Supplemental: Do you believe this story or claim?


Meredith Vieira edition:
Do you believe the recent claim by Daisy Hernandez, who is now 39?

In a new book excerpted at Salon, Hernandez tells a story about the way she got her first big job as a writer. The story goes something like this:

Back in 2001, Hernandez completed a master’s in journalism at NYU. She was already working as a writer for Ms. magazine.

That spring, Hernandez was approached to do background research for a book by the New York Times’ Gail Collins. Before long, Collins suggested that she apply for a paid intern job with the Times editorial department.

Hernandez takes the story from there. Do you believe this claim?
HERNANDEZ: [J]ust like that I send my resume…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.
Do you believe that claim? Do you believe that Daisy Hernandez, age 25, with a master’s degree in journalism, didn’t know what an editorial was?

More and more, it seems to us that we encounter weirdly implausible claims by ranking figures within the national discourse. A few weeks ago, we wrote about a set of implausible claims made by Meredith Vieira, a major figure in TV “journalism” over the past three decades.

Some of her claims seemed blatantly false. But at least they followed a standard format, in which wealthy broadcasters invent silly tales to make us think they’re actually “just like us.”

The late Tim Russert virtually invented this art form. In fairness, Russert’s claims about his Buffalo boyhood always seemed to be true. The deception involved all the other facts, the various facts he left out.

Vieira’s tales were issued in conjunction with the debut of her new TV show. On the first day of the show, she made a highly implausible claim.

Rather, her 21-year-old daughter did.

Vieira was taken by surprise (wink, wink) when her producers played an embarrassing tape her family had prepared. The tape was designed to let us know what Vieira is really like.

As part of the tape, her daughter told a story we’d have to call highly implausible. To watch the three-minute tape, click here.

Do you believe this claim?
VIEIRA’S HUSBAND (9/8/14): Meredith cries at anything.

VIEIRA’S SON: I can come down into the living room at any moment and she’ll be crying.

VIEIRA’S DAUGHTER: I found her crying in front of the TV. And she told me that she had just watched a horribly sad commercial for a mop where a family discarded their old mop in order to take in a new mop. And the old mop is standing outside the door of the house? And they closed the door. And that’s when she said she really—she lost it.
Do you believe the highlighted story? The studio audience did!

Did Vieira’s daughter actually find her crying because of a mop in a TV ad? Here’s a second question:

Does it trouble you when major figures in TV news tell us highly implausible stories? Do you think this sort of thing should be a point of concern?

Tomorrow: Lawrence O’Donnell’s youth

The broadcaster who cried wolf: A few weeks ago, Vieira told a story from her early adult years. She described the way she’d been subjected to domestic violence.

Many people are subjected to domestic violence, of course. That said, we’d seen the story about the mop and the stories about the humble way Vieira lives. It occurred to us that her latest story sounded rather generic.

Final point, from the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction department:

According to the world’s leading authority,
“Vieira received the P.T. Barnum Award from Tufts University for her exceptional work in the field of media and entertainment.”

She won the P. T. Barnum Award! At least within the national press, there’s an award-winner born every minute!

(Full disclosure: Our own grandfather Rufus worked for the late, great Barnum.)


  1. Just when you compliment Somerby for demonstrating sensitivity to Hispanics, as he did with Albeto Gonzales yesterday, he takes off on a rant against Latina women again. Maybe it is just their sex and not their race.

    1. She's Brazilian. That makes her Portuguic, not Hispanic.

    2. You know what a Tia Taco is? It's what Hispanics in the 70s in California would call the establishment phonies.

      I hope you're just being sarcastic.

    3. This is a troll pretending to care about Hispanics in order to attack Somerby.

      Hernandez may have lied about not knowing what an editorial is in order to emphasize that being Latina placed her outside white experience. She seems to equate being Hispanic with being clueless, something I find majorly offensive.

      The term Tia Taco, like Oreo, should be retired because it reflects a kind of reverse racial intolerance that is unhelpful to today's dialogues and undermines the aspirations of youth in under-represented demographic groups.

      Do you know what Flaco means? That's the name Hernandez called her supervisor at the LA Times.

    4. "This is a troll pretending to ..." ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

    5. He's baaaaaack. So Carlos tell us, after your "good-bye cruel world" swan dive what did you see on the other side?

    6. According to Somerby's favoite source, Vieira, whose parents are of Portuguese ancestry, is Hispanic according to some taxonomies:


      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Jump to: navigation, search

      Hispanic (Spanish: hispano, hispánico, Portuguese: hispânico, Galician: hispánico, Basque: hispaniar, Catalan: hispà)[1][2] is an ethnonym that denotes a relationship to Spain or, in some definitions, to ancient Roman Hispania, which roughly comprised the Iberian Peninsula including the contemporary states of Andorra, Portugal, and Spain and the Crown Colony or British Overseas Territories of Gibraltar.[3][4][5] Today, organizations in the United States use the term as a broad catchall to refer to persons with a historical and cultural relationship either with Spain, or with Spain and Portugal, regardless of race."

    7. Have you thought about why it is so important to you to be right and to have others acknowledge that you are right?

    8. Have you @ 12:49 ever thought about why your comment makes no sense?

  2. Tim Russert didn't invent that art form. Dusty Rhodes (the "son of a plumber"), the American Dream did. I'm sure he took his act from somebody he watched. Superstar Billy Graham, maybe? This is ALL pro wrestling. Not "somewhat similar to". It's the exact same things. You cut promos to get your character over to make money. As soon as you see this, all of politics and the news business will start to make a lot more sense.

  3. Is there really a P.T. Barnum award? The mind reels.

    I don't believe either of these two women. At least I hope they're fabricating these tales. If not, that's even scarier.

    1. I don't believe the implausible claim that Vieira won a Barnum. It sounds like a joke on Wikipedia.

    2. PT Barnum was one of the first trustees of Tufts university and made significant contributions to the institution. The hide of Jumbo the elephant stayed at Tufts fpr many years until it was destroyed in a fire. Today students still hear lectures in Barnum Hall and the students/athletes are known as "Jumbos."

      So long story short, Tufts has a PT Barnum award!

    3. Gosh. Implausible claims can be true.

  4. She seems to be referring to a real ad (indeed an entire series of ads) for Swiffer. The ads were meant to be funny, though.

    1. I laughed so hard, I cried. All the way to the bank I cried.


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