OUR OWN RHODES SCHOLAR'S FRAMEWORK: The piffle was already general that night!


Our Own Scholar gave us more: Last Wednesday night, on blue state cable, everyone knew what the day's key bit of "breaking news" had been.

As we detailed yesterday, all the stars began the same way as they helped us get ready for bed. On CNN at 8 P.M. Eastern, Anderson opened as shown:

COOPER (1/12/22): Good evening. We begin tonight with breaking news that is not only a major step in the January 6th investigation but could also be a clear sign of where the House Select Committee is taking it.

The Committee late today asking the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to volunteer information about communications he had with the former president and the White House—former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on and around the day.

Exciting! The committee had asked McCarthy to please volunteer information concerning Donald J. Trump. 

By 10 P.M., McCarthy had of course said no. But "the breaking news" had been intensely pleasurable for the few hours it lasted.

The stars of blue state "cable news" have been selling us this childish gruel for more than five years now. We always seem to be moments away from the exciting break in the case which will bring Donald J. Trump to his knees—or Rudy, or maybe Ivanka, or Meadows, or maybe one of Trump's friends.

They keep selling us this product. We keep gulping it down. 

This approach has been good for ratings and profits, possibly quite bad for politics. Last Wednesday, the enjoyment was general (until 10 P.M.), with McCarthy now center stage.

In all this sameness, there has always been one "cable news" star from whom we liberals can expect to get a little bit more. In truth, Our Own Rhodes Scholar had always been a little bit different, if she and her parents did say so themselves:

BAIRD (12/1/08): Maddow was, according to her parents, a curious, serious child who never spoke baby talk. When her mother, Elaine, would walk into the kitchen to prepare breakfast, the 4-year-old Rachel would be perched on a stool, with her nightgown and bed socks on, reading the newspaper. Maddow remembers when she was 7, standing in front of their black-and-white television during the 1980 election and loathing Ronald Reagan, although she is not sure why now: "All I remember is the feeling of dislike," she says, laughing. "Maybe I have reverse-engineered it into my memory." As a teenager, her dreams revolved around basketball, swimming and volleyball—she wanted to be an Olympic athlete until a serious injury dashed her hopes. She was a fierce performer who insisted on playing through injuries and amassed a collection of crutches of varying heights. When she wanted to learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels, she circled the streets day and night. Her father, Bob, says it took one weekend.

When Chairman Mao swam the Yangtze, it is said that Maddow was there—and that she swam it faster! Only later did her three-sport Olympic dreams die.

Beyond that, she was the TV star who didn't own a TV set! (Not that she was saying that she was smarter than everyone else.) 

That passage comes from Julia Baird's lengthy profile of Maddow in Newsweek, written at a time when Newsweek was still a major entity. We're assuming that Baird gave an accurate account of the various things she'd been told, but many such profiles were written of Maddow as she became the undisputed darling of our failing tribe.

The star was even weirdly praised in the New Yorker for "her performance of the Rachel figure." As our self-impressed tribe continued to fail, she was sold to us as Our Own Rhodes Scholar, and she was always a little bit more. 

So it was last Wednesday night. As everyone else pretended that the "breaking news" about McCarthy was a very big deal and was very important, Our Scholar found a way to go along—but also to make our pleasure more.

In truth, her endless opening monologue that night was built around that same "breaking news"—but she didn't mention the committee's request to McCarthy until she was a bit more nine minutes in. 

The schadenfreude and the tribal pleasure were still built around McCarthy. But using a wide array of tools, Rachel made our pleasure more.

On this one cable program this night, a whole new framework was built around the miseries of McCarthy. Wonderfully enjoyably, the cable star started like this:

MADDOW (1/12/22): And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.

You know, it is not the kind of problem that should come up all that often in politics. I mean, it happens from time to time, but really it seems like the kind of thing that would arise maybe, if you had a long career, it might arise once during your career. I mean, maybe if you had a really long career, it might arise twice if you were particularly star-crossed.

But people would talk about it because that's crazy. I mean, it's just a rare thing. At least it ought to be a very rare thing.

But for House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, it must feel like it happens all the time to him. In his time as a Republican leader in the House of Representatives, it has happened three times in the past five years already, and now it looks like it might happen to him a fourth time.

So completely enjoyable, and just so wonderfully cool! We were still allowed to focus on McCarthy, but we got to start with a type of mystery to solve.

Something had happened to him three times—and now, it looked like whatever it was might happen to him a fourth! Never mind the pair of qualifiers—this was good solid fun!

All over our childish "cable news" world, the stars had gone directly to the committee's request that McCarthy should share information. On her program, Maddow didn't mention that "breaking news" until nine minutes and 15 seconds had passed,

During that opening 9:15, she constructed a totally different framework concerning McCarthy's (imagined) miseries. Along the way, she misrepresented basic facts; wasted time on total trivia; went crazily over the top in praise of the brilliance of her cable and network colleagues; took a major flier on a very shaky speculation about another widely loathed Republican figure; and generally played the cosmic fool in the way she quite frequently does.

Tomorrow, as our week reaches its end, we'll run you through the various parts of this monumentally stupid nine minutes. We're speaking of nine minutes in which this multimillionaire TV star could have been discussing something of real importance—but she decided to play it this way, chuckling as she went.

Sitting at home, in our failing communities, we liberals have never quite been able to see what a clown Our Own Scholar quite frequently is. She has played us again and again, possibly with the best of intentions.

She should have been off the air long go. Those nine minutes provide one example.

Tomorrow: False, misleading, speculative—and just amazingly stupid


  1. "By 10 P.M., McCarthy had of course said no."

    You know what that means, dear Bob: we need another committee, to investigate treasonous behavior of Mr McCarthy, the Enemy of the People!

    And please, dear Bob, stop watching that dembot, will ya? It's not good for you.

    ...oh, and will you address the Dear Leader's presser, by chance? Is He some sort of insane, in your opinion? Is it a tragedy that liberal journos pretend He is not?

    We would really like your opinion on that. Personally, we don't think He is some sort of insane, just mildly demented.

    1. Libs have a ways to go to come close to the 8 Bengazi investigations conducted by the GOP.

    2. Meh. Not a single impeachment for that one. Pathetic.

    3. Oh, lookie here, dear AC/MA:


      According to Glenn Greenwald, this committee is nothing like Benghazi. It's actually an equivalent of HUAC, of the McCarthy-era. Iow, a prime example of abuse of power.

      Ain't you proud of your cult's leaders?

    4. Glenn Greenwald LOL.
      I take it Rand Paul was too busy being beat up by his neighbor to comment.

    5. Or too busy trying to arrest Fauci.

  2. Somerby is talking about piffle from 1/12, which kind of implies that there hasn't been enough piffle since then to complain about. And why is a week-old piffle even worth mentioning at all. It isn't as if she were wasting anyone's time except her own (and Somerby's), since most people are doing other things with the news on in the background, not riveted to the screen.

    This is just too much outrage over too small an offense, so this whole crusade of Somerby's smells of ulterior motives.

  3. "By 10 P.M., McCarthy had of course said no. But "the breaking news" had been intensely pleasurable for the few hours it lasted."

    That breaking news didn't end just because McCarthy said no to testifying. It was important because their asking McCarthy suggests his role was sufficiently large to think he had something to tell the investigation. No one ever thought that someone that involved with the president would voluntarily testify. Except Somerby perhaps -- who tries to spin this as if everything is over if McCarthy just says no. In whose fever dreams?

  4. What does Maddow's childhood and adolescence have to do with her work in cable news? Nothing, except as fodder for character assassination by mopes like Somerby.

  5. "When Chairman Mao swam the Yangtze, it is said that Maddow was there—and that she swam it faster! Only later did her three-sport Olympic dreams die."

    Ah, so Somerby is suggesting that Maddow's parents were lying about her childhood hopes and dreams (note that no actual accomplishments were mentioned).

    Somerby considers this to be hype. My own grandson wants to be a rapper and is convinced he will play in the NFL. Does that make him Mao too?

    This is just plain offensive, the way Somerby bends loving parents into propagandists, to salve his own wounded ego. Did he have no dreams of his own as a child? Not even to shine as a stand-up and perhaps get his own sitcom? Not even to write a seminal book on Al Gore's mistreatment (a project he never completed)?

    Mocking fond parents is pretty low.

  6. "The star was even weirdly praised in the New Yorker for "her performance of the Rachel figure.""

    Apparently Maddow is even responsible for what other people say about her!

  7. "Along the way, she misrepresented basic facts;"

    And Somerby has still not told us what, specifically or even generally, Maddow misrepresented in those 9-1/4 minutes.

    "Tomorrow, as our week reaches its end, we'll run you through the various parts of this monumentally stupid nine minutes."

    Don't hold your breath. Somerby has made this kind of promise so many times before. Tomorrow Somerby may return to Wittgenstein or tell us how stupid Einstein was.

    Just as Maddow is accused over wasting 9-1/4 minutes on nonsense before starting the news (although it does seem like she was discussing McCarthy before that, based on Somerby's report), we have to waste 4 days now on Somerby's grousing and bitching because he can't seem to get to his subject either.

    As a psychologists, I find her remark that it is unusual for someone like McCarthy to have been asked to testify so many times to be interesting information. I remember when it would have been embarrassing to a politician to have that happen -- those were the days when Republicans still had shame and cared what their constituents thought of them, even caring what their legacy would be, how posterity would think of them. McCarthy will go down as Trump's bun boy. That seems like important commentary to me.

    But it will be interesting to finally hear what got Somerby so riled up that he has tiptoed around telling us for nearly a week now. It can't be anything important, so it must be something that offends his dignity or sensibilities as a male member of the master race. Can't wait to hear what it is!

  8. "Sitting at home, in our failing communities, we liberals have never quite been able to see what a clown Our Own Scholar quite frequently is."

    First, Somerby is not a liberal.

    Second, when no one else sees something except you, it might be time to tell it to your shrink. That is considered a symptom, not perspicacity.

    Given that Maddow's stated goal is to be a humorist not simply a news reporter (as told to Jon Stewart), the fact that Somerby considers her a clown shows that she has achieved her aim. Somerby himself is a clown, so his appreciation means a lot! When someone presents themselves as a clown and then clowns around, calling them a clown isn't the insult Somerby appears to think it is.

    1. "...the fact that Somerby considers her a clown shows that she has achieved her aim."

      Truer words were never spoken.

  9. "Sitting at home, in our failing communities"

    Personally, my community is not failing. I live in a suburb of Denver and we even have drop boxes here. We have gorgeous mountains, wildlife, an opera house, people are working and house prices are going up, not down, our economy is doing fine too. We have competent leadership and have kept covid reasonably low, but our hospitals are crowded because they accept red-state patients to help out others not as fortunate. Lawns are dotted with signs about being kind and rejecting hate.

    I don't see what call Somerby has to call people's communities failing when he (1) doesn't know us, (2) has no idea what our communities are like, (3) has a lot of nerve calling our communities failing when he himself lives in Baltimore, and (4) has presented no evidence to support his claim about where we live.

    Who calls our communities failing (without evidence)? Trump and the conservatives. That is one of their themes, to convince voters that things in America are bad and getting worse, and only Trump can fix them. Except he had four years and things mainly got worse.

    But why is self-proclaimed liberal Somerby repeating right-wing memes about failing communities here at a liberal blog? You tell me, but I have come to recognize him as a wordy, slightly more sophisticated version of Mao.

  10. "She should have been off the air long go. "

    Cancel culture! Cancel culture! Now we know the source of this scourge. It is coming from Somerby!

    You hang in there, Rachel! We can't let little minds like his drive you off the air.

  11. How many months and months did they roll out new findings about the Watergate scandal before Nixon was finally convinced to resign? Hint: it took more than two years.

    Somerby's complaints that our cable news shows are overinvested in molehills only shows that he has less patience than us liberals (who know that the wheels of justice grind slowly).

  12. "The Jan. 6 Select Committee on Thursday sent a letter to Ivanka Trump asking for her voluntary cooperation with its investigation into the attack on Congress."

    No one thinks she will agree to cooperate, but it is still important news because the 1/6 investigation is getting closer to Trump when it asks his family to supply info.

    No one expects Trump to resign, as Nixon did, if only because he is now out of office. He is going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming to justice. What Nixon did was far less criminal and far less dangerous to our democracy than what Trump is accused of doing (and obviously did, in my opinion). If it takes longer to find the facts in this more serious situation, the 1/6 committee is obviously making progress.

  13. In other news today, Grisham apparently told the committee about secret meetings Trump held in the White House right before 1/6.

    We should all watch Maddow to count how many minutes she "clowns around" before reporting this new information. Because it is vastly more important how long Maddow clowns around, than it is that our sitting president was involved in plotting an insurrection.

    1. "apparently" was involved in plotting an insurrection.

      Don't be misled by weasel words.

    2. 3:38,
      That's why I always ask for the name of the mythical Republican who isn't a bigot.
      Spoiler alert: I never get an answer.

    3. ""apparently" was involved in plotting an insurrection"

      @1:03 says that Grisham apparently told the committee something. The comment says nothing about plotting an insurrection, using the word apparently.

      Making shit up is antisocial. Trolls are trolls because their personalities contain the dark triad of Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Sociopathy. All of those traits belong to liars.

    4. I have no idea if a coup was plotted. I'm just saying if something was "apparently" told it shouldn't be treated as fact. Just wait for the data proving conclusively there were secret meetings and exactly what was discussed at them. Try to go at least one day without blowing your wad.

  14. I prefer to think of Bill Clinton as "Our Own Rhodes Scholar," because he was president and had the ability to enact liberal programs. Rachel Maddow was a Rhodes Scholar, yes, but she is a journalist and not dedicated to advancing liberal goals. She works on TV, not in politics.

    I also object to using the term Rhodes Scholar as if it were an epithet or a disqualifier of some sort. It is an honor. Those who become scholars work hard at their studies. Yes, it is a sign that someone who wins the scholarship is smart and has accomplishments prior to its award. That is true of both Maddow and Clinton, regardless of their subsequent careers.

    It strikes me as very odd for a former teacher, someone who supposedly supports and encourages education, to mock this learning opportunity, as he mocks higher education itself. It is wrong for someone who works with children to spit on their goals, as Somerby does here regularly.

    I don't care how bitter Somerby has become as an old man, his attitudes toward learning mark him as deplorable, along with the right wing fools he has been supporting. It was probably a good day for Baltimore's children when Somerby decided to stop teaching.

  15. A truly hateful, pathetic performance today from Bob.

  16. Say what you will about Bob and the Right, but they sure do love their bigotry.

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