IMITATIONS OF LIFE: Who was the RNC talking about?


Major stars say, "Don't ask:" The punishment continues this morning at the New York Times.

The punishment is dealt by Gail and Bret. Their weekly exploration of Upper-Class Inanity starts this way this week:

Gail Collins: Hey, Bret, the new jobs report looked pretty good. Would you say Joe Biden is starting off the Winter Olympics season with a triple salchow?

Bret Stephens: Gail, I’m having trouble imagining the president in a sparkly ice-skating unitard.

Gail: You’re right, don’t want to go there. 

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Already, the analysts were writhing in pain as the high-end, overpaid media stars unveiled their shared "sense of humor." 

In print editions, this week's lengthy edition of "The Conversation" appears in the space where their newspaper's editorials used to appear. Online, the headline on this gruesomely stupid display reads exactly like this:

When the Storming of the Capitol Becomes ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’

Say what? Has someone said that the storming of the Capitol was an example of "legitimate political discourse?" 

Gail and Bret make that assertion in their humorfest today. Also, four letters appear in the New York Times beneath this pair of headlines:

The Republicans and a ‘Legitimate’ Riot
Readers are outraged by the G.O.P. description of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

It isn't just Gail and Bret who are making that pleasing claim. It's also those outraged Times readers! Over here, within our blue tents, everyone says the same thing!

In short, it isn't all wonderfully witty humor with Bret and Gail today. It's also a newly familiar piece of blue tribe propagandization.

By now, everyone and his overpaid uncle has told you that the RNC has described the violence of January 6 as "legitimate political discourse." Last night, Lawrence spent the first fifteen minutes of his TV show driving that pleasing bit of script, aided by two compliant guests.

On its face, that would be a crazy claim on the part of the RNC. For that reason, the idea that the RNC made that claim is highly pleasing to Lawrence's willing stooges.

That said, did the RNC make that claim? Is that what the RNC meant by the thoroughly fuzzy clause which appeared near the end of a recent high-profile announcement?

Is that what the RNC meant? We're not quite sure how to answer.

We do know how this latest high-profile matter should be reported. For this, we turn to the front page of the Washington Post in last Saturday's print editions.

Last Saturday morning, on its front page, the Washington Post provided a service to readers. It told them something they should have been told. It did so in paragraph 4.

At issue was a unanimous vote by the RNC to censure two Republican members of the House, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. In its headline, and then in its first two paragraphs, the Post provided a service to readers—as it opened its news report, the Washington Post played it straight:

RNC votes to condemn Cheney, Kinzinger for serving on House committee investigating Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump mob

In an extraordinary rebuke, the Republican National Committee on Friday voted to condemn Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the two Republican members of a House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

The censure resolution passed overwhelmingly on a voice vote without debate or discussion, with the whole process taking about one minute. The party said the behavior of Cheney and Kinzinger “has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic.”

At the start of its news report, the Washington Post played it straight. It started out with "just the facts, ma'am:" 

The RNC had voted to censure two of its own House members!

The Post had begun by playing its straight—by reporting the act of censure in a simple, straightforward way. It then reported a second point—but it quickly noted a complicating factor:

(Continuing directly): The resolution accused the two of participating in a “Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse” as the committee investigates the insurrection in which a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building, injured 140 members of law enforcement and vandalized the Capitol to stop the affirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. The attack led to the deaths of five people.

In a statement Friday afternoon, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sought to clarify the resolution’s language, saying it was meant to refer to “ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”

Say what? The RNC had accused the January 6 committee of staging a "persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse!" 

Last night, Lawrence reveled in that deeply pleasing piece of blue agitprop. But good lord! In an uninterrupted fifteen minutes, he never mentioned the disclaimer issued by the RNC's Ronna McDaniel. 

So typical! In a 15-minute segment, he never mentioned it once!

Lawrence didn't let preferred Storyline get undermined by complexity. Neither did Bret and Gail as they chuckled their way through their latest assault on the senses.

Neither did the New York Times as it published (and headlined) those letters from four outraged readers. Neither did the gruesome Christiane Amanpour on her gruesome TV show last night.

Everywhere FDR looked, he saw "one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." Everywhere we look today, we see blue tribe propagandization matching that of the red.

We see our blue elites urging blue citizens on toward war. We see some phony facts invented, with some other accurate facts withheld. So it has been in this thrilling new instance, as it is now with everything else.

According to Chairwoman McDaniel, the RNC hadn't intended to say that the people who engaged in violence on January 6 were engaged in "legitimate political discourse." (If you look at the text of their statement, they didn't say that in any literal sense.)

Who then are the "ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse" allegedly being "persecuted" by the January 6 committee? 

Apparently, McDaniel had discussed that question during an interview with the Post. So who the heck was she talking about? 

As the Post continued, it eventually let her start to explain:

(Continuing directly) David Bossie, a top Trump ally who led the censure effort, called it a “one-two punch” against Cheney that signaled a message from the GOP at the state and national levels. McDaniel defended the move Thursday in an interview with The Washington Post.

“This has gone beyond their original intent. They are not sticking up for hard-working Republicans,” she said, [again] using the phrase “legitimate political discourse.”


McDaniel said she was particularly upset when an elderly, recently widowed friend of hers was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee after it was reported the friend was an alternate elector at the campaign’s behest. She declined to name the friend.

Who was the RNC talking about when it used the phrase, "legitimate political discourse," in a very fuzzy clause near the end of its censure statement?

We don't have the slightest idea, and the Post didn't try especially hard to explore this question. 

The Post reported that they had interviewed McDaniel on the day before the statement was issued—and that she had used that same offending phrase during that interview session. 

But the Post made almost no attempt to describe what she had told them. Comically, the paper even included an unusual type of "link to nowhere"—a link about the interview which simply returned the reader to this same front-page report!

Later, McDaniel issued a tweet about the flap concerning the RNC's fuzzy statement. On Saturday afternoon, McDaniel tweeted this:

MCDANIEL (2/4/22): I have repeatedly condemned violence on both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, this committee has gone well beyond the scope of the events of that day.

That's pretty fuzzy too! That said, we'll translate thar for people who have only been exposed to blue tribe "journalism" over the past few years.

When McDaniel says that she has condemned "violence on both sides of the aisle," she is presumably referring to the looting and arson connected with street protests in the summer of 2020 as well as the violence which occurred at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. That would be a standard position within red tribe "journalism."

Does McDaniel think the committee has overstepped in its attempt to criminalize the conduct of the would-be GOP electors who have endlessly been accused of "forgery forgery forgery forgery" by Our Own (Inane) Rhodes Scholar?

We don't know what she thinks! But we regard it as ugly malpractice when people like O'Donnell go on the air for fifteen minutes without informing viewers of the basic fact that disclaimers have been issued.

That said, all across our blue landscape, the disappearance of those disclaimers is the order of the day. Which is worse this morning? Is it the stupidity of the attempts at humor offered by Gail and Bret? Or is it their refusal, and that of their newspaper, to mention those disclaimers? 

We can't answer that question. But when a disclaimer has been issued, attention should be paid.

Beyond that, we'll only say this:

The formal RNC statement that day was stupid all the way down. It started with an inane account of the way the Biden Administration is trying to impoverish the country. It proceeded onward from there.

Are people that dumb capable of inserting an extremely fuzzy passage which should have been clarified? We'd say the answer is "sadly, yes." Beyond that, we'd strongly say this:

Lawrence O'Donnell should have told you that disclaimers have been offered.

Kevin Drum said we should ignore those disclaimers because we know they're phony. We don't necessarily agree with that assessment, but before he offered his opinion, Drum was at least willing to tell his readers that the disclaimers had been made.

Acknowledging those disclaimers complicates matters a bit. It steals time away from pure Storyline—but sometimes journalism, and democracy itself, may take a bit of time.

FDR saw a nation ill-clothed. A terrified boy saw dead people.

We see people being propagandized. It's all over our tribe's "journalism"—and this is the way worlds die.

Nothing is going to change this, of course. Last night, Kinzinger told Wolf Blitzer that civil war is on the way in our country. 

He said he wouldn't have said so last year. He said he believes it now.

Lawrence was stoking the fires last night, aided by two guests. This very morning, Gail and Bret joke and clown and play the fool, as they do on a weekly basis.

These are imitations of journalism—imitations of (human) life.

Tomorrow: It's everywhere you look!


  1. "When the Storming of the Capitol Becomes ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’"

    Oh dear. Why, it's Legitimate Political Discourse when it happens in independent countries, turning them into US clients. Republic of Georgia, Ukraine.

    Bullshitting the rubes is what liberals do, dear Bob. As if you didn't know...

  2. The original reports of what the RNC said are correct. There is no reason to emphasize the attempts by McDaniels to walk back their original statement once she realized how bad it sounded to condone the insurrection.

    If the walk back reflected the accurate feelings of the RNC, then there would have been no censure and no fear of the investigation. That the insurrection was violent and an attempted coup is the main reason for the investigation of it, the reason why the RNC censured the two Republicans who are participating as committee members.

    Somerby carries water for the RNC once again as he urges us to believe that only the "corrected version" matters, and suggests that the press is merely reporting storyline when it says what the wording was of the censure voted upon by its members. That original version refers to Democratic persecution and it minimizes what occurred. So does Somerby when he suggests that this is all just a matter of unfortunate language, and doesn't reflect the attitude of the Republican, who after all voted to censure their own members because they took the investigation seriously.

    Again, it should be clear that no liberal would have written a column like this, no matter how literal about parsing the speech acts of Republicans. Republicans are continuing to behave badly. That needs to be reported by the press, not suppressed as Somerby urges, because McDaniels belatedly recognized how this vote would play with voters.

    1. Rare day that we agree, on all counts.

      This is a trash post from Somerby.

    2. I think she was talking about this.

  3. It isn't "propaganda" by Democrats, when they prefer to believe the first version of a Republican statement, instead of accepted the second, cleaned up version released as damage control. The so-called disclaimer is the propaganda after Republicans inadvertently told the truth, then realized it made them look bad (which they are).

    1. This blog post has 100%, absolutely nothing to do with believing or accepting anything. It has nothing at all to do with whether the so-called disclaimer is propaganda. It's about the fact there was a 2nd version - and that fact not being reported.

    2. This post is about objectivity, not subjectivity.

  4. No human being said storming the Capitol is "legitimate political discourse". It was Republicans who said that.

    1. On its face, that would be a crazy claim on the part of the RNC.

      Yes, TDH, because the fucking RNC is packed full of fucking crazy extremist yahoos who threaten violence at the drop of a hat. What the fuck do you think the Jan. 6 committee is investigating?
      The 2-faced RNC is now trying to have it both ways. Remember how Ted Cruz got bitch slapped by Tucker Carlson because he called the Jan. 6 insurrection a terrorist attack? It doesn't seem like Bob does.

  5. It is the order of the day, yes.

  6. You can't hold Republicans accountable for using words, because words don't mean anything to Republicans.

  7. Bob plays the innocent babe in the woods today but only illustrates the absurd lengths he will go to to rationalize Trumpism. Obviously, the weak walk back makes no sense, the Party said what they said and as MSNBC fairly pointed out, it was a deliberate choice to make that statement.
    It’s a “we can have it both ways” approach, on a matter where there should be no ambiguity. They have gotten away with it so often, why wouldn’t they try it again?

  8. Truth is, these were a bunch of law abiding Republican tourists peaceably visiting the Capitol who were just venting their frustrations that it did not have a gift shop. Bobby you are a disingenuous idiot. The walk back of the original RNC statement would only be accepted by one. What actions of the Jan 6th Committee have been directed at non combative protesters? And you pretend to accept this statement as an honest effort at a correction.

  9. It's interesting how stupid you idiots are. This is a journalistic complaint. This is not an acceptance of or an advocacy of the "walk back". It's a legitimate complaint that the so-called journalists disappeared it. You idiots cannot tell the difference between someone asking that facts be included in a news story and an advocacy of those facts by the person making the complaint. You prefer and expect certain facts to be disappeared based on how you feel about them, probably because the only media you consume is biased, advocacy journalism and by this point it is all you know. Your ignorance is really off the charts.

    1. Agreed. The fact that Republicans are trying to have it both ways should not only be reported. It should be emphasized in media reporting.
      Also, pointing out the Republican Party is led by fascists, should be part of ALL political reporting.
      Our political reporting is a mess. There are media criticism blogs who point this out on a regular basis. Meanwhile Somerby repeats nonsense Right-wing memes to pimp traffic at TDH.