22. You know, Anon. @ 10:34, you're banal when you're annoyed.

    23. As I said, you aren't as cute as you think you are.

  3. Way to tell it like it is Somerby! Our feckless liberals just don't get it, and they probably never will. Now watch as they jump at the chance to make excuses for these bought off corporate media clowns.

  4. I can't believe Somerby would praise someone like O'Donnell without at least acknowleding his racism.

  5. So the criticism involving an MSNBC host and the NYT reminds Somerby of a May article from 2000? Perhaps the headline should be:

    Supplemental: Concerning the desperate need for a hook!

    1. Learn from the past or repeat it. Your choice.

    2. So, 5:59. You really need Somerby to teach you the lesson not to believe everything you hear on TV or read in a newspaper?

      How sad.

    3. Anon @ 5:59 since the headline is BOB's, we'd say we have learned from the past...his.

      In this case we took time to read the 14 year old articles O'Donnell hooks BOB to. BOB's analysis of that old work is fanciful as the photo and psychobabble he criticized from the NY Times this week.

    4. 3:46, yes, and even a dead kid in Ferguson, Mo., reminds Bob of the War on Gore.

      Everything always comes around to 14 years ago.

    5. So you don't like Somerby. Go away and stop annoying the rest of us who don't care about your complaints.

    6. Tell me, 10:06, which comments cause you to tarry over the comment box?

      Do you like the long exchanges between David in Cal and deadrat? The unabashed liberal outbursts of berto?

      Or do you simply like to write variations on the theme, "Go Away?"

  6. Digby says Maureen Dowd's column about President Obama's vacation is an idiotic screed, thus criticizing the New York Times columnist even after starting to write for Salon.

    1. First we learn Lawrence O'Donnell is a series breaker of "The Laws Which Are Never Broken" governing the "guild."

      Now this about Digby.

      It is amazing what "liberal leaders" will say in public to maintain ther silent scam.

    2. To quote the Digby:

      "So,Maureen Dowd has been clutching her pearls for 25 years over president failing to rush back to the White House every time Peggy Noonan decides a crisis is upon us. Today's idiotic screed is here. But check this out:"

      What followed to be checked out was another Dowd screed excusing Bush I for going on vacation not long after Saddam had overrun Kuwait and just days after Bush ordered the military buildup that would eventually become the First Gulf War.

      After all, Dowd dutifully noted, he had all the modern communications gear that 1990 technology could provide to keep him in touch every second. This is apparently stuff that Obama doesn't have.

    3. Digby uses the pearl clutching language of BOB. But she does not describe Dowd's work as heinous. Not does she have Dowd fainting onto the couch.

      She does show Reagan on a couch. Sitting back like Obama, listening to a forward leaning subordinate. None of these guys are wearing ties! Reagan is in some pretty horrific jammies.

      To her credit, Digby does link to some really heinous writing, that of Peggy Noonan describing her first encounter with St. Ronnie.

      "I FIRST SAW HIM AS A FOOT, a highly polished brown cordovan wagging merrily on a hassock. I spied it through the door. It was a beautiful foot, sleek, perfectly shaped. Such casual elegance and clean lines! But not a big foot, not formidable, maybe even a little . . . frail. I imagined cradling it in my arms, protecting it from un-smooth roads."

      Say, when was the last time BOB mentioned her Noonstership? She's Irish, ain't she?

    4. She's a Republican. You expect them to be ridiculous. People who pretend to be liberal don't get the same leeway.

    5. Ah, but her Noonstership is of no concern to Somerby. During the "War on Gore" she was one of those right-wing voices was merely prosecuting that war, and thus shares none of the culpability for it.

      The entire blame, in the World of Bob, falls on "career liberals" led by the vile, cowardly E.J. Dionne, who remained silent obviously angling for his own cable TV show where his pants would soon be stuffed with millions.

    6. You are right @ 11:17. Come to think of it, wasn't that an often stated reason by the press for why they were so hard on Gore?

    7. No. The press pretended to be neutral or even liberal (that liberal media bias) while savaging Gore for trivialities. Analyzing Gore's policy statements would have been fine. They ignored those in favor of specious attacks on tactics and hairstyle and clothing.

      There are real parallels between the way trolls operate here and the way the press treated Gore (and is now treating Hillary Clinton). They too focus on ridiculous inconsistencies and trivialities while ignoring the substance of the posts here. They mock and play cutsie word games and their favorite "gotcha" in which they claim to have found some damning inconsistency or hypocrisy. All the while they ignore the substance of the posts here, the theme of this blog, which is the damage done when the press corps does not function well to inform public debate in our democracy.

      Partisans don't care about this stuff -- for them it is only about winning and good tactics are winning tactics. The trolls here don't care about politics, just about achieving their personal goals. I don't know whether those are ego-related, to get back at Somerby for some perceived slight, to make trouble and gain attention (because they are 12 and they're too timid to participate in the real world) or because they are being paid by Maddow, Ravitch, Gates or someone else to discredit Somerby with potential readers. It doesn't matter what the goals of these trolls are, just as it doesn't matter what plutocrats hope to gain by subverting political processes. What matters is that people have an opportunity to inform themselves about issues and candidate positions and not be mislead by noise machines who don't care about our democracy.

      You trolls here are pieces of crap for engaging in this kind of behavior. Somerby attempts to show people how to see past the noise. The comments here are perfect practice at that skill. However, it would be better if people could talk about issues without all the garbage. When this ratio of signal to noise occurs in someone's brain, it is called Alzheimer's. That can happen to our political discourse too, not that you guys care.

    8. I'm sorry, but I can't help but feel pity for anybody who ever considered Dowd to be a "liberal voice."

    9. " . . . or because they are being paid by Maddow, Ravitch, Gates or someone else to discredit Somerby with potential readers."

      Yes, that must be it. A blog that averages about 500 unique hits on a good day must be so powerful as to attract the cabal of Maddow, Ravitch and/or Gates to fund its demise, thus scattering the legion of Bobfans with no one to think for them.

      Paranoid much?

    10. I would say Somerby's rendition of Dao's articles are examples of distortion. He calls them "just this side of crazy." He did not do so when they were written. He disparages Dao's coverage of Bush's Social Security speech on May 15, 2000. He did not cover it at all in real time.

      For this post he relies on the analysis of Chris Matthews and Lawrence O'Donnell. How sane, coming from Somerby, is that?


    Kids (aggregated and disaggregated) are back in class.
    Ombambi is back in DC.
    Poor Mike Brown is nearly in the ground looking up at bad journalism.

    Isn't it time for Mansions of Journalist County?

    "Is Diane Sawyer living in public housing? Is she able to remain in New York thanks to rent control? Here again, we see the familiar norms of our poisonous priests, which their colleagues in the pundit class will always advance or ignore:

    No one ever mentions the wealth of the journalistic players who, due to their deep concern, have chosen to initiate the troubling story line.

    Our thoughts also wandered to this: According to Rucker, the Clintons own two homes. The homes were purchased for $1.7 million and $2.85 million.

    Plainly, the Clintons are wealthy. That said, our thoughts also wandered here:

    In 2004, Chris Matthews bought his summer home on Nantucket for $4.4 million. That was roughly the cost of both Clinton houses combined.

    At the time, Tim Russert’s summer home on Nantucket was worth several million dollars more than that." 6/26

    All next week: The Mansions of Journalist County 7/14

    The Houses of Journalist County: Do Bill and Hillary Clinton have too much cash? Too many fancy houses?

    ....journalists have been clucking over the houses of various candidates dating to Campaign 2000.

    These conversations have often been marked by apparent bad faith on the part of the press. In our view, the familiar bad faith started up again in the past month.

    This led to our award-winning series “The Houses of Journalist County.” We had planned to start the series today, but we’re going to postpone for a few weeks as our research continues.

    Our award-winning series, “The Houses of Journalist County,” won’t appear for another few weeks. That said:" 7/21

    "Tomorrow: Back to the vineyards

    All next week: Some cable issues

    Starting August 18: Our long-awaited, award-winning series, The Houses of Journalist County" 8/8

    In search of journalistic values: Michael Brown’s death is a major event. All this week, we’ll be discussing the way our major news orgs have reported, or have failed to report, the unfolding chain of events.

    Final note: We're postponing our award-winning series, The Houses of Journalist County.

    We still plan to present that award-winning work, with its links to inspiring photo spreads. But these events come first." 8/18

    1. Come on! Bob is about to show, with geometric logic, for the first time in recorded history that people with their own shows on national TV make a lot of money.

      Any day now.

  8. Yes, Gates pays me. But you'll never guess which Gates.