WE CALL IT READING A BOOK: Did Pence call Quayle, or did Quayle call Pence?

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

We call it reading a transcript: Yesterday morning, we made a point of watching the segment in question.

The bodacious Bobcats, Woodward and Costa, were scheduled to appear on Morning Joe. Their new book was extremely hot—and as with many of Woodward's books, it may have been perhaps a bit  and somewhat shakily sourced.

An irony lurks in that possibility. Back in the day, Woodward and Bernstein became iconic journalistic figures due to their Watergate reporting for the Washington Post.

Out of that iconic episode, an iconic story emerged. They'd managed to get (almost) everything right because their editor, the iconic Ben Bradlee, had required two (2) sources for their factual claims.

That was then, but this is now. Yesterday, over at Slate, Fred Kaplan described an alleged problem with Woodward's current techniques:

KAPLAN (9/21/21): [Woodward's books] follow a pattern, so consistent, over the past few decades, that it might be dubbed “Woodwardian.” The author amasses vast quantities of scoops, some of them extraordinary. He subjects them to little, if any, analysis. Instead, he channels his anecdotes through the viewpoints of well-known characters, who tend to be either heroes (who often coincide with sources who have told him a lot) or villains (who usually haven’t).

Thar she blows! If you cooperate with Woodward, you get treated as a hero in his subsequent book. If you refuse to be interviewed, you find yourself cast as a goat. So runs one of the allegations about Woodward's allegedly shaky methods over the past many years.

We never discuss our conversations with high-ranking federal officials. But way back in the 1990s, one such high-ranking federal official voiced this very complaint to us, explaining why he had turned out to be one of the goats in Woodward's latest Clinton-era book.

(For the record, we have no way of knowing if what we were told was accurate.)

This allegation about Woodward's technique has been somewhat widely voiced in recent decades. As he continued, Kaplan expanded on his theme:

KAPLAN (continuing directly): This last trait is common among Washington journalists who rely too much on insider sources, but Woodward takes the practice to extremes. The main hero in Peril, as many have noted, is Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is portrayed as the warrior-savior who kept the world at peace during Donald Trump’s most turbulent outbursts. Milley exaggerates, and Woodward lets him...

Woodward’s credulity of his favored sources taints his own credibility on matters large and small. For instance, there’s a passage describing the events of June 1, 2020, as protests are erupting, some violent, in reaction to the police killing of George Floyd. News footage that day revealed Milley strutting through the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., in combat fatigues, as if he were inspecting the troops in wartime. He was much criticized for this and, 10 days later, apologized. But Woodward treats the general’s wardrobe as innocuous, writing, “Milley left the White House and headed downtown to visit the FBI command post monitoring the demonstrations. Expecting a late night, he changed into his uniform of camouflage fatigues to be more comfortable.”

I have no doubt this is the explanation Milley fed him. I am stunned that, after 45 years of high-level journalism, Woodward still lacks a functioning bullshit detector.

Kaplan goes on to explain why he says that Woodward has taken "bullshit" from General Milley and presented it as fact. These complaints about Woodward's methods never go away.

In this instance, Woodward has told readers what Milley was "expecting" on the day in question. He has also told readers why Milley changed into his camouflage fatigues, but he's done these things without reporting his sources—without explaining how he can know that what he has written is true.

Woodward rose to fame on the strength of requiring two sources. Today, traditional sourcing of any kind rarely exists in his books.

In Woodward's easy-reader books, we're offered highly novelized easy-reader tales. We're supposed to assume that his statements are accurate, with zero questions asked.

General Milley was the hero of the passages in this book which were released for promotional purposes. At the same time, a pleasing villain was offered—former Vice President Pence.

Last Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow pleased us rubes with the standard account of Pence's supposed behavior. Concerning Pence, this was her nugget presentation:

MADDOW (9/14/21): In this new book, one of the things that [Woodward and Costa] report is that Mike Pence, in their telling, was far more reluctant to do his job, far more reluctant to do his constitutional duty than the public narrative has suggested. Bottom line, Vice President Pence didn't ultimately accede to Trump's wishes to block the certification of the election, to overturn the election results, to leave Trump in power or to render the election results unknowable. But it was not, apparently, for a lack of him trying to find a way to do that.

Thus spake the bulk of the liberal world's Cablethustra! Tomorrow, we'll show you more of what Maddow said that night—but as always, her account was tribally pleasing in the ultimate way.

Question:

How does Maddow know that Woodward's account is accurate? Even if she's interpreting the book's presentation correctly—we're not assuming that she is—how does she know that Woodward's account isn't just the latest version of bullshit? The latest punishment of a possible source who refused to come across?

As she pleased us flunkies that night, Maddow read at length from the pleasing new book. At some points, Woodward is explicitly quoting what Quayle and Pence are said to have said to each other during the phone call in question.

Question: 

How is it possible for Woodward to quote the exact words these two fellows said? Did he have a tape? Did he have a transcript? What's the source for those quoted remarks?

Maddow, of course, didn't raise any such point. As he she performed her tribal services, Our Rhodes Scholar didn't ask.

Maddow's account was the first we saw of this exciting new book. As we watched her discuss Pence and Quayle, we were struck by her gullibility, or perhaps by her lack of something resembling honesty, as she performed in precisely the way a tribal bullshitter should.

Maddow recently scored a $30 million contract as a result of such faithful service. Tomorrow, we'll continue exploring this particular topic, the one involving what Pence and Quayle allegedly said and did, and what Pence allegedly wanted.

As for the service we've rendered today, we call it "reading a transcript." We also call it "an education," much as Tara Westover did.

Woodward's latest book has put pleasing stories in play. But to what extent should we believe that the stories are actually accurate?

None of our nation's vaunted logicians have managed to offer a word on this basic matter of Daily Logic. That said, our logicians walked off their posts long ago, Wittgenstein maybe among them.

Final question:

Did Pence call Quayle, or did Quayle call Pence? To see the comical way our discourse works, come back for this afternoon's compost.

We'll be quoting from Morning Joe. We made a point of watching.

Tomorrow: Back to Wittgenstein's Preface


20 comments:

  1. One does not need to buy or read this book to know what a sleazebag Trump is. We already knew that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Imagine being such a sucker that you got grifted by a real estate con man from Queens.

      Delete
    2. Hello, everyone! I,m here to explore blogs and forum about wonderful and most safe cure for (Herpes Virus).I was positive to the deadly virus called herpes and i lost hope because i was out casted and rejected even by my closet friends.i searched on-line to know and enquirer about cure for Herpes and i read someone testimony on how he was cured from Herpes so i decided to contact the same herbalist because i know that nature has the power to heal everything.i contacted him to know how he can help me and he told me never to worry that he will heal me with the natural herbs from God!after 2 days of contacting him, he told me that the cure has been ready and he sent it to me via DHL and it got to me after 3 days!i used the med as he instructed me (MORNING and EVENING) and i was cured!its really like a dream but i am so happy!thats the reason i decided to also add more comment of Him so that more can be saved just like me!and if you need his help, you can email him on nativehealthclinic@gmail.com, or whatsapp +2348140073965 I,m neme amber and you can get in touch with me via nemeamber@gmail.com..Contact him for help at Herpes virus HIV/AIDS CANCER COPD BRAIN TUMOR All kind of virus and disease Dr Emmanuel YouTube like at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpUsOO5kNWlqOYzaWgtQuHQ

      Delete
    3. Mobile phone is capable of making millions if you are smart enough to invest in Stock/bitcoin through the help of an Expert, Mrs Mary, she will help you on how to invest and make good profits. I invested $5,000 with her help and I was able to make $32,000 within the period of intensive trading. How many hours a day do you spend on your phone and how productive are those hours? Contact her today to gain financial freedom. Email: maryreeltradings@gmail.com

      Delete
  2. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was excoriated on social media this week after failing to delete a tweet containing false information about hospitals in Oklahoma being overrun with coronavirus patients overdosing on Ivermectin, a parasite-fighting medication that can also be sold over the counter as a veterinary drug.

    The story, which was originally reported at Oklahoma's KFOR-TV news, quoted testimony from Dr. Jason McElyea claiming that hospitals in a rural part of Oklahoma were being overrun with patients overdosing on the drug, causing gunshot victims to have to wait to be treated.

    It was later deemed false after the Northeastern Hospital System denied any patients were treated for overdoses from the drug and that McElyea hadn't actually worked at one of the hospitals in question for two months.

    Critics blasted Maddow on Twitter and questioned why her tweet still existed despite the claims in the article she referenced being debunked.

    In addition to questioning why Maddow's tweet was still up and hadn't been removed by Twitter, journalist Glenn Greenwald suggested it was actually dangerous to her followers because a person needing urgent care could read it and inaccurately believe emergency rooms near them were full.

    Another critic referred to Maddow as "the queen of misinformation," while another, who claimed to be one of her fans, called on her to issue a retraction because it was undermining her credibility to leave up the tweet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's great to finally see some pushback against the obviously-psychotic, liar, propagandist Maddow. As with most things, Bob was right about her all along.

      Delete
    2. Maddow doesn't have the time or staff to verify every story that someone else has reported in the news. The contradiction to this story sounds like a pro forma defensive press release by the hospital to protect its reputation. It isn't clear from that press statement whether the story Maddow passed along was untrue or not.

      I live in CO and there are patients from OK in the ICUs here, presumably because OK doesn't have space for them. Also from Nebraska. I find the hospital's assertions less believable than the original story about flood ERs in rural areas.

      Delete
    3. Ok, anon 1:25. Now do Tucker Carlson. Tot up how many people were hospitalized and died because of his anti-vaxx bs, which contributed to hospitals at capacity, particularly in red states, which was and is a real thing.

      And Greenwald...really? When has that hypocritical sack of shit ever criticized Carlson? Surely he will, as soon as he stops being a frequent guest and defender of Carlson. What a maroon.

      Delete
  3. "They'd managed to get (almost) everything right because their editor, the iconic Ben Bradlee, had required two (2) sources for their factual claims."

    Those 2 sources are not Bradlee's invention but are a journalistic standard. They were mentioned in the movie to educate the audience about how journalists work. The need for 2 sources doesn't mean the names of those sources will be published in the news report. Anonymous sourcing is common because it is often hard to get people to talk on the record (for attribution) especially about important matters that the public needs to know about. The 2 sources are to ensure the accuracy of a report but are not part of public information.

    Somerby should know this but he pretends, over and over, that if a news report doesn't mention two sources by name, it is likely untrue.

    That is Somerby's way of sticking his fingers in his ears and chanting "la la la, I can't hear you" when he doesn't like the content of a news report (or the reporter who wrote it).

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Their new book was extremely hot—and as with many of Woodward's books, it may have been perhaps a bit and somewhat shakily sourced."

    This is just namecalling. Somerby doesn't like the book because it attacks Trump and his minions. He either doesn't have evidence that things in it are untrue or is too lazy to make a case, so he calls the sourcing "shaky". It is the standard conservative rebuttal but it amounts to just calling the authors bad journalists, without presenting any factual evidence they are mistaken (especially in the outlines or main part of their claims) -- a nitpick about who called who is not any kind of rebuttal of anything.

    Somerby can certainly write whatever he wants here, but don't be deluded that he has offered any kind of criticism of this book.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "(For the record, we have no way of knowing if what we were told was accurate.)"

    Somerby complains about shaky sourcing but then does it himself by alluding to a high ranking official who said that Woodward rewards people for talking to him by making them look good in his book. And how would anyone know whether this is true or sour grapes? The facts should stand on their own regardless of the portrayal of the informants.

    But Somerby lived in the land of ad hominems. He never bothers with any other form of argument these days.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "How does Maddow know that Woodward's account is accurate? Even if she's interpreting the book's presentation correctly—we're not assuming that she is—how does she know that Woodward's account isn't just the latest version of bullshit? The latest punishment of a possible source who refused to come across?"

    If we are to believe Somerby, Quayle comes across well, so he is most likely Woodward's source. Pence refused to talk to Woodward, so he is portrayed negatively. Does that make sense to anyone?

    It seems more likely that whether Quayle was the source or not, Pence's attempts to please Trump were not admirable and his lack of understanding of his constitutional duty even less so.

    Further, when someone is the source about an interaction between two people, both will try to portray that interaction in a self-serving way (because that is what people do and how they think about their own behavior). If Pence refused to talk to the authors, only Woodward's version would be available to them. The interaction would be biased without Woodward and Costa even having to try to slant it in the manner Somerby suggests. That may just be a reality of reporting, that whoever tells their side of things has the opportunity to control the spin. Somerby has no idea whether Woodward and Costa tried to achieve more balance but certain people refused to speak to them. Are they supposed to make up things at that point?

    So, this criticism makes no sense at all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As always, thank you for documenting the atrocities, dear Bob.

    Anyhow, what's your opinion of the Rapist Joe character? Would you characterize him as some sort of insane? Highly disordered? A stable genius? An empty suit? Anything?

    Inquiring minds want to know, dear Bob.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joe Biden is not a rapist. Please stop calling him that.

      Using a term such as rapist to describe a political opponent trivializes a crime that women take seriously and men should do as well.

      Delete
    2. And whitewashing, for political reasons, Tara Reade's rape doesn't trivialize the crime that women take seriously, dear dembot? Interesting.

      Delete
  8. Digby puts this whole situation into the context of Trump's larger intention to set aside the election and stay in office. The plan is described in the Eastman memo, which was circulated to other Republicans, including Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee. That is corroboration. Pence's call to Quayle is secondary to that larger effort by Trump to overturn the election.

    https://digbysblog.net/2021/09/22/trumps-enabling-act/

    Somerby ignores the big picture to focus on a tiny detail, perhaps hoping that if that detail can be questioned, then the entire chain of events described in the book can be cast into doubt too. Fat chance!

    This book chronicles horrifying events that should be Somerby's focus, especially if he is any kind of liberal (we know he is not). We have an attempted coup to talk about, so who cares whether Quayle called Pence or vice versa? Somerby's reaction to this book is astonishing in its unwillingness to recognize major wrongdoing on the right, and it makes Somerby's blog a farce, if not a despicable piece of garbage.

    ReplyDelete
  9. “Out of that iconic episode, an iconic story emerged. They'd managed to get (almost) everything right because their editor, the iconic Ben Bradlee, had required two (2) sources for their factual claims.”

    To echo other commenters above, Woodward may have had two sources for the Watergate reporting, but they were still anonymous. Here is Woodward in 2018, quoted by Business Insider:

    “Woodward's reporting on the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Woodward said on Tuesday that he and fellow reporter Carl Bernstein turned to using unnamed sources then because otherwise "you can't get the truth."
    "You won't get the straight story from someone if you do it on the record," Woodward said on "The Daily". "You will get a press release version of events."

    Without allowing anonymity, he said, "we wouldn't have got the most important stories about what Watergate was about."”

    Bob Woodward explains why he used anonymous sources in his bombshell book about the Trump White House
    https://www.businessinsider.com/why-bob-woodward-used-anonymous-sources-fear-book-2018-9

    So Somerby’s “criticism” and the inclusion of the Watergate reporting is a misdirection.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mobile phone is capable of making millions if you are smart enough to invest in Stock/bitcoin through the help of an Expert, Mrs Mary, she will help you on how to invest and make good profits. I invested $5,000 with her help and I was able to make $32,000 within the period of intensive trading. How many hours a day do you spend on your phone and how productive are those hours? Contact her today to gain financial freedom. Email: maryreeltradings@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Natural Herbal Medicine To Cure {HERPES DISEASE} TOTALLY HERE 
    Do you need a solution to cure your Herpes Disease contact Chief Dr Lucky to help and he will surely help you to cure your Herpes Virus .. I have suffered from Herpes-2 Virus for 4years ago that almost took my life. But one day I was searching the internet and I found Chief Dr Lucky saw so many testimonies on how Chief Dr Lucky helps people in curing their deadly diseases, and I contacted Chief Dr Lucky, asked him for solutions and he started the remedies for my health. He prepared herbal medicine for me and I received the herbal medicine and after using it for 2 weeks my condition has greatly improved, all my symptoms including Abdominal pain, Nausea and vomiting, Loss of appetite stopped, so I went to my doc and was confirmed negative. I am Herpes Virus free! contact the herbal doctor via his email> chiefdrlucky@gmail.com also visit his fb page> http://facebook.com/chiefdrlucky Website> Https://chiefdrluckyherbaltherapy.wordpress.com/ or his cell number / WhatsApp> +2348132777335

    ReplyDelete
  12. There is noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made certain nice points in features also.

    Pastebin.com
    Information
    Click Here
    Visit Web

    ReplyDelete