Brian Williams should use his words!


The shape of traditional values:
Midway through last evening's program, Brian Williams teased the upcoming segment:
WILLIAMS (6/18/20): Coming up, a closer look at the charges against the two officers involved in the killing of Rayshard Brooks. Stunning new details about what happened just after the fatal shooting.
That was the test of the tease.
After a commercial break, Williams played a bit of videotapoe from the presentation by Paul Howard, the Fulton County Distrct Attorney. After that, he introduced his new segment as follows:
WILLIAMS: It was a powerful and methodical presentation in a local Atlanta courtroom today containing some shocking new details we didn't yet know about the killing by police of a black man in Atlanta last week...
That's the way he introduced the segment.

Did Howard actually make "a powerful and methodical presentation?" Obviously, that's a matter of judgment / opinion.

For ourselves, we thought a lot of the presentation was quite hard to follow. Absent due process in an actual trial, it will be hard to evaluate the charges which were made—or do we no longer bother with that?

For ourselves, we weren't blown away by Howard's presentation. Beyond that, we'll offer some points about Howard's current circumstances below.

That said, we evaluate journalists here; as a general matter, we don't attempt to evaluate District Attorneys. Watching Williams, we thought he ought to go back to "using his words."

We have one traditional word very strongly in mind. In our view, some editor should have amended Williams' copy in the way shown below:
WILLIAMS/AMENDED TEASE: Coming up, a closer look at the charges against the two officers involved in the killing of Rayshard Brooks. Stunning new allegations about what happened just after the fatal shooting.

WILLIAMS/AMENDED INTRODUCTION: It was a powerful and methodical presentation in a local Atlanta courtroom today containing some shocking new allegations we hadn't yet heard about the killing by police of a black man in Atlanta last week...
Does Brian know that what he heard yesterday was a set of allegations? Does he realize that he still doesn't "know" if the allegations are true, or if they'll stand up in court?

At one time, this was one of the most obvious bits of blocking and tackling in the whole American journalistic system. Everyone knew that an allegation had to be shown to be true. An allegation wasn't true just because a D.A. made it.

Today, people like Williams are primarily paid to pleasure viewers with tribal messaging services. Our tired old Enlightenment values and frameworks are being worn away.

We thought Chris Cuomo was so bad on CNN last night that we're postponing our discussion our of sheer despair. But make no mistake—almost surely, this is the most heavily tribalized topic in journalism today.

Last night, people on Fox heard one set of reactions to the presentation by Howard. On CNN and MSNBC, the sifting was very different, and rarely the twain shall meet.

As for Williams, it no longer occurs to him that you shouldn't simply assume that District Attorneys are making accurate, well-reasoned statements. Depending on your rooting interest, you can simply assume that you know that an allegation is true and well-founded as a matter of low..

In theory, a citizen shouldn't simply assume that a D.A. is making accurate statements and in rendering valid judgments. That may be especially true if the D.A, in question is involved in an extremely difficult re-election fight, as Howard currently is.

Should you believe everything Howard says? As a matter of traditional theory, no, of course you shouldn't! Everyone is fallible, and Howard is running behind for re-election in a district which is currently full of emotion about the shooting death of Brooks.

As for the harassment charges against Howard, not to mention the charges of financial impropriety, you can just click here. The report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution links you on to reports about both areas of concern. We heard these matters mentioned last night on Fox, but not on the channels we love.

We don't know if this D.A. has ever done anything wrong in his entire life. That said, viewers will be hearing about these matters over on Fox, less so on our own tribal channels.

Last night, the attorneys for Officer Brosnan—the officer who didn't fire his gun—disputed various things Howard said, including his apparently inaccurate claim that Brosnan has become a state's witness.

If Cuomo had stopped interrupting Brosnan's lawyers while asking absurdly irrelevant questions, viewers could have gotten a clearer picture of their client's account of what happened last Friday night.

As for Williams, he should go back to using his words! Howard has made some allegations. At one time, everybody knew the meaning of that highly important word!


  1. "this is the most heavily tribalized topic in journalism today."

    There are major differences in belief across the Republican and Democratic parties. But Somerby uses tribal as a verb, he says we are being "tribalized." I don't believe that asserting a set of beliefs constitutes tribalizing of any kind.

    Somerby has never made his case that liberals believe what they do because the media has "tribalized" them or because liberal leaders (whatever that means) have tribalized us.

    That assigns all of the agency for belief to the media or to supposed thought leaders, allowing no room for any of us to take an active part in drawing our own conclusions and forming our own beliefs. Somerby portrays voters as acted upon, passive recipients of media manipulations, on purpose. His only evidence is these trivial mistakes made by imperfect human beings on TV stations he has never demonstrated that we watch. And he ignores the right wing entirely.

    This is getting very old. Doesn't Somerby get tired of hearing his own exhausted voice?

    1. And we are not busy tribalizing topics either. A topic has even less agency than a person. All conservatives need to do to reclaim any topic is to talk about it, as they regularly do.

      For example, conservatives have tribalized racism by claiming that there is no such thing any more because Obama was elected. They tried to tribalize "Black Lives Matter" by claiming that "All Lives Matter," which was tribalized by the left into "White Lives Matter More," which remains largely unspoken because who wants to chant that? Not even the people who believe it, since all lives are supposed to matter equally, even though they plainly do not.

      But who created these distinct opinions? Not Chris Cuomo, since he hasn't been tribalizing topics, maybe because he's been sick. But he did leave out the word "allegation" so maybe he is more tribal than he knows, or maybe he takes it for granted that courts will keep an open mind about "details" whereas conservatives know that the courts are rigged? But then aren't the conservatives the tribalized ones?

      See, this is what happens when people who are not anthropologists attempt to use words without knowing what they mean.

    2. Could you be any dumber if you tried? Words take their meaning from usage, and tribalism has escaped from the technical confines of anthropology. From Wikipedia, relying on 2018 versions of MacMillan and Merriam-Webster dictionaries:

      In popular culture, tribalism may also refer to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are loyal to their social group above all else, or, derogatorily, a type of discrimination or animosity based upon group differences.

      Here’s a quote from that bastion of liberalism dailykos talking about

      tribalism that cripples the majority and keeps us from seeing how the Kleptocrats foster the consumer economy that is killing the planet in exchange for temporary pleasures….

    3. Doesn't Somerby get tired of hearing his own exhausted voice?

      Apparently you're not tired of hearing it, so why should he be?

    4. Somerby could have this other meaning if he didn't keep referring to anthropologists. That sets the context and makes his usage wrong, and your argument too.

    5. Your first clue that “sets the context” should be that when TDH uses the word tribalism, he’s always talking about political factions and their members' attitudes toward their opponents. If you didn’t pick up on that, I suppose that TDH’s references to anthropologists might lead you to believe that he meant the technical anthropological meaning of the word tribalism, but only if you were so confused that you took those references seriously.

      Fercryanoutloud, his phrasing is “future anthropologists huddled in caves” after the destruction of civilization in the next world war. When the world ends in a nuclear conflagration, I suppose that some people might survive in caves, but how many do you suppose will be pursuing anthropology?

      Please say you’re just trolling me.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. "Does he realize that he still doesn't "know" if the allegations are true, or if they'll stand up in court?"

      Well, dear Bob, it's the same general inquiry as earlier today.

      Are they, your liberal cult's dembots, fanatical maniacs or cynical goebbelsian dissemblers?

      As far as your upper echelon dembots are concerned, I'd say goebbelsian liars is the likely answer. A zealot-fanatic would not climb this high, or wouldn't survive there for too long.

      But don't worry, dear Bob, here's the good news: a lot of your rank-and-file dembots, your wokies, they do appear to be real, genuine brain-dead maniacs.

  3. Definitions of tribalize (verb):

    " the act of making or becoming a single unit; "the union of opposing factions"; "he looked forward to the unification of his family for the holidays"

    From the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology:

    "The concept of ‘tribal society’ is one of the most prominent and popular ‘anthropological’ notions of our time, yet within western social and cultural anthropology it has been largely abandoned as a sociological category. Although the origin of the word was rooted in the ancient Roman tribus, the modern concept of tribe emerged in the era of Euroamerican colonial expansion. It became the standard term for the social units of peoples considered primitive by the colonists, and for those thought to be uncivilised in historical accounts of antiquity. In the nineteenth century, the term tribe was woven into the theories of primitive society governed by the principles of ‘kinship’ proposed by the emerging social sciences, including the anthropology of Morgan and the sociology of Durkheim. This evolutionist thinking remained central to anthropology throughout most of the twentieth century, but in the post-colonial era of the discipline, more and more doubts were raised as to the usefulness of both the category ‘tribe’, and the particular models of kinship society that had been proposed for it. By the beginning of this century ‘the tribe’ had been widely discredited as an analytical term outside some specialised fields such as theories of early state formation. It is now commonly considered an ethnographic, rather than an analytical, term by Western-trained social and cultural anthropologists; a feature of the public culture studied, and reflecting the word’s popularization and colonial heritage. "

    From a CMI Working Paper "The coontemporary nature of tribalism":

    "There is a trend in the use of the word tribalism (also applied to Western manifestations of divisiveness) which brings into play territoriality and particularism, where being tribal means belonging to a specific group and being shaped by its antagonistic relationship with the others. This definition of tribalism is based on stereotypes relating to competition, conflict, disunity and violence. Unfortunately, the lineage model developed by anthropological theory contributed to such an association."

    In all cases, the term is applied to primitive people defining themselves either cohesively or in opposition to another tribe or invading colonial force.

    There is no anthropological reference defining the term in the way Somerby uses it.

  4. When a prosecutor makes an opening statement, it is not required that the word allegation appear in it. He or she is allowed to say what they think happened, as if describing what actually did happen. The judge reminds the jury that such a statement is not fact. It sounds like that "powerful and methodical" statement is the description of the charges made by the District Attorney, not testimony and not reporting. The word "allegation" or "alleged" doesn't have to appear in it. Deadrat will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Somerby is confused about this.

    1. Part of the problem may be that allege has two slightly-different meanings — a dubious claim without proof or the affirmation of some state of things. An indictment is the latter: it’s a claim of criminal liability that falls short of required proof beyond a reasonable doubt but gets over the hurdle of probable cause.

      When prosecutors make opening statements, they are restricted to making claims of fact and prohibited from presenting supporting evidence or making arguments to bolster inferences. All declarations in an opening statement must be conclusory or predictive: “The state will present evidence that the defendant was found at the scene of the murder.” So all declarations in an indictment or opening statement are allegations in the second sense, but no, the word allegation doesn’t have to appear in either.

      The judge will remind the jury that nothing either of the advocates says is testimony.

      The DA’s statement in the Brooks case is mixed. It’s mostly a recitation of facts gleaned from video, witness statements, and other sources. But there’s some argument, e.g., that Brooks “never presented himself as a threat.” That’s an argument from the facts of Brooks’ attitude and actions.

      TDH was underwhelmed by the DA’s presentation, but he doesn’t say why. I think he wants reporters to use “allegation” to maintain strict neutrality when all we’ve heard is one side. Obviously hard to do, when most of the DA’s statements match the video we can watch.

    2. "Obviously hard to do, when most of the DA’s statements match the video we can watch."

      What Somerby is doing is called "gaslighting".


    I wish we were all freaking gods.

    1. I don't understand what your statement has to do with the video.

  6. This is no coincidence:

    "“Facebook said it had take action against ads run by President Trump’s re-election campaign for breaching its policies on hate,” CNN reports.

    “The ads, which attacked what the Trump campaign described as ‘Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups,’ featured an upside-down triangle.”

    The Anti-Defamation League said the triangle “is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps.”"

    1. Mein Gott! And I hear those same ads are full of words 'a' and 'the' -- conspicuously frequent in the Constitution of the Confederate States of America!

    2. That's ridiculous.
      Trump's not a part of the German Nazis in WWII.

      He's part of the American Nazis, the Right-wing today.

  7. I would like Somerby to explain why this kind of behavior by a white man harassing 5 teens in a golf cart is OK. Note that the girls do not defend themselves but repeatedly say OK. Note how the guy backs off when the girls' grandfather comes out of the house.

    Why is it OK for a white man to decide that girls don't belong in a neighborhood because they are black? (He repeatedly says "you don't belong in this neighborhood".

    I would like Somerby to explain why he thinks that racism is gone in America when incidents like this are happening repeatedly to black and brown people who are doing nothing other than living their lives.

    Note that the boys ran away. Can Somerby perhaps imagine why the two boys would do that, while the girls did not?

  8. “We don't know if this D.A. has ever done anything wrong in his entire life. That said, viewers will be hearing about these matters over on Fox, less so on our own tribal channels.”

    The charges will stand or fall on their own merit, regardless of what Howard is alleged to have done or whether he is up for re-election. It is pure speculation to suggest he has corrupt motives for bringing the charges, and the point of Fox bringing these things up is to suggest that the charges have no merit for that reason alone.

    Besides, why should Fox News viewers care about sexual harassment or corruption allegations? Their president has similar allegations against him, and they don’t seem to think it affects his judgment.

  9. “Our tired old Enlightenment values and frameworks are being worn away.”

    Boy howdy.

    1. Hey Dixie, I'm just curious, have you been paying attention to barbarians who are the republican party now. for the last 30 years or so? Just curious.

      The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier -- ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
      Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein (2012)

    2. Cecelia,
      The looters have now bankrupted Hertz, JCrew, and Nieman-Marcus.
      Why are the cops letting them do this, and not shooting the looters on sight?
      This must be infuriating you.

  10. Duly noted, mm. Good thing we have two political parties.

    1. that's right, Dixie. But only one of those two parties would give a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh, a man who has been mainlining uncut pure venal hate into the body politic for the last 30 years and getting paid handsomely to do it.

      Please continue to come here to post your cluck cluck clucking one liners of despair over the sad state of "our" enlightenment values. It is so fascinating.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. And wholesomely delicious.

    4. That's why it was the medal of freedom, dear Hillary, not medal of niceness.

    5. Well wouldn't you be wrong about even that too.
      The next time you are correct about anything will be the first.

  11. My guess is that the pandemic bankrupted those outlets, Anonymouse12:30pm..

    Try not to be so hard on looters.

    1. So it turns out those looting businesses wasn't what was pissing Cecelia off.
      Turns out what really got her goat was people exercising their First Amendment rights asking for black people to be treated equally.

    2. “ Shocking!”

      Sarcasm exactly on target. After all, you thinking that about people, including the blogger here, is just another day in woke paradise for you.

      You’re eternally in a metaphoric CHOP in which you preach the correct political policy while gun-toting around the populace searching for heretics.

      This is hardly a new phenomenon.

    3. Cecelia,
      You ever going to explain why you hate black people so much?

    4. The idea of a society where black people are treated as equals is such a foreign concept to Conservatives, they think any call for an equal society is performative.


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