We call for an end to cartooning: We got to have a lot of fun on last night's Maddow Show. For example, we got to enjoy seeing Maddow make the headshot of a Republican candidate disappear.
Candidate Huckabee was the hopeful in question. In one of her trademark entertainment events, Maddow made Huckabee's headshot go "poof:"
MADDOW (2/2/16): You have been waiting for this. It's been a long time since we got to do this.That was fun! It's always fun when the fun-loving host makes a Republican headshot go "poof," complete with off-camera chuckling.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee quit the presidential race last night after the Iowa caucuses, which is sad for him. But it does mean we get to "poof" him off our giant list of 2016 Republican presidential candidates.
We haven't been able to do this to anyone in forever. But here goes.
Mike Huckabee, going buh-bye in:
Three, two, one—poof!
I thought I would get to do a lot more of this today, but so far I only get to do it to that one guy. There are still eleven Republicans running for president. All the rest of them are apparently staying in, even the ones who just tanked in Iowa and Iowa was the state where they had the only chance of doing well anywhere.
(It isn't done when major Democrats exit the White House race. Candidate O'Malley didn't get his headshot poofed.)
Last night, we got our standard dosage of the ridiculous sillies. Also, our usual dollop of utterly worthless political pseudo-analysis.
(At one point, Rachel said it would have been better for Trump if he'd finished third or fourth. "He probably would have been better suited, in terms of national attention, to have come in third or fourth with no apparent effort than to been seen to try and fall short." So Chuck Todd was told.)
We got to have a lot of fun; we got to waste a lot of time. Along the way, though, Maddow offered two short reports about events in Flint.
At one point, Maddow reported some news about Mayor Karen Weaver. Weaver wants to replace the city's water pipes right now:
MADDOW: [Mayor Weaver] convened a press conference this afternoon and said that she is calling for all of Flint's lead water pipes to be removed and replaced. She announced that she is convening a team of people headed by a retired brigadier general who will head up this effort to replace all of Flint's lead pipes.Weaver wants the pipes replaced "immediately." By way of contrast, Governor Snyder "is in no hurry to replace any of Flint's pipes," Maddow said. "He says he wants a lot more studying and testing before any pipes are replaced, if they even need to be replaced at all."
She even proposed a faster, cheaper method for replacing pipes. She said the state's capital city of Lansing used this faster, cheaper method to remove and replace thousands of lead service lines in Lansing and she thinks they could do that in Flint, too. So, getting down to the nitty-gritty.
What Karen Weaver does not have is the ability to actually order something like this to happen. Flint certainly doesn't have the money to do it. Governor Snyder is in no hurry to replace any of Flint's pipes. He says he wants a lot more studying and testing before any pipes are replaced, if they even need to be replaced at all.
By God, Karen Weaver looks like she's going to get those pipes dug up by sheer force of her will:
WEAVER (videotape): This must happen immediately. That's what I'm asking for. I am morally obligated to use every bit of the power and authority my office has to make Flint's water safe and the city successful for the people who live and work here. That's what I intend to do.
Here's our question: Is it a good idea to replace the pipes immediately?
We ask that question for a reason. Last Wednesday night, at Maddow's town hall program in Flint, Professor Marc Edwards, a genuine expert, said this about that idea:
EDWARDS (1/27/16): Longer term in Flint, not just in Flint, but around the U.S., we have to figure out a way to get these pipes replaced. And what we're struggling with right now is there's really no precedent for this kind of man-made disaster. And we don't have a good roadmap to follow in terms of how to replace these pipes and do it right. And we could jump into this and actually do it wrong. Other cities have done it wrong and made the problem worse in the past. So we have to, we have to work with the EPA—At that point, Maddow interrupted. Later, when Maddow asked Edwards to elaborate, the mayor jumped in to answer for him. For that reason, Edwards was never able to flesh out his statement, in which he said the current problem could be made worse if the pipes are replaced too quickly. For details, see our previous post.
Would it be a good idea to replace the pipes right away? Needless to say, we have no idea. Presumably, neither does Maddow.
We'd assume that Edwards does have some expertise on that point. That doesn't mean that he was right when he seemed to urge caution last week. It doesn't mean that Mayor Weaver is wrong in her current stance.
We don't know if it's a good idea to replace the pipes right away. Here's what we do know:
Last night, Maddow didn't mention the words of caution Edwards offered at her town hall. Based on her standard practice, she probably never will.
This is why we say that:
Maddow tends to present massively simplified versions of stories like this. She gives us villains, victims and heroes. All too often, she ends up sketching a type of fact-challenged cartoon.
Last night, we had the hero, Mayor Weaver, squaring off against Governor Snyder, the villain. Professor Edwards' words of warning weren't allowed to intrude.
Would it be a good idea to replace the pipes right away? Could doing so make the matter worse? Maddow didn't raise those questions. Most likely, she never will.
We have two more days this week to analyze Maddow's reporting on Flint. Tomorrow, we'll offer a list of the basic questions which seem to remain unanswered.
On Friday, we'll look at Maddow's basic reporting of this matter. In our view, she's grossly simplifying this story, almost in the manner of a cartoon.