YEAR(S) IN REVIEW: Most Consequential Absence of Skill!


Part 4—Most Consequential False Facts:
Sometimes, if it weren't for the press corps' lack of skill, there would be no skill at all!

Lack of skill is on constant display within our mainstream press corps. And not only that! In the beginning was the end, much as Eliot said!

We keep those bromides in mind today as we announce an array of year(s)-end awards. For starters:

In the opinion of our judges, this year's Most Consequential Absence of Skill happened in 2012!

The judges refer to a conspicuous absence of journalistic skill which surfaced, with killing results, on and after September 16, 2012. On that day, Susan Rice appeared on all five Sunday news shows. She discussed the previous week's attack in Benghazi on four of those network programs.

Immediately, John McCain and the great Bob Schieffer began misparaphrasing what Rice had said. But alas! As had become all too clear in 1999 and 2000, mainstream journalists lack the skills which are required to address or correct such deceptions.

In 1999 and 2000, Candidate Gore was misquoted and misparaphrased, in a number of high-profile instances, for a period of twenty straight months. Many of these misquotations were generated by the mainstream press corps itself. No major journalist displayed the skills which are required to straighten such nonsense out.

(Full disclosure: It is often difficult to separate absence of skill from absence of will. Some journalists may have possessed the requisite skills, but decided not to employ them.)

In 1999 and 2000, Gore was constantly misparaphrased and misquoted. Now, in September 2012, it would be Rice's turn.

McCain, of course, is an established figure of moral rectitude within elite Washington culture. Taking advantage of that designation, he began misstating what Rice had said as soon as she finished her segment on Face the Nation.

Poisonous scripts about Benghazi were developed from there. These scripts hardened, then turned to stone, over the next few months.

As this happened, the mainstream press corps sat and watched. So did the "corporate liberal" cable star, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

Caught in a re-election campaign, President Obama chose to let Rice be thrown under the bus. This may have been the best political move. But when people like Maddow aped the White House, they committed a familiar journalistic abomination.

Twelve years before, they had done it to Gore; now they did it to Rice. Scripts about Benghazi were born. This year, those punishing scripts helped sink Candidate Clinton.

Could that "conspicuous absence of skill" possibly have been this year's greatest absence of skill? The judges have paired it with the conspicuous silence which occurred when James B. Comey—Comey the God—issued an irregular denunciation of Candidate Clinton on July 5 of this year.

Comey's irregular denunciation produced the year's most appalling political event—the fawning tributes to his moral greatness offered by a string of Democrats during his July 7 appearance before a House committee. To cringe with embarrassment about this behavior, you can just click here.

That was a deeply embarrassing political moment; it shone a spotlight on several decades of Democratic Party submission to power. Still, that was a political abdication. There was no reason why journalists should have copied this conduct.

Inevitably, that's what they did.

What an embarrassing story! On July 6, Fred Kaplan published this report at Slate. In it, he challenged the basic claims and accusations made by Comey the God.

Kaplan challenged Comey's claims—but all across the mainstream press, it was 2012 all over again. This was most glaringly true on MSNBC, where the weirdly grinning Rachel Maddow didn't so much as mention Comey's name until he struck again in late October.

Kaplan's name was never mentioned on this quisling corporate channel. Once again, the children paid to play liberals on TV simply refused to perform.

Was Maddow's silence due to a lack of skill? Or did it represent a decision to avoid conflict with the corporate world's most favored elites? (Our judges have awarded Comey their Most Favored Player Status award for the year 2016.)

There is no way to answer that question. As a courtesy, the judges have decided to honor this two-part journalistic silence—this journalistic refusal to serve—with a less accusatory designation:

They're hailing the refusal to respond on Benghazi and on the emails as the Most Conspicuous Absence of Skill of the Year(s).

Maddow's silence enabled the invention of an array of fake facts. Fake facts about Benghazi, then about those damn emails, have helped send Donald J. Trump to the White House, just as that array of fake quotes by Candidate Gore sent George W. Bush to the same place.

That said, the judges have made a surprising pick this year in their Most Consequential False Facts category.

Yes, the discourse teems with bogus facts which come from the "conservative" realm. But the judges have announced a special lifetime achievement award for the bogus facts which we liberals enjoy so much Over Here on Our Side.

In making this surprising award, the judges cite the liberal world's unparalleled ability to spot bogus facts as long as they come from The Other Side. They seek to call attention to the liberal world's inability to perceive "our own twaddle."

The judges note that most of our "liberal" false claims in recent years have concerned matters of gender and race. They further note an important point:

Even though we liberals are unable to see these bogus facts, the rest of the public is made aware of the bogus claims our side spawns.

The judges sought to draw special attention to three such performances, although they noted there were many other bogus facts worthy of celebration:

First, they noted Maddow's clownish performance in 2012 after she mistakenly described the gender wage gap on Meet the Press.

("Most ridiculous refusal to correct," one judge sadly said.)

They noted the way Ta-Nehisi Coates' award-winning book, Between the World and Me, starts with an utterly bogus account of an appearance by Coates himself on Face the Nation.

("He had transcripts he could have read, and videotape he could have watched. It's a statement about the flaws of the liberal world that he chose to ignore them," this puzzled judge ruefully told us.)

Finally, the judges cited our tribe's most consequential false fact of the year(s)—the inaccurate claim that the late Michel Brown said, "Hands up, don't shoot." The judges especially noted the way liberal journalists avoided discussing the Justice Department's eventual account of what happened in this incident.

("Everyone else hears about this type of liberal conduct," one judge insightfully said. "It helps teach voters that liberals' claims about various matters can't be believed or trusted.")

Other awards followed. Despite recent termination of Krystal Ball, Ronan Farrow, Alex Wagner, Abby Huntsman (now of Fox News) and even Toure, the judges hailed MSNBC as Most Ridiculous Emerging News Org. "Basically, this prize awards itself" one judge thoughtfully told us.

In their Least Authentic Cohort category, the judges selected the "corporate/careerist liberal world."

Tomorrow, we'll review some of the reasons for the judges' controversial decisions in those last two areas. Spoiler alert: we'll discuss their top choices for Important Topics You Aren't Even So Much As Allowed to Learn About, Discuss, Review or Consider.

For ourselves, we'll cite a pet peeve which reinforces the judges' decisions. And no, we aren't making this up:

Last night, Rachel Maddow sang the praises of "my friend," "the great Greta Van Susteren," on her increasingly ridiculous cable news program. Our statement in the form of a question:

How much abuse will we liberals endure before we decide it's time to leave this abusive home?

Tomorrow: The things you'll never hear

Maddow among the greats: Why in the world would Maddow want to hail "the great Greta Van Susteren?"

We'll guess it's all part of selling the car. Last evening, Maddow inferentially praised herself for not feuding with Fox, where Van Susteren worked all those years.

For a review of Maddow's fawning to the greats, the geniuses and the treasures, you can just click here.

We'll guess it's just part of selling the car. That said, the analysts had to run into the yard after last evening's example.

The liberal world is not in good hands. Now that we've lost an election to Trump, even we liberals ought to be able to see that!


  1. I believe it is not lack of skill that is most troublesome about today's journalists -- it is lack of commitment to any set of meaningful values. I believe their main concerns are personal opportunism and economic materialism. They want to get ahead and buy nice things.

    It may be that training in objectivity and elimination of so-called bias results in a lack of caring about anything, including our nation's wellbeing, ethical responsibilities to their profession, eschewing political views. I don't know whether a postmodernist belief that there is no such thing as truth has aided in their abandonment of any requirement to seek it out.

    The result is that they are engaged in creating a large entertainment-based commercial enterprise that rewards them for gaining public attention, finding the pulse of audience interest and pandering to power.

    We are on our own now.

  2. RM is awful, like Dowd. Luckily they are easy to avoid.

    You might address the latest Ed Schultz news. He once played a liberal on TV too.

  3. "What an embarrassing story! On July 6, Fred Kaplan published this report at Slate. In it, he challenged the basic claims and accusations made by Comey the God."

    Bob Somerby

    "The FBI director was certainly right in saying that Clinton and her colleagues were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information."

    Fred Kaplan

    How many times has Bob Somerby mispresented this one article in the same way this year?

    1. If your quote from Somerby contained the word ALL, as in "he challenged ALL the basic claims and accusations..." you might have a point that Somerby misrepresented Kaplan's article.

      Somerby doesn't say Kaplan challenged everything Comey said. Pulling a sentence from Kaplan and calling Somerby a liar is thus dirty pool.

      Yesterday someone asked where KZ was these days. I think he is alive and well, beating his favorite dead horse.

    2. Somerby said he challenged the basic claims. He did not challenge a single Comey claim. He derided Comey's self righteous tone. He challenged the importance of the e-mail issue. He challenged government classification policy. He attacked the press for its distortion of Comey's findings. He noted Comey gave no examplesto back up one statement, but he did not call that a claim, or an accusation and did not refute it.

      Kaplan challenged zero claims or accusations. In fact he never said Comey made a claim or accusation. He referred to facts and findings.

      Here is how Kaplan closed:

      "The Times published three front-page stories and two more on the inside that said basically nothing that everyone didn’t already know: Yes, the Clintons are slippery, they have an unpleasant record of doing things their way, they have a problem when it comes to trustworthiness. Beyond that, there’s nothing here, folks, move along.

      Kaplan called Comey self righteous. Heck, in a post where he attacks distortions by others, you would think our self righteous blogger would at least not engage in hypocrisy.

    3. How long to you have to be on this earth to notice that evidence of hypocrisy proves very little?

      We know you don't like Somerby, but your quixotic crusade to show any inconsistency in his work is dull as ditch water.

    4. @ 3:29 you are a factless fount of accusations.

      Try defending Somerby's repeated False assertion about the Kaplan story by pointing out anything about it that is true based on what Kaplan wrote.

    5. Kaplan is a defense of Clinton because she has been accused by the right of endangering public security by sending classified material via a personal server that was hacked by our enemies, in knowing disregard for our national interests. Kaplan refutes that. He says there is no basis for locking her up.

      Somerby doesn't like Clinton any better than Kaplan does. Kaplan's defense of her is strengthened by the way he calls her slippery -- and innocent.

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