THREE DAYS OF THE TURKEY: Candidate Clinton draws a pair!


Part 2—Pinocchio script never dies:
Watching Lawrence O'Donnell last night, we learned two possible facts.

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne doesn't read the Washington Post. Neither does Lawrence O'Donnell!

How did we learn these possible facts? We learned them when Dionne and O'Donnell discussed Candidate Trump's endless stream of misstatements and apparent misstatements.

As you may know, Lawrence has always been a fan of shouting the forbidden term "lie." To see him doom Candidate Kerry's chances by doing this in 2004, you can just click here. For amusement purposes only!

(Lawrence managed to get himself suspended from MSNBC as an additional part of this process. Only part of his performance that night is included in that tape. We've never found a videotape of his two-segment meltdown, which liberals unwisely applauded at the time.)

For ourselves, we think the forbidden term "lie" remains journalistically tricky. It's also politically tricky. Calling some candidate's statement a "lie" allows his supporters to change the subject in several different ways.

Handed this opportunity, skilled supporters will quickly put the accuser on the defensive. The fact of the candidate's endless misstatements will often be wiped away.

Whatever! Dionne and O'Donnell were discussing Candidate Trump's endless misstatements and apparent misstatements. At one point, they suggested that the national press should start using that forbidden term, "lie," in its discussions of Trump.

[If MSNBC ever posts the transcript, you'll be able to access it here.]

Do these guys read the Washington Post? Just last week, the editors repeatedly dropped the L-bomb on Trump's head in a featured editorial. Neither pundit showed any sign of knowing that this had occurred.

(This morning, the New York Times drops an L-bomb on Trump too. Needless to say, the Times decided to upstage the Post, attacking Trump's "racist lies." For better or worse, the R-bomb gives readers another way to disregard what's being said.)

Personally, we think pitfalls still surround the accusation of "lying." That said, this campaign has featured a level of crazy misstatement and crazy apparent misstatement which has never been seen in recent White House campaigns.

Candidate Trump has been the leading player in this parade of crazy statements. The problem has been especially egregious in the last week or two. That's why we were especially struck by Sunday's Washington Post.

In our view, Sunday's Washington Post pretty much went for the hat trick. On the front page of Outlook, the Post featured an impassioned first-person account concerning police procedures and race—an impassioned first-person account which was journalistically egregious.

On the front page of the entire newspaper, the Post featured a screaming headline about the total amount of money Bill and Hillary Clinton have raised throughout the course of their political careers. In the Post's extremely lengthy report, money raised for charitable purposes was folded in with money raised for political campaigns. Has the fund-raising of any other candidate ever been handled this way?

(We were especially struck by this treatment because of the jihad the Post conducted in 2014 concerning Candidate Clinton's speaking fees. The relentless treatment was unlike anything the paper had ever done. The reporting was also, in various ways, perhaps a bit less than obsessively honest. Courteous as always, the nation's compliant career liberal journalists let this jihad pass.)

On a journalistic basis, we thought those featured front-page pieces were a pair of rather fat turkeys. But good God!

On page A4, its accustomed spot, the Post ran its weekly "Fact Checker" piece. As Trump's cascade of appalling statements continued, the Washington Post was concerned with this troubling factual question, as expressed in its hard-copy headline:

"Did Hillary Clinton try to join the Marines?"

Did Clinton try to join the Marines? Somewhere inside that pitiful org, some editor thought this was the number-one factual concern of the week!

"Did Clinton try to join the Marines!" In this all-important fact-check, Glenn Kessler reviews a somewhat murky story which Candidate Clinton seems to have told exactly twice in the twenty-two years since she arrived in Washington.

(To review the story, read Kessler's piece. We won't waste your time here.)

Clinton first told the story in 1994, her second year as first lady. Needless to say, this set off a cheeky, nosy "news report" in which the New York Times' pitiful Maureen Dowd examined the story's possible connection to the Clintons' pre-marital status in 1975.

(Dowd in 1994: “So, if she was talking to a Marine recruiter in 1975 before the marriage, was she briefly considering joining the few, the proud and the brave of the corps as an alternative to life with Mr. Clinton, who was already being widely touted as a sure thing for Arkansas Attorney General?” At the time, this pitiful obsessive was still a Times "reporter!")

Candidate Clinton told the story for the second time on November 10 of this year. Two days later, Kessler examined its accuracy in an on-line Fact Checker post.

When he did, he pitifully quoted the pitiful Dowd at inordinate length. (Also, Tony Kornheiser!) He then awarded Candidate Clinton two Pinocchios for the trivial ancient tale.

Should the watchdog have done that? According to Kessler's silly-bill rating regime, this is what a pair of Pinocchios means:
Two Pinocchios

Significant omissions and/or exaggerations.
Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people. (Similar to “half true.”)
Are there "significant omissions or exaggerations" in the story Clinton told? If so, we have no idea what they are. Neither does the inerrant Kessler, to judge from the text of his post.

To judge from the text of his post, Kessler has no earthly idea if Candidate Clinton's murky story is true, "half true" or false. She obviously left a lot of things out when she briefly told the story this month. But Kessler doesn't seem to know what the omissions are, or if they're significant in any way.

We'll also cite the lofty statement of purpose of the Fact Checker site. This is one of the site's "basic principles:"
Basic principles

We will focus our attention and resources on the issues that are most important
to voters. We cannot nitpick every detail of every speech.
The misstatements and apparent misstatements have been astonishing this year. Under the circumstances, should Kessler have focused his "attention and resources" on this minor, one-off story?

We'd be inclined to say no. But given his very fuzzy analysis, we have no idea where his pair of Pinocchios came from.

Whatever! Kessler posted his "fact-check" on November 12. There it sat, drawing little attention, perhaps suggesting that this apparently trivial matter was of little "importance to voters."

Ten days later, we got the bad news. The fuzzy fact-check did seem important to some editor at the Post!


As Kessler's fact-check sat on line, Trump continued his blizzard of bizarre and appalling apparent misstatements. But so what?

Based on Sunday's edition, some editor decided that Candidate Clinton's twice-told tale was the most important factual matter to which voters should be directed. And please remember: when we say "twice-told," we mean this story has been told exactly two times in the past twenty-two years!

We thought we saw a lot of turkeys in last Sunday's Washington Post. One of them was the weekly hard-copy Fact Checker piece, which advanced a treasured narrative about the endless lying of the Clintons and Gore.

It's a narrative Lawrence has done a lot to advance and E.J. has always run from. Last Sunday, it got its new boost in the Post.

Lawrence and E.J. will eat fine turkeys this week. The rewards for service to their guild can be wickedly great.

That said, do they even read the Washington Post? If they do, you can bet your life they won't criticize what it says.

The Post has loved this turkey for two decades. On Sunday, the paper embraced it again.

Tomorrow: Last Friday, our greatest historical turkey took off and flew again


  1. Hmmm!

    In following Bob's link to the Post "Fact Checker" re: Hillary and the Marines, I see that it was posted on Thursday, Nov. 12. Which means it was probably in its "customary place" on page A4 the following Sunday, which would be Nov. 15.

    Bob tells us on Nov. 24 this was in "Sunday's" editions, and following a week of "crazy statements" from Trump, which I would put at Nov. 22,

    So did Bob get his dates mixed up? Or is he deliberately misleading his readers?

    1. Have you ever asked what is significant about the fact that there are Three Turkeys in this series?

      Alas I don't have time to publish the lengthy discourse from Dr. Professor Corby Disclaimer on why the number three is a clue to mendacity. Bob himself has mentioned the rule of three. And don't forget the Editor of Outlook is very young, 33.

      We could go on, but like Bob in this post, we will jump to an unrelated subject.

    2. Your comment at 12:23 merits more than a mere 3 "m" Hmmm!

      Why does the post start with a tale about Lawrence O'Donnell with no link to the program, then jumps to a decade old story about O"Donnell which does have a link, then jumps back to the first story of O'Donnell with a link to a transcirpt that wasn't there. And why did Bob wait so long to link to this Clinton story when he knows it is late in the month and most of us are past the firewall at the Post?

      Oof! in the words of mm, if you ask me.

    3. Bob does acknowledge that the Kessler piece originally was posted online on Nov. 12, but then he claims it "languished" on line before some editor found it and decided to run with it -- over a lot of other "Fact Checker" entries -- in the Nov. 22 print edition.

      Well, if Bob thinks that the content of the Sunday edition is the responsibility of any ol' editor who can just throw what he wants onto any ol' page, then he obviously lacks the knowledge of how major newspapers work in order to claim any kind of credentials as a critic.

      Of course, there could be all sorts of innocent explanations -- down to the possibility that the piece was mistakenly run in the print editions on BOTH Nov. 15 and Nov. 22, that an editor wanted another "Fact Checker" piece run, perhaps concerning Trump, but that one got pulled up by mistake.

      Or that Bob got his dates mixed up.

      But nope, the only possible explanation -- if indeed this was published in the Nov. 22 print edition -- is that the Washington Post is conducting an active "jihad" against Hillary Clinton.

      And I find the use of the word "jihad" to be rather cavalier, especially from a critic warning how loaded the word "lie" is.

    4. I think your comparison of "jihad" and "lie" is just crazy. Real screw loose, wires unconnected mishingery,

    5. I think your comparison of "jihad" and "lie" is just crazy. Real screw loose, wires unconnected mishingery,

  2. Then there's the Fact Checker about the flap about Trump's thousands who cheered 9-11 on the Jersey shore. They didn't even know the Post itself had published a story about it on 9-18 until they got a tweet from a reader. Yeesh!

    1. Except the Post didn't publish a story about thousands cheering.

      There there are the facts you left out about what else Trump claimed. Yuush!

    2. " . . . the Post itself had published a story about it on 9-18 . . ."

      Which isn't exactly true, is it?

      Instead of "a story about it" the "story" from 9/18/01 contained this one, single, solitary sentence: "In Jersey City, within hours of the jetliners' plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgating-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river."

      That's it. One sentence. You do know the difference between a sentence and a story, don't you?

      And for the record, one day earlier, on 9/17/01. the Associated Press went a bit deeper than the Post reporters did and reported as "unfounded" the various "rumors of Muslims celebrating on rooftops in Jersey City."

    3. Let us compare that one sentence, Trump's alleged "proof", with what Trump is not only saying, but doubling and tripling down on:

      "I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down," And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering."

      "It was on television. I saw it It was well covered at the time. Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good."

    4. Let us compare these two comments above to an L word Bob should use more often because it fits with Lazy and Liberal.


    5. Evidence was considerably more than "one sentence". Mark Steyn wrote:

      Kessler's colleague, Post reporter Serge Kolvaleski, said in a 2003 email that he got the story from the Jersey City Police Department and "confirmed the JCPD's information via interviews of eyewitnesses of the celebration"…

      A further Washington Post column, by Howard Kurtz on October 9th 2001, reminds us that, whether or not the story was on TV, it was widely reported on New York radio:

      On Sept. 11, callers told New York radio stations WABC and WPLJ that some people in an Arabic section of Paterson, N.J., were celebrating the attacks...

      Curtis Sliwa, a WABC host also criticized by Grant, says callers told him of a celebration that "they felt was crazy, that was horrible, so we reported that based on the calls." Sliwa went to Paterson the next day and says people told him that the cheering was done by about a dozen bicycle-riding teenagers…

      The New York Times, reporting from Jersey City on September 30th 2001: “Since the F.B.I. raid, community relations in Jersey City -- which has a population of 240,000, 20 percent of whom are Arabs or of Arab descent -- have deteriorated, and Jersey City has become rife with rumors: about Muslim celebrations in the wake of the trade center attacks, about violence against Muslim residents, about who might have been involved in the terror, who might have harbored conspirators.”

      As "rumors" go, they were widespread. The San Francisco Chronicle, reporting from Jersey City on September 22nd 2001: “A few Muslims have been harassed around town by non-Muslims, and police detained several men seen "celebrating" the attack as the smoke first rose across the river. Folks are worried that things could get worse. On both sides.”

      These reports rely not just on supposed eyewitnesses, but on a police record: persons were "detained and questioned". Kessler's colleague also spoke to the Jersey City Police Department, which Kessler apparently has not.

      It sounds to me as if Trump’s claim is at best an exaggeration. He is wrong about domestic celebrations being on TV. He may be remembering foreign celebrations on TV. However. Trump’s claim is not entirely baseless, as his critics allege. Some critics claim that the story is “unconfirmed” . That’s not so. The accusations were confirmed by Post reporter Serge Kolvaleski.

    6. The men detained were the 5 Israelis I mentioned yesterday. They were held and investigated for two months. Why didn't you read the links I posted?

    7. "It sounds to me as if Trump’s claim is at best an exaggeration."

      And not "at best"?
      I'd venture call it just another bald-faced lie to stoke anti-Muslim bigotry.
      I assume that loses your vote, DinC, since you still haven't forgiven Obama for not having liberals and conservatives caroling "Kumbya" together during his Presidency.

    8. I'd venture call it just another bald-faced lie to stoke anti-Muslim bigotry.

      Maybe so. And, when Kessler and others in the media say there were no reports at all of possible Muslims celebrating 9/11, those are bald-face lies to reduce anti-Muslim bigotry.

    9. David, there were absolutely NO reports of Muslims "possible" (whatever that means) or otherwise, celebrating 9/11 in New Jersey, as Trump claimed.

      There were reports, in two sentences in two stories, of RUMORS of such celebrations, but those rumors were unfounded.

      But the difference between "unfounded rumor" and "truth" means as much to you as it does to Trump, which is absolutely nothing.

      And still, Somerby insists that if we just play nice, nitwits like you and Trump who prefer comfortable lies to inconvenient truth can be "reasoned" with.

  3. In Bob's world, every criticism of Hillary is unfair, the result of irrational Clinton hatred.

    1. And in Bob's world, Lawrence O'Donnell single-handedly decided the 2004 presidential election.

    2. He doomed Kerry by defending Kerry. Which of course liberals refused to due to in 2000 for Gore which doomed Gore.

      Liberals. They are either asleep in the woods or polluting it with their snark.

  4. Now that a week has passed, can any tip-top Bob reader point out what the journalistic semi-enigma was we were going to get told about?

  5. Are there "significant omissions or exaggerations" in the story Clinton told? If so, we have no idea what they are. Neither does the inerrant Kessler, to judge from the text of his post.

    To judge from the text of his post, Kessler has no earthly idea if Candidate Clinton's murky story is true, "half true" or false.

    What is there to defend? Wingnut obsession with Hillary Clinton is inexhaustible and never ending.

  6. To judge that Kessler has no earthly idea requires faith that Somerby is not again doing what he usually does, engaging in the very prevarication he decries. He provides no text of Kessler's remarks and the WaPo hides them from many, my self included, behind a firewall.

    So let's get to a question Bob has steered us away from asking. Knowing she got hammered the first time she brought this unusually meaningless and highly improbable story up the first time, why is Hillary Clinton trotting it out once again?

  7. I have been reading TDH for a long time and have no reason to doubt Bob Somerby.

  8. Candidate Trump's supporters have been viewing his career for many years and have no reason to doubt Candidate Trump.

    Maureen Dowd's readers have been reading her workm for years longer than Bob Somerby has criticized them. She has been given awards and promotions by peoiple in her field.

    Bob Somerby is recognized by no one in any of the fields he has enetered as having made any contribution at all.

  9. "But as we noted The Post did locate friends who recalled she had tried to join the Marines, though the circumstances are fuzzy.

    Clinton suggests she simply decided to join the Marines, as part of way to serve the country. But it makes more sense that she approached the Marines as part of a deliberate effort to test the boundaries available to women, especially given her documented antiwar activities.

    So far, we do not have enough documentary proof to say the incident never happened,.....

    (Editor's note: So far the Post has ZERO proof that the incident never happened)

    This is simply a personal recollection — one that at least two friends have confirmed they had been told about at the time........

    So at this point Clinton’s story is worthy of Two Pinocchios, subject to change if more information becomes available."

    This is classic Washington Post bullshit, and more reason for why I have canceled my subscription to this rag.

    The story is confirmed by friends who contemporaneously recalled it. Therefore, Kessler awards 2 pinnochios. Brilliant.

  10. "Bob Somerby is recognized by no one in any of the fields he has entered as having made any contribution at all."

    Hey, but he's got one loyal fanboy who thinks he's not only brilliant, but infallible.

    Quite like the true believers in Trump.

  11. "Bob Somerby is recognized by no one in any of the fields he has entered as having made any contribution at all."

    As long as you're not counting Paul Krugman and The Columbia Journalism Review.

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