THEY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: Maddow’s take on the giant trade bill!

FRIDAY, JULY 10, 2015

Part 5—Nancy Pelosi’s the best:
Is Paul Krugman actually right about that proposed “trade thing?”

Over the past eighteen months, Krugman has said that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership just isn’t that big a deal.

He has said that both sides are overstating the likely effects of the proposed deal. He has said it won’t kill a boatload of jobs, the way progressives have been saying. But he also says that the TPP wouldn’t be especially good for the country or the world.

Is Krugman right about the TPP? Like you, we have no idea. Like you, we watch The Rachel Maddow Show—a program whose host has incessantly clowned about the giant trade deal.

If you’ve been watching the Maddow Show in the past three months, you’ve learned next to nothing about the substance of the proposed trade deal.

You were told, in early May, that it might kill “huge swaths of working-class and middle-class jobs”—more precisely, that liberals and labor and most Democrats believe that about the deal.

But since that time, Maddow hasn’t made any attempt to help you learn if that is actually true. She spends her time incessantly clowning about Republican presidential candidates, vanity, real and imagined.

When she does discuss the TPP, she tends to take a tribal approach, pleasuring us concerning the greatness of leaders within our own tribe.

It seems fairly clear that the Maddow Show has undergone a dumbing-down in the past year. Maddow’s political judgment was never especially good. But now, she sits at the wheel of am undisguised clown car during the bulk of her program.

Night after night, she wastes enormous amounts of time on silly, pointless “campaign coverage” of the dumbest possible kind. In the process, she ignores economic issues which might affect “huge swaths” of the public, except to the extent that those issues can be used to provide us tribal pleasure before we sleep at night.

Serious liberals should be appalled by Maddow’s incessant clowning. Let’s review the way she has toyed with TPP in the past several months.

In part 2 of this report, we reviewed Maddow’s report on the TPP from Thursday, May 7. Somehow, she seemed to have gotten it into her head that Obama was flying off to Oregon to reverse his support for the proposed trade deal.

Or something! “Mark my words,” Maddow said. “President Obama is clearly going to drop something unexpected tomorrow on this big economic issue.”

“It can’t be what it seems like,” she said. “Something’s going on here.”

Maddow did a long report that evening on Obama’s impending speech. She pimped “the sort of exciting drama” which was underway in Democratic politics.

The next day, Obama aggressively backed the TPP in his Oregon speech. Over the weekend, he aggressively criticized Elizabeth Warren and others, saying they were “making it up” in their complaints about the proposed trade pact.

Maddow’s prediction had been thoroughly wrong. She reacted to this in the old-fashioned way—she didn’t report what Obama had said, whether in his aggressive speech or in his weekend attacks on Warren.

On the Maddow Show of Friday, May 8, Obama’s aggressive Oregon speech went completely unmentioned. His weekend remarks about Warren and others went down the memory hole during the whole next week.

Simple story! Maddow has used the TPP to give us tribal pleasure. On Tuesday, May 12, Obama lost a vote in the Senate concerning the giant trade bill. This was Maddow’s full report on the vote, whose substance she didn’t explain:
MADDOW (5/12/15): There’s also political news today of a very rare variety. The White House has been lobbying hard for a piece of legislation the Republicans were happy to approve, but Democrats today told the White House no.

So it’s the Obama White House getting support from Republicans, but losing the issue today in Congress because they lost Democrats. This, of course, is the trade deal. It is an ongoing political story. But that kind of a big Democratic split is a rare and precious thing in our politics these days. We’ve got eyes on that.
No word on what this vote was actually about. But Democrats had won the vote, and Maddow said the big Democratic split was “a rare and precious thing.”

At this point, the TPP basically disappeared from the Maddow Show. Night after night, Maddow clowned about those Republican candidates, real and imagined—for example, about the way she can’t distinguish former governor Ehrlich (Maryland) from former governor Gilmore (Virginia), who later became “her guy.”

Maddow returned to the TPP with a brief overview on Thursday, June 11. Some votes concerning the giant trade deal were coming up in the House, she said.

She didn’t attempt to explain the votes. Pleasingly, though, her reflexive self-juvenilization was on display right out of the gate.

Our Own Peewee Herman said this:
MADDOW (6/11/15): All right—ready for the metaphor?

Today in the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner began the tightrope walk that he hopes will result in a giant 12-nation Pacific trade deal moving ahead.

House Democrats generally hate this thing. But even though Republicans generally like it, they can’t get all their troops in line to pass it because President Obama likes it too.

Ewww, cooties!
So the Republicans have to get some Democrats onboard.
Once again, Maddow made no attempt to explain what these votes would actually be about. She didn’t attempt to explain why Obama likes the deal while most House Democrats hate it.

According to Maddow, some Republicans opposed the bill because it contains Obama’s “cooties.” She said Elizabeth Warren was urging supporters to lobby the House and that the votes would likely be very close.

On the next evening, Friday, June 12, Maddow actually did a lengthy report on the giant 12-nation trade deal. Her long and thoroughly clueless report featured a pleasing tribal theme:

Nancy Pelosi is endlessly great! John Boehner is totally hapless!

Again, Maddow made no attempt to explain the vote which had been held that day. But Democrats had won that vote—and even though Maddow acknowledged the fact that the trade deal was far from dead, the victory inspired her to feed us some rich comfort food.

To read the full transcript of Maddow’s report, you can just click here. After a largely pointless preamble, she described Pelosi’s greatness as a leader, as compared to the hapless Boehner.

Pelosi “conducts House Democrats like a symphony,” Maddow enthused. “When she was Speaker, that’s how the House was able to pass the huge number of consequential bills that they passed.”

By way of contrast, Boehner’s leadership “is chaos,” Maddow said. The manic cable star offered some comic detail:
MADDOW (6/12/15): This trade deal thing is a rare bird. Republicans like it, President Obama likes it. But most Democrats do not like it.

And Republicans have this big majority in Congress. Theoretically, they should be able to pass it on their own.

But again, John Boehner cannot lead a puppy to a hamburger. John Boehner cannot conduct a single person playing chopsticks. John Boehner cannot whip his way out of a paper bag. He cannot get Republicans to do anything he wants them to do, ever.

And so, even though John Boehner has the numbers, which should mean he should be able to do this himself, he can’t. He needs Democrats, he needs some Democrats to cross over and vote with Republicans in order to pass this thing.

And there was a lot of suspense today heading into this vote as to whether or not the Democratic votes would be there. There was a ton of suspense, legitimately.

Nobody knew what would happen until Nancy Pelosi stood up and said she would vote no, and then it was like, “Bim Boom!” Turn out the lights, slam the door, double-lock it, get in the car and drive home!

It’s over. It was totally over.
The trade deal’s prospects weren’t “totally over,” of course. Maddow made this clear.

“Through some procedural acrobatics, they will, in effect, be bringing it back early next week,” she quickly said, failing to explain what the Sam Hill she meant.

At any rate, the fact that the Democrats had won one vote had the cable star flying. Again, she seemed to make a prediction about what would occur in the end:
MADDOW: Liberals stopped this trade thing today, for now. If they want to keep it dead, they’re going to have to hold the line through this weekend and through the beginning of next week until the next vote happens and it is going to be a high pressure line to hold.

I mean, first of all, there is always the possibility that Republicans might get it together under John Boehner leadership and do it themselves.

Don’t worry about that!

More likely, there is going to be a ton of pressure among all of the various factions within the Democratic Party...
Don’t worry about Boehner, Maddow said. As she continued, she quoted a fiery statement from a liberal group. She seemed to say it was “more likely” that the Democrats were going to win.

“True drama on this,” she said in closing. “Watch this space.”

Watch this space? We have no idea why!

In the end, these unexplained provisions of the trade bill passed both houses of Congress. When Obama and Boehner won those votes, Maddow’s viewers were barely told.

On Wednesday, June 24, Maddow did say this: “In terms of big policy issues, the trade bill got a lot closer to passing today. This is the Trans-Pacific trade deal—and on this deal, the weird political accommodations, right?”

Obama was aligned with the GOP, viewers were once again told. “But it looks like the trade deal is on track to pass tomorrow,” Maddow said. “That will be the major thing in Washington to watch tomorrow.”

The next day, the unexplained bill in question did pass the House. Its passage went completely unmentioned on Maddow’s program that night.

Indeed, the trade deal hasn’t been mentioned on Maddow’s program since that report on June 24, according to Nexis. All in all, the TPP has been used as an excuse for occasional tribal cheerleading and for virtually nothing else.

Can we talk? If you watch the Maddow Show, you know virtually nothing about the TPP.

You know Obama has sided with the bulk of the GOP concerning the giant trade deal. But you’ve seen absolutely no attempt to explain why this might be.

In early May, you heard that the TPP might kill “huge swaths of working-class and middle-class jobs.” After that, you never heard that problem mentioned again. Maddow has made no attempt to help you learn if that’s true.

In May, you heard that Obama had something up his sleeve concerning support for the trade deal. When it turned out that he actually didn’t, the speech that Maddow had ballyhooed was never mentioned again.

In June, when the Democrats won one vote, you were told that Speaker Boehner couldn’t lead a puppy to a hamburger. When the unexplained bill in question eventually passed, the fact of its passage went unmentioned. So did Boehner’s alleged haplessness.

If you’re a viewer of Maddow’s show, you have no idea where the TPP currently stands. You have no idea why Obama supports it while Elizabeth Warren doesn’t.

You don’t know if it will cost workers jobs. In truth, you’ve seen no sign that such a concern really matters. But then, it’s often like this with the feckless Maddow, a corporate paid millionaire.

Just a guess:

At some point in the past year, a decision was apparently made to dumb this program down. Maddow has proven exceptionally good at that task.

She has always been good as demonstrating a lack of concern for economic issues which affect people below her own station. Today, she frequently bangs on her toy xylophone and plays videotape of herself at her daily staff meeting.

She talks and talks about “her guy,” the ridiculous Vanity Candidate Gilmore. She never tires of her silly, repetitive piddle about that August 6 Fox News debate which is going to ruin the world.

For years, this has been the flagship program of The One True Liberal Channel. But in these years of living corporately, the Maddow Show has become a major part of the way our tribe is kept uninformed—uninformed, unaware, childish, deeply dumbed-down.

Still probably coming: How much do you know about the costs of health care?


  1. "Like you, we watch The Rachel Maddow Show—a program whose host has incessantly clowned....

    She spends her time incessantly clowning about Republican presidential candidates, vanity, real and imagined.

    It seems fairly clear that the Maddow Show has undergone a dumbing-down in the past year. Maddow’s political judgment was never especially good. But now, she sits at the wheel of am undisguised clown car during the bulk of her program.

    Night after night, she wastes enormous amounts of time...

    Serious liberals should be appalled by Maddow’s incessant clowning."

    Bob Somerby

    Is Somerby right about serious liberals? Like you, we have no idea. Like you, we read the Daily Howler —a blog whose host has incessantly berated liberals from top to bottom.

    If you’ve been reading the Daily Howler in the past several years, you’ve learned next to nothing about the existence of serious liberals.

    We've been told liberals are tribal. They are lazy. Liberals are dumb. They have questionable morals. Liberals, Somerby has told us time and time again, don't care about black people. Except, of course, when they are black. Then they are professors who cuff aside grieving low country-cadence clapping relatives who are the true heirs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Has Somerby even covered a serious liberal recently? Let's review.

    He has covered Paul Krugman. The liberal MVP according to Somerby.

    "We’ve often noted the amazing way Paul Krugman’s work is ignored by the rest of the mainstream press....

    We’ve often noted that Krugman’s work gains no purchase anywhere else—produces no wider discussion."

    So who, we ask you, is a serious liberal to turn to for guidance in channelling their anger when appalled at Rachel Maddow?

    Paul Krugman? Whose work is ignored and whose accuracy even Bob Somerby won't vouch for in this very post?

    Or Bob Somerby? Who watches the Rachel Maddow Show?

    1. Serious liberals? Can we talk? Simple story. Just a guess

      They never tuned in or changed channels long ago.

  2. Somerby picked a bad day give it up for Boehner leading the House.

  3. Breaking news......or not

    POTUS Obama not commenting on murder of Kate Seinle. Not sending any DOJ or FBI to San Francisco to investigate the Sanctuary City. Not sending any officials to Kate's funeral. When the press asked Josh Earnest about the Obama Administration lack of interest in the murder of Kate he directed the press to ask their questions at Department of Homeland Security.

    Contrast the non reaction by the Obama Administration to their reaction to Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Treyvon Martin. etc.

    1. Howler faithful have come to rely on cicero to give them a head's up on late breaking developments which may or may not later make it to the media musing stylings of maestro Bob Somerby.

  4. From the rich's point of view, Maddow is doing a great job keeping the irrational population out of the way of major decisions.

    1. Or minor decisions, if you trust liberal MVP Paul Krugman. We have no idea. That said, we have no idea what the point of view of the rich is, so we will trust you have reason to be close to the pulse of that way of thinking.

    2. I'm not so sure I would trust Krugman on this trade deal. He usually can get away with criticizing the wealthy but only if he does so in impersonal hints, naming as few names as possible.

      Here are some people whose salaries don't depend on recruiting advertising dollars from Chevron:

      From Noam Chomsky's Necessary Illusions:
      "Reinhold Niebhur argued that rationality belongs to the cool observers while the proletarian follows not reason but faith, based upon a crucial element of necessary illusion" (quotes removed)

      From Jon Schwarz' blog A Tiny Revolution:
      One of the positive things about our giant economic collapse has been an outbreak of honesty among the billionaires who run America. Now they seem to feel free to express how they truly feel about the rest of us.... “There’s always been rich and poor, the 1 percent and the 99 percent. It’s like a prison. If you only have prisoners and no guards, you’d have chaos.” -- real estate David Siegel, 2012.

  5. Bob Somerby

    Keeping a Howler Eye on Those We Hold in Contempt?


    Deranged from Day One

    "Did Maddow run and lie about Matthews so she could land this big, brilliant plum? We don’t have any way of knowing—but we’ve seen this gruesome movie a million times by now. Why would Maddow, a “progressive” woman, run off to praise Matthews, an utterly crazed woman-trasher? In the particular case, we have no idea—although we’ll ask Maddow, one more time, to explain her peculiar comments. Until she does, we’ll assume the worst—that Maddow is the latest self-dealer to trade the truth for her own success. We’ll treat her with the contempt she has earned until she explains why she said what she did—why she praised this overt woman-hater on her way to her big career prize."

    Bob Somerby
    January 21, 2008

    1. Do you have a guess as to why she would praise him? Does anyone?

    2. Well, first you would have to go back to the deep archives of Adventures in Bobworld to find out for sure she did "run off to praise" Matthews. The adverbial expression Bob used, "run off to" indicates he witnessed something in person or, as is sometimes the case with the world's otherwise mostest "especially honest" blogger, the one who "ran and lied" was Bob.

      I'll bet her "lie" was the expression of an opinion, which cannot be equated with not telling the truth. And I'll bet her "praise" had something to do with an insult or two she might have levied in the process of whatever it was she said.

      That said, the fact that she passed on answering his question twice certainly merits that he "assume the worst" and heap withering unending scorn her way for seven and a half years. Shoot, as a liberal I would have flung poo on her like a chimp.

    3. And you call bob deranged. Hehe.

  6. It is wrong for Somerby to lodge these criticisms against Maddow.

    1. I disagree. She is just like Brian Wilson and should be sent down to the farm club.

    2. @ 6:28

      Brian Wilson is the founder of "The Beach Boys.' Brian Williams is just a member of The Liars Club.

    3. Brian Wilson was mentally disturbed. So, according to Dr. Robert Somerby, PhB, is Maddow.

      Bob Somerby the blogger more closely resembles Brian Willams.

  7. Soon enough Maddow, our own Rhodes Scholar, will be fired from her "liberal" shitshow that pays her $7 million per year, a number which is most likely already out of date. What will she do then? Is she intelligent enough to do anything else? Is there an orchestra that needs a toy xylophone player? A company that needs her to model big and tall men's suits?

  8. Truer words may never have been typed. MSNBC is getting rebooted and Maddow is going bye bye. Bob's wishes fulfilled

    1. He'll be free to use Gail Collins and Creeping MoDo as an excuse for not finishing the Doggy Pill chapter.

    2. I have heard no word of MSNBC "getting rebooted" nor have I heard about Maddow "going bye bye." Perhaps our friend at 2:28 can provide a link.

      There was talk last February, when Ronan Farrow got axed after a year on the air, that MSNBC was going to become less openly partisan, but still cover issues and events through the same "progressive" lens. In other words, they weren't going to shill for Democrats the way Fox shills for Republicans.

      Meanwhile, this may come as a shock to Howler fans who think low ratings is some sort of public rejection of MSNBC. but the entire cable/dish industry is in a tailspin.

      ESPN has lost 3.2 million SUBSCRIBERS in a little over a year. Not viewers, but subscribers. ESPN is now available in 3.2 million fewer households.

      The reason? With a plethora of free, over-the-air channels during the digital signal age, plus streaming services that will bring you not only Netflix and Hulu, but also professional and college sports for a direct subscription fee, fewer people are buying cable and dish services at all, and many of the ones that do are choosing cheaper a la carte packages that leave out the most expensive services -- like ESPN, or the Universal/Comcast package , or the Viacom package that includes Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV.

      It is interesting to note that MSNBC floundered for years way behind both Fox and CNN in the cable babblefest race until it discovered its niche with Keith Olbermann. And it is ironic that this came right on the heels of firing Phil Donahue for not sufficiently supporting Dubya during the runup to the invasion of Iraq.

      But MSNBC's target demographic is the very demographic that is rejecting cable and dish services altogether in favor of free TV and streaming services. AND . . . they are spending money like no generation ever before on the social experience of going to movies, rather than sitting home and watching TV.

      So what we got is the pie, small to begin with, that MSNBC, CNN and Fox are slicing is growing even smaller. And yet the do-it-on-the-cheap format of all three is remarkably the same -- a host sitting in a studio interviewing the same rotating panel of "guests" every night.

      It may be cheap, as programming goes these days, but its really boring the heck out of younger viewers.

    3. Forgot to add the link about ESPN:

  9. I don't waste my time with her.

    1. Me too. Neither.

    2. I enjoy maddow's humerous take on the day's events. I watch it with my family.

    3. Maddow had potential but she needs work.