LONGING FOR BETTER DISCOURSE: We're being muzzled, Nicolle Wallace says!


Longs for uncensored discourse:
For our money, within our experience, it was the day's most significant statement.

By far.

The statement came from Nicolle Wallace, right at the start of yesterday's Deadline: White House program. The background goes like this:

As she started yesterday's program, Wallace cited Donald Trump's "bizarre and startling performance" in the Rose Garden the day before. She also cited Trump's recent statement about having "undergone cognitive testing."

At some length, she quoted from Peter Baker's report in the New York Times—a report which stressed the rambling, incoherent nature of Trump's Rose Garden performance. At this point—at 4:03 PM Eastern—she introduced a trio of guests.

As usual, Wallace described these guests as "some of our favorite reporters and friends." But when she threw to Sam Stein, the first pundit she asked to speak, she quickly interrupted his reply.

Below, you see what Wallace said. For our money, the highlighted statement was the day's most striking statement by far:
WALLACE (7/15/20): Can I stop you right there? Can I stop you right there?

STEIN: Sure.

WALLACE: I worked on campaigns. If that was a campaign event, it was a crummy one.

I mean, that was neither a presidential address worthy of the Rose Garden, nor an effective political message. And I worry that in ten, twenty years, they're going to say, "Why wasn't the media allowed to say what they saw? What everyone saw?
We were only in the program's fourth minute, and Wallace had made a very strange statement. She seemed to say that "the media" weren't being allowed to say what they saw—to say what they've been seeing—concerning the peculiar behavior of Donald J. Trump.

Journalists aren't being allowed to say, to report, what they see? Since Wallace is a ranking member of the upper-end media, her suggestion acquires added significance.

What did Wallace think she saw when Trump appeared in the Rose Garden? In her next sentence, she provided a hint. This was her fuller statement:
...And I worry that in ten, twenty years, they're going to say, "Why wasn't the media allowed to say what they saw? What everyone saw?" There's something clearly wrong with his ability to process what the country is going through.
Coupled with her reference to cognitive testing, Wallace seemed to be floating an obvious suggestion about Trump's mental state. But what in the world did Wallace mean when she said the "the media" was being muzzled?

In what way is the media being muzzled? By whom is this muzzling being done? As the hour-long program proceeded, none of Wallace's reporters and friends ever spoke to these obvious questions.

Nor did Wallace ever push the discussion back in that direction. To appearances, Wallace proceeded to muzzle herself! That said, it seems to us that her basic suggestion had been clear.

We've discussed this apparent situation many times in the past. By widespread corporate agreement, major news orgs have agreed that they mustn't discuss an obvious possibility—the possibility that President Trump is cognitively and/or psychiatrically impaired in a significant way.

In January 2018, the New York Times published as editorial saying that the mainstream media simply shouldn't go there. To appearances, other news orgs quickly fell into line.

At that point, the attempt to discuss the president's psychiatric condition—an effort which was being made by an array of major psychiatrists—disappeared within the upper-end press.

From that day to this, upper-end journalists and upper-end news orgs have refused to discuss Trump's persistent peculiar behavior in explicit medical terms. Even as they savage Trump for ignoring scientific expertise, they themselves refuse to interview medical experts about his remarkably strange ideation and conduct.

This is our upper-end press corps at work. As we've told you again and again, they aren't an impressive bunch.

Presumably, Wallace was making some suggestion along these general lines. Ever so briefly, she seemed to draw back the curtain on her own sense of frustration.

Wallace made her odd remark at 4:03 PM Eastern. During the rest of the hour-long show, no one ever said a word about the odd thing she had said.

Wallace walked away from her unexplained remark; so did all her guests. That said, it seemed to us that she might be channeling Lawrence O'Donnell from the night before.

As we've often noted, O'Donnell is one of the very few major media figures who have refused to abide by this particular code of silence. On several occasion, O'Donnell has interviewed Dr. Lance Dodes, former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (retired), concerning Trump's apparent psychiatric state.

On Tuesday evening, O'Donnell opened his program by noting the fact that Trump's niece, Mary Trump, herself a clinical psychology, has seemed to describe Trump as a "sociopath" in her new, best-selling book.

As always, MSNBC is slow-walking production of that evening's transcript. But after reminding his viewers that a whole array of psychiatrists have described Trump as a sociopath, O'Donnell stressed another claim by Mary Trump, in which she says that her uncle probably has an undiagnosed learning disability.

Presumably, that would be more a cognitive impairment than a psychiatric disorder. But O'Donnell said, several times, that a disability of that type would leave Donald Trump with "an inability to process information."

It seems to us that Wallace was likely channeling these remarks in her brief moment of candor.

Are corporate brass at our major news orgs muzzling reporters and pundits? Has NBC News told Wallace that she mustn't discuss the possibility that President Trump is cognitively and/or psychiatrically impaired?

Earlier this week, Eric Boehlert said that journalists by the boatload are refusing to discuss their actual beliefs about this matter. He included a statement about Mary Trump's book we hadn't seen elsewhere.

According to Boehlert, they've all clammed up. Here is the passage in question:
BOEHLERT (7/13/20): [Mary Trump is] right about the media and its thin coverage of Trump's troubling mental health. There's not a working member of the Washington press corps today who watches Trump day in and day out and thinks, ‘He's seems stable, and I have no questions about his mental capacity.’ They all know it's an alarming, ever-present issue. But newsrooms don't want to suffer the backlash—the shouts of "Liberal media bias!"—that would rain down on journalists who tackle the story, even though it's so obviously newsworthy.

Once the press opens the Pandora's box by reporting aggressively on the president's personality disorders, that would require constant media coverage for months to come, including regular interviews with mental health experts in an effort to inform the public about the president's likely deteriorating condition and psychological impairments. (Currently, the issue only becomes news when Trump himself raises it.)
According to Boehlert, every journalist is avoiding this obvious topic. Yesterday, Wallace seemed to say that they're being directed to do so.

Wallace made an unusual statement, but no one pursued her comment further. Sometimes, if it weren't for all the withheld information, there would be no information at all!

Let's close on a note of admiration. We've always been struck by the great self-confidence displayed by the late Marvin Gaye, 49 years ago:

"Talk to me / so you can see / what's goin' on..." So the great Motown star said.

"Listen to us and you won't have a clue?" Is that what Wallace said?

Tomorrow: The later Wittgenstein's painful perspective on the search for better discourse


  1. "Longs for uncensored discourse"

    Ha-ha, because liberal-hitlerian dembots are not allowed to express how they really hate Our Beloved Commander?

    My oh my. You're cracking me up, dear Bob. Your comedy act is getting better every day.

    Once again: thanks for laughs.

    1. Like the Emperor's New Clothes, no one is able to speak the clear truth in front of everyone's eyes. That Trump's criminal negligence is killing hundreds of American citizens a day with no end in sight all over an event that was widely predicted and totally preventable.

    2. People on the left have been speaking the clear truth for years. Republicans are too busy looting the country to worry about the damage Trump has done to our nation.

    3. Corona was Trump's Waterloo. Now it just a matter of establishing how high his inept stewardship will rank in the list of America's worst presidents. But between now and then, hundreds of Americans continue to die every day as a direct result of his negligence

    4. Yes, dear psycho-dembot, his ordering Andrew Cuomo to send infected people to nursing homes was the last straw for me.

    5. ma0 ma0 * ,!, ,!,

    6. Mao, you might not understand that it is routine for hospitals to send patients to nursing homes when they have recovered enough to no longer require ICU or hospital care, but cannot be cared for at home (because they have no close relatives or cannot have a home care nurse to help them at home). This was a practice before covid came along. The problem is not sending patients to nursing homes, but that nursing homes were not equipped to deal with the virus. They hadn't yet realized the need to prohibit visitors, screen employees for the virus and keep covid patients away from patients with other kinds of problems. There was not yet sufficient testing to do any of that properly. Because nearly all patients in nursing homes are compromised, both the spread and the deaths were greater than in the regular populace. It may seem obvious, after the fact, that this would happen, but it wasn't as if Cuomo were doing anything unusual, medically speaking.

    7. Early on, doctors didn't understand how long patients remained contagious with covid.

    8. "Mao, you might not understand..."

      Thanks for your concern, dear dembot, but I certainly do understand what "negligence" is.

    9. Making jokes helps you avoid coming to terms with the reality of hundreds of Americans dying every day directly because of Trump's incompetence. You are yet able to look reality in the eye, like Trump himself. HIs presidency is over. He will leave with a bigger butcher bill than Bush or Obama. Only these are all American citizens, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds dying every day for weeks and months on end.

    10. I haven't made any jokes here.

      Your monotonous soros-dembot Orange Man Bad drivel already bored everyone to tears years ago, and hasn't got any better since.

      But sure, keep it on, by all means.

    11. Mao, give it up.

    12. 毛澤東被嚇到了

    13. George Soros doesn't have anything to do with Trump's weak-in-the-loins leadership and its daily toll of hundreds of lives. He's already has 20% the number of deaths as the Civil War. You think history is going to let that pass? It's over darling girl.

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  2. Chickens are coming home to roost:

    "“What had been a two-percentage-point Republican advantage in U.S. party identification and leaning has become an 11-point Democratic advantage, with more of that movement reflecting a loss in Republican identification and leaning (down eight points) than a gain in Democratic identification and leaning (up five points,” Gallup reported."

  3. Somerby was one of the folks who seemed perplexed that deaths were going down. This should clear things up for him.


    Also, from Taegan Goddard (Political Wire):

    "Alexis Madrigal: “The deaths are not happening in unpredictable places. Rather, people are dying at higher rates where there are lots of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations: in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California, as well as a host of smaller southern states that all rushed to open up.”

    “The deaths are also not happening in an unpredictable amount of time after the new outbreaks emerged. Simply look at the curves yourself. Cases began to rise on June 16; a week later, hospitalizations began to rise. Two weeks after that—21 days after cases rose—states began to report more deaths. That’s the exact number of days that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated from the onset of symptoms to the reporting of a death.”

    “Many people who don’t want COVID-19 to be the terrible crisis that it is have clung to the idea that more cases won’t mean more deaths. Some Americans have been perplexed by a downward trend of national deaths, even as cases exploded in the Sun Belt region. But given the policy choices that state and federal officials have made, the virus has done exactly what public-health experts expected.”

    1. Somerby seems like a troubled soul.

      "From that day to this, upper-end journalists and upper-end news orgs have refused to discuss Trump's persistent peculiar behavior in explicit medical terms."

      This is false. Somerby does not bother to define "upper-end journalists and upper-end news orgs". The NYT circulation is dwarfed by the number of subscriptions to new media, where Trump's mental issues are discussed routinely. Pakman with nearly 900k subscribers alone discusses it daily, showing examples and interviewing mental health professionals.

      Furthermore, Republicans find Trump's behavior perfectly normal. Now this is what should be discussed more, but Somerby finds this subject distasteful, excoriating Garofalo when she brought it up.

    2. "Somerby seems like a troubled soul."

      How would Somerby like it if people starting speculating in public about his mental health, using the c-word to describe it and inviting wayward shrinks to diagnose him? Does he think that would be a better discourse?

    3. 'Somerby was one of the folks who seemed perplexed that deaths were going down'

      Somerby likely wasn't perplexed. he was simply pretending to be perplexed, so he could bring up 'favorable' news for Trump. Exactly what you would expect a Trumptard to do.

  4. They scream "liberal bias" all the time anyway.

  5. "We've discussed this apparent situation many times in the past. By widespread corporate agreement, major news orgs have agreed that they mustn't discuss an obvious possibility—the possibility that President Trump is cognitively and/or psychiatrically impaired in a significant way."

    People on the left have been calling Trump crazy and ineffective since he first started running for office. I don't know why Somerby keeps claiming that people are being "muzzled". Wallace is portraying herself as brave for saying what everyone knows about Trump.

    That said, if politicians will do nothing to remove Trump (and it isn't like the left didn't try, with impeachment, opposed by Somerby), then what is the point of saying the obvious? We still must deal with Trump's idiocies on a daily basis, while the Republican party makes hay, enacting everything on its wish list of rollbacks of everything that has benefit the people in the last 50 years.

    Somerby is focusing on the wrong questions, with his vague hints about corporate suppression. The question is what anyone can do about Trump, given that he has been supported by a substantial number of voters and nearly the entire Republican establishment, including the majority in the Senate.

    It isn't the press that needs reforming. That is a red herring. Trump needs to resign, now, before he does more damage to our nation. Somerby and all others should be calling for his resignation. Not musing about the mainstream press corps.

  6. ‘He's seems stable, and I have no questions about his mental capacity.’

    Can you honestly say this about any of the Republicans?

  7. "But newsrooms don't want to suffer the backlash—the shouts of "Liberal media bias!"—that would rain down on journalists who tackle the story, even though it's so obviously newsworthy."

    This is exactly what would happen. Somerby would chime in too (if he hadn't already decided to use this as a stick to beat the media with).

    Further, there is no need to label the president when he has already done so much that can be talked about, without invoking a bias complaint.

    The president is losing voters. Why drive people back into his arms by making what may appear to be an unfair attack on him? That is the greater risk.

    Look at the attitude toward psychology exhibited here by our own AC/MA and deadrat. If they think this is a pseudoscience, without substance, how much easier will it be for the right to convince the public to believe that too, to believe that this is all a vendetta cooked up by Trump's enemies, to handicap him during the election?

    The press may know, better than any of us, that if you leave Trump alone, he will self-destruct.

  8. I doubt this is some sort of media plot to muzzle reporters. Self-muzzling always goes on and there isn't any way to stop it. It is why there are alternative media sites -- and there is a consensus on such sites that Trump has serious personality disorders, also that he is a bigot and white supremacist who is too ignorant to govern effectively, and so on. I doubt Somerby would agree with most of the things being said by that media, if he doesn't like what's on mainstream media. His criticisms of the mainstream media seem to come from the right, not the left.

  9. The idea that there is some sort of edict at MSNBC against talking about Trump’s mental illness might have more validity if it weren’t for O’Donnell, who has been talking about it for years.

    I don’t know of any evidence that O’Donnell has been waging a behind the scenes war on management in order to get these discussions on the air. If that were true, it would bolster Somerby’s argument.

  10. “But O'Donnell said, several times, that a disability of that type would leave Donald Trump with "an inability to process information."”

    Note that Wallace said “There's something clearly wrong with his ability to process what the country is going through.

    She is referring to his ability to empathize, not merely his ability to process information.

    That echoes what Mary Trump says about him.

    I wondered if Somerby would find that Trump’s response to Herridge’s question about African Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement shows his inability to process what the country is going through on that issue, or was it merely an “accurate statement.”

    1. Not to worry, dear mh, you and a couple of other liberal psychos here empathize for all of us and then some.

      We can practically see that empathy stuff coming right out of your ears, especially when a 5-time convict of the SUPERIOR AFRICAN RACE is involved.

      Why would we need any more of it?

    2. Mao, if you read for comprehension, you will note that I said nothing about my belief regarding Trump’s empathy. I note that Nicole Wallace mentioned it, as did Trump’s niece. Somerby himself has pushed the notion that Trump may be a sociopath, and one of the characteristics of a sociopath is lack of empathy. I merely wondered whether Somerby considers that when he evaluates Trump.

    3. You're right, mh: I got carried away a little, with all that sarcasm. Sorry.

  11. Remember when Nancy Pelosi kept trying to stifle impeachment talk on the left? She felt the time wasn't right, politically, for an action that seemed imperative among Democrats.

    I don't travel in inside-baseball circles on the left, but there may be an agreement not to press the mental health issue because it might politically damage Biden's campaign efforts. If there were an advantage to the left in talking about Trump's sanity, I believe they would be doing it, not only on the air, but also in ads. So, the edict may come from elsewhere, from left politicos. It may be significant that Nicole Wallace is raising this issue, but is herself from the right, having served in a Republican administration before joining CNN. And if that is true, where does Somerby stand? Does he keep raising this point, so strenuously, exactly because the left doesn't want it talked about? Again, I don't know because I'm not on anyone's talking points mailing list, but Somerby doesn't tend to raise criticisms that benefit the left and he does echo conservative memes and now admits to watching Fox regularly. There may be a good political reason why this isn't being widely talked about.

  12. Pelosi on Trump’s handling of the pandemic: “[Trump] is like the man who refuses to ask for directions. All of the answers are there”

    That seems so much more politically effective than saying: “Trump is a mentally ill psychopath who needs psychiatric treatment.”

    Her response is downright charming.

  13. Calling someone crazy is considered "better discourse"?

    1. Well. A hysterical clique whose leaders and rank and file completely lost their mind: lauding riots and worshiping criminals, denouncing the law-enforcement and feeling terrorized by any dissent, kneeling and begging, and who the hell knows what else - they have no other choice but to call everyone else 'crazy'.

    2. NO one has lauded riots or worshiped criminals. Republicans appear to be terrorized by dissent.

    3. The NY Times was apparently worried after Trump's election that they might not maintain their readership so they hired a bunch of conservatives, who were rightly disliked by existing staff and by readers. They cleaned house, perhaps with an eye to the future, which will surely be Democratic after the November election. It has nothing to do with terror at the NY Times, and everything to do with their perceived bottom line.

    4. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for...”

    5. Speaking of cliques:



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