Tucker recalls Avenatti: BREAKING! Even the anthropologists have started to say it:
It's all comedy now!
As American systems fall apart—as the sensible center can no longer hold—we're left with nothing more than the possibility of amusement as we await whatever will come, "as on a darkling plain."
As our systems crash and burn, is it really all comedy now? Consider what millions of viewers were handed by Rachel and Tucker last week.
Concerning Rachel, the high-rated "corporate progressive" has apparently been struggling with her sleep. We know this because she told us so, last Wednesday night, on her "cable news" program.
In her lengthy opening monologue, Maddow cited an article by Masha Gessen. The article appeared a few days after Donald Trump's 2016 election win.
According to Maddow, the article "is remembered for the set of rules [Gessen] went on to lay out for how to survive and preserve your sanity in a country that is shedding its democratic foundations and is shedding the strictures of the rule of law."
Stating the obvious, Gessen's article isn't remembered at all. What's being discussed on cable news is 1) the useless results of the latest polls, and 2) whatever Donald J. Trump may have said ten minutes ago.
Critiques like Gessen's go undiscussed. Analyses like that are hard.
That said, all roads on the Rachel Maddow Show lead to Rachel Maddow. For that reason, the cable star was soon telling us this:
MADDOW (2/12/20): Rule number one, first on her list of rules, was the memorable one, one that still wakes me up regularly to this day.That rule still wakes Rachel up. It does so regularly, right to this very day!
Rule number one, quote, "Believe the autocrat. He means what he says."
Already, the analysts were screaming and crying; several were tearing their hair. The youngsters sensed what was coming next, and sure enough! We were soon offered this:
MADDOW: And he published this book right at the time of the inauguration of Donald Trump. And in the book, very short book, goes on to lay out 20 lessons from the 20th century for Americans to consider today. And some of these lessons, some of these rules keep me up too.The cable star was now discussing Professor Snyder's first, shorter book about the way democracies die. By the cable star's own admission, his book still keeps her up too!
The analysts maintained their red alert when the long monologue ended—and sure enough!
Later in the program, Rachel was speaking with Candidate Klobuchar. In accord with the deathless rule of three, the cable star now said this:
MADDOW: Let me ask you one seemingly sort of technical thing, but it's starting to loom. A lot of things are waking me up these days. Every third or fourth day, this is the thing that wakes me up.Rachel raised the possibility that the Democrats may arrive at their convention without a clearcut nominee. This possibility wakes Rachel up every third or fourth day. It even makes her cringe!
By now, our analysts were shouting such claims as, "One of the ways democracy dies involves the ascension of people like Maddow to the role of progressive thought leader!" Nothing could brake their roll.
However we assess the analysts' claim, Rachel kept it up last night. In minute 4, she assured her millions of viewers that she'd "had a great weekend." But she also told us, twice, that she "was a little haunted this weekend" by an interview on this same subject she'd conducted last Friday night.
Question: Do you believe that Rachel Maddow is awakened, every third or fourth night, by the prospect of a brokered convention? Do you believe that Gessen's first rule still wakes her up regularly, and that some of Snyder's rules keep her awake at night too?
We're disinclined to believe those claims, though they could always be true. To out ear, they seem to be part of Maddow's "performance of the Rachel figure," the peculiar phrase Janet Malcolm employed in October 2017, in a peculiar profile of Maddow published in the New Yorker.
Tomorrow, we'll revisit that peculiar profile, encouraging you to remember that it's all comedy now. For today, we'll turn to what Tucker was saying on Fox last week, even as Rachel was explaining the ways we now live in "a banana republic."
In essence, Tucker was saying the very same thing, though his analysis had a different twist.
Last Friday evening, starting at midnight Eastern, we flipped back and forth between these two "cable news" programs. Rachel was saying that we now live a a banana republic.
It's a fairly imprecise claim, though it's increasingly common. Over on the competing channel, Tucker and his guest, Michael Caputo, were making an equal but opposite claim, saying such things as this:
CARLSON (2/14/20): The left doesn't want criminal justice reform. If they did, they'd be on Roger Stone's side. No. What they really want is to send their political enemies to jail and that's what they're trying to do.According to Caputo, prosecutors had "manipulat[ed] guideline enhancements to drag [Stone's recommended sentence] up to seven to nine" years. Watching Maddow last night, a viewer might have gotten the impression that William Barr is attempting to eliminate imprisonment for Stone altogether.
Former Trump campaign adviser, Michael Caputo has watched this whole thing from the beginning, and he joins us tonight. So it's hard not—
Michael, thanks so much for joining us, I should say, it's hard not to compare and contrast the treatment of Andrew McCabe and Roger Stone. What do you make of this?
CAPUTO: Obviously, it's a two-tiered justice system. We've always wondered about that. But in the wake of Donald Trump's election, in 2016, it became more and more obvious that there's one level of justice for Hillary Clinton, Andrew McCabe, James Comey, John Brennan—the list goes on—and another level of justice for Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, J. D. Gordon, and there's no [INAUDIBLE] between them.
The fact of the matter is, we know now, just by the things that they've exposed accidentally, with the prosecutors manipulating guideline enhancements to drag it up to seven to nine, with the jury foreman revealing that she is a lieutenant in the resistance—you know, there's enough corruption, malice and ulterior motive here for the president to pardon Roger Stone immediately.
In fact, the Justice Department's amended recommendation holds that Stone does deserve imprisonment, but only of three to four years' duration. Neither Tucker nor Rachel has been spelling that out. As our systems fall apart, clarity has become a rare commodity.
Is Rachel jerking awake at night? Or was that just the latest example of her "performance of the Rachel figure"—her pursuit of something resembling a cult of personality?
We have no idea. But in this era of tribalized "cable news," clarity has given way to the arts of tribal persuasion. And as we've often told you, our own team is routinely so inane at this point that Tucker routinely engages in types of persuasion in which he doesn't have to toy with facts at all.
On Friday evening, the gentleman built one such segment around a new criminal conviction. He started his program as shown:
CARLSON: Good evening and welcome to Tucker Carlson Tonight.The presidential pick to whom he referred was Michael Avenatti. Avenatti "was convicted today on a long list of felonies," Carlson accurately said. He went on to offer some tribal persuasion which was sadly persuasive. Videotape was involved.
Sadly, it's the end of the road for one of CNN's top presidential picks. Sadly, he's not dropping out. He's behind bars.
Last Friday night, Rachel and Tucker were basically making the same claim. Each cable host told millions of viewers that we're living in a banana republic in which the courts have been, or are being, largely corrupted.
In Lincoln's immortal words, North and South once "prayed to the same God." Now, these cable stars lodged the same complaint. They only disagreed on which of our two warring tribes is currently getting shafted.
Rachel's audience won't be told about what Tucker is saying. Tucker'd audience isn't told about what Rachel says.
In fairness, only Rachel claims that she is being awakened, and kept awake, on a regular basis. Do you believe her when she says that?
Tomorrow, while remembering that it's all comedy now, we'll revisit the peculiar things Malcolm once said. We'll also discuss what cable stars said on Tucker's videotape.
Tomorrow: “The Rachel Maddow Show is a piece of sleight of hand presented as a cable news show. It is TV entertainment at its finest."
Remember, it's all comedy now. On the whole, our systems have failed.