Part 5—Cable's dumbest week ever: Monday, April 11, 2016 dawned both clear and cold.
(Presumably, this was true somewhere. On occasion, we'll follow modern cable news practice, replacing balanced presentations of fact with familiar, novelized formats.)
As that Monday dawned clear and cold, liberals and progressives found themselves confronted by a wide range of issues, concerns, inventions and substantive topics.
Candidates Clinton and Sanders were locked in a war for the state of New York. Below, you see just a few of the questions which were involved in their glorious fight:
How should progressives view the provisions of the 1994 crime bill?
Was Candidate Clinton a snarling racist for having used the term "superpredator" on one occasion in 1996? What about the snarling racism of Candidate Sanders, who kept denigrating Democratic voters in the Deep South?
Which candidate had the better proposals concerning "big banks?" Which candidate had the better ideas about federal, state and local minimum wage proposals?
Which candidate had the better proposals concerning international trade? Which candidate had the better proposals concerning low-income schools?
(Tell the truth! Have you ever heard our corporate progressives so much as mention that last topic? On even one occasion? Why do you think that is?)
Should Candidate Clinton be raising money at exclusive $353,000-a-plate galas? Should she release the transcripts of her paid speeches to you know who?
Should Candidate Sanders have flown to the Vineyard to appear at those swish soirees? Should Candidate Sanders raise money for congressional candidates, as Candidate Clinton has done?
Which candidate is more upset about police misconduct and error? Has either candidate offered any actual proposals in this general field?
Has either candidate made any sense concerning recent events in Flint? If so, what has that candidate said? Why haven't we heard it discussed?
Many topics were being churned as the hopefuls fought for New York. In the course of all the hubbub, candidates were denigrated in various ways, sometimes in ways which may have been a tiny small bit less than obsessively honest.
That very same Monday night, Professor Dershowitz paraded his way onto CNN and offered a rather peculiar account of his real-time views concerning that ancient crime bill. In this and a million other ways, the nation's hustlers, pundits, grabbers and con men were distorting the nation's recent past in service to their own reputations and in search of advancement and profit.
A person with a cable news show could have performed a wide range of valuable services during the course of this week. A real news program could have performed a wide range of journalistic services.
Instead, the eponymous show of a big major star responded with one of the dumbest weeks ever performed in the already awful, thirty-plus years of so-called "cable news." We refer to The Rachel Maddow Show, the rapidly devolving "cable news" show whose multimillionaire TV star has been in a headlong state of decline for at least the past year.
The Maddow Show began the week with guest host Steve Kornacki forced to read a silly account of that 1994 crime bill. Later, he was forced to tease the declining program's latest explosive and highly exciting sexy-time big major sex scandal:
KORNACKI (4/11/16): What do the FBI, the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and the embassy of Japan all have in common? It turns out they have a pretty interesting connection to the D.C. madam scandal. Some new reporting on that tonight.Alas, poor Kornacki, the analysts cried. Involuntarily, we averted our gaze during the subsequent segment, which dripped with the thrill of very raw sexy-time sex. That said, the monster dumbing didn't begin until the program's star returned to the air, dragging her endless array of performance tics behind her.
Stay with us.
As we all know, ticks can spread all sorts of disease as the weather warms. In the realm of intellectual health, so can the mugging and routine dissembling of this borderline corporate star.
A year or so back, the cable star's corporate bosses decided to adopt their latest new corporate approach. The channel would become "the place for politics," or rather for an imitation of same.
In the course of that latest adjustment, Professor Harris-Perry ended up on the junk heap. The major star of whom we speak seems to have made an adjustment.
Rachel Maddow has dumbed her show down within an inch of its life. She gambles each night that we liberals won't notice.
So far, that gamble has worked.
That said, the monster dumbness of last week's programs calls out for description. Also, the ugliness of the lessons she taught—the ugliness of her endless, cartoonized lessons in cartoon tribal loathing.
Assuming basic emotional competence, it would be hard to get more cynical than this program's star has become. That said, the host has discussed her emotional problems at several points in the past.
For ourselves, we don't assume that the cable star is in full command at this point. All too often, she doesn't quite seem to be.
We say that because we watch the show, and marvel at what we see each night. That said, last week's programs set a new standard for insults to the viewer's intelligence and for the sheer joy of the cartoonized loathing which dominated the week.
How dumb were Maddow's performances last week? How many times can you say it? If you want to see what dumb looks like, we'd recommend the segments she did on Thursday night concerning a huge invented concern:
The cable star fears, or says she fears, that delegates to the Republican convention in Cleveland may be bribed by Candidate Trump this summer. Even worse, they may be bribed in a way which is perfectly legal, because the very large bribes will be paid outside the state of Ohio!
Maddow had already wandered into the woods when she asked a former U.S. attorney to help her evaluate this dystopian nonsense. Needless to say, she had burned away her initial segment on this imagined concern with a meandering, time-wasting review of an obscure Ohio state law, a law which emerged from the 1876 Republican convention, which was held in Cincinnati.
Repeatedly, Maddow killed time last week with pointless trips to the past. As she endlessly wasted time in this way, she failed to address the many real issues surrounding the current campaign.
In this instance, she devoted one segment to Rutherford B. Hayes, then rubbed her hands, as Hamlet once did, concerned about what might be coming this summer. Like Cassandra, she could see the disaster:
"Under federal law, arguably, a rich candidate like, say, Donald Trump, could spend a few tens of millions of dollars of his personal wealth buying a few hundred delegates new houses, or new cars, or just writing them checks in order to seal up the nomination for himself. Federal law apparently would not stop that," the cable star excitedly said.
It wasn't clear why this very strange person thought she knew such a thing about federal law. In her second segment concerning this nonsense, she brought on a former U.S. attorney to help her think the problem through.
Credit where due! The former U.S. attorney somehow managed to keep a straight face as he kept telling the cable star how thoroughly she misunderstood the way federal and state laws really work. That said, nothing could get the nagging fear of these crimes out of this strange person's head. After dismissing the U.S. attorney, she closed the second segment like this:
MADDOW (4/14/16): Steven Dettelbach, former U.S. attorney, thank you for helping us understand this. This is a strange aspect of this story, but it's good to be forewarned. Thank you, sir.Say what? No one had raised "the prospect of Ohio prosecutors prowling the Cleveland convention site to try to suss out bribery"—in this case, bribery by Candidate Trump involving tens of millions of dollars!
MADDOW: The prospect of Ohio prosecutors prowling the Cleveland convention site to try to suss out bribery when one of, when one of the contenders for the nomination is the Ohio governor because they're going to prosecute this under state law? God, let it not come to that!
All right. Much more ahead. Stay with us.
Instead, Dettelbach had simply told Maddow that, despite her time-wasting trip to the past and despite her attempts to define federal law, any such bribes could be prosecuted under federal or state law. Along the way, he had batted away her silly idea that Ohio law wouldn't hold if Candidate Trump simply paid these bribes across the state line in Indiana.
Rachel Maddow didn't go down without a ridiculous fight. In this exchange, note the way she pushed back against the idea that Indiana was out as a locale for the safe legal paying of bribes:
DETTELBACH: So we talk about, in the criminal law, a thing called venue, jurisdiction. Where can something be done? And you know, just as if you committed fraud and part of the fraud occurred in Ohio and part of the fraud occurred in Indiana, or a crime of violence or rape or any horrible crime, you know, if part of this crime occurs in Ohio, you're going to have to face an investigation and prosecution in Ohio.She didn't mean to get too technical with the former U.S. attorney!
MADDOW: In terms of— I don't mean to get too technical, but in terms of what you mean by "taking place in Ohio," how would that apply to basically a bribe that was consummated in Cleveland, right? So let's say someone in the U.S. Virgin Islands makes a deal, is offered a bribe, accepts the bribe and then turns up in Cleveland and all they do in Cleveland is vote. Would that still be—
DETTELBACH: Well, "all they do." That's a pretty big thing to do! That's what you're being bribed for, is the vote.
Dettelbach did a good job not laughing in the cable star's face. But even after he told the star that she'd pulled her concerns right out of her ascot, she closed the segment with a dystopian image of federal prosecutors prowling the waterfront, trying to run down these crimes.
God, she hoped it didn't happen, she said. To state the obvious, these two segments were her way of helping us think that it would.
Maddow burned two segments last Thursday night on this fanciful nonsense. As she repeatedly did last week, she began with a time-wasting trip to the past, then pretended to examine her fanciful concerns with a former U.S. attorney.
As she did this, serious topics went wholly unexplored. In the broader sweep of the week's programming, a cynic would say the purpose of this strange excursion was clear:
In the absence of any such occurrence, Maddow had associated Candidate Trump with the most cartoonish type of criminal conduct. He might bribe the delegates with new houses or, on the cheap, with new cars!
He might spend tens of millions of dollars on these bribes! Not to get too technical about it, but if he bribed them in Indiana (or in the Virgin Islands), his bribes might be A-OK!
No one has suggested that Candidate Trump has tried to do any such thing. But Maddow's program is now built around cartoonized portraits of the many Very Bad People whom she cartoonishly loathes.
She picks and chooses and dreams up facts to help you share her loathing. The most pitiful example of this cartoonized loathing was performed by the star Friday night.
"Behold, happy Friday night," the major star said at one point. "This is our child's treasury of John Kasich engaging with women voters."
In that moment, the cable star offered an apt review of her ongoing behavior. Her cartoonized portraits of those whom she loathes now operate on the level of an 8-year-old child.
Maddow repeatedly deceives her viewers to deliver these cartoonized portraits. In the process, liberal brain cells wither and die. This conduct may keep her ratings up. But this conduct is bad for the world.
Maddow opened last Friday's show with a long cartoon portrait of Kasich. We wouldn't vote for John Kasich ourselves. But if we ran a cable show the way this cable show is now run, we'd fall to our knees, debase ourselves, and apologize to the whole world, especially to the liberal viewers who Maddow keeps treating like dumbbells and dirt.
Did last week's programs constitute the dumbest week "cable news" ever aired? We don't know how to answer that, but those embarrassing cartoonized programs surely came fairly close.
Tomorrow: Cartoonizing Kasich—and us
Concerning that interview: To watch Maddow's interview with Dettelbach, you can just click here. Tape of the previous segment wasn't posted.
Don't waste your time with the program's transcript. Like many transcripts from this channel, it bears a shaky connection to the words the star and her guest really said.
Does this cable star possibly need some help? Sadly but inevitably, we don't think she's going to get it.