STOPPED MAKING SENSE: Lawrence and Rachel could hardly be dumber!


Our Corporate Clowns, all the way down: Who's the dumbest major figure in the history of "cable news?"

We're not asking who's most diabolical. We asking who's the dumbest.

For ourselves, we'd have to throw Rachel Maddow into the list of contenders. Her performance last night was steady-state Dumb from beginning to end, with a bit of her persistent Revulsion for The Others thrown in as she began.

(That revulsion is always disguised.)

Maddow would do quite well on an IQ test. As a cable news star, she's just endlessly dumb.

Her political instincts are constantly lacking. She's also a full-blown loather of Others, though she works  to disguise this fact.

Last night, her various segments were so dumb that it would take a book to chronicle them. In Ulysses, Joyce built a lengthy if largely unreadable classic out of a single day in the life. 

You could build a primer on Political / Journalistic Dumbness out of last night's single hour.

Maddow's dumbness has been visible for a long time. From the beginning, it's been joined to her truly massive egotism—her massive self-involvement. 

Over the years, she has produced one ridiculous incident or episode after another, but none of these episodes get discussed. Maddow is too popular here within Our Own Hapless and Failing Blue Tribe.

Members of the Red Tribe have been unable to see through a succession of failed public figures, up to and including the deeply disordered Donald J. Trump. Over here in our own Blue Tribe, we've been completely unable to see the shortcomings and failures of Maddow.

Maddow is one of the (many) reasons why the republic's in peril. For today, though, let's focus on a simple question:

Just how dumb can "cable news" get in matters involving Our Scholar?

Our nation finds itself in a time of great peril. Many people have noticed this fact and have said so. 

But even as the state of peril advances, the people we love on Our own Cable News can't seem to quit The Dumbness.

How dumb can it get where Maddow's involved—Maddow, Our Own Eternal Child? For starters, consider the insulting lunacy from last Thursday night, when Lawrence went there again.

The program started in a familiar way. Rachel was talking about herself, as she incessantly does:

MADDOW (9/23/21): And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Man, when it rains, it pours. We've got news to break on a few different fronts tonight. There is a lot going on.

Today started out as a normal Thursday and we had sort of a normal Thursday day planned. And as we got closer and closer to show time, it turned into leak time. It turned into like "leak Christmas." 

"Leak," not as potatoes and leeks, but like leaks, newsworthy leaks. And then it turned into "subpoena Christmas."

So we threw out in its entirety everything we planned on doing tonight and started a whole new series of stories. So I will tell you in advance, there may be a little more hurly burly than usual, because so many of these stories are breaking at the last minute and developing as we're reporting them

But let's just get into it. Forgive me any straying into the margins and veering out of the lanes a little bit. But let me tell you what we`ve been working on. First, we`re going to start with Arizona...

Quickly, a bit of background:

Increasingly, Maddow has been starting her program with complaints about the way "breaking news" has forced her to discard the program she'd planned to do that night 

For someone being paid millions of corporate dollars per year to supervise a staff of twenty, you'd think such irritations might be seen as par for the course—as "part of the business we've chosen." 

Increasingly, Maddow has complained about this point of annoyance at the start of her hour-long programs. On this occasion, though, Maddow wasn't complaining. 

Instead, she was chuckling about the "hilarious" news emerging from Arizona. Somewhat oddly, she was chuckling about some hilarious news she wasn't willing to describe.

For perhaps the ten millionth time, she described the way the ridiculous group called Cyber Ninjas had been conducting a review of Arizona election results. At that point, she told us this:

MADDOW: Well, I can tell you tonight that there has been a document circulating all day today in Arizona journalism circles. It is a document that purports to be a near final draft of the Arizona audit report, the results of the Arizona so-called audit. 

Now, in addition to this circulating in Arizona journalism circles tonight, I have to tell you that we have reviewed it. I have reviewed it.

It's three whole volumes—how best to put this—other than to tell you that its purported conclusions are objectively hilarious. 

We are not going to report on the contents of that purported draft tonight because, even though multiple sources have told us that it is legit, we tracked down many sources today who all confirmed today that that is a close to final draft of the results that are going to be released tomorrow, we frankly, despite that multiple source confirmation, we just do not trust anything, anything, anything that has come from anywhere near this clown show process in Arizona.

So even though I can report to you with confidence and with personal knowledge that there is widely circulating in Arizona a draft of the purported results, we will wait. They will release their supposed results tomorrow, 1 P.M. local time, 4 P.M. Eastern time. Trump world will lose their minds regardless of what it is they are going to report, but we will wait to see what they actually say. So, there's that.

I will tell you, once the final results, such as they are, are released, one of the things that will be interesting to see is whether or not they revised those results from what appears to be the near final draft once it starts circulating in journalist circles and gives people a chance to laugh at it.

Anyway, like I said, when it rains it pours and news has been developing over the course of the day and into tonight...

That didn't exactly make sense. She wasn't willing to vouch for the contents of the draft report. She left open the possibility that the draft report would be changed.

On the other hand, she was willing to say that, when the final report was released on Friday, it would be "objectively hilarious." People would have the chance "to laugh at it," she entertainingly said.

We'll take a guess. We'll guess that the network hadn't given permission for the contents of the draft report to be described on the air.. 

We'll also guess that Maddow felt sure that the official report would say what it actually did the next day—that Biden had indeed beaten Trump in Maricopa County. That finding is what was going to be "objectively hilarious."

On Friday night, Maddow went on and on—then on and on—about how "hilarious" that outcome actually was. On balance, she failed to have enough savvy to see that TrumpWorld would simply misstate what the Ninjas had found—or that the Ninjas would include all sorts of suggestive claims which would serve to reinforce TrumpWorld's claim that "election reform" is needed, along with many more "audits."

On Friday night, Our Eternal Child indulged herself in this latest source of hilarity. We liberals turn to Rachel for entertainment as much as for anything else.

As dumb as Friday night's performance was, that isn't the Dumbness to which we want to call your attention today. We want to call your attention to the dumbness which ensued when Rachel performed the "handover" to Lawrence at 10 P.M. Thursday night. 

The astonishing dumbness of this event began in a reasonably innocent way. After Maddow's program ended, the handover started with a promise that Friday would also be "nuts." For Lawrence's transcript, click here:

MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night, which I have a feeling is going to be just as nuts.

Now, it's time for The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

O'DONNELL: Good evening, Rachel. We have Congressman Schiff joining us on the subpoenas from the January 6 committee, fascinating, hard-hitting fast subpoena schedule. You've got two weeks to give us the documents. A week after that we're going to do your deposition, really stacking them up fast. We're eager to get to that.

As Thursday's program ended, Rachel said that Friday night would also be "nuts." Translation: 

Silly Children that we are, we'd get to have a lot of fun on Friday night's program too!

Lawrence responded by citing his upcoming interview with Rep. Schiff. But then the Monster Truck Dumbness began, started, as it's done many times in the past:

O'DONNELL (continuing directly): But, Rachel, I just want to—I have the most—

The most common question I get out there in the world about MSNBC is, "How does Rachel do it?" And I always say, "She's the hardest working person I know."

But tonight I don't know how she did it, okay? Because, because I am aware, let's say half-aware, of how hard you were working today on the Arizona story and how much—how far down that road into the Arizona story you were, and how late in the game you were on that road.

MADDOW: Uh-huh.

O'DONNELL: And then your show comes on, and somewhere you have—you've made the judgment, the news judgment that you can't use what you found. We`re going to wait 24 hours or less and—wise judgment. 

But you then pull this other show out from somewhere that fills—that's a whole hour of a TV show that as far as I know didn't exist about an half and a hour before you went on TV.

So now I officially do not know. I have no idea how Rachel does it. I just don't know.

This familiar "fawning over Rachel" exchange has become rather familiar during the last year or so. We've puzzled over why Lawrence does it. The fact is, we still don't know.

It's always possible that he means it—that he isn't slyly mocking Rachel's egotism, or simply trying to extend his own career. 

But of one thing we can be sure—Rachel is ready to go there. Last Thursday, she gave this response:

MADDOW (continuing directly): You know, you're very kind. I had no idea where this was going when you started this line of inquiry. 

I will say, for close watchers of MSNBC, if you go back to the handover between Chris Hayes and me, you will note that at the very beginning of the show, I'm going like this. And I'm off screen still typing what's going to be on the show in the A block, because everything, we did have an entire show completely unrelated to what was on the air.

And then all of that stuff broke, including the Steven Hatfill stuff that broke about the coronavirus response. Luckily we were able to get Jamie Raskin here to talk about both the breaking news from the January 6 investigation and the breaking news from the COVID investigation, because he is on both. And the Arizona stuff has been Mr. Toad`s wild ride all day today. You are absolutely correct about that.

I am—I'm going to go sleep in my car. I don't think I can even make it home. I'm just a mess.

Just for the record, "the Steven Hatfill stuff" couldn't have been more trivial, except in the part of Rachel's mind which wants to Lock Everyone Up and Talk About Nothing Else.

 Meanwhile, though, poor Rachel! She was going to have to sleep in her car, she'd worked so hard all day! Truly, Rachel was a mess. By her own account!

For the record, Rachel has played similar cards since she first went on the air. By her own admission, she frequently admits that she  couldn't get to sleep at night, she was so concerned about some major topic.

By her own admission, Rachel is always a little more caring than everyone else. On this night, if they go back to the 8 P.M. handover from Hayes, historians will note that, at the very beginning of the show, she was still offscreen typing that night's actual program!

We've wondered, for some time, if Lawrence is mocking Rachel's self-involvement when  he triggers responses like this. Whatever the answer, Rachel is always ready to talk about herself, and about her giant kampf.

The sheer stupidity of this exchange already had our analysts crying and tearing their hair. But the familiar foolishness wasn't over yet. The clowning continued from there as Lawrence continued to bait his more popular colleague:

O'DONNELL (continuing directly): If I had a whole show planned and it got kind of we made the judgment that we can't do that at the last minute, I'd be sitting here reading weather reports or something. I don`t have another show. Rachel, there is no another show. I don`t have another one in my back pocket. I don`t. You`re walking around with a couple of shows ready to go at all times?

MADDOW: No. This is—this is an occupational hazard. You make it happen. Luckily when the news proceeds this fast, you kick something to the curb and let the rest of the traffic hit you. Any way, you are very kind, my friend. Thank you very much.

Rachel took the bait again, discussing the obvious greatness of her sprawling sacrifice. Unmentioned was the staff of twenty with whom she prepares her show.

Meanwhile, full disclosure! For mandated reasons of corporate branding, we're supposed to believe that Lawrence is Rachel's "friend!" For mandated reasons of corporate branding, everyone on this corporate channel extends this appellation to everyone else. It's part of the way we rubes get conned!

At this point, you'd almost think the bullshit had to be over. Actually, no—it wasn't:

O'DONNELL (continuing directly): By the way, we're going to be joined by Senator Rebecca Rios, the Democratic leader of the Senate in Arizona to—

MADDOW: Oh, good.

O'DONNELL: —give her preview of what she is expecting tomorrow when the results of this thing that has been called a "fraudit" in Arizona is released. So we`ll see what she can tell us.

MADDOW: I can—you can tell—

Regardless of what they say, you know that the Trump world is going to light itself on proverbial fire over whatever the results are in Arizona, whether they match these purported draft documents that were circulating today that we obtained and that other news organizations obtained, whether they're something totally unrelated, whether they match all the fraud hysteria and all the conspiracy theories and wildest dreams or whether they wet blanket the whole thing. Either way, Trump World is going to be absolutely bananas tomorrow, which is why I have to figure out some way to sleep tonight, because we got to be ready for that.

O'DONNELL: Rachel "I Don't Know How She Does It" Maddow. Thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: See you tomorrow, Rachel. Thank you.

Lawrence's fawning knows no bounds. We've never been able to figure if he could actually be sincere.

At any rate, the foolishness finally stopped. By her own admission, Rachel was going to "have to figure out some way to sleep tonight," difficult though that would be.

(This is all part of the process known as "selling the car." Rachel tends to present herself as Just Like Us except A Million Times More.)

When corporate cable stars play us that way, we're being treated like fools. We still can't tell you why Lawrence does it, but on Monday night, there he went again.

At Rachel handed off at 10, he played tape from eleven years back. It had been his program's first night,  his first handover from Rachel. 

After the pair of cable stars noted how great they both still look, Lawrence started the fawning all over again, with Rachel joining in:

O'DONNELL (9/27/21): So suddenly, there was a live show at 10 P.M., and you had a little job to do at the end. And Rachel, because you say "Good evening" to me in this show every night, you have kept this show here for 11 years, because we wouldn't be here without the strongest, greatest lead-in we could possibly have.

MADDOW: That is very kind of you to say. It's also crazy talk. You have been here for these 11 years because you`re freaking fantastic. And—listen, getting to three years in cable news means that you`re a senior citizen. Getting to eleven years in cable news means, you are an institution and an icon. And you and The Last Word deserve it, and another eleven after this. And I just want you to stay exactly where you are.

According to Rachel, because he's been on the air eleven years, Lawrence is an icon.

She's been on the air thirteen years! You can probably take it from there.

We've skipped the bulk of the bullshit from Monday night. But this is a type of multimillionaire corporate bullshit which simply never stops.

None of this explains the dumbness which ran all through Maddow's program last night. Having said that, we'll add this:

Last Friday night, Maddow actually quoted at length from Robert Kagan's guest essay in the Washington Post. Quite correctly, that lengthy essay describes the massive peril this nation is in.

In fact, Kagan understates the degree of peril. For today, our statement is this:

When people persist, in the face of such peril, in the kind of stupidity we've shown you above, these people need to be taken off the air. 

In our assessment, it's too late for us to hope for a decent resolution of our current peril. 

It's entirely possible that Donald J. Trump will end up in the White House again. If that occurs, the endless mugging and clowning of Maddow—along with her horrible journalistic judgment—will be one of the ways Our Failing Blue Tribe helped bring the American experiment, such as it was, to its disastrous end.

Full disclosure! We're being consulted by Cassandra, daughter of Priam, as we make our gloomy projections. But the sheer stupidity of the "corporate cable" wing of our tribe has never been more clear.

You see it from Rachel every night. It doesn't mean that she's a "bad person." It simply means that she shouldn't be on the air.

You see it from Rachel every night, but by now, it pops up everywhere blue voters might look. Our tribe stopped making sense long ago, assuming it ever did.

Tomorrow: Conspiracy? Hotel Rwanda?


  1. Turns out Biden curb-stomped Trump in Arizona's Presidential Election even more than was first reported.

    1. There is also a false version of the report circulating on the right that says what they want to hear. That may have contributed to the caution about reporting on an unreleased report.

      ""The Fake News is lying about the Arizona audit report!" he said in a Sept. 24 statement. "The leaked report conclusively shows there were enough fraudulent votes, mystery votes, and fake votes to change the outcome of the election 4 or 5 times over."

      Social media posts parroting Trump's claim, as well as articles from conservative websites like the Gateway Pundit, accumulated thousands of interactions within a few days, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool. Some sites spun the audit results to say Trump actually won the state."

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  2. Jeez, Bob, must you have all these nauseating dembot quotations? It's positively unbearable.

    Anyhow, thank you for documenting the dembot atrocities.

  3. From a producer's standpoint, the only question about the handoff banter is 'how long was it?', ie. 'how much time did it kill?'.

    The handoff banter only exists to kill time. The O'Donnell producer lets the Maddow producer know how short they are and they come up with a number, then the hosts play kiss the ring for as long as they can to kill time because the show is short.

    1. FDR, this is pretty obviously true. They are stretching to fill time.

      If Maddow is telling the truth and she did have to revise her show at the last minute, it isn't surprising that it might run short. O'Donnell is doing his job, just as Maddow would for Chris Hayes if he were running short.

      It is in O'Donnell's interest to say nice things about Maddow because she has the lead-in show to his own. The bigger her audience, the bigger his will be, since he will be hoping to retain her viewers.

      Somerby's speculations about how O'Donnell actually feels about Maddow are specious and irrelevant. They are all one big happy family, as far as viewers are concerned. Engaging in drama of the sort that Rachel Nichols did with her remarks about her coworkers will hurt them in contract negotiations. They are expected to be team players, as employees are expected to behave in most workplaces.

    2. As if Somerby weren't also making ASSumptions!

    3. It's naive to think the hand off banter is not done to build both talking heads' brands. As far as the argument that it is being done out of necessity, we didn't use to see this done years ago during transitions between shows. Also, why not just show a commercial if you just need to fill time. It's a chance for the heads to fawn over each others work, reinforce their star status, and attempt to get viewers roped into another program via their connection with the host they know and like. Think it over!

    4. How many live shows did you see then?

      Using a commercial will advertise that the show may be having trouble finding sponsors, since the paid ads are scheduled in advance, not just grabbed and used as filler. PSAs are used that way, but they signal that a show is failing to attract sponsors.

      The rest of what you said pretty much agrees with the other commenters above.

    5. "Handoffs, also known as “tosses,” are a TV trick, a kind of ruse pulled on viewers. Previously, there used to be a block of commercials separating the end of one prime-time cable program and the start of another. But the networks’ audience wizards found that commercial breaks were like a green flag for viewers to switch channels. Hence, the handoff, which is designed to ease viewers from one show to the next, with nary a flinch of the remote control."

      Within that context, they are used for branding and time killing. The producer just wants to kill time.

      The only reason Maddow is famous is because she is so good at killing time - going on ad nauseam without letting the wine moms who watch her get bored. It's the exact same as Limbaugh and Hannity. These are broadcasters who are good at talking a lot and saying nothing. Killing time is the whole game.

    6. Maddow talking about how she changed her stories and how the show is going to be hurly burly is killing time. None of those statements contain any real information. She's the queen of killing time. She's great at it.

  4. "Instead, she was chuckling about the "hilarious" news emerging from Arizona. Somewhat oddly, she was chuckling about some hilarious news she wasn't willing to describe."

    Excerpt for the chuckling part, this is exactly what Somerby does. Today he rants about her dumbness without ever telling us what he considers to be dumb in her reporting.

    If Somerby liked Maddow a little more as a person, her remarks about the difficulties of putting the day's show together wouldn't have bothered him so much. When you hate someone, just the sound of their breathing can get on your nerves, but are they wrong to continue breathing?

    Maddow has found a formula that has attracted a large audience. Somerby shouldn't begrudge her that, although he does. If she isn't to his taste, there are others he could be watching. Meanwhile, she isn't incompetent, she isn't spreading misinformation, she isn't a bad person, so he needs to move on and talk about the actual cretins on TV, such as Tucker Carlson.

    The fact that many people like Rachel Maddow does not suggest the demise of civilization. It suggests sour grapes on Somerby's part, since he cannot be supportive of a breakthrough person in a demanding job. In fact, he cannot be supportive of any folks in that situation, whether it is Don Lemon or Anderson Cooper or Gwen Ifill or Charles Blow. Or Biden or Kamala Harris, and don't get him started about Hillary and her lack of campaign skills!

    Somerby routinely attacks cable pundits on the left and defends conservative hacks (such as McConnell yesterday) while claiming to be liberal, but there is no evidence he has supported any liberals, so that claim is an obvious lie. Just like the ones about this AZ audit supporting voter fraud claims. A Somerby lie, among the many others told by the right.

  5. "On balance, she failed to have enough savvy to see that TrumpWorld would simply misstate what the Ninjas had found—or that the Ninjas would include all sorts of suggestive claims which would serve to reinforce TrumpWorld's claim that "election reform" is needed, along with many more "audits.""

    Somerby says she failed to anticipate that the right would lie some more, even though she cannot accuse them of planning to do that, but must wait until they have done it and then report their actions. Somerby's insistence that because she didn't anticipate their actions, she must be dumb, is ridiculous.

    If there were a big earthquake in Southern California, would Somerby call a reporter dumb because he didn't anticipate the earthquake on the previous day and warn everybody? They should have known, since earthquakes happen all the time there. Obviously, the reporter must still wait until one happens to report it. Same with the right telling their lies. You know they are gonna do it, but you still have to wait until they do, then report it.

    Somerby accusations against Maddow become increasingly ridiculous and unfair. It is clearly spite, but he never tells us why he hates her. Only that she is dumb (the adult equivalent of a child calling another child a doodoohead). Somerby lost any credibility as a media critic a long time ago, but this should put a nail in that coffin.

  6. It’s not the hand-off banter. It’s the endless yabbering build-up for some trifling gotcha-moment.

  7. So what’s Bob afraid of? If Trump gets elected he can just return to his exploration of Eisenstein or some other philosophy jabber as he does when the situation becomes too terrible for him to pretend he has the guts to face up to it like an adult.
    Insulting Maddow ( while ignoring the issues She raises) is a coping mechanism for Bob. But he gets to exercise his mean streak as well. After all, this is the guy who ridiculed the kids from Parkland.
    So what’s dumber than Maddow in cute mode? Obviously, and by miles and miles, the real eternal child: Bob.

  8. And that sounds just like our Somerby. A teasing, space-filling, stream-of-consciousness build-up to some trifling gotcha-moment (often incorrect) followed by boiler-plate ranting. His links often go back to himself, not any source and his teases are as often unfulfilled as realized when promised.

    It is nutso to attack Einstein for not knowing his own theory, and nutso to attack Obama for daring to have a presidential library. This guy you keep defending has a serious screw loose.

  9. Maddow will get 30 million dollars because she carries an entire cable news network dedicated to anonymices.

    Somerby writes a blog that causes you to pull out your hair.

    Who has a screw loose?

  10. Somerby, obviously, because he writes a blog pretending to be a liberal while spouting conservative garbage.

  11. There’s Bob, writing a blog read by slightly less than a million people and earning a tad less coin than Rachel too.

    He takes on Maddow, you’re here eating your liver every day over someone you think is crazy.

    It’s time you bought a mirror.

    1. I'm sure Maddow appreciates you working overtime to keep her tax rates low.