MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2022
The downfall / defeat of our tribe: Last Friday morning, our blue tribe absorbed a terrible political defeat.
In response, MSNBC scheduled a special two-hour broadcast of its regular weeknight program, The 11th Hour.
The program debuted in September 2016, hosted by Brian Williams. At that time, Williams was emerging from the journalistic wilderness into which he had been consigned after he invented various claims about himself and others.
Last November, Williams announced that he was leaving NBC. In March of this year, he was formally replaced by Stephanie Ruhle, who has spent the past several months building peculiar artifacts around her work as the program's host.
Every night, Ruhle tells us that watching that evening's program is going to "make us smarter." For herself, she has spent the past month or so developing an array of peculiar poses in which she leans her chin on her hands as she listens to her guests, oddly seeming to evoke Rodin's The Thinker.
(The poses predated the slogan.)
We've been disappointed to see Ruhle behave in such peculiar ways. She has always struck us as the MSNBC host most likely to ask the occasional question, or to make the occasional remark, which breaks through the iron curtain of Mandated RightThink which now defines the terrain of the channel's thoroughly segregated political subject matter.
Occasionally, Ruhle still asks such unexpected questions or makes such unexpected remarks. (Almost no one else does.) That said, consider just one of the many inane remarks which littered Friday's two-hour show, in which we saw how this corporate channel is going to respond to what happened on Friday.
Early in Friday's program, Ruhle introduced her initial three-member pundit panel.
"Let's get smarter with the help of our lead-off panel tonight," she said, repeating a form of the branding mantra she now recites every night.
After introducing the panel, Stephanie Ruhle, a good, decent person who isn't a dope, proceeded to offer this performance:
RUHLE (6/24/22): Ladies, thank you so much for being here tonight. I feel like I need to start tonight's program sort of with a collective deep breath, there is so much [PAUSES, EXHALES DEEPLY] to get through.
We don't know what made Ruhle think she was performing a collective deep breath. Still, that's what she said.
Around the country, some young women are almost surely going to die because of the decision Ruhle's panel would be discussing. Other women, and sometimes their husbands or boyfriends, will have their lives transformed.
Despite this fact, Ruhle chose to begin with an absurdly performative deep exhalation. As she did, she assured us rubes, as she does every night, that her program would make us smarter.
In all honesty, the inanities were many this night. Because MSNBC is slow-walking its production of transcripts—almost surely for obvious reasons—it's hard to record them all.
That said, Ruhle's inane behavior with her first panel reached its zenith at the end of their segment. Somewhere, some young women are going to die, but the multimillionaire star said this as she went to commercial break:
RUHLE: Katie Benner, Melissa Murray, Joyce Vance, it is always a privilege to have you on, but especially tonight. Thank you all for bringing your expertise, but especially for being my friend.
Somewhere, people are going to die. But the main point wasn't the alleged "expertise" of Ruhle's guests. The more important point, on this occasion of vast defeat, was the fact that her guests were (said to be) her friends.
As viewers of this channel know, Ruhle was exercising a standard bit of corporate branding as she performed this script. Over the course of the past several years, the bosses at MSNBC have instructed the program's various seven- and eight-figure hosts that they must repeatedly assure us, the channel's highly gullible viewers, that the likable gang we see on its programs are just a big circle of "friends."
This cheerful branding got its start as the title of a popular network sitcom. It then jumped over to Fox & Friends, the dumbest show in the history of "cable news."
From there, the cheerful branding technique migrated to modern-day MSNBC. This silly, mandated condescension is reliably enacted, on a daily basis, by the channel's obedient hosts.
Indeed, at the very start of Friday's program, Ruhle had already referred to Maura Barrett, a much younger NBC reporter who is almost never seen on MSNBC, as "my friend and colleague."
We're prepared to guess that Ruhle and Barrett aren't "friends" in any normal sense of the term. That said, blue tribe voters who watch this channel are condescended to in this dimwitted way night after night after night. If you watch Deadline: White House, you'll even be told, day after day, that you're being joined by some of Nicolle Wallace's "favorite reporters and friends!"
This is part of a branding effort in which we viewers are led to believe that we ourselves are part of a circle of friends. Best of all, we know that our friends will never say anything that doesn't comport with our preconceived viewpoints.
There is nothing this network's bosses won't do to show us how dumb they think we are. Most of all, they do this:
Just as it's done on the Fox News Channel, they present lineups of "experts" which are completely segregated by viewpoint.
As on Fox, so too here. The "expert" guests who appear on these shows will never stray from preapproved corporate scripts and Storylines. Complexity is never allowed to enter the picture, which brings us to the sad performances seen on today's Morning Joe.
Good God! In that program's opening hour, the guests all followed the lead of their host, denouncing The Others as "fascists." This morning, the lineup included Beschloss and Gay and Litman oh my.
They all recited the most simple-minded possible views of the Supreme Court's recent decision.
Fascists fascists fascists fascists, the gang of best friends all said. But it fell to Mika, late in the hour, to offer the dumbest performance.
Mika read from a Caitlin Flanagan piece for the Atlantic. According to Mika (and a chyron), the essay carried this headline:
The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate
As Mika read excerpts from the essay, she didn't mention the fact that Flanagan's piece appeared in December 2019. She also failed to mention a more important fact. Neither she nor the chyron mentioned the second part of the dual headline which sits atop the piece:
THE DISHONESTY OF THE ABORTION DEBATE
Why we need to face the best arguments from the other side
The new segregation is like this!
Uh-oh! In her 2019 essay, Flanagan said that leading spokespeople from both sides of the abortion debate are offering dishonest presentations. She said that people from both political tribes should consider the best arguments concerning abortion and abortion rights made by the other side.
You can agree with that or not, but only Mika would treat it this way—selectively quoting the parts of the piece which criticized the dishonesty of The Others, of those on The Other Side.
In fairness, we'll guess that Mika may not have read Flanagan's piece. She may have simply been reading copy prepared by her program's producers.
That said, you'll rarely see a better example of the spectacular dumbness of the "intellectual leadership" provided to those On Our Side. This spectacular dumbness very much helps explain how we got to this place.
How did our highly self-impressed tribe ever reach this place? We'll examine that question all week, even as experts continue to say that there's no clear way out of this mess.
To watch the tape of Mika's monologue, you can just click here. In the two minutes in which she's plainly reading text, she drops the F-bomb six separate times. For whatever reason, producers didn't post tape of Joe's earlier presentation, in which he lustily introduced this theme for the day.
As she speaks, Mika is never thoroughly clear about who the fascists are. Is she talking about certain Republican leaders? Is she talking about some of your neighbors and friends?
At times like these, it doesn't much matter. The silly Southern boys tell Miss Scarlett that they want to get after the Yankees. Political savvy is thrown to the winds and the joy of the name-calling starts.
According to experts, some of The Others may be fascists, but our own thought leaders are dumb. They've proven this for a long time.
Experts say that's not a fair fight. It has finally led us to this deeply unfortunate place.
Tomorrow: Truly, where to begin?