Campaign watch: The unbearable lightness of MSNBC!


Evening Joe, directly followed by Rachel's animal sounds:
The final question of last night's town hall pretty much captured the hour.

Candidate Trump was getting grilled, in merciless fashion, by the hard-hitting Joe and Mika. He was also taking fire from the South Carolina voters who had been selected to throw questions at him.

Now, the hour was almost done. One last voter stood to grill Trump. This is the question she asked:
BRENNA (2/17/16): My question for you is, why did you decide to run for the presidency in the first place?
Let's face it—that was tough stuff! But then, here's the previous question Trump had to endure from one of those hand-picked voters:
JIRAL: Hello there, Mr. Trump. Thank you for being here. My question is, you're facing stiff competition from Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. How do you think you will set yourself apart from those two candidates? And how are you going to go and win the general election against, say, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton?
Warning! In the future, decent people won't run for office if news orgs like MSNBC let them get savaged this way!

Good God! The sheer stupidity of last night's event may have set a new world record. Joe and Mika let Trump conduct some of the dumbest discussions of substance in the history of our rapidly failing republic.

Meanwhile, where did they get the voters who asked those pointless questions? Presumably, you'd want to pre-screen such questions if you're doing a short, one-hour event. Just a guess, in the form of a question:

Were those questions deliberately picked to assure a soft landing for Trump?

In its usual half-asped way, MSNBC has published this semi-competent transcript of the event. Midway through, the transcript starts losing track of who is actually asking the questions. In its usual half-asped way, MSNBC hasn't posted the transcript on Nexis.

If you choose to read that transcript, you'll be reading some of the dumbest discussions ever conducted on Earth. No society can hope to survive planned corporate dumbness this vast.

That said, Morning Joe isn't the only MSNBC program setting new records for dumbness. An equal-but-opposite Dumbnathon is routinely being staged on the Maddow Show.

How dumb does it get on the Maddow Show? Over the course of the past year, the program has become astoundingly dumb, presumably by corporate design.

How dumb does it get? Last night, the program's visibly troubled star began with her latest review of Jeb Bush's animal noises, which mainly take place in her head.

Drumming her desktop and mugging and clowning, this is the way the show's troubled star began her effort last night, after receiving the throw from the pitiful Joe and Mika. With minor corrections, we're posting the official transcript as it appears on-line:
MADDOW (2/17/16): Good evening. Happy Wednesday. Thanks for joining us this evening.

When Jeb Bush first announced that he was running for president of the United States, there was an unexpected moment, right after he said he was running, when he ended up making an exciting, and I'm pretty sure unscripted, animal noise.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a candidate for president of the United States of America.



MADDOW: Whoo! Jeb Bush went "whoo" right after he announced that he was running for president of the United States last year. And that was the first sign of what has ended up being an unexpected pleasure in covering his campaign for president.

Without warning and for all sorts of different reasons on all sorts of different occasions, he makes unusual noises, and he makes them a lot.

BUSH: The Twitter universe, there's some heads exploding right now. I can feel it. like doo, doo, doo—

BUSH: Politically, we're going to win when we're hopeful and optimistic and big and broad, rather than grrr or grrrr.

REPORTER: Speaking of which, you know, the whispering campaign has already started that Bush is falling apart, he may not even—

BUSH: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

REPORTER: You know what they're saying out there.

BUSH: That's my answer, blah, blah, blah.

MADDOW: Nothing else in this presidential campaign is turning out the way people expected it to. The Jeb Bush campaign is certainly not working out the way people expected it to.

But it has become one of the expected things about the Jeb Bush for president campaign that every couple of weeks or so, he unveils a new noise. And today, bingo!

BUSH: I wish we could actually have that argument on a debate stage instead of rararah, rararah, rararah.

MADDOW: This is the new one from Jeb Bush, and he did it twice.

BUSH: Rararah, rararah, rararah.

MADDOW: This is Jeb Bush's new noise. He has just unveiled it in the context of complaining about what it is like to debate Donald Trump.

BUSH: He doesn't stop talking. And I actually saw tapes, he just starts— I mean, it's not what he says, it's just the fact that he says it louder and louder and louder and you just have to keep talking through it. It's not a skillset I ever envisioned being necessary to aspire to the presidency of the United States. But I've gotten better at it. Rarararararah.

MADDOW: Jeb Bush in South Carolina complaining about the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, but doing it obviously with good cheer.
Did you notice? On the modern Maddow Show, when someone says "blah blah blah," he's making animal sounds!

The program never got much brighter than that last night. But then, it rarely does.

Maddow "covers the campaign" the same way everyone does on cable now—by reading endless bunched of polls and speculating about future outcomes. You will very rarely see her analyze a matter of substance or deconstruct a prevailing narrative. It simply isn't done.

In our view, the dumbing down of the Maddow Show may have been the most striking media event of 2015. As of now, the dumbing continues apace.

On the one hand, it may just be a ratings play, in which Maddow agrees to dumb things down to attract more of us liberals. On the other hand, it's hard to watch this program now without wondering if something is wrong with the mugging, clowning TV star who keeps drumming away on her desk.

At any rate, no society can hope to survive this level of planned corporate dumbness. Our press culture has been moving this way for a very long time. Pitifully, we the liberals have shown few signs of being able to tell. As is always the case, the vast bulk of the fault lies with our "liberal leaders."

Recommended reading: Over at Slate, Isaac Chotiner has reviewed Evening Joe's town hall.

"Disgraceful," Chotiner correctly says. Did he watch his fellow Californian making her latest pet sounds?


  1. Face it, Donald Trump never answers anyone's questions anytime. No one seems to care. Donald being Donald.

  2. "In the future, decent people won't run for office if news orgs like MSNBC let them get savaged this way!"


    1. A few more like you and Bob might have made it in Comedy.

  3. For all of The Donald's faults he does show up for any and all interviews regardless of the political ideology of the venue. This is way more than can be said of DWS who is afraid of the consequences should HRC do a debate with FNC news anchors as moderators.

    1. don't be stupid

    2. That's like asking a dog not to lick itself.

    3. HRC is an expert on dog behavior.

    4. Are you talking about The Donald who didn't show for a debate because Fox were being big old meanies?

    5. @Unknown
      And that petulance cost him votes in Iowa. The leading GOP candidate feels more comfortable on liberal venues like PBS, CNN, MSNBC HRC is terrified of FNC.

    6. Cicero takes a licking and he keeps on licking.

    7. @mm

      How about PBS propagandists posing as journalists? Neither Gwenn Ifill or Judy Woodruff dared ask HRC about her emails or the story that broke on the day of the debate regarding HRC's Clinton Foundation being investigated by FBI. Of course Judy made donations to the Clinton Foundation and Gwenn wrote a fawning book about Obama.

  4. "this is the way the show's troubled star began her effort last night"
    Maddow is not troubled. She enjoys what she does and makes a lot of money doing it. Bob is the one who troubled. His Maddow derangement syndrome is spinning out of control. This column is just another example. Instead of focusing on the complete dishonesty of having two of Trump's biggest sycophants in the media hosting a town hall, (which was really just a Trump infomercial), he spends the majority of the time trashing Maddow (and defending Bush in the process) yet fails to point out one factual inaccuracy. Pathetic.

    1. You think you read a defense of Bush.

      Pathetic all right.

    2. Maddow trashed herself.

      You blame the guy who shines a light on it.

    3. 9:22 Can you tell me what you mean by defending Bush? Defending Bush from what? Thank you and all the best.

    4. @ 9:59 you have to admit, unless you are as equally obsessed with Maddow as poor Mr. Somerby has become, that his behavior is pretty much a moth and flame affair.

  5. I miss The Cycle with Crystal Ball. One thing you could never call that sow is dumbed down.

    1. You could have called Crystal's parents that.
      Unless they wanted their little sow to go to work in a place like Somerby's Daddy ran.

    2. I meant show jerk.

    3. Sure you didn't mean Slow Jerk?