WHAT IS TRUTH?: Red-faced shouting returns to TV!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27, 2021

The Crazy Train battles the Clown Car: This morning, at 6:18 Eastern, the red-faced shouting returned.

If anything, the shouting was even more red-faced than it was last week. Needless to say, the standard echo-providers were on hand to support and enable the shouting. 

The cast included Willie Geist Jr., the human echo who's increasingly known as "Joe Scarborough's Mike Pence." That said, Jonathan Lemire and even Kasie Hunt aren't far behind in the modern "journalistic" skill known as echo provision. 

As a group, these players are increasingly known as "The Pips." It's a nod to the back-up singers who  would instantly repeat whatever Gladys Knight just said. 

(Hat tip: comedian Richard Paul, circa 1983.)

As a general matter, this morning's red-faced shouting concerned yesterday's Senate vote. For those who would explore the anthropology of the moment—for those who would explore the ancient claim that we humans are "the rational animal—insight and amusement can be drawn from the press corps' failed attempts, this very day, to describe that Senate vote.

In the Senate vote in question, 50 Democrats and five Republicans voted one way; 45 Republicans voted the other. But what these solons voting on?

Go ahead! Try to find out!

Last night, Lawrence O'Donnell explained what they had voted on. (He was once a high-ranking Senate staffer.) In the process, Lawrence contradicted everything everyone else would say on The One True Channel last night. 

This morning, major newspapers show no skill at defining the provenance of yesterday's vote. When the hundred senators cast their votes, what were they voting on?

On the front page of the Washington Post, the attempt to answer that questions starts like this. For now, ignore the headline. According to Lawrence, it's wrong:

DEBONIS AND KIM (1/27/21): Nearly all GOP senators vote against impeachment trial for Trump, signaling likely acquittal

All but five Republican senators backed former president Donald Trump on Tuesday in a key test vote ahead of his impeachment trial, signaling that the proceedings are likely to end with Trump’s acquittal on the charge that he incited the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The vote also demonstrated the continued sway Trump holds over GOP officeholders, even after his exit from the White House under a historic cloud caused by his refusal to concede the November election and his unprecedented efforts to challenge the result.

For now, ignore the headline! (If we go by what Lawrence said, that headline is simply wrong.) Instead, let's turn to the text of the Post's front-page report.

According to DeBonis and Kim, yesterday's Senate vote was "a key test vote." But sad! Before they tried to explain what the vote concerned, the scribes began explaining the motives behind the vote:

According to DeBonis and Kim, the vote showed the sway Trump holds over the 45 GOP senators who voted that one way. It doesn't show the sway his legacy holds over the 50 Democratic senators who voted the other.

Ignore that motive-based quibble! When the hundred senators cast their votes, what the heck were they voting on? For our money, DeBonis and Kim never explain that point. For our money, this is the closest they come:

DEBONIS AND KIM (continuing directly): Trump’s trial is not scheduled to begin until Feb. 9, but senators were sworn in for the proceedings Tuesday, and they immediately voted on an objection raised by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) questioning the constitutional basis for the impeachment and removal of a former president.

The highlighted statement isn't wrong. It's just that it's very fuzzy!

It's true! Senator Paul did voice an objection to something on the Senate floor. In the course of voicing his objection, he did question the constitutional basis for the impeachment and removal of a former president. 

That still doesn't explain what The Hundred ended up voting on. According to Lawrence, they didn't "vote against an impeachment trial," no matter what that Post headline says. That isn't what they were voti9ng on, Lawrence quite plainly said.

For our money, DeBonis and Kim never explain what The Hundred were voting on. In fairness, neither does Nicholas Fandos, in his corresponding front-page report in today's New York Times.

Eventually, DeBonis and Kim cite subsequent remarks by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), one of the 45. In saying he may still vote to convict, Portman helps us understand that yesterday's vote actually wasn't a vote against holding a trial, the understanding some headline writer took from the Post's report.

Whatever! You can go to Lawrence's site to see if videotape of his explanation exists. We can't link you to a transcript of what he said.  Over the summer, MSNBC joined hands with Fox News. The channel stopped providing transcripts of its shows, even disappearing years of past transcripts in the process!

This morning, we get to see the basics of our nation's modern discourse. We had red-faced shouting on cable TV, linked to incoherent front-page reports in our most famous newspapers

Along the way, the Post's report brought the eternal note of sadness in. Once again, readers were exposed to a bit of baffling logic: 

DEBONIS AND KIM: Democrats and many legal scholars have balked at the argument that a former president—or any former official—cannot be convicted in an impeachment trial.

“The theory that the Senate can’t try former officials would amount to a constitutional get-out-of-jail-free card for any president who commits an impeachable offense,” Schumer said.

“It makes no sense whatsoever that a president, or any official, could commit a heinous crime against our country and then defeat Congress’s impeachment powers by simply resigning, so as to avoid accountability and a vote to disqualify them from future office.”

Once again, there was Schumer's baffling logic. According to Schumer, a president could "avoid accountability" for "a heinous crime" simply by resigning from office before impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate.

Stating what is blindingly obvious, such a former president could be criminally charged, then criminally tried and convicted, for the "heinous crime" he'd committed! Whatever the merits of a Senate trial of Trump might be, such trials don't send a person to "jail." 

In the case of a heinous crime, criminal prosecution can. 

Schumer's logic is lacking, but such is the cosmos we live in. Trust us! No one will ever explore the peculiar logic of disqualification, in which fifty Democrats could decree, all by themselves, that the Republicans can't nominate a Candidate Trump again in 2024.

That strikes us as an amazing idea on its face. Our journalists blow right past it.

The former commander-in-chief strikes us as badly disordered. We're forced to admit that other elites aren't necessarily that far behind.

How silly are our cable elites? In a brief aside, consider the way Lawrence began last night's show:

O'DONNELL (1/26/21): Well, when you Charles Blow the last word, get out of the way and let him talk! And that's what I plan to do at the end of this hour when my friend Charles Blow returns to The Last Word to discuss what the Georgia election results for president and the Senate tells us about the power of the black vote in the 21st century.

How close is the friendship between Lawrence and Blow? We'll take a wild guess—not close!

That said, in the realm of The One True Channel, corporate branding requires the stars to say that the other stars are their friends. In CNN's version of this clown show, Cuomo and Lemon started last night's 10 o'clock hour in the familiar scripted way, telling us rubes how much they love one another.

The boys staged one of  their trademark dumber-than-dumb opening chats. It began and ended as shown:

CUOMO (1/26/21): I want to bring in the big show, CNN Tonight, with D. Lemon, its big star right now. [My daughter] Carolina said to me, "You are too negative, and you always tell me what you think is wrong, but you never asked me what I think is wrong."

LEMON: I love her.

CUOMO: I thought—I thought, "You know what, she's right." First of all, about me as a lousy parent.

LEMON: You're not a lousy parent.

CUOMO: Guilty. But as people, let other people tell you how they feel and what hurts and just listen. It can hurt you to listen. Great instruction from that kid.

[...]

LEMON: I mean, look, every night, every night, my pain, the cross I have to bear, is having to talk to you. So I know there are some discomforts there.

CUOMO: I feel for you. I feel for you. I do.

LEMON: I love you.

CUOMO: There but for the grace, D. Lemon. There but for the grace.

LEMON: I'll see you later.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: More than you know. Thank you, brother. I'll see you soon.

These hucksters stage this branding ritual night after night after night. It's their way of letting us know how dumb their bosses think we are.

At MSNBC, everyone is everyone's friend, like in the Mickey Mouse Club. At CNN? As it once was Blume in Love, now it's Cuomo and Lemon!

In the part of the hand-off we've deleted, Cuomo and Lemon performed one of the dumbest discussions of race and racism we have ever seen. You can read the transcript here. CNN still produces them!

Along the way, does anyone care about the facts concerning yesterday's Senate vote? What was the truth about that vote, and where would you go to find it?

To see the way Lawrence explained the vote, you can to his program's site and see if some tape is provided. That said, accuracy and truth just aren't the fuels our national discourse runs on.

In this new post, Ed Kilgore describes the "crazy train" one GOP House member rode in on. Over at The One True Channel, we're exposed to the corresponding Clown Car which runs through the streets of Our Town.

This morning, the red-faced shouting was on again; The Pips were all reciting. A Crazy Train runs through their towns. In Our Town, we have our Clown Cars.

Anthropologically, this is all extremely instructive. But is there an avenue we can take out of this mess?

Tomorrow: Over here, in Our Town, Biden is called a liar!


27 comments:

  1. "As a group, these players are increasingly known as "The Pips."

    In other words, no one calls them that except Somerby.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "For now, ignore the headline!"

    How can we ignore the headline when Somerby hasn't told us what it is? Linking to a story behind a paywall prevents us from participating in a meaningful way in further discussion. As a courtesy, Somerby should provide a recap of what he is critiquing.

    This is a huge quibble over wording. Somerby wants the technical description of the resolution, which was a motion to table impeachment (in other words, not hold an impeachment discussion and vote in the future). Referring to it as a test vote is accurate. Introducing the whole concept of tabling measures and how that is used to kill resolutions is a red herring that would confuse the reader and shed no light on what happened in the Senate yesterday.

    Somerby has invented this objection to make it seem like O'Donnell and others on cable and at the Washington Post are bad at their jobs. I'll bet no one over at Fox referred to this as a measure to table consideration of impeachment either.

    Somerby is trying to pull a fast one on his readers here today. It reveals his dishonesty and his motives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anon 12:23, I wouldn't blame you one bit if you cancelled your subscription to the Daily Howler, and demanded a refund.

      Delete
    2. And you can just as easily do the same when it comes to comments here. Why was this worth your time to type?

      Delete
    3. AC/MA is our resident asshole; he does not feel alive unless he is trying to bring down those that are better at discourse than he is.

      Delete
    4. anon 6:52 - you're right, not worth my time. anon 8:10 - I suppose given how disordered your thinking is, your epithet is a compliment.

      Delete
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  3. Somerby says that at MSNBC everyone is everyone's friend. But as an example of that friendship, Lemon says:

    "LEMON: I mean, look, every night, every night, my pain, the cross I have to bear, is having to talk to you. So I know there are some discomforts there."

    How does this exemplify Somerby's complaint. He is chiding Cuomo and agreeing with Cuomo's daughter's criticism of him. Then Lemon says "I love you." That is banter. Why does Somerby object to the friendly banter of two co-workers? Why is that hard for him to watch? That is something for Somerby to discuss with his shrink.

    Would he prefer that colleagues argue and show hostility toward each other? That would provide the reality-show spice of something like The Apprentice, but would it be a better environment for discussing current events? Would it add to or lessen today's hostilities, would it ratchet up the hateful rhetoric or calm things down if co-hosts fought with each other?

    And how about the way Bill Maher fawns all over his conservative guests! He asks a supposedly tough question but then lets the conservative response stand without any follow up. And he and his conservatives are best buddies in the same way as Lemon as Cuomo. And not a peep from Somerby because Maher is not on MSNBC and is perhaps a colleague of his from stand-up days.

    And then Somerby calls Lemon's thoughts on racism "one of the dumbest" he's ever seen. Glad to know that white, elderly Somerby is such a fine judge of the way black Americans experience racism. And is it an accident that Somerby calls Lemon dumb, using the exact term Trump applied to Lemon repeatedly while president?

    Meanwhile, the truth is that climate change is a serious problem that Biden is going to address aggressively in his plans for our nation. Whether MSNBC calls something a motion to table or a test vote has nothing to do with "truth" because both descriptions are correct, depending on the information you are trying to share with the public. On MSNBC, their motive was to tell people about likelihood of Trump's impeachment, not the mechanics of how the senate runs.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Whoa, dear Bob, this is actually an okay (with way too much meaningless minutiae shit, unfortunately) post.

    "These hucksters stage this branding ritual night after night after night", etc.

    They are clowning -- you and your hopelessly brain-damaged zombie comrades are watching. You promised to stop watching dembot Rachel, but you still do. So, what's the problem, dear Bob?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Where was the red-faced shouting in all of this? I don't see any, from what Somerby has quoted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be mao standing in front of the mirror berating his shrivelled prick

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  7. This is why Trump needs to be impeached and convicted and prevented from running again:

    https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/01/trump-administration-sabotaged-the-defense-of-the-capitol-on-1-6

    Political considerations should not replace the Senate's responsibility to see that justice is done.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The NY Times article, which appears in my local paper, is just like WaPo's. The headline is "Republicans vote enmasse against putting Trump on trial". At least, there's an insert quoting Schumer: "The theory that the impeachment of a former official is unconstitutional is flat-out wrong by every frame of analysis." Observations:

    1. NYT and WaPo have the same spin. How did this coordination occur?

    2. Voting for Trump is dishonorable. Voting on the meaning of the Constitution is honorable. The media presented the story as Republicans behaving dishonorably.

    3. The front page insert quoted a Trump opponent rather than a supporter.

    $. Schumer's statement was wildly exaggerated. E.g. Constitutional expert Dershoowitz and others say the impeachment of someone no longer in office is unconstitutional. See As House impeaches Trump for second time, some say Senate trial after his presidency is unconstitutional. https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/as-house-impeaches-trump-some-contend-senate-trial-after-trump-presidency-is-unconstitutional

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have the impeachment trial, and get Republican Senators on record admitting what they know: Republican voters are delusional rubes.

      Delete
  9. “Stating what is blindingly obvious, such a former president could be criminally charged, then criminally tried and convicted, for the "heinous crime" he'd committed! “

    The Constitution does not bar convicted felons from serving as president. Only the Senate can do that.

    Second point: Trump was impeached while serving as president. Impeachment is like an indictment by a grand jury. The appropriate constitutionally mandated arena for the trial of an impeached President is the Senate. The impeached President shouldn’t get to avoid that trial by resigning or running out the clock, or committing the impeachable offense in the last weeks or days of his presidency.

    Third point: impeachable offenses are not necessarily violations of the criminal code.

    Impeachment and Senate trial are parts of a political process that must be carried out in the political arena. Let the criminal authorities deal with the perpetrator as they see fit, but let the process play out in Congress as it should.

    Blindingly obvious, indeed.

    Somerby is a mendacious nitwit Trump supporter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mh - Your points are valid. However, Bob was addressing Schumer's statement, "The theory that the Senate can’t try former officials would amount to a constitutional get-out-of-jail-free card."

      This is doubly wrong:

      1. Impeachment can't put someone in jail
      2. An unimpeached President CAN go to jail if he committed crimes.

      In reality, we al know that the Senate won't convict Trump. It's all a political show.

      Delete
    2. Schumer was using the term “get out of jail free card” metaphorically. He knows that impeachment /conviction doesn’t result in literal jail time. Only you and Somerby are dense enough to think Schumer is an idiot. Schumer specifically refers to “impeachable” offenses, not criminal violations. By the way, Trump can be barred from holding office without being convicted.

      Delete
    3. Notably Nixon was convicted for his crimes and served time for his criminal behavior, so Somerby is absolutely correct here.

      Brother, please.

      Delete
    4. Regrettably neither Nixon nor Bill Clinton went to jail for their felonies.

      Delete
    5. Why would they go to jail for their felonies? Were they poor?

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. “Stating what is blindingly obvious, such a former president could be criminally charged, then criminally tried and convicted, for the "heinous crime" he'd committed! “

    The Constitution does not bar convicted felons from serving as president. Only the Senate can preemptively bar an impeached President from serving again.

    Second point: Trump was impeached while serving as president. Impeachment is like an indictment by a grand jury. The appropriate constitutionally mandated arena for the trial of an impeached President is the Senate. The impeached President shouldn’t get to avoid that trial by resigning or running out the clock, or committing the impeachable offense in the last weeks or days of his presidency.

    Third point: impeachable offenses are not necessarily violations of the criminal code.

    Impeachment and Senate trial are parts of a political process that must be carried out in the political arena. Let the criminal authorities deal with the perpetrator as they see fit, but let the process play out in Congress as it should.

    Blindingly obvious, indeed.

    Somerby is a mendacious nitwit Trump supporter.

    ReplyDelete
  12. “Stating what is blindingly obvious, such a former president could be criminally charged, then criminally tried and convicted, for the "heinous crime" he'd committed!”

    Now is the appropriate time to interject Somerby’s oft-stated view that it only takes one Trump supporter on a jury to fail to convict, because, apparently, Trump supporters render political judgments rather than judgments based on facts.

    Damn. I forgot the cutesy exclamation point.

    !

    ReplyDelete
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