OUR LOGIC, OUR FACTS: Today, the New York Times enters the fray!


Classic tribal deception: As you know, it has been several years since we formally threw in the towel.

"It's all anthropology now," we skillfully declared. In part at the direction of experts, we'd finally accepted a basic fact about the American discourse.

That basic fact is this:

There's essentially no information flow within the American discourse. It's basically Storyline all the way down. For the most part, our discourse is a dance of competing narratives, recited by teams of tribunes.

At long last, we conceded that basic point. All that was left was the anthropology—the explanation of how it can be that our tribalized discourse actually works that way.

We'll guess that it's been about four years since we threw in the towel. According to the experts with whom we consult, anthropology forces us humans to accept a counterintuitive proposition:

It isn't just the widely loathed Others who work from tribalized Storyline. Inevitably, one's own tribe is strongly inclined to work from Storyline too. 

According to experts, that's just the way our human brains are wired. That's just the way humans work.

According to experts, it tends to be hard to accept the fact that one's own tribe behaves in this manner. On that note, we turn to the latest "news report" about the Hannity/Ingraham texts.

The news report appears above the fold on page B1 of today's New York Times.

That's the front page of the Business section. As they start, Windolf and Koblin define their topic as shown:

WINDOLF AND KOBLIN (12/16/21): The Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham vociferously defended themselves for sending text messages on Jan. 6 that urged Mark Meadows, the last White House chief of staff under Donald J. Trump, to persuade the then-president to take action to stop the Capitol attack.

The texts made vivid something that was already not a secret—that key players at the network have acted as informal advisers to Mr. Trump. It is a situation that flouts journalistic ethical norms but does not appear to dissuade Fox viewers. In November, Fox News was the most-watched network not just in cable news but in all of cable television, with an average audience of 1.5 million.

Mr. Hannity and Ms. Ingraham said on Tuesday that their texts—which were read aloud in Congress Monday night by Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming—did not differ from their public statements that day.

How strange! Why would Hannity and Ingraham have to defend themselves for trying "to persuade the then-president to take action to stop the Capitol attack?" 

The answer lies in the Times' third paragraph. Instantly, it was widely alleged that the texts they sent to Meadows "differ[ed] from their public statements that day" (including their programs that night). 

As we noted yesterday, Hannity and Ingraham disputed that claim on Tuesday evening's programs. In theory, today's news report is an account of the way they defended themselves.


Are you able to imagine that we liberals sometimes receive selective news coverage from our most trusted sources? This news report, from atop the New York Times' B1, strikes us as a good example of this undesirable practice.

What did Hannity and Ingraham actually say, this Tuesday night, in their own defense? At no point does the news report quote or describe the actual evidence they presented in their self-defense.

Instead, the news report paraphrases the things they are alleged to have said. Wandering afield a bit, it also tells us what the texts they sent to Meadows "suggested" about their beliefs.

It doesn't quote the actual things they actually said on January 6! For example, if you read today's news report, you'll come away with no idea that Hannity offered these remarks on that evening's program on Fox:

HANNITY (1/6/21): Let me stop here and be crystal clear. Those who truly support President Trump, those that believe they are part of the conservative movement in this country, you do not, we do not support those that commit acts of violence. 

They—people, we don't believe, should be vandalizing our nation's Capitol, attacking the brave women and men that keep us safe in law enforcement. And all of today's perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But every good and decent American we know will and must condemn what happened at the Capitol. And moving forward, we have got to do a dramatically better job protecting the innocent men and women who work there. We've got to protect our law enforcement officers. We've got to protect every single elected member of the Congress and Senate. This is not politics. They deserve to be protected.

All of today's perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law? Every good and decent American will and must condemn what happened at the Capitol?

This Tuesday night, Hannity aired the videotape of those statements—statements he made, on the air, on the evening of January 6. That said, Windolf and Koblin don't tell readers that. 

As a matter of fact, they don't tell readers anything even dimly like that! Instead, they quote from a pointless gong-show exchange involving Geraldo Rivera this Tuesday evening—the kind of silly squabble involving Rivera which Fox News, for whatever reason, seems to like to air.

How informative is this morning's news report? In our view, it isn't especially informative at all, and it may be a bit deceptive! 

The journalism strikes us as very poor. Consider this two-part passage:

WINDOLF AND KOBLIN: On Tuesday, after showing a clip of Ms. Cheney reading aloud the text she had sent to Mr. Meadows, Ms. Ingraham...accused “the regime media” of “somehow trying to twist this message to try to tar me as a liar, a hypocrite who privately sounded the alarm on Jan. 6, but publicly downplayed it.”

On his show, Mr. Hannity set up a confrontation between Geraldo Rivera and Dan Bongino, a right-wing polemicist who joined the channel in 2019.

“This was a riot that was unleashed, incited and inspired by the president of the United States, which targeted the heart of American democracy,” Mr. Rivera said on the program.

Mr. Hannity told Mr. Rivera to stop talking and reminded his viewers that his guest’s words represented only his opinion. He then shifted to the House inquiry, saying, “The question is, this corrupt committee. The question is, why this riot and not 574 other riots?”

Consider the journalism on display in that passage! 

First, the reporters quote Ingraham on Tuesday night's program. She seems to be denying the claim that she "privately sounded the alarm on Jan. 6, but publicly downplayed it.” 

They leave the whole question right there. In fact, Ingraham proceeded to display the texts of the public tweets she posted on the afternoon of January 6. In those tweets, she had publicly "sounded the alarm" in the same way she'd done in her text to Meadows.

The reporters simply left that out. Given the basic framework of their report, why would reporters do that?

Regarding the silly exchange with Rivera, the reporters  quote Hannity making an unexplained reference to "574 other riots." But where the heck did that number come from? What could that number possibly mean?  

Those questions were answered quite clearly on Hannity's Tuesday night program. You may not agree with Hannity's point of view, but the reference is easy to explain.

That said, the reporters didn't bother to explain it. They left it hanging in air. 

The exchange with Rivera on Tuesday night was vastly less significant than Hannity's opening monologue, whose content the reporters ignored. But even as they wasted time with that utterly pointless exchange, they let it seem that Hannity had made some sort of puzzling, unexplained comment:

Why would reporters do that? Why would editors let such manifest piffle pass?

Our current news orgs are increasingly "segregated" by point of view. Depending on which news org you consult, you are almost certain to see criticism of The Others presented in selective, embellished form.

For ourselves, we aren't fans of Hannity or of Ingraham. We don't vote the way they do.

That said, anthropologists say the wiring of our human brains may lead us to reason thusly:

We liberals ,ay tend to be convinced that, since Hannity and Ingraham are wrong most of the time, they have to be wrong all the time. Result?

At times like these, our tribunes refuse to engage in normal reporting about the pair. This makes our tribal hearts glad.

That "news report" in this morning's Times is largely an imitation of a news report. It's a tribalized "news report," designed to serve tribal feeling.

This sort of service is also provided with great regularity on Fox. This is the way their tribe behaves—but increasingly, so does ours.

"All of today's perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

"Every good and decent American will and must condemn what happened at the Capitol."

The cable star who made those statements on January 6 wasn't Rachel Maddow.  

It wasn't Lawrence, and it wasn't Chris Hayes. It wasn't Cooper or Lemon. It wasn't even Chris Cuomo!

Because it wasn't one of our stars, the statements were destined to be disappeared by this morning's news report. Ingraham's public tweets met the same fate. This is the way brains are wired.

Today's "news report" is tribal gruel. Experts insist that the world ends this way, with a series of tribalized simpers.

Tomorrow: As promised all week, Kevin Drum's (intelligent / helpful) distinctions!

If you're able to take it: If you want to see Hannity saying those things on January 6, you can do so by clicking here.

Scroll down to "Hannity calls out January 6th committee, addresses text message to Mark Meadows." When you get there, click again. You'll see the start to Tuesday's show, including the videotape from January 6.

Warning! He'll say some things with which you agree! Will you be able to stand it?


  1. Here is a better example of a group of people who believe storyline in preference to the truth:

    "A new Bright Line Watch poll finds just 27% of Republicans accept President Biden as the winner of the 2020 election."

    They believe this because people like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity sold them the Big Lie about the election. They are also selling a big lie about 1/6 efforts to overturn the election, among other lies about climate change and Hunter Biden and Trump's lack of collusion with Russia.

    That's because the right wing runs on lies. The same is not true about the left. The left is hugely more in touch with truth because the left is trying to win votes via programs and platform and efforts to help people, not running on hate and promises to eliminate immigration, justify guns, and keep white Christians on top.

    When Somerby pretends that there is equivalent lying (what he calls storyline) on both sides, the facts don't support him. Multiple studies show that the right is way more out of touch with reality. When Somerby claims that Maddow and Lemon and Cooper are pushing storyline because of trivial nitpicks he finds in their reporting, there is no equivalence to the propaganda shoved at viewers on the right. This is not a both sides phenomenon. It is a manipulation of Fox viewers for political purposes, which culminated in an attempted coup on 1/6, that isn't over yet.

    Readers here need to support democracy so that the 2024 election can be free and fair. That means rejecting Somerby's cynical claims about "tribes" and instead embracing truth and rejecting lies, especially Somerby's lies.

  2. "For ourselves, we aren't fans of Hannity or of Ingraham. We don't vote the way they do."

    1. Why would someone who claims to not be a fan of the right watch Fox News so often?

    2. How can Somerby know who Ingraham or Hannity voted for?

    3. Why should we believe Somerby when he claims he doesn't vote like them, when he talks like them and thinks like them?

    4. The only thing we know for sure is that Somerby didn't like Biden or Hillary. I doubt he voted for either of them, based on his unwillingness to support them even though they were the nominees of the Democratic party running for the presidency against Trump, an obvious poor choice.

    Somerby thinks that if he occasionally says he doesn't think or vote like the right, and occasionally quotes Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie, we will think he is "one of us", a bonafide member of our tribe, so that he can convince us that his suggestions -- watch more Fox, watch less Maddow, don't believe professors, beware of women and black people and gays when they write articles, and so on... are the best way to process information.

    Somerby's job here is to undermine the credibility of information sources beyond Fox News. Because those who watch Fox vote Republican and will reelect Trump or whatever worse candidate arrives after Trump steps down.

    This is a very bad idea. Somerby knows it -- because he is lying and manipulating here, just as they do at Fox News, and you cannot trust anything he says. He leaves out the things he doesn't want you to hear, provides no links to sources except the ones he wants you to see, smears and name-calls without providing evidence to back up his derogatory remarks, says he will return to talk about those he disparages but generally doesn't do that, and he doesn't care about the strongly held values that liberals care about. He is a conservative shilling for the right while pretending to be left, but there is nothing left about anything he says here. Don't be fooled by his facade and don't be confused by the trolls who claim they are liberals too, or are married to a Democrat, or used to be one.

    Everyone is entitled to their beliefs but not their own set of facts -- Daniel Moynihan. Now that the facts are emerging about 1/6, the right wing is scrambling to evade the truth. See that for what it is -- justice. And see Somerby for what he is, someone who is excusing the wrongdoing on the right and helping miscreants get away with the damage they have done to our country.

  3. We're supposed to believe that Somerby goes to bat for Laura Ingraham over letting Fox News blame antifa for 1/6, when she knew that Trump could have asked the rioters to stand down, but he viciously attacks Rachel Maddow for trivial personality quirks, and there is no partisan motive involved? This is Somerby's version of a big lie.

    Meanwhile Somerby himself said nothing at all condemning the 1/6 insurrection and the behavior of Republicans, at the time or even now. Apparently that is all A-OK with him, since he has never deplored what happened, never mentioned the threat to democracy, never talked about Trump's participation, and most of all, never complained that Fox News tried to blame antifa, when it is clear that the many people charged, convicted and confessed were Trump supporters, including many Proud Boys and Oathkeepers, many members of law enforcement from across the country.

    But Somerby really really doesn't want Laura Ingraham to be falsely accused of standing by and saying nothing while her station presented guests saying things she knew to be false.

    And it gets even weirder when you consider that Somerby is also protecting Sean Hannity, as a victim of the left wing media, when he was good-buddies with the President, called him every night, and surely knew what he was planning, yet stood by and let his station blame antifa too. What is Somerby's motive for portraying Hannity as a victim of left wing media?

    Somerby has never mentioned the tendency of the right wing to play victim, even when they are the perpetrators of something as ugly as 1/6. Somerby has never talked about the tendency of white males to see themselves as victims, and Fox's strategy of encouraging that false belief with nearly every story they run.

    An actual media critic would point such things out. Not Somerby. He might think of himself as some kind of media critic, but he doesn't behave like one.

  4. Remember this? This is how a Republican behaves when NOT part of a conspiracy to overthrow a valid election:

    “All of my colleagues, all of them knew that what happened on January 6th was an assault on the constitution. They knew it at the time yet now they are defending the indefensible… How we address January 6th is moral test of our generation.”

    — Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), on the House floor.

  5. Antifa had nothing to do with 1/6. That insurrection was all the right wing's doing.


  6. "It isn't just the widely loathed Others who work from tribalized Storyline."

    But what is this alleged tribalized Storyline of the Others, dear Bob?

    Didn't we already establish that two major talking heads of FoxNews -- Mr Hannity and Mr Carlson -- presented, during the same week, two exactly opposite opinions in respect of the foreign policy towards the Russian Federation?

    Sorry, dear Bob, but your "both sides do it" ("we humyns") mantra is completely bogus. It's bullshit, dear Bob.

    Why don't you deal with your liberal cult, dear, and let the Others worry about their own flaws, whatever those may be.

  7. Picking nits. I expected better from S.

    The scandal lies in subsequent FOX behavior,
    which belies whatever it proclaimed Jan. 6.