Supplemental: Like Joe and Mika and Willie on Rice!


Our latest national firestorm:
Yesterday, the New York Times’ William Rhoden made an amazing statement on Morning Joe. It led us to ask our favorite question:

Are we the people—we the humans—able to reason at all?

This afternoon, we’ll transcribe Rhoden’s statement. For now, we’ll pull one phrase from his current New York Times column about the NFL and Ray Rice.

In this morning's Times, Rhoden refers to the matter as “a national firestorm.” We think that’s a wonderfully useful phrase.

As a nation, we no longer seem to be able to engage in discussion, discourse or debate. We only know how to career from one national firestorm to another.

Remember last week, when our national firestorm concerned those photos of Jennifer Lawrence? Several other national firestorms tried to gain purchase over the weekend. But this week’s firestorm has turned out to be Rice.

What makes this a national firestorm as opposed to a discussion? For starters, consider the end of Jodi Kantor’s news report on page one of today’s Times.

Kantor wrote an 1100-word report about Janay Palmer Rice. For reasons we’ll explain below, we were surprised by the way she ended:
KANTOR (9/10/14): Karma Cottman, executive director of the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she feared that public questioning of the couple's relationship could backfire for Ms. Rice. On Tuesday, women collected stories on how they left abusive relationships under the hashtag #whyileft.

When a new victim comes for help, Ms. Cottman said, ''the first thing we want to rush to say is, 'Why don't you leave, why don't you get out?' '' she said in an interview. But that's exactly the wrong approach, ''because isolation is part of the cycle of violence,'' Ms. Cottman said. ''Generally we see people five to seven times before they leave or have left for good.''

Take another case on the same football team: In 2012, Candace Williams, the girlfriend of another Ravens player, Terrell Suggs, filed a protective order against him claiming that he had punched her and dragged her alongside a car he was driving. Previously, she had accused him of pouring bleach on her and her son, and breaking her nose.

A few weeks later they wed. ''Last night I married my best friend and the love of my life,'' Mr. Suggs posted on Facebook.
We were quite surprised by that highlighted passage. Here’s why:

Over the last three days, we’ve watched every showboat and his brother as they posture and showboat about the Rice matter. We’d seen no one say a word about that other matter, which sounds every bit as serious.

Beyond that, we live here in Baltimore. On the whole, we’re Ravens fans when they’re doing well, although we don’t follow local sports reporting and we root for the Patriots first.

Even as Baltimoreans, we had never heard a word about the Suggs matter. That’s what we mean when we say we’re unable to hold a discussion. We only do firestorms.

The Rice matter is this week’s national firestorm. On cable, everyone is very excited. Pundits are displaying their skill at repeating expected points.

Whatever you saw the last pundit say, the next pundit will say it too.

The discussions on cable have often been far less than bright. In the next few days, we’ll pointlessly cite a few basic points.

That said, it’s amazing to us that we had never heard a word about the Suggs matter. On cable, pundits are mentioning two other current NFL cases, those involving players for the 49ers and the Panthers.

That said, there has long been widespread incidence of abuse within the NFL. No discussion of that matter has ever taken shape.

Overnight, we’ve gone from complete disinterest in this topic to an all-enveloping national firestorm. And let’s state the obvious—cable is staging a national storm because it has some highly fearsome videotape to show.

There’s also this much larger point, from a slightly know-it-all column by Diana Reese in the Washington Post:

“Three women a day, on average, are killed by a boyfriend or husband in the United States. Where’s the Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness and money for this epidemic?”

Really? Three women per day are killed by a boyfriend or husband? Forget the lack of an Ice Bucket Challenge. Where was the discussion of that?

We’re currently having one of our national firestorms. It has pushed the last national firestorm down the back stairs to Hell.

On Morning Joe, the stars are posturing hard this week. That said, they were posturing and reciting last week too, during the last firestorm.

This afternoon, we’ll post Rhoden’s remarkable comment from Morning Joe. (It concerned a different topic.) It caused us to ask our favorite question:

Are we the humans able to reason? Are we able to reason at all?

UPDATE/Now that’s what we were talking about: Regarding the practice of repeating expected points, we just went to the Morning Joe site. The headline on today's first segment says this:

“Joe: Fault lies with Ray Rice”

Who but Joe could have figured that out? A nation whose leaders “reason” that way is a nation which can't hold discussions.


  1. Imagine that. A morning talk show being topical and discussing the hot issues of the day.

    We can't have that! Instead, we should be discussing how to teach our five-year-olds Croatian, how we solved the race issue 50 years ago and there is nothing we can do about it now, and of course those remarkable gains black children have made on the NAEP. Why, their fourth graders are practically working at the college level, according to the "rough rule of thumb".

    1. Are you saying that you prefer that Joe discuss this "hot issue", like everyone else, rather than those other issues that Bob prefers to discuss? Or are you just saying that no matter what Bob wants to discuss, you object to it?

    2. I do see a difference between discussing domestic violence because it is a pressing social problem for our nation and a sensationalistic presentation of a video of a football player punching his girlfriend presented because it will increase viewership. I think Somerby is right to criticize the latter.

    3. So I guess you agree that Bob doesn't care about battered women.

      And what did they discuss on "Fox & Friends". Oh yeah. "Take the stairs."

      What a kneeslapper! Of course, you'll never hear Bob object to that.Why the "clowning" seems to be limited to only one TV network -- the one Bob has chosen for you to despise.

      You see, some of us prefer our "media criticism" to be singularly focused on one or two favorite pinatas, lest we tax our brains too much.

      We will, by kneejerk reaction, take the opposite position on whatever is being dicussed on our favorite pinata, even if that means taking ridiculous positions on Christie, McDonnell, and even ol' Clive Bundy.

      And if necessary, let's criticize our favorite pinata for discussing and issue that not only IS being discussed, but SHOULD be discussed at every opportunity.

      But then again, Bob doesn't care about battered women.

    4. You know, if it takes a sensationalistic video to spark a serious discussion about this issue, so be it.

      But then again, no discussion on MSNBC can possibly be serious, can it? Bob has already told you otherwise, and you won't cross your fearless leader by listening to the discussion and deciding for yourself, will you?

    5. Where is the serious discussion? I'm not finding it anywhere.

      For example, who has been asking why the police put Janay Rice in jail? Who has been asking why we needed to see the elevator video to decide she had been mistreated? Why is the focus on the NFL and not on the issue of lack of response to domestic violence complaints when the abuser is a celebrity? Even when O.J. was on trial, the issue was never about domestic violence and why the police never did anything to help Nicole Simpson.

      Go ahead, show me where there has been any real discussion about anything but Rice losing his job as a football player.

    6. No, I do not agree that Somerby doesn't care about battered women. I believe he made the remark about the media treatment of this issue because he DOES care about battered women. I believe you do not care, nor do any of the trolls here. You only care about defending Maddow by attacking Somerby using whatever blunt object you can find.

      I strongly resent trolls using this important issue as a stick to beat Somerby with. Don't pretend you give a damn about abused women. And thank you so much for bringing all the Men's Rights idiots to this site.

    7. Somerby is dismissing the Ray Rice case and wants all discussion of it to cease.

      Of course, that only proves to his rubes how much he truly cares about battered women.

      And of course, anyone who thinks different is only "defending Maddow."

    8. "Somerby is dismissing the Ray Rice case and wants all discussion of it to cease."

      Where does he say that?

    9. Please tell me how Somerby is paying more than lip service when he focuses on one network and dismisses all discussion there as "posturing."

      But of course, Bob has long been a champion of "serious discussion." That's why his ongoing "series" about the home of Meredith Vieira and the money she makes is in its second week.

    10. "musings on the mainstream "press corps" and the american discourse"

      What part of this dictates that he must be discussing Rice and domestic violence? He IS discussing the way the media has approached this subject, briefly, but his main focus is on corruption in journalism, which influences how cases like Rice's are covered.

      The sensationalism of the approach to the Rice tragedy is part of the dumbing down of journalism and turning it into "entertainment" for a slavering mob, which seems to include you trolls among its ranks.

    11. No, he IS discussing the way his few, favored pinatas have approached this subject. Like Bob discusses every thing.

      You might think that is "musing on the 'mainstream press corps'" but I call it an old coot who can't figure out how to watch more than one channel.

    12. Opinions differ. That in no way explains why you devote so much time to attacking Somerby in these comments.

    13. Is he really covering the "dumbing down of the media" @ 3:16? Wow. What a novel idea, wonder why no American social critic has thought of such a fertile topic before. Reading Bob I never would have guessed that was his point. So refreshingly put with every post, it is eay to overlook.

      Thanks for the tip. And be nice to trolls. They probably simply have not noticed since Bob takes such a different approach each post.

  2. Women can die from abortions and they can die from voluntarily marrying men who beat them. Their body, their choice.

    1. Somerby -- this is a highly offensive statement. Trolling is one thing. This is a hurtful remark. Please remove it.

    2. Yes, "blame the victim" is always offensive -- or should be to thinking people.

      But it is also the preferred weapon of Somerby himself as he goes after his perceived enemies of Western Civilization.

      How many times has he done it? I've lost count after if college women don't want to get raped, they shouldn't get drunk.

    3. One who steps into a tiger cage and is mauled isn't a victim in the sense real victims are victims.

    4. Mike Tyson's knocked out boxing partners are not victims. People who live with those who beat them are no less playing a game. They expect to be hit, they consent to be hit. Mike Tyson's opponents "hoped" they wouldn't get hit but they knew the probability was there.

    5. College women should not voluntarily get drunk if they don't want to drunkenly say "yes" when they would soberly say "no" to something that is not rape, but that they will regret the next day.

    6. This is all crap. No one has a marriage ceremony where they promise to love, honor and beat their spouse.

      There are reasons why women stay with abusive spouses, despite being mistreated. Some have to do with limited economic resources, threats, desire to protect their children, and shame/guilt. Others have to do with biological mechanisms that cause a person to cling more strongly to others when in pain (even when the other is the source of the pain). Such mechanisms also operate in Stockholm syndrome, where someone has been kidnapped. Calling these unfortunates "willing" victims shows a profound lack of understanding of the dynamics of abusive relationships.

      If abusive men had tattoos saying "danger" on their foreheads this argument might make sense. They do not. They typically conceal that side to themselves until after they have control over a woman. It is not misguided for a woman to believe that a man who supposedly loves her will not beat her.

      I shouldn't have to be saying any of this. Equating Somerby with abusive men is ridiculous and just more troll slander. He never said anything about women not getting drunk -- that is from the news, not anything Somerby said here. Pretending he said it is vile.

      Somerby -- please start moderating your comments or remove the comments entirely. This is not doing anyone any good.

    7. I disagree. The "blame the victims" voices should also be heard, if only to demonstrate how vile they are. Censorship never solves anything, as far as I can tell. I'd rather have even vile thoughts out in the open than driven underground.

    8. "There are reasons women stay with abusive spouses" or marry them after being beaten unconscious in an elevator like Mrs. Rice did. Reasons for the choice to stay. Rational choices. The money and celebrity heat from Ray Rice's career were worth the calculated risk Mrs. Rice took, she rationally decided before and after her elevator beating. The attention or sex or income from the men these women stay with is worth the risk to their health they know they face, is the rational decision they make. These women fully understand they will be beaten and decide to stay for a reason that might make them strange or pathetic or unlike you, but it doesn't make them victims in the strict definition. It does make victims of the kids they drag along. You don't see homeless men with women hanging on. In that case you'd be right that her condition is a stockholm syndrome or mental illness or something other than a rational choice.

    9. Stockholm Syndrome. Some women have. So do all Republican voters.


    10. Some women believe the men who beat them when they say they are sorry and it will never happen again because they love them. Some women hope that counseling will change their partners for the better. Some women believe that they themselves provoked the attack, were not good enough people and thus deserved their punishment (we know this is wrong). Not all women are gold diggers who sign up for physical abuse for a paycheck, as someone above implied -- I suspect a tiny % if any.

    11. Why Ms. Rice decided to stay with and marry Mr. Rice is her business and no one has the right to judge and/or psychoanalyze her.

    12. "Blaming the victim" is the way the simple-minded find simple solutions to complex problems.

      "If battered women would leave the first time it happened . . ."

      "If college girls wouldn't get drunk . . ."

      "If black kids would stop walking through white neighborhoods . . ."

    13. It takes someone with a "complex" mind to argue with the facts that if battered women leave the first time it happens they don't get battered a second time, if college girls wouldn't get drunk they wouldn't drunkenly consent to sex they regret the next day, and if black kids wouldn't beat hispanic people's heads against sidewalks in neighborhoods they wouldn't get shot.

    14. You are one sick puppy, 6:05. And easily fooled.

    15. It does take a simple mind to conclude all of the above and be comfortable in their ignorance not knowing:

      1. Women who have left abusive husbands have wound up dead. Despite going to court for restraining orders.

      2. If your daughter were sexually assaulted, I'm sure the first question you'd ask would be, "Were you drunk?"

      3. The only person telling that story was Zimmerman. And of course, you believe him. After all, what reason would he have to lie?

    16. Stockholm Syndrome. Some women have. So do all Republican voters.

      Not all of them. Not the hostage takers.

  3. Should major news outlets follow TMZ? Is that being topical?

    Should we bomb people in Iraq and/or Syria because there are horrifying videos of beheadings?

    Is it ok that there's a statue of Ray Lewis outside the Ravens' stadium (even though he was involved in killing two people in a fight)...because there isn't any video?

    Is that how we decide things now?

    TDH has a point here.

    1. How about the flip side? Do we ignore issues because there is video? I would hope that we never become so conditioned as a society to violence against women that we won't discuss it even when there is video.

    2. Here is another thing that seems to elude you and Somerby.

      We live in a whole new "media" age. Important stories can be broken anywhere at anytime by anyone, including TMZ.

      This is what Bob failed to grasp in the old Rodeo Clown story which was broken by a guy with a smartphone and a Facebook account.

      Yes, Bob can yearn for the days that never really existed when Walter and Dave were our gatekeepers, feeding us the news their corporate masters wanted us to hear.

      But those days are long gone, and we are getting our news from a whole bunch of places, including each other.

      You can discount the source all you want, but you do so at your own peril.

      As for myself, I am glad that we have more voices, not fewer, participating in the grand debate, even if it takes work to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    3. I don't even have a tv. I'm a drug addict with mental problems unfortunately. But when I do see it, especially the news type of shows discussed here, it seems absolutely crazy. To think that people watch it at all, let alone for hours on end, is unbelievable. Like every second you watch, a part of you dies. Like it is an evil spirit sucking your soul. The commercials - oy vey. All of it is lies - a refraction of reality designed to seduce your ego. Our lives are so, so much deeper. I am sad people watch it in such high numbers. Reading books would better for us collectively. It feels safe to be away from it. Sorry for the digression.

    4. Thank you for this.

    5. The problem isn't that TMZ "broke" the story, the problem is that TMZ's video didn't add to what we knew about the assault. All the facts were already well known. Seeing the video sparked outrage that the printed word could not. So that would tend to make one think that people are not rational, but instead form views based on their most recent emotional response to a visual stimulus.

  4. OMB (Firestorm and Elevator Cam with the OTB)

    "Are we the people—we the humans—able to reason at all?"

    That, BOB tells us, in this seminal piece of discourse, is his favorite question. We of course, take BOB too literally, so we differ, as BOB tells us we may.

    BOB, of course, loves to count; words in an article, comments in a blog, cars coming onto the GWBridge from Ft. Lee. He also has shown a fondness of late of adding Google to his Nexis searches, with varying results. So counting using his own self supplied Google search of his incomparable archives we find BOB's word, like that of the Father of that eye rolling provocateur, Jesus of Nazareth, sometimes exaggerates for a higher moral purpose.

    BOB's favorite question is actually "can we talk?"

    In light of that let us ask what seems to be our favorite question of the day. Can we talk about why BOB himself was diverted by this firestorm when larger dangers lurk amongst the dumb, reason bereft populace of your plutocrat and press plagued planet?

    Are there more pressing dangers than an NFL player's illegal use of the hands on a woman in his company? Does focusing a whole post on this indicate BOB, like the media, is a purveyor of pablum, no matter how cruel the thin gruel of this gruesome tale?

    ISIS beheadings?, you might think we suggest, are more important. Perhaps, but not what we have in mind.

    Talk show furniture and home remodelings of the rich and game show afflicted?, you seem to want to guess. A series worthy topic, but not one filled with danger.

    No. We refer to Brodie. Not the character from Homeland. Fawn.

    Her posthumous craziness threatens us still.

    Just last Saturday BOB told us:

    "Because her book still stalks our history and our journalism, that question is well worth exploring."

    Yet here, this week's hump day has arrived, and nary a clue to where this affliction is lurking in today's world, threatening to leap forth and lay low thousands, who will stare up from the ground where they lie dead and ask "Why? Why could the New York Times back in 1981 not see?"

    1. It lurks in every single one of Maureen Dowd's columns. If you were not so literal, you wouldn't need to have someone point this out to you.

    2. I would not know that because, obviously unlike you, I don't read a single Dowd column let alone "every single one."

    3. Ah, but my dear 3:22, this is not for you to point out, but BOB. He promised to carry on this vastly critical topic.
      Until we have the Gospel from BOB himself, comment chatter from the rube gallery is merely that...chatter.

    4. ZKoD, fear not. Bob will soon come to ISIS. Why? Because Obama is giving a nationally televised speech about that crisis tonight, and Rachel will surely discuss it -- which will be the only way our obsessed host will know that Obama gave a speech about it.

      And Bob's reaction will not focus on the speech itself or the policy questions therein. Instead, he will attempt to piffilize the piddle Darlin' Rachel will be perspiring about as she creams and wets herself and stuffing Lord knows what into her pants.

      And I disagree with you in the strongest terms. Not Fawn Brodie. The most serious issue facing Western Civilization today is fully exposing the luxurious digs in which the host of our newest daytime talk show luxuriates in sweaty, creamy elegance.

      Yes we know that Fawn Brodie gave birth to the events that led to the demise of the presidential aspirations of Bob's former Harvard roommate and forever changed the course of history.

      But where was Meredith Vieira during all that? Why, silent of course, like all the bastards who apparently read Fawn Brodie and let it happen.

    5. You would have to have never read Somerby to be ignorant about how Dowd's reputation was built on the same pseudo-psychoanalytic drivel as Brodie wrote about Nixon. Don't play dumb

    6. Not playing dumb at all. I just don't happen to think Dowd is all that important, no matter how many times in how many ways over how many years Somerby says she is.

      I also didn't know that it was "smart" to be aware of the content of "every single one of Maureen Dowd's columns."

      Well, if that's what makes you smart, I'd rather stay dumb.

    7. She got a Pulitzer prize for doing what Brodie did. How is someone who won the big prize in journalism not important?

      What makes me smart is that I know how to use my brain and do so regularly. What makes you dumb is that you avoid experiences in life. Hard to learn anything new doing that.

    8. Sorry, but nobody ever described Dowd as a biographer.
      And serious students of psychobiography never mention Brodie as a major practitoner in that field.

      And, oh yes, BOB has yet to put any of Brodie into Dowd's work...yet.

    9. Brodie's books were nearly all bestsellers. They go back to the 60's so no wonder modern scholars don't talk about them.

      Bob has constantly complained about Dowd doing the same thing to Gore, Clinton & Edwards that Brodie did to Nixon (and Jefferson and Joseph Smith). You haven't read Brodie and you clearly don't know what you are talking about.

    10. Brodie's book were not nearly all bestsellers. Only one was. That was because she alleged an American icon, Thomas Jefferson, carried on a long term affair with a slave. And she was right.

      Brodie's work dates to the mid 40's. You won't find a single post in which Bob links Dowd and Brodie by googling his archives with the two names at the top of this page.

      We do know what we are talking about. And you, 12:04 are a bulb which cannot even be described as dim.

    11. Ah, so if you win a Pulitzer, then you GOT to be important and influential. In fact, the most influential columnist over the last 30 years, according to your hero.

      Here's a clue for you, Mensa. Lots of people have won Pulitzers over the past 30 years, and some of them multiple times. Dowd has won exactly one -- for portraying Monica Lewinsky as a bimbo.

      Yes, winning the Pulitzer once allows her to forever be known as a "Pulitzer-winning columnist" much like how Timothy Hutton can claim to be an Oscar-winning actor

      But let me give you a quiz. Dowd won the Pulitzer for commentary in 1999. Without looking it up, who won in 1998 and 2000? Shouldn't they be at least as influential and important?

      Apparently not, since Bob seldom obsesses over Mike McAlary or Paul Gigot.

    12. She analyzed the nature of the relationship between Hemmings and Jefferson at a time when many historians disputed there was one. Her book on Joseph Smith looked at whether he was a sincere believer or a con artist. These were very new approaches at the time.

      Who cares what you think.

  5. So many of the commenters here are suffering so deeply.

    1. It is hard to recover when you get kicked around by daddy in some godforsaken burg.

  6. Before there was the Ice Bucket Challenge, before money corrupted our television journalists, reasoning humans enjoyed seeing real people be just like them on daytime television.