It's one of our most frequently asked questions!


"Forgery" appears only once: It's one of our most frequently asked questions. The question goes something like this:

Why are you so negative about the work of Our Own Rhodes Scholar?

We'd call that a perfectly decent question. Our answer goes like this:

Because we watch her show.

This brings us to a lengthy, front-page news report in yesterday's Washington Post. Five reporters contributed bylines to the lengthy report.

The report appeared above the fold on page A1. Its continuation consumed the whole of page A4. 

Online, the report appears beneath the headline shown below. It was the Post's initial reporting concerning a topic which has dominated the Maddow Show of late. 

Headline included, the report begins as shown. This is sane and sober reporting about one of Rudy Giuliani's many unusual plans:

As Giuliani coordinated plan for Trump electoral votes in states Biden won, some electors balked

On Dec. 14, 2020, the day of the electoral college vote, Republican electors convened in the capitals of five states that Joe Biden had won. They declared themselves “duly elected and qualified” and sent signed certificates to Washington purporting to affirm Donald Trump as the actual victor.

At the time, the gatherings in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin—all states that had officially approved Biden electors—were widely derided as political stunts intended to bolster Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud.

Understanding the origins of the rival slates has now become a focus of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to people familiar with the panel’s activities. Two Democratic attorneys general have asked federal prosecutors in recent days to investigate whether crimes were committed in assembling or submitting the Trump slates.

The Trump electors gathered in plain sight, assisted by campaign officials and Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said publicly that the rival slates were necessary and appropriate. Internally, Giuliani oversaw the effort, according to former campaign officials and party leaders who, like some others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. 

Rudy was at it again. In five states which Biden had won, Republicans met and declared themselves to be the real electors. 

In most cases, their names had appeared on the November ballot in their respective states. They'd hoped to be elected to the absurdly anachronistic position of elector—and they were pledged to Trump. 

Now, even though Biden had won their states, they were presenting themselves as the duly elected electors. (Many of them may have believed that Trump had actually won their states.) They even "sent signed certificates to Washington" in which they affirmed these claims.

According to the Post's reporting, these events on December 14 were conducted "in plain sight." According to the Post, the events "were widely derided as political stunts" in real time.

As its article continues, the Post reports that some of the original Trump electors refused to take part in these December 14 events. Meanwhile, a larger question now prevails:

Were these "stunts" part of a wider plan to have Trump "re-elected" even though Biden had actually won?

Were these gatherings something more than a "stunt?" Were they part of an elaborate scheme even as they were occurring? Did they become a part of some such scheme in the days and weeks preceding January 6?

According to the Post's report, the January 6 committee is exploring such questions, as they very well might. That said, the Post's reporting is sane and sober—and Maddow's endless treatment of this topic has been quite different in content and tone.

We'll focus on one question today. In fact, we'll focus on one word:

We focus on the word "forgery"—a word which occurs only one time in the lengthy Post report.

The words appears just one time in the Post's report. The same is true today as the New York Times files its first report about this general topic.

In each case, the word "forgery" appears only once, and only as part of a public official's statement. In each case, the word is attributed to Dana Nessel, the Michigan attorney general. 

The Post and the Times do not describe the "signed certificates sent to Washington" as "forgeries." On the Maddow Show, Maddow has seemed to be attempting to set a new world record for most uses of that term in the course of one-hour "news" shows. 

What role might these stunts have played in an attempt to keep Donald J. Trump in the White House? Presumably, the January 6 committee will shed some light on that question before its work is done.

In the meantime, if you watch the Maddow Show, you're being relentlessly proselytized, and rather dumbly at that. The transcript of three or four recent shows can be summarized in this manner:

"Forgeries forgeries forgeries forgeries fake forged documents forged."

For ourselves, we have no idea, after watching these program, why the documents which emerged from those stunts should be regarded as "forgeries." When Nessel made this claim on the Maddow Show, she (of course) wasn't challenged or questioned in any way.

We don't know why those certificates should be regarded as "forgeries." There could always be a reason, but the question hasn't yet been explained or explored.

Stupid though the conduct was, the designation doesn't strike us as obvious in any way at all. But of one thing we feel fairly certain:

Maddow will never make any attempt to analyze that basic question. She'll simply keep repeating the magic words, over and over and over again, as she lets us us viewers dream of seeing Others frog-marched to jail.

Maddow will simply keep saying words like "forgery" and "forged documents." She'll keep repeating those magic words, and then she'll say them some more.

(Yes, we've done the word counts. On January 11, Maddow said some version of the word "forged" 39 separate times.)

This is the dumbest possible kind of tribal pseudo-journalism. Our nation is sliding into the sea, and Our Scholar is taking us there.

Yesterday, we tried to cover all the nonsense involved in one recent nine-minute jag. It's very, very hard to accomplish such a task. On balance, Maddow's show tends to be partisan clowning and partisan bullroar pretty much all the way down.

At some point, you simply have to be able to see and hear that. For today, we'll suggest that you proceed with care concerning this super-hyped new topic.

Warning and full disclosure: Last night, Chris Hayes offered a brief but much more nuanced treatment of this emerging topic. His guest was Amy Gardner, one of the five reporters involved in the Post's report.

MSNBC hasn't yet posted a transcript.


  1. Somerby is misrepresenting this situation. Yes, as the Post says, it was regarded as a stunt at the time, but not now. Now, with additional information from the 1/6 investigation (not being sought, but in hand), these fake elector slates take on a new significance as part of a larger plot. That is that part that Somerby minimizes and conceals in his account of things.

    Why are these elector slates considered fakes and forgeries. They are forgeries because they were sent under the official state seals of those states, misrepresented as official business. The slates were submitted as official electors to the national archives (which have now been turned over to the 1/6 committee). It is illegal to forge an official-looking document and submit it to others as a legitimate state document. That meets every definition of the word fake and forgery and Somerby's dislike of the terms is beside the point.

    This is the equivalent of a jewel thief who is caught in the act saying "I was just playing a joke". Yes, this was a stunt, but it had an additional purpose in giving cover to those who were expected to object to the vote certification and set aside the election results in Congress. They could point to the alternate slates submitted to the archives and claim that the election results were unclear, leaving Trump in office. Even Somerby should understand this part of the plot. But, obtusely, Somerby seems to be pretending there has been no plot, at least until someone is convicted.

    This is serious stuff. Maddow and others are right to spend time reporting it. Somerby's obvious attempt to minimize what happened reveals clearly where he stands on the attempts to subvert the election and our democratic transition of power. There is no excuse for this, and there is no way any liberal would be writing the things Somerby does today.

    1. Well stated, and we might consider are degraded situation that it was ever regarded as a “stunt.”


  2. The question this infamous committee would be considering in a sane universe, dear Bob, is what is so rotten in this country's establishment that people feel like storming the parliament.

    And when the parliament brings 26,000 troops into the capital to protect itself, parliamentarians openly express concern that the troops may not be loyal to them, and decide to side with the people.

    We hope we can all agree, dear Bob, that these are all ominous signs...

    1. You consider it, traitor slob. Those of us who know how dunces like you were brought up on garbage about Clinton and Gore already know, as does Bob, all too well.

  3. "We don't know why those certificates should be regarded as "forgeries.""

    Compared side by side, the alternate slates submitted to the national archives look just like the official ones, except for the names and the victor (Trump instead of Biden). The forged slates contain the official state seals of the swing states for which these alternate slates were submitted. They were submitted in the same manner as the official slates and were found in the national archives, not in some Trump supporter's desk drawer. That means that they were represented as being official election documents. But they do not contain the correct names of the legitimate electors in those states.

    My understanding is that there were 7 states where this was done, not just the 5 mentioned previously as being a "stunt" in the Washington Post. If the additional two states were not publicized as a stunt, that suggests they had no purpose as a stunt and were instead intended to be faked version of official documents and not any kind of protest or joke.

    I guess this is information they don't provide on Fox News. Otherwise Somerby might better understand what is happening and he wouldn't then embarrass himself by objecting to Maddow's coverage.

  4. "On January 11, Maddow said some version of the word "forged" 39 separate times."

    That is nearly as many times as Somerby has said it today in his essay. Why did Somerby use that word so many times? For emphasis. Gosh, do you think maybe that was why Maddow did it too?

    Forgery definition:

    "Forgery involves a false document, signature, or other imitation of an object of value used with the intent to deceive another. Those who commit forgery are often charged with the crime of fraud. Documents that can be the object of forgery include contracts, identification cards, and legal certificates."

    1. Bob has little real case, it’s all hectoring and hate today.

  5. "Trump and some of his top advisers publicly encouraged the "alternate electors" scheme in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico. But behind the scenes, Giuliani and Trump campaign officials actively choreographed the process, the sources said.

    One fake elector from Michigan boasted at a recent event hosted by a local Republican organization that the Trump campaign directed the entire operation.

    "We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that," Meshawn Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said at a public event last week that was organized by the conservative group Stand Up Michigan, according to a recording obtained by CNN."

  6. Trump commits most of his crimes "in plain sight". How does that exonerate him or make his actions any less criminal?

  7. I walk around at night with a towel on my head.

    1. If you were to embroider the logo of the Hilton hotel on your towel, it would then be a forgery.

    2. Actually that would be a counterfeit, not a forgery.

    3. "Forgery is the crime of producing, making, or adapting objects or documents with the intent to defraud another. ... Counterfeiting is making or creating an unauthorized imitation of a genuine article with the intent to defraud."

      Whatever the difference is, it is subtle. In either case, I don't think Greg would have any intent to defraud.

    4. Ah, the comedy stylings of Bob Somerby.

  8. "Warning and full disclosure: Last night, Chris Hayes offered a brief but much more nuanced treatment of this emerging topic. "

    What makes the mention of Chris Hayes any kind of "warning" or "full disclosure" when not only Hayes but others have been discussing this topic.

    I think the "warning" and "full disclosure" and meant to imply that Maddow has done something nefarious. Adding these words to an otherwise innocuous statement makes her actions seem ominous.

    Needless to say, that too is a propaganda technique. Somerby doesn't actually come out and say that Trump and his boys were just funning, that this was fooling around and no big deal, but that is what we are supposed to think when he excerpts from a Washington Post article that allows him to downplay Trump's attempt to steal the election.

    If people here were casual TV viewers, we might be taken in by Somerby's antics, but we aren't, so it is fair to ask who Somerby thinks he is fooling with this blatant manipulation of facts.

    In other news, Rittenhouse went to court to try to get his gun back. He says he is planning to destroy it, but does anyone believe that story (except Somerby)? The gun will be destroyed anyway, if he didn't pay a lawyer money to try to get it back again. I suspect he wants to sell it to some Proud Boy who will consider it "historical" because it commemorates the moment they gained the right to "use the guns" as was so touchingly stated by the young man at the Turning Point rally.

  9. "For today, we'll suggest that you proceed with care concerning this super-hyped new topic."

    AKA Don't look at the man behind the curtain.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

  10. "Why are you so negative about the work of Our Own Rhodes Scholar?

    We'd call that a perfectly decent question. Our answer goes like this:

    Because we watch her show."

    And this, of course, is an unresponsive answer.

    In logic, which Somerby pretends to know something about as a philosophy major in college, this is known as a tautology. Circular reasoning.

    He no doubt thinks he is being cute, but this is just annoying to those of us who have watched her show and see nothing much wrong with her or her show.

    And this type of answer implies that he doesn't have to provide any explanation, much less evidence, when he wishes to call her names and impugn her reporting, saying that she is misleading and misinforming people.

    And this reminds me a lot of trying to discuss politics with Trump supporters. "Why do you like Trump? Look at him, he's great!"

    Somerby can write what he wants here, of course, but I really get the sense that he isn't trying any more. He could save a lot of time by simply filling his posts with the sentence "Maddow is a doody-head." as many times as he can until someone calls him for lunch.

    1. Well stated. Bob is just a really hateful guy, moralizing to others.

  11. “absurdly anachronistic position of elector”

    Say what? The electoral college is still the official way of electing the President.

    What purpose does Somerby’s use of the words “absurdly anachronistic” serve here? In my view, it is to downplay the significance of what was attempted.

  12. “We don't know why those certificates should be regarded as "forgeries."”

    “The National Archives informed Hobbs' office on December 11, 2020 about the forged certificate, sending it to state officials "for your awareness." The Archives had rejected the fake documents.

    The Arizona document was created by a sovereign citizen group led by Lori Osiecki, who identified herself on the certificate as a citizen "of the sovereign citizens caucus of the great state of Arizona."
    That document also carried the state seal and Arizona took legal action against the group, with Hobbs' office sending a cease and desist letter and referring the matter to Arizona's attorney general.

    ‘By affixing the state seal to documents containing false and misleading information about the results of Arizona’s November 3, 2020 General Election, you undermine the confidence in our democratic institutions,”’

    What would you call them, if not forgeries? “Funny stunts” in an absurdly anachronistic process?

    1. Forgery suggests they were trying to represent people that they were not. What they were doing was making a very serious, false claim of victory in a matter in which they had taken on a public trust. Sleazy, dishonest, possibly illegal and mapped out ahead of time.

  13. I use wadded condor meat as a preventive.

  14. Dowd of NYT has been more destructive by any measure.

    1. Destructive of what? How does this relate to the topic?

    2. What are some of the measures? What is being measured? How is it measured?

  15. Greg at 11:46 really suggests Bob DOES read the comments, and is not above jumping in.

  16. Maddow has used the word forgery, and it is somewhat dubious in this context. Bob’s reaction to it here, however, suggests he should get professional help; because he actually believes he is presenting objective commentary on political reporting.
    Some of the electors (only one, by Maddow’s reporting, refused to participate in these activities) have said they sent the documents not to claim they won but so they would be there if the outcomes were indeed reversed, not unthinkable given how close these elections were. How viable a defense for these activities were is hard to say.

    1. I think you might legitimately object to the forgery of messages using your name by the other Greg.

      This is the benefit of being anonymous. No one can pretend to be you.

    2. It's a nothing story that will never go anywhere. It's only used to dupe idiot partisans who don't know the "dumbest possible kind of tribal pseudo-journalism" when they see it.

    3. It’s more fun to consider that the other Greg, who pops up now and again, is actually Bob. Not impossible, in that Bob did once fancy himself a comic. His blog rarely if ever effectively employs humor, but I guess that’s a matter of taste.
      Anon at 6:58, others better be able to make that case better than Bob, perhaps in Court. Because your statement seems, well, laughable here.

    4. It seems laughable because you are one of the partisan dupes.

    5. Wake me up when you can make a case.

    6. My interjections may help a bit, but the case against Bob’s piffle is well made by the posters on this thread. You are simply a Right wing hack, committed to BS.

    7. Chasing non-stories like this elector non-story is God's gift to right wing hacks. Rachel Maddow's whole act is God's gift to right wing hacks. That's what you naive sub-mental idiots can't understand.

    8. You are big on insults, content: 0. Even Bob more or less seems to acknowledge this is more crazy garbage from the Trump nuthouse, but he grasps at straws. You are probably horrified by lesbians too.

    9. I am a right wing hack who is horrified by lesbians and is big on insults?

      I will say - I hope it works out to be a huge story in the way you imagine it is.

    10. It already is. That's why Somerby is working overtime to pretend it isn't.

    11. Why would he do that?

    12. Yes you are a right wing hack, probably horrified by lesbians, but unlike me you don’t have the brains to take anything beyond name calling. Why would Bob do that? When does he do much of anything else? Why would anyone refuse to let go of old bigotries? Why would anyone be nuts?

    13. So why is the story huge?

    14. Well, it’s only huge if the leader of the free world, having established a clear record of claiming election corruption Before and After the elections he’s been in and trying to cheat (mostly) in plain sight has been caught trying to use his unethical dupes to fix the results in his favor is of significance. Now we understand you are yourself a bootlicking Trump dupe so it doesn’t matter to YOU. But you’ve made a conscious choice to live your life as a cheater and fool.

    15. The electors were fixing the results in Trump's favor? How were they fixing the results in Trump's favor?

    16. Trump was caught? When?

    17. Better question is when wasn’t he caught. When he claimed in 2017 that he won by a landslide, he claimed he would prove it. Hired a guy to do it. Still waiting on THAT evidence. That was the template for his trying to steal 2020, when he did all the same sleazy crap and eventually form the mob and pointed it at the Capital. But, this is common knowledge and I guess you think you are being cute. What a heap of garbage your parents produced.

    18. But he hasn't been caught using people to fix the results in his favor in the case of the electors. It hasn't even been established that they were trying to fix the results. So I'm wondering why you think this is a huge story. It's barely been covered in the New York Times. Remember how Maddow played you for a fool on the Russia story. I think this might be a sequel. Over the coming months as this story fades into obscurity where it belongs, I will be here to remind you how stupidly you approached it. How you thought Maddow had uncovered some huge scoop. I guess you're just doing the best you can with what you have, intellectually speaking.

    19. We'll know Maddow is beyond help when she starts talking about Republican voters who aren't bigots.

    20. 6:55,
      Occam's razor.
      It was the Republican base getting amped-up about Trump's bigotry, that got him elected in 2016.
      Russiagate, "economic anxiety" (LOL, can you imagine a world where there was a Republican voter who knows something about economics?), Hilary's email protocols, etc. were all excuses the MSM repeated so they wouldn't look biased pointing out the obvious truth about Republican voters.

    21. "But he hasn't been caught using people to fix the results in his favor in the case of the electors."

      Yes, he has been caught. He hasn't been tried yet.

      Here are his efforts to overturn the election:

      1. Pressuring Pence to ignore his duty in Congress and refuse to certify the election results.

      2. Pressuring the governor, secretary of state and election officials in states (notably Georgia, where he is being prosecuted, but also AZ and PA) to "find" extra votes to overturn the results for Biden.

      3. Encouraging various House members and Senators to object to the vote certification during the roll call in order to give cover to Pence's refusal to certify the votes (Pence didn't go along with this but house members did, including those whose objections are a matter of record.) Trump made phone calls to McCarthy and others during the voting to encourage them to object, based on evidence the 1/6 commission has in hand.

      4. Trump actively recruited supporters to come to Washington DC ("It's gonna be wild.") and told them to march to the Capitol and that he'd be with them. He didn't go himself because the secret service told him they couldn't protect him, but he said they were beautiful (even after the violence started) and that he was with them. This put pressure on the congress by demonstrataing the violence he had at hand to aim in their direction. There were explicit threats to Nancy Pelosi and Pence (Trump's target) that insurrectionists have pled guilty to making.

      5. While this was going on, Trump refused to call in help to stop the insurrection but let it go on so that more police and others were hurt (and some killed). This is what current invitations to testify are about, nailing down who called him and who was in the room with Trump while he was doing nothing to stop the insurrection.

      6. There is evidence in the hands of the 1/6 commission that shows that Trump would have invoked martial law and used troops if anti-Trump rioters had appeared, but they stayed home, so he had no opportunity to do this. Various military figures have said they would have refused such an order, but there is testimony that Trump was considering it.

      7. Various Trump minions met with leaders of militias such as Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in order to plan the insurrection ahead of the event. They met at the Willard Hotel. Others were meeting with Trump in secret meetings held in the White House residence.

      8. The purpose of the forged elector lists was to give Pence plausible cover for refusing to certify the election results. Pence refused. Those letters exist, but so does a plan written by John Eastman that was presented to Trump well in advance of the insurrection. The fact that elements of the plan were executed makes this a conspiracy and a plot, not just a wild idea that crossed Trump's desk.

      9. After his loss, Trump began placing loyalists in key non-military positions in the Pentagon and Defense Department. These people were in place to counter opposition to Trump's use of the military to support his attempts to stay in office. There is no good explanation for their presence otherwise.

      10. Various members of Trump's administration have said that they were worried about these activities and were talking with each other and planning to oppose moves to take over the government after Biden's victory. Many of those people have testified.

      When Maddow reports something, she hasn't uncovered it herself. Her staff may come up with things, but this is breaking news across all of the non-Fox networks.

      This is like Watergate. Elements of Trump's plot has been leaking steadily since before 1/6 and when the committee has enough information, it will be given to the DOJ for prosecution. Lower level people involved in this conspiracy have already been charged and convicted. Some are cooperating, which means they have pled guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence in exchange for providing evidence against other participants.

    22. From Politicus:

      "Trump's draft executive order ordering the Secretary of Defense to seize voting machines is evidence of his coup."

      They are calling it a "smoking gun" in terms of proof of his intentions.

    23. This is Trump's base:

      “Most everybody thinks we ought to have went with guns, and I kind of agree with that myself,” said Oren Orr, 32, a landscaper from Robbinsville, N.C., who had rented a car with his wife to get to the Capitol last year. “I think we ought to have went armed, and took it back. That is what I believe.”

    24. You post the same kinds of lists for Russiagate and it's all almost totally false. It's the kind of thing only a person who watches MSNBC/CNN would say. Because only people who expose themselves to those outlets are told these stories. It’s Fox News only for the left. You’re being completely fooled. The electors story is a non story that won’t go anywhere - just like all the Russiagate stories, stories of Russia paying bounties in Afghanistan etc, Manafort meeting with Julian Assange. Etc. etc. story after story debunked. You idiots really are like Charlie Brown. Getting played by Lucy over and over and over for eternity.

    25. Actually, I never watch MSNBC or CNN. I read newspapers and websites on the internet. When the only outlet telling you something is Fox News, and all the others are saying things like what I listed, you really need to rethink who is the one being fooled.

    26. Okay. Well good luck with this one. Hopefully it will not turn out like Russia where you are completely and totally wrong and don't even seem to be aware of it despite everyone else, in every media outlet everywhere except for partisan ones, knowing for a fact that you are acting like complete lunatic, making lists over and over of completely debunked misinformation.

    27. You keep insisting on your version of what happened with Russia, but the facts are against you. Being stubborn about believing things that aren't true isn't a good idea for anyone -- look at what is happening with Trump these days. He is making a huge fool of himself, and will wind up getting indicted for his efforts to deny reality.

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