Sometimes, The Others really are crazily wrong!


Tucker Carlson speaks: No, Virginia! In its current cover report, Newsmax magazine doesn't seem to be "rootin' for Putin," as Brian Stelter claimed.

The magazine isn't hailing his conquests with "Cheers! Champagne!" That's how Maddow dreamed it. 

We'd also say that recent claims about Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were also basically wrong. And by the way:

Can a nation survive with a "segregated" news environment—with a news environment in which each of its warring tribes hears nothing but the Storylines it loves, demands, prefers?

It's hard to imagine how that could work out. Increasingly, though, that's how our failed discourse works.

Today, though, we deliver some upbeat news. It's possible to make accurate statements about how crazy The Others are!

Our example involves Tucker Carlson. For starters, consider this passage from Jeremy Barr's recent report in the Washington Post:

BARR (12/14/21): Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who had said on Jan. 6 that “you’re not allowed to break windows or encourage people to break windows,” told his audience in September that the Capitol rioters “don’t look like terrorists. They look like tourists.” He has also baselessly suggested federal government involvement in the events of Jan. 6, culminating with his production of a three-part documentary series that featured claims that the deadly riot was a “false flag” or a “honey pot.” Two Fox News contributors, Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes, cited that series as their primary rationale for resigning from the network, calling it “a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions.”

We decided to fact-check the highlighted claim—the claim that Carlson said, back in September, that the Capitol rioters “don’t look like terrorists. They look like tourists.” 

Here's why we decided to do that:

On its face, Barr's statement doesn't quite seem to make sense. If we're talking about people who are actual "rioters," in what way could they possibly "look like tourists?"

That didn't exactly seem to make sense. We wondered if Barr was being fair concerning what Carlson had said. 

For the record, some of the people who went inside the Capitol that day didn't engage in rioting. Quite a few others did, of course. Other people engage in violent rioting on the steps leading into the building.

We googled around to see what Carlson had actually said.  As it turned out, the quoted statement came from the monologue with which he opened his September 23 program on Fox. The headline on the Fox News transcript plus videotape says this:

Tucker: What really happened on Jan 6

Tucker was explaining "what really happened!" Below, you see the fuller passage from which Barr drew his quote:

CARLSON (9/23/21): [New] footage was just released. It was obtained by BuzzFeed. It covers 15 minutes on January 6th from 2:25 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. Eastern, and those are key moments in the so-called insurrection.

[Footage airs]

Now right now, you're seeing images from a surveillance camera positioned at the entrance to the Senate wing of the Capitol. You don't see people hiding bombs or using bayonets or firing weapons, trying to take over the country in an insurrection.

You see people walking around and taking pictures. They don't look like terrorists, they look like tourists, and all of them by the way are Americans.

The rest of the [new] footage, including shots from surveillance cameras outside the crypt of the Capitol, is similar to this. 

Let's be fair! The people in that particular bit of footage actually weren't engaged in "rioting," at least not at that specific time.  

As you can see in the videotape of Carlson's monologue, they actually were just "walking around and taking pictures." According to Carlson, the rest of the new footage from BuzzFeed showed other people who weren't engaged in rioting, at least not at that time.

Here's the problem:

If you read Tucker's entire monologue, he barely mentions the fact that other people very much did engage in violent rioting. At one point, he offers this:

CARLSON: So, it turns out, the vast majority of people inside the Capitol on January 6 were peaceful. They were not insurrectionists. They shouldn't have been there [but] they weren't trying to overthrow the government. That's a total crock.

And with that in mind, some of the other lies about January 6th start to make more sense.

Tucker did acknowledge the fact that the people in question shouldn't have been inside the Capitol building. But he said "the vast majority [of those people] were peaceful"—and elsewhere, as you can see from the transcript, he strongly implied that the people who were violent that day were actually "federal agents." 

His evidence for that exciting claim was strikingly slender. Soon, he was offering garbage like this:

CARLSON (continuing from above): ...some of the other lies about January 6th start to make more sense. Do you remember this?


ANA CABRERA, CNN: Officer Brian Sicknick died after being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher during the hours-long attack.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC: They beat a Capitol police officer to death with a fire extinguisher.

ANDERSON COOPER: Officer Brian Sicknick died after being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher during the fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He died at the age of 42 after he was bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher.


CARLSON: So here's a rule of thumb going forward. If you ever watch television again or read the newspaper, when they are absolutely insistent that you believe something, when they keep beating you over the head with the same talking point again and again and again, beware. There's a reason they're saying when all of them are using exactly the same line. Maybe there's a reason for that. Maybe it's coordinated. Maybe they're lying.

As it turned out, Officer Sicknick actually wasn't beaten to death with a fire extinguisher. There's also no apparent reason to think that people were "lying" when they reported that initial (inaccurate) claim.

Our liberal news orgs often do engage in clownlike behavior. In this case, Barr himself took some liberties in the claim he attributed to Carlson—the puzzling claim about the way the "rioters" looked.

In fact, Carlson's actual monologue was, at least on its face, crazier than the milquetoast statement attributed to him by Barr. In our view, major news orgs should be trying harder to come to terms with apparently crackpot presentations of the type Carlson delivered that night.

(In fairness to Barr, he went on to suggest that Carlson's "three-part documentary series" really was basically nuts. We haven't seen the three-part series; you have to pay to see it.)

Yes, Virginia! Carlson made an extremely strange presentation on his Fox program that night. For the record, it doesn't resemble the comparatively sane presentations made by Hannity and Ingraham on the evening of January 6.

That said, at times of tribal warfare, distinctions like that don't matter. The Others will always be said to be crazily wrong or profoundly dishonest, even when they pretty much aren't. Tribal warfare demands that.

For the record, Rachel was clowning hard again last night. Our own corporate "cable news" stars are often painful to watch.

Perhaps our physicians, within our own tribe, should think a bit more about healing ourselves, even as they look for ways to describe the (many) actual problems which exist at Fox. 

On the evening of January 6, Hannity said the rioters should all be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Our own cable stars, to a person, are never going to say that.

They will never make you hear that. Given the way our species works, it simply isn't done.


  1. Eh, what's so nuts about any of it, dear Bob?

    "There's also no apparent reason to think that people were "lying" when they reported that initial (inaccurate) claim."

    Whoa, have you suddenly forgotten all your endless complaints about "tribalized Storyline", dear Bob?

    "There's a reason they're saying when all of them are using exactly the same line. Maybe there's a reason for that. Maybe it's coordinated. Maybe they're lying."

    This is exactly your own "tribalized Storyline" rhetoric, dear Bob. If it's nuts, then you're nuts too, we're sorry to say.

    And if it's the word "lying" in place of your "tribalized discourse", then, alas, you're both nuts and a nitpicker...

  2. Nothing about this event is nuttier than the idea that it was a "coup". Overthrowing the US government would require a military might that could stand up to the military might of the US. The most the rioters in the Capitol could have achieved would have been to delay the formal vote for a few hours.

    1. Asshole, they did delay the formal vote for a lot more than a few hours. The objective was to get the VP to throw out the states where trumpolini lost. Jackass.


    2. What we find interesting, dear David, is that exactly the same behavior is praised and admired when it happens elsewhere. See the so-called 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia, former Soviet republic.

      Nuts? No, we think not. Just political brainwashing, a la Orwell's 1984.

    3. The Coup, rather obviously, was a wet dream of the Republican Senators and Congresspeople who voted against the certification of the election. Will Bob sink to defending THEIR case before we are done with the hearings? We now know he'll give almost any nonsense a shot.

    4. With each new revelation every day it is becoming clear what the criminal gang of republicans lead by the giant orange shitstain attempted was orders of magnitude worse than Watergate.

      Watch David the monkey dance.

    5. No question, Mao had never read ANY Orwell.

    6. If Right-wing snowflakes throwing a temper tantrum because black people's votes counted in an election can be prosecuted, you may as well make being a Conservative illegal.

    7. Depends on what you do when you throw that tantrum, not why you throw it.

    8. 7:39,
      I still say, the world is better off if we make being a Conservative illegal.

  3. Of course, if Bob ever watched Fox News, or maybe if he ponied up for Carlson's Documentary, he would quickly find that "sometimes" is "virtually all the time."
    In any fair analysis, the Capitol rapists were responsible for that officer's death. Also Bob, the Holocaust of the Jews in WWII was a really bad thing and it's wrong to encourage people who trivialize it.
    This post calls to mind the movie "The Fortune Cookie" when Matthau's great Whiplash Willie character has to brazen it out after Jack Lemmon has blown the fraud. That's Bob defending Carlson.

  4. The great unasked question will probably continue to be "what would have happened if it came out the way Trump as his slob peasants wanted? Trump even let it slip once that he didn't think they should have gone in. No follow up to that of course.
    Was the dream to fill the gallery, standing in defiant silence, so impressed Pence that he would agree to throw out the election results? Best I can do.
    But what obviously happened was Slob Dictator wanna be managed to assemble a freak show Mob, and aimed them like a missile at our Capitol. He lied that he would be going with them of course.
    For years, Bob wrote about the journalist malpractice that created this sad state of affairs in the U.S. After so many incorrect appraisals over the last twenty years, he now will attempt to justify almost anything, including the most ugly possible trivialization of the crimes of Hitler.

  5. "On the evening of January 6, Hannity said the rioters should all be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Our own cable stars, to a person, are never going to say that."

    This statement makes no sense at all. I don't know anyone in our tribe who doesn't think everyone involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Further, Somerby is always blaming Rachel for wanting to lock people up. Now all of a sudden, she won't call for prosecution of the 1/6 insurrectionists (don't call them rioters when they were trying to overturn a valid election)?

    I don't think Somerby thinks straight at all. He argues whatever is convenient to him and that isn't a good faith or principled way to discuss anything.

    1. It was, sadly, not always so.

    2. Liberals want to prosecute, not just for 1/6 but also for letting people die from covid.

      Digby's blog reviews this attempt to prosecute for covid deaths:

      I don't know where Somerby gets the impression that liberals don't want to prosecute for Trump's wrongdoing (and that of his minions).

  6. If a robber breaks down a door, then another robber follows him into the house and starts walking around in it, they are both guilty of breaking and entering, and if they take things, robbery.

    Carlson's idea that because the camera showed insurrectionists walking around and taking selfies, that meant they weren't rioters (much less insurrectionists) is clearly wrong when they have entered the Capitol building illegally. Those who broke the windows and doors to get in were not the only rioters and looters. The ones who followed them in are just as guilty. And the ones who walked around, took a shit on the carpet, stole laptops and podiums, and so on, are just as guilty as the ones who injured police and got Ashley Babitt shot, even if they didn't actually break down the door themselves. None of those folks are innocent tourists, and saying that they "didn't belong there" is a ridiculous understatement, especially for the ones shouting "hang Pence" and "shoot Pelosi" and the ones with military restraints and other equipment. What tourist carries that stuff.

    But Somerby wants to excuse Carlson for this "mistake" because the literal footage contained a picture or two of folks behaving like tourists instead of insurrectionists.

    This is ludicrous. Somerby would be showing that he entirely lacks sense, except that he is actually demonstrating which side he is on and what his motives are here, with every silly word he writes.

  7. Here is what Kevin Drum thinks about Republican lying:

    "Liberals have long griped about how the media treats obvious conservative lies. The list is endless: climate change, Benghazi, Hillary's emails, tax cuts paying for themselves, and on and on. But these are fairly ordinary partisan disputes, and for better or worse the press is unlikely to take sides. Politics is politics, after all, and political reporters have seen this kind of stuff on both sides for decades.

    But then came 2021, and suddenly conservatives went beyond—way beyond—the bounds of normal partisan fights. There have been two in particular:

    The "Big Lie" that the 2020 election was stolen and Donald Trump should have rightfully won the presidency.
    The refusal of conservative leaders to be aggressively pro-vaccine.
    Even for people jaded by decades of partisan cat fights, these were shocking. The Big Lie was not something that was even colorably debatable. It was just a lie. A big one. And it was adopted by practically everyone in the Republican Party, leading to the insurrection of January 6. To this day, Republicans insist the election was stolen even though everyone knows this is Goebbels-level fabrication.

    The Republican attitude toward vaccination is, if anything, even more shocking. For one thing, it's barely even partisan since it doesn't really harm Democrats in any way. It's just flat-out pandering that has cost thousands of lives and will cost thousands more. There's literally no reason for it aside from either pique (Donald Trump); a desire to promote conspiracy theories because it's profitable (Tucker et al.); or craven capitulation to the mob (DeSantis and other GOP leaders).

    I may be fooling myself, but I've noticed at least a small change in the media's treatment of Republicans this year. Even hardened veterans who pride themselves on being cynical toward all sides are stunned by what's happened. Lying for partisan advantage? Yawn. Everyone does it. But lying in service of destroying faith in democracy? Refusing to promote vaccines just to get a few cheers from the cheap seats? Those are whole different things."

    I disagree with him about Hillary's emails. This was a huge fabrication too and not part of normal partisan bickering. I think the swiftboating of Kerry was the beginning of this outright lying on the right and it started with George Bush's lie about his military service and his lie about being a moderate Republican. And because the Republicans got away with all these lies, they were emboldened to tell bigger lies, until it made sense to them to nominate a sociopathic liar who had no regard for truth at all.

    You cannot lie and be a viable political party. It just takes a while for the lies to catch up with you, in my opinion.

    1. Ironically, the nineties were the kick of to our sad new world of vanishing journalistic ethics. And Bob was one of the best at calling BS. Hard to believe now, but true.

    2. We can't go forward doubting our own sense of the state of the world, our own understanding and grasp of reality. That is what Somerby keeps undermining. We need to focus on getting out the vote and fighting for the things we believe in (policy issues, social justice, change for the better), not doubting what we know to be true.

    3. Make Polio Great Again

  8. Somerby claims to be a comedian, but here is how OTHER comedians are reacting to this situation:

    "I would not want to be Laura Ingraham at this moment in time. Since the news leaked out that Ingraham was texting Mark Meadows during the January 6 insurrection, Ingraham has become the new poster child for liars. To that end, many people have taken amusement in her fall from grace — and who can blame them?

    Possibly the best takedown of Ingraham came from comedian Stephen Colbert. Colbert was in his element on Tuesday night. Eyes shining with mischievous good humor, he proceeded to tear the non-host apart verbally.

    “So, the January 6 attack scared Laura Ingraham,” Colbert said solemnly. “And keep in mind, her side gig is appearing in your bathroom mirror if you whisper “Medicare for All three times.”

    Ouch! There is more. Referring to the terrorists, Colbert said, “They weren’t his supporters. That’s why, to get them to stop, Laura sent all those panicked texts to the man responsible, President Bob Antifa.”

    Double ouch. But it was not just Colbert. Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” didn’t miss out on the fun either. Referring to all the Fox hosts, Noah said: “This is like finding out the flight attendant who’s been telling you it’s just a little turbulence is actually going back into the cockpit like, “Doesn’t anybody know how to fly this thing?”

    I’d expect much more of this in the weeks and months to come. And I would also imagine that Fox must hate seeing their non-news network reduced to a late-night joke. That’s just too bad. They asked for it. Now, they’re getting it, and it could not happen to a more evil bunch of people."

    Palmer Report

  9. This blog post from No More Mister Nice Blog is interesting:

    The author of an Atlantic piece argues that no one cares about covid any more, citing the ways that people are going about their lives ignoring covid. Then the blog author points out that not only is the writer himself youngish (as Somerby would put it), but that covid has disproportionately affected older people:

    "He clearly won't see my age -- 62 -- for a couple of decades, so I'm sure he just laughs off this New York Times story:

    As U.S. Nears 800,000 Virus Deaths, 1 of Every 100 Older Americans Has Perished

    ... Seventy-five percent of people who have died of the virus in the United States — or about 600,000 of the nearly 800,000 who have perished so far — have been 65 or older. One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus. For people younger than 65, that ratio is closer to 1 in 1,400.

    The heightened risk for older people has dominated life for many, partly as friends and family try to protect them. “You get kind of forgotten," said Pat Hayashi, 65, of San Francisco. “In the pandemic, the isolation and the loneliness got worse. We lost our freedom and we lost our services.”

    Walther's answer to Pat Hayashi is: Nobody cares. Next time there's a pandemic, don't be in your sixties. Or, to him, Hayashi doesn't exist at all."

  10. Somerby needs to see it like this, because this is how liberals see it: