MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2021
Rachel and Joy in the clown car: High up on the Washington Post's web site, the final count was being announced this morning.
Glenn Kessler's tabulation was done. High up on the Post's web site, the headline linking to the report said this:
Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims as president. Nearly half came in his final year.
Kessler has made his final count. At the Post's Fact Checker site, his final report starts like this:
KESSLER (1/23/21): He overstated the “carnage” he was inheriting, then later exaggerated his “massive” crowd and claimed, despite clear evidence to the contrary, that it had not rained during his address. He repeated the rain claim the next day, along with the fabricated notion that he held the “all-time record” for appearing on the cover of Time magazine.
And so it went, day after day, week after week, claim after claim, from the most mundane of topics to the most pressing issues.
Over time, Trump unleashed his falsehoods with increasing frequency and ferocity, often by the scores in a single campaign speech or tweetstorm. What began as a relative trickle of misrepresentations, including 10 on his first day and five on the second, built into a torrent through Trump’s final days as he frenetically spread wild theories that the coronavirus pandemic would disappear “like a miracle” and that the presidential election had been stolen—the claim that inspired Trump supporters to attack Congress on Jan. 6 and prompted his second impeachment.
The final tally of Trump’s presidency: 30,573 false or misleading claims—with nearly half coming in his final year.
You'll note that nothing is said about "lies." Kessler has always trafficked in "falsehoods" and "misrepresentations"—in "false or misleading claims." Playing by the antique rules, he almost never refers to such statements as "lies."
In Saturday morning's Free for All, the Post published a pair of letters from readers demanding tougher language. We think that demand, widespread in Our Town, is unwise and self-defeating.
We may return to those letters some day. Today, let's go with this:
This morning, through a string of links, we ended up at Jack Shaffer's account of the way the Biden inauguration was played on CNN and MSNBC. Shaffer offered this account of Rachel and Joy, then backed it up with a link:
SHAFFER (1/21/21): CNN glowed almost as brightly about the event as a state media would have. It accentuated all of Biden’s leading attributes—his modesty; the length of his Capitol experience, where he outlasted some of the building’s marble columns; his Catholic faith; his bounce-back from personal tragedies; his love of country; and so on. Biden’s perfectly fine if pedestrian speech earned instant accolades from Wolf Blitzer, who jibbered that Biden had put “his soul into his first address.” Joe Average, rejected for president by primary voters in previous election years, the guy who said, “you ain’t black,” the fellow who plagiarized, suddenly became a seasoned Caesar and a potential savior.
MSNBC worked from the same script, going gaga for not just Lady Gaga but the whole schmear. At day’s end, Rachel Maddow confessed to having worked her way through an entire box of Kleenex during the festivities and Joy Reid gushed like a partisan about the event. “They gave us fashion. They gave us celebrity. They gave us hope,” Reid said of the “incredible” inauguration. Incredible it was not. In fact, it was very low-fi without the Mall-filling, cheering crowds, the parades and the balls that ordinarily pad the swearing-in.
In our view, Shaffer was pointlessly negative concerning Biden and the inauguration in general. Concerning Rachel and Joy, we thought he might be overstating a bit.
Then we clicked his link.
What we saw was appalling, obscene, an offense against decent practice. In part, when we clicked that link, we encountered such garbage as this:
MADDOW (1/20/21): I'm with my friends Joy Reid and Lawrence O'Donnell. We've been watching this throughout.
Joy, let me get your reaction first. I went through half a box of Kleenex, but I made sure I saved one in case you said anything that was also going to make me cry. Because at this point, I'm just a faucet I can't turn off.
The corporate multimillionaire salesperson held up her remaining Kleenex, doing a minor prop act. She never stops discussing herself, never stops selling the car.
(In fairness, all players on this channel are said to be each other's "friends." Rather plainly, this is a scripted part of corporate branding. It's a way of telling us viewers how dumb they think we are.)
Joy proceeded to clown us rubes in much the way Shaffer described. She started off like this:
REID (continuing directly): No, I'll tell you, I was mostly dancing around and singing along to the extent that I could, that I could keep up with the lyrics...
Her analysis proceeded from there. On the tape, Lawrence politely sits by, pretending this all makes sense.
This is corporate clowning of an undisguised type. There is little serious hope for a nation whose liberals and progressives are willing to tolerate such manifest hustle as this.
What a rogue's gallery of grifters and hustlers this ludicrous channel has assembled! We avoided watching this garbage last Wednesday. Despite some pointlessly sour remarks, Shaffer's link was true.