Frankly, we aren't sure why: At New York magazine, Matt Stieb is writing the evolving, multi-part essay, "Everything We Learned From Mary Trump’s Book."
What have we learned from Mary Trump's book? Perfectly sensibly in our view, Stieb starts with the following chunk:
Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, identifies the president as a narcissistStieb starts by noting that Mary Trump has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He cites the parts of her book in which she describes her uncle's personality disorders and his assorted pathologies.
Even those who don’t know Trump intimately have noted that he has several narcissistic traits, such as an inflated sense of his importance, a need for attention, and a lack of empathy for others. But Mary Trump, who got her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2009, claims her uncle expresses all nine clinical criteria for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.
“Nothing is ever enough,” she writes of the president. “This is far beyond garden-variety narcissism; Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment because he knows deep down that he is nothing of what he claims to be.” Elsewhere she writes that “Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuro-physical tests, that he’ll never sit for.”
As Stieb notes, Mary Trump doesn't say that her uncle "has several narcissistic traits." She doesn't say that he's a "narcissist" in the colloquial, everyday sense of the term.
That isn't what she says! She says the sitting commander-in-chief expresses "all nine clinical criteria for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder" (whatever that might ultimately mean). She says it would take "a full battery of psychological and neuro-physical tests" to diagnose the full extent of his extensive "pathologies."
Others note that Mary Trump explicitly says that her grandfather, Fred Trump Sr., was a "sociopath." Lawrence O'Donnell has said, several times, that Mary Trump says the same thing about her uncle, though we don't know if that's true.
(We haven't read the book. It just came out this week.)
The fact that Mary Trump says these things doesn't mean that they're true. Nor do most people, ourselves included, have a clear idea of what it is to have a full-fledged "personality disorder" as the term is formally used.
(That's the kind of thing a person like Mary Trump could possibly start to explain.)
That said, we think Stieb shows good sense by starting with that topic. The fact that a sitting president may be a sociopath—whatever exactly that might mean—strikes us as more important than the fact that he may have paid some kid to take his SATs for him.
Jump ahead to Rachel Maddow's interview with Mary Trump last night. Maddow started by burning 13 minutes away, offering some overblown background material in which she did plenty of reading. At least 17 minutes had passed before Mary Trump began answering anything that resembled a serious question.
Then too, there was this—though Maddow stressed the fact that Mary Trump has been a contributing writer to major books of clinical psychology, she never asked her guest a single question which went in this direction. Some people love to follow the rules. Maddow may be one such person.
With that opening thirteen minutes gone, Mary Trump sat with Maddow for the rest of the program. At no point was she asked to use the expertise Maddow praised in her introduction.
Maddow asked no questions about Donald Trump's possible "personality disorders." Not being asked, Mary Trump didn't answer.
Our guess? The bosses don't want this topic discussed, and Maddow played by their rules.
Maddow is skilled at selling the car. In other realms, she's often much less useful.
Starting in June 2015, the history of her coverage of Trump is, at best, underwhelming. At worst, her coverage of Candidate Trump represented a roll-over. Again we start in June 2015, when Maddow refused to criticize the person who has spent the previous four years becoming King of the Birthers.
We think especially of her failure to mention, let alone criticize, James Comey's initial attack on Candidate Clinton in early July 2016. Indeed, the Maddow program, woith Steve Kornacki as guest host, actually took Comey's side for two straight nights after he launched that irregular attack.
When Maddow returned from a week of vacation, she never mentioned Comey's name until his second attack on Candidate Clinton, very late in October. Four years earlier, during Campaign 2012, when Susan Rice was being burned at the stake and the Benghazi narratives were being born, Maddow took the exact same see-no-evil, silent approach.
Sadly, there's more where that came from.
Maddow is good at selling the car. Part of that is her skill at making us liberals think she's been waging good fights.
For the most part, that isn't the history. Last night's lazy interview was the latest chapter in this rolling waste of time.
Last night's interview was the interview that wasn't. Maddow praised Mary Trump's expertise, then didn't ask her to use it.
Rachel is good at selling the car. Meanwhile, is the commander in chief a sociopath? If he is, what might that mean?
Rachel isn't going to ask. She isn't going to ask Bandy Lee. She didn't ask Mary Trump last night.
Maddow isn't going to ask! As her good friend Nicolle suggested this week, her owners don't want her to do that.
The all-time slacker org: Even for an event like this, MSNBC hasn't posted a transcript.
Indeed, it's now Friday afternoon, and the channel's transcripts only extend through programs from this past Monday night, with hit-or-miss production of transcripts from the week before.
We'll guess this represents a decision to slow-walk production of transcripts. The channel has also cut way back on video postings. Is there a bit of Donald Trump in the people who run this org?