SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 2021
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?
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