POSTCARDS FROM THE LEDGE: How widespread is the mental disorder?


Interlude—Disorder down through the years:
Sally Quinn seems to believe that she and her mother have killed five people through the art of death-by-hex.

Meanwhile, the first five paragraphs of Mika Brzezinski's third (3rd) memoir exhibit a level of tone deafness which can only be called world-class.

On the one hand, Brzezinski's tone-deaf opening passage can be viewed as wondrously humorous. On the other hand, it stands as one of the hundred elements of Brzezinski's (3) memoirs which help raise a basic question at this point in time:

To what extent do various types of mental disorder swirl through our upper-end press and pundit corps?

In the days of Walter and David, Americans tended to view the iconic figures of TV news as models of rectitude and stability. Today, we're constantly struck by the strangeness of the behavior observed among the newscasters who appear on our "TV machine thingy," as one multimillionaire cable clown used to say.


On our own heroically liberal TV channel, Brian Williams is back with a nightly show, The 11th Hour. Not long ago, he was removed from his role as well-dressed anchor of NBC Nightly News because he'd invented a series of Mittyesque stories about his own moral and journalistic greatness.

Williams was taken off the air because of his disordered conduct! Now, like Freddy Krueger, he's back, sharing space in the evening "cable news" line-up with several other TV stars whose past behavior had been perhaps a tiny bit disordered.

The lineup includes the man who once adopted a Dorchester accent as he challenged Mitt Romney's son to a fistfight on the air. This same excitable fellow has been forced to apologize for his excited, inaccurate, insulting claims about the Mormon religion. In 2004, he was booted from NBC's cable air because of his crazed behavior as a cable news guest.

The evening lineup also includes the man who aimed misogynist insults at Hillary Clinton for perhaps ten years. This same fellow once offered these disordered remarks as part of twenty months of cable ranting in support of Candidate George W. Bush:
MATTHEWS (3/6/00): You know, I have to ask—

This is just my point of view, but I want to ask you about the Buddhist temple embarrassment, where the vice president of the United States was out there, you know, dancing for money, and he was taking money from nuns. They were whipping off $5000 checks. It was ludicrous. It was obviously a pass-through of some kind. There was money laundering going on.

This woman, Maria Hsia, a longtime Bush [sic] associate, 25 years of felony charges against her, all convictions; five times five, five-year punish—

What in the world do the Republicans—why haven't they brought this issue up?
Hsia, a minor Democratic fund-raiser, had been convicted, a few days earlier, of receiving illegal campaign contributions in 1996. In open court, the prosecutor had directly stated that Candidate Gore had not been involved in this misconduct.

In fact, no money ever changed hands at the event which Gore had attended at the so-called "Buddhist temple." (The building, a large community center, had often been used, by both parties, for political events.)

There were no nuns "whipping off checks" at the event which Gore attended. Candidate Gore hadn't "danced for their money." No money changed hands, in any way, at the free event.

Alas! Hardball viewers were repeatedly told a different story by a highly disordered corporate TV star. (A few months earlier, they had been excitedly told that the three-button suits of this modern "man-woman" was some sort of nefarious signal to female voters.) They weren't allowed to hear what the prosecutor had said in court. Instead, a disordered fellow kept offering disordered remarks like these, ones he'd made four days earlier:
MATTHEWS (3/2/00): Let’s talk about the bonanza today, the incredible incursion of politics into religion. Why does Al Gore face the, what I look to be the favorite status in this race for president, given the fact that he was at the heart of a huge fund-raising effort to raise 100,000 bucks, and now the chief agent in that scam, Maria Hsia, has been convicted of five counts, felony counts?

She faces 25 years in jail, and he’s out there dancing around, doing the Gore dance as if he’s not even involved, when it was his fund-raising event, when those nuns were writing those, ripping off those checks for 5K apiece, and he was the beneficiary.

There he is. [VIDEO OF GORE] There he—there he is! There, you see it! And he’s not had a scratch on him today by your Republican Party. When are you guys going to start hitting hard?
The prosecutor had explicitly said that Gore wasn't involved. But so what? On Hardball, an early purveyor of "fake news" kept excitedly saying the opposite.

These disordered claims went on for weeks as Matthews worked to send his corporate owner's favorite to the White House. He kept repeating inaccurate facts; kept refusing to report the actual facts. As a general matter, this is the way he covered that history-changing White House race from March 1999 on. These claims about dancing for the nuns was only one small part of a highly disordered, twenty-month insult campaign.

Matthews engaged in this disordered behavior over the course of twenty months. As he did, the liberal world sat there and took it. For a decade, the liberal world took the same stance with respect to this disordered man's misogynist insults, the ones he kept directing at "Evita Peron," at "Nurse Ratched."

Today, that highly disordered man is on the air every weekday night! He shares a lineup with the man who challenged Romney's son to a fight, and with the fellow with invented all the Mitty tales. (Also this: back in 1999 and 2000, no one flogged Gore's troubling wardrobe in quite the way the ludicrous Williams did.)

He shares the lineup with Rachel Maddow, whose bizarre, consultant-directed delivery style makes the analysts cry every night. In the five-hour run from 7 PM till midnight, only Chris Hayes, among these stars, seems to display no obvious disorder.

To what extent is our upper-end press corps infested by mental disorder? To what extent have wealth and fame attracted disordered people to this line of work? To what extent have wealth and fame injected disorder into the souls of people who may have started out clean?

One final question might be asked. To what extent is the liberal rank and file disordered, given the way we've tolerated this corporate bullshit from these highly disordered music men down through all through these years?

We ask these question in the wake of Quinn's confession of death-by-hex. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at Brzezinski's opening paragraphs—and at a horrible tape.

Tomorrow: Major pundit showers praise on her own phenomenal genes


  1. Conduct that you disapprove of is not necessarily "disordered." Somerby throws around clinical diagnoses without a clue. That is offensive and wrong behavior on Somerby's part, akin to calling someone a crook or criminal without any knowledge of the law. I wish Simerby would stop doing this.

    1. I don't know if rancor is right or wrong but sadness is the order of Bob's skin and blood. And cheek.

    2. You did not deal with the facts of this post. Somerby is exactly correct about Matthews and Williams.

    3. He is not correct about them being "disordered."

    4. Anon. @ 2:16: So you believe that misogynistic behavior, as well as peddling biased, false, and inaccurate stories is "normal"? Matthews was also involved in exposing a journalist to threats. Is that not disordered?

    5. Behaving in an abnormal way isn't sufficient for a clinical diagnosis. Go read the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. It lists the criteria. They include dysfunction that interferes with ability to function in everyday life, potential to harm oneself or others, and emotional distress. When you look at Trump, there is clearly an ability to function. He is not personally distressed by his behavior. He is not causing immediate harm to himself or others (e.g., suicide or violence).

      If he sought therapy because his behavior upset him or prevented him from having family, friends, or holding a job, he might fit the category of personality disorder, but he hasn't done so.

      When these diagnostic criteria are too loose, many everyday people fit into them and you have the danger of them being used to oppress people for ulterior reasons, including political ones. We avoid that as a society, so we have to put up with someone like Trump and don't have the luxury of calling him "disordered" just because he is a major jerk. He shouldn't have been elected in the first place. You cannot abuse medical procedures to correct that mistake. Use political procedures to get rid of him.

      Few people are "normal" unless you are using a statistical definition. If you decide to chop off the ends of the bell curve, remember that you chop off both ends, the admirable as well as the deplorable.

    6. > “When you look at Trump,... He is not causing immediate harm to himself or others (e.g., suicide or violence).”

      What he did is called “inciting to violence”, and it has already been established in court that Trump had no First Amendment protection to do so.

    7. That may make him a criminal but it doesn't make him disordered in a psychiatric sense.

    8. Depends on whether he pleads (or is found) guilty or NGRI.

  2. Today on The View, where Hillary is being interviewed, they showed debate footage of Trump stalking Hillary. He was right behind her, moving around and making faces.

  3. "To what extent is our upper-end press corps infested by mental disorder?"

    Oh, please. Just like any other clowns grimacing on arena, they're simply doing their job.

    Again, think about the stagnating Roman empire, the hippodrome in Constantinople, all that.

    1. Hexes don't work. I tried one on Mao, but here he is, still on arena.

  4. Hillary Clinton calls out journalists by name in her new book.

    1. As I always said, she is tough as nails and has more balls than the whole sorry lot of her opponents put together.

    2. She couldn't put together a win. Despite all the balls she's a two time loser. I wonder why that is. I was at the grocery store today looking at all the workers there who basically get fucked by management. Who are not supported if they try to organize and I have totally shitty jobs. You can see the misery on their faces. I was thinking about Clinton. I thought now, why would these people rally around her? What was she really going to do for them? Probably nothing as those conditions were there all through Obamas eight years. It's his policies and the policies of the politicians before him that put them in the sorry state they are in. Does anybody really think that Clinton was going to do anything different for those people? Workers everywhere get fucked over by the top level of American business. They have for a long time. I think Trump was just their way of saying - thanks for nothing.

      Mm I know you're a true believer and I respect that bit please don't take my thoughts personally.

    3. Actually Anon, she ran for Senate twice and for the US presidency once, and won more votes than her opponent in each of those three contests.

      When I say she had balls, I mean things her announcement speech in 2015, right out of the gate she focused on voter suppression in various republican controlled states and named names without hesitation, something I've not seen any other national democratic leader say. She named Jeb, she named Scott Walker and others. She held back nothing. That gave me great confidence from day one that she would always have our back. Sorry you didn't see it that way.

    4. In her new book Clinton points out that one of her major surrogates, Joe Biden, was out every day criss-crossing the Midwest talking about economic issues with the people so frequently touted as economically discouraged. Biden, after the election, complained that Clinton didn't come out on economic issues. That is garbage. Not only did she have numerous program which she talked about in all of her speeches, but she had HIM out there talking about that stuff on her behalf, and other surrogates too. This is a stupid self-serving meme that Biden has trotted out to test the waters for his own run in 2020. For those who voted for Trump, this economic discouragement argument provides cover for the racist and sexist backlash voters. A demographic analysis, like those discussed on Nate Silver's 538 blog, does not support the idea that Clinton ignored the Midwest or blue collar workers. It supports the idea that Trump blatantly wooed those who were racially disaffected by Obama and didn't want to vote for a woman. That is the overlap with Bernie's bros too.

    5. Exactly. Clinton offered the citizens all kinds of assistance, but she didn't offer them the bigotry they craved, so she lost the Presidential election to someone who did.

    6. I suspect the economically discouraged Mid-westerners didn't believe the Dems would really help them. I suspect they felt they'd been ignored or worse during the Obama Administration period. Or, if not that strongly, I suspect that they wanted to give someone else a try.

    7. That someone else could as easily have been Clinton as Trump if there were no bias at play.

    8. No one is saying she didn't speak to those people or introduce policies intended to help him. The point is the people didn't believe her. They had had 8 years of Obama and he didn't help them. Why should another sloganeering Deomocrat be any different?

      So she spoke to them literally but she didn't speak to them. The people at the top have been getting richer and richer and they haven't gotten a piece of the action. Hillary wouldn't change that and they knew it.

      Working people realize that they will say a lot of things but not come through

    9. Except the numbers show Obama did help them. I wonder why they thought he didn't?

    10. "...the economically discouraged Mid-westerners didn't believe the Dems would really help them."

      My hear breaks for these people. I can't imagine having to go through an entire presidential election campaign, making believe I gave a shit about Wall Streeters, like Goldman Sachs, running the economy. Play-acting like that for over a year must have been exhausting.

    11. "They had had 8 years of Obama and he didn't help them."
      Yes. Saving the midwest's auto industry is a black mark, so to speak, against the Obama administration.

    12. "...the economically discouraged Mid-westerners didn't believe the Dems would really help them."

      Just for one example; the unemployment rate in WI was over 9% in 2008. When Obama left office it was around 4%.

      This economically discourage garbage is pure bullshit excuse.

    13. No - it's not bullshit. You wish. I get it. I wish too. You have to look at income disparities and who is getting a piece of the pie and who isn't. Look at class. Look at income inequality. Look at the face of a worker at Walmart and then talk to them. They have no reason to get behind Hillary. Look at income growth of the top 1% vs the bottom 90% of earners since 1980. And you say that is garbage? Pure bullshit? You think Hillary had any plans to curb that? I would be offended at your (vast) ignorance if I didn't know you meant well.

    14. "The average family not in the top 10 percent makes less money today than they were making a generation ago."
      — Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 in a speech at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages

      Those people just want a piece of the action. They will vote for Democrats and the big balled Hillary if they can get it for them. So far, that haven't gotten it for them just the opposite. That is why Democrats are looked at as pure bullshit by workers.

    15. It's amazing how these poor folks who just want a piece of the action all seem to come down with amnesia and forget the horrowshow economy of the 8 years under GWB.

      Any working person in America who has been even semi-conscious for the past 40 years and willingly gives their vote to a republican is just too stupid to help.

      And by the way, I work with people who cheerfully voted for the flim flam man because they simply hated Clinton. They have great jobs, great pay, working in one of the highest income areas in the country.

      How's NAFTA going by the way? Almost a year in, no changes. Hmmm.

    16. "But they are all nigger haters right?"

      Nope. Just the ones who haven't made a peep about Trump handing the economy to Wall Street.
      Oops, I now see what you mean. I stand corrected. Yes, all of them.

    17. Anonymous September 14, 2017 at 3:28 PM,

      Of course they don't trust Clinton because they care about the economy. Nothing gets by theses geniuses, hence they instead voted for the guy who stiffed his contractors for over four decades.
      You keep thinking they're too stupid to know what they're doing, I'll keep pushing back on the media narrative that it wasn't Trump's bigotry which won him the election.

    18. 6:35. Ok. Play the race card. Let me know how that turns out for you.

    19. Anon/Mm. The point is that Obama was also a horror show for income equality and workers. I know Trump is horrible but working people know they get screwed either way. That's why they are turning to fascism. You true believers better be careful. You've fallen into a trap they set for you. Thinking the two parties are different in these basic economic policies when they are not! !You don't know it. These people know it. And feel it. They are desperate. And they will turn to demagogues and continue to turn to demagogues and they will gladly handover the whole game to fascism. It's coming. And calling them all niggers haters is only going to make it happen faster.

      Or maybe you are right. They are helpless bigots.

    20. 6:37 PM,
      It turned out trutrhful.
      in turn, you keep making believe voters chose the guy who has stiffed his contractors for almost half a century, because they are sick of the elites screwing over the little guy. Let me know how that works out for them.

    21. Yeah, they chose a guy who bragged about not paying taxes and refused to let the country see his returns because they were so mad about income inequality. They chose a guy who shits on a golden shitter in his Manhattan penthouse or on his private jet, and doesn't pay his working man contractors, forcing them to break all time records for the number of lawsuits brought against him because they were so so concerned about income inequality. bwahahahaha

    22. David in Cal: “I suspect the economically discouraged Mid-westerners didn’t believe the Dems would really help them.”

      Anonymous @ 6:11 AM: “The point is the people didn’t believe her.”

      Both of these appear to be based on the drop in Democratic voting. But, on the record, Democratic voters tried to vote and were blocked from the polls by deliberate Republican voter suppression tactics. Just in the case of normally Dem-voting Wisconsin, where Trump won by a bare 22,000 votes, the GOP-run state government’s new voter-ID law was projected to block 300,000 legal registered voters“disproportionately African-American and Latino voters”.

    23. One can laugh the same way when people claim class and income inequality didn't play into Clinton's loss.

      Laugh all you want. That's the point. They voted a guy like that in as a fuck you to the system.

      I'm just advising you take a close look at that system.

      None of you at all have said anything about income inequality. Democrats and pundits rarely talk about it either. I'm just suggesting it may be a bigger deal than you imagine.

    24. None of you at all have said anything about income inequality.

      What precisely did pussygrabber flim flam man tRump say about income inequality?

      "Whether it's taxes or wages, if they're too high we're not going to be able to compete with other countries," Trump said Thursday morning on Fox News.

      Trump first said he believes wages are "too high" during Tuesday night's Republican debate..."

      He'd like to cut taxes on the rich also, this is very important, especially now after the twin disastrous hurricanes we've just experienced.

      “Today we hear that the gains from economic growth accrue to the highest-income earners while the standard of living of the poor and middle America stagnates and the gap between the richest and the poorest grows ever wider,” wrote Hassett in the Wall Street Journal in 2012, “That portrait of the country is wrong.”

      Hassett’s belief that rising inequality in the US is a myth is based on analysis he conducted with fellow AEI economist Aparna Mathur in 2012. Their research was a response to mounting literature demonstrating that income and wealth inequality has been growing rapidly in the US since around 1970. Economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez showed that the share of the top 10% of income earners rose from less than 35% in 1970 to nearly 50% in 2010.
      Kevin Hassett appointed as US President Donald Trump’s chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

      What else precisely did Donald J Trump have to say about income inequality during the campaign?

    25. 7:22 AM,
      I'd love to get the name of both those Trump voters who are concerned about income inequality. Liberals could work with people like that to elect good politicians. Any info you could provide to make it easier to contact them would be greatly appreciated.

    26. "They voted a guy like that in as a fuck you to the system."

      If the Democrats want to win the 2020 Presidential election, they should nominate nominee Kim Jong-un.

    27. "None of you at all have said anything about income inequality. Democrats and pundits rarely talk about it either."

      Clinton did throughout the campaign, and Trump voters still rejected her. The corporate-owned media has no idea why this is, but they are 100% sure it had nothing to do with Trump's bigotry on the campaign trail.

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