Supplemental: Return of Reagan’s astrologer!


Courtesy of a Rhodes Scholar:
MSNBC’s ratings are down at this point.

When ratings go down, they can go back up. Beyond that, ratings are not a measure of quality.

How good is this news channel’s work? Sometimes, the work is quite bad. Consider Rachel Maddow’s opening segment from Monday night’s program.

The segment in question ran just over twenty-two minutes. On the surface, the segment concerned Leon Panetta’s new “tell-all” book, in which he expresses concerns about his former boss, President Obama.

Panetta expressed grave concerns about Obama on last Tuesday’s O’Reilly Factor. This topic was well worth discussing.

Unfortunately, when Maddow tackled the topic, she gave us rubes a rather large dose of cheap thrills and sexy sex-time entertainment. The first seven minutes of the segment were devoted to Nancy Reagan’s astrologer, whose existence came to light in a 1988 tell-all book.

The next three minutes and twenty-five seconds concerned Dick Morris’s “hooker,” a sexually exciting scandal from 1996.

How did Morris’ fun with that “hooker” fit the Panetta segment? Simple! The incident got Morris fired from his job as adviser to President Clinton. After that, the gent went off and wrote his own tell-all book!

Maddow seems devoted to “long form journalism” for her opening segment. Often, this involves the killing of beaucoup time as she wanders the countryside, rattling pointless exotica.

We thought this segment took the cake. Roughly speaking, this is the way the time allotments broke down:
Opening segment, The Rachel Maddow Show
Monday, October 13, 2014

Full segment: 22:12

Nancy Reagan’s astrologer: 7:00
Dick Morris’s hooker: 3:25
Maddow monologue on Panetta: 8:01
Maddow interview with Sam Stein: 2:55
Promos for upcoming segments: 0:30
Maddow spent seven minutes discussing Nancy’s astrologer. She spent a bit less than three minutes interviewing Stein.

Panetta’s name wasn’t even mentioned until the 10:38 mark of the segment. Sadly, this was Maddow’s first observation about her putative man of the hour:
MADDOW (10/13/14): Ironically—this is interesting—it was Leon Panetta as White House chief of staff in the Clinton era who had to face all the questions about Dick Morris and the hooker! He had to face all those questions from the press corps the day those revelations broke open during the 1996 campaign.

Leon Panetta was sort of a Clinton lifer who President Obama first tapped to be his CIA director and then to be his secretary of defense...
In all honesty, we didn’t think that was interesting, except as an example of how bad it can get on this channel.

In truth, Maddow had nothing to say about Panetta or about his book. Her goal was obvious. She was telling viewers that Panetta’s criticisms of Obama are a bunch of self-serving nonsense scripted by Clinton World.

This could be true, of course. That said, Maddow’s analyses and evidence made little apparent sense. Stein quickly contradicted a central thesis, but he had been given so little time that we’ll assume nobody noticed.

In fairness, Maddow’s work isn’t always this bad. On the other hand, this woeful effort hardly lacks for precedent.

To watch Maddow discuss that astrologer, you can just click here. Does this help explain this channel’s ratings ennui?

Our Ouija board is in the shop. For that reason, we have no idea.

To watch the interview: The interview with the unhelpful Stein was posted as a stand-alone segment.

To watch it, just click this.


  1. I hoped the split between Obama and Clinton would disappear once Obama's term finished. It is dismaying that Panetta's book is being perceived as an attack from Clinton world and not just a way to earn himself some money at the end of his career (or settle some personal grudge against Obama). Is Maddow choosing sides against Clinton? Are the Obama supporters not going to be able to rally behind her if she wins the nomination?

    1. Why are money and personal animosity the only plausible motives? Maybe Panetta wants to help the country avoid bad policies and adopt good ones. Obama still has 2+ years to change his policies in ways that Panetta thinks are more effective.

    2. Leon Panetta: shill for CIA covert operations, defense spending with a capital S; advocate for attacking Assad and for indefinite war in the mideast; obfuscator for Dick Cheney and waterboarding; spokeman for the conventional Beltway wisdom on national security; proponent of the "both sides do it" lack of governance in Congress and an open checkbook policy for the Israeli military.

      Good policies?

      Try again ConTroll.

    3. OK. Clinton is out of touch because she give speeches to the rich and has two big houses.

  2. Poor Rick Scott. Poor Cory Gardner.

  3. Maddow generally does a good job, except when it comes to the issue of Zionism and Israel. She's rather quiet on that. Maybe it's smart to stfu...Maher?

    1. What could Maddow possibly gain by expressing an opinion on that issue? No matter what she says, someone will be upset with her about it.

    2. And she wants to be loved. It is part of having loose screws and wires.

    3. "And she wants to be loved."

      Yet another delusional clairvoyant.

    4. @ 7:39 address your complaint to the head clairvoyant.

    5. 945: he already knows.

  4. Is it just me, or does Bob Somerby appear to have a problem with left-leaning women (e.g., Rachel Maddow and Maureen Dowd) who dare to be critical -- even in an indirect or small way -- of Hilary Clinton?

    1. What a novel suggestion!

    2. I detect a touch of sarcasm, which leaves this relative newbie with the impression that this Somerby issue (which I raised) has been brought up here many times before.


    3. 1. Somerby is not a Hillary fan. 2. He is critical of left-leaning men too. 3. This is a recurring troll theme.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. I'm not so sure. Yes, he's critical of Lawrence O'Donnell and others on the left.

      But I was referring to a single class that he seems to have issues with -- namely, women who criticize Hillary.

      At the link below Bob was clearly criticizing Dowd and defending Hillary.

      Oh well. Eye of the beholder, right?

    6. It takes more than one example to make a pattern. You alleged a pattern but haven't supported it.

    7. I seldom bite on request like this because the poster asking for proof is rarely satisfied.

      But I'll take the bait this one time and offer four examples to add to the one I already listed.

      1. Somerby criticizes Maddow for calling out the Clintons
      Link: This web page

      2, Bob praises Hillary's "Too Small to Fail" program

      Bob defends Hillary from what he calls, "Snark from Gail Collins."

      Bob criticizes the WaPo's Marjorie Valbrun for, "An absurd bit of outrage" for editorializing about Hillary's statements about MLK.

      Your turn pal. Where's your evidence to contradict my previous comments?

    8. To prove a pattern you need to catalog the disconfirmatory examples too. I doubt you will put in the effort. Otherwise selective attention makes you think you have a pattern but it only seems so because you have ignored what doesn't fit your theory. So, no you haven't convinced me. I already listed my evidence which is based on over a decade reading this blog, Pal.

    9. As I said, "Where's your evdence to the contrary.

      My simple premise was that Bob Somerby *sometimes* takes on female media types who have less than favorable comments or implications about Hillary Clinton.

      If you disagree, fine. But I think you may want to take a second more objective assessment.

    10. You said he has a problem with left-leaning women. The word sometimes was not part of what you said. If you now want to take it back that's fine with me.

    11. Micael T., to quote and paraphrase a wise man whose writing is featured often on this blog,

      "This could be true, of course."

      That said, in fairness, BOB’s work isn’t always this bad. On the other hand, this woeful effort hardly lacks for precedent.

    12. You, rating Somerby's work. That's a joke.

    13. We love it when we are belittled for using BOB's own words.

      As we all know, BOB's experience in journalism, politics, government. and educational research makes his expertise unassailable. One should only attempt it using his own successful writing techniques.

    14. Michael T - He isn't accusing them of small, indirect criticisms of Clinton. He is accusing MoDo of being insane. Also, of "sexualizing" all Democrats, male and female . He is accusing Maddow of being a little egocentric and full of herself while performing horrible journalism in particular when it come to building a bigger democratic tent, if you will. I understand that you may have thought that to be the case but I think you may want to research it a little deeper and you may find that it's a more complicated and pointed than you think.

      Maddow interviewed Jon Stuart on her show. During the interview, he directly critiqued her show and cable news in general in a nice, polite way. It's not totally lucid but it's worth watching because I think he is trying to say the same thing Bob is (less crazily and caustically). Stuart's main point seems to be that her show and cable news in general are too focused on partisan differences - something Bob has said time and again, plutocrats adore.

    15. I can't find her interview with Jon Stuart. I have seen her interview with Jon Stewart, but that obviously can't be the same guy because Stewart said absolutely nothing resembling what you claim Stuart said.

  5. Bob said something nice about Maddow before trashing her. That's new territory. Must be fundraising time.

  6. OMB (Missing Something with the OTB)

    "Maddow spent seven minutes discussing Nancy’s astrologer....
    Panetta’s name wasn’t even mentioned until the 10:38 mark of the segment."

    Of course Don Regan, whose book was the subject of the first seven minutes, is not mentioned at all by the OTB. We'd count the number of words for you, but we aren't quite as fastdious at precise word count, second measurement, and multiple decimals in test scores as BOB. We are not lazy, though. We just do not need to do it to serve our meme.

    That said, how are BOB's readership numbers? Hit by a little weltschmerz as a result of rattling pointless numerical minutiae?

    1. That's a good question. Seems like Bob's readership has fallen so far that Alexa no longer keeps track. They do estimate that he has the 89,839th most popular Web site in the U.S.

    2. Hey, I am sure his ongoing coverage of the Great Affleck-Maher Debate will pep those numbers up in no time.

    3. Trashing liberal heroes is a great way to go through life, son.

      Of course denigrating the two bloggers, Boehlert and Drum, who previously bought into your bullshit is not fat, drunk, or stupid either.

      Our apologies to Dean Wormer.

    4. You don't agree with someone just because they were nice to you in the past. That is intellectual cronyism.

    5. Imaginary Boehlert: Well, you've got to hand it to Somerby. He has managed not to slip into intellectual cronyism.

      Imaginary Drum: True. He's merely an ass.

  7. I don't know what kind of spell that despicable Somerby has cast on you guys that forces you to spend so much time reading someone you hate and writing contemptuous comments. You often say nobody reads this blog anyway, so it seems it wouldn't be worth your valuable time.

    1. This comment of yours makes more sense every time you resubmit it. Almost like Bob and the 19 Month Nantucket War.

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