Supplemental: Rachel eliminates all Hispanics!


Trust her—it's for a good cause:
In this morning’s New York Times, Joe Nocera writes an actual column. In this column, he criticizes major aspects of Eric Holder's tenure.

In our view, Nocera has been a big disappointment since joining the op-ed page. He wastes enormous amounts of time writing about various aspects of college athletics, a rather marginal set of concerns as the nation disintegrates.

In today’s column, he wrote about a serious topic in his general field, the world of business and economics.

Last Thursday, Rachel Maddow also scanned, or pretended to scan, the legacy of Holder. Where Nocera offers a real critique, Rachel authored the latest in her growing number of piddle-rich tribal scams.

She started in a pitiful way which we’ll review below. Quickly, though, she offered a pleasing sponge bath to gullible liberal viewers.

It’s obvious what she’s peddling here. Can you spot the factual problem?
MADDOW (9/25/14): Eighty-two different people have had the job of attorney general over the course of the history of the United States. And 80 out of the 82 of them have been white men.

The one African American man we have ever had as attorney general of the United States is Eric Holder. The one woman we’ve ever had as attorney general of the United States is Janet Reno. And both of them were so viscerally hated and so vilified by the right, that it occasionally lost local coherence. It was pure emotion, to the point where it became almost a pathological, visceral thing.

The tenor of the vitriol against the Janet Reno over the years is perhaps best represented by a joke made by Senator John McCain in 1998. I will not read out loud Senator McCain’s joke but I—there we go. But I will point out that Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the president and first lady of the United States, was a teenager at the time that John McCain made this joke about her.

This was John McCain at his classiest. But it’s also fairly representative in terms of the way conservatives and Republicans talked about and felt about Janet Reno. The right hated Janet Reno so badly that they just couldn’t see straight. She was the only woman who has ever been attorney general of the United States.

The only African American to ever be attorney general of the United States, today announced his retirement from the job. During his tenure in office, he too got Republicans so upset, so overexcited, so overwhelmed with their emotional hatred for him that things with Eric Holder, like with Janet Reno, they sometimes didn’t just get vituperative and over the top. They sometimes got weird and hard to follow.
Surely, we all can see the tribal gruel Rachel was ladling here.

This gruel is bad for the brain and bad for the soul. Rachel was telling us this:

The Other Tribe hates Holder because he’s black. Also, The Other Tribe hated Reno because she was a woman! End of discussion!

In this parable, “We” get cast as The Very Good People—the ones responsible for only two attorneys general who weren’t white men. By way of contrast, “They” get cast as the snarling haters. They hated Reno and Holder so badly that they couldn’t see straight!

There were a million problems with Maddow’s presentation this night. You can lose a lot of IQ points if you watch the tape all the way through.

That said, there was an obvious, groaning factual problem with the chunk we’ve already posted—her claim that 80 of the 82 attorneys general have been white men.

That was a very strange statement. In this way, Maddow cast Alberto Gonzalez as just another “white man.” Are we race-obsessed pseudo-liberals really willing to let ourselves do that?

According to one taxonomy, Gonzales actually could be listed as a “white man.” In this taxonomy, Hispanics are divided into “white Hispanics” and “black Hispanics”—and Gonzalez is clearly a man.

Much more often, though, Alberto Gonzalez was and is described as “the first Hispanic attorney general.” As such, he was listed in concert with Reno and Holder as “firsts,” not in opposition.

Needless to say, we liberals pretty much hated Gonzalez, although we typically said we did so for cause. Of course, conservatives said the same thing about Holder and Reno, not always without something resembling reasons.

(Does Maddow remember the day Reno managed to burn the Branch Davidian complex down? Reno made plenty of bumbles along the way. According to scuttlebutt, Clinton hated her too!)

Maddow made an extremely lazy, faux attempt to evaluate Holder’s tenure. Instead, she fed us a giant bowl of tribal gruel, in which “We” were cast as heroic trailblazers and “They” were cast as haters.

By the way, how did Maddow start this segment? In the dumbest possible way, while also singing the inevitable song of herself:
MADDOW (9/25/14): And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

All right, here is my personal Eric Holder moment. It was not a personal moment that I had with Eric Holder. He was not there, but it was about Eric Holder and it was personal and it was very, very clarifying.

It was 2010, I was in Alaska. We were up there to cover the Joe Miller/Lisa Murkowski U.S. Senate race that year. And up until the very last minutes of that trip to Alaska, it looked like I had gone there to talk to Lisa Murkowski and that’s it. Looked like I was not going to get an interview with the other guy, with Joe Miller himself.

But at one point on that trip, I did find myself on the streets of Anchorage in the middle of the next best thing to Joe Miller. I found myself in the middle of a crowd of Joe Miller’s Tea Party supporters. And they agreed to talk to me and this is how that went...
“I I I I I I I.” According to rumor, that’s the slogan on Maddow’s coat of arms.

After singing this “personal” song of herself, Maddow played tape of a four-year-old segment which was extremely dumb in real time—a segment in which a couple of inarticulate (but courteous) Miller supporters spouted off with their complaints about Holder.

Can we talk? The country is full of young, true-believing souls who may not always know exactly what they’re talking about. Maddow, a former Rhodes Scholar, has always taken way too much pleasure in lording it over this, the lesser breed.

Our tribe features imperfect people too. In segments like the one we’re discussing, Maddow keeps trying to add to their number:

All but two have been white men!

On this night, Maddow wiped the first Hispanic attorney general off the face of the earth. Instead of taking a serious look at Holder’s pros and cons, she played tape of a couple of kids in Alaska who weren’t especially sharp on a point they had raised. Then, she made us sit through that utterly pointless tape of Louie Gohmert using that regional expression again.

Holder was casting aspersions on his asparagus! Holder made Those People so mad, they would say things like that!

That’s what Those People are like, Maddow said, as tribal players always do. Go ahead—watch the tape!

Warning! Your IQ may drop several points if you watch the whole thing. In the process, you will see the nation’s Hispanics wiped off the face of the earth.

Trust her, though. It's for a good cause—making us liberals feel good!

Supplemental: Do you believe this story or claim?


Daisy Hernandez edition:
In our view, that Oxford conference on procrastination was a genuine pip.

It’s also something to be truly angry about; we’ll likely return to that foppish event before the week is done. For today, let’s consider the most intriguing thing we read this unusual weekend.

We refer to this lengthy post by Daisy Hernandez at the new Salon. Basically, it’s an edited version of one of the later chapters in A Cup of Tea Under My Bed, Hernandez’s new short book.

Hernandez is a 39-year-old writer. In the edited version of her chapter, she takes us back to 2001 and 2002, when she landed a couple of jobs at the New York Times.

Salon’s post created anger and animosity in comments. Much of the commentary starts with a rather implausible claim Hernandez makes early on.

Just to set the scene, the chapter starts with Hernandez, then 25, getting approached for a possible job. The implausible claim will come a wee bit later:
HERNANDEZ (page 149): I didn’t think white people got jobs the way Latinos did, just by talking to each other. But they do, and that’s how it happens for me. My first big job as a writer.

It’s the end of a graduate journalism class at New York University. The room fills with the familiar cacophony of a class ending: chairs scraping floors, students unzipping bags, murmurs about lunch and papers due. The professor, a thin, white woman, fastens her eyes on me.

“An editor at the New York Times is looking for a researcher for a book she’s doing on women’s history,” she says, matter-of-fact. “I thought of you. You write about feminism.”

I smile politely, uncomfortably. I’m twenty-five and writing for Ms. magazine, but I don’t consider myself someone who writes about feminism. That sounds like work other people do, people who are rich or famous or smart. I’m not a boba though. I have spent enough time around white women to know it’s better to not argue with them.
In that passage, Hernandez says, without explanation, that she doesn’t consider herself “smart.” She also drops the first of the many sweeping racial assessments which produced criticism from quite a few commenters at Salon.

In the spring of 2001, Hernandez was 25.
In her story, she has just completed a master’s degree in journalism at NYU.

She takes the job doing research—for Gail Collins, as it turns out—and one thing quickly leads to another. In this passage, she makes the claim which seems highly implausible:
HERNANDEZ: Months later, I e-mail Gail an opinion piece I wrote for an online wire service and she shoots back: “Oye, you should apply for this internship here in the editorial department.”

She doesn’t write “oye,” but she might as well have, because the way she e-mails with such ease is how a woman on the bus tells my mother, “Oye, there’s this factory down on Hudson Avenue that’s hiring.”

Oye, and just like that I send my resume, which now includes research on indigenous maxi pads, to the editor at the Times hiring interns, even though I have no idea what an editorial is. That’s right. I am twenty-five, I am writing for a national magazine, I have been in journalism school, and I do not know what an editorial is.

I want to say that it’s never come up, that no one has ever talked to me about editorials. But they probably did, and I didn’t know what it was, and as I’ve been doing since I was in kindergarten, I probably acted like I knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it.
In this story from 2001, Hernandez is 25. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from NYU.

But, according to her story, she didn’t know what an editorial was! In an unflattering way, she speculates about the reason why she didn’t know something so basic:

Someone probably told her about editorials, she speculates, but she probably acted like she knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it. Just like she had been doing since kindergarten!

Do you believe that story? Do you believe that Daisy Hernandez, age 25, didn’t know what an editorial was? Despite the fact that she held a master’s degree in journalism?

Continuing directly, Hernandez explains what happened next:
HERNANDEZ (continuing directly): Now I walk around the block to the Greek deli. I pass the women and men waiting at the bus stop, buy a copy of the Times and flip over the A section. A friend has told me to look at the left side of the last page, at the short paragraphs stacked like shoe boxes in a closet.

The writing carries no byline. It’s monotonous, and I realize why I don’t know what an editorial is. I’ve never made it past the second line.
Do you think that actually happened? Or is Hernandez pretty much making this stupid shit up?

Everything is possible, of course, a point we often make. That said, we seem to encounter more and more claims by striving writers and famous broadcasters which seem to be extremely hard to believe on their face.

According to Hernandez, the New York Times went ahead and hired her for a paid intern post in the editorial department. It sounds like she was asked to outline possible editorials, although her account of what she did is very, very fuzzy.

Even now, at age 39, her writing is very unclear.

Here’s something that isn’t unclear—Hernandez’s piece stirred a great deal of reaction from Salon readers. Our culture’s greatest and dimmest god, Controversy, opened its maw and roared.

People responded in various ways to Hernandez’s sweeping statements about racial groups, which she scatters through her piece like a bridesmaid scattering petals. Others marveled at the idea that Hernandez didn’t know what an editorial was, even as she took a job writing same for our most famous newspaper.

That said, do you believe that claim? Do you believe it at all?

Everything is possible! On balance, we would guess that Hernandez is “getting over,” in the way she seems to say she has done since kindergarten days. But if you feel you're forced to guess, a piece may not be real helpful.

Our culture’s greatest god roared in response to this unhelpful piece, which is often unclear but may seem slickly “provocative.” That said, Hernandez got a lot of attention. Her name got bruited around.

Tomorrow, more on Daisy Hernandez. Plus:

Do you believe this story or claim, Lawrence O’Donnell edition!

THE HOUSES OF NANTUCKET COUNTY: Chris Matthews always loved Al Gore!


Part 4—Until he suddenly didn’t:
In fairness, you can’t blame Jack Welch for some of Chris Matthews’ conduct.

Welch, the conservative near-billionaire, stepped down as head of General Electric in 2001. At that point, he stopped being the corporate owner of NBC News.

He stopped being Chris Matthews’ boss.

For all previous posts in this award-winning series, click here.

Out on Nantucket, the NBC crowd continued to summer in The Houses of Nantucket County. According to the Washington Monthly’s Sallie Brady, Welch was “still a power magnet” among the island’s “NBC crowd.”

In the summer of 2003, Welch was still “hold[ing]court from a massive gray-shingled home festooned with window boxes, near Sankaty Head Golf Club.” That said, he was no longer Chris Matthews’ corporate boss.

In the summer of 2004, Matthews bought his own $4.35 summer home on the island, a marker of the massive wealth he’d acquired under Boss Welch. That said, you can’t blame Welch for the way Matthews continued his long-running, venal tirade against Hillary Clinton.

Matthews’ ugly trashing of Hillary Clinton continued long after Boss Welch stepped down. In 2008, Howard Kurtz broke every rule in the pundit book, quoting some of Matthews’ many gender-based denunciations of Hillary Clinton over the many years.

“There is a history here,” Kurtz correctly said:
KURTZ (2/14/08): [T]he Hardball host has been particularly hard on the former first lady, to the point where some of her advisers have glared at him at parties. And there is a history here. In 1999, amid speculation that Clinton might seek a Senate seat in New York, Matthews told viewers: “No man would say, ‘Make me a U.S. senator because my wife's been cheating on me.’ ”

The following year, he said: “Hillary Clinton bugs a lot of guys, I mean, really bugs people—like maybe me on occasion...She drives some of us absolutely nuts.”

In 2005, when Clinton criticized the administration on homeland security the day after terrorist bombings in London, Matthews said: “It's a fact: You look more witchy when you're doing it like this.”

In recent weeks, he has asked whether Clinton's criticism of Obama makes her “look like Nurse Ratched.” He has said that “Hillary's loyal lieutenants are ready to scratch the eyes out of the opposition” and likened her to Evita Peron, “the one who gives gifts to the little people, and then they come and bring me flowers and they worship at me because I am the great Evita.”

It was against that backdrop that Matthews sparked a furor last month when he said: “I'll be brutal: The reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner, is her husband messed around.”
Kurtz was barely scratching the surface of Matthews’ decade of gender-trashing. In fairness, though, Matthews’ continued trashing of “Nurse Ratched” can’t be laid at the feet of Jack Welch, who had long since ceased to be the cable crackpot’s corporate boss.

Today, Matthews is one of cable TV’s most fawning and obsequious admirers of Hillary Clinton. For a taste of this equal-but-opposite nonsense, see this post from late July.

Matthews has engineered a remarkable flip concerning Hillary Clinton. This flip has kept him in line with his channel’s new corporate policy, of course—not that a famous journalist like Matthews would ever work from such venal motives.

Gone are the days when Matthews savaged both the Clintons and Candidate Gore, a policy he developed and performed under the rule of Boss Welch.

That said, the many flips of cable’s Chris Matthews have occurred in near-total silence. As we’ve long told you, what happens in the Washington press corps stays in the Washington press corps, kept there by the guild’s remarkable code of silence.

How does that code of silence work? Your favorite liberals have failed to report, describe or explain Matthews’ remarkable flip about Hillary Clinton in recent years. His ludicrous conduct is simply accepted as the way a “cable news” multimillionaire maintains his “journalistic” empire—an empire which, in this case, includes a set of keys to The Houses of Nantucket County.

That said, Matthews’ flip about Hillary Clinton is just one of many he has enacted down through the years. Consider his first flip about Candidate Gore—a flip he executed when he was working under Boss Welch.

Quick background:

To all intents and purposes, the press corps’ reporting of Campaign 2000 began in March 1999, when the still-undeclared Candidate Gore made his first few forays into New Hampshire.

Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial had ended in acquittal two weeks earlier. Now, the angry press corps descended on Gore like a ton of bricks.

Over the course of the next twenty months, no one would savage Candidate Gore (and Candidate Hillary Clinton) more dishonestly or more crazily than Welch’s best boy, Chris Matthews. But how odd! In the case of Candidate Gore, these savage attacks represented a remarkable flip on Matthews’ part.

1998 had been the year of impeachment. All through that tumultuous year, Matthews used his pulpit as Hardball host to praise the character of his friend, Al Gore.

The right had always trashed Gore, dating to his nomination for vice president in 1992. The mainstream press had started attacking Gore’s character in high-profile ways in early 1997.

Matthews wasn’t buying! All through that year of impeachment, he praised the character of the man he identified as his friend.

By June of 1998, Gore was running behind George W. Bush in early presidential polling. Matthews introduced a metaphor he would never abandon—but he also described Gore this evening as “a straight arrow” who was “as clean as they come:”
MATTHEWS (6/25/98): OK. Let me ask you a question. Let, let me ask you a question. There's something queer going on here, because the president of the United States gets great poll numbers despite all the stink, and Al Gore looks like the bathtub ring. What's going on? Why is he falling in the polls, as Bill Clinton rises, when everybody knows Al Gore's as clean as they come?
When Matthews introduced his unfortunate “bathtub ring” metaphor, he actually used it as a complaint on Gore’s behalf. Al Gore, who everyone knew was “as clean as they come," seemed to be taking the hit for the misdeeds of President Clinton!

Matthews worked from this framework all year long. As he did, he kept praising Gore’s character:
MATTHEWS (6/30/98): Al Gore is more of a Boy Scout, a guy who's a, sort of a clean Gene, more or less, politically, no problems, no questions, no semi-pseudo whatever kinds of scandals about him. For some reason, it seems to me, people believe that maybe he gets hurt more by these questions that surround him, and he has to sort of flack, than the guy who we've sort of already discounted for having this as part of his trail of personality.
On August 17, word was leaked that President Clinton was going to admit to an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky. As the nation awaited his statement, Matthews praised Gore again:
MATTHEWS (8/17/98): I think the year 2000 presidential election's gonna feature that fellow, the governor of Texas, a Republican, against Al Gore, the vice president of the United States, who's had the very—a very honorable man who's had an uncomfortable position the last several months of having to repeat what the president's gonna apparently admit tonight was a lie; he “didn't have sexual relations with that woman,” as he called her, that woman, and now he's gonna admit he did. And for seven months, he's had people like his wife, Hillary Clinton, and his vice president, Al Gore, cover for him, because they're loyal and good people, but they've been given the wrong story. Apparently, he's gonna give us something of the right story tonight.
On Hardball, Gore was still “a very honorable man,” a “loyal and good” person. Two nights later, Matthews poured it on as she spoke with the late Tom Lantos:
MATTHEWS (8/19/98): Do you think that Al Gore who, I agree with you, has a—whatever you think of his ideology or his politics, even if you're a very conservative person, you'd have to recognize this man has had a stainless record in terms of his private life.

LANTOS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And he's a hell of a father and a hell of a family man and a great guy personally, I think, and, and also a man—

LANTOS: I couldn't agree with you more.

MATTHEWS: —who keeps his deals. Even if you think he's too far liberal for you, he certainly is a hell of a person. I wanna ask you: Do you think he's tainted by this and he should get a little wiggle room between himself and the president, a little distance? He has been such a good soldier. Don't you think that might hurt him?

LANTOS: No, I don't think so. I think just the opposite of the—is the case. After this episode, the American people are hungry for a Boy Scout, and Al Gore is the quintessential Boy Scout. His personal qualities are beyond—beyond any criticism. And my feeling is that the reason why there is so much calm in watching the unfolding of this drama is the personal integrity of Al Gore.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Tom Lantos.
Nine days later, Janet Reno announced that she would conduct a preliminary investigation of fund-raising phone calls Gore had made during the 1996 election cycle.

Reno would drop her probe a few months later. On the day the probe was announced, Matthews vouched for Gore, who he described as “clean as a whistle” in a chat with the late Paul Simon.

Later that night, he spoke with Susan Estrich:
MATTHEWS (8/28/98): Susan, jump on the—jump on the Al Gore question.

ESTRICH: It's silly.

MATTHEWS: You and I know Al Gore. He's so— He's such a straight arrow in so many ways and, and I don't have to knock anybody else to say he's kind of a family man and he's quite a good guy in a lot of personal ways.

ESTRICH: I agree.

MATTHEWS: And, and here he finds himself as the kid in class who gets caught maybe for a—for an infraction which isn't as grand as some of the other ones we've been talking about in the last several months.

ESTRICH: Do you know how silly this is?
On that evening’s Hardball, Gore seemed to be “such a straight arrow in so many ways” and “quite a good guy in a lot of personal ways.” This “maybe” infraction was later deemed to be no infraction at all.

As the impeachment crisis continued, so did Matthews’ vouching for Gore. In late September, speculation swirled that President Clinton might resign from office. Democrats “want Gore in there, clean Al Gore,” Matthews said on his September 30 program.

A few weeks later, Matthews extended this theme, describing Gore as “Mr. Clean” and “the Boy Scout:”
MATTHEWS (10/12/98): It's so peculiar. If you can get in— The Democratic Caucus, they'd like to see [Clinton] walk and put Mr. Clean, Al Gore, in there, the Boy Scout. And yet the Republicans are the ones saying they want [Clinton] out and they're the ones [who actually] want him in.
As the mid-term elections drew near, it looked like Democrats might gain a few seats in the House—but Gore still lagged in national presidential polls. Matthews extended his lament for “poor Al Gore,” who he thought was “clean as a whistle:”
MATTHEWS (10/30/98): Well, I have a feeling that the voters find their ways to reap revenge, and it's not necessarily on somebody else's timetable. And I look at poor Al Gore, who may be clean as a whistle—I think he is. I think he's gonna pay the price for Bill Clinton's behavior.
“I think he's gonna pay the price for Bill Clinton's behavior?” In the next two years, Matthews would show he knew all about that!

November 3, 1998 was mid-term Election Day. Once again, Matthews lamented the unfairness of the way Gore was getting “blamed for Bill Clinton's mess-ups.” The following night, he even vouched for Gore’s outstanding choice of a wife.

Trigger alert:
MATTHEWS (11/4/98): This time around, are we gonna look for a family guy who basically has a marriage that seems to make sense?...

And like, maybe George W. Bush and his wife make sense. Certainly Tipper Gore makes sense. Most guys wouldn't wonder why a guy married her. They'd say, “Yeah, that make sense to me. Tipper Gore makes sense to me.” It not—it's not complicated like Hillary. You got to explain Hillary to some guys. “Now explain her again to me, what the appeal is here?” Whereas Tipper makes perfect sense. Go ahead.

MATALIN: Mrs. Clinton is—

MATTHEWS: That's just a guy's point of view.
Gack! To this horrible old-world throwback, Tipper Gore was clean as a whistle. Hillary Clinton was not!

The vouching for Gore was endless. On December 1, Matthews described Gore as “a decent guy who was just recently cleared of the dialing for dollars matter” by Janet Reno.

On December 19, 1998, President Clinton was impeached. On Monday, Matthews even went so far as to defend Gore’s speech in support of the president:
MATTHEWS (12/21/98): Well, Al Gore's a good man, whatever you think of his politics. And there, he's trying to support his president. And I saw Bill Clinton hurt there, and I saw him reaching for his wife. And this wasn't a PR stunt at that point. What do you make of that, Jo-Ellan?
On November 1999, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, the body language expert, would help Matthews push the deranged idea that Gore was wearing three-button suits as a randy come-on to female voters, in the way sailors wear many buttons on the fly of their pants.

By then, Matthews had become completely insane. Dimitrius, and the rest of the press corps, were politely playing along.

Let's return to 1998:

Matthews defended Gore all year, even referring to him as “my friend.” Within a few months, he would start a lengthy war against Candidate Gore which almost surely, all by itself, sent Candidate Bush to the White House.

Matthews’ flip in early 1999 was extremely large. We’ve never found a Hardball passage in which the excitable multimillionaire host made any attempt to explain it.

Starting in March 1999, Matthews’ attacks on Candidate Gore were relentless, profane, repulsive, profoundly fact-averse. Often, his ugly attacks were just this side of insane.

This represented a tremendous flip from his conduct all through 1998. Why did Matthews do this?

Tomorrow, we’ll recall Matthews’ greatest flip of all, the amazing flip he executed in October 2000. In the process, we’ll ask a few obvious questions:

First, did The Houses of Nantucket County play a role in this repulsive overall process, in these remarkable flips?

Also this:

You’ve never seen a mainstream journalist discuss these remarkable topics at all. Is their bizarre group silence tied to The Houses of Journalist County? What else explains the code of silence which has obtained in this most corrupted guild, all through these many deeply destructive years?

Tomorrow: The greatest flip of all

We’re heading home to tasks undone!


You ought to be very angry:
Later today, we’re heading home from this, the Hudson Valley, on Amtrak. And no, we don’t mean Acela!

In the meantime, you ought to be angry about many things found in recent newspapers.

For starters, you ought to be angry about this passage shown below from Paul Krugman’s new column. The column deals with the power of the mega-rich, about whose vast wealth most of us are less than fully informed:
KRUGMAN (9/29/14): Does the invisibility of the very rich matter? Politically, it matters a lot. Pundits sometimes wonder why American voters don’t care more about inequality; part of the answer is that they don’t realize how extreme it is. And defenders of the superrich take advantage of that ignorance. When the Heritage Foundation tells us that the top 10 percent of filers are cruelly burdened, because they pay 68 percent of income taxes, it’s hoping that you won’t notice that word “income”—other taxes, such as the payroll tax, are far less progressive. But it’s also hoping you don’t know that the top 10 percent receive almost half of all income and own 75 percent of the nation’s wealth, which makes their burden seem a lot less disproportionate.
We were a tiny bit peeved by that highlighted passage. Here’s why:

How many years have gone by since we started identifying that key piece of sleight of hand? Back in the day, we endlessly tied it to Sean Hannity, who was endlessly pimping it out.

In that highlighted passage, Krugman is citing a tightly-scripted piece of disinformation. We identified it more than a decade ago, along with a group of companion misdirections.

Fiery liberals and mainstream journalists have aggressively let such matters go. It’s very, very, very hard to induce career journalists to discuss the highly visible ways the American people get disinformed about financial and budget matters and, in the process, get fleeced.

If a problem deals with race and sex, a different rule obtains! In those cases, the modern, millionaire corporate liberal will shout the outrage to the skies, keeping your eyeballs over there, where you can't follow the money.

The so-called “social issues” are very important, of course. They’re also very useful to the plutocrat class. Over at the new Salon, an astonishing piece by Daisy Hernandez has the commenters calling each other names. In these, and equally useful ways, we the rubes get turned against each other, as people like the awful Hernandez carry off sacks of cash.

We’ll discuss the Hernandez piece upon our return to our award-winning campus. For now, let’s return to the ways the public gets played concerning issues of wealth:

In yesterday’s Sunday Outlook section, the Washington Post presented its weekly “Five Myths” feature. Yesterday’s piece was written by Darrel M. West, a functionary at the Brookings Institution. West’s piece bore this slightly concerning headline:

“Five Myths About Billionaires”

We’ll admit it—we were already concerned. As Krugman notes today, we don’t have anywhere near enough "myths" about the ongoing role of our billionaires.

What “myths” was West prepared to debunk? Incredibly, this was the very first myth his piece addressed:

“1. Billionaires can buy elections and change public policy.”

Billionaires can buy elections and change public policy. In bold print, these obvious facts were trumpeted as a “myth” in yesterday’s Washington Post!

There’s much more to be said about that piece—and about its strange twin at Salon, in which the same Darrel M. West warns that a group of billionaires is planning to buy the next presidential election!

We don’t know when we’ve seen a more peculiar pair of pieces. We think you ought to be angry at West—and especially, at the Washington Post.

In the end, our favorite piece from yesterday’s papers appeared in the Sunday Review of the New York Times. It was written by the unbelievably foppish Anna Della Subin, a young semi-academic with whose simpering class you ought to be very annoyed.

Subin wrote about procrastination. Her essay was the the featured, front-page piece in the high-profile Sunday section.

In comments, many readers said they loved it. We were struck by this horrific passage:
SUBIN (9/28/14): [I]f procrastination is so clearly a society-wide, public condition, why is it always framed as an individual, personal deficiency? Why do we assume our own temperaments and habits are at fault—and feel bad about them—rather than question our culture’s canonization of productivity?

I was faced with these questions at an unlikely event this past July—an academic conference on procrastination at the University of Oxford. It brought together a bright and incongruous crowd: an economist, a poetry professor, a “biographer of clutter,” a queer theorist, a connoisseur of Iraqi coffee-shop culture. There was the doctoral student who spoke on the British painter Keith Vaughan, known to procrastinate through increasingly complicated experiments in auto-erotica. There was the children’s author who tied herself to her desk with her shoelaces.

The keynote speaker, Tracey Potts, brought a tin of sugar cookies she had baked in the shape of the notorious loiterer Walter Benjamin. The German philosopher famously procrastinated on his “Arcades Project,” a colossal meditation on the cityscape of Paris where the figure of the flâneur—the procrastinator par excellence—would wander...

As we entered the ninth, grueling hour of the conference, a professor laid out a taxonomy of dithering so enormous that I couldn’t help but wonder: Whatever you’re doing, aren’t you by nature procrastinating from doing something else?
The conference had a biographer of clutter! Also, a theorist about queer procrastination! Every top conference does!

You should be extremely annoyed with horrible people like Subin and Potts, who wasted time baking those fracking cookies in the shape of an alleged philosopher whose life story Subin made virtually incoherent. Over the past thirty years, they and their kind have been wasting time at international conferences of the type described in that passage, creating the impression that a serious work is occurring.

Gullible newspapers like the New York Times pretend that these high academics are involved in serious work.

Unfortunately, they aren’t. As they piddle their time away, their guild’s economists keep pimping the cant of billionaires, in the way Krugman described in Sunday's Book Review section. None of their pretty class stoops to the actual work of the day—refuting the disinformation spewed by the people like Hannity.

We’ll offer you more on that horrific conference this week. To peruse its truly horrific web site, you can just click this.

That said, you ought to be very angry at useless young people like Subin. Their conferences are funded by gifts from the plutocrats and it horrifically shows.

Tomorrow, we’re back to The Houses of Nantucket County. We’ll be explaining how the world seems to work—the world which has us in our second war in Iraq.

How weird that it is left to us to describe the role of those lovely houses in the journalistic horror show of the past thirty years! That said, who else is going to do it? Career journalist will never tell you how their world actually works. The Subins, meanwhile, flounce around at Oxford with their plutocrat-financed acts of self-absorption.

That horrific international conference is linked to The Houses of Nantucket Country. Everything’s pretty in those realms. The truth is told not to escape.

At Oxford, the flâneurs are in charge. They're eating their Walter Benjamin cookies and trying themselves to desks with shoelaces. This leaves the plutocrats free to do business in The Houses of Nantucket County.

Amtrak willing, that story resumes tomorrow.

Just for the record: The theorist of queer procrastination was the regally named Lilith Dornhuber de Bellesiles, whose presentation was called The Queer Art of Procrastination. For verification, click here.

On most recently looking into Steven Pinker!


How did these giants not notice:
For the first time since an elderly friend became ill four years ago, Amtrak semi-failed us yesterday.

But that's a different story.

This morning, up here in the Hudson Valley, before we go to visit our friend, we were reading Steven Pinker, in an interview in in the Book Review section in tomorrow's New York Times. Asked for his favorite science writers, Pinker responded alphabetically:
PINKER (2/28/14): Broadly defined: Dan Dennett, Jonathan Gottschall, Colin McGinn, Geoffrey Pullum, Mary Roach, Robert Sapolsky, Steven Strogatz, Carl Zimmer.
In a brush with greatness on somebody's part, Dennett's sister, Charlotte Dennett, was our pal in grade school.

We'll admit it! Daniel Dennett is one of the writers we enjoy reading for his apparent incoherence, especially in Consciousness Explained, which the New York Times declared to be one of the most accessible books of all time. Soon, Pinker was asked to name "the great writing styliests of our time:"
PINKER: Where to begin! In the book I showcase Richard Dawkins, Rebecca Goldstein, Margalit Fox, Isabel Wilkerson, Brian Greene, John Mueller and Mike O’Connor, author of the Ask the Bird Folks column in The Cape Codder.
So many great stylists! Four ourselves, we have studied Greene at great length, pondering his inability to "make Einstein easy." Earlier this year, we spent maybe six weeks in the coffee joint puzzling over the world-class incoherence of Goldstein's book on Godel.

Pinker went on and on, praising the greatness of the high-minded and brilliant. For whatever it may be worth, Goldstein is his wife.

Can we tell you what we always think when we see work of this type?

Our current posts on The Houses of Nantucket County have led us back into the world of Clinton/Gore-trashing. Here's what we always wonder when the Pinkers go on and on about the greatness of their class:

We always wonder how all the named giants have managed to sleep through the past many decades. Why the lunacy of the "earth tones" journalistic culture didn't offend their massive pools of intelligence, as it so deeply insulted ours.

(Our active puzzlement about that culture dates to 1992.)

Are you happy with the place that culture has taken us to? Here at THE HOWLER, we aren't! Next week, we'll finish our Houses of Nantucket County posts and move on to our next topic.

Jack Kennedy wrote Why England Slept. In our view, the Pinkers, so skilled at self-praise, have slept through their own era.

Did they own TV sets in the Clinton/Gore years? What did they think when they read Maureen Dowd? Given their self-admitted brilliance, how have they managed to sleep so deeply and soundly, for so many years?

All in the family: On the front page of that same Book Review, Krugman discusses the rolling failure of the top economics professors!

The things we saw and heard yesterday!


No further posts today:
As we do every few months, we’re heading north on Amtrak today to continue our tour of Medicaid-funded long-term care facilities.

As we do, we’re in a state of mild depression over the things we saw and heard yesterday—or perhaps over our inability to discuss them today.

What ever made us think that the Ray Rice matter was going to fade? Yesterday, the AP’s Rob Maaddi updated his earlier report about the claim that a copy of the damning second tape was sent to NFL offices.

In this update, we’re told who the tape was sent to—Jeffrey Miller, head of NFL security. But uh-oh!

We’re also told that there are two different Jeffrey Millers at NFL headquarters. We’re also told the following things, several of which are new:
MAADDI (9/25/14): The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release details of the case, said he doesn't know if Miller ever saw the DVD or opened the package. His only communication with the NFL was a 12-second voicemail on April 9 from league offices confirming receipt of the package, in which a woman says, "You're right. It's terrible."


The official told the AP two weeks ago that he sent the video to the NFL, but asked the AP not to report that he had addressed the package to Miller. He eliminated that restriction Thursday.

"Since the NFLPA and NFL have launched separate investigations into the league and the Ravens' handling of Ray Rice's case, I want to make a few things clear. No one from the NFL ever asked me for the inside-elevator video," the official said Thursday. "I mailed it anonymously to Jeff Miller because he's their head of security. I attached a note saying: 'Ray Rice elevator video. You have to see it. It's terrible.' I provided a number for a disposable cellphone and asked for confirmation that it was received. I knew there was a possibility Mr. Miller may not get the video, but I hoped it would land in the right hands."
(Just for the record: Two weeks ago, we were told that the anonymous law enforcement official didn’t want to name the NFL executive to whom he sent the tape because it might blow his cover. Maaddi doesn’t explain why that fear no longer obtains.)

Assuming the basic facts in that passage are correct, did anyone actually look at the tape when it apparently reached NFL offices? We have no way of knowing.

But we find it easy to imagine that some receptionist dropped the tape from the anonymous sender with the 13-word cover note directly into her office waste basket, assuming it was the tape that everyone had already seen and assuming that it had been sent by a semi-nut.

(Every one of our sainted aunts would have called the anonymous mailer back, sharing the conventional view that “You’re right, it’s terrible,” as of course it always seemed to be, just based on the first tape.)

We can also imagine incriminating possibilities. By law, only those possibilities can be considered on cable.

Chris Hayes and Mike Pesca did another horrible job with this topic last night. (Hayes was worse than Pesca.) Two weeks later, Hayes still hasn’t noticed the obvious problem with ESPN’s original “four sources,” the sources who said that Rice was honest with Goodell in their June 16 meeting (which Hayes think occurred “early on”).

As we noted way back when, ESPN never claimed that these sources actually attended the meeting in question. Beyond that, the sources were identified as “sources close to Rice.”

To Hayes, those rather shaky four sources remain the thrilling definitive sources. On cable, complications and uncertainties aren’t allowed to spoil the chase. In fairness, this is good for business. It supports a ripe salary structure.

At ESPN, the highly underwhelming Bill Simmons has been suspended. At Slate, Josh Levin gives us a look at Simmons’ background.

As it turns out, Simmons is the kind of Boston guy who likes to call people whores while thrilling us with his interactions with porn stars. Levin doesn’t seem to have a strong grasp of the overall matter here, but he does issue the definitive statement of the way these chases work:
LEVIN (9/25/14): The problem for ESPN is that Simmons said what everyone in America wants to hear right now. The only way Roger Goodell could be less popular is if video emerged of him burning the Ray Rice video, cackling maniacally, and whispering, “I’ll never tell.” Simmons said what he believed, with no bullshit and no filter. This was the Sports Guy at his best: righteous, angry, and probably correct. (On Thursday the AP reported that a law enforcement official sent the Rice video to the NFL’s head of security back in April.)
We have no idea why Levin thinks that Simmons was “probably correct” when he called Goodell a liar, dropping his F- and BS-bombs to show us he really means it. But in that passage, Levin defines the essence of the cable chase:

In our Salem Village chases, people like Simmons “say what everyone in America wants to hear right now,” if possible in a “righteous, angry” manner. People like Levin then tell us that these people are sincere.

The game has been played this way a long time. It’s very good business for people like Simmons. Here's the problem:

In the 1990s, the object of the chase wasn’t Roger Goodell. The object of the chase was President Clinton. Then it was Candidate Gore.

Are you happy with the way that chase worked out? We’re now in our second war in Iraq because people like Hayes and Levin played along, all through that era, with the righteous, angry assertions of people like Simmons.

Today, that low-IQ culture continues. Luckily, it’s only Goodell they’re chasing this time. But people! Just wait! Give them time!

Supplemental: Profiles of Ray and Janay Rice!


The actual people from our latest cartoons:
We hope this may be one of our last posts on the Ray Rice matter.

That said, the weirdly unfocused discussions just keep humping along. Now, we’re arguing about Bill Simmons, who has always struck us as dim, and also about Hope Solo.

We aren’t discussing that federal judge. The truth is, everybody really enjoys discussing the NFL.

To us, these discussions have rarely made any real sense. They’ve rarely taken any discernible shape.

Today, we thought we’d share two recent profiles of the people in the center of this storm. They’ve been toys in our latest cartoons. What are they really like?

Monday evening, Erin Burnett offered a profile of Janay Rice:

BURNETT (9/22/14): Tonight, we're learning more about the victim in the attack, Janay, from those who know her best. Suzanne Malveaux is Outfront.

MALVEAUX: Janay Rice is neither a punching bag nor a punch line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1: I know Janay to be very kind. To be very smart, intelligent.

MALVEAUX: For Professor Sandy Nichols and others who taught Janay at Towson University, she is not simply the woman in the elevator.

NICHOLS: A very sweet and motivated student. And she just worked really hard to do her best.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2: We are thinking of her as a one-dimensional character, that she is the wife of Ray Rice, that she is a victim of domestic violence. Those do not define who she is. She is a mother, a friend, a committed student.

MALVEAUX: That Janay, according to friends who know her, is anxious to get her life back.

ANITA MARKS: On Sundays, game day, getting ready, going to the stadium. Sitting with the rest of the wives, cheering on her husband. That life as they know it has been taken away.

MALVEAUX: Anita Marks got to know Janay and Ray Rice personally when she co-hosted a radio show with the former Ravens running back in Baltimore.

MARKS: They were a young couple in love.

MALVEAUX: Before she was Janay Rice, she was Janay Ashley Palmer, a girl from the New York suburb of Mt. Vernon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #2: She was the president of the student council at her high school which was an exclusive, all-girls Catholic high school.

MALVEAUX: Ray attended nearby New Rochelle and they kept in touch in college. Their first purported date was at a Cheesecake Factory. In 2008, Ray was drafted out of Rutgers by the Ravens.

MARKS: She followed him to Baltimore. He put her through school.

MALVEAUX: According to Marks, the relationship turned unstable.

MARKS: It got very toxic, it got very unhealthy.

MALVEAUX: Janay threw herself into her studies, earning a degree in communications and becoming a proud mom, often seen pushing her daughter in a stroller from class to class.

DARCEY MORRIS, TOWSON PROFESSOR: She really perhaps wanted to be seen on her own merits, and her own work without being associated all the time with a celebrity.

MALVEAUX: For graduation, Ray proposed with the ring and a new car. Since the elevator incident was exposed, the two have rarely be seen in public. Only recently venturing out to a football game at Ray's old high school. Sources close to the couple say they are leaning on each other.

MARKS: That NFL family is no longer there for him. He has to turn to someone or something. And he's turned to Janay.

MALVEAUX: Friends say they are thriving from counseling but with all the attention, they're having difficulty trusting people.

BURNETT: Suzanne, just hearing how the friends would describe her, the things they've said. I mean, what have you said about how she's feeling about this entire incident? About the fact that she keeps seeing the video playing on TV?

MALVEAUX: Yes, you know, there are a number of takeaways here, Erin, because in talking to friends and associates, they essentially, they're hunkered down now at home. They're watching movies. They have a small inner circle of supporters. You got a few Ravens players who call Ray, and the Lady Ravens, the wives, who called Janay.

And while he's feeling he's been cooperative with the NFL and since demonized, Janay still feels badly like she in some part played a part in tearing Ray down. And one of the toughest things, Erin, that they're dealing with is losing their identity. They were so wrapped up in the Ravens franchise. They even named their daughter Rayven, after Ray and the football team. Well, they got to let that go.

They're also very concerned about the day their daughter will see the elevator altercation. And one thing they are hopeful about is that they do believe that Ray is going to play again.

A lot of people in a very protective circle right now. Not a lot of people talking publicly. They feel very protective of this couple and they really need to get in front of this. And they're just still through it in the beginning stages of all this.

BURNETT: Wow. Suzanne, thank you very much. An incredible look at what's going on with that couple right now.
Within minutes, Carol Costello was telling us, word for word, exactly what Rice’s friends should be telling her now, as opposed to what Costello imagines they’re currently doing. Here’s the one key fact we’ve learned from this case:

Carol Costello knows everything!

Concerning Ray Rice, we were struck by one part of last Friday’s ESPN report. In this passage, Don Van Natta explains the way the Ravens viewed him:
VAN NATTA (9/19/14): To understand why Ravens executives rushed to defend Rice, who had his worst year as a pro in 2013 with an average of 3.1 yards per carry, one needs to consider how important he had become to the franchise in general and, in particular, to Bisciotti.

No player did more for the community than Rice, and no player on the team embraced the city of Baltimore the way he did. Rice named his daughter, Rayven, after the team's nickname. He had the “Baltimore” tattooed on his forearms. He became friends with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, appearing with her regularly at charity events. He raised millions for sick children, urged the state legislature in Annapolis to pass anti-bullying laws and hosted a football camp for hundreds of disadvantaged kids each year. He even dressed up as Santa Claus at an event hosted by the House of Ruth, a Baltimore shelter for victims of domestic violence. During the week before the Super Bowl this year, two weeks before the incident, Rice appeared on an anti-bullying panel. Perhaps most visibly, Rice was the longtime spokesman for M&T Bank, one of the team's main sponsors and one that has its name on the Ravens' stadium. Practically every time Bisciotti asked Rice to make an appearance on behalf of the team, he'd say yes.
Remember, that is from the ESPN report which was aggressively used to hang the Ravens brass high.

That report was widely discussed on cable last Friday night. We saw no one discuss the part of the report we’ve posted. By rule of law, you aren’t allowed to make our cable cartoons more complex.

Why is Ray Rice actually like? Why did he punch his fiancée?

We don’t know the answers to those questions. That’s why we have the Carol Costellos—to make up answers to these and all other questions.

We’ll leave you with a few other questions: How should you treat a person with a sterling record when he does something like Rice did? Was the court in New Jersey right to treat him as a first offender?

Should we try to help Ray and Janay Rice? Or should we just hang him high? Also, Roger Goodell!

The press corps is full of muscular souls who turn to punishment as their first move. Final questions:

How can we best help people learn to avoid doing things like this? Must we turn to punishment first? Must we assemble yowling mobs to chase witches through the streets?

In fairness, it’s good for cable ratings, as Janay Rice unwisely said. Could it be that Edie Dugan had a better idea?

Supplemental: What occurs in the press corps stays in the press corps!


The terrible face of Clinton hatred, September 1998:
Last week, we were researching the late Kirk O’Donnell, who died at age 52 in 1998.

Kirk O’Donnell was Lawrence O’Donnell’s cousin. Early in his adult life, he was a widely-respected chief aide to House speaker Tip O’Neill.

We were researching Kirk O’Donnell because we were puzzled by something his cousin had said. Along the way, we came upon the startling face of Clinton-hatred as it existed in September 1998.

We thought that hatred was worth recording. Here’s the way it went down:

Al Hunt wrote a column about Kirk O’Donnell in the Wall Street Journal. His headline announced a tribute.

Rather quickly, Hunt’s column turned into an attack on the vile Bill Clinton. It seems amazing that Hunt would use a tribute column in the way he did.

Headline included, here's the way he started:
HUNT (9/10/98): The Loss of a Talented, Decent and Honorable Man

Kirk O'Donnell, one of the ablest and most honorable people in American politics, died suddenly last weekend at the altogether too young age of 52. Even in grieving, it's somehow hard not to think how different the Clinton presidency might have been if Kirk O'Donnell had been a top White House adviser starting in 1993.

He combined the best virtues of the old and the new politics. Raised in the rough-and-tumble environs of Boston tribal warfare, he never saw politics as anything but a contact sport. But he always practiced it with decency and civility.
As you can see, it took Hunt exactly one sentence to turn his tribute to O’Donnell into an attack on Clinton. Eventually, he offered these endless thoughts:
HUNT: The Clinton administration made job overtures to Kirk O'Donnell several times but they were never commensurate with his talents. He should have been either Chief of Staff or legal counsel from the very start of this administration. He would have brought experience, expertise, maturity, judgment, toughness—intimate knowledge of the way Washington works—that nobody else in that White House possessed.

But sadly, that's not what this president sought. For Kirk O'Donnell wouldn't have tolerated dissembling. He never was unfaithful to those he worked for but “spinning”—as in situational truths—was foreign to him. When working for the speaker of Michael Dukakis in 1988, he would dodge, bob, sometimes talk gibberish but never, in hundreds of interviews with me, did he ever dissemble.

The contrast between this and someone like Dick Morris, who Mr. Clinton continuously turned to, is striking. This was brought home anew when Mr. Morris, the former top Clinton aide, wrote a letter seeming to take issue with a column I wrote a few weeks ago.

For starters, he erroneously denied that he suggested Hillary Clinton is a lesbian. More substantively, Mr. Morris says that Mr. Clinton called him when the Lewinsky story broke and had him do a poll to gauge reaction. He did that and told Mr. Clinton the public wouldn't accept the truth. Although Mr. Morris turned over what he says is that poll to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, some of us question whether the survey was genuine.

The infamous political consultant swears he sampled 500 people, asked 25 to 30 questions and did it all out of own pocket for $2,000. If true, it was a slipshod survey upon which the president reportedly decided to stake his word. (Only days later, Mr. Clinton swore at a private White House meeting that he hadn't spoken to Mr. Morris in ages.)

There was no more an astute analyst of polls than Kirk O'Donnell. He would pepper political conversations with survey data. But because he understood history and had such personal honor he always understood a poll was a snapshot, often valuable. But it never could be a substitute for principle or morality or integrity.

There were currencies of his professional and personal life. These no longer are commonplace commodities in politics, which is one of many reasons that the passing of this very good man is such a loss.
That must be the strangest tribute ever written. It may be the strangest column ever written.

Hunt started out discussing O’Donnell’s decency. Before long, he was arguing about who had falsely denied suggesting that Hillary Clinton was a giant lesbo.

Could that possibly be the way to offer a tribute to a good, decent man? This was a very strange column, but also a sign of the time.

The Clinton hate was very strong in the fall of 1998. In November of that year, Sally Quinn recorded these attitudes in “Establishment Washington” in a very instructive, lengthy report for which she is often attacked, we think misguidedly.

In our view, Quinn’s report was a very important piece of journalism. It provides a very strong part of the historical record.

The hatred was strong in the fall of 1998. In December 1998, Clinton was impeached.

In February 1999, impeachment failed. Two weeks later, all the hate got dumped on Candidate Gore.

We’ve just entered our second war in Iraq because people like Hunt behaved in the ways they did. They worked and they worked and they worked some more. Eventually, they got what they wanted:

As punishment to Clinton for those ten jobs, George Bush ended up in the White House.

To this day, everyone has agreed to pretend that none of this ever happened. The press did its usual outstanding job. “W” won in a squeaker.

What’s done in the press corps stays in the press corps. Everyone plays by that rule.

THE HOUSES OF NANTUCKET COUNTY: A slightly comical demographic!


Part 3—What made Chris Matthews run:
To what extent was the late Tim Russert friends with Jack Welch and Bob Wright?

We haven’t seen much reporting on that somewhat abstruse topic. In November 2000, one small suggestion appeared.

For all previous posts in this award-winning series, click here.

In November 2000, USA Today’s Peter Johnson wrote the very rare profile of Russert—a profile which seemed to be slightly skeptical concerning Russert’s well-known moral greatness. (We can find no public link to Johnson's fascinating profile.)

Using several comical anecdotes, Johnson noted Russert’s long-time vaunting ambition to be a major player in Washington. Along the way, he cited unnamed colleagues of Russert who “say he shares a Catholic bond with NBC president Bob Wright and General Electric chairman Jack Welch.”

There would, of course, be nothing wrong with such a bond, until such time as there possibly was. This brings us to a slightly comical aspect of the news division which came into being under Welch, during the years when General Electric owned NBC News.

In a slightly comical turn, the news division assembled under Welch and Wright took on a strongly Catholic cast. More specifically, the division was heavily peopled with Irish Catholics from the East Coast, the demographic from which Welch and Wright hailed.

Obviously, there’s nothing “wrong” with hiring Irish Catholic broadcasters who grew up on the East Coast. Just for the record, we ourselves grew up (somewhat) Irish Catholic on the East Coast during the same time period which will be at issue here.

There’s nothing “wrong” with hiring East Coast Irish Catholics! In fact, Welch and Wright hired some very capable people, with Russert himself as the prime example.

That said, there was something comical, and a bit odd, about the cast of the news division Welch and Wright assembled. Because her profile was so intriguing, let’s return to Sallie Brady’s portrait of the Nantucket social scene in the summer of 2003:
BRADY (8/03): Russert is part of the Nantucket NBC crowd, one of the cliques that fuels the isle’s social engine. It was Jack Welch, the story goes, the 20-year chairman and CEO of NBC's parent company, General Electric, who drew network folk to Nantucket.

Russert and his wife, Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, began summering on Nantucket in 1992. Russert has said he can go days without leaving his house except for a bike ride to get the newspapers. Then he'll sit in his rocking chair and watch the grass blow in the breeze.

Russert does make it back for Meet the Press, the show that made him and that helped finance the Nantucket hideaway he acquired in 1999. The sprawling gray-shingled house, with rooftop sundeck and cutting garden, lies down an unmarked dirt path through a secluded forest. Hanging over the portico, a wooden sign bearing the cottage's name says it all: SUNDAY MORNING.

Russert’s boss, NBC CEO Bob Wright, is also on the scene...

Although Welch retired in 2001, he's still a power magnet.
He holds court from a massive gray-shingled home festooned with window boxes, near Sankaty Head Golf Club.


"We try not to do too much fundraising in the summer because we do so much of it the rest of the year," says Elizabeth Bagley, who in her early days worked for another Nantucket regular, Ted Kennedy. "But there are exceptions: Hillary's Senate campaign, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the American Ireland Fund."

Bagley founded the Nantucket chapter of the American Ireland Fund and annually hosts a cocktail buffet for several hundred that draws in the shamrock contingent: the Russerts, Kennedys, Kerrys, and MSNBC host Chris Matthews and his wife, Channel 7's Kathleen.
As of 2003, Matthews had been the political face of NBC’s cable arm for five years. The following year, he purchased a $4.35 million summer home on Nantucket, joining Welch, Wright and Russert among the NBC crowd.

That meant that four members of NBC’s “shamrock contingent” were summering in The Houses of Nantucket County. As of 2008, Russert’s home on the swell-infested island was valued at $7.2 million.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing a Catholic bond, until such time as there possibly is. There’s also nothing wrong with sharing an Irish-American bond!

There’s nothing automatically wrong with being wealthy enough to purchase such summer cottages. But in the reign of Welch and Wright, NBC News took on a slightly comical Irish Catholic cast. Consider:

Given his role at Meet the Press, Russert was pretty much king of the roost. Matthews was the political face of NBC’s cable arm.

Tom Brokaw was still anchor of NBC Nightly News, but fresh-faced Brian Williams, another East Coast Irish Catholic, had been placed in line as Brokaw’s successor.

Pat Buchanan was the cable arm’s all-purpose go-to political pundit. Meanwhile, the network employed so many O’Donnells that they practically had their own page in the company phone book.

There was nothing “wrong” with any of these hires or assignments. But consider the slightly comical state of the casting when Candidates Bush and Gore debated each other for the White House in October 2000.

Their first debate was held on October 4, 2000. For this and all subsequent debates, this was the lineup as NBC’s cable arm assessed the hopefuls’ performance:
Moderator: Brian Williams
Chris Matthews
Peggy Noonan
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Mike Barnicle
All five were East Coast Irish Catholics. After each debate, the first outside presence to join the crew was of course Russert himself.

Given the standards of cable news, there was nothing obviously “wrong” with the use of any of those pundits. That said, the demographics of this group were highly improbable as a matter of chance and thus somewhat comically odd.

All five of the regular panelists were East Coast Irish Catholics, like their bosses Welch and Wright. Excluding the somewhat younger Williams, each pundit hailed from the middle part of the last century.

Does this apparently trivial point matter in some journalistic sense? Not necessarily, no. On the other hand, it had been quietly noted, once or twice, that the most aggressive pursuits of the Lewinsky scandal had perhaps maybe possibly seemed to come from the large Irish Catholic contingent within the national press corps.

In his unusual profile of Russert, Johnson offered these thoughts about Russert’s pursuit of the Lewinsky matter, which had struck some observers as maybe possibly odd:
JOHNSON (11/1/00): [T]he past few years have been pretty good for Russert, who took a leading role in questioning President Clinton's behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

This fall, Russert has established himself as perhaps the nation's best-known political talking head. He almost usurped the presidential debates when George W. Bush initially said he would accept only Russert as moderator. That led to sniping at NBC that Russert is pro-Bush, which Russert, Democrat-turned-independent, calls "absurd."

Then, hosting the first debate here in September between Senate candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rick Lazio, Russert's pointed question about the Lewinsky affair seemed to rattle Clinton and prompted her husband to defend her. Her supporters cried foul, but privately her staff said the incident may have won her sympathy.


Russert, a Roman Catholic, refers to his religion on Meet the Press and speaks reverentially about moderating. "If there's such a thing as a non-religious vocation, this is it." Colleagues say he shares a Catholic bond with NBC president Bob Wright and General Electric chairman Jack Welch.

And others. After a 1984 trip to the Vatican, Russert brought back a rosary blessed by Pope John Paul II for influential Washington Post TV columnist John Carmody to give to his mother. Carmody spoke about it for years.

Russert's sense of morality, colleagues say, may partly be behind his relentless questioning of the president's behavior in office. And, they say, it may have contributed to why Russert felt the need to zing the first lady about her defense of her husband in the Lewinsky affair during the debate.

"Morality shapes all of us," says Today producer Jeff Zucker. "Tim has a deep sense of it. That's a big part of who he is.”
Johnson was being kind when he referred to Russert’s “pointed questions” to Hillary Clinton about the Lewinsky affair. Russert’s behavior in that Senate debate created one of the very rare occasions when his journalistic conduct was actually challenged by one or two others within the mainstream press.

Did Russert’s “sense of morality” shape his reaction to Bill Clinton? Presumably, every journalist’s “sense of morality” (or lack of same) will shape his or her conduct.

That said, East Coast Irish Catholicism of the past century was sharply conservative in matters involving sex and gender. During the Lewinsky chase, it was very occasionally softly suggested that this might imaginably start to explain the overwrought reaction which animated some of the East Coast Irish Catholics within the mainstream press.

What shaped Russert’s view of the matter? We can’t answer that question, but we will say this:

Every demographic group will tend to have its own point of view toward some issue or other. For this reason, it probably isn’t a great idea to create a news division so heavily tilted toward the ethnicity and religion of its (highly conservative) corporate owner.

Once in a very great while, some major pundit would chuckle out loud at this aspect of the Welch news division. When Russert died in 2008, Howard Fineman let himself break the rules of his guild just this one little time:
FINEMAN (6/18/08): I had to laugh when Maria Shriver told the story about when she came to NBC and Tim went up to her and said, “We’re both Irish Catholic and there are not many of us here so we got to stick together.” At that time, NBC was run by Jack Welch at General Electric and Bob Wright. And so it’s basically a Holy Cross conspiracy, from what I can tell.

That’s what we loved about it. That’s what we celebrated about. It’s a great gift that he left for America.

MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman, thank you, buddy.
According to Shriver, that was what Russert told her! Fineman saw a bit of absurdity in Russert’s sense that he had to help Shriver negotiate the ethnic prejudice she might find at Welch’s NBC News.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with going to Holy Cross. (Matthews went there, as did Wright.) There was nothing obviously wrong with any of the Welch/Wright hires.

On the other hand, it probably isn’t a good idea to build a news division in the way they seemed to do. This brings us to the conduct of Matthews, who moved into The Houses of Nantucket County in 2004.

In the years preceding that ascension, Matthews got wealthy under Welch and Wright. As he did, he produced years of broadcast journalism which was disgraceful, insulting, routinely dishonest and overtly crazy/insane.

In 1999 and 2000, Matthews directed strings of misogynistic insults at Candidate Hillary Clinton, the Evita Peron of American politics.

In later years, Clinton became Nurse Ratchet in Matthews’ diatribes. This paled beside his relentless trashing of the vile Candidate Gore.

The name-calling aimed at Candidate Gore was relentless, reckless and inane—an insult to the national interest. The lunacy of Matthews’ nightly coverage was exceeded only by its real or feigned bile.

On Hardball, if it wasn’t for the fake facts, there would often be no facts at all. Did we mention the serial lunacy of Matthews’ insinuations, insults and charges?

By mid-September 2000, Gore had shot ahead in the national polls. Across the press corps, pundits scrambled to retract the insults they had lodged.

At this point, Matthews retracted one of his many insulting characterizations of Gore. He went on Hardball to say that he shouldn’t have said what he’d often said—that Candidate Gore “would lick the bathroom floor to be president.”

On Hardball, Candidate Gore had repeatedly been mocked as “the bathtub ring.” He’d been compared to every cartoon character in Matthews’ endless playbook.

This went on for twenty months, as the press corps waged its war against Gore. And please understand:

Within the mainstream press, Matthews was more influential then than he is today. There were fewer cable news shows then. Fox News was still a minor player.

Night after night, Matthews presented the definitive pundit show from inside the mainstream Washington press corps. Relentlessly, he helped create the Gore-trashing narratives everyone else would ape.

According to standard reports, Matthews’ salary soared during this period, from $1.1 million to $5 million. Apparently, the cable talker was doing something with which his bosses were well pleased.

But how odd! Matthews’ war against Candidate Gore began quite suddenly, in March 1999. Before that time, he had seemed rather friendly to Gore on the air!

What on earth could explain this terrible person’s sudden flip? And what explains the total silence with which his ridiculous work would be received over the next two years?

Did the beckoning houses of Nantucket County play a role in Matthews’ behavior? Today, he’s Hillary Clinton’s most devoted and fawning fan!

What explains Matthews’ astounding behavior under the rule of Boss Welch? What explains the silence from the rest of the “press corps” as his insults and clowning went on?

We can’t help wondering if the answer lies in The Houses of Nantucket County. In part 4 of our award-winning series, we’ll take a thoughtful look at Matthews’ remarkable flips.

Coming: The three flips of Christopher Matthews

Supplemental: Michelle Bernard and the human race!


Are American pundits human:
As we’ve noted many time, the current debate about domestic violence in the NFL has provided a chance to watch the way our national pundits reason.

As we’ve watched this debate unfold, pundit behavior has almost always struck us as barely human. This morning, on The Diane Rehm Show, Michelle Bernard provided the ultimate example.

Bernard is a slightly strange duck in national pundit terms. When she began appearing on Hardball in January 2008, she was still president of the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative group.

When Obama won the Democratic nomination, she seemed to reinvent herself as a fiery liberal, as least for the purposes of MSNBC. In the final week of the Democratic primary campaign, she also established herself as one of cable’s most irrational Clinton-haters.

Whatever! Today, Bernard is a familiar pundit on MSNBC. This morning, she joined a panel to help Diane Rehm discuss the NFL’s tax-exempt status.

Needless to say, the focus wandered off in search of hotter buttons. As we type, the transcript isn’t available yet, and we didn’t hear the entire program. But around the 38-minute mark of the audiotape, you can hear Bernard offer a profoundly incoherent presentation:
REHM (9/24/14): Andrew, we’ve just gotten a tweet from Sheila, who said: “Did Andrew actually condone a ‘light slap’ as opposed to a cold-cock? Seriously, domestic violence to any degree is wrong.”

ZIMBALIST: Oh, of course it’s wrong. It’s terribly wrong. I’m just saying that if somebody does light-slap his spouse, that it deserves a different penalty, or one might think about a different penalty, than somebody who cold-cocks and knocks out a spouse.

REHM: Michelle?

BERNARD: This is why we have a domestic violence problem in this country. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what behavior you engage in. If it falls under the umbrella of domestic violence, everyone should get the same penalty. There’s no difference between a slap in the face, a cold-cock, cursing somebody out, demeaning someone, all of them are forms of domestic violence that begin to escalate to the point in time where sometimes we see people lose their lives.

And because we can have an attitude that a light slap in the face is different than a cold-cock, that is why domestic violence continues to grow and grow and grow and it never ends.
Is a light slap a less serious offense than a violent punch? It may depend on the circumstances. But in legal proceedings, such judgments are rendered all the time, in countries all over the world.

Set that fact to the side. Bernard ends up saying that “cursing out” or “demeaning” your spouse is a form of domestic violence too. She says those behaviors should get the same penalty as violently punching your spouse and all other forms of domestic violence.

Surely, she can’t mean that. Some forms of domestic violence result in people going to prison for many years. Does Bernard think that a person should go to prison if he or she “demeans his or her spouse?”

Plainly, that’s what she said. Can she possibly mean that?

On its face, Bernard’s statement doesn’t seem to make sense. But so what? Rehm simply plowed ahead to a highly familiar point we’ve all heard a million times.

The program proceeded as if Bernard had just made perfect sense.

Routinely, cable discussions of the Ray Rice case have been almost this incoherent. This makes us wonder if the people in question are actually human. We think the syndrome often works something like this:

Routinely, it seems that pundits can’t function unless they’re repeating familiar versions of standard talking-points.

Truth to tell, almost everything you hear on cable is a reworking of something you’ve heard a million times before. It’s very rare to hear a pundit state an original point.

In cable chases of the current type, the pundits will all express the same general position. In such instances, a pundit can only distinguish himself by presenting the standard view in the most overstated way.

This may provide good entertainment and a pleasing sense of outrage. But when a society functions that way, that society—our society—has ceased to be able to reason.

We have rarely heard pundits explain what should have been done to Rice, whether by the courts, the NFL or the Ravens. In truth, we rarely hear pundits discuss the role of the courts in this case at all.

It’s all about chasing the NFL while voicing our moral outrage. When someone finally tries to explain what we ought to do, they end up making a crazy statement, as Bernard did today.

Can our pundits reason at all? The answer is far from clear. This raises a striking meta-question:

Are American pundits human? How about Bernard?

Supplemental: Liberal channel ignores public schools!


Tim Russert meets Diane Ravitch:
As noted in our previous post, the late Tim Russert was an attack dog concerning Social Security.

That’s almost literally true. During Campaign 2000, Candidate Bush proposed partial privatization of the venerable program. Candidate Gore opposed the proposal.

Russert went on the attack. Speaking with Joe Klein, he used the word as a cudgel:
KLEIN (5/6/00): 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.

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. The fact is, President Clinton proposed taking parts of the Social Security trust fund and putting them in the stock market in his State of the Union message just—just a year ago. Yesterday, you had Pat Moynihan and, and Bob Kerrey and John McCain all coming out, saying, “Let's have a commission and this is an idea worth looking at.” Why, why— Why does Gore just auto—almost knee-jerk attack, attack, attack?

KLEIN: Well, because it's—it's, you know, scaring people about Social Security and Medicare has worked for the Democrats since time immemorial.
You’re right—Joe Klein did it too! But that’s what happened when Candidate Gore dared oppose that proposal.

For what it’s worth, Russert’s reference to that year-old Clinton proposal was strongly misleading. So was this standard bullroar:
RUSSERT: But the role of media becomes critical here, Joe Klein. If— The facts are simple: When Social Security began, Franklin Roosevelt, genius, he—the life expectancy at that point was 63. He made eligibility for Social Security 65.

KLEIN: Right.

RUSSERT: It was a—was a very popular program. There were 45 workers for every retiree and life expectancy was exactly that age. Now we're approaching two workers for every retiree. Life expectancy is 78 going to 85. You're going to have 80 million people on Social Security and Medicare for about a fourth of their life, for three to 20 years. Everyone knows that, and yet when you present it to Al Gore, he'll say, “No problem. I'll take the surplus and it'll pay for it.” Even his own Secretary Treasury written volumes of reports—trustees reports, will say, “No, it doesn't work that way.”

KLEIN: No, it doesn't.

RUSSERT: What is our job? Can we call time out and say, “Excuse me, Mr. Vice President, it doesn't add up?”
There you see Jack Welch's neighbor shilling for Candidate Bush.

Russert could recite that script about life expectancy in his sleep. As has been explained a trillion times, the point he offered there was grossly misleading.

That said, the talking-point was a plutocrat favorite. Russert kept pounding it out.

In May 2000, Gore was being trashed this way about this issue all over the mainstream press. Bush was being hailed as a giant for “daring to touch the third rail.”

Nothing could ever stop Russert from pushing the notion that Social Security was in danger of going bust. Nothing could stop him from reciting his misleading talking-points.

Under Jack Welch, Russert was king of NBC News—and he loved to push this topic. He may have believed every word he said. But we’re sure it made Jack’s heart glad.

Let’s discuss another tie between NBC News and the corporate world. This one involves Bill Gates.

MSNBC started in a partnership between NBC and Microsoft. To this day, that explains the first two letters in the channel’s name.

Gates sold his stake a long time ago. We don’t know if he ever exerted any influence over the channel’s news content.

Did Bill Gates ever affect the channel’s news content? We always wonder about that when NBC News stages its Education Nation Summit, which it normally does in October.

For years, NBC has pushed hard in favor of Gates-style “education reform.” We don’t know if that reflects some sort of residual tie to Gates and his ideas.

It may not be connected to Gates at all. But there’s no doubt that NBC News, for whatever reason, adopted this as a political stance some time ago.

With that in mind, have you ever noticed that public schools are almost completely ignored on MSNBC?

As of several years ago, Diane Ravitch had surfaced as a revered liberal voice in opposition to Gates-style “reform.” On balance, Ravitch isn’t our cup of tea. But she’s clearly a liberal hero, and some of her work is quite good.

As we noted earlier this year, Ravitch almost never appears on MSNBC programs. Our favorite liberal hosts never discuss her ideas. In fact, they never discuss public schools at all. On this corporate liberal channel, the topic doesn’t exist.

Does anyone know why that is? We’d have to guess that our liberal hosts are bowing to corporate sentiment as they maintain this silence. For whatever reason, NBC News is pro-“reform.” On its pseudo-progressive cable arm, pushback is never voiced.

We can’t tell you why Tim Russert was always pimping the idea that Social Security might be going bust. We can’t tell you why you never see Ravitch on MSNBC.

The older problem may not have been tied to Jack Welch. The current problem may have nothing to do with Bill Gates, even residually.

That said, why do our fiery liberal hosts completely ignore Diane Ravitch? Why do they completely ignore the topic of public schools?

Our jaundiced suggestion: When you watch a cable channel, you should notice two different things:

You should notice the topics you’re being offered. You also have to wonder about the topics which never come up.



Part 2—A curious tilt under Welch:
Everyone talks about Rupert Murdoch. No one discusses Jack Welch.

On its face, this differential treatment might seem a bit hard to explain.

For all previous reports in this award-winning series, click here.

Murdoch and Welch are both enormously wealthy people with well-known political outlooks. Each man has run one or more major American news org—Welch during the Reagan/Bush and Clinton/Gore years, Murdoch to this very day.

Murdoch invented the Fox News Channel, which is routinely said to operate in its owner’s political image. It’s rarely asked if NBC News ever adjusted its political coverage to reflect the perspective of Welch, its long-term owner.

Did anything like that ever occur? As we ponder The Houses of Nantucket County, we would guess that it did.

Here’s the basic background:

In 1986, Welch, the chairman of General Electric, became corporate owner of NBC. That same year, Welch named his friend and subordinate, Bob Wright, president and CEO of NBC.

NBC includes NBC News. No one has ever disputed the fact that Welch was a hands-on owner of NBC, especially in the arena of costs.

Here’s something else that’s hard to dispute. For whatever reason, that network’s news division produced some truly horrendous “journalism” during Welch’s tenure, especially in the later Clinton/Gore years.

Welch retired from GE in 2001. The “journalism” to which we refer almost surely tracked his political views.

NBC News did some horrible work under its hard-right owner. But how odd! To this day, we’ve rarely seen a word of speculation or comment about the possible role of Welch’s politics in that astoundingly bad journalistic performance.

Indeed, it’s rare to see that astounding performance discussed in any way at all. The gong-shows of Fox get discussed all the time. The gong-shows of NBC in the Jack Welch era have disappeared beneath the swells surrounding Nantucket County.

As our award-winning series continues, we’ll ask you to consider the strangely differential approach to the tenures of Murdoch and Welch. For today, let’s consider the way the late Tim Russert rose within NBC News.

For starters, let us say this: Welch is often described as a genial, likeable person. As far as we know, those descriptions are perfectly accurate.

Welch was also known as “Neutron Jack” for the way he would shed employees as a corporate manager. We aren’t going to tell you that he was wrong to do so.

Instead, we’re going to look at the news division built under Welch. We’re going to look at the puzzling “journalism” eventually practiced by that news division.

Our story starts in 1984, when Russert was hired by NBC News. In his self-glorying book, Big Russ & Me, Russert explained what occurred when GE and Welch took over:
RUSSERT (page 303): In 1986, I experienced what millions of American workers went through during that decade: the company I worked for was taken over, and some people lost their jobs. In our case, the world’s oldest television network (NBC) was taken over by one of the world’s largest corporations (General Electric). Two years later, Larry Grossman was ousted as president of the news division, and a new executive. Michael Gartner, was brought in. As Larry’s right-hand man, I expected that I, too, would be let go, and that I would finally get a chance to dust off my law degree.

But Jack Welch, G.E.’s chairman, came to my office with a different idea.
“You’re thirty-eight years old,” he said, “and you have a bright future here. You’d be a good person to head our news division, but first you’ll need to demonstrate that you can run something. We know you’re a good deputy, but are you also a good manager? Let’s find out. What would you like to run?”

This was all a bit sudden. “I haven’t thought about it,” I said, “but I’m comfortable with news.”

“Well then, what’s the most important news bureau?” he asked

From there, the humble young Russert was off to D.C. In fairly short order, he was hosting Meet the Press.

Depending on what you want in a newsman, there was certainly nothing wrong with Welch’s assessment of talent. During the years when Welch ran GE, Russert became the most important and influential broadcaster in the nation.

In certain ways, he also became a bit of a partisan player, although his remarkable stature within the guild stifled almost all criticism.

Russert became a robotic advocate of Social Security reform, a position he relentlessly advocated with a tightly scripted assortment of misleading and erroneous talking-points. At the time, this was the favorite political crusade of the plutocrat community.

He became a bit of an attack dog with respect to President Clinton and Senate and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In last year’s book, This Town, Mark Leibovich said Russert “despised” both Clintons, a point he fleshed out in some detail. This claim will rarely be discussed in D.C., however obvious or significant it might seem.

A person might imagine that Russert’s animus extended to other Democratic candidates. During Campaign 2000, for example, he hosted Candidate Bush on Meet the Press in November 1999. Candidate Gore took his turn in July 2000.

It would be extremely hard to miss the differential treatment Russert dished to these hopefuls. As we’ve described in the past, his hour with Candidate Bush resembled a soapy sponge bath.

When he spent his hour with Candidate Gore, a different Russert appeared. Within the press corps, he was widely praised for the “prosecutorial” approach he took toward Gore.

Time’s Margaret Carlson was most effusive in voicing this widely-expressed group judgment. “Russert chopped him up in little pieces,” she said on the Imus radio program. “Russert was a prosecutor,” she told her admittedly brilliant host. “Russert was like a prosecutor, and he did a very good job.”

On a journalistic basis, we'd say that Russert’s performance with Candidate Gore was extremely poor. But it didn’t begin to resemble the love fest he staged with Candidate Bush.

Did this behavior, in any way, reflect a desire to please Boss Welch? We know of no way to answer that question. But in 2003, Sallie Brady described the cocooning among the NBC crowd in The Houses of Nantucket County.

We posted this passage in our last report. It’s worth a second look:
BRADY (8/03): In summer, Nantucket is a remarkable re-creation of Washington politics, fundraisers, and restaurant life, confined to a 3.5-by-14-mile resort island.

Tim Russert remembers the first time he visited. It “was in 1972. I had graduated from college,” Russert recalled in a Nantucket Magazine profile. “About 20 of us drove up, and we all jumped on the [Steamship Authority ferry]...and as soon as I stepped off I said, 'This is something special.’”

Russert is part of the Nantucket NBC crowd, one of the cliques that fuels the isle’s social engine. It was Jack Welch, the story goes, the 20-year chairman and CEO of NBC's parent company, General Electric, who drew network folk to Nantucket.

Russert and his wife, Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, began summering on Nantucket in 1992. Russert has said he can go days without leaving his house except for a bike ride to get the newspapers. Then he'll sit in his rocking chair and watch the grass blow in the breeze.

Russert does make it back for Meet the Press, the show that made him and that helped finance the Nantucket hideaway he acquired in 1999. The sprawling gray-shingled house, with rooftop sundeck and cutting garden, lies down an unmarked dirt path through a secluded forest. Hanging over the portico, a wooden sign bearing the cottage's name says it all: SUNDAY MORNING.

Russert’s boss, NBC CEO Bob Wright, is also on the scene. Add to the cocktail chatter the latest tidbits from the Oval Office, care of White House correspondent David Gregory, who was married on Nantucket and returns with his wife, Beth, for vacations...

Although Welch retired in 2001, he's still a power magnet. He holds court from a massive gray-shingled home festooned with window boxes, near Sankaty Head Golf Club. It was there that Welch once played Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, only to discover that two of the richest men in the world routinely bet only $1 a round.
Welch was no longer in charge by 2003. Wright was still “Russert’s boss.”

In June 2008, the Cape Cod Times reported that Russert’s Nantucket home was valued at $7.2 million. In This Town, Leibovich described the tongue-in-cheek sign which sat outside:

“The House That Jack Built”

In 2004, another member of the NBC crowd found his way into The Houses of Nantucket County. Chris Matthews, long-time political king of NBC’s cable news arm, purchased a summer home on the isle for $4.35 million.

Russert and Matthews both became wealthy under Welch. While much of Russert’s coverage had been quite poor, it was Matthews who produced two years of coverage during Campaign 2000 which was flat-out crazy.

Starting in March 1999, Matthews spent twenty months trashing Candidate Gore in every imaginable way, and in a few others besides. He trashed Senate Candidate Clinton in memorable, ugly ways.

According to standard reports, Matthews’ salary rose from $1.1 million to $5 million as he produced this relentless, horrendous coverage. We’ve never seen anyone in the “press corps” explore any part of this package.

Today, Matthews is one of the press corps’ most slavish admirers of Hillary Clinton. Obviously, this new approach has kept Matthews in line with his channel’s current orientation.

Back then, his coverage of Candidate Clinton was pure poison—and his coverage of Candidate Gore was marked by several rather peculiar flip-flops.

Was Matthews producing this ludicrous work to please the corporate boss who was making him rich? Given the way Rupert Murdoch is covered, it’s amazing that no one has ever asked this blindingly obvious question.

Even more startling is the fact that Matthews’ astounding journalism during this era has never produced a word of discussion. To this day, his absurd journalistic behavior has gone completely undiscussed within the mainstream press. This represents an astounding indictment of the deeply obedient hustlers who constitute our national “press corps.”

The code of silence surrounding our “press corps” is extremely strong. In Part 3 of this award-winning series, we’ll start to explore the ludicrous work which seemed to give Matthews the keys to The Houses of Nantucket County.

Is it just our imagination? Or did Matthews’ astounding behavior gain him the scratch which allowed him to purchase the second “House That Jack Built?”

Also coming: The humor of NBC County