ENABLERS OF THE SCANDALOUS TIMES: Seeing no evil at the Times!

THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2015

Part 4—Hayes/Chait/Tomasky submit:
On its face, the New York Times’ recent bombshell report had the look of a bit of a con, or perhaps of a sham or a scam.

The bombshell report was so long that few people actually read it. In this way, massive length can enable journalistic scams.

Massive length can also create the appearance of a bombshell. When Jo Becker’s scammy report appeared in the April 24 hard-copy Times, its 4400 words started at the top of the paper’s front page. Inside the paper, it filled two entire pages, fluffed as it was by seven photographs plus a time line and an additional chart.

It had the look of a bombshell report, plus it was so long and confusing that nobody actually read it! That said, its basic insinuation was clear, for example in the headline it still carries on-line:

“Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal”

An alert third-grader could read the drift of that exciting headline. Becker’s novelized “news reports” often seem to be written on that level.

Becker’s piece had the look of a “bombshell report.” Indeed, that’s the way Chris Hayes, aka The Puppy, described the piece on April 23, the day it appeared on line.

It had the look of a bombshell report. But if you actually read the report, it perhaps had the feel of a scam.

In rambling fashion featuring tons of gorilla dust, Becker told the tale of a scary uranium deal involving the frightening Russians. She even worked a side trip into her piece. It featured the scary Chinese!

As a matter of literary form, Becker had rather plainly fashioned a scary Cold War tale. Its insinuations may have been plain. But on a journalistic basis, it had the slight feel of a scam.

Consider this quick review:

The uranium deal in question was approved in 2010. Concerning that scary deal, Becker presented no evidence showing that anybody actually thought it was a bad deal at the time.

More specifically, she presented no evidence showing that Hillary Clinton thought it was a bad deal. Indeed, she presented no evidence showing that Clinton played any role in approving the scary deal.

An assistant secretary of state, Jose Fernandez, seemed to tell Becker that Clinton had played no role in approving the deal. In a familiar slippery move, Becker didn’t mention his statement until paragraph 67, when nobody was still reading.

Despite the endlessness of her report, Becker never reported the actual number of cabinet departments which took part in approving the deal. (The number seems to be nine.) She never reported that the Treasury Department chairs the committee which approved the deal, not Clinton’s State Department.

She didn’t report that any of those nine departments ever opposed the scary, frightening, virtually treasonous deal. Despite the endlessness of her report, Becker’s piece is best defined by the silos of information she slickly chose to omit.

There’s nothing new about this kind of work at the New York Times. In 1996, for example, Gene Lyons published Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater.

The book was published and promoted by Harper’s magazine, a storied American institution.

The book critiqued front-page reports in the New York Times which, starting in January 1992, invented the Whitewater pseudo-scandal. In an appendix to the book, Lyons presented the reams of highly relevant material the Times has chosen to omit from one of those early reports.

At least since the appearance of Fools for Scandal, play-for-pay liberal journalists have worked extremely hard to avoid discussing this apparent culture of scam at the Times. That culture of liberal avoidance was on display in the wake of Becker’s recent report.

Becker’s piece appeared on line on Thursday morning, April 23. That night, Hayes dubbed it a “bombshell report” on his fiery liberal news program.

Incredibly, Hayes explicitly vouched for the accuracy of the bombshell report. He also vouched for the apparent good faith it displayed.

Who was Hayes troubled by that night? He filled his ten-minute segment with discussions of the various things which “drive him crazy” or “drive him nuts” about the troubling Clintons. He didn’t voice a word of complaint about the work of the glorious Times. For whatever reason, players like Hayes have played it this way for at least the last twenty years.

On the bright side, people like Hayes get rich and famous when they play it this way. On the down side, people are dead all over the world because of this ongoing culture of abject liberal surrender.

Three weeks have now passed since the appearance of Becker’s “bombshell report.” Did Diogenes seek one honest man? In similar fashion, we’ve been looking for one upper-end liberal pundit who’s willing to challenge the New York Times about Becker’s scammy-seeming report.

It’s easy enough to do so! Becker’s clowning was so vast that she featured an apparent repeat mistake—an apparent “mistake” she first featured in a front-page report in 2008.

At that time, her “mistake” was challenged by Forbes magazine in a fairly definitive manner. But so what? Three weeks ago, her “mistake” appeared again!

Over the past three weeks, the New York Times hasn’t explained this apparent repeat “mistake.” None of our fiery liberal heroes has asked the Times to do so.

We’re wondering why the fiery Hayes hasn’t revisited his original analysis. We’re wondering why the fiery Rachel Maddow—she’s sometimes called The Nun—hasn’t stood up and critiqued that bombshell report.

Tomorrow, we’ll turn to the work of Michael Tomasky and Jonathan Chait to show you the shape of liberal surrender in the face of the Times. But make no mistake:

If you’re a Democratic voter, you’ve been scammed this way for years. People are dead all over the world because we in the liberal rank and file have tolerated this behavior.

At some point, you have to decide. Is it true that Becker’s report has the look and the feel of a scam?

Is it true that Jeff Gerth’s Whitewater reports were built on the same scammy practices?

Is it true that the New York Times and the Washington Post spent twenty months making up takes about Candidate Gore? At some point, a person has to decide if those things actually happened.

It’s much easier—easier by far—to keep pretending that this is all a dream. Chait and Hayes have certainly played it that way. To us, it looks like they may be enabling a long-running type of scam.

They’ll keep it up till you force them to stop. President Walker is betting the house that it will never happen.

Tomorrow: More sounds of “liberal” silence

Still coming: McIntire and Becker pretend to discuss disclosure


  1. The fiery liberals are back in the woods. They had emerged for a while, but they were too tribal and dropped too many R-bombs. They also didn't care about black children. Now they are back in the woods, perhaps with The Professors, though for ourselves, we don't know if The Professors ever left the woods. The liberals need to re-emerge from the woods and make sure they are tribal in Hillary's favor. If they engage on any other tribalism, they should remain in the woods --- with or without the Professors, who are either in the woods or not in the woods. There was a war on Gore that cost Gore the election. There were also wars on Nixon, Reagan and Bill Clinton, and all of them won re-election, the second time in each case by landslides. Did maybe Gore do some things that cost him the election? Or was he in fact elected? For ourselves, we don't know.

    1. @10:27, you are so damn funny I don't know whether to laugh or soil myself.

    2. When did the NY Times do to Nixon or Reagan what it did to Gore?

      That Bill Clinton survived despite the dirty tricks and attempts to take him down is no excuse for the manipulation of the electoral process engaged in by the Times.

      You are a jerk. You could have stated your disagreement plainly. Instead you engage in this childish attempt to ridicule Somerby's writing style. Look at all the words you wasted instead of just giving an example of how the NY Times printed bombshell length articles containing manufactured claims of scandal or wrongdoing against Reagan or Nixon. Since you claim they did this, it should be easy for you to cite the dates and give us quotes. Waiting impatiently for your evidence...

    3. @ 10:59 AM - do you see the irony in your response?

    4. We agree with Anon. @ 10:59. The comment by Anon. @ 10:27 needed to be longer. It is too short to have the look of a bit of a con, or perhaps of a sham or a scam.

      In our view there are other improvements needed. 159 words are crammed into one paragraph. Take a lesson from master writer BOB. He wrote one 145 word paragraph to open this post, but broke it up to look like four paragraphs. That said, "woods" is used six times, which is too much. BOB uses "bombshell" only four. He breaks up repetition of "scam" by using the adjective "scammy." And of course in chastising the Times for being too long, don't use the phrase "so long" too many times. In the opening BOB matches "so long" with "massive length" twice each to keep readers attention.

      And commenters please, a little more alliteration. More "scary scammy, shammy and slippery." Don't forget to count.

      But otherwise a fine effort at infesting the BOBbox with the excellent response provoking work it deserves. Keep it up.

      Our intellectual culture is still melting and we are not out of the woods yet.

      That said, we may never get out, dumb, lazy and easily confused liberal life forms that we are. Gack! (and alas).

    5. Go away KZ. We know you dislike Somerby. No need to clutter comments with your noise.

    6. The only people who use "we" around here are KZ and Somerby.

    7. Obviously not true.

  2. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

  3. @10:27, perhaps your plans have something to do with this.

    1. Why doesn't the bear eat the liberals in then woods? If there is a bear, or for that matter woods and liberals.

  4. The fiery liberals tend to be progressives who bought into demonizing the Clintons long ago.
    Should we be worried? The best I can muster is a half hearted maybe. Things ain't now, partner, like they used to be. Hitchens has gone to meet his maker, the asinine Marc Cooper has retired. If this is so bad, why does The Daily Howler ignore the silly attacks on Hillary from both Brooks AND Shields week after week.
    And we all lived through W. Even these unprincipled idiots know what another Republican Administration would do to the country. So I suspect The Daily Howler is a bit of a nervous nelly. We seen it before....

    1. And yet we all lived through W's first term and then he got elected to a second one. I don't think we should be complacent.

    2. You don't care about black kids in New Orleans. Or hundred of thousands of Iraqis. That said, we always believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

    3. You are right Anom at 12:01. But Bush's reelection, we should not forget, was aided by three years of free ride coverage in the Press. The damn didn't really break until Katrina.

    4. Yeah, Greg, but 9/11 had a lot to do with that "free ride" when not just us, but the world was willing to give George carte blanche for whatever the hell he decided to do in response.

      The dam might not have broken until Katrina, but the cracks certainly began to appear with the Social Security privatization scheme, and the Terry Schiavo case earlier in 2005.

    5. The damn levees broke in Katrina, not the dam damns.

  5. Greg's Zarkonian Mother from CAMay 14, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    "At some point, you have to decide. Is it true that Becker’s report has the look and the feel of a scam?"

    "Is it true that Jeff Gerth’s Whitewater reports were built on the same scammy practices?

    "Is it true that the New York Times and the Washington Post spent twenty months making up takes about Candidate Gore? At some point, a person has to decide if those things actually happened."

    "It’s much easier—easier by far—to keep pretending that this is all a dream. Chait and Hayes have certainly played it that way. To us, it looks like they may be enabling a long-running type of scam. "

    It's even easier -- easier by far -- to ignore all that and complain that Somerby is quirky, that Gore ran a bad campaign, that Somerby's style is easy to ape, that Bill Clinton won you know, that Somerby didn't mention Becker in 2008, that Hillary is just unlikable, that Somerby repeats himself... So easy even folks clearly off their meds can do it!

  6. Bob persists in treating the alleged scandal as caused by an article in the NY Times. E.g., he wrote, "The bombshell report was so long that few people actually read it." In fact, the basis for the bombshell report is an entire book, "Clinton Cash." If all Bob wants to do is critique the Times article, then it's reasonable to look only at the article. However, when he gets to the topic of how real or how major the alleged scandal is, he needs to look at the entire book.

    Bob's defense of the Clintons is weak IMHO. He says there is no smoking gun, which the book acknowledges. However, the book claims there's a pattern that is so suggestive as to demand a formal investigation. Bob can only refute this claim by analyzing the entire book.

    BTW IMHO there never will be an investigation. The Obama Administration won't conduct a real investigation. They certainly won't appoint an independent prosecutor.

    1. Why did you post the same thing twice?

    2. Why should there be? This is about as substantial as Operation Jade Helm.

      Chalk the comment at 1227PM up to yet another Alex Jones moment brought to you by the Dinkster.

    3. Operation Jade Helm is real. Matt Helm was fictional. But one of Dean Martin's finest roles in the post Jerry Lewis phase of his career.

    4. Tony Franciosa was snubbed by Emmy.

  7. "They certainly won't appoint an independent prosecutor."

    What fucking difference would it make to you asshole?
    Whitewater had 2 independent prosecutors investigating for 8years, in addition to various Congressional and Senate investigations, in addition to an independent report to the RTC by 1995 by the national law firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. In addition to an eight year full court press investigation by the New York Times and they all came up with ZILCH, yet you still come on here and argue that the Clintons were guilty of something.

    These are the Clinton Rules. No amount of investigation will ever satisfy deranged Clinton Haters like yourself. It is impossible to prove a negative.

  8. 1. The book had not yet appeared when the NY Times article was published. 2. The book itself has so many errors that its contents are problematic as a source. 3. There is no "smoking gun" in the book either, no proof of any allegation, no connection between Clinton's actions and any payment or donation, according to the book's own author. 4. The book and the article are equally deficient when it comes to demonstrating that either Clinton did anything wrong.

    Somerby isn't the only person saying there is no smoking gun -- the book's own author says that himself. A formal investigation would be a waste of money and time, public resources. There is no need for Somerby to analyze the whole book when others have already done so (see Media Matters for example).

    Issa conducted a lot of wild-goose-chase investigations, so the idea that there wouldn't be one is silly. There is no reason for Obama to conduct one because there is no evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever to justify appointment of any prosecutor, much less an "independent" one.

    Conservatives would love to taint Clinton's candidacy by conducting such an investigation because too many people would conclude there must have been wrongdoing or else why would there be an investigation. People don't get investigated in the middle of a campaign just because a demonstrated political operative publishes a book full of unsubstantiated innuendo. Fortunately for our democracy.

  9. "An assistant secretary of state, Jose Fernandez, seemed to tell Becker that Clinton had played no role in approving the deal."

    Maybe the report, being so long and of such massive length, had too much of the feel of a scam that Bob Somerby was in fact one of the many instead of the few and didn't actually read the report. Why do we say this appears to be the case? The quote above.

    It is clear as a bell in the article Somerby often describes as muddled and confusing that Jose Fernandez did not "seem to tell Becker" a single thing. In fact, it not only "seems" they didn't talk, they "actually" didn't talk.

    "The Clinton campaign spokesman, Mr. Fallon, said that, in general, these matters did not rise to the secretary’s level. He would not comment on whether Mrs. Clinton had been briefed on the matter, but he gave The Times a statement from the former assistant secretary assigned to the foreign investment committee at the time, Jose Fernandez. While not addressing the specifics of the Uranium One deal, Mr. Fernandez said, “Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any C.F.I.U.S. matter.”

    All a reader can confidently say based on that if that A Clinton campaign spokesperson would not say if Clinton knew or did not know about the case and the Deputy Secretary who normally handled C.F.I.U.S. during her tenure said she never intervened with him. The campaign spokesman may have refused to comment because he did not know. The Deputy Secretary may have handled the uranium case all by himself, been replaced by another person, or had someone other than Clinton intervene on her behalf. The reporter was given a written statement from him. There was no give and take questions and answers.

    In the article the reporters, as Somerby does all too frequently, tell readers what seems to be. For example, in discussing the C.F.I.U.S. process "But experts and former committee members say Russia’s interest in Uranium One and its American uranium reserves seemed to warrant attention at the highest levels."

    Seem is a scam word. Or useful in fairy tales.

    1. "Seem" is not a scam word. The statement comes from Fernandez by way of Fallon. When he says "Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter" that includes the Uranium deal. It is clear. You can imagine other possibilities and scenarios but there is no evidence that any of them happened and no reason why Fernandez should have anticipated any of them in his clear statement. The Clinton campaign person is declining to state something not within his own knowledge or experience. That is entirely appropriate. It suggests legal training, not evasion.

      Again, it is only by assuming that something nefarious was going on that any of your speculation makes any sense whatsoever. Absent that assumption there is no reason why any of Clinton's people should have spoken any differently than they did.

      Somerby likes to use words like seem because of his philosophy background. It is very annoying but I believe he thinks he is being more precise (not more weaselly) by using that word. He is allowing for the possibility that there may be alternative explanations for things that are clear on their face.

      Philosophy majors are taught to recognize that there is appearance and there is reality and that the two may not be the same. It goes back to the Greeks. You can try to use the space between the two to insert an alternative theory about Clinton's evil ways, but I do not believe that is what Somerby intends with his use of the word "seem" nor do I think there is some dark plot lurking beneath Clinton's seemingly innocent behavior, nor do I think you have any justification for trying to pillory Somerby day-in and day-out by inserting wedges into the crevices of his respect for possibilities other than those he claims in his daily posts.

      This whole line of argument is tiresome and too flimsy to hang Somerby with. Please stop wasting everyone's time with this crap.

    2. You seem to think the comment on "seems" was worth wasting well over 300 words on.

    3. There is a remote chance someone might think your criticisms of Somerby are deserved. You are correct that you waste people's time twice, once when they read your crap, and again when they are forced to address it. I could ignore it but the Clintons demonstrated that rapid response is a better strategy for dealing with disinformation than hoping it will go away. You are a particularly nasty form of troll and I would be very happy if you left this site and bothered people somewhere else.

    4. Here is a really nasty piece of trolling.

      You write about adopting the Clinton method of rapid response.

      Bill Clinton never responded to the 2008 article in the New York Times stating he arrived on Giusta's plane in Kazakhstan. At least according to Forbes, whose account is, according to Bob Somerby in this post, "fairly definitive."
      For myself I don't know the degrees of definitive.

    5. If it weren't for those who continue to study the Greeks we might not know reality is not what it appears to be. Thanks again to both the Philosophy majors of the world and to the Greeks for their breathtaking discovery. At the time it was almost as big as the light bulb.

    6. What office was Bill Clinton running for at the end of 2008?

    7. Beats me. I think his wife was running for something at the beginning of 2008 though, when the article connecting him to Giustra and Kazakhstan was published.

  10. If Bob isn't calling for the "tribalism" he normally decries (otherwise THEY win!) what is he doing?

    1. Asking journalists to clean up their act.

    2. Well, he certainly is going to massive lengths to do so after seventeen pointless years. Well some people never learn.
      Krugman has written the same column a hundred times and it hasn't done him any more good. And he is a professor.

    3. Why did you waste your time writing what you just wrote?

    4. 348 - look who's talking?

  11. Today's third graders are as alert as their parents were in fifth grade.

    You can thank teachers and their ratty unions for that.

  12. "More sounds of 'liberal' silence."

    I'm looking forward to this installment!

    1. I'll read it during my quiet time.

  13. The saddest thing about the 2016 election will be the prodigious amount of Clinton shit progressives will be willing eat to make sure the other tribe doesn't win.

    1. No, the saddest thing is the other tribe necessitating the "lesser evil" choice.

    2. The shit is coming from attackers not the Clintons. Progressives who won't defend them are welcome to vote for Nader or Sanders. Wouldn't want them to eat anything they don't want to.

    3. There you neo-libs go again.

      Implying Gore lost because of St. Ralph

    4. Oh, don't be sad. I'm sure they'll be plenty of progressives like you who will do their part to make sure the other tribe wins. Personally, I'm buying a big snow shovel today in anticipation of all the "shit" those evil Clintons will be feeding me.

  14. I am deciding, Bob.

    Becker's article, to me, has the look of a scam. It is just too darn long.
    In the Age of Twitter anyone under 60 should see this.

    I really don't know what a scam feels like. It is a real, tactile thing or some kind of internal emotional thing?

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