THEY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: Maddow outlines the big giant Asia trade deal!


Part 2—She doesn’t make it sound good:
Friend, how much do you know and understand about the TPP—about the so-called Trans Pacific Partnership?

How much do you know and understand about trade legislation in general?

For ourselves, we’d say, “Not much.” But then, we have a ready excuse—we watch The One True Liberal Channel, whose hosts make very little attempt to explain such tedious topics.

In the case of the TPP, this insouciance produced an odd phenomenon in the past week or two. Famous hosts on The One True Channel were praising President Obama for his “best week ever”—and they were including the “important trade legislation” which had passed the Congress as part of that glorious week.

That trade legislation wasn’t the TPP itself, although at one point it wasn’t entirely clear that the talker Chris Matthews knew that. Still, the legislation in question was part of the process which may yet produce a TPP, and it was being hailed on The One True Channel despite its peculiar provenance, which went almost wholly unexplained.

How strange! In fashioning his best week ever, Obama had passed the trade legislation despite massive opposition from his own party. The bill in question had passed the House due to the joint efforts of Obama and John Boehner, a fellow who is normally ridiculed on The One True Channel.

As cable hosts presented the bill as part of that best week ever, they didn’t mention the peculiar vote counts which had occurred. In the congressional voting, the bill had been opposed by 158 of 186 Democrats in the House and by 31 of 44 Democrats in the Senate. These vote totals went unmentioned as cheerleaders served us our nightly porridge on the corporate cable channel designed for rubes like us.

Why would Obama support a bill which so many Dems opposed? What were the actual merits of this bill?

What are the potential merits and demerits of the actual TPP, which might emerge in the end? For ourselves, we can’t tell you much about questions like those. But then, we have that excuse.

Over the next two days, let’s consider the lazy way this topic has been covered on MSNBC’s flagship program, The Rachel Maddow Show. For today, let’s consider the way the program’s host described the potential “Trans Pacific Partnership” way back in early May, when we were all still young.

It was Thursday evening, May 7. President Obama had flown to Oregon. He was going to speak about the proposed trade bill the next day.

This produced Maddow’s strongest attempt, in the past several months, to discuss the proposed trade deal. Needless to say, she started her segment with some of her wonderfully whimsical humor about her own “fascinations:”
MADDOW (5/7/15): Here in the U.S. tonight, President Obama has just flown to the great state of Oregon.

Nothing to do with owls attacking joggers in that park in the Oregon state capital.
Nothing to do with that state’s Republican Party chairman running a side business in which he asks members of the general public to mail him their urine.

Nothing about the still inexplicable girlfriend scandal that drove that state’s once very popular governor out of office. Nothing to do with any of those stories. Nothing to do even with Oregonians being obsessed with the carpet at the Portland airport.

The president’s visit has nothing to do with any of the truly strange news stories out of Oregon over the past few months that have made the state an object of national fascination, or at least an object of my fascination.

Now, President Obama’s visit to Oregon tonight is because he is going to Nike.
The president’s visit wasn’t about the owls, the urine or even the girlfriend scandal. Nor had those pointless events made Oregon an object of national fascination, though people like Maddow will often have a hard time drawing distinctions between themselves and the external world.

Instead, the president was going to Nike. Maddow now explained why, and shared a bit of her political insight:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Nike. Nike’s headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon. Nike’s a very large company. It has about 26,000 employees in the United States.

But the number of employees they have overseas just completely dwarfs their workforce at home.
Yes, they’re headquartered in Oregon and they’ve got 26,000 American employees, but they’ve got a million people working for them overseas, in contract factories where the pay and the labor standards are generally terrible.

And that kind of business arrangement, where even iconically American products get made overseas because it’s more profitable to have the work done in places with terrible wages and terrible labor standards, that age-old dynamic which has killed off huge swaths of working-class and middle-class American jobs over the last few decades, that dynamic, many people worry, will get even worse than it is now if this big 12-country Asia trade deal goes through, which the president favors.

And so President Obama, mark my words, clearly has something up his sleeve here, because he has gone to Oregon tonight. He’s doing a DNC fund- raiser there tonight. But he is going to Nike headquarters tomorrow and it is at Nike where he’s going to give his speech tomorrow about why people should support his very controversial Asia trade deal.
Maddow wasn’t making this “very controversial trade deal” sound very good. She described an “age-old dynamic which has killed off huge swaths of working-class and middle-class American jobs over the last few decades.”

According to Maddow, “many people worry” that this dynamic will only get worse if this giant trade deal goes through. For that reason, she said Obama “clearly has something up his sleeve” in his trip to Oregon.

“Mark my words,” the cable savant said. Sure enough! The analysts did!

Why did Maddow feel so sure that Obama had something up his sleeve? As she continued, she explained. It had to do with Nike:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Nike is the poster child for why people are freaked out about that deal. Nike is the poster child for why labor and Democrats and people on the left and people in the center are opposed to that trade deal in considerable numbers.

So there must be something up his sleeves, right? This is, this is too obviously counterintuitive, right? It would be like him announcing the approval of the Keystone pipeline at the site of a pipeline spill, right?
It doesn’t make sense for him to go to a company that’s sent all of its jobs to Vietnam to make a case for a trade deal that will make it easier for American companies to send all their jobs to Vietnam.

So it can’t be what it seems like. Something’s going on here.
According to Maddow, Nike’s international practices made it “the poster child” for liberal and Democratic opposition to the proposed trade deal. According to Maddow, endorsing the deal at Nike headquarters would be like endorsing Keystone at the site of an oil spill.

As she continued, Maddow gave herself a minor out. She also summarized the state of liberal opposition to the proposed trade deal:
MADDOW (continuing directly): The president is due to speak at Nike tomorrow, and we will see. Maybe it’s all as obvious as it seems. I think that we should expect some sort of surprise announcement tomorrow from the president, just given the place where he’s going to be making that speech. The president is due to speak at a DNC fund-raiser tonight in the meantime.

And you know, this trade issue is a divisive one in Democratic politics. Some Pacific Northwest Democrats like the powerful Senator Patty Murray of Washington, she supports the president on the trade deal, even though she’s willing to buck him from the left on other issues.

Other Pacific Northwest Democrats like Peter DeFazio of Oregon, he’s against the president on the trade deal. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported the trade deal when she was in the Obama administration as secretary of state, but she’s now being much cagier about the issue now that she is running for president.

It was also an interesting consolidation of some of the loudest and most popular voices on the left side of the Democratic Party today, which is where that interesting dynamic is between the president and the left.

Today, President—excuse me, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for new populist economic policies from the Democratic Party.

Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio getting together. Hmmm.

So there’s interesting stuff going on, right? There’s a bit of a roiling going on in Democratic politics in general and specifically tonight.

President Obama is clearly going to drop something unexpected tomorrow on this big economic issue. Nobody quite knows where Hillary Clinton is going to land on that issue. Nobody quite knows where Hillary Clinton is going to land on a lot of issues as she keeps up her run for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama.

So there’s a little unexpected and sort of exciting drama in Democratic politics for once.
As she finished her discussion, Maddow sold us our nightly dose of “excitement” and “drama.” She didn’t tell us to “Watch this space”—although, as matters turned out, it was probably just as well.

Unless we’re missing something somewhere, this represents Maddow’s most thorough discussion of the proposed trade deal in the past several months. She presented the most basic possible outline of the trade debate of the past several decades, with liberals and Democrats generally saying that deals of this type have “killed off huge swaths of working-class and middle-class American jobs.”

It’s very, very, very rare to see Maddow address such mundane concerns. We suggest that you gaze on those words, enjoying them while you can.

That said, Maddow's discussion of international trade was extremely rudimentary this night. Let’s be candid:

If you get your news from this joke-laden show, you have very little real understanding of this proposed trade deal. We’ll flesh that point out tomorrow.

Maddow’s discussion was rudimentary—but she’d also made a prediction. Once the joking was done, she had said it was clear that Obama had something up his sleeve in his journey to Oregon.

There was no way you’d go to Nike to announce support for a giant trade deal! “So it can’t be what it seems like. Something’s going on here!”

Obama spoke at Nike the next day. For better or worse, it was exactly what it seemed like.

On Friday, May 8, Obama delivered his speech. In Saturday morning’s New York Times, Peter Baker reported what he said.

Front-page headline included:
BAKER (5/9/15): Obama Scolds Democrats on Trade Pact Stance

President Obama on Friday lashed out at critics within his own party as he accused fellow Democrats of deliberately distorting the potential impact of the sweeping new trade agreement he is negotiating with Asia
and standing in the way of a modern competitive economy.

With the cutting tone he usually reserves for his Republican adversaries, Mr. Obama said liberals who are fighting the new trade accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, were ''just wrong'' and, in terms of some of their claims, ''making this stuff up.” If they oppose the deal, he said, they ''must be satisfied with the status quo'' and want to ''pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves.''

''There have been a bunch of critics about trade deals generally and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,'' he told an estimated 2,100 workers at the Nike headquarters here. “And what's interesting is typically they're my friends coming from my party.

“And they're my fellow travelers on minimum wage and on job training and on clean energy and on every progressive issue, they're right there with me. And then on this, they're like whupping on me.''

But Mr. Obama said that he had no political motive for supporting freer trade with Asia. ''I've run my last election,'' he said. ''And the only reason I do something is because I think it's good for American workers and the American people and the American economy.'' And so, ''on this issue, on trade, I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong. They're just wrong.”
“The president's speech here on the sprawling campus of the sports apparel company represented his most expansive defense of his trade agenda since asking Congress to grant him negotiating power often called fast-track authority,” Baker further said.

Why was Obama saying these things? Why did he say that the giant trade deal would be good for American workers?

We don’t have the slightest idea—but then again, we have that excuse. Consider the chronology here:

On Thursday night, Maddow told us to mark her words. The president must have something up his sleeve, she all-knowingly said.

There was no way he’d gone to Nike to endorse a giant trade deal! De Blasio and Warren, she said!

On Friday, Obama spoke at Nike. Effusively, he endorsed the giant trade deal. He even said that some of his friends—presumably, people like de Blasio and Warren—were just “making this stuff up.”

The president had made big news that day—unless you get your news from the Maddow Show! That night, the program’s all-knowing savant and clown didn’t so much as mention what Obama had said. Nor did she mention his speech the next week, even after Obama specifically criticized Senator Warren, by name, over the ensuing weekend.

Tomorrow, we’ll see what Maddow did say the next week on her joke-laden corporate news program. But her viewers were never told about the speech Obama delivered at Nike. They weren’t told what he later said about Senator Warren. Her name wasn’t mentioned all week.

This is the way “the news” gets delivered on this joke-laden program. If we can say this without seeming snippy, it helps explain why we liberals are sometimes so clueless while Maddow’s so happy and rich.

Tomorrow: Maddow’s subsequent “coverage,” right up to the present


  1. That all makes perfect sense. But I don't like your snippy tone.
    Douche Troll

    1. I like the fact he might be lying, as he did repeatedly in covering Maddow on the wage gap issue.

      Douche Fan

    2. If he's lying, please document that by citing the date and providing a link to the Maddow transcript where she does talk about the TPP or Obama's speech again. It is not OK to call someone a liar without providing any evidence to support your accusation.

      Are you aware that the word "douche" refers to a female hygiene product? The way you are using it is pretty sexist because it implies there is something wrong with women's personal care or private parts.

    3. "It is not OK to call someone a liar without providing any evidence to support your accusation."

      You are right. If someone said Somerby was lying about Maddow and TPP please document that.

  2. "If you get your news from this joke-laden show, you have very little real understanding of this proposed trade deal."

    If you get your news from this or many other web sites, you get very little truth either.

    Which is why you should get your news from sources other than cable opinion shows or blog narrating meme artistes who pretend cable talkers are "journalists."

    1. This is not a news website. Why should anyone think they should get their news here?

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

    2. No. Which is why I warned people to not get their news here.
      Same with cable talk shows.

  3. If you get your media musings from this comedian written blog, you might have little understanding that journalism critics with actual expertise in the field other than a burr in the blanket over liberal laziness have been on to the lack of coverage of this issue for some time.

    Like as long as 18 months ago.

  4. "...or at least an object of my fascination." R.M.

    Remember when the prospect of working at FNC fascinated Maddow?

    "Maddow's agent, Jean Sage at TV Talent (also Keith Olbermann's agent), asked to send her tapes over to FNC's head of programming, Bill Shine, we're told by a reputable insider," writes Jossip. "But Shine declined."

    1. No, that was too long ago for me to remember. But I do remember your source telling us Donald Trump is currently in a twitter fight with his own Miss Universe who said hypocritical things about his characterization of those drug smuggling rapacious Mexican immigrants.

      Guess she won't be in line to be Mrs. Donald IV. Or is it V?

    2. "drug smuggling rapacious illegal Mexican immigrants."


      Watch the "ESPN "30 For 30" episode on the USFL and how Trump made a hash out of it. That is how Trump's run for POTUS will end as well.

      I though liberals admired celebrities with multiple marriages i.e. Liz Taylor, Larry King ...

    3. I never forgave Liz for what she did to Eddie Fischer.

      Or Eddie for what he did to Debbie and Princess Leia for that matter.


      By implementing continual and non-related postings that distract and disrupt (trolling ) the forum readers they are more effectively stopped from anything of any real productivity. If the intensity of gradual dilution is intense enough, the readers will effectively stop researching and simply slip into a ‘gossip mode.’ In this state they can be more easily misdirected away from facts towards uninformed conjecture and opinion. The less informed they are the more effective and easy it becomes to control the entire group in the direction that you would desire the group to go in.

    5. Leave it to Sparky to try and change the subject by interrupting the delightful evolving conversation cicero and I were having about media celebrities.

    6. Alas, cicero, D. Trump, the orangutan haired Republican Presidential contender did not make the distinction between people Mexico was sending to the U.S. regarding the legality of their immigration status or lack thereof.

      "When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

      In fact, we have to assume, based on his wording, that Donald only took the initiative in creating a distinction between some rapists being good and other rapists being not so good.

    7. @ 2:54

      You are not up to date.

      "Well if you look at the statistics of people coming, you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything coming in illegally into this country it's mind-boggling!"

    8. So did he retract what he said about the people Mexico is sending legally?

      This statement you quote is, to use a Howler term, fuzzy.
      All it tells me is that when Trump looks at statistics his mind is boggled. That is not uncommon in people who do a lot of television.

    9. Nor is it uncommon in people who wear neon-orange hairhats.

    10. @ 6:28

      Where did Trump use the phrase "legally sending" with Mexico?

      POTUS Obama does a lot of TV. Maybe you got something there.

      "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno": 3 appearances
      "The Late Show with David Letterman": 2 appearances
      "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart": 3 appearances
      "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon": 1 appearance
      "Oprah" 3 appearances
      "The View" 2 appearances
      "Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis" 1 appearance
      "GloZell Green" 1 appearance

    11. It is sad to know he missed appearing on "Journalist County House Party with Meredith Viera." But then that is a news program.

    12. @ 8:48,

      POTUS Obama manages to trip himself up even in his hand picked non-threatening soft ball environments.

      "Barack Obama Special Olympics Insult "

  5. The polyamorous owe a debt of gratitude to the LGBT community for paving the way. Let's get this party started. We have been forced into the closet for centuries and denied our civil right to love who we want to love. This fight is just beginning.

    1. The Supreme Court let the cat out of the bag. Or is it the box turtle out of its shell?

      If we get this from Slate, what's next? Vaginal knitting articles in Salon?

    2. 12:16 I know you're exaggerating but I wouldn't be surprised if those unbalanced ninnies reach those depths.

    3. Despite their falsely earned reputation from fables, Turtles are not very fast and they have yet to even get to the courthouse to file suit. But I am sure when they due they can expect the ninnies to rule 5-4 in their favor.

  6. While Bob was asleep in the woods. dreaming about sleeping liberals and professors:

    1. Great find. I won't suggest this implies you seemed to be snoozing through the comment of @ 11:35.

      I will note that in their charts, MSNBC was the only media source that mused about the issue much at all. I am not sure if the Gatekeeper networks were sleeping in the woods. They may have been looking for ways which to keep pace with Brian Williams excellent storytelling.

  7. Exactly which commentary is more arch or superior: Maddow or Howler?

  8. I watch Maddow almost every night. Many times she is able to link history and politics in a way that provides a unique and discerning larger picture. Furthermore, it takes some talent to sit before a camera for 10 minutes and deliver single issue commentary without a guest. On the other hand, Maddow is a learned student of Francois Delsarte, not Sandy Meisner. She has a practiced and unconvincing 'listening face', 'a concerned face', a 'delighted face' (usually over her own 'cleverness'. Why not just listen, or experience concern or delight instead? As to the issue: Maddow did hype her prediction about Obama and Nike one night. And then dropped it entirely when it did not come true.

    1. Kind of like Somerby with his prediction of surprise if WMD were not found in Iraq? Dropped entirely. When it did not come true.

      Maybe she will start blaming Ed Schulz for all those lost jobs for decades to come.

    2. Or O'Reilly's promise to never trust the Bush WH again if WMD were not found. Or every RW economist and radio host who predicted runaway inflation, a sinking dollar and financial collapse after the stimulus and QE2.

    3. The late great Bartcop, whose pioneering coverage of the media led to copycat websites like our own TDH, used to have great fun with pundit prognosticators like Rachel and Bob.

      He repeatedly ran a chart from "Content" ranking the accuracy of predictions of famous pundits like George Will, William Kristol, Sam&Cokie and their ilk to randomly predicted answers selected by Chippy the Chimp.

      Bart is missed, Nobody covered the right wing media like he did. Or chimps. Bob doesn't cover the right wing media much any more. And when Bob mentions Chimps he is usually comparing liberals to our biological cousins habit of feces throwing.

      Bart wouldn't be offering any Chinaco shots to Bob.

  9. One more thing: I had friends who worked with Maddow at Air America. They were frustrated because every word spoken on air had to be written word for word for her. Her co-host, Liz Winstead, could improvise, vamp, take a topic and spontaneously elaborate off the top of her head. They never expected Maddow to be the one to take off in broadcasting. Surely, she's grown since then, but I still get the impression she practices her faces by looking in the mirror before each show. I worked at a station with Limbaugh as well, and as loathsome as his commentary is, he works from bullet points, extrapolating, free associating and playing with words. Hannity, in contrast, gets a written sheet before each show and reads it verbatim for the first half hour. And it sounds like it...

    1. Just like a member of the guild not to name names.

    2. Ned Isikoff: "You got me blacklisted at Hop Sing's?"

      deliveryman: "Yes. She name name."