Does Greene believe the things she says?


The question(s) which won't be asked: This morning, the fascinating case of Donald McNeil in Peru has finally appeared in print editions of the Washington Post.

In our view, the case is instructive beyond all belief. In large part, it's instructive about modern upper-end journalism as practiced right here in Our Town. 

Just to be clear, we're speaking about the reporting of this absurdly fuzzy affair, not about whatever it is McNeil may have actually said. We'd especially point to the pitiful, gong-show reporting in The Daily Beast.

The case of McNeil and the Middle School Gaggle strikes us as highly instructive. That said, we'll deal with that matter next week, as we start to discuss Woke and Race. 

For today, the most instructive news report appears on the front page of the New York Times. The report involves a array of wildly improbable claims a certain congresswoman has made—claims she may even believe. 

The House member of whom we speak is Congresswoman QAnon—Marjorie Taylor Greene. Catie Edmondson wrote the front-page report. Her report begins as shown:

EDMONDSON (1/30/21): Marjorie Taylor Greene had just finished questioning whether a plane really flew into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and flatly stating that President Barack Obama was secretly Muslim when she paused to offer an aside implicating another former president in a crime.

“That’s another one of those Clinton murders,” Ms. Greene said, referring to John F. Kennedy Jr.’s death in a 1999 plane crash, suggesting that he had been assassinated because he was a potential rival to Hillary Clinton for a New York Senate seat.

Ms. Greene casually unfurled the cascade of dangerous and patently untrue conspiracy theories in a previously unreported 40-minute video that was originally posted to YouTube in 2018... 

So begins today's report about Congresswoman Q. We decided to check Edmondson's claims—and by God, sure enough:

At the 25-minute mark of the tape, you can see Greene referring to "the so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon," 

("It's odd, there's never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon," she says as she continues. In fairness, she does seem to say that there actually was a "terrorist attack in New York" on 9/11.)

Other unsupported claims are made on that videotape. We wouldn't say that Greene "flatly declares" that Obama "was secretly Muslim." Still and all, at minute 30, she does say this: 

"Yes, I do believe that he is a Muslim, and Valerie Jarrett is too."

No evidence is offered in support of these claims. But Greene seems highly assured.

Meanwhile, was John F. Kennedy Jr.'s death "another one of those Clinton murders?"  You can see Greene making that suggestion at the 36-minute mark, as she (falsely) says that Kennedy had announced  he was going to run for Senate "just before he died."

Please note that key word: "falsely." Kennedy Jr. made no such announcement. There seems to be zero evidence that was planning to make such a run.

That said, according to Greene, John Kennedy Jr.'s death was "another one of those Clinton murders!"  In this way, we see the crazy claims of the future Congresswoman Q drawing on the earlier crazy claims of the 1990s.

As of 1999, Gennifer Flowers was making money off those  murder claims—but so what? In August of that year, she appeared for a full half-hour on the crazy cable program Hardball, where her crazy host insisted on telling her how smokin' hot she was.

As for Flowers herself,  her performance on Hardball was so absurd that she was invited to do a full hour on Hannity & Colmes the next week. This is the way the lunacy spread during that earlier age, when there was no social media.

By then, the lovesick boys of the mainstream press had declared Flowers to be the most honest person ever encountered on earth. The flaccid stars of the mainstream guild never challenged this ludicrous claim, this obvious propaganda.

By that time, the children were pimping their stupid claims all around the town. Years later, this type of crazy behavior would be perfected by President Donald J. Trump. 

In fairness, Trump didn't invent the crazy practice—the crazy practice which has now taken us to this crazy place. 

In the tape from 2018, you can see Greene reaching back to link that era's murder claims to the never-ending drive to slander Clinton and Clinton. 

On that same tape, you can see her saying that Seth Rich "was murdered by two MS-13 gang members." It's one of three million invented claims about that tragic killing.

At the end of the tape, you can see her toying with the puzzling claim that Hillary Clinton is married to George Soros' nephew. Also, with the claim that Adam Schiff is married to Soros' daughter. 

("I don't know about that one. I don't know," she says with respect to the latter claim. Variants of the Schiff/Soros nuptial claim have been shot down by various fact-check sites.)

Don't miss the suggestion that the Clinton Foundation was involved in a plot to smuggle children out of Haiti for the obvious purpose. It's all there in the videotape—but there's something else on that tape we think you ought to notice:

Watching the tape, we were surprised by the genial way Greene comes across. She makes one unsupported claim after another, but she seems to believe every word she says, and her thoroughly genial manner, in which she constantly dumbs it all down, would make it easy for others to climb aboard her train.

We were surprised to see how good she was at the practice known as "selling the car." She doesn't come across as crazy—until you consider her claims.

Later in Edmondson's report, other claims are mentioned. Whenever we read about such claims, a few questions pop into our minds:

EDMONDSON: Ms. Greene suggested in 2018 that a devastating wildfire that ravaged California was started by “a laser” beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family with connections to powerful Democrats. She endorsed executing Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She served as a prolific writer for a now-defunct conspiracy blog called “American Truth Seekers,” writing posts with headlines including “MUST READ—Democratic Party Involved With Child Sex, Satanism, and The Occult.” And she argued that the 2018 midterm elections—in which the first two Muslim women were elected to the House—were part of “an Islamic invasion of our government.”

Say what? In 2018, did Greene really suggest that the devastating Camp Fire was deliberately started by a laser beam from space? 

So it seems! At Edmondson's link, you can see a screen shot of a long, rambling Facebook post to that effect. Meanwhile, there seems to have been a crazy train loaded with other claims and suggestions! The questions we're left with are these:

Does this congresswoman really believe the various things she says? (We'd say she very much seems to.) And if she does, does this possibly tell us something about some aspect of her "mental health?"

Beyond that, can this help us understand a newly dominant question? That significant question is this:

How can it be that so many people believe so many crazy claims? Remember, this epidemic of crackpot belief started in the Clinton/Gore years, often emanating from elite mainstream press sources.

Does Congresswoman QAnon really believe the various things she says? Watching that rather genial tape, we began to see her as a type of person to whom humorists sometimes refer—the type of person who's "always wrong but never in doubt." 

Is a screw loose in this person's head? Are we dealing here with some sort of psychiatric or cognitive problem? 

The press corps refused to ask such questions in the case of Trump. They're also refusing to raise such questions in the case of Greene.

In our view, we build such people up by assailing them as liars, rather than by suggesting that something seems to be wrong in their heads. Ignoring the question of political strategy, we're amazed by the lack of curiosity about such questions—by the lack of curiosity here in the streets of Our Town.

With respect to Greene, we were surprised by that genial tape—by the friendly way she was selling the car. We've seen that same smiling approach on cable. 

It's widely loved here in Our Town.

For extra credit only: Along the way, Greene says some things on that tape with which many liberals would be inclined agree.

She seems convincing at such junctures. See if you can find them.


  1. Oh dear Bob, nothing matters.
    Gutenberg tag

  2. "How can it be that so many people believe so many crazy claims?"

    You, dear Bob, might want to contemplate if it's a result of the lack of honesty and transparency of the liberal establishment. Of the management of your globalist zombie cult.

    "Remember, this epidemic of crackpot belief started in the Clinton/Gore years"

    There you go. The time when your D party decided to ignore the working people of the US of A completely, and serve global finance instead. Sounds about right, eh? DLC, Demigod Bubba, and all the rest of it.

    1. I thought the big problem with the dems according to the trumpets was that they were commies?

  3. "The case of McNeil and the Middle School Gaggle strikes us as highly instructive. That said, we'll deal with that matter next week, as we start to discuss Woke and Race. "

    Why mention this in today's essay, if Somerby isn't planning to discuss it today? Half the time, he changes his mind and never talks about such things at all. These teasers are one of the more annoying aspects of Somerby's writing. I suspect it is just to fill up space, perhaps because he is being paid to produce a certain quota of words per day.

    Whatever his reasons, this way he gets to slime journalists without having to make any arguments at all. Just by posting a reference to some thing that appeared. And we're all supposed to just take his word that there was something "instructive" about that report. How lazy is that?

    If you think that journalism is inept, just because Somerby said so, you are being taken for a fool.

  4. “we build such people up by assailing them as liars, rather than by suggesting that something seems to be wrong in their heads.”

    No one has suggested Greene is a liar.

    Somerby’s lumping of Greene and Trump together as “such people” does not prove that Trump and Greene are in the same category or have identical “disorders” or whatever term Somerby wants to use.

    1. I don't think it builds someone up to call them a liar instead of crazy. It is worse to be a liar.

  5. "We wouldn't say that Greene "flatly declares" that Obama "was secretly Muslim." Still and all, at minute 30, she does say this:

    "Yes, I do believe that he is a Muslim, and Valerie Jarrett is too."

    This sounds like flatly declaring him to be a Muslim to me. She flatly says that she believes he is a Muslim. It doesn't get more flat than that. And still Somerby quibbles (without explaining his objection).

    I think Somerby's thought processes are as disordered as Greene's.

  6. "where her crazy host insisted on telling her how smokin' hot she was."

    When a host, in this case Chris Matthews, has a longstanding and obvious political animosity toward a politician, is it really fair to call him "crazy"? I don't think so. I think Matthews knew what he was doing and would do anything he could to slime the Clintons. This is not what crazy looks like -- it is hate.

    And Somerby continues to excuse these ugly people when they lie. That makes him complicit, in my opinion.

  7. "This is the way the lunacy spread during that earlier age, when there was no social media."

    Several pundits are now saying that Fox News is the source of the delusions common on the right. The government cannot address the spread of such misinformation without infringing on 1st Amendment rights, but people can boycott Fox sponsors and address their board and exert other forms of pressure to try to get them to stop spreading dangerous lies designed to make viewers hate Democrats. Ignoring them clearly doesn't work. Holding Republicans responsible for what occurs on Fox can help. Green is responsible for what she repeats, regardless of where the misinformation came from. Calling her (and the other Republicans) crazy is no help and Somerby needs to stop this ludicrous campaign of his to excuse those on the right who believe lies. People are responsible for their beliefs, their words and their actions.

    When someone is mentally ill, they are still held responsible if they do not seek help with their problems. If they do bad things because of their illness and have refused or not sought help, they are still accountable for what they have done.

  8. Does Somerby really think that the craziness of Greene and much of the right wing can be traced back to a single half-hour appearance by Gennifer Flowers on Hardball?

    The bulk of the things Greene believes have never appeared in the mainstream media. On the other hand, many of them have appeared in the right wing media.

    The question isn’t really why people believe crazy things; that seems to be a constant of humanity.

    The task is to examine how the right wing has nurtured such crazy thinking over the years. A supposedly sane group of right wing elites are welcoming the crazy.

    And are all people like Greene mentally ill? Really? Are there that many people who are simply too far gone to choose rational thinking and fact finding? Must we treat the entire Republican Party as hopeless mental basket cases with no will that we must study clinically but never hold responsible for the despicable things they say?

    Pinning the blame on liberals and the mainstream media is hopelessly misguided.

  9. "With respect to Greene, we were surprised by that genial tape—by the friendly way she was selling the car. We've seen that same smiling approach on cable."

    Somerby seems to be saying that if a woman is smiling and pleasant and personable, she is "selling the car." Women are socialized from birth to do this, whether they are politicians or hold some other occupation, because it is expected of women to be socially competent and gracious.

    Somerby's suspicion that a smiling woman is "selling the car" explains a lot about his problems with women. This is the kind of thing David Futrelle talks about, the stuff you read on the MGTOW and incel sites. Women aren't being genuine, they are selling something when they smile.

    Greene and Boebert are both attractive in the way Republican women are encouraged to be. That, more than their campaign statements, may explain their election to office. And they are entertaining in the same way as Trump. That doesn't make them "car salesmen". They are clearly willing to say whatever will get them elected, catering to their constituents who like guns and Trump, but they aren't selling the car any more assiduously than the male candidates.

    Somerby's own warped world view is showing today.

  10. "Watching that rather genial tape, we began to see her as a type of person to whom humorists sometimes refer—the type of person who's "always wrong but never in doubt."

    Is a screw loose in this person's head?"

    Somerby forgot to tell you she's blonde. Next he'll be calling her ditsy. Any more negative stereotypes to apply, Somerby?

    I am not defending Greene or Boebert. They are horrible people, in my opinion. But there is plenty to criticize without resorting to stereotypes. Then Somerby sinks even lower. He uses that stereotype to tar Maddow with the same brush as Greene, since they are both women who are "selling the car". Ignoring their politics, ignoring the content of their beliefs, ignoring what they have actually said, to focus on their manner of speaking, which Somerby considers somehow flawed because they are smiling too much (or what?), he doesn't quite say what is so offensive about their demeanor.

    1. Has anyone noticed how rarely Trump smiles? He has no sense of humor, but generally skips the smile in situations where others would smile, such as when being introduced to someone. His nonverbal behavior is bizarre. Maybe he thinks smiling is a sign of weakness?

  11. "She seems convincing at such junctures. See if you can find them."

    No thank you.

    This is akin to the statement that Hitler loved dogs, so he couldn't be all bad. Looking for points of agreement with Greene is a bad idea because it encourages one to ignore the many outrageous, dangerous things she has also said.

    Somerby is so transparent in his intent. It is almost as if he is selling some car.

    Extra credit: remember when Somerby used to call us all rubes? Those were the days!

  12. I don't get this practice of calling these types of crazy claims "false." This stuff is absurd, bizarre, weird. That's the way to characterize it. Whether she really believes what she says is beside the point. and if she did believe it - what about everyone who thinks Jesus walked on water, or was the son of god? The mormon's are sober people as a rule, who function in the world - yet there beliefs are pretty bizarre. Are they all mentally ill? TDH take on this epistemological issue is way to simplistic.

    1. People who believe in supply-side economics ARE mentally ill.

  13. Somerby is no doubt going to tell us that no one likes liberals because they complain about well-meaning people who use the n-word with students. However, there are a couple of things that stick out in this example:

    1. McNeil was in charge of a group of students and was their teacher. Teachers are held to a higher standard that includes setting a good example in their own behavior.

    2. McNeil was apparently not well liked by those students. He appears to have had difficulty establishing rapport with them. When so many students complain to their parents about a teacher, more is wrong than the subject of their complaint.

    3. The students apparently complained about several statements, not simply his use of the n-word (in a discussion about such words). They also complained about his disrespect for the culture they were observing and their embarrassment about statements he made about and to Peruvian people.

    This isn't only a matter of PC-culture run amok, but of a poorly trained or unsuitable guide who couldn't get along with the teens he was responsible for supervising. He seems to have been rude and set a poor example of how to behave in another country, to the point that the kids were upset by it. That has nothing to do with being PC, it evokes the stereotype of the Ugly American.

    McNeil is described as defensive and combative, which supports the idea that he didn't interact well with the kids. It also suggests that his sense of entitlement to say and do whatever he damn well pleases makes him a poor choice to lead such a tour group.

    I fully expect Somerby to dismiss and excuse his behavior while blaming the parents for complaining. I suspect he will identify with the guy. The poor judgment here extends to Baquet or whoever thought he would be a good person to lead such a group. They surely must know his personality and they should have known better than to give him such an assignment.

    And this also shows why training is necessary for teachers. You cannot just put someone in a classroom without any prior experience and expect them to do well. McNeil may know his stuff about science and medicine, but he doesn't seem to have been prepared to work with teens. Not everyone can do it.

  14. “Does Greene believe the things she says?”
    “She doesn't come across as crazy—until you consider her claims.”
    “How can it be that so many people believe so many crazy claims?”

    Let's try this little experiment:

    Did the Nazi leader believe the lies and conspiracies they spread?
    The Nazi leaders didn't come across as crazy--until you considered their claims.
    How can it be that so many people believed their crazy claims?

    For about ten years before Hitler gained power in Germany, the Nazis spread their lies and conspiracies. Those lies spread deep hatred towards innocent people, which led to mass murder and the deaths of about 40 million Europeans, and troops from other parts of the world. The lesson is that we now know that spreading lies and conspiracies is dangerous. A civilized society should not tolerate it.

    There are plenty of accounts of Hitler being charming during conversations and negotiations with allied leaders and others before the war. On YouTube, you can find pre-war interviews of Joseph Goebbels. He appears almost telegenic. Nazi leaders rarely came across as crazy in public. They knew that the best way to spread hate, lies, and conspiracies was to do it calmly and confidently. Some of America's right-wing haters will do the same. And sadly, they will fool many people, and some will do stupid and even murderous things as a result. It has already happened.

    1. Somerby had some good ideas, but he took them too far.

  15. Here is what Digby says about Greene and whether she believes what she says:

    "I doubt she believes any of this stuff, not really. She a nasty, bully troll who gets a lot of attention from the dumbest people in the world for being a horrible human being, just the way they like it. Whatever it takes to get attantion from the wingnuts she will glom onto.

    She’s a terrible person and because she’s armed to the teeth she’s dangerous too. But it looks like the Republkicans are embracing her and putting Liz Cheney on an ice floe. That says it all."

    1. Digby is an actual liberal blogger, unlike Somerby.

  16. According to Josh Marshall:

    “Will take a bit for most to realize it. But with this call Trump has made Greene de facto leader of the House GOP caucus. She speaks for him and he supports her. So she is untouchable. Nominal leaders like McCarthy will fall in line and take her lead because they answer to Trump.”

    She has been named to the House Education Committee.

    Somerby’s ruminations are woefully inadequate to the moment.

  17. “Is a screw loose in this person's head? Are we dealing here with some sort of psychiatric or cognitive problem?”


    “Ignoring the question of political strategy”

    You really shouldn’t ignore the question of political strategy:

    “How Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, promoter of QAnon’s baseless theories, rose with support from key Republicans”

    One of Somerby’s core messages has been that conservatives are, in his view, justifiably angry at liberals, because liberals provoke them with their constant talk of race and gender which, according to Somerby and the right wing, is merely meant as a political weapon that liberals wield against conservatives. (That is false, of course, but you won’t see that discussed at TDH.)

    Lest you think that Somerby is simply criticizing liberals’ tone, ie that they overstate or misstate what is a true problem, I go back to Somerby’s refreshingly candid remark about racism:

    “In such ways, our major press organs are creating a new religion built around the (largely imagined) intersections of "race" and crime and punishment.

    (Note that he says “press”, but clearly, liberals do actually care about the intersections of race and etc.) Any group of people who spend so much time and effort on imaginary problems must be crazy, right? It isn’t a great leap from there to the idea that liberals believe all kinds of crazy things, and from there, to the notion that liberals are dangerous and must be marginalized, or worse.

    To what extent large groups of conservatives believe the QAnon stuff is unclear. There is probably a certain amount of performative conspiracy thinking.

    But the GOP elite is harnessing this to continue its 50-year demonization of liberals in order to hold power, and I’m afraid Somerby has played his part in that. That he doesn’t see that is a problem. Here are some of his views:

    liberals exude a moral squalor and nobody likes us, we are virtue-signaling elitists who throw black kids under the bus, etc.

    If you don’t speak out against the GOP and the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world, you may end up regretting that, like Martin Niemöller. It isn’t enough to blame the mainstream press and then try to equate them with “Our Town”, and all but ignore right wing media. And pity or faux-sympathy in the context of speculation about mental illness is worse than nothing. It is counterproductive, given that the GOP does not respond at this point with normal human impulses like shame or contrition.

    Liberals did not put Gennifer Flowers on TV, nor did we promote or buy the Clinton Chronicles. Chris Matthews and Jerry Falwell did that.

    Hillary Clinton conceded the day after the election, Obama carried out a respectful transition of power, he didn’t urge his followers to storm the Capitol, Democrats in Congress accepted the 2016 election result, no liberals stormed the Capitol, we believe in enfranchisement of voters, not vote suppression, etc.

    There is simply no equivalent here, and Somerby needs to quit the constant excuse-making for the right wing in their ongoing attempts to expunge democracy. They may be successful next time.

    1. Somerby is afraid EVERYONE will know the Republican Party is an amoral dumpster fire of bigots and imbeciles, so he's lying to make someone think it's not true.

  18. Somerby would like to concern troll the liberal media when, in fact, Greene and a significant faction of Republicans like her do not get their ideas from CNN nor MSNBC . As always he is barking up the wrong tree. Jon Stewart had the right tree.

    1. Yeah but MSM drove them into the clutches of the propagandists so any actions they take from that point on are because of our town.

      Liberals made Marjorie greene because chris mathews and Maureen down trashed al gore.

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