These things can happen to you watching cable!


Major star, unabashedly bawling her eyes out: As our nation slides toward the sea—as Putin chuckles about all the winning—remarkable things can happen to you as you watch "cable news" broadcasts.

For starters, consider what seems to have happened on CNN yesterday afternoon. 

In Minneapolis, testimony was being taken from the medical examiner who conducted the official autopsy of the late George Floyd. Under direction examination by special prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, the medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, said this:

BLACKWELL (4/9/21): You didn't mention either fentanyl or meth in Mr. Floyd's system—well, you mentioned those [in the official autopsy report], but you don't list either of them on the top line as causes of death. Why is that?

BAKER: Well, the top line of the cause of death is really what you think is the most important thing that precipitated the death. Other things that you think played a role in the death, but were not direct causes, get relegated to what's known as the "other significant conditions" part of the death certificate.

So, the "other significant conditions" are things that played a role in the death, but didn't directly cause the death. So, for example, you know, Mr. Floyd's use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint. His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint.

BLACKWELL: So these are items that may have contributed, but weren't the direct cause?

BAKER: Correct.

BLACKWELL: No further questions, Dr. Baker.

Blackwell is a corporate lawyer who has been brought on to handle this one prosecution.

In that exchange, Baker rather clearly said that Floyd's "use of fentanyl," and his "heart disease," played a role in his death, but "didn't directly cause the death."

He said those factors contributed, or "may have contributed," to Floyd's death, but he said they weren't "the direct cause" of the death.

It was perfectly clear that that's what Baker said. Check that—it was perfectly clear until CNN  broke away from the courtroom. 

CNN broke away from the courtroom right where our excerpt stops. The prosecution had no further questions for Dr. Baker. Now it was time to discuss what Dr. Baker had said.

Instantly, CNN broke away from the courtroom. And when CNN broke away from the courtroom, Brooke Baldwin instantly said this:

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST (continuing directly): The piece, that legal piece at the very end, this whole crescendo to, you know, to this chief medical examiner, heart disease or drugs, you know, none of that with regard to Mr. Floyd contributed to his death, so says the chief there.

According to the CNN transcript, that's what Baldwin said. According to the CNN transcript, she instantly flatly misstated what the medical examiner had just said.

We can find no tape of this mid-afternoon broadcast. We're forced to rely on the CNN transcript with respect to what Baldwin said.

Surely, though, no one who has ever watched "cable news" would doubt that a howling error of this type could have occurred. That's especially true in a matter like this, where all three of our nation's "cable news" channels have well-established rooting interests in the way this case should be understood and discussed.

In our view, Baldwin is a (minor) cut above the typical cable news host. She isn't dumb, and she isn't a clown. 

At one time, those would have seemed like "left-handed compliments." In the current cable environment, they count as words of significant praise, if not as a full endorsement.

In our view, Baldwin is a cut above the typical cable news host. Still, assuming the CNN transcript is accurate, it's hardly surprising to see her make the comment in question, especially in a matter where her channel, and the whole of Our Town, has an obvious rooting interest.

At one time, round-the-clock cable news may have seemed like a good idea. In practice, round-the-clock news has turned out to be a journalistic and cultural disaster.

Instant error is one of its norms. So is the gigantic clowning which often substitutes for serious reporting and analysis as multimillionaire "cable news" hosts 1) struggle for ways to fill endless hours of time, and 2) try to make themselves even more popular with their tribal target audience.

Bungles like Baldwin's can happen to you as you watch cable news. That's especially true where a rooting interest is at play at some particular channel. The overpaid stars of these corporate channels will often have their thumbs and their butt-cheeks on the scale for twenty-four hours per day. 

Also, you may encounter the kind of clowning in which Baldwin rarely engages. For an example of that, consider what happened to people who watched Our Own Rhodes Scholar on her eponymous program last night.

The scholar hadn't appeared on her Thursday night program. Last night, we apparently found out why.

At the start of last night's show, the scholar devoted her first twelve minutes to a rambling discussion of the fact that she had received her Johnson & Johnson Covid shot the day before. 

As she frequently does, the cable star rambled on and on about her latest experience. "I I I I I I I," our angry young analysts constantly cried as the star discussed herself.

As she frequently does, the star talked down to her hapless viewers; presented herself like a 4-year-old child; and, most enjoyably, shared two of the photos she took of herself after she got her shot.

As viewers, we got to see two of the selfies. We got to see one of them twice! We even got to see the cable star affix her vaccination sticker to her own forehead! 

"Do I have it on straight?" the cable star childishly asked, making a face as she did. 

In the course of showing us the selfies, the cable star critiqued the clothes she had been wearing that day, not forgetting to tell us what a "dork" she is. She discussed the baseball cap she'd been wearing, not failing to lament the unsightly binder clip she had absent-mindedly attached to one side of its bill.

She also described the way she behaved when she got her hot. According to the cable star, she "just sat there crying for half an hour" after receiving her shot. 

"I sat there bawling my eyes out," the multimillionaire corporate-owned TV star said.

In fairness, the star attributed this reaction to her "wooziliness"—to  the fact that she gets "woozily" when she has to get a shot. Later, she said, again and again, that she and many others feel "oogie" about getting shots, using the kind of little girl language she often employs when speaking in her own voice.

(As employed, "oogie" rhymes with "boogie." She used the baby-talk term again and again as she discussed her long-standing favorite topic—as she discussed herself.)

"I don't know what they thought of me sitting there for half an hour crying like I was reading Old Yeller over and over again," the very strange star later said. To the cable star, we'll only say this:

We do know what they thought of her as she star there for half an hour bawling her eyes out. 

With respect to a similar point of concern, the cable star said this about the way she looks in one of her selfies: "If you'll notice, I look a little crazy in the photo, even beyond the weird hat." 

With respect to the cable star, we'll only say this:

We often that she seems a little crazy, given the things she says and does when she's on the air. We also know that her employers will never act on this obvious fact, but also that we cable viewers here in Our Town will never be able to notice or wonder about this apparent problem..

Maddow is widely loved in Our Town; Putin finds that fact hilarious. We plan to discuss this matter next week, although we'll do so understanding that nothing is going to change.

Rachel Maddow, Our Own Rhodes Scholar, seems to be unable to stop talking about herself. When she does discuss herself, she constantly construes herself as a little girl who feels "oogie" and "woozily" about this or possibly that.

Here in Our Town, we're so dumb that we find this conduct amusing, endearing and smart. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, and the autocrats think they will win.

Two selfies of Maddow happened to viewers who watched cable last bight. She burned away her first twelve minutes in this stupid but highly familiar way. From there, she wasted even more time in another remarkable way:

She burned away additional time discussing the apparent misdeeds of Matt Gaetz's friend. At this point, it's dumb and tabloid-level corrupt to burn major minutes on Gaetz himself. It's about a million times dumber to burn away time on his friend, and only Our Own Scholar does it.

What won't you hear on this cable star's show? Consider this news report from Thursday's New York Times. The news report appeared beneath this headline:

         A Novel Effort to See How Poverty Affects Young Brains

The news report discusses the deficits faced by kids who grow up in poverty. Discussions like that won't happen to you when you watch this cable star's TV show. You will never have to confront the boredom endemic to topics like that. The cable star doesn't care.

She bawled her eyes out for half an hour. Most likely, we do know what people thought, but she's too valuable to her employers to be helped, or removed from the air.

Who will help us cable viewers here in the failing world of Our Town? A world away, Putin feels he knows the answer—he suspects that nobody will!

We'd love to link you, but: No transcript is available yet.


  1. "She isn't dumb, and she isn't a clown."

    She's a dembot, dear Bob, like everyone else employed by CNN.

    You might have this weird belief that one can be dembot but not a clown, dear Bob, and of course you have the right to your opinion, but we feel (with all due respect) that's bordering on mental illness. Tsk.

    Oh, and incidentally: are you, by chance, outraged at the media not openly discussing certain politician's obvious cognitive decline? Knowing your flawless integrity in these matters, we are wondering. Please do tell, dear Bob.

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  2. You cannot prove that bungling is a common condition on a cable news station by presenting one error. Similarly, you cannot claim that error was caused by bias, by only presenting one error. There needs to be a pattern of mistakes to make these claims.

    Somerby's efforts to portray cable news as both biased and prone to error have largely focused on nitpicks and his own mistakes, couple with repeated claims that have never been proven to anyone's satisfaction except Somerby's.

    This is a tiresome smear campaign against cable news.

  3. “We're newly returned from receiving our first vaccination shot. 
    Let's just say that a fair amount of confusion prevailed, mainly concerning which were the red seats and which were the orange seats, along with which were the black seats and which were the blue.
    These questions arose as people were told where to sit as they waited to schedule their second appointments. That said, nothing's perfect, and a whole lot of good got done. 
    We sat in various seats, waiting for our second appointment to be scheduled. As we did, our eyes fell upon this front-page headline in our hard-copy Washington Post:”

    “We we we we”

    Kevin Drum does a weekly post about his cats, and he frequently posts updates about his health. Presumably, he may feel that his readers might care about his personal life a little. One could take the Somerby approach and attack Drum with “I I I I”, if you ignore all of the other things he posts about.

    Those who care about Bob Somerby may presumably be interested in his Covid vaccine experience.

    And those who watch Maddow may be interested in her personal experience. It doesn’t mean she only talks about herself, nor does it signal the end of America when she shares her Covid vaccine experience.

    1. Drum doesn't and wouldn't waste TV time doing it.

    2. Public figures frequently post pics or video of themselves getting the vaccine. Why is that a waste of time? It encourages others to get the vaccine.

      And, Maddow will tell us about her Covid vaccination experience exactly once, whereas Drum has recurring personal posts.

      I don’t have a problem with either.

    3. By the way, I had my two shots at a King Sooper store, like the one that was shot up. It was highly efficient and not at all disorganized. We were asked to wait for 15 minutes after each shot to be sure there were no adverse reactions and we were safe to drive home. Somerby may have perceived that part as disorganization, if they didn't tell him why he had to wait after the shot.

      Kevin Drum's cat pictures started the tradition of Friday cat-blogging, now abandoned as the internet has become more professionalized. I enjoy his pictures of Orange County because I used to live there. Over the years, Drum has come to feel like a friend and many of us worry about his health problems.

      Somerby doesn't share much that is truly personal. It is hard to trust anything he says, which undermines a human connection with him. Maddow does share, but I don't think we would be friends in real life and I too find her over-animated nonsense annoying, to the extent that I watch for news and not companionship. All those Fox and Friends, Joe & Mika, the View, and other talk shows are trying to become friends with their audience because that promotes regular viewing and is good for their numbers and ultimate success. It isn't a crime and it fulfills a need for viewers. I don't see the harm in it, but Somerby may be more on the hermit/curmudgeon scale and not appreciate human connection. I find myself wondering if he has a cat or dog.

  4. Bob is so right about her. She's just so cloyingly trite.

    1. “Cloying. Trite.”... Not a substantive critique. It’s called Maddow Derangement Syndrome.

    2. One criticism is how she promoted the Trump Russia collusion story, which was always obviously totally false, by swallowing whole everything powerful National Security people told her. She misinformed her viewers so deeply. She behaved despicably - and yes was cloying, odious and so insincere and fake while she did. She is repulsive on so many levels.

    3. Except it isn't false.

    4. Trump and Russia didn't collude. Sorry.

    5. The idea that it took a foreign country to get Right-wingers to vote for an obvious bigot, like Trump, is a total misunderstanding of the political climate.

    6. Yes, it's a total misunderstanding of the world. That's the point. But misunderstanding is too nice a word. It was a charge that was always totally ludicrous but she went on about for years and years.

    7. Yeah, it was Russia, and not the country's white supremacy fetish that won Trump the Presidency. LOL.

    8. Maddow and many other media whores misinformed their viewers deeply on false Trump Russia narrative.

    9. Then those whores tried to cover it up, by calling the racism of Trump supporters "economic anxiety".

    10. Maddow misinformed her viewers on the false Trump Russia narrative and is so cloyingly trite.

    11. Relax. No one fell for it.
      Everyone knows the GOP is the party of white supremacy, no matter what Maddow spews.

    12. Oh. OK. Thanks for that powerful insight.

    13. The media misinformed the public on the false narrative that Republicans aren't just bigots.

    14. 11:40,
      Those same whores spent 2016 pretending to care that Republicans were pretending to care about Hillary Clinton's email protocols.

    15. Thank you for that riveting insight.

  5. "A Novel Effort to See How Poverty Affects Young Brains"

    You'll never see topics like this discussed here. Somerby isn't interested. Today, he only uses this topic to bash Maddow, not to discuss poverty and children.

    1. Somerby's sole concern about children is defending the likes of Zimmerman who kill them and Roy Moore, who stalks them. Not to mention worshipping the likes of Trump who make sexual comments about their own daughters.

      Somerby is not just a Trumptard, he's a hypocritical Trumptard.

    2. From what did he defend Zimmerman?

    3. Against murder charges.

    4. Zimmerman was acquitted of all those charges. You would rather he not defend an innocent man from a rabid, over reaching press?

      How precisely did he defend Roy Moore?

    5. 4:0-freaking-4, do you understand the organizing principle of this site? If you did, you would know that if the reporters Somerby writes about do not discuss such a topic, that it makes zero sense for Somerby to launch his own extended discussion of said topic.

    6. Reporters do write on topics such as education and child development. Somerby ignores them because the organizing principle of this blog is to worship Donald Trump, and defend Roy Moore (in a dozen articles), Ron Johnson, Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes etc.

    7. Oh, and to add to my previous post the organizing principle of this blog is to be a Trumptard, and defend despicable stalkers such as Roy Moore. Or nitpick about typos as if that is a matter of great import. Because Somerby pent 4 years trying to be a useful idiot for Trump, but ended up as a useless idiot.

    8. How precisely did he defend Roy Moore?

    9. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges. Somerby was defending an innocent man. Unlike you, he didn't CRUMPED! ;)

    10. Somerby spent a dozen posts gallantly defending Moore's stalking of underage girls, and desperately trying to get him elected. But he failed, just as he failed in his Trump worship. Naturally, Somerby's fellow travelers ignore that, because they are Trumptards, like Anon 10:57-58.

    11. How precisely did he defend Roy Moore's stalking of underage girls?

      Your statements don't contain any information.

    12. 5:40 Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges.

    13. Centrist hasn't thought through his claims. Centrist, are you going to play a fool your whole life?

    14. Somerby spent a dozen posts commenting on how it was common to date younger women, and ignoring Moore's stalking of underage girls. And of course, the hypocrisy of a ten commandments supporter stalking.

      Anon 12:30, are you going to spend your whole life defending a Trumptard, just as gallantly as he defends Turner, Moore, , Nunes, Jordan, and Gaetz and tries to be a useful idiot for Trump. Best of luck, Somerbot !

    15. Oh, and naturally Somerbots think it's pefectly acceptable to stalk teenage girls, just as it's acceptable to stalk and kill teenage boys, or cover up wrestling scandals or defend Gaetz. Trumptards gotaa stick together, LOL.

    16. Not only is Centrist right about Somerby and Roy Moore, on top of that Somerby has a huge, ginormous problem with John F Kennedy raping his intern.

      Even though we all know she was begging for it.

    17. (raped his *teenage* intern)

      Somerby acts like this is a huge problem.

    18. Centrist - this is not at all precise: "Somerby spent a dozen posts commenting on how it was common to date younger women, and ignoring Moore's stalking of underage girls."

      How precisely did he defend Roy Moore's stalking of underage girls?

    19. Most of the Moore "girls" were NOT underage -- which Bob pointed out.

      There were only two who accused him of misconduct -- one, really -- not "eight," as Lawrence O'Donnell kept lying about, and,

      It was INDEED very common then for "girls" to go after guys in their 20s and vice versa. Still is!

    20. Centrist confuses being precise about the facts with advocacy. He is so used to swallowing imprecise, novelized versions of real-world events from the profit-seeking charlatans to whom he turns for information, that's all he knows or understands.

      He can't even begin to play this here game. He can't even get dressed to go to the stadium!

    21. Has he fallen for the "border crisis" yet?

  6. 'Here in Our Town, we're so dumb that we find this conduct amusing, endearing and smart'

    You mean your town of hard core malevolent Trumptards, people who worship Trump, and defend Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes, Matt Gaetz and others ? That's your town, and Somerby's desperate attempts to be a useful idiot for Trump failed, with his becoming a useless idiot instead.

  7. No Centrist, he means you, and he means you; and he's quite right.

    1. I'm a Centrist, not a liberal. And I never watch Maddow, indeed I don't even have TV.

      So I'm not part of whatever town Somerby claims to be part of, and certainly not a part of the town of Trump worshipping, defenders of Roy Moore, Matt Gaetz, Ron Johnson, Nunes, Jordan etc. (i.e. the town of Trumptards) that Somerby is actually a member of.

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