TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2021
...as misreported to Us: Way up in the frozen north, miles from The Lower 48, the Anchorage city council—it's called the Anchorage assembly—had been holding public hearings about a proposed mask mandate.
By the admission of one "cable news" star, she and her staff had watched the videotapes of those multiple meetings at substantial length. She described these labors on her highly-rated "cable news" program last Wednesday night:
UNNAMED CABLE NEWS STAR (10/13/21): So the Anchorage assembly meetings, we watched hours and hours of the streaming footage from those meetings, and the anger and the overt threats not only were sort of surprising and hard to watch, but did seem to build on each other over time.
By her own admission, the cable news star and her devoted staff had watched "hours and hours" of footage. That said, had the public meetings really featured "overt threats" against the eleven assembly members? A bit earlier in her presentation, the star had been a bit more specific:
UNNAMED CABLE NEWS STAR: Despite the threats of violence hurled at Anchorage assembly members by the public, despite that intimidation, I should tell you the Anchorage assembly just passed the mask requirement for indoor spaces in Anchorage. Their vote was 9-1.
That said, tonight as we got on the air, Anchorage's Republican mayor who has repeatedly downplayed the virus, issued a veto against the mask requirement. Republicans from the governor's mansion in Alaska to the state legislature have echoed those sentiments.
And you know, we're used to seeing the politics and fighting over this, but in some ways it is a scary situation. The threats of violence in Alaska aren't an isolated or strange thing. This isn't some strange phenomenon just occurring in Alaska. We are seeing elements of this all across the country.
In that passage, she twice referred to "the threats of violence" directed at the assembly members.
(For the record, the assembly actually split 9-2 in favor of the mandate. Due to a procedural glitch, one member failed to take part in a "do over" of the original 9-2 vote.)
Up in Alaska, Them the People—The Others—had been directing "overt threats of violence" at the eleven assembly members! The cable star had observed this behavior because she'd conducted "hours and hours" of research, if she said so herself!
Earlier, the cable star had offered examples of what she meant. We offer you the edited clips exactly as she aired them last week. This is the way her exposé about "them the people" began:
EXALTED CABLE NEWS STAR: Last month, the Anchorage assembly took up a proposed mask rule for indoor public spaces in Anchorage. It was not a surprise this came up. As we've been reporting in recent weeks, Alaska has recently had its hospitals suffering under one of the worst COVID case loads in the nation, with even the largest hospitals in the state forced to ration care and literally turn people away.
So in Anchorage, largest city in the state, the assembly met to consider whether there could be an indoor mask rule in indoor spaces in Anchorage. And the public was invited to come say their piece. It very quickly got pretty hairy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are backing us into a corner. There is nowhere else to go. We will be forced to fight.
You have pushed us against the wall. Please don't do that. Do not incite violence in our city. That's what's happening with this ordinance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to go up against some people like us? We`re getting our backbone. We're standing tall. We're locking our knees. We're coming after you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time to stand up for yourselves, stand up for this country, stop listening to these tyrants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long do you think we`ll take this (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? How long do you think this is going to stand? All across the nation, men are gathering. Will the police be with us? What will the cost of freedom be?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: "We are coming after you." "What will the cost of freedom be?"
This has unfolded over the past week or so in Anchorage, Alaska. Multiple people have been arrested at these increasingly raucous meetings, including one man who was carrying a concealed firearm when he was arrested.
"Multiple people" had been arrested at these public meetings! At this point, we pause to remind you that "multiple," a slippery and very useful term, can sometimes even mean "two."
At any rate, the major star had offered clips of four different people who spoke during the hours and hours of those public meetings. Apparently, these were four of the people who had made the "overt threats of violence" to which the star referred.
Through long experience watching this star, we've learned to be extremely skeptical concerning the things she says. In this instance, we noticed such facts as these:
The cable star had played tape of one (extremely presentable) woman referring to the possibility of future "violence." She'd also played tape in which one man asked a peculiar-sounding though ambiguous question about the future role of the police.
That said, the star had said that she and her staff had watched "hours and hours" of videotape from the meetings in question. It seemed to us that the four short clips she played didn't exactly support the claim that there had been many threats of physical violence during the meetings in question.
If there had been so many "overt threats," why hadn't the cable star aired less ambiguous examples? We decided to do what you always have to do after watching this heralded "cable news" star:
We decided to fact-check the heralded star. We decided to watch the videotape ourselves!
Unsurprisingly, we didn't see a lot of threats of physical violence when we did. In the several hours of tape we watched, we saw no one getting arrested.
In all honesty, we can't say we saw a single "threat of violence." In many ways, what we saw was even more sobering, may have been even worse.
It's hardly surprising to see this particular cable star misleading "us the people." This particular star tends to play to the base, sometimes ginning us up as she does—and as we've told you down through the years, it isn't clear that the cable star is always obsessively honest when she provides this pleasing service before we all go to bed, sucking our thumbs and reinforced in our belief in our own tribe's moral greatness.
Here on our sprawling campus, we reviewed several hours of videotape from the four or five nights of public hearings to which the star referred. We even found the videotape of the first two edited clips the cable star played last week—the clips from the UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE who overtly referred to "violence," and from the UNIDENTIFIED MALE who heatedly said, "We're coming after you," to the assembly members.
You can watch the full presentations of those two people, starting at 3:11 of this videotape. They appeared, one after the other, at the five-hour October 7 public meeting, but alas:
Though the UNIDENTIFIED MALE was angry, loud and impolite, he wasn't threatening physical violence that night. Instead, he listed the various recall movements he was working on, hoping to remove particular assembly members from office.
That was the context in which he angrily said, "We're coming after you." The cable star had removed that context when she told us the very good people about the overt threats of violence being offered by them the violent people!
On the Maddow Show, you'll often see such statements clipped in such a way as to let "Us the people"—us the very good people—believe that we're facing ever worse threats from "Them the people"—the very bad human beings reliably found over there—than we actually are. This is a type of slippery game routinely played on that program.
If the cable star's staff had watched "hours and hours" of videotape; and if the "overt threats of violence" had been so common at those meetings; why did the star have to offer a loud participant in recall movements as one of her four examples? Why didn't she air one of the many other examples in which the overt threats of violence were real?
We think the answer is obvious. Beyond that, we think it involves the ugly way "We the people" get played about "Them the Others" in search of entertainment, tribal certainty and of course corporate profit.
Our cable stars like to please us in these ancient ways. When they do, we rush to reward them with high rating and with icon status.
Having said that, let us also say this:
We watched hours of those videotapes ourselves. We can't say that we saw a single threat of violence, overt or otherwise.
It happened again last Wednesday! Once again, we saw our tribe's greatest "cable news" star playing the old okey-doke with us her trusting admirers.
In our experience, this particular cable star behaves this way all the time. She even did so again last night regarding the Steele dossier!
Having said that, we'll also say this:
We watched hours of those public meetings, from at least four different nights. And we saw no threats of physical violence, unless you want to count the peculiar remarks made by the (highly presentable) woman who said she had to change her church because of an earlier mandate.
We didn't see overt threats of violence, or any arrests. What we did see was the star's latest con.
That said, what we saw in the frozen north may have been worse than The Threats Which Didn't Bark. What did we see when we watched the tapes in which long lines of Anchorage residents opposed that mandate?
We'll try to summarize that tomorrow. But what we saw was very sobering in this dangerous hour.
That said, us the people love to fear and loathe them the people. Our imperfect brains are wired this way, despondent top experts all tell us.
Tomorrow: What we did see in those tapes