BASIC SKILL LEVELS DOWN: Parker eschews selective quotation!

FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2019

But her basic skill levels stay down:
This past Tuesday, FBI director Christopher Wray testified at a Senate budget hearing.

Along the way, he made a statement we found to be somewhat striking. Devlin Barrettt even quoted the statement in his news report in the Washington Post.

Let's start at he beginning. Did Wray believe that the FBI engaged in spying on the Trump campaign? "That’s not the term I would use,” Wray had already said.

One senator pushed Wray a bit further. We were perhaps a tiny bit struck by the highlighted statement below:
BARRETT (5/8/19): Asked whether he believed FBI agents spied on the Trump 2016 campaign, Wray replied: “I want to be careful in how I answer that question here, because there is an ongoing inspector general investigation. I have my own thoughts based on the limited information I have seen so far.”

Shaheen pressed him further, asking whether he had any evidence that illegal surveillance was conducted on individuals associated with the campaign.

“I don’t think I personally have any evidence of that sort,” Wray said.
We were struck by Wray's highlighted statement. In other circumstances, we liberals might have called that a bit of a non-denial denial. We might have said that Wray's statement was festooned with several trap doors.

Director Wray could have answered Shaheen with a simple "no." Instead, he said he doesn't think he has any evidence of illegal surveillance.

No, wait! Wray said he doesn't think that he personally has any such evidence! Trust us! If tribal interests had been served, we liberals would have said that Wray had left several doors ajar.

Wray's statement struck us as slightly odd—but tribal interests were served this week by taking a different approach. Those interests were served in a manner displayed—where else?—in the New York Times.

Adam Goldman wrote the New York Times news report about Wray's appearance. He didn't quote that slightly odd statement, but he opened his report with this claim:
GOLDMAN (5/8/19): The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, defended the bureau on Tuesday amid another round of accusations that agents abused their powers in investigating the Trump campaign, saying he was unaware of any illegal surveillance and refusing to call their work “spying.”

Mr. Wray’s defense of his agency put him in direct conflict with Attorney General William P. Barr, who told lawmakers last month that he believed the F.B.I. engaged in spying on the Trump campaign.
Readers of the New York Times were handed a pleasing framework. According to Goldman, Wray's testimony had put him in "direct conflict" with his boss, William Barr.

It's true that Barr once used the term "spying" while Wray said that wasn't the term he would use. But all in all, based upon full testimonies by the two men, we'd say that Goldman overstated the amount of conflict between them—overstated in a way which made our own team's tribal hearts glad.

Full disclosure! These insights came to us from Future Logicians of Lake, Field and Stream (QED), a self-reproachful group which works in consort with Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), the better-known group of future scholars who report from the aftermath of Mister Trump's Non-rational War.

In consort with future anthropologists, these future logicians have now suggested to us that "tribal narration" was almost always present in so-called "news reporting" of the pre-conflagration era.

"If only we'd listened more closely to the later Wittgenstein," these penitential future logicians have peculiarly said.

To what extent does the desire for tribal "fiction" currently rule our conceptual world? The logicians urged us to look at Aahley Parker's "news report" in yesterday's Washington Post, insisting it would advance our studies of the phenomenon they describe as Basic Skill Levels Down.

Parker wrote the latest essay about Donald J. Trump's statements concerning Charlottesville—a lengthy essay which almost seemed to pose as a "news report."

In her essay, Parker abjured the use of selective quotation concerning What Mister Trump Said. Or so the future scholars were claiming—and by Jove, sure enough!

As part of her 2100-word essay, Parker included statements by Donald J. Trump which are normally disappeared wherever our tribe's scripts are sold. In paragraph 18 (of 45), the Pulitzer-winning cable news star quoted Trump saying this:
PARKER (5/9/19): Back at the White House two days later—urged on by worried aides—the president delivered a more forceful, scripted statement in a hastily arranged news conference.

"Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups," he said.
The "he" in that passage is Donald J. Trump. Breaking every rule in the book, Parker quoted his statement!

A few paragraphs later, Parker did it again! She quoted something else Trump said—a statement he made during the very press conference where he talked about "very fine people on both sides:"
PARKER: The next day, during a news conference ostensibly about infrastructure at Trump Tower in New York, the president unleashed a freewheeling riff on the violence at the rally.

In one breath, he said, "I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis or the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally"—a statement his allies have latched on to in defense of his handling of the issue to claim the president was always clear in his denunciations of bigotry and hate-fueled violence.

Yet, in the next breath, Trump asserted, "there's blame on both sides . . . very fine people on both sides."
Parker even quoted that second highlighted statement, the future logicians noted. At the same time, they noted the ways Parker worked to signal that we shouldn't really "credit" these things that he said.

At any rate, Parker actually quoted two different statements by Trump! Why do we call attention to this development? We do so for the obvious reason.

In recent weeks, there have been several bursts of cable news coverage of Trump's remarks about Charlottesville. But trust us:

During these bursts of coverage, you could watch CNN and MSNBC for hours on end without ever seeing those highlighted statements quoted or presented on videotape. On cable, the children happily propagandized, latching onto the statements by Trump which best served their tribal story line.

Those statements (and others) were left behind! Night after night, all over cable, it was a classic display of selective quotation—and of Basic Skill Levels Down.

Did Donald J. Trump make adequate statements about the events in Charlottesville? That, of course, is a matter of judgment—but this site was started to assess the journalists, not to assess the pols.

We watched the children discuss this matter on cable TV in recent weeks. We're not sure we've ever seen a more pitiful case of selective quotation.

Trump's famous "very fine people on both sides" remark was endlessly played on videotape. There was little attempt to discuss the question of what two "sides" he may have been talking about.

Routinely, it was said that he meant there were "very fine people" among the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists. Viewers weren't told that he had expressly condemned those very same groups during the very same press event where he made his "both sides" remark.

Full disclosure! Joining forces with Future Historians of the High Chaparral, Future Psychologists of the Savannas have warned us to let this whole episode go.

"By April and May of 2019, the die had been cast," these psychologists and historians have sadly said. "By this time, Silly Children of the Pseudo-Left were determined to march off to war. The time for warnings about Professor Harari's gossip and fiction had long since come and gone."

We suspect these future scholars are right—and much of Parker's essay helps establish this point.

Parker did include two of the quotations which have been almost completely disappeared by children with names like Cooper and Lemon. But much of her work remained heavy-handed. Just check that last blockquote!

Parker did include two disappeared quotations. But despite the advances she made, we'd have to say that her basic skill levels were still remarkably down.

Several future historians have told us this week that the conduct of the Coopers and the Lemons helped march us to perdition during the Trump "end-year." And alas:

"We 'humans' were always wired this way," several future anthropologists have disconsolately said. "Just watch the scene from Gone With the Wind where the silly Southern boys, eagerly trying to woo Miss Scarlett, yelp with joy at the onset of the war which was going to get them all killed."

We suspect those future scholars are right. They report to us in nocturnal submissions which the haters refer to as dreams.

Persistently, they express regret at their own past failures to act. They say their silence helped produce Mister Trump's Unavoidable War.

This war reduced these scholars to lives of hunting and (mainly) gathering. The war occurred after three or four decades characterized by the condition they describe as Basic Skill Levels Down.

Later today: Sheryl Gay Stolberg in chains!


  1. Somerby naively thinks that the scripted statements Trump's staff prepare for him represent his actual beliefs on a subject. He dutifully reads a statement condemning racism and then contradicts it with his next tweets. But Somerby thinks we must accept those scripted remarks as Trump's own or else be accused of tribalism. No, we have other options.

    We can take the totality of Trump's words and deeds as his actual belief, and those suggest that he condones white supremacism, even when it results in violence. The pro forma statements composed by his staff do not override the failure to console Jewish victims or domestic terrorism, the failure to admit that such terrorism exists, his encouragement of white supremacist views via retweets of their vile statements and memes. They don't excuse the "good people on both sides" statement he issued shortly after reading his staff's carefully prepared sentences on racism.

    If Trump really thought what he said, he wouldn't behave as he does toward Puerto Rico, toward immigrant children, toward his own minority workers at his properties, he wouldn't use the n-word and he wouldn't think that fawning over Tiger Woods makes him non-racist.

    People heard his scripted remarks and they weren't "disappeared" -- no one believed them to be Trump's actual thoughts and feelings on racism. Any more than we believe Trump when he recites the pledge of allegiance and then breaks the laws he has sworn to uphold. Any more than we believe he loves America when he sings the national anthem but cannot remember the words. Or any of the other motions Trump goes through without any thought or feeling behind them.

    It is foul of Somerby to suggest that Trump is being wronged in this instance. It insults all of the people who care about racism and the increasing racial white supremacist violence in our country, something Trump has done absolutely nothing to address, instead undermining the existing efforts to prevent attacks on minorities by the alt-Right. Somerby should be ashamed of himself.

    1. "Somerby naively thinks that the scripted statements Trump's staff prepare for him represent his actual beliefs on a subject."
      How do you know that Somerby thinks that? You betray an anti-Somerby bias in your zeal to show how stupid Bob is. Evidence shows from several years of posts to this blog that Bob is far and away more intelligent than you or that you give him credit for being.

    2. Somerby refuses to allow journalists or opinion writers the ability to look at the whole picture of Trump, who has a history of racist comments. His statements about Charlottesville are hardly as ciear as Somerby demands us to believe.

  2. As always, thank you for documenting the atrocities, Bob.

    We appreciate your heroic sacrifice, your risking your very sanity by selflessly reading so much of the goebbelsian liberal press.

    1. "heroic sacrifice"? For lazily repeating Right-wing nonsense memes? Hardly.
      Those with real "heroic sacrifice" are our brave school children, who lay down their lives to protect our right to bear arms.

  3. "Parker did include two disappeared quotations. But despite the advances she made, we'd have to say that her basic skill levels were still remarkably down."

    Parker can't do anything right. She even includes the supposedly disappeared quotes but still Somerby maligns her.

    Just as he maligns future historians and psychologists by putting words into their mouths that they would never say, today or in the future. Borrowing these occupational titles doesn't give any additional credibility to Somerby's points -- it makes him sound moronic. And it insults both historians and psychologists, both of whom have come out with warnings and concerns about Trump (excluding Jordan Peterson and Jonathan Haidt in psychology, and no doubt some Trump supporters among the historians). The bulk of both occupations see Trump for what he is and would not agree with Somerby's incoherent attempts to defend Trump and his minions.

    Trump said he isn't a racist and he condemned racism once, in a statement written by his staff (scripted and read). Oh, well all right then. All the other racist stuff Trump says and does must be our tribalistic mistake. Parker can't get anything right! Despite getting this one right that is. We all know what a tribal player she is. Trump isn't tribal. The Republicans aren't tribal at all. There is no such thing as tribalism on the right and if there is, it doesn't matter, because look at the left's tribalism and they are the ones who will start future war, not Trump and not any Republicans.

    Somerby makes no sense at all.

    1. Birth Certificate? Central Park Five? Don’t bother Bob with details....

    2. Central Park Five was particularly egregious.

  4. In other news, they caught the guy who killed Bob Crane. That is a big deal to bridge players.

  5. The question about illegal surveillance gave Wray an out. I would like to know whether the Trump campaign was spied on at all, whether or not that spying was formally approved. Even legal spying on a Presidential campaign should be a big deal.

    BTW note how the anti-Trump defense has changed. When Trump asserted that his campaign was spied on, his enemies called him crazy. Now, they're at Plan 2, asserting that the spying was not illegal, or not illegal to the best of their knowledge.

    I was a member of the ACLU for many decades, finally leaving when they converted into just another Democratic interest group. This is an issue that the old ACLU might have investigated.

    1. You are wrong, the anti-Trump defense has not changed, Trump was not spied upon, there is no Plan 2.

    2. " they converted into just another Democratic interest group."

      THE ACLU always fought to protect the civil liberties of minorities. You left when you became aware that they did so.

    3. @12:56 I referenced spying on the campaign, not just on Trump personally. We already know that Trump campaign worker Carter Page was spied on.

      @1:23 I supported an organization that always fought to protect the civil liberties of minorities for many decades. Somehow, your logic turns this into proof that I'm a racist.

    4. Nah. I'm relying way more on your scribblings here, and the fact that you are an out and proud Right-winger.
      I don't work for the corporate-owned media, so there is no reason for me to whitewash it, and call you "economically anxious".

    5. Carter Page was under investigation long before he was associated with the Trump campaign. If anything, it's the other way around: Page joined the campaign to become more useful to the Russians.

    6. Ilya - Page was never charged with anything, despite all the investigating, wiretapping, etc. That suggests that he was actually innocent.

    7. Maybe he was innocent. Not the point. He was under investigation. He got involved in Trump's campaign. The investigation into Page continued, hence it may appear that Trump's campaign was surveilled. Page was wanna-be, so was of no significance. Trump is naturally drawn to and surrounds himself with grifers, and Page was just one of them.

    8. With any luck, it'll come out eventually: who was spied on, who was entrapped, who was slandered, by whom, how, and why.

      Because you reap what you sow, and because, despite appearances to the contrary, president's men probably do have some power.

      Have patience.

    9. @1:31

      Again you are wrong.

      Trump asserted that Obama had his "wires tapped", that Obama proceeded to "tapp my phones".

      In response, Obama said that neither he "nor any White House official under Obama ever ordered surveillance of any U.S. citizen", adding that it was a cardinal rule that the White House never interfere with a DOJ investigation.

      Trump did make a crazy assertion that was indeed false. The original "anti-Trump defense" still stands, there is no "Plan 2"; however, I suspect you may be from outer space.

  6. “In recent weeks, there have been several bursts of cable news coverage of Trump's remarks about Charlottesville. “

    ‘a lengthy essay which almost seemed to pose as a "news report."’

    The report was prompted by Biden’s recent criticism of Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville. He goaded Trump into a reaction. That is why this is being covered again.

    “Parker worked to signal that we shouldn't really "credit" these things that he said.”

    Somerby doesn’t bother to show why he thinks this, or whether there is perhaps a good reason not to “credit” what Trump said.

    Of course, Trump is “mentally ill”, or so we have been repeatedly told by Somerby, despite his claim that “this site was started to assess the journalists, not to assess the pols.” In yesterday’s post, Somerby quoted some people who believe Trump is a sociopath; Somerby seemed to approve of that. If this is true, then why would anyone “credit” anything Trump says? Parker’s excellent essay gives a full picture of what Trump actually said after Charlottesville, including his initial reaction which did *not* condemn racists, his scripted remarks a bit later, his private reactions, and his recent embellishments in the wake of Biden’s remarks. It also notes the fact that Trump often retweets white supremacists. That ought to be an important element in assessing whether to simply take Trump at face value in this case. It goes along with the notion that a good journalist shouldn’t be simply a stenographer, mindlessly typing what the president says without looking at the context.

    Trump is a racist, and Somerby is a joke.

  7. Trump should say “I am not mentally ill.”

    That ought to cause Somerby’s circuits to overheat.

  8. It's the infinitely invasive state meets the thoroughly corrupt individual. This reminds me of a movie called "No Way Out". In this film a very deep undercover Russian agent, a member of the US military, is trying to expose a politician who killed his mistress. In doing so, he's risking blowing his cover.

    Well, this is Trump in reverse. Trump is shining a spotlight on a very invasive, investigative spying apparatus, but, of course, Trump himself is corrupt.

    I believe Wray's hesitation comes from the fact that there were people under investigation and they were associated with Trump's campaign. Some of the investigations started before Trump's campaign, some maybe after his campaign gained momentum.

    1. Good movie, deserved a spoiler alert.

    2. True. My bad...I should have thought about that.

  9. The GOP and Trump only have a problem with the FBI, etc, when they are investigating HIM. Far from wanting to rein in abuses, Trump and the GOP want the investigative agencies to be fully subservient to him. They are perfectly happy with FISA, etc, otherwise.

    1. I think you need to reevaluate your position.

    2. Do you disagree that Trump would like to use the FBI to investigate his enemies?