THE WAY WE ARE: Narrative all the way down!


Part 3—Bumping statistics way up:
Of the universe, Professor Russell once said, “It’s turtles all the way down.”

Today, the famous professor would surely be able to make out his error. Consider what happened when MIT conducted a survey among its students about harassment, rape and assault.

For yesterday’s post, click here.

First, the university’s scholars constructed a long, bewildering set of survey questions. At times, the survey reads like it was translated from the Norwegian by native speakers of Urdu.

At some point, the survey was taken by MIT students. Last week, MIT issued a report on its findings—a report which is extremely hard to interpret.

The New York Times then swung into action, praising MIT for the “clarity” of its work. So it tends to go inside our elite press.

The survey produced a bewildering pile of statistics. MIT didn’t explain when the survey was given.

How many undergraduates who responded were in their first or second years at the school? That didn’t get explained either.

Whatever! Jumbled though the report may be, one statistic did leap out, a statistic which seems fairly straightforward. According to Table 2.1, five percent of undergraduate women seem to have said that they’ve been raped while students at MIT.

Presumably, the statistic was larger among women in their senior years. But let’s stick with that five percent figure:

Given the seriousness of the crime which is being alleged, that strikes us as a very large number. Apparently, though, the number wasn’t large enough for the brass at MIT.

Here’s why we say that:

When we read the New York Times news report, we were struck by the extent to which Richard Perez-Pena emphasized a certain complaint:

According to several observers, MIT students weren’t willing to acknowledge how often they’d been raped and assaulted. In paragraph 5 of the Times report, the chancellor—she’s is in her mid-50s—issued a sad complaint about These Kids Today:
PEREZ-PENA (10/28/14): “Sure, the data tells us things that we maybe didn’t want to hear,” said Cynthia Barnhart, chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But she said one of the clearest—and most disturbing—conclusions she drew from the results was that “there is confusion among some of our students about what constitutes sexual assault,” indicating a need for more open discussion.
The children weren’t willing to say how often they’d been assaulted! Luckily, though, Chancellor Barnhart knows best.

So does Professor Foubert, an expert on these matters at a distant university. Before we review the lament he offered in the Times report, let’s review the part of the piece which highlights a “disturbing” problem concerning the students’ “confusion.”

In the passage shown below, Perez-Pena laments the way the MIT students weren’t willing to jack up the numbers. We’ll focus on the passages which concern claims of harassment:
PEREZ-PENA: M.I.T. asked about several forms of unwanted sexual contact, from touching to penetration, “involving use of force, physical threat or incapacitation,” that it said clearly constituted sexual assault—the kind that 17 percent of undergraduate women and 5 percent of undergraduate men said they had experienced. In addition, 12 percent of women and 6 percent of men said they had experienced the same kinds of unwanted sexual contact, but without force, threat or incapacity—some of which, depending on the circumstances, can also be sexual assault.

Yet when asked if they had been raped or sexually assaulted, only 11 percent of female and 2 percent of male undergraduates said yes.

There was a similar result on sexual harassment. Among undergraduate respondents, large majorities of men and women said they had heard sexist remarks and inappropriate comments about people’s bodies; more than one-third said someone had uttered crude sexual remarks to them directly; nearly as many had been subjected to people’s tales of sexual exploits; and a smaller number had received offensive digital messages. About one woman in six said someone had repeatedly asked her for a date, even after being refused.

But the number who described what had happened to them as sexual harassment was relatively small: 15 percent of undergraduate women, and 4 percent of men. Also, 14 percent of women said they had been stalked, and 8 percent said they had been in a controlling or abusive relationship.
Damn kids! They refuse to acknowledge the frequency with which they’re being raped and harassed. Or so we might think if we’re willing to swallow Perez-Pena’s apparent stenography.

We’ll suggest that you shouldn’t do that. For starters, look at the kinds of behavior Perez-Pena seems to list as sexual harassment.

According to Perez-Pena, large majorities of undergraduate students “said they had heard sexist remarks and inappropriate comments about people’s bodies.” And not only that: “More than one-third said someone had uttered crude sexual remarks to them directly.”

The world would be a better place if people weren’t exposed to sexist remarks, inappropriate comments or even “crude sexual remarks.” It would be better if youngsters weren’t “subjected to people’s tales of sexual exploits.”

Depending on the circumstances, such experiences can be annoying. But as he continues, Perez-Pena seems to scold the youngsters for failing to denounce such experiences as “sexual harassment.”

Question: Why would anyone describe those experiences that way? More specifically, why would intelligent college students describe those annoying experiences in the way Perez-Pena seems to want?

We don’t know how to answer that question. On their face, the experiences Perez-Pena lists don’t seem like obvious instances of “harassment” to us. Why in the world is a Times reporter complaining that MIT students weren’t willing to list them as such?

Do you mind if we cut to the chase? A surprising fact seems to appear all through the Times report:

Perez-Pena and other elites seem less concerned about the fact that substantial numbers of young women at MIT say they’re being raped during their time on campus.

They seem more “disturbed” by the fact that the youngsters won’t overstate the hideousness of their experiences. Later, Perez-Pena clucked about the students again, and Professor Foubert sounded off:
PEREZ-PENA: Large numbers of undergraduates, male and female, also agreed with statements suggesting that blame for the assault did not always rest exclusively with the aggressor. Two-thirds agreed that “rape and sexual assault can happen unintentionally, especially if alcohol is involved”; one-third said it can happen “because men get carried away”; about one in five said it often happened because the victim was not clear enough about refusing; and a similar number said that a drunk victim was “at least somewhat responsible.”

Such views were less prevalent among graduate students, as was sexual assault itself.

Dr. Foubert said he considered many of those responses a form of “excusing the perpetrator and blaming the victim,” and was very concerned about it.
Let’s be fair. We’re forced to rely on Perez-Pena’s account of what the chancellor and the professor said about these matters.

It’s possible that Barnhart and Foubert were sane and balanced in their overall statements. But as we read Perez-Pena’s report, no one seems disturbed by the fact that many young women at MIT say they’re being raped while students at MIT.

Instead, these people say they’re disturbed and deeply concerned because the students aren’t willing to say they are being “harassed” when they hear a sexist remark.

In our view, Perez-Pena’s report is straight outta Bedlam. Because it appeared in the New York Times, very few people noticed.

In the world of that New York Times report, nobody cares about the fact that many young women say they’re being raped at MIT. Instead, our elites were concerned because those same young women failed to say that dumb remarks constitute harassment!

Professor Russell, please take note:

Lunacy lies at the heart of the Times, where it’s actually narrative all the way down. Narrative, and the desire to jack up preferred statistics.

Tomorrow: Amanda Marcotte and that recent Pew survey


  1. Ever mindful of his credibility, Bob Somerby begins his third post on a college campus survey pretending neither he nor his readers know when it was conducted.

    "At some point, the survey was taken by MIT students"

    Later today, in spite of his prayers, he may tell us again that Rachel Maddow needs help!



    MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart (she's in her mid fifties) today reported the mysterious loss of almost half the female undergraduate student body at MIT.

    Noted educator, humorist, blogger and statistical genius Bob Somerby blamed it on a Capus Sexual Assault Study conducted during an undisclosed recent period.

    "The MIT survey was so voluminous that you pretty much had to drop out of school for a year to answer all its questions. The survey was also remarkably murky."

    According to an MIT report Somerby almost could not find, 47% of female MIT undergraduates did respond, despite the survey reading like it was translated from the Norwegian by native speakers of Urdu.

    1. Did Chancellor Barhart "cluck" when she reported this?

    2. I don't know. Bob did not disclose this. Nor did he say whether she had the same peculiar look on her face she has had for weeks now.

      In our view, Bob seems a lot more concerned with her advancing age than the shockingly bad attitude she brings to the many rape victims on her campus.

    3. Vi leserne er dumme

  3. Bertrand Russell, March 6, 1927, "Why I am not a Christian":

    [QUOTE]The First Cause Argument

    Perhaps the simplest and easiest to understand is the argument of the First Cause. It is maintained that everything we see in this world has a cause, and as you go back in the chain of causes further and further you must come to a First Cause, and to that First Cause you give the name of God. That argument, I suppose, does not carry very much weight nowadays, because, in the first place, cause is not quite what it used to be. The philosophers and the men of science have got going on cause, and it has not anything like the vitality that it used to have; but apart from that, you can see that the argument that there must be a First Cause is one that cannot have any validity.

    I may say that when I was a young man, and was debating these questions very seriously in my mind, I for a long time accepted the argument of the First Cause, until one day, at the age of eighteen, I read John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, and I there found this sentence: "My father taught me that the question, Who made me? cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question, Who made God?"

    That very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument.

    It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu's view, that the world rested upon an elephant, and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, "How about the tortoise?" the Indian said, "Suppose we change the subject." The argument is really no better than that. There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed.

    There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination. Therefore, perhaps, I need not waste any more time upon the argument about the First Cause.

    I've always assumed it was that discussion which has been repackaged into the more familiar anecdote told with Russell or any one of several other philosophers or scientists at its center. Wikipedia lists some of its versions beginning with:

    [QUOTE]The origins of the turtle story are uncertain. One recent version appears in Stephen Hawking's 1988 book A Brief History of Time, which starts:

    A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise."

    The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"[END QUOTE]

  4. Bob again reveals his agenda here:

    "First, the university’s scholars constructed a long, bewildering set of survey questions. At times, the survey reads like it was translated from the Norwegian by native speakers of Urdu."

    Earlier in this "series," he surmised that the survey was so "voluminous" as to require a respondent to drop out of school for a year to answer it. Hyperbole, noted. But hyperbole is only effective if it bears some relation to reality.

    Some 3,800 hundred MIT undergraduate, graduate, and selected alumni out of some 10,800 found the survey neither bewildering, too voluminous, nor mistranslated from a foreign language. They answered it.

    Yes, it was a "self-selected" survey as opposed to a random sample survey, but yes I am sure that MIT officials know the limitations of a self-selected survey, particularly if the return gives you only a small sample size.

    Bob won't ask what the survey was intended to reveal, and how MIT plans to use it as it prepares comprehensive programs to deal with this issue. Nor will he ask whether the survey served the purpose for which it was intended.

    Instead, he reaches for the old neo-populist trick of "too long and thus too confusing, so it's worthless" that the GOP used effectively on the Clinton's first national health insurance proposal, and later with less effectiveness on the Affordable Heath Care Act.

    As with legislation to provide the nation's first national health insurance plan, a survey to measure the pervasiveness of the on-campus sexual assault and point to strategies to deal with it can't be boiled down to one sheet of paper that makes it impossible for any nincompoop to feign "confusion."

    Face it. Somerby, that great self-proclaimed champion of "progressive values" is not only not the least bit interested in the issue of sexual assault on campus, he will go out of his way to ridicule any attempt to study the issue, or report it.

    1. Excellent comment:

      Here is a link for Bob and the other terminally bewildered among his readership:

    2. I'm still trying to figure out how Richard Pena-Perez is among the elite and among the elite of what?

    3. He is elite because Bob has not promoted him to a position of liberal leadership yet.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Denne kommentaren har blitt fjernet av forfatteren

  6. Never mind all that. Let us pounce upon this turtles story.

    Did Russell really really say that? If so, where? He never quite gets to it in "Why I Am Not a Christian." Stephen Hawking in "A Timely History of Briefs" (I may need to check that) merely says some think the story was Lord Russell's. Others attribute the story to William James, the novelist's smarter brother. Skeptical empiricist David Hume is also implicated, though he preferred elephants. Don't forget Carl Sagan, Linus Pauling, and (insert your favorite Transcendentalist here). I would not be surprised if Quiet Beatle (though never quiet enough on things Eastern) Geo. Harrison worked a version of the story into one of his preachier tunes. I stopped buying his albums at "Living With the Material Girl." (Check that title,too.)

    And so it goes. Mr Somerby, it seems, has fallen victim to an old urban legend of dubious provenance. See what happens when the analysts call in sick? What would he say if Rachel Maddow had committed such a solecism?

    1. Funny, the first thing I thought of was Dr. Seuss.

      Well, then again, not quite. When I read that "turtle" intro, I first thought, "What the hell does this have to do with sexual assaults on campuses?"

      Turns out, nothing. It's just Bob trying to show off his vast intellect, and winding up looking like an ass. Again.

      And how often has he ridiculed the cultural references Maureen Dowd frequently throws into her columns?

      If you care to see the demons running around Bob's self-loathing head, look only to what he writes about those he claims to loathe the most.

    2. Funniest line in this pathetic post:

      "Let’s be fair."

    3. Absolutely and check out what follows:

      "But as we read Perez-Pena’s report, no one seems disturbed by the fact that many young women at MIT say they’re being raped while students at MIT.

      "Instead, these people say they’re disturbed and deeply concerned because the students aren’t willing to say they are being “harassed” when they hear a sexist remark."

      Those few sentences stand naked in their insult to intelligence.

    4. MIT doesn't care about raped children.


    5. Ugly turd. You think raped children are funny? What subspecies of humanity produced a defective turd like you.

    6. We don't think raped children are funny. We often state the opposite of what we think to reflect the themes and views of our esteemed host.

      We could offer our true opinion of you since we doubt our host gives a fig. But we shant.

    7. Implying that Somerby thinks raping kids is funny makes you an even slimier turd.Somerby may tolerate you but the rest of us would boot you immediately. You are a truly awful person.

    8. We didn't imply Somerby thinks it is funny. You, however, apparently seem to buy into Somerby's practice of reading implications into things which aren't there. That is not funny. It is sad. We are sure those for whom you speak share that view in private. It gives us solace knowing they care for your comfort.

    9. How to Get your friend, Back after A Walk Back

      An amazing testimony on a spell caster who brought my words back back to haunt me.. My name is Candace Mossler , i lived in Houston, Texas and Miami and I' was happily married to a rich old husband ,with my sisters kid .A very big problem occurred in my family several years ago,between me and my husband so terrible that I got takento court for murder. he said that he never wanted me sleep with my nephews again,and that he wouldn't give me money anymore.So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him killed ,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that sleeping with my nephew probably wasn't funny. i had no other choice,than to tell him it wasn't funny it was an act of kindness from an aunt. Then Jacques got murdered.
      I told police it was probably a burglar. They said it was a crime of passion. So I told them the truth. Jacques was sleeping around on me with other men. Some thought that was funny. they said I was trying to walk back my statement about the burglar. What an amazing statement!! So my neighbor gave me the name of a good lawyer and he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. So surprisingly, the jury acquitted both me and my nephew. Amazing!! Thanks..

      Funny. Jacques never did disclose what time he came home the night of the murder or whether he cared thought it was fair for him to see other men but not for me to care for my family. He just implied it wasn't.

  7. OMB (Plowing Old Ground with the OTB)

    Warning: Teaser Ahead

    "Tomorrow: Amanda Marcotte and that recent Pew survey"

    Better we revisit the Amanda with the PEW results than the Amanda with the PISA results. Those Poles have been kicking butt like they were Republicans at a mid term election.

  8. Can Dr. Foubert bring my wife back? That other Dr. guy said he could. Dr. Strong or Dr. Daring or something like that? The Witch Dr. dude. I bet he knows how to write a good survey. Of course, being a Witch Dr. he already knows everything, so he doesn't need to.

    1. Dr. Brave had a client with similar reactions to surveys like this where a man was mistaken for being politcally correct when really he had absent dad and a long close relationship about Mother whom he loved and perhaps felt guilty because he did or didn't do things which might be miscontrued as inappropriate in light of the kinds of questions asked in these studies. That is why they issue the warning in these surveys that explicit language or descriptions of things like penis might trigger memories when somebody, even you yourself played with you pee-pee or found pebbles in your va-jay jay left by you big sister. It makes everyone uncomfortable until you finish then you feel better. Like my friend did when Dr, Brave got finished with him. Now he cruises bars with confidence and is able to live with himself on the long lonely cab ride back home.

    2. Could it also be possible that MIT is genuinely concerned about this issue, and the victims of sexual harassment in all its forms?

      Of course not. This is Bobworld. Their motives can only be crass.

    3. Du høres ut som en smart jente. Jeg liker smarte jenter. Har du planer i kveld?

  9. So how's the fundraising going, Bob?

    1. Are you trying to decide how much more to contribute?

    2. You betcha! All I need to know is how much he is seeking to raise, how much he has raised so far, and how he intends to use the money.

      You know, questions I ask of anybody asking for money.

    3. So, when you buy a hamburger, you ask them about their gross receipts for the month before paying?

    4. 452 is referring to fundraising, genius.

    5. Au contraire. I think the analogy between this blog and cheap ground meat is quite appropriate.

    6. I am with 4:46. Only the NYT would praise the clarity of that murky statement.

    7. I guess if he keeps posting, you can consider it was successful.

  10. No one is in favor of rape or sexual assault or sexual harassment. That leaves us all arguing about what the best ways of reducing these might be. Presumably MIT keeps it s own statistics for reported rapes and sexual harassment complaints. Why then is such a survey needed and what are the results going to be used for? It may be that the campus wishes to increase its female enrollment and is wondering whether harassment is preventing more women from applying. That would make the comments quoted in this article more understandable. Worrying about what students think of definitions of sexual harassment makes no sense at all if your goal is to prevent rape.

    College students are children learning how to form and sustain romantic relationships in preparation for marriage or similar life partnership. They are confused by definition, because of the stage of life they are in and their lack of experience. It should not surprise anyone that they have difficulty telling the difference between flirting and harassment, persistence and stalking. They will learn and Somerby is correct to point out that seniors will give different answer than freshmen. It would be nice if they learned the rules sooner, but many do not have the opportunity until college.

    Pretending that Somerby hates women and is clucking about this out of sexism is ridiculous. He hates fuzzy language and fuzzy thinking in whatever domain and he is inviting people to apply some common sense to a situation that is being oddly reported by the NYTimes and presumably others (Marcotte for example). I don't think a crime should be defined by the reaction of the victim, but I also don't think children's exploratory learning and social activities should be redefined into crimes. I see this as sort of like Lena Dunham's controversy, where intent and circumstances should matter and where getting upset about trivial issues to the point where they are equated with serious ones has the effect of obscuring the seriousness of major crimes.

    1. It's a strange tack to take though, considering rape myths are a very good predictor of who will commit sexual assault.

    2. Contrary to rumors by Professor Russell or Senator
      Cornyn, the turtles don't go down on each other.

    3. "Pretending that Somerby hates women and is clucking about this out of sexism is ridiculous."

      Pretend? Name the last issue of particular concern to women that Somerby has not discounted, dismissed and ridiculed.

      What's "ridiculous" is how Bobfans can pretend not to see the clear pattern.

    4. "Name the last issue of particular concern to women that Somerby has not discounted, dismissed and ridiculed."

      This one.

    5. Ja. Jeg ser hva du sier . Men jeg fortsatt elsker min Bob

    6. "This one."

      None are so blind as those who refuse to see.

      Sorry, fanboy, but your hero's blatant sexism has never been on more prominent display.

      But go ahead and delude yourself. Beats all the work of thinking, doesn't it?

    7. Svenska troll är de bästa troll

    8. Svenska råttor smakar bra broild i smör

    9. جی ہاں. میں تم سے کہہ رہے ہو دیکھ. لیکن میں اب بھی میری باب سے محبت کرتا ہوں

  11. OMB (Narratives from the Novelizer of Novelizers, our OTB)

    We regret all the lowest hanging fruit has already been picked by Norwegian Blues migrating back to Hindistan.

    First the survey was simply too long. Then it became "bewildering."

    First the report was hard to find. Then it became "hard to interpret."

    The New York Times "praised" it's clarity by attributing that adjective to others.

    Statistics were just left in a pile and undated, to boot.

    Serious questions about disaggregation by class membership were left unanswered.

    "Whatever!" appeared from out of nowhere, along with a single statistic, which, animated, jumped out of the pile.

    Five. 5. Remember this large number. It will be used to demonstrate misdirected concerns invented (created?) from this point forward through use of the novelists favorite adjectives.

    "Apparently" (things often appear)

    "we were struck" (you may not have been so we remind you)

    "by the extent" (just remember 5, we don't have to put a number on "extent")

    "According to several observers" (who go unnumbered and unnamed)

    The chancellor complained. And it was sad (It is not clear if this is a function of her age).

    "The children...." (Here the novelists paints young college adults in an age construct directly opposite to old fogey administrator)

    "weren’t willing to say how often they’d been assaulted!" the novelist tells us with exciting punctuation to describe something for a second time as fact which is total fiction.

    Luckily though, BOB inserts a bad 1950's TV cultural reference he reruns from an earlier chapter.

    A couple of old people lament about unwilling children and we wander past a reporter's "apparent" stenography and things he "seems" to list and "seems" to scold those unwilling "youngsters."

    BOB brings us to a furious climax using the device of questions about what and why things seem to be or should not seem to be, and facts which seem to appear throughout but are nonetheless a "surprise."

    These old elitists don't "seem" concerned about honest-to-god real reports of rape on this Norwegian-Urdu indecipherable year long drop-out inducing survey taken Lord knows when and not disaggreagated by Freshman through Senior class!

    Unless, of course, the reporter twisted things to just make them appear to be insane. He is with the New York Times. They do that.

    And you, dear reader, never notice.

    1. Another incoherent rambling comment from our schizophrenic turd.

    2. Somerby invented to two IQ points joke before he knew some readers could not rub the one they had.

    3. Including readers who can't type.

  12. "The world would be a better place if people weren’t exposed to sexist remarks, inappropriate comments or even 'crude sexual remarks.' It would be better if youngsters weren’t 'subjected to people’s tales of sexual exploits.'"

    Ummmmmm, speak for yourself, Bob ....

    1. Bob is always apologizing for Clinton.

    2. The guy responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal? I didn't know that.

    3. Even though I was making a funny I don't know why Bob simply assumes that a world without sexual comments or tales of sexual exploits would be a better world. Frankly it sounds downright boring.

    4. I don't think MIT is talking about a world without such things. It is talking about a campus, an educational institution in which students hear such things whether they wish to or not. In particular, they are talking about a campus that has historically had an imbalance of males compared to females, and where the male students are traditionally somewhat stunted in their social development. That would make this a topic of some concern to administrators who wish to (1) encourage more women to pursue STEM careers, (2) balance the sexes, (3) prevent the social immaturity of male students from getting them into trouble with or discouraging the matriculation of the female students. This is MIT we're talking about. People get harassed there for being English majors.

    5. Chicks don't dig nerds, got it.

    6. Bob is working hard to dumb this whole issue down to dirty talk, as if that was the only thing this study was about.

      And majneb is dumb enough to buy it..

  13. Other, actual left wing blogs, are going over the election, trying to understand what happened and find a way to move forward. Josh Marshall, in particular, is writing some good stuff. Bob, on the other hand, is almost certainly wracking his brain trying to figure out how to blame Maddow. Because attacking Rachel Maddow is the key to victory. Only when Maddow, with her bewildering array of annoying facial expressions, is crushed into the mud like a wilted, discarded flower, can the left move forward, and get to the serious business of analyzing the 2000 election.

    1. You have described the problem with other blogs in a nutshell.

      I frankly can't wait for more ball jokes from Rachel that Bob can denounce as dick jokes.

    2. Are you suggesting that those other blogs are blaming Maddow for not using her airtime effectively in support of progressive candidates and issues? If not, why not? It seems to me the results speak for themselves.

    3. You mean the Josh Marshall who's currently blaming it all on "Really, Really Old" people?

      Or did you mean "Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall?" (WKJM)

    4. If only Maddow told her viewers that it could have been a "legitimate traffic study" and that Gov. Ultrasound really did nothing all that "heinous," both Houses of Congress would be firmly in the hands of "progressive interests."

    5. You caught on! It's all her fault, the slacking bitch. If she wasn't constantly preening and smirking and sneering, if instead she actually talked about things that mattered, like forced ultrasounds, and black people being shot to death, and -- above all -- the 2000 election, the Democrats would have swept to victory. More than 12% of the youth vote would have shown up. We have got to get rid of her, at any and all costs. The future depends on it.

      Oh, and those college-age bitches who ruined things in Iowa, with their stupid chants. "Raise the wage!" That fucked things up for sure. I hope they like Joni Ernst as a senator! They "earned Ernst," you might say. Bra burning bitches!

    6. Things that matter also include stagnant wages and cuts to services and high long term unemployment. It may be fun to talk about sex and shootings and racism but more people are worried about bread and butter issues. Liberals don't seem to get that.

    7. I couldn't agree with you more. Rachel Maddow is an imperfect representative of left wing interests. I would far, far rather she talked about bread-and-butter issues, although I also wonder if there is a demand for that sort of thing from the masses. My suspicion is that the people who would benefit from it would rather watch Dancing With The Stars, while there is a hardcore group of political junkies who can afford not to care about bread-and-butter stuff, who do, however, get a thrill from being told other people are racist, sexist knuckle-draggers. Those people are Maddow's natural audience, and I wonder if they are the only audience a left-wing political show could draw (If that's not correct, name a show, or publication, that represents left-wing economic views and does draw a large audience). Those people, too vote. And they also have money to donate. And they would probably switch off the channel if it became devoted to issues of class, because they just don't care about that. And of course, those brown-skinned people, and those women, those chanting bitches in Iowa, for example, vote, too. And protest. And organize. They count for something.

      At any rate, Maddow's imperfections, whatever their net effect, don't warrant Bob's obsessive attention. There are things out there far, far more harmful to progressive interests -- but Bob almost never talks about them, unless it's to use them to show how worse the left is by comparison. If Bob actually cared about the liberal agenda, he would pay some negative attention to them. But he doesn't.

    8. John Oliver is doing this right. He has looked at payday loans and for profit colleges -- these are things people need to know about.

    9. I just looked, and Oliver's ratings are pretty good -- better than Maher's. It's early in the game, though. The clips I've seen of his show were decent, but a couple of shows don't a class warrior make. Personally, I thought he was the worst guy on Stewart's show, but that shows that maybe the "suits" at HBO are better judges of screen talent than I am.

    10. Rachel wrote:

      "maybe the "suits" at HBO are better judges of screen talent than I am."

      Blogging is a growing field for those who have blown it in an entertainment career.

    11. I would think there would be at least a niche audience for a sane political news program, one that spoke to that potential vast audience's actual interests. If not we're doomed.

    12. If all you are after is a niche audence, well they've already got that -- at far less expense than a news program that devotes resources for original reporting.

      But how long before that format goes stale? What you got in all three networks (CNN is moving toward more original programming in the evening) is a "charismatic" host interviewing the same handful of people on whatever the topic of the day is.

      They have seem to have abandoned the old "shout show" format, where you assemble a rather "diverse" panel and they scream at each other.

      As for speaking to "that potential vast audience's actual interests," well, they are also doing that now. Go look at the topics they discuss on any of those three networks.

      But they are doing it in the cheapest way possible, and in a way that is now growing stale, as all three networks are bleeding viewers.

      And as I noted in another thread, even at their peak, you could add the viewership of all three networks together and it wouldn't come to 1 percent of the population. So that's a mighty small pie they are slicing.

    13. "There are things out there far, far more harmful to progressive interests -- but Bob almost never talks about them, unless it's to use them to show how worse the left is by comparison."

      Start a blog and write about them obsessively - or write about them here!

    14. @12:42, Yes, there may be things more harmful to progressive interests, and TDH thinks that liberals are ill-equipped to counter those more harmful things. He doesn't claim that journalists on the left are worse than those on the right; he claims that they're worse than they need to be to effectively counter those on the right.

      Maybe his perspective is spot on or maybe it's off kilter, and if the latter, call him on it. But what's the point of whining that he's not writing what you want him to write about?

      You're like a guy in a poker game who throws his hand down and yells "Bingo!"

    15. People obsess over Bob's obsession. Everyone is just doing their best. No one is perfect. Forgive Bob for these shortcomings you have identified. He's just human.

    16. dead - that was a quote from an early post. but i am kinda dumb.

    17. "He doesn't claim that journalists on the left are worse than those on the right; he claims that they're worse than they need to be to effectively counter those on the right."


    18. "But what's the point of whining that he's not writing what you want him to write about?"

      I dunno. What's the point of Bob whining that his favorite targests aren't reporting what he wants them to report, and in the precise way he thinks they should be reported?


      Pretty much the level of argumentation to be expected.

      So nothing substantive then?

    20. What's the point of Bob whining ....

      OK, I'll type slowly so you can follow. It's a blog. It's Bob Somerby's blog. He thinks liberal journalists are failing at an important job in a way undercuts progressives.

      You may think that liberal journalists are doing a bang-up job of reporting. You may think that even if they're doing it wrong, they have no effect on progressive politics. You may think that TDH's particular "targets" are the wrong liberal targets to focus on. Fine. Correct him. That's what the combox is for.

      But if you want to see blogging about another topic, find another blog or start one of your own.

      What don't you understand about "This is Bob Somerby's blog?"

      If you've found yourself reading things you think are pointless, why are you doing that?

  14. "Depending on the circumstances, such experiences can be annoying."

    How nice of Bob to define for women how they should feel about "such experiences" as "crude sexual remarks." Depending on the circumstances, of course.

    But I didn't go to Harvard. So I can think up "circumstances" in which a woman might feel more than simply "annoyed."

    How about "insulted," or "belittled" or "angered" or even "threatened"?

    "Depending on the circumstances," of course.

    1. Don't speak to a woman unless spoken to.

      That goes double for nerds, lower class whites, and all non-Asian minorities.

    2. How about this? Instead of ignoring women, nerds lower class whites, and all non-Asian minorities, why not treat them with the dignity and respect that you would accord to males, non-nerds, middle- and upper-class whites and Asian minorities?

    3. Apparently I was less than clear.

      Don't speak to a woman unless spoken to, ESPECIALLY IF you are a nerd, lower class white, or a non-Asian minority.

      Actually, even if you ARE an Asian minority. Chicks don't really dig them much either. Probably why they don't want to go to MIT ...

    4. I think that's pretty good advice for you, since you apparently don't know how to talk to women with respect. Or perhaps to men, as well.

    5. Respect is wayyy overrated. Women prefer to be entertained ...

  15. Good Heavens Bob, some of these people really don't like you. Although they strike me as a bit lilke the teatotaler who after a shot of whisky said, "that was awful. I had better have another just to make sure it was that bad." Now on to the real issue. Anyone charged with rape or assault should be turned over to the police. This is not something the university should be dealing with at all. Second, if there is an "epidemic" on campus is it because of definitional issues regarding the term assault. It is possible to create an epidemic (see binge drinking) merely by changing how various actions are defined. If there really is an epidemic a university will need real information not so they can prosecute (that belongs with legal authorities) but so they can educate students as to their expected actions and where and when they may be in the most danger. But real answers require real data and not some fluff about whether you heard a dirty joke.

    1. I love it when you fluff Bob's ego while agreeing with him on talking dirty,

    2. Yes, that's all that's really happening. An epidemic of talking dirty.

      And there's no binge drinking either. It's all in how you define it.

    3. I am also unaware that "binge drinking" has been re-defined to create an "epidemic."

      Can our friend tell us what the old and new definitions are?

  16. I find the title of this post ironic: "Narrative all the way down!"

    Yep, that's what we got. Bob's narrative all the way down: "The NYT wrote a worthless story about a worthless study done by eggheads who have no clue how to do an honest survey."

    1. I find your comment ironic. Did you have something useful to say about contrary to TDH's "narrative," the NYT story was great and the MIT study was worthwhile?

      I didn't think so.

    2. The MIT study was worthwhile. It was noted for its clarity by victim's advocates. And the NYTimes article, as usual, paved the way for other publications to cover the story.

      Bob, on the other hand, as has been the case since he started his blog, saw things nobody else saw. And he was amazed that very few saw what he saw and even fewer agreed when they saw what he said he saw.

      He attributed that to the Guild Rule of silence.

      Because people are dumb. And because he saw it.
      It was there.

    3. The Guild Rule of silence according to TDH is that journalists must not criticize each other, not that they must not disagree about stories.

      Since you don't seem capable of reading the blog for comprehension, here's what "Bob" saw:

      Perez-Pena and other elites seem less concerned about the fact that substantial numbers of young women at MIT say they’re being raped during their time on campus.

      They seem more “disturbed” by the fact that the youngsters won’t overstate the hideousness of their experiences.

      Did you wish to dispute that? Or did you just want to repeat that people are dumb?

    4. Yes, I do. What "seems" to Bob, may not "seem" that way to other thinking people.

      Or is Bob's way the only way?