MADDOW AND TOWN: Ignorance, posturing, incomprehension!

FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2021

And a clown shall lead them: Brian Williams opened last evening's show in the normal way.

He thanked the "three friends of the broadcast" who had agreed to serve as his opening pundit panel.  Marketing / branding requirements satisfied, Brian threw to Yamiche Alcindor, one of his many friends. 

Alcindor works for the PBS NewsHour. It's one of the most respected news orgs in Our Town.

Previously, she'd shot up the chain at the New York Times, Our Town's smartest newspaper.

After receiving some bathos from Paul Butler, Williams threw to Alcindor. Moving beyond the question she'd been asked, Alcindor proceeded to state her view of the shooting death of Daunte Wright.

Seriously though, folks! To our surprise and to our lack of surprise, this is what Alcindor said:

ALCINDOR (4/15/21): I have to tell you, I've talked to so many people who feel that this is just trauma on top of trauma, that— 

You can imagine, of course, there's some who way, "Why run from the police? Why try to get away from them?" But there are people who are simply terrified of the police, for good reason in some ways, watching this video. 

So the mother and family of Daunte Wright today said, Can you imagine what Dante was probably feeling as he had three officers surrounding him for what seemed like a minor infraction having to do with a warrant for marijuana, a business that people make money with all over the country? So I think there really needs to be a big conversation about that.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, a 20-year-old in a Buick that was a gift to him. Yamiche, you're so right.

"Yamiche, you're so right," the giant star said, immediately after she had issued her latest remarkable howler.

In a word, say what? Last Sunday, Daunte Wright was being arrested on the basis of "a minor infraction having to do with a warrant for marijuana?"

Just like that, the demon air fresheners had been brushed aside. The demon fresheners had been replaced by a minor marijuana infraction! 

As Alcindor and Williams spoke, the analysts came out of their chairs. Even they had never heard this  misstatement before!

(A brief aside: As far as we know, the Wright family made no claims yesterday about a marijuana warrant. To peruse the transcript of their press event, you can just click here.)

This morning, the analysts went to work fact-checking Alcindor's latest. As it turns out, the claim the NewsHour star advanced was so obscure that only one news org had previously fact-checked it—Agence France Presse (AFP), one of the world's major news orgs.

You can read the AFP Fact Check here. Below, you see the agency's bold-face summary of the bogus factual claim:

AFP FACT CHECK (4/15/21): Social media posts claim Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by police in Minnesota, was wanted for not paying a fine for marijuana possession. This is false; while there was a previous cannabis-related charge involving Wright, the warrant for his arrest was issued because he failed to appear in court over illegal possession of a weapon and fleeing the police.

Sad. The fact-check traces this inaccurate claim to a set of "social media posts" by unidentified people. Presumably, that's where Alcindor stumbled across, and decided to buy, the stupid, inaccurate claim.

"Yamiche, you're so right," her well-dressed host quickly said. In the process, he added some bathos to the melodrama being shoveled to us in Our Town.

Quickly, a key disclaimer:

Here at this site, we don't believe in "bad people." On balance, we don't believe that it's constructive to try to figure out who the good and the bad people are.

We do believe in terrible work. And it's good that we don't believe in bad people. Otherwise, it would be hard to avoid holding contempt for people like the well-dressed, wonderfully-coiffed TV star who served as Alcindor's host.

Just imagine! Last evening's program was the fourth program during which the shooting death of Daunte Wright was discussed on Williams' hour-long program. 

That said, how does Williams perform his job? We ask you to understand this:

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, neither Williams nor anyone else ever reported the actual basis on which Wright was being arrested that day. No one reported that he was being arrested on a warrant related to the illegal possession of a gun and a previous flight from arrest.

Three straight nights had gone by; our spotless minds had been shielded from any such knowledge. (Over on Fox, viewers were being told.) . Instead, Williams had merely said, on two of those nights, that police had tried to arrest Wright on an "outstanding misdemeanor warrant." 

That was technically accurate as far as it went, but it hadn't gone very far. Now, on his fourth night discussing this case, the well-dressed corporate TV star took things down several levels:

Alcindor gave a baldly inaccurate account of the basis for the attempted arrest. As she did, she almost seemed to recommend fleeing arrest—and in reply, the well-coiffed anchor could only offer this:

Yamiche, you're so right!

"Yamiche, you're so right!" That's what Brian said!

In fact, Yamiche was stunningly wrong in her statement. Meanwhile, her appalling misstatement was helping to drive an ugly storyline. 

Why do we use the latter term? Because her claim was part of a swelling attempt to demonize police as a class on the basis of bogus claims; to try to get people thrown into jail on the basis of bogus claims; and in this case, even to seem to suggest that people like Wright should try to flee legitimate arrest. 

It's hard to feel sufficient contempt for the conduct of someone like Williams in seconding such a misstatement. That said, to what extent are basic facts being withheld from the people who watch Williams' nightly program?

To what extent have the facts been withheld? Good God! Consider this:

This morning, we're going to link you to  a report in the Washington Times!

Twenty years ago, the famously conservative newspaper was well-known and quite influential. Today, it's still a deeply conservative paper, but it plays almost no role in the discourse.

Today, the Washington Times is an afterthought; Alcindor and Williams are stars. But in this news report in the Washington Times, you get a detailed rundown of the legal issues confronting Wright Sunday afternoon as he drove around in the Buick which Williams so pointlessly cited.

There's at least one part of this background story we don't yet understand. We don't understand what happened to the initial part of the story described in this passage:

RICHARDSON (4/14/21): “A 26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a Taser and a firearm,” said [Wright attorney Benjamin] Crump in a Wednesday statement. “Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant.”

According to Hennepin County District Court documents, however, Mr. Wright had been charged with aggravated armed robbery, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $35,000 fine.

His release on $100,000 bail was revoked July 30 over two violations: “Failure to not possess a firearm or ammunition” and “Failure to maintain contact with probation.”

The charging document said that Mr. Wright, then 19, went to a party in Osseo with a friend, Emajay Maurice Driver, after which they slept on the floor at the apartment of a female friend of Mr. Driver’s from high school. She said she had only met Mr. Wright that night.

In the morning, she received $820 in cash from another person for rent. She heard Mr. Wright tell his friend that they should “hit some stains,” which she said meant robbing someone, but she thought he was joking.

As they left the apartment, however, Mr. Wright turned around, blocked the door to stop her from exiting, then “pulled a black handgun with silver trim out from either his right waistband or his right coat pocket and pointed it at VICTIM and demanded the rent money.”

The report in the Washington Times continues on from there.  For an account of these matters derived from Snopes, see yesterday's report.

Alcindor works from inaccurate Facebook posts. By way of contrast, Valerie Richardson quotes extensively from court records in her account of the situation which occasioned the attempted arrest of Wright.

As they spread their bogus claim last night, Alcindor and Williams made the background situation sound remarkably minor.  This enables a figure like Crump as he tells the public and the world that Kim Potter executed Daunte Wright—that she "executed" him for "what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant.”

Crump's behavior is inexcusable. That said, the guilt-ridden posers who swarm in Our Town will pander to every word he emits. This dates all the way back to the Crump team's blatant misstatements about the Trayvon Martin case.

Our Town is performing quite poorly. Stars like Alcindor will go on TV and make bald misstatements about what occurred. Multimillionaires like Williams will sardonically second their claims.

We the people get dumbed way down in the process. The upper-end press corps' role in this gong-show dates back at least three decades.

Last night, a new element was added to this story. We refer to the videotape of the shooting death of Adam Toledo, age 13. More on that pitiful topic will come, but in closing for today, we'll report one more reaction.

We'll share the reaction we had to a relatively innocuous piece by Slate's Dan Kois.

Over at Slate, it fell to Kois to post the videotape of the Toledo shooting. He ended his very short piece on this mandated note:

KOIS (4/15/21): Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called for peace in the wake of the video release and said in a press conference that the video is “excruciating.” It is.

We don't know Dan Kois at all. But we don't believe a word he said, including the words "It is."

Sorry! We don't believe our mainstream pundits when they say how upset they are. We don't believe them because we've watched their work in this general area ever since we were in college.

We don't believe them because we read reports like this at New York magazine. What a monument to undisguised group indifference concerning the needs and the interests of low-income urban kids!

We don't believe that our pundits care. In substantial part, we don't believe them because they let a clown like Rachel Maddow sit at the very head of Our Town's clown parade.

We expect to go into an array of such matters next week. For today, we recommend this:

Just look at what Alcindor said. Please take a lesson—an anthropology lesson—from the astonishing claim she made, and from her host's reaction.

They disappear the facts they don't like. They invent quite a few others. This is the way our brains are wired, major top experts have said.

This is the way it's done in Our Town. Despite the ways we praise ourselves, you will almost never see a single word of complaint!

Spoiler alert: Williams should correct the record tonight. You already know he won't!



  1. "...the New York Times, Our Town's smartest newspaper."

    Oh dear. You don't need to be so self-denigrating, dear Bob.

    ...on the second thought, yes, you do.

    Otherwise, great post, as usual, recently.

    "We don't know Dan Kois at all. But we don't believe a word he said, including the words "It is.""

    This is a good attitude, dear Bob, but not quite. You need to realize that when any of your cult's dembots says "it is", the truth is: it isn't.

    We guess it'll still take you a while to understand, but we're hopeful.

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  2. It does not matter what the warrant was for, nor does it matter why the police shot Wright. What matters is that the cop shot him and he is now dead, without trial or sentencing -- dead. Cops are not supposed to kill people unless their lives (or those of bystanders) are threatened. That was clearly not the case in this situation.

    There are various accounts of this situation circulating because there has not been clear information provided to the press. Press reports have said that it is not clear why Wright was stopped. It is certainly not clear why he was shot.

    Somerby seems to think that if the warrant was for a more serious crime, then that excuses the cop who shot him (mistakenly, she claims). Somerby also seems to believe the accusations against Wright, after urging an open mind about accusations against white men, such as Chauvin and Gaetz (but not Andrew Cuomo).

    There are two problems here: (1) black men seem to get stopped for trivial offenses that white drivers are not stopped for; and (2) black men, being stopped more often, are also likely to be shot for ambiguous actions that do not cause white men to be shot.

    These are issues that Somerby never mentions and has certainly never grappled with. They are at the heart of remarks by Alcindor and everyone else who discusses these shootings. Somerby instead focuses on trivial differences in details, as if these indicate bias (instead of issue-related concerns) or invalidate the complaints against police who commit these shootings.

    This knee-jerk defense of police, coupled with failure to understand much less consider the complaints against them, makes Somerby not only conservative but highly likely to have his own racial bias.

    And Williams is blamed for saying that Alcindor was correct. He was no doubt responding to the overall trauma of yet another police shooting, not endorsing that single problematic detail about a marijuana warrant, but Somerby bends facts to suit his agenda more than any member of the press (with the possible exception of Tucker Carlson and his ilk). Somerby is masquerading as a media critic as surely as he pretends to be a liberal.

    1. Perhaps the issue being presented here is that misreporting what the warrant is for gives ammunition to Fox News et al to accurately criticize the left, which is not the ideal way to play this game.

    2. This isn't really what Somerby said @1:34.

    3. Criticizing one person over an offhand mistaken detail embedded in an overall correct discussion is not really opening the door to Fox News to "accurately" criticize the left. It is impossible to get everything right all the time. Further, even if the left were 100% correct all the time, Fox News would make up criticisms. And it isn't as if they are always accurate themselves (or anywhere close to it).

      When Somerby joins the right in criticizing the left, he is making his allegiance clear. There is nothing in his language that suggests he is not another conservative taking pot shots at leftie media. We should not buy into the idea that if we are not perfect in every detail, then the right-wing attacks are "accurate". They leave out a great deal too, such as the fact that Wright (and his attorney) were not properly informed of the zoom trial date Wright missed and did not know about the warrant.

    4. 'When Somerby joins the right in criticizing the left, he is making his allegiance clear.'

      Somerby's allegiance is to Trump, Roy Moore, Matt Gaetz and other Trump worshippers. Somerby is either a hardcore Trumptard, or someone who does such a fine emulation of a hardcore Trumptard that it makes no difference.

  3. Somerby not only holds contempt for Brian Williams but also for Rachel Maddow. Someone who displays contempt daily but pretends he doesn't feel it, is a first-class asshole. Who does he think he is fooling?

  4. According to AFP Fact Check, the idea that Wright was stopped on a marijuana warrant is coming from social media. It does have a basis in fact because Wright was previously fined for marijuana use, so it was not fabricated out of whole cloth. AFP says:

    "Social media posts claim Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by police in Minnesota, was wanted for not paying a fine for marijuana possession. This is false; while there was a previous cannabis-related charge involving Wright, the warrant for his arrest was issued because he failed to appear in court over illegal possession of a weapon and fleeing the police."

    AFP is a French-based digital verification service operating worldwide.

    Meanwhile, The Insider shows a picture of an April 2 Gross Misdemeanor warrant issued against Wright for failure to appear in court and possession of a weapon. Somerby's allegation about grand theft and 20 years in jail is inflated and unrelated to the warrant the officers were attempting to enforce.

    Insider says: "After Wright's death, the police did not discuss details of the warrant that had prompted the officers to try to detain him.

    Nonetheless, the issue has taken on a life of its own. One widely circulated claim held that Wright had likely been unaware of the warrant because of a clerical error related to court appearances.

    Elsewhere, right-wing news outlets prominently featured Wright's legal history, an approach critics said amounted to downplaying the injustice of his killing by the police."

    This is Somerby's approach here. Note that this is being described as a "right wing" approach by someone other than me. This is only the latest of many times that Somerby's essays have echoed conservative talking points. It won't be the last.

    1. Given that the Somerby is a hardcore Trumptard devoted to the worship of Donald Trump, it's not surprising that 99% of his essays are devoted to repeating Trumptard talking points.

  5. The so-called robbery is obviously not being treated as such by police, perhaps because the woman involved said she thought Wright and his friend were joking. Instead, they apparently pursued the gun possession. This is from Insider:

    "Documents for two cases Insider reviewed are publicly available via a records website run by the Minnesota court system.

    First case: Wright was accused of carrying a weapon without a permit and fleeing from the police.

    Documents in the case are filed under 27-CR-21-4400.
    They detail charges that Wright carried a pistol without a permit and ran from the police.

    A complaint filed on March 4 said that Wright had had an encounter with the police on June 30 in Minneapolis.

    It said officers responded to a call about a man with a gun and found Wright in a car with other people.

    The complaint said Wright ran away from the officers, who chased but did not catch him. It said a loaded handgun was found in the car.

    Another record showed that Wright was due to attend a court hearing via Zoom on April 2.

    A warrant for Wright's arrest was then filed, suggesting he did not attend the hearing.

    This was the warrant that the police were acting on over the weekend, officials told The Daily Beast.

    Arthur Martinez, a public defender who represented Wright, told The Daily Beast that neither he nor Wright had ever seen that document. "He obviously didn't get it, and no one notified me," Martinez said.

    The last document, submitted on Tuesday, said the case was being dismissed because of Wright's death."

    1. Talk about disappearing facts! Somerby seems to be a master of it.

  6. From Democratic Underground:

    "Source: The Guardian/US

    A data breach at a Christian crowdfunding website has revealed that serving police officers and public officials have donated money to fundraisers for accused vigilante murderers, far-right activists, and fellow officers accused of shooting black Americans.

    In many of these cases, the donations were attached to their official email addresses, raising questions about the use of public resources in supporting such campaigns.

    The breach, shared with journalists by transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets, revealed the details of some donors who had previously attempted to conceal their identities using GiveSendGo’s anonymity feature, but whose identifying details the website preserved.

    The beneficiaries of donations from public officials include Kyle Rittenhouse, who stands accused of murdering two leftwing protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August. Rittenhouse traveled from neighboring Illinois to, by his own account, offer armed protection to businesses during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

    Read more:

    1. It's a shame that "good guy with a gun" is a myth.

  7. Time to connect the dots:


    1. treason

      That's one of those things liberals are against, and conservatives are for, right?

  8. Daunte Wright was no angel, but Somerby should consider this (from Facebook):

    "I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won't take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and won't stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I'm too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won't break down (Corey Jones).
    When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I'll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won't stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson).
    After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won't even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We'll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor)."
    These are things white people simply do not have to think about."
    -David Gray

  9. 'Our Town is performing quite poorly.'

    You mean your town of hardcore malignant Trumptards, who worship Donald Trump and defend Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz ? Yes, it's performing quite poorly.

    1. Bob usually takes a liberal or center-left approach but he's not educated enough to pull off either one consistently. With the cops, an institution soaked in race and class repression, he wants to meet them in the middle, a nice liberal virtue. He accepts their opinions of themselves as expert, their complaints reasonable. Therefore critics to the left of Bob's liberalism, those looking at the bigger picture of systemic racism and classism are rocking the boat. They are bad liberals who are reducing trust in one of the negotiating parties.

    2. Except that when Ron Johnson back in late 2019 said he didn't trust the FBI, Somerby leapt to his defense, saying that 'we liberals' shouldn't trust the FBI/CIA either. Of course, since Johnson routinely approved FBI/CIA budgets and surveillance, it was hypocritical of Johnson to claim he didn't trust them simply because they weren't bowing to Trump's diktats. But Somerby defended Johnson.

      Somerby is very consistent. He is an extremely malevolent Trumptard who desperately wanted to be a useful idiot for Trump, but was so obvious in his desire to see Trump win that he only ended up as a useless idiot for Trump.

  10. Anonymouse 3:35pm, who needs the media reporting relevant details when you can get all that sophistry?

    1. Not coincidentally, Somerby majored in sophistry at Harvard.

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