THE FALL: Tucker and Lawrence debate the debate!


A portrait of the fall: Monday evening's Senate debate continues to be debated.

We refer to the Pennsylvania Senate debate between Candidates Fetterman and Oz. In this morning's print editions, the New York Times offers three separate reports:

Fetterman’s Debate Showing Raises Democratic Anxieties in Senate Battle

Pennsylvania Voters Absorb an Unusual Debate: ‘I Felt Sorry for Fetterman’

What the Pennsylvania Media Is Saying About the Senate Debate

In print editions, that first report is the featured report atop the paper's front page. In that third report, four Philadelphia journalists are quoted saying these things:

Sharp critiques from The Philadelphia Inquirer’s opinion staff

A panel of columnists and other contributors was less than charitable in its reviews of both candidates, giving Mr. Fetterman an average score of 4.3 out of 10 and Dr. Oz a score of 4.1.

Here’s some of what the panelists said:

“The only good thing you can say about Fetterman’s performance is that he didn’t put on airs. He is authentically inarticulate.” — Jonathan Zimmerman

“Rather than counter his reputation as a snake-oil salesman, Oz leaned into it for most of the debate, with slick answers that were as empty as the diet pills that he once promoted (despite his ridiculous dodging answer) on TV.” — Will Bunch

“Fetterman’s stumbling and verbal gaffes made the debate a complete cringefest from beginning to end.” — Jenice Armstrong

“For all his years on TV, Oz came across as a fast-talking used car salesman.”—Paul Davies

Borrowing from Paul Simon's The Boxer: "Does a columnist hear what he wants to hear and disregard the rest?" 

For ourselves, we would vote for Fetterman, for the obvious reason: 

Within our current political system, the only thing which really matters in this race is which party controls the Senate. As we note this obvious point, we'll be straightforward enough to note this related fact:

Down in Georgia, some voters will vote for Candidate Walker for the exact same reason. 

Across the nation, few people watched this debate. You can watch the whole debate, and read a full transcript as you do, thanks to the invaluable web site Rev.

"Cable news" was perhaps less helpful last night. We say that for the following reason:

At 8 P.M., we watched Tucker Carlson. At 10 P.M., we watched Lawrence. 

We watched Tucker and Lawrence last night. Each host opened his program with a segment about the Pennsylvania debate.

In our view, each fellow was uselessly partisan. This is all part of our floundering nation's ongoing political fall.

At 8 P.M., Carlson engaged in his standard behavior. He started with a reasonable premise, given the fact that Fetterman's performance had raised valid points of concern.

That said, he was quickly overstating wildly, with both thumbs on the scales. Consider what he said about Rebecca Traister's appearance on Alex Wagner Tonight, an appearance we discussed in yesterday's report.

Carlson played tape of Traister's first few remarks. Then, he offered this:

CARLSON (10/26/22): We just keep clips like that around just for future historians to assess what went wrong in America and we wanted the hackiest possible response, the most dishonest assessment ever offered of any public event, and we just played it for you.

For a transcript and tape of Carlson's monologue, you can just click here.

For the record, Traister actually didn't present "the most dishonest assessment ever offered of any public event." For the record, Carlson tends to perform that task himself, pretty much on a nightly basis.

As an example of what we mean, consider what Carlson said next. In the passage shown below, he is referring to Traister's claim that "there were moments where [Fetterman] was really strong, including...his very fluent and direct response on raising the minimum wage. I thought was a really strong moment:"

CARLSON (continuing directly): Because we're literally can't control ourselves, you just heard her say that Fetterman had a strong answer to a question. Talk about patronizing, by the way. Well, we thought we'd go and check what was his answer. You can assess for yourself whether this was "strong." Here it is:

MODERATOR: What do you say to small business owners who have told us that if the minimum wage were increased to $15 an hour, it would put them out of business? You have 30 seconds. 

FETTERMAN: We all have to make sure that everyone that works is able to, that's, that's the most American bargain that if you work full time, you should be able to live in dignity is well true and I believe they haven't, have any businesses being, being, we can't have businesses being subsidized by not paying individuals that just simply can't afford to pay their own way. 

CARLSON: Again, we could fill the hour recapping John Fetterman's sad responses, but it's not really that surprising. Anyone who's been following John Fetterman for the past five months, you knew that he was profoundly cognitively impaired, and it turns out he is.

Is Fetterman "cognitively impaired" at all, let alone "profoundly?" We aren't qualified to make such assessments. Neither, of course, is Carlson.

We are prepared to tell you this:

As you can at the Rev site, Fetterman responded to two (2) consecutive questions concerning the minimum wage. 

His first response—the response to which Traister was likely referring—was in fact fairly articulate.  His second response was not, so that was the lone response for which Carlson provided tape.

Carlson dissembles in such ways on a nightly basis. He also offers ludicrous, sweeping assessments concerning the motives of Others. (Traister had also been selective in ignoring that second, jumbled response, in which Fetterman had to respond, off the cuff, to a follow-up question.)

Carlson often starts from a reasonable premise, then dissembles in ludicrous ways. His presentation last night was pure propaganda, as his efforts frequently are.

That said, we're not sure that Lawrence did a whole lot better.

First, our apologies! We can't link you a transcript of Lawrence's presentation. MSNBC began slow-walking its transcript production long ago, we assume for the obvious reason.

At present, the most recent transcript from a Last Word program dates from October 4. We assume it's obvious why the channel is doing this—and yes, it's an obvious mark of the times.

That said, you can watch Lawrence's full presentation here. We'll say this about that:

All in all, Lawrence delivered a monologue in which he made an obvious point: Many political leaders have continued to serve despite significant medical events.

Lawrence cited the medical history of several important political figures, including Winston Churchill. In his second segment. he interviewed Senator Chris Van Hollen, who suffered a mild stroke back in May. 

Van Hollen was back on the job within a week. This, of course, tells us nothing about the possible severity of Fetterman's medical event. Nor did Lawrence interview any medical journalist—any person who could have offered specialized information concerning the general topic at hand.

Tucker was pushing his viewers one way. Lawrence was also pushing his viewers, though in the opposite direction. 

In the process, every scrap of relevant medical information was left far behind. We'd vote for Candidate Fetterman ourselves, but we would vote against the way these "cable news" channels perform.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Increasingly, our public discourse is a highly tribalized joke.

Carlson at least transcribes the things he says. Our own stars won't even do that!

Tomorrow: Hopefully, back to what Professor Johnson said


  1. "Carlson dissembles in such ways on a nightly basis."

    Uh-huh. Where "dissembles" translates from Liberal to English as "convincingly ridicules media dembots".

    ...thank god for Tucker Carlson, and we're reasonably certain that he enjoys and welcomes liberal hatred as much we do...

    1. It’s difficult to gaslight people who utterly know that under the same circumstances, the media, Somerby, and his anonymouse critics, would have a Republican politician already dead and 6ft under.

      Which is funnier- Bob averring he would vote for Fetterman as a literal senate placeholder, or the anonymices who would as well, but must find a pretext to castigate Bob anyway?

    2. Who are you saying that the democrats wish were dead? What Democrat has ever called for the death of a Republican candidate? This sounds like a slur and a lie. The only folks calling for dead politicians have been Republicans, on 1/6, and those threatened by Trump in his Truth Social posts (who might as well be dead, Trump says). I don't know any Democratic politician who has used that rhetoric.

    3. “the media, Somerby, and his anonymouse critics, would have a Republican politician already dead and 6ft under. “

      Again, Fox News is part of the “media”.

      Did you read Somerby’s post?

    4. Can’t get more literal than the mices.


    5. All of it is positively hilarious, we must say.
      ...and quite a bit scary too...

      It appears now that their great leader with his
      "America is a nation that can be defined in a single word: asnafutimnaffutifut-boo"
      is not, in fact, an aberration. It's the latest development in liberal political science: being brain-dead is now a requirement...

    6. "...the media, Somerby, and his anonymouse critics, would have a Republican politician already dead and 6ft under."

      Cecelia, is that you? Playing a victim? On a day that ends in y?
      Someone should start a Go Fund Me, so we can buy our little Cece a "Fuck Your Feelings" t-shirt.

    7. Anonymouse 11:27pm, you’re Bob’s victim every day of the week.

      No more so than when you basically agree with him.

    8. Why should anyone believe that Somerby is actually voting Democratic, just because he says so? He then goes on to give pride of place to an extensive diatribe by Carlson against Fetterman. He pretends he doesn't present the Democratic viewpoint because there is no transcript, then links to a transcript later on that he could have used to present a pro-Fetterman argument. His main attack is on Traister and O'Donnell, not Carlson (who no one expects to be rational).

      Just as Carlson knowingly left out Fetterman's best answer to a cherry-picked question, Somerby knowingly leaves out positive info about Fetterman and statements by those defending him against ableist attacks, such as his doctor's letter and claims by medical authorities about recovery from strokes. These exist, despite Somerby's inability to find them on one show that he chose to examine.

      Those of us who would never choose to watch Carlson get a dose of his viewpoint today that we would never otherwise have heard. What kind of help is that to our Democratic candidates, such as Fetterman? With friends like Somerby, who needs enemies.

    9. “Anonymouse 11:27pm, you’re Bob’s victim every day of the week. “

      Ah, “victim.” It was inevitable that Cecelia would use that word against the “others” here (that’s what liberal commenters who criticize Somerby are to her). It occurs after two days of posts where “Bob” says he would vote for the Democrat automatically. Her lashing out here indicates that she feels victimized by “Bob”, because, after all, aside from the sin of being a party-line Democratic voter, a major part of his worldview is that Donald Trump is deranged and conservatives are … wait for it … victims.

      That must have stung Cecelia to the core, and now that word re-surfaces in her angry trolling denunciations.

      Of course, if Cecelia is in on the joke, and Somerby isn’t really a Democratic voter, then that would also explain her willingness to tolerate the pity that Somerby pretends to extend to America’s poor conservatives victims.

    10. Russia is a nation that can be defined in a single word, but it’s indecent.

    11. Not sure why Mao and Cecelia get responses to their comments, which universally lack any coherence or salient notions.

      We do not have to wonder if there were similar circumstances but with a has indeed actually happened, and no, Dems did not bury them.

      Yet these morons post comments filled with righteous indignation, while being devoid of substance.

      Best not to bother responding to the moronic Somerby fanboy trolls: Mao, Cecelia, Dave in CA, AC/MA, etc.

  2. We should note Bob starts by saying the only reason to vote Dem is that it helps the keep the Senate, as if it will make no difference for
    the people of Pennsylvania. This throws
    the rest of his both sides now take into
    serious question. Where the content of
    Fettermen’s answers bad or is he still
    Recovering his motor skills as The
    Last Word claims?

  3. “His second response was not, so that was the lone response for which Carlson provided tape.”

    Carlson selectively excerpted from Fetterman to show only his weakest responses.

    That is deceptive. Did O’Donnell selectively excerpt only the good responses and attempt to hide Fetterman’s difficulties? Nothing Somerby has written here indicates that.

    Based solely on Somerby’s post, it isn’t clear that the behavior of Carlson and O’Donnell is similar or equivalent.

    Was there any discussion of the candidates’ views?

  4. Why would Carlson’s behavior in excerpting only Fetterman’s bad responses not qualify as “ableism”, as Traister said? Isn’t Carlson pushing the idea that Fetterman is cognitively impaired and therefore shouldn’t be elected?

    1. Eh... what?? Is something, in your opinion, wrong with the idea that cognitively impaired shouldn’t be elected?

      ...sorry, but things have gotten so absurd that we can't tell a joke from sincere dembottery anymore...

    2. 1. Fetterman's stroke has not affected his ability to think, just to speak fluently (he does speak).
      2. This is equivalent to mocking Biden's stuttering.
      3. Examples of Republican malapropisms abound, from Reagan, Bush 1 & 2, Palin, and especially Trump, yet no one suggested they were too "cognitively impaired" to serve.
      4. Stupidity is not fixable, which should have eliminated Trump before he was nominated -- what is wrong with Republicans?

    3. Thanks for your word-salad, dear government scientist, but thanks: we've seen people who had a stroke.

      Have some respect for the disabled, and let them rest. Don't use them as puppets.

    4. They never got over the "Brown vs. Board of Education" decision.

    5. Different strokes for different folks, Mao. Not every stroke is the same and not every person's recovery is the same. Some die instantly, for example, while others do not notice they have had a stroke at all.

    6. Yeah. Fetterman might be one of those who did not notice.

    7. Note that my original comment, in keeping with Somerby’s post, was about the media response to the debate, NOT Fetterman’s condition. But Mao is a troll, so…

    8. Tsk. Perhaps you'd care to explain your original comment, dear mh, as we still aren't sure we understood it correctly (as, in fact, we noted in our 11:02 AM).

      Did you indeed opine that the idea that cognitively impaired shouldn’t be elected qualifies as “ableism”?

      ...or did you mean something else? Because, again, it just seems too absurd, even for you.

    9. The brain is modular. Mao can post comments skillfully but can’t think clearly.

    10. Washington Post editors said they would kill their cognitively impaired children with Down syndrome, so Republicans questioning fitness for a senate position doesn't seem so extreme.

      "I can say without hesitation that, tragic as it would have felt and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been, I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would have grieved the loss and moved on."

      So Democrats advocate screening people for cognitive ability and an IQ of around 60 (Downs syndrome average) justifies killing them.

    11. For the record, Fetterman does not have Down's syndrome.

  5. Here is how Keith Olbermann feels about Fetterman, and some media criticism of Joe Scarborough:

    Olbermann said:

    "nd unlike John Fetterman, who in his debate Tuesday night was about ten times as coherent as Herschel Walker and twenty times as coherent as Donald Trump, and who was still less painful to listen to than Mehmet Oz claiming that a woman’s fundamental right to have an abortion should be decided by herself, her doctor, and local political leaders!... unlike John Fetterman, who has gotten better, IS better, and who is getting better still, there are no mitigating factors for the impenetrable unintelligibility of Joe Scarborough and the fact that he has not been the same person for three consecutive years running, at any time in the last three decades. There are no mitigating factors for whatever is going on in Joe Scarborough’s mind at the moment. Or is not going on there."

    And later, he said this about Fetterman:

    "And Joe Scarborough’s attack on John Fetterman is somehow worse than it seems. Because for every American – every human being – recovering from any illness, any injury, any physical problem, any emotional problem, but especially a stroke or an aneurysm or Alzheimer’s or just a concussion – Joe Scarborough’s attack on John Fetterman was a slap to all of their faces.

    The brain is fragile, incredibly precise, incredibly resilient, and John Fetterman’s performance Tuesday night was miraculous and inspirational – especially if you have been touched, even in the mildest of ways, by head trauma. I have told this story before. At the age of 21 I stupidly ran head first into the side of a New York subway train. Fortunately I escaped with nothing more than a serious concussion. Nearly all the symptoms cleared within six months. But some pertaining to depth perception and vision are now in their 42nd year and I do ocular muscle exercises that help considerably. In fact I did them this morning."

    And then he said this:

    "And instead of looking at John Fetterman and saying he’s still fighting it but god damn it his recovery is astonishing, Joe Holier-Than-Thou Scarborough, Joe Quit-Congress Scarborough, Joe Break-Up-Other-Peoples-Marriages Scarborough, Joe Don’t-Ask-Trump-If-He’s-Stoned-Or-Brain-Damaged Scarborough, Joe My-Brain-Won’t-Let-Me-Be-The-Same-Person-Three-Years-In-A-Row Scarborough attacked Fetterman, attacked people who criticized him for attacking Fetterman, attacked the media who would NOT attack Fetterman, and then welcomed as a guest a man who used to literally pretend to have hearing and vision problems in order to get away with interrupting his guests, sabotaging his co-hosts, and making inappropriate remarks to women: Chris Matthews."

    But Somerby chooses to talk about Carlson and O'Donnell. I don't care how many times Somerby says he will vote Democratic -- his reporting of the reactions of Republicans to Fetterman's difficulties is disingenuous. We don't need help from pseudo-Dems who have nothing good to say about our own candidates, including Fetterman who is sharp as ever but has problems producing speech, not thinking, getting his ideas out into words. That is not a disqualification for office, as Fetterman's doctor noted. It is a cosmetic difficulties, one that should disqualify him from becoming a talk show host -- but that is not what he is running for.

    1. How how have we cruelly, unreasonably, and selfishly, gone this long without making Olbermann a school bus driver?

    2. Fuck off -- you think you are being funny but you are just demonstrating once again what a huge asshole you are.

    3. He wouldn't promise to run you over.

    4. Because you'd cry if he mentioned slavery to the kids.

    5. Thanks, anonymices for answering Anonymouse 11:04’s silly question!

    6. You must know that is not what the anonymous commenters are doing...

  6. We get results -- it has only been a month since I suggested that people could find transcripts on the website Rev, for which I provided a link.

    "You can watch the whole debate, and read a full transcript as you do, thanks to the invaluable web site Rev."

    Somerby says that across the nation few people watched the debate. That may be because Fetterman is not a national candidate -- he is running in PA only, which is where the debate was broadcast. Nevertheless, many of us have watched ads and interviews with Fetterman on the internet and cable news. Implying that we Democrats are underinformed about him is wrong. The remainder of the people nationwide who do not follow politics closely do not matter, since Fetterman is only running in PA. The rest of the nation will not be voting on his candidacy at all.

    Here is Fetterman's doctor's letter about his condition:

    "Chen said in the letter that Fetterman is committed to maintaining good fitness and health practices. "He has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office," the doctor said."

  7. Is there anyone who doesn't know that Trump is covering up a cognitive deficit when he refuses to read even a single sheet of paper with bullet points on it, and writes his own notes using a sharpie, in big block letters that can be easily read by newspeople in random photos? Everyone pretended he was OK, but he clearly isn't, even if his other behavior didn't indicate problems.

    Yet Republicans are trying to mock Fetterman because he needed a closed caption of audio during the debate -- Trump cannot even read from a teleprompter (which is why he goes off script so often). And he cannot walk up or down a ramp without holding someone's hand. But Fetterman has the problem? The main difference with Trump and Fetterman is that we know what caused Fetterman's difficulties, which are improving, whereas Trump's may be chronic and have never been admitted, much less explained.

  8. For those who may not have noticed, observe how both Mao and Cecilia use the term “media” in such a way as to exclude Fox News. It is clearly in opposition to the truth, not to mention Somerby’s blog.

    1. We don't exclude foxnews. Yes, foxnews is marginally better. Or, let's say: less worse.

      And Tucker Carlson is actually okay; can be reasonably described as occasionally "speaking truth to power".

      And what of it?

  9. Bob’s contention that Oz was taken out
    of context is super weak, but he’s been
    slipping in that direction for quite awhile.
    Other than that it’s two sides of advocacy
    Sort of journalism, which wouldn’t be
    a big dead if Carlson hadn’t been
    engaging in a lot darker stuff, which
    people like Bill Maher and Bob are
    happy to look away from.

  10. Can't you just extrapolate one from the other?

  11. Tucker Carlson is a national treasure.


  12. We're shocked and saddened that the gubernatorial election in Georgia is likely to be stolen again from Stacey Abrams this year. Oh noes, please, God, not again!