MAKE THE WORLD GO AWAY: Making Khan-Cullors go away!


Part 3—Along with a long line of others:
Yesterday, we discussed Monday night's Maddow Show. What occurred on the program last night?

Last night, the award-winning show was basically all Alex van der Zwaan all the time. The opening segment about the young hunk burned roughly 21 minutes. Two subsequent segments—one with Paul Fishman, one with Ken Vogel—added a combined 9:37 to the van der Zwaan total time.

Maddow closed with another 4:49 about the maddening conduct of the Russkies. Along the way, she did 3:04 about Jared Kushner's security clearance conundrum.

As such, the program was largely about van der Zwaag, completely about The Chase.

It isn't clear that there's anything "wrong" with programming like that. Indeed, the programming would make perfect sense if MSNBC was The Legal Minutia Channel which, in theory, it isn't.

(In theory, even Court TV no longer exists In 2008, it became TruTV, a place for "reality shows.")

At this point, the Maddow Show concerns itself with little except The Chase. That's true of MSNBC prime time generally, but it's especially true at 9 PM, a place of ratings success.

Last evening, Maddow went into her usual overwhelming detail about All Things Van Der Zwaan. In this morning's Washington Post, the topic rated a full-length news report on page A2 (1026 words). On last evening's Maddow Show, it was Attorney van der Zwaan pretty much all the way down.

Is there anything "wrong" with this diet? We would say there pretty much is. For starters, we would point to the way it makes the rest of the world go away, not excluding the fascinating, reality-drenched world of Patrisse Khan-Cullors.

Who the Sam Hill is Patrisse Khan-Cullors? Your question makes our point! Khan-Cullors, who was then Patrisse Cullors, is one of the three founders of Black Lives Matter. Also, she's the author of a new book which was on the New York Times best-seller list on two recent Sundays, falling off this past week.

Over Here in our pseudolib tents, we pretend to care about Black Lives Matter—indeed, about such lives. If a young person gets shot and killed, though only by police, we start inventing and bruiting false facts about what occurred to prove how much we care.

For better or worse, that seems to be the exetnt of our investment. Rachel serves us porridge each night about The Chase after Donald J. Trump. You'll never see Khan-Cullors on the corporate liberal goddess' program. Nor will you see the issues which animate Khan-Cullors' book get discussed.

The Maddow Show is our tribal playpen. Khan-Cullors and such can suck air.

We became aware of Khan-Cullors' book as we relaxed with the analysts two Sundays ago, enjoying a long, leisurely day of C-Span 2. Khan-Cullors did the full hour on After Words, interviewed by Toure.

To watch that program, click here.

Toure didn't do the greatest job; like almost everyone else, he's not a professional interviewer. We heard a lot of things that hour which didn't exactly seem to make sense, but we were struck by Khan-Cullors' tremendously cheerful demeanor.

The combination of these forcings led us to skim her book, and good grief! Early on, we ran headlong into the passage shown below.

Khan-Cullots grew up in low-income/impoverished L.A. At the start of this passage, she's referring to an incident with that city's police when her older brothers were 13 and 11:
KHAN-CULLORS (page 15): I will not think of this particular incident until years later, when the reports about Mike Brown start flowing out of Ferguson, Missouri, and he is morphed by police and the press from a beloved 18-year-old boy, a boy who was heading to college and a boy who was unarmed, into something like King Kong, an entity swollen, monster-like, that could only be stopped with bullets that were shot into the top of his head. Because that is what this cop did to him. He shot bullets into the top of his head as he knelt on the ground with his hands up.
Good grief! Khan-Cullors had already described Trayvon Martin in the standard way. She'd mentioned the Skittles and the iced tea while mentioning nothing else.

But that description of Michael Brown's death seemed to take the cake. It seemed to us that it had been years since we'd seen anyone continue the "kneeling with his hands up" imagery. The additional image implied in that passage—the image of the policeman standing over Michael Brown shooting down into "the top of his head"—seemed to take this imagery farther than we'd ever seen it taken.

Other parts of Khan-Cullors' book take the tools of selective reporting about as far as we've seen them taken. We recommend the anecdote she tells on pages 171-172, in which a young man she's mentoring ends up in the L.A. County jail, then received a ten-year prison sentence, even though "in fact no one was physically hurt, although I'm sire they were terrified."

As best we can tell, Khan-Cullors seems to be describing an armed robbery in the passage in question. It's amazing to see how far she goes to avoid making her meaning clear.

We find a lot that's puzzling in Khan-Cullors' book. Because the bulk of the book make us admire and wonder about her spirit, we've decided to blame these incidents on asha bandele, her co-author.

That said, you can see Khan-Cullors on that C-Span tape telling Toure that Sandra Bland "was killed in that jail cell, there's no way she committed's my opinion she was dead before they fashioned that noose and put it on her. And that's unfortunately common." She bases this theory on her claim that many women are being murdered before they are hung inside a certain women's prison in California. (On the tape, this conversations atarts around minute 31.)

We've googled the topic and read the reports. We find no one making any such claim about the suicides in question, not even prisoner rights' groups. You'll see Toure make no attempt to question any of this, though interviewing on the fly is a difficult task.

Given these apparent problems, why do we, heartily, recommend Khan-Cullors' book? We do so because of Khan-Cullors herself, because of her strong spirit and spirituality, but also because of the topics with which she's long been engaged.

She has long been engaged with important topics. You will never see these topics discussed on The Rachel Maddow Show, or on MSNBC generally.

With what sorts of topics is Khan-Cullors engaged? Consider her remarkable claim about California prisons:
KHAN-CULLORS (page 44): In 1986 when I am three years old Ronald Reagan energizes the drug war that was started in 1971 by Richard Nixon by further militarizing the police in our communities, which swells the number of Black and Latinx men who are incarcerated. Between 1982 and 2000, the number of people locked up in the state of California grows by 500 percent.
Could that statistic be accurate? The leading authority on this topic states that very statistic in this award-winning report. Back in 2016, PolitiFact fact-checked a statement by Cory Booker and offered this overview concerning the nation's prisons:
POLITIFACT (7/10/16): A spokesman said Booker’s statistic comes from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy organization. It says the current incarcerated population is 2.2 million—including federal prisons, state prisons and local jails—which is a 500 percent growth over the past 40 years.

Experts told us that the Sentencing Project’s statistics are credible.

The state and federal prison population grew from 218,466 in 1974 to 1,508,636 in 2014, which is a nearly 600 percent increase. For comparison, the overall United States population has increased just 51 percent since 1974.

The state and federal prison population remained fairly stable through the early 1970s, until the war on drugs began. Since then, it has increased sharply every year, particularly when Reagan expanded the policy effort in the 1980s, until about 2010.
Obviously, this topic isn't unique to Khan-Cullors. But her discussions of prison culture seem to be informed by years of work in the area, and by experience with the incarceration of family members and loved ones. Our only point is this:

This isn't a topic which gets discussed on The Rachel Maddow Show. On the Maddow Show, you get to enjoy The Chase at this point and you get little else. You receive the joy of The Chase, and the rest of the world goes away.

Regarding Khan-Cullots herself, we think the tone of her book is deeply fascinating. We dislike the apparent propaganda. We're deeply struck by the person in whose name it's offered.

Her relentless discussions of family and love remind us of the early Dr. King, the young author who was so in love with "the love ethic of Jesus." What a shame that Khan-Cullors can't be on your TV screen, to better to make room for the latest pointless discussion with Michael Beschloss.

Khan-Cullors talks about the lives of low-income urban kids in the same sort of way Ta-Nehisi Coates did in his award-winning book. That said, we don't care about those kids, and we never have.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors is only one of the people you won't see on The One True Channel. Mass incarceration is only one such topic.

We're currently being sold The Chase, an entertaining tribal porridge which is ratings gold. It makes us feel very good inside, and it makes the world go away.

Tomorrow: Among the missing


  1. A guy breaks the law but Somerby refers to him as "the hunk" as if Maddow, a self-professed lesbian, were only interested in his physical appearance.

    Russians have manifestly subverted our democratic process and our government is investigating, but Somerby refers to this not as a crime or investigation, but as "the chase." As if this were a vendetta being pursued by Democrats to hunt down their political opponents (of which this Dutch man living in London is surely not an example).

    What is wrong with Somerby? The language he uses to discuss Maddow's show and our unfortunate attack by Russia suggests that he has no idea whatsoever what is going on in our country. It also mirrors the Republican talking points -- nothing to see here, fake news manufactured as a witch hunt by Democrats, nothing going on with Russia, etc.

    Has Somerby switched from pointing out propaganda to exemplifying it?

    1. My interpretation of Somerby's reference to the young man as a "hunk" has nothing to do with Maddow's sexuality. Why and how do you get that implication/conclusion? Unless you have a negative proclivity towards anything Bob says, finding fault with random words and/or statements.

    2. A hunk is defined as a sexually attractive man. Why would there be any reason whatsoever to refer to him as a hunk at all in this context? Somerby is using the word to suggest that Maddow is wasting all that time on him because he is sexually attractive. I find this odd because (1) Maddow is gay, (2) most of her audience is male. But it is Somerby's theory, not mine. Calling a criminal who has just pled guilty to a serious crime a hunk is inappropriate. Somerby is suggesting that she wouldn't have focused so much time on him if he hadn't been a hunk.

      Somerby is warped.

  2. The prison population increased because crime increased. Not just drug "crimes" but real crimes of violence and dishonesty. And the cause of the rise in crime wasn't Reagan, it was lead. Because leaded gasoline was phased out in the 1970s, the crime rate started to fall in the 1990s. The prison population is actually falling now.

    I'd rather hear about Mueller's fact-based indictments than Khan-Cullors' dishonest propaganda. The way to support a good cause is to tell the truth.

    1. But Somerby likes Khan-Cullors' spirit...just not her beliefs and everything she devotes her life to.

    2. The prison population is falling but the decrease is trivial compared to the increase since 1970. The crime rate is falling but the number of people in jail, not so much.

  3. "Because the bulk of the book make us admire and wonder about her spirit, we've decided to blame these incidents on asha bandele, her co-author."

    Please. That's about the dumbest thing one could say about Khan-Cullors, to like her spirit but pretend she doesn't have or mean the beliefs she actually has. Here's a sampling of what she herself has said in interviews:

    "I saw nothing happen to George Zimmerman who killed this human [Trayvon Martin] and took this child away from a family on purpose."

    "The fight against 45 is not just against him. It’s a bigger fight against white supremacy. It’s a bigger fight against patriarchy"

    "We can’t deny anymore that black women are saving America from 45 and the same for what happened in Alabama with Roy Moore. It’s time not just to talk about black women at the forefront, but invest in them"

    The list goes on. Does Somerby buy any of the actual beliefs that Khan-Cullors has? Nah. He has spent post after post railing against liberals and their race cards. He just wants to use Khan-Cullors as another way to bash Maddow et al.

  4. Somerby says: "For starters, we would point to the way it makes the rest of the world go away, not excluding the fascinating, reality-drenched world of Patrisse Khan-Cullors."

    Apparently you only live in reality if you are poor and black. Somerby points out inaccuracies in the book yet he recommends reading it because of the spirituality (cheerfulness in the face of adversity) of the first author. He blames the propagandistic inaccuracies on the second author, whose name he doesn't bother to capitalize.

    Then he talks about prison stats in California, the huge increase between Reagan and now, without ever mentioning the three-strikes law and its impact on incarceration. In CA, the prison lobby is stronger than the teachers' union. Because our series of Republican governors were law-and-order buffs whose approach to policing was "lock them up and throw away the key." Never mind the cost. But Somerby is curiously silent about the impact of these Republican policies.

    Khan-Cullors knows that she will repel people if she appears angry. Her cheerful is a deliberate stance. It won't go over with black audiences, so this is something packaged for guys like Somerby who want to believe that black people will respond with love if they somehow strike the right chord on the MLK keyboard.

    How cheerful will Khan-Cullors be if Somerby were to tell her he doesn't believe her statistics, to her face, on TV? Does Somerby believe the case for the Black Lives Matter movement is strong enough to survive the statistical truth?

    Those of us who have ever lived in poverty (not post-college apartment life or grad student pseudo-poverty) do not glamorize it as liberals like Somerby seem to do. They consider that poverty bestows a realness, an interest beyond the sordid details of making do and doing without. Neglect isn't interesting. It doesn't necessarily build character. It doesn't make one real. It makes one disadvantaged, hog-tied in the race for success. It makes one bitter and unnaturally focused on anecdotal wrongs that were wrong enough without the inevitable exaggeration. There is nothing noble about this. Somerby is behaving like an old liberal fool.

    1. asha bandele writes her name all lowercase.

    2. "Khan-Cullors knows that she will repel people if she appears angry. Her cheerful (sic) is a deliberate stance."

      Well, we certainly can't say the same about you. Don't you have a personal blog to attend to?


    3. Love how the defense of Somerby always seems to boil down to "GO AWAY!"

    4. I rather liked what Perry had to say.

    5. I never say “go away.” I critique a comment, commenters critique me, we all critique Bob. I was speaking more to tone, as in like, “Why doesn’t Bob see the world the way I do?!”

      For example:

      “Then he talks about prison stats in California, the huge increase between Reagan and now, without ever mentioning the three-strikes law and its impact on incarceration.”

      Here’s how “he” talked about prison stats in CA:

      “KHAN-CULLORS (page 44): In 1986 when I am three years old Ronald Reagan energizes the drug war that was started in 1971 by Richard Nixon by further militarizing the police in our communities, which swells the number of Black and Latinx (sic) men who are incarcerated. Between 1982 and 2000, the number of people locked up in the state of California grows by 500 percent.”

      Well, that’s bad. Isn’t it? Does Bob’s omission of one of the multiple factors that make us the largest incarcerator on the planet really account for your long polemics?

      Why yes, I suppose it does. In fact, I looked up “three-strikes” as a result of your post, thanks for that, which was a hideously conceived law. But you made no mention of prop 36! What’s wrong with you?

      Most long-timers take a more temperate approach, but it doesn’t matter. Rail away. Be angry. Let Bob bring out the best in you.


    6. Bob spends his life wondering why other people don't see the world the way he does. But of course, he's always right.

    7. Asking why Somerby omits something isn't "railing away." It is being critical but frankly, I use different language when I rail. I was in NY when Prop 36 was enacted but your point is well taken. It may have slowed the rate of incarceration but it didn't let anyone out of jail, to my knowledge, the way Prop 47 did via resentencing.

      I am a long-timer and I sound very different when I am actually angry. But some people are less tolerant of conflict, even during discussion, than others are. I think it is my Irish ethnicity that makes me to regard this as talk and not mortal kombat. No skulls were broken.

      Note that I said "he" because I was talking about Somerby not Khan-Cullors, who you quoted back at me.

  5. "What a shame that Khan-Cullors can't be on your TV screen, to better [sic] to make room for the latest pointless discussion with Michael Beschloss."

    Don't worry Bob. True, right now the main task is to demonize Donald the Magnificent, our Great President.

    But later in the year producing higher voting turnout for Globalist Destroyers of Worlds will be prioritized accordingly, and then surely you'll hear all kind of harrowing 'minority' 'narratives'.

    1. Mao can't get over Trump's wet kisses to the establishment.
      It's adorable.

    2. Trump is a liar and a thief.

  6. Somerby complains that little time is being spent on Khan-Cullors' issues, presumably because the hunk is sucking all the air out of the press room.

    When Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were killed, there was little discussion of anything else anywhere in the media. Those were the issues around which Black Lives Matter organized itself. Little else was discussed.

    Current events change because new events keep happening, so the focus of the media changes. There are certainly enduring issues that exist as a substrate to current events, that require greater depth of analysis and that recur in the news because they continue to exist. Terrorism is one, gun violence, vote suppression and gerrymandering, poverty, racial disparities, domestic violence (which never gets talked about) and so on. These are the focus of magazines and books, not cable news shows. They require too much background to understand, too much analysis to support proposed remedies, too many charts and graphs to sustain an audience just passing through.

    Khan-Cullors wrote a book because there wasn't time or space to explain everything people need to know about where her movement came from and why it exists. No interview would be able to tell that same story, even if there were no distracting hunk criminals stealing her air time.

    The Russia story is already too complicated for most people to follow without a lot of background reading. That's why Trump and the Republicans are able to distract with denials and false statements. That's why people are blinking at the Russian names and saying "isn't the investigation done yet?" Somerby used to have the attention span to follow a complicated story. Now he seems to think we should just let it all go because it is all too partisan for words. My theory is that he had a stroke a while back and has lost his will to cope with the modern equivalent of the Watergate scandal. That isn't Maddow's fault. She is doing exactly what she should.

  7. "We're currently being sold The Chase, an entertaining tribal porridge which is ratings gold. It makes us feel very good inside, and it makes the world go away."

    Every time I hear something about the chase it reminds me that Hillary should be president but isn't. I feel angry and sad, not good inside. The world doesn't go away. I am reminded of how Trump is messing it up, undoing Obama's achievements, making our environment worse, and hurting people I care about. The world is definitely still there.

  8. We're currently being sold The Chase, an entertaining tribal porridge which is ratings gold.

    I think what we are seeing is a brilliant supremely competent professional working on a very serious issue of national import, and carefully conducting the investigation like a maestro conducting an orchestra.

    This is serious shit and I kind of resent TDH's insinuation that this is all part of some partisan team sport.

    The case has to be made positively and convincingly. However much I might object, tRump does have his loyal supporters, many crazed fanatics, and they will not sit still for any perceived injustice.

    It is a truism that very often most people do not recognize genius at the time it's happening. I think in Mueller we are witnessing a true genius at work.

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