MISLEADING AND MISLED: Will the real Professor Tribe stand up?


Previous concerns disappear: For a good example of imperfect journalism, consult today's New York Times.

This news report previews tomorrow's presentation by the January 6 committee. Headline included, the news report starts like this:

Jan. 6 Panel Hints at Fresh Revelations as Hearing Is Delayed

A day after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Eric Herschmann, a White House lawyer, received an unexpected call from the conservative lawyer John Eastman, who had been working with President Donald J. Trump to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

To Mr. Herschmann’s surprise—even after the deadly riot—Mr. Eastman was still pushing to fight the election results, an effort that resulted in mayhem and violence.

Mr. Herschmann cut him off.

“I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life,” he recalled telling Mr. Eastman before recommending he find a criminal defense lawyer, adding, “You’re going to need it.”

In essence, the reporters present these statements by Herschmann as if they're established fact. Truthfully, this is Herschmann's account of this conversation, though it was given under oath.

Stating the obvious, any witness can remember events incorrectly. Witnesses also can lie. 

For those reasons, it would have been better journalism to present these recollections, right up front, as Herschmann's account of what happened. And just for the record, Herschmann doesn't strike us as the most reliable possible witness. 

In fact, Herschmann strikes us as even perhaps a tiny bit shaky. If you click here, and then click this, you may perhaps see what we mean.

In Herschmann's telling, Herschmann is the hero of this particular tale. In the way Herschmann tells it, he lambasted Jeffrey Clark on January 7. 

Herschmann is the obvious hero of Herschmann's Trump-bustin' tale.  But in the reports to which we've  linked, Herschmann was still playing buddy to Donald J. Trump, and to Donald Trump Jr., exactly one day earlier, right there on January 6! 

In our view, it isn't the best possible journalism to assume that every word a witness says is the absolute perfect truth. But Herschmann's story pleases our tribe, and it's being widely hailed within our tribal tents.

Meanwhile, alas! We liberals are currently hearing that some of our favorite stories aren't true. Today brings two examples:

As it turns out, Kimberley Guilfoyle wasn't paid for her January 6 speech out of an allegedly shady Trump fund-raising fund. Also this:

As it turns out, Rep. Loudermilk (R-Ga.) didn't take anyone on a tour of the Capitol Building on January 5, as had been suggested and/or alleged.

Every pleasing claim we hear won't necessarily be accurate! That brings us to the latest appearance on cable TV by Harvard's Professor Tribe.

Will the real Professor Tribe stand up? As we noted in this post, Professor Tribe appeared on MSNBC last Saturday night and offered sharp words of warning.

He started by saying that, in his view, Donald J. Trump has committed serious federal crimes. Beyond that, he said he's sure that Attorney General Garland will come to agree with that view.

At that point, Professor Tribe offered his words of warning. According to that earlier version of Tribe, charging Donald J. Trump with a crime might bring our democracy down:

TRIBE (6/11/22): What [Merrick Garland] has to do is make a very difficult choice. A lot of people who think it's easy underestimate the existential significance of indicting a former president. 


Many people are telling him that it would cause deep unrest, violent reaction, maybe even civil war, for the popular former president to be indicted. What he'll have to do is ask whether the costs to the country, in terms of having this repeat itself, and in terms of having us absolutely go down the tubes as a democracy, whether those outweigh the undoubted complicated costs of indicting a former president. 

That's the balance that I think he will be struggling with.

Professor Tribe went on from there. To see his full interview, click here.

Should Donald J. Trump be indicted? The attorney general will be facing a very difficult choice, Professor Tribe scarily said. 

We shouldn't "underestimate the existential significance of indicting a former president," the Harvard professor said.

Tribe said that an indictment of Trump might lead to violent reaction, perhaps even civil wat. We could "absolutely go down the tubes as a democracy," the professor now scarily said.

In our own personal view, those are valid concerns. That said, we were surprised to see Tribe saying such things on MSNBC. By this time, we would hgve thought everyone knew that such things simply aren't done!

We're going to guess that Professor Tribe got some pushback from the masses after he stated those views. We say that because, when Tribe appeared with Lawrence O'Donnell last night, he bruited Trump's crimes all up and down—but he did so without saying a word about the existential concerns to which he had given voice only three nights before. 

Concerns about violence, even about civil war? Those concerns were totally gone when Tribe appeared last night.

You can see the new Laurence Tribe in this four-minute tape. Because MSNBC is slow-walking its transcript production, we can't link you to a full account of all the things he said.

If you watch the tape of last night's interview, you'll see Tribe asserting that Trump would have no serious way to defend himself at trial should he be indicted. You will hear nothing about any possible civil disorder.

This was the new Laurence Tribe, taking the place of the old Laurence Tribe. We can't judge his legal claims, but we can say that Professor Tribe had executed a rather substantial flip.

Needless to say, Lawrence O'Donnell didn't ask him about his new attitude. As everyone surely knows by now, such things simply aren't done on corporate "cable news" channels.

Long ago and far away, Bob Dylan wrote a brilliant song (Tears of Rage). At an earlier time of major upheaval, a heartbroken father was asking his daughter why she had left him and her mother behind:

We pointed you the way to go
And scratched your name in sand,
Though you just thought it was nothing more
Than a place for you to stand.
I want you to know that while we watched you
Discover no one would be true
That I myself was among the ones who thought
It was just a childish thing to do.

Teenagers in the 1960s were deciding that "no one [in their parents' generation] would be true." In this song, Dylan's heartbroken father says "it was just a childish thing" for his daughter to reach that conclusion.

Today, our floundering nation desperately needs a way to recover from the age of Trump. In our view, it isn't childish to be surprised when people like Tribe seem to shapeshift in the way the professor did last night.

It isn't childish to be upset when cable stars like Lawrence O'Donnell fail to inquire about their flips. In truth, very few people "will be true" is our current cable environment.

One last point about the various things we liberals sometimes hear:

Last Saturday night, Professor Tribe opened with an unusual statement. As far as we know, he made an unfounded claim:

TRIBE (6/11/22): There was a huge group at the Ellipse. Long before [Trump] fired up that group, the Proud Boys, who he had told to stand by and stand back, and the Oathkeepers had engaged in reconnaissance of the Capitol with the help of members of Congress who acted essentially as insiders in the Capitol...

Say what? Tribe said that members of Congress had conducted reconnaissance tours of the Capitol for the two violent groups who led the January 6 incursion. 

He made this claim as if it was an established fact. He seemed to say that the January 6 committee had made this claim at its first hearing. 

In fact, no one had said any such thing at that initial hearing. As far as we know, no one has ever established the fact that any such tours took place.

Ayman Mohyeldin didn't challenge or question what Professor Tribe said. Today, we learn that Rep. Loudermilk led no such tour, just as he had said. 

It seems to us that Professor Tribe has been all over the place in the past four nights. That said, on our own cable channels, no one—not Lawrence O'Donnell, not anyone else—is going to keep us posted when pleasing claims fall apart.

With regard to the possible indictment of Trump, we can tell you this:

We watched Professor Tribe last Saturday night. Possibly after a bit of pushback, a different version of Professor Tribe seemed to appear last night. 

Even after 22 years, we're still surprised when we see such things. We don't think our reaction is childish. We think it goes straight to the point.

This afternoon: With what crimes could Trump be charged?

When the professor flipped on guns: Regarding that intriguing event, remind us to tell you some time.


  1. Eric Herschmann, like Republicans in 2008 calling themselves the Tea Party, and the Nazis in 1945, pretending they weren’t war criminals, is trying to shuck his uniform, and pretend he wasn’t really what he’s always been.
    Don’t fall for it.


  2. "In essence, the reporters present these statements by Herschmann as if they're established fact."

    Jeez, dear Bob. What in the world could compel you to dig so deep into your tribe's scummy bullshit?

    You know -- surely you must know! -- that it's not meant to be, not designed for being analyzed.

    Scummy propaganda. Surely you know what that is, dear Bob? N'est ce pas?

    1. Correct me if I'm wrong, Mao, but 'scummy" propaganda is pretty much every word that comes out of ex-POTUS Trump's mouth and pretty much everything out of yours. Amiright or amiright?

    2. You might want to calm down and stay on topic, dear dembot.

      ...oh, never mind, who are we kidding. Alas, TDS brain-deadness is a fatal condition...

    3. What are you going to do about it, Mao? Make a good faith argument?
      I’ll take my chances.

  3. Somerby demonstrates his own tendency to seek out and report on info that confirms his preferred narratives. Today Somerby says:

    As it turns out, Rep. Loudermilk (R-Ga.) didn't take anyone on a tour of the Capitol Building on January 5, as had been suggested and/or alleged.

    This is Somerby's pleasing claim, but there is video evidence that a man who went on Loudermilk's tour on 1/5, was photographed yelling at Nancy Pelosi while inside the Capitol Building on 1/6 (during the insurrection). This story has been reported in several places, so Somerby would have to deliberately ignore it in order to make the claim he makes this morning, that only a family group went on that tour (or that there was not tour). I have also seen reports that the original tour group of 12 people increased to 15 mid-tour.


    1. The tour group in question was not touring the Capitol building.

    2. Notice how the lying, weasel reporter from the idiotic, propaganda link you posted uses the weasel word Capitol complex, not Capitol. That's because the tour was not in the Capitol building. It was in one of the 17 buildings that make up the Capitol Complex. A building at the rioters never entered. You should be upset with the lying reporter and the disgusting low-class idiotic blog who lied to you about this, not Somerby.

    3. As usual, Somerby is 100% correct and you are 100% wrong.

    4. Capitol Police have now confirmed that Loudermilk led a tour of 15 people around the capitol buildng, including inside.

    5. The man who participated in the 1/6 insurrection was seen taking pictures of the security checkpoint at the Cannon tunnel that connects the congress chambers with the office building, and similar strategic entries. That isn’t normal behavior for a tourist. But keep on lying — there is video proof.

    6. The Cannon tunnel is not the Capitol building and no rioters were anywhere near the Cannon tunnel dumbass.

    7. Not for lack of trying…they have evidence of a plot to gas members in the tunnel, texts about it. The plot failed. That doesn’t make your guy innocent.

    8. Nor does it make him guilty.

    9. The main point was that Somerby's original point is 100% completely correct. Loudermilk (R-Ga.) didn't take anyone on a tour of the Capitol Building on January 5, as had been suggested and/or alleged.

      Low IQ partisan commenters want to move the goal posts with association fallacies and innuendo based on new propaganda points given to them by the fascist information sources that control them. Eg the idiot 9:06.

    10. "Low IQ partisan commenters..."

      Meh. Dembots don't have IQs. They don't get upset.

      They are tools.

    11. When all is said and done, Loudermilk is going to wish he was married to a Supreme Court justice, who was completely unqualified to be on it when Republicans nominated him.

    12. Well, 7:24 is a tool. That is for sure.

  4. Somerby suggests that we disbelieve Herschmann because he was reporting his side of a conversation (under oath), but he goes on to suggest that we should believe Republican accounts of situations when they contradict accounts of events, taking those accounts as exoneration. He offers the payment to Guilfoyle as an example.

    I suppose we should also believe Rudy Giuliani when he says he wasn't drunk and that he drank only Diet Pepsi on election night, despite accounts preceding these hearings:


    Somerby clearly chooses to believe Republicans whenever they offer an explanation, on the grounds that the Democrats could be misremembering or could have gotten things wrong. That ignores that there is evidence to support the claim that Guilfoyle was paid out of Trump fund-raising to address voter fraud, testimony before the 1/6 committee, which is where the claim came from. It doesn't matter that Guilfoyle's heiress Trump-donor is now saying something different. Somerby obviously prefers the cover-up to the truth, which he considers to be whatever he himself believes. No wonder Somerby believes Trump's Big Lie in preference to the vote tallies! Because if Trump believes it and the Republicans are all saying the same thing, it must be true, just as Guilfoyle's heiress's and Loudermilk's revisions must be the truth too.

    Any credibility Somerby may once have had is now gone, in my opinion. This website is nothing more than another Republican propaganda site. Do not trust anything Somerby says -- he is here working overtime to discredit the hearing's content and to repeat Republican rebuttals, but these are the same lying liars who brought us the insurrection in the first place. What else are they going to say?

    1. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/turning-point-usa-guilfoyle-january-6-stop-the-steal-rally

    2. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/kimberly-guilfoyle-trump-rally-speech-introduction-1367489/

    3. Somerby seems to be splitting hairs about the name of the entity that gave Guilfoyle the money, which did come from Trump's fund-raising on the Big Lie. Guilfoyle testified before the 1/6 committee and she was paid $60,000 to introduce Donald Trump Jr. at the rally. On what basis does Somerby call this info false? Only a quibble about which entity the money was funneled through to pay her for her 3 minute speech.

    4. $60k for spending 3 minutes saying nice things about Junior Trump?
      She got taken for a ride.

    5. Who negotiated such a shorty deal for her? Could it be the guy who cosplayed as a smart businessman on “The Apprentice “?

    6. 10:41,
      if you can provide a single quote from anything Somerby has written anytime anywhere that says he believes the Big Lie, I'll eat my hat.

      If you can't, I suggest you eat yours.

    7. 3:01 Somerby smugly claims he knows the truth about two claims he claims are false, but it turns out Somerby is just once again putting his thumb on the scale, it turns out those claims are indeed true.

      So what Somerby does not indicate here that he believes the Big Lie. It is clear from his daily blog posts that Somerby has no integrity, has a broken moral compass.

    8. Meh. Somerby is no bigger a piece of shit than any other Right-winger.
      I’ll eat my hat and shoes if you can prove me wrong.

    9. 3:14,

      unable to comprehend your response, I will accept as a concession.


      how perfectly insouciant of you.

    10. Mr B, seems like what the commenters are saying is that you are missing the point.

      Also seems like you think you are clever, but it is pretty un-clever to miss the point that badly.

      I can not read minds so I can only offer what seems likely.

    11. Loudermilk (R-Ga.) didn't take anyone on a tour of the Capitol Building on January 5, as had been suggested and/or alleged. Somerby's claim is unambiguously correct. Propaganda sources are trying to make people think otherwise, sources including the commission themselves!

    12. I look forward to Loudermilk testifying under oath and explaining exactly what it was he did do. LOL

    13. When he does, maybe you can prove that the tour was part of a reconnaissance plan to overthrow the Capitol. Until that time, it's all low IQ guilt by association.

    14. Yes. That's the point. After that, you can make accusations depending on what he says and any other proof you may come up with. Until then, it's all guilt by association propaganda.

    15. Well, it appears that I am being censored, my comments have been removed and Anon 6:17 is responding to himself now. Enjoy your debate with yourself. Thanks Bob.

    16. 6:04,
      my point was simply to deny that Somerby ever endorsed the Big Lie. What other point is in play?

  5. I can’t wait to see how much Somerby sent to Trump’s non-existent “Official Election Defense Fund”.

  6. Mayra Flores (R) defeats Dan Sanchez (D) in the #TX34 special election, flipping an 84% Hispanic Rio Grande Valley seat red.

    The plot thickens.

    1. The more interesting question is why there was a special election for that seat? Why did the previous Congress person vacate the job?

    2. The seat is eliminated for the next election.

    3. The gleeful way right wingers are obsessed with dominance is sadly an indication of the wounds they have suffer, likely unresolved childhood trauma.

      11:46 all we can offer you is condolences, and hope that you get help.

  7. Yet another “reason” provided by Somerby to let Trump off the hook: The Others will engage in violent civil war if the “liberals” try to prosecute him.

    Let’s call that mob rule, or thug rule, where the justice system chickens out of prosecuting potential criminals because right-wingers will (or may?) react violently.

    The question of the likelihood of such a reaction is never addressed by Somerby. He merely suggests it is a possible outcome. And he certainly doesn’t weigh the arguments in favor of indicting a man who may have committed serious crimes while president.

    I quoted from Bandy Lee (the psychiatric medical expert often recommended by Somerby) yesterday, in which she lays out the reasons why it might be dangerous not to prosecute.

  8. I will check for more info later,
    But on both correcting liberal counts
    Today Bob seems wrong on the
    Facts. He may be a little shaky
    Since Sussman was acquitted.

  9. I use Firefox as my surfing browser and I can't post here with it anymore, but Chrome works. FYI

    I don't like using Chrome for this (it's my browser for doing development work and I don't want the history cluttered with any non-work stuff) so I may stop commenting here.

  10. I guess Loudermilk just met with these
    people, allowed them to take photos of
    Hallways and check points but deny
    it was a tour. Were they casing the joint?
    It seems possible. Loudermilk had
    given false info about this matter
    already. Bob is likely intentionally
    misleading his readers here.

    1. Hallways and checkpoints ... that were not in the building where the riots took place.

    2. Yes, we cased the bank but we are not robbers because we never got anywhere near the vault. Think that defense would work in court?

      They moved the congress people out via the tunnel before the insurgents could get to them. Note that this is the guy issuing threats against Pelosi & others.

    3. The hallways and checkpoints were not in the building where the riots took place. The tour was in a different building.

    4. The targets escaped. It doesn’t mean the insurrectionists didn’t try.

  11. The "other" is always imagined to be the violent ones. Liberals imagine a civil war if Trump is charged with a crime. I find that utterly unlikely. OTOH my pro-choice tribe has committed attempted murder of a Justice as well as half a dozen attacks on pro-life structures. So, conservatives see us as the violent ones.

    1. You haven’t been following the rise in violence by the extremist right. You seriously think that one self-reported suicide is equivalent to clinic bombings in which staff were killed? What an ass you are — and no one here believes you are pro- choice.

    2. You are absolutely right, @9:00PM. A lot of violence has been committed by anti-abortion folks. Violence in the opposite direction is something new.

      IMO we pro-choicers need to accept that abortion will now be decided by state legislators. We need to find ways to convince these legislators to vote to permit abortions. I don't think violence is the way to persuade people to change their minds.

      To see what conservatives are reading, see "Open season": Pro-abortion radicals threaten violence against pro-life outfits after 30-day "deadline" expires,/b>

    3. Maybe us pro-choicers can contact Kyle Rittenhouse to protect legal abortion. He jumped at the chance to protect racial hierarchies, maybe he'll protect women's choice too.

    4. David, Thanks for the link.
      Did you notice there is way more evidence of Trump's crimes, than there is that it's open season on justices?

    5. @10:29 No, I didn't notice that. Someone has now been formally charged with attempted murder of a Justice. Trump hasn't been charged with anything.