Over a thousand, all on one vine!


This inspired life: Remarkably, your incomparable Daily Howler keeps banging out those results.

Late last week, then over the weekend, MSNBC went into action catching up on its transcripts. We have no idea why "the slacker channel" decided to take this step, but if the pattern continues this week, we'll be able to show you something Rachel said last night.

For today, we thought we'd share a bit of a puzzlement, but also a pet peeve, concerning the Washington Post's increasingly tabloidized web site.

As we mentioned a few weeks back, the Post continues to publish a conventional print edition. Its online edition often seems to have come from a different publication altogether.

The online edition often ignores high-profile parts of the print edition. Also, the online edition tends to be much dumber and much more tabloidy.  

Just consider the never-ending news report—the news report about the tomatoes which grew on the vine.

Sydney Page's news report first appeared on April 7. This morning, six days later, it was still being featured on the front page of the Post's web site.

The report concerns the many tomatoes which grew on the one single vine. The headline reads as shown:

He grew 1,269 tomatoes on a single stem and broke his own world record

In all honesty, it didn't sound like especially crucial stuff. For that reason, we didn't click until today. When madness finally drove us to click, here's how the report began:

PAGE (4/7/22): Douglas Smith is a competitive guy. So when he turned his attention to the vegetable garden behind his home, he committed to it. So much, in fact, that his hobby grew to epic proportions.

Smith tended to his plants and produce until they became colossally outsize, landing him in what he calls “the competitive vegetable scene.”

The British gardener has harvested a nearly 7-pound tomato, a 624-pound pumpkin and a 20-foot-tall sunflower. Recently, though, he has shifted his focus from size to sum. It’s been a grand success.

Twice in a row, Smith broke the Guinness World Record for the most tomatoes grown on a single stem. Originally, he shattered the previous record of 488 tomatoes—which had been in place for more than 10 years—after he grew 839 cherry tomatoes on one stem in September.

On it goes from there. On this Groundhog Day of a morning, the report was sitting there again, featured on the front page of the Post's online edition for the seventh day in a row. Even as basic parts of the print edition are difficult or impossible to find online, the report about the 1,269 tomatoes keeps coming back for more.

Online, the Post seems to be increasingly committed to the trivial and the dumb. In fairness, this practice has dominated mainstream and liberal news orgs over the past twenty years—as, for example, at The Daily Beast and Slate, or all over the "basic cable" dial.

For the record, it was only today that we noticed which division of the Post lays claim to this tomato tale. Incredibly, it comes from the division of the (online) Post which bears this moniker:

Stories about humanity

For the past seven days, the online Post has been offering this tale of INSPIRED LIFE! There's nothing "wrong" with the trivial and somewhat dumb, but after maybe the fifth or sixth day, the postings can start to seem silly and possibly somewhat old.

The Post's weekly Outlook section doesn't get posted online. Front-page reports from the print edition are often quite hard to find online—but this tale of the thousand tomatoes just keeps refusing to go.

All around the mainstream dial, the devotion to dumbness is increasingly strong. No trivial matter gets left behind. So too, in the political realm, when it comes to tribal embellishments and repetitions of Storyline.

Meanwhile, will transcripts appear for last night's shows? If they do, we'll show you what Rachel said about the nature of news reporting from many long years ago.

To be honest, what she said was notably dumb. Suitably inspired, we rubes lapped it up. Please could we have a bit more?


  1. "To be honest, what she said was notably dumb."

    You don't say, dear! But it's for your liberal tribe's consumption, so all is well, n'est-ce pas?

  2. Well, if Bob says whatever She said was dumb, I
    guess we have to accept that He's always been
    impressively objective on the subject of
    Rachel Maddow.

  3. "Online, the Post seems to be increasingly committed to the trivial and the dumb. In fairness, this practice has dominated mainstream and liberal news orgs over the past twenty years—as, for example, at The Daily Beast and Slate, or all over the "basic cable" dial."

    Elsewhere, others are complaining because the Washington Post seems to be adding conservative reporters and changing its political focus. Somerby is upset primarily because they include extraneous news unrelated to politics or foreign affairs -- nonserious stuff in their online edition. If Somerby were actually a media critic, wouldn't he be mentioning the rightward shift of the Post, like other liberals?

    1. Democrats have lost the Hispanic vote.

    2. Not so much...

      "In last week’s Texas primary elections, unapologetically progressive Latino candidates performed exceedingly well across the state. The population of the state’s 35th Congressional District, which stretches from Austin to San Antonio, is 60 percent Latino. Voters there delivered an overwhelming victory to democratic socialist Greg Casar, an Austin city councilor backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and running against a much more moderate opponent, Eddie Rodriquez. In the statewide primary for attorney general, progressive former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza bested both of her opponents by a more than 2 to 1 margin. And in the congressional race on the border—the region Shor and others point to as most indicative of the Latino shift to the right—progressive Jessica Cisneros battled one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, long-time incumbent Henry Cuellar, to a near-tie, sending the race to a runoff in May.

      So what gives? How are Latinos both fleeing the perceived left politics of the Democratic Party and also electing candidates from the party’s left wing?

      The first answer is that the pundits are misreading the data. Democratic margins have in fact shrunk in South Texas—but not because Latino Democrats are switching their allegiances to the Republicans. In Hidalgo County, for example, Biden got 22,000 more votes than Obama did. Vote totals doesn’t go up if voters are defecting. What requires careful inspection is that Republicans, and Trump in particular, have been doing a better job of mobilizing conservative infrequent voters, while Democrats have neglected the importance of boosting voter turnout. Though Democrats did see an increase in Hidalgo County in 2020, the Republican increase was much larger, with Trump getting 75,000 more votes than Romney received against Obama. That’s what explains the shrinking margin. As Equis Labs outlined in its report on the 2020 election, Trump’s “gains happened among voters usually on the sidelines of politics.”"


  4. The story about tomatoes isn't dumb. It just doesn't interest Somerby. It also is timeless -- has no expiration date. That means it can plug the hole in the page until something the same size comes along. Somerby never thinks about the production issues inherent in creating a newspaper, online or in print. He only thinks about his own tastes, as if every paper must cater to him alone. And anything he lacks interest in is automatically called dumb. Talk about self-obsessed and narcissistic!

  5. I'm planting my victory garden along with the person in the news. Can someone tell me if this cancels out the new oil production boosted by the Biden administration? I want to follow the science.

  6. Once in awhile the press would dream up some "Howler," getting something wrong or taking it clearly out of context, and Bob would point it out.
    Then sometimes they would correct the mistake and that's when Bob would roll out the "Keeps getting results" thing, which then you took as a sort of tongue in cheek bragging.
    That he does it in this pathetic context now just
    illustrates, as if we needed the point made, how shabby this whole blog has become.

  7. TDH, there's a simple explanation for the MNBC transcript fiasco. Buzz Yardman, the guy whose job it is to prepare the transcripts (zero Harvard) was out sick with the whooping cough, and they had no one to spare to fill in for him; meanwhile a transcript starved populace had to endure going without them.

    1. I'm sure someone told you that but no, they've messed up the transcripts longer than 2 to 3 months. And even if that were the whole story, that person's boss could have replaced him. No it's a shameful cover story.

    2. Don't be silly. No one owes Somerby transcripts.

    3. Transcripts are an important part of how journalists operate. They were mandated by law in the 1970's to promote a balanced press. From what I have read so far, it seems Reagan dismantled the arrangement, allowing conservative to birth completely partisan media like Limbaugh and FOX, who are of course, already "balanced" (TM) and thus don't owe you anything.