Kessler delivers the final count!


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.


  1. Meh. As Howie Carr says:
    "First, the inaugural speech. It was hailed by the Democrat operatives with press passes (think Chris Wallace, or as Biden calls him, Chuck Wallace) as the greatest oration since the Gettysburg Address, or maybe the Sermon on the Mount."

    So, what's your problem, dear Bob? No one is criticizing your great zombie leader's suit, or making fun of his self-aggrandizements. You should be the happiest man alive, nicht wahr?

    1. The German phrase at the end is a bit of a tell, from someone who models the Goebbels style of discourse.

    2. Name one Biden self-aggrandizement.

    3. Yeah, Bob. What's the problem? Biden destroyed Trump in a landslide election. Why would anyone who isn't a piece of shit have a problem with that?

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  2. "She never stops discussing herself, never stops selling the car."

    She isn't selling the car, she is selling herself.

    Why should it surprise Somerby that someone on TV is a narcissist? Why should he imply that her emotion is fake when she is self-confessed with bipolar disorder and some women are emotionally expressive (it is permitted by the female role), plus she is mostly just saying that Biden's inauguration meant a lot to her (as it does to most liberals, Somerby apparently excluded) in flowery language.

    This seems pretty harmless and I do not understand why Somerby keeps belittling Maddow, unless there is something about her that is threatening to him, perhaps even her affect.

  3. Joy Reid is African American. Why shouldn't she be majorly happy that someone who is not a white supremacist sexist asshole is no longer in the White House?

    We are all happy about this. Why is Somerby trying so hard to rain on Biden's parade. It is normal to have a moratorium on criticism on inauguration day -- those who are critical should be the focus of Somerby ire, not the joyous rest of the nation, those of us who are not bemoaning Q's failure to bring the rapture.

  4. "This is corporate clowning of an undisguised type."

    No, this is what celebration looks like.

    1. Yes this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius. . .

  5. Why did Somerby waste so much space quoting Kessler if he has no problem with what he wrote and has no intention of discussing those unquoted letters to the editor? Filler? Hasn't he already met his quota of words for today?

    Are we supposed to think there was something wrong with Kessler simply because he appears in today's "report", kind of a guilt by association with Somerby? That's really phoning it in!

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  7. As usual, the article Somerby discusses is more interesting than his own post, which is just the usual “Rachel sucks” post.

    I’m inclined to be less cynical than Somerby. There’s no reason to think that Reid or Maddow were faking their reactions to the inauguration. He doesn’t have to like them, nor does he have to watch them.

    Think of it this way: inaugurations are an important part of the formal tradition of American democracy, representing the peaceful transfer of power that is of no small importance, and of which we are supposedly proud. In normal times, they can be emotional events, whatever party you support. This particular inauguration comes after our democracy was almost undone, by Republicans voting to overturn the electoral vote, and a mob violently storming the Capitol at the behest of the president, possibly looking to kill members of Congress.

    There is a certain sense of relief that the (relatively) normal inauguration took place after this debacle, and that sense of relief surely entered into the reactions of the press, including the gang at MSNBC.

    And it certainly seems something to cheer that we no longer have a mentally ill sociopath (Somerby’s words) in office calling for insurrection.

  8. Shafer says this: “In an era when large portions of Americans think mainstream media is a tool of the left, a tad less bootlicking could help build trust among media skeptics.”

    Notably absent is the suggestion that a tad less licking of Trump’s ass from Fox News, which went on openly for four years, would help “build trust among media skeptics.” Is Fox not part of the media? Hannity publicly campaigned for Trump, for God’s sake.

    And Somerby can point out how the media (read “mainstream” media) mistreated Al Gore and Hillary, undermining their candidacies. Only right-wingers think the “media” is a tool of the left.

    And Shafer’s criticism comes after one day of at times complimentary inauguration coverage.

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  10. Shafer presents himself as a cynic, which is a very fashionable pose to assume. He criticizes Jake Tapper, who was talking about Biden’s visit to the Tomb of the Unknowns:

    ‘“I cannot imagine that President Biden was not thinking of his favorite soldier, Beau Biden, his son, who died of cancer, who was a major in the Army Reserve, and for whom he mourns greatly,” Tapper intoned. Please, please, can we have a brief moratorium on future Beau Biden references unless absolutely necessary?’

    Maybe this is supposed to be an example of Tapper licking Biden’s boots (what an ugly metaphor). But Tapper’s imagining also seems 100% plausible, because Biden himself references Beau frequently. To wit:

    ‘On Tuesday, as Biden prepared to leave Delaware to head to Washington, D.C. for the ceremony, he did so not from the Amtrak station that bears his name, but from the Delaware National Guard Center that bears his son's.’

    ‘“Beau should be the one running for President, not me. Every morning I get up, Joe, not a joke, I think to myself is he proud of me?"
    "He walks with me," Biden continued. "I know that sounds to some people kind of silly, but he really honest to God does."’

    I suppose cynicism is warranted in some cases, especially in a world with Fox, Trump, and the GOP in it, but this doesn’t strike me as one of those cases.

    1. Exactly, it is Biden, not Tapper, who evokes Beau Biden. If Shafer wants to criticize that memory, then he is addressing Biden, not the media.

      Cynicism is right up there with nihilism among the top destructive forces in our society. And cynicism, as a stance, is so empathy, imagination or analytical ability required. Just negativity. I hope Tapper never suffers a devastating loss that makes a loved one's memory precious. Biden has endowed his son's death with personal meaning. Those who would scoff at that are not fully human, in my opinion.

  11. This is the tenor of Shafer’s ‘media criticism’:

    “Trump Wants to Promote Sinclair? Let Him.
    As long as I can still change the channel, who cares?”

    Why didn’t he take his own advice and just watch the inauguration somewhere besides MSNBC? Fox was ready and waiting. Or C-Span.

  12. Talking about Sarah Huckabee Sanders's video announcing her run for governor, Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog says:

    "We don't even notice the routine McCarthyism of GOP rhetoric. It's in nearly every utterance of every Republican who stands before a microphone or otherwise has access to the media. Democrats don't do this -- they denounce Trump in strong terms, but they don't denounce every Republican every time they speak. Only a few even suggest that Republicans are similar to Nazis or fascists. But for Republicans, this is everyday talk -- so routine we don't even hear it anymore.

    This video won't be seen as shockingly inflammatory or offputting. Maybe we need to develop more of a capacity for outrage."

    This so-called McCarthyism may be common on the right, but it is also what Somerby does here every day. He generalizes from some criticism of a specific journalist (who is not necessarily liberal) to liberals and sometimes to all of humanity. He makes incredibly derogatory statements about people, applies them to liberals (by saying "we" and "us") and then says something like the world is going down the tubes. The net effect is to lump journalists on CNN and MSNBC, at the NY Times and Washington Post, in with the left, and then blame and condemn everyone. He does not include anyone at Fox or the right-wing media in any of this, nor does he include conservatives, who he calls "The Other" to distinguish them from liberals, his supposed but not actual clan. He may not call liberals socialists or talk about cancel culture, but his thought processes and labeling are the same. And he is doing the right's work.

    1. I'm not sure what that blogger means by McCarthyism. Democrats are the new neo-McCarthyites. There's no question about that. You're probably one of those idiots that isn't even aware of it.

    2. One example of the McCarthyism on the right, is the way conservatives call liberals "socialists," not any particular liberal, but all liberals.

    3. 7:24,
      You'll get no argument from me that Charlie McCarthy is more human than any Republican.

    4. Democrats are the new neo-McCarthyites. There's no question about that.

      They use Russia as a McCarthyite tool for suppressing disloyalty or subversion and they used a false narrative about Russian collusion and Trump as scapegoat and an excuse for their extraordinary loss and own vast shortcomings.

      Hillary Clinton and Rachel Maddow are by far, by leaps and bounds, the biggest McCarthyites in our hiistory since McCarthy.

    5. (That low IQ blogger never got around to telling you that.)

    6. 10;43,
      Did the Republicans who tried to stage a coup, because black people's votes were counted in an election, tell you Democrats are the biggest McCarthyites?

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