Scarborough, Maddow flounder and flail!


This is Our Town on Stupid: This past Sunday, just two days ago, Michael Osterholm appeared on Meet the Press, a well-known TV news program.

Dr. Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. On this day, he shared some bad news about the way the new strain of the virus might affect the desire to reopen our public schools.

Osterholm spoke about the B117 variant, the so-called U.K. strain of the virus. He seemed to say that he's changed his mind about opening schools. This is what he said:

OSTERHOLM (4/4/21): Please understand, this B117 variant is a brand new ballgame. In fact, right here in Minnesota, we're now seeing the other aspect of this B117 variant that hasn't been talked much about, and that is the fact that it infects kids very readily. 

Unlike the previous strains of the virus, we didn't see children under eighth grade get infected often, or they were not frequently very ill. They didn't transmit to the rest of the community. That's why I was one of those people very strongly supporting reopening in-class learning. 

B117 turns that on its head. These kids now are really major challenges in terms of how they transmit. The fact that I can sit here and talk about 749 schools in Minnesota in the last two weeks now having B117 activity, so I the message is we have to get through this surge

TODD: So you would, right nowyou would close schools?

OSTERHOLM: And this means we're going to have to reconsider what we're doing... 

Has Osterholm changed his mind about reopening schools at this point? With a commercial break looming, Todd didn't push through and get a clear-cut statement.

That said, Osterholm seemed to be saying that he's changed his mind about opening schools because of the new B117 strain. That's what he seemed to say two days ago, on an extremely well-known program produced by NBC News.

Jump ahead to the last two mornings. Each morning, we've watched Joe Scarborough rant and rave about the need to reopen schools. 

As is the norm on this "cable news" channel, Scarborough's various guests stood in line to agree with what he was saying. In two straight mornings, neither Scarborough nor any of his guests showed any sign of being aware of what Osterholm had said.

Osterholm could be wrong, of course—but does Scarborough even know what Osterholm has said? There's no particular reason to assume that he does:

You see, Scarborough was in Boston over the weekend, taking in the first three Red Sox games. There's a very good chance that he didn't watch Meet the Press or catch up on what he missed. 

There's a very good chance he doesn't know what Osterholm has said. And as for his compliant guests, contradicting the host just isn't done on the tribally pleasing "cable news" shows broadcast here in Our Town.

These performances in the past two days have been examples of the phenomenon known as "Our Town on Stupid." That said, you haven't seen the most aggressive strain of this intellectual virus until you find a way to watch the first 25 uninterrupted minutes of last night's Maddow Show.

It doesn't get dumber than what Maddow did last night. Her performance was the Platonic form of Our Town on Stupid.

Maddow was clowning hard last night—clowning hard, but also instructing us in the proper ways to fully love and adore her. If you want to see Our Town on Stupid, that is the place to go.

What was Maddow discussing last night? She was pretending to discuss the new ruling of the Senate parliamentarian concerning the possibility of passing bills through the Senate, this year and next, with fewer than 60 votes.

The parliamentarian has apparently issued a new ruling about this highly consequential matter. To see Kevin Drum explain the matter in roughly a hundred words, you can just click here.

Maddow devoted 25 minutes to this topic, but mainly she mugged and clowned.  The humblebragging was general throughout. She seemed to contradict herself at an array of points. 

By the time her performance was done, we had no earthly idea what she had actually said. Neither, of course, did this endlessly devolving cable news clown.

For today, we're going to add Maddow's clownish performance to Charles Blow's recent column in praise of Living in the Deeply Painful Past and Nowhere Else. 

We'd be inclined to call Blow's column Our Town on Traumatization. Maddow's clowning was Our Town on Dumbest in Show.

It's stunning to see the kind of behavior we tolerate here in Our Town. Tomorrow, we'll try to summarize Maddow's clowning as she pretended to talk about the parliamentarian's ruling. Before the week is done, we'll return to Blow's column, which drew its inspiration from the Chauvin trial.

But of one thing you can be sure—any time you activate your TV, there's a very good chance you'll encounter Our Town on Stupid. 

It might be Scarborough, back from Fenway with his soapbox and his compliant guests. It might be Our Own Rhodes Scholar, telling us she's a policy geek and a nerd and a dork and that dummies like us just aren't.

Over at the New York Times, Blow will be writhing in agony as he rehearses what happened in 1811. He has absolutely nothing to say about the needs of the children who are busy being born today. Instead, he wants to focus on the gruesome flaying of flesh which rules his own traumatized brain.

The children being born today? They can take care of themselves!

In our view, Maddow should be humanely led away, never to be heard from again. As for the rest of us here in Our Town, we're the ones who insist on letting this nonsense continue.

We love love love our favorite star's "performance of the Rachel figure." According to major anthropologists, this is the way it's always been, and there's no reason to think it will change.

Tomorrow: Let's count the times this fool referred to "nerds," "dorks," "geeks" and "boring." ("Boring" means that there's no sex and no one's going to jail.)


  1. "It's stunning to see the kind of behavior we tolerate here in Our Town."

    If it feels so stunning to you, dear Bob, then why do you still belong to their zombie cult? There's a whole big world out there, where you don't need to care about the zombie cult and its clowns, let alone watching their ugly contortions every night.

    Please explain, when you get a chance. Thanks.

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  2. "OSTERHOLM: And this means we're going to have to reconsider what we're doing...

    Has Osterholm changed his mind about reopening schools at this point? With a commercial break looming, Todd didn't push through and get a clear-cut statement."

    I think Osterholm has very clear said that they need to keep an eye on what was happening and reevaluate the decision to open the schools.

    Somerby seems to think there are only two actions possible: (1) open schools, (2) close schools. There is a third option called watch and see, which means evaluating the pattern of infections locally and decide to close schools if the British strain appears to be a threat.

    So, this is a manufactured criticism. There was no need to pin down Osterholm. He is urging caution and reevaluation based on what is happening with the variants.

    But Somerby has a need to beat up a journalist, so he basically doesn't care what the answer was to the question.

  3. Osterholm is one guy with an opinion; he is not head of the CDC. Why should Scarborough be paying special attention to him? For that matter, why should Scarborough spend his weekend watching news shows when he has a staff for that purpose?

  4. Somerby just doesn't get it. Maddow was reciting poetry. It was merely an emotional, parliamentarian poetry slam. Nothing more, nothing less.

  5. Somerby thinks that talk show hosts should invite guests on who disagree with them? He probably thinks Chauvin's defense team should invite witnesses who disagree with their client's innocence too. Why would a pundit, who is advancing a particular argument, invite a guest who disagrees instead of one who provides additional evidence, argument or support for the host's opinion?

    It is always possible to find someone who disagrees with a liberal opinion. They live at Fox News. Is Somerby next going to suggest that Fox pundits should get equal time on MSNBC because liberal hosts shouldn't have guests who hold similar opinions?

    This is ridiculous! There is certainly diversity of opinion on the left, often about the details not the main views, but without watching Scarborough and Maddow as closely as Somerby does, it is difficult to point out those areas of diverse opinion. I am certain they exist and equally certain that Somerby wouldn't notice them, or tell us about them if he did.

    It has never struck me that so-called liberal channels all speak with one voice or that all the pundits and guests are saying the same things. Never. But then, Somerby didn't notice the nuance in Osterholm's statement either, pushing Todd to "push through" and get a more dichotomous answer.

    I think Somerby is somewhat deaf to controversy on the left, preferring to focus on the giant rifts between left and right, as if these imply that the left speaks with one voice when there are many different opinions being expressed. In this, Somerby is no different than the pundits on Fox News, who routinely tar liberals as being a caricature of what we are, in our views and our behavior.

    This is a farce as media criticism.

    1. The late Rush Limbaugh gave priority to callers who disagreed with him.

    2. And then he used his cut-off button to suppress what they had to say, so that he could instead abuse and make fun of them.

  6. I resent being compared to a virus because of my political opinions.

  7. First Scarborough gets knocked for attending baseball games, then Blow gets knocked for living in the past "and nowhere else." You can't win with Somerby.

    1. You can win with Somerby if you're Trump or a Trumptard like Gaetz, Roy Moore, Ron Johnson etc. Then Somerby will gallantly defend you.

  8. "But of one thing you can be sure—any time you activate your TV, there's a very good chance you'll encounter Our Town on Stupid. "

    Liberals are not stupid. Maddow is not stupid. "Our Town" is not stupid.

    This is what passes for criticism on a blog that supposedly engages in media criticism. Calling something stupid without any accompanying discussion or evidence, except saying that someone was "clowning" a lot, is far from analysis of any kind.

    Shorter Somerby: Maddow is a doody-head and I hate her ass-face.

  9. Since Osterholm was on Fox News, one assumes the reason Somerby does his faux-outrage thing is because this is going to be the new conservative attack on Biden: He’s opening schools too soon!, after those same conservatives demanded all last year that all schools be open.

    And of course the news about the parliamentarian’s ruling is good for Democrats, so Somerby would rather make a specious criticism of Maddow. Her presentation was perfectly clear. She humorously referred to herself as a “dork” for being excited by a procedural ruling from the Senate parliamentarian.

  10. Here's perhaps another way to explain why I find Blow's column counter-productive. IMO Blow's recitation of the horrors of slavery go along with the concept of White Privilege in a way. Both are used to show that blacks today deserve some sort of recompense or reparation. That they're entitled to some special benefit.

    By comparison, there was "gentile privilege" in the insurance industry, where I worked. At INA, a large company that was 200 years old, I was only the 2nd Jewish corporate officer. And, a commenter pointed out yesterday, when Jews celebrate Passover, the story begins with the words, "We were slaves in Egypt."

    Here's the difference. Present and past wrongs did not make me feel entitled to any recompense or reparations. None were offered. What the past wrongs taught me was that I had to work harder than the people around me. Working harder than people around them has indeed been the method by which minority after minority raised their income above the average -- Jews, Mormons, gays, Irish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, etc.

    Of course, black Americans have gotten the same message and they do work very hard. However, IMO things like Blow's column and "White privilege" encourage blacks to succeed by demanding special treatment, rather than by their own efforts. The demand for special treatment puts their success in the hands of others, and these others may not have black welfare as their primary goal. In particular, the primary goal of many politicians is to get black votes. This can be done by giving blacks stuff that they need. In fact, it's most easily done if blacks remain needy.

    1. I don't recall Blow saying anything about reparations in his article.

      I don't think that an offsetting attempt to reduce discrimination is "special treatment." No one asked to be discriminated against in the first place. It is atonement when someone who has wronged another person attempts to repair the damage done.

      I think everyone should get the stuff they need to live. This idea that liberals are buying black votes with social programs is ridiculous. It assumes that black people are all needy and that social programs do not serve a much larger majority of white clients. Presumably their votes are being bought too? That strikes me as an ugly way to look at the way government provides for the common good.

    2. @6:12 - Yes it is an ugly view, but it's because of ugly actions. Here's one example: When Sen. Ted Kennedy was leading the fight to increase the minimum wage, many people asked that there be a separate, minimum for young workers. They feared that too high a minimum would make it harder for first time workers to get into the work force, especially young blacks. Kennedy refused their request. His policy produced more needy people.

      Here's another example: Republican Senator Tim Scott (who is black) had a police reform proposal that would have raised the standards for police. It would have discouraged police chokeholds, among other things. Democrats refused to support Scott's proposal. They didn't want blacks to be grateful to a Republican.

    3. You may not be aware of this but there are studies showing that it is bad for teens to work during high school. They get bad jobs and do not learn good work habits and it tends to affect their grades negatively. It can also be argued that teens displace adult workers with family responsibilities and by allowing businesses to play teens less, they discourage businesses from creating jobs for adult workers.

      My understanding is that the police reform bill failed because Democrats considered it an inadequate response and because they could not find common ground with Republicans over the measure.

    4. @6:44 The Kennedy exception would have applied to people age 18 - 20, who were mostly out of school.

      I would have to see a lot of data to convince me that holding a part-time job is harmful for an inner city high school student.

      Yes, perhaps young people age 17 -20 take entry level jobs away from inner city adults. A lot more jobs are taken away by illegal immigrants. Even the liberal Political acknowledges that Illegal immigration hurts black Americans.

    5. Why should someone out of school be paid less? That makes no sense to me.

      And no, immigrants do not take jobs away from citizens. They do jobs no one else wants to do. The economist you cite suggests that wages for those jobs are slightly depressed (after an adjustment period), but why on earth should black teens be aiming for such jobs? If they stay in school, they can aim for higher paying work and that should be our goal for them -- not artificially holding down competition for low wage jobs and encouraging them to work while in their school years.

      Politico is not a liberal publication (any more than Somerby is).

    6. @8:22 PM -- you may think that a minimum wage of $X means that people will be paid at least $X. Actually, that law only prevents them from taking a job paying less than $X.

      A lot of entry level employees are not worth much to an employer. If the minimum wage is more than their value, they simply won't get hired.

    7. 10:39 The next time you drive through a McDonalds take a moment to point out the entry level employees that are just hanging around, of not worth much use to their employer. In your fantasy world, perhaps, employers waste money hiring more entry level help than they need because they are inexpensive. Employers are not stupid. They hire the number of employees they need. If they hire more than they need it is to give each individual
      less weekly hours to deprive them
      of full time benefits. Walmart. Their workplaces are often understaffed as they squeeze as much profit as they can from their business. Meanwhile, there is a chain of hamburger drive throughs in, of all places, California, that pays 15 dollars an hour and makes a very good go of it. They are not outcompeted by McDonalds. Their employees do not appear to be working 2ce as hard as their counterparts in McDonalds. And they do not appear to have less employees shuffling around doing little than McDonalds. Your anecdotal utterances do not hold up in the real world

    8. As far as your working your way up the corporate ladder at a company whose business was insuring securities, the last time I checked the insurance and investment sectors were not known to discriminate against Jews. You would have to be well into your 90’s to have lived through a period of time in which Jews were discriminated against in these industries as a group, if at all. Meanwhile INA branched out into homeowners insurance in the 1960’s, a business model rife with discrimination by race at that time, which was not illegal. Maybe you can tell us your first hand experience as an executive in that company in regards to how they treated black homeowners.

  11. “He [Blow] has absolutely nothing to say about the needs of the children who are busy being born today.”

    One of the needs of children being born today is to learn their history.

    Why is that bad? It may even inspire them. This notion that it is necessarily “traumatizing” may reveal more about Somerby’s reaction than the reaction he assumes others have.

    It makes Somerby uncomfortable. At least we know that.

  12. 'In our view, Maddow should be humanely led away, never to be heard from again'

    Naturally, since you're a hard code malevolent Trumptard in exile who spent the last 4 years of his pathetic existence trying to get Trump re-elected.

    Fortunately, Somerby is so pathetic that he ended up being a useless idiot for Trump, rather than a useful idiot that he wants to be. Somerby doubtless prefers other Trumptards like Carlson. What a pathetic, miserable loser.

    1. You're delusional.

    2. Somerby gallantly defended Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes and DJ Trump. Recently, he's been defending Gaetz as well. He concern trolled liberals and anti-Trumpers for the last 4 years. He denounced all the Dem primary candidates as awful.

      The only delusional people are those who believe Somerby is some kind of liberal, whereas he is clearly a Trumptard

  13. TDH: “As for the rest of us here in Our Town, we're the ones who insist on letting this nonsense continue. We love love love our favorite star's "performance of the Rachel figure." According to major anthropologists, this is the way it's always been, and there's no reason to think it will change.”

    The anthropologists are correct because these cable shows exist to satisfy a for-profit business model without any obligation to inform citizens. About 3 to 4 million people watch Maddow each week compared to 15 to 20 million who listen to right-wing hate radio. These outlets exist to attract bored, ignorant Americans and to channel them into tribes of loyal viewers, which means profits for big corporations (the highest goal of life in the USA).

    As for Charles Blow, he may be wallowing in the traumatic past, but I respect that it is part of his strategy to create a new Black Power movement centered in the Southern states. He talks about it in his new book. He wants Blacks to move to the South and concentrate their numbers in states with large Black populations and become the majority in those states. It is hard to criticize this since our corporate owners and their mass media decided the goal of life in the USA is to have a racially obsessed mindset of fear. The next stage is likely to be just what Blow has proposed, with each vulnerable minority building concentrated racial enclaves to gain safety and power.

    1. The whining over recent boycotts shows that Urban voters hold the real economic and consumer power and the GOP knows it.

  14. US economy has added more jobs in 4 months of Biden presidency than last 3 republican presidents combined.

  15. A billionaire citizen pointed out several years back that for some reason the economy does better under Democratic presidents. Prescient. That was Donald Trump.