Jane Coaston (almost) discusses Jerry Springer!


The person who died in jail: Jerry Springer died last week. He was one of the most monumental frauds in all of American history.

In fairness, as of today, so is (almost) everyone else! For the most part, Jane Coaston avoids discussing the actual sweep of this problem in this morning's New York Times, in a column which carries this headline:

We Are All Guests on ‘The Jerry Springer Show’ Now

We'd call that a very promising headline. In our view, Coaston fails to follow through.

Springer hailed from Cincinnati, where he once served as mayor. As it turns out, Cincinnati is Coaston's hometown, and Coaston's a good, decent person. 

Growing up in Cincinnati, Coaston watched the former mayor "gain a foothold in local cable television." In this passage, she describes (one small part of) where that foothold took us:

COASTON (4/29/23): Mr. Springer, who died on Thursday, saw his show become a huge hit in the 1990s despite being largely loathed by people who thought of themselves as cultured. Because the show definitely wasn’t that. It was a show about people who have sex with animals. And people who engaged in incest with siblings. It featured so many fist fights between guests and even between guests and the audience that you can easily find Jerry Springer fight compilation videos on YouTube, if you’re so disposed.

It was a show in which an episode might be titled “Freaky Sex Fetishes” or “I Married a Horse.” It was also a show that habitually portrayed being gay, bisexual or transgender as the “freakish” equivalents of a woman who had sex with 70 men in 10 hours or someone called the “the Kung Fu Hillbilly.”

And there was Mr. Springer, always wearing a suit and finishing every episode by imparting a “final thought,” followed by, “Till next time, take care of yourself, and each other.” He was a calm, bespectacled flight attendant on a plane headed directly to hell.


[Springer] once claimed that he wanted his television show to be serious, with serious interviews with serious people. But the ratings seemed to soar when the guests on his show spent less time debating the Iran-contra scandal and more time debating whether women with [Sorry. You'll have to go see what it says yourself].

As Springer learned and showed the world, sex with animals sells, as do the fistfights which follow! Meanwhile, Springer himself was a (likeable) master fraud—a likeable fellow who pretended to be dispensing "final thoughts" as he raked in millions of dollars by going as dumb and as low as it can possibly get.

That said, (almost) everyone (who matters) is Jerry Springer now! In this passage, Coaston discusses one (relatively minor) part of that deeply destructive story:

COASTON: [H]is particular brand of tabloid television gave way eventually to a landscape littered with reality shows in which people can brazenly broadcast their lives without the filtering mechanism of a studio talk show. There’s a direct line from the Springer show—which peaked in 1998 as the most-watched daytime television program in America, entertaining and horrifying nearly seven million Americans every single day—to the semi-staged mayhem of reality TV, which exploded following “Big Brother” and “Survivor” in 2000 and continues today with shows like “Real Housewives.”

Good God! As of 1998, Springer was hosting "the most-watched daytime television program in America!" 

In Coaston's telling, this led on to the stupidified "reality" fare which now dominates basic cable.

What the heck happened to basic cable? Let us count (a few of) the ways:

Coaston mentions Real Housewives. That sprawling, braindead franchise dominates Bravo, a cable channel which, per its name, was originally intended to focus on the fine arts.

The pattern proceeds from there. To cite one example, The Learning Channel was originally supposed to be devoted to learning! 

According to the leading authority on the topic, the channel "mostly featured documentary content pertaining to nature, science, history, current events, medicine, technology, cooking, home improvement, and other information-based topics." 

That's how it got its start! In 1992, The Learning Channel's corporate owners changed its name to TLC. The channel is now built around such dumbnified "reality" programs as 1000-lb Sisters, 90 Day Fiancé and Dr. Pimple Popper. 

Not to mention this year's thoughtful new TLC program, MILF Manor.

The stupidification which made Springer a star now dominates the remnants of basic cable. Eventually, Coaston even makes this claim about us the American people in this, the age of social media:

COASTON: [T]he social media era has smashed that barrier between performative awfulness and its audience. Mr. Springer’s more insidious legacy is that we’ve all been lured through the glass and, just like his guests, we’ve all been egged on to perform our cruelest, worst, most vice-signaling behavior, all while gawking at the same behavior in others. With “The Jerry Springer Show,” we were still just the audience. Now, we’re both the audience and the guests.

According to Coaston, in the way "we" behave on social media, we're "all" Springerspawn now!

Stating the obvious, that's an absurdly sweeping claim about us the American people. That said, Coaston leaves her analysis of our nation's Springerfication right there. 

As such, she's telling a story without an end. She's ignoring the most insidious part of this sprawling development.

In fairness, the dumbnification of American culture wasn't caused by Springer alone. If his program had never appeared, corporate owners of media properties would have learned that they could maximize profits by dumbing their product way, way down, as they've relentlessly done.

That said, (almost) everyone is Springer now!  Or at least, almost everyone who matters.

Tucker Carlson is Jerry Springer. So of course is Donald J. Trump. 

But so was Maureen Dowd, with her seven (7) columns bult around Candidate Gore's bald spot. So was Chris Matthews, rubbing his thigh as he told Gennifer Flowers what a smokin' hot babe she was, then as he trashed Hillary Clinton in ways so dumb that they defied belief.

Our blue tribe managed to sleep through all that. We then slept through a great deal more. How much more have we managed to miss?

In our view, our blue tribe is left with a basic question as we review the cultural drift Coaston (almost) discusses:

For starters, how about Joe and Mika (but mainly Joe)? Yesterday morning, were they Jerry Springer as they discussed one particular aspect of the Trump rape trial? 

How about Nicolle Wallace, as she pretended to discuss the same topic on yesterday's Deadline: White House?

The things they said were highly novelized. The things they said were very familiar and pleasing. 

That said, did their presentations make any sense, as judged by any traditional journalistic standard? Plainly no, they didn't.

Meanwhile, how about the person who died in prison, down in Georgia, in the astonishing circumstance described in the (online) Washington Post? 

Colin Kaepernick has agreed to pay for an autopsy. Why haven't we blue tribe viewers heard even one word about that? 

On Monday, we'll start addressing such questions. In our view, though, this whole "cable news" press corps is basically out of order. They're (pretty much) all Springer now, or they're at least Springer-adjacent.

Jerry Springer was a likeable person and an undisguised fraud. He gave us fistfights about sex with animals, then offered "final thoughts."

His behavior was baldly fraudulent. But at this point in the dumbnification which has emerged from the "democratization of media," how many of our multimillionaire cable stars aren't part of that same destructive culture?

Not to mention their endless array of sidekicks, dear friends and hangers-on! Are they all Jerry Springer now? If they aren't, why not?

Are they all Jerry Springer now, or was it only Tucker? We'd call that a very good question. We're glad you've finally asked!

Can you believe what you read in the Times?

FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2023

Did Carolyn Bryant confess?: Carolyn Bryant played a role in one of the most heinous racial murders of the last American century.

Yesterday afternoon, online, the New York Times reported her recent death. We were a bit surprised by the way Margalit Fox's report started.

In this morning's print edition, Fox's report has been substantially changed. That said, here's the start of the original New York Times report.

Here's the report we read yesterday afternoon, as it still appears at the Buffalo News (and elsewhere) attributed to the Times.  

Yesterday's original New York Times report:

Yesterday's online report by Margalit Fox started off like this:

FOX (4/27/23): Only two people knew exactly what happened during the minute they were alone together in the general store in Money, Miss., on Aug. 24, 1955. One, Emmett Till, a Black teenager visiting from Chicago, died four days later, at 14, in a brutal murder that stands out even in America's long history of racial injustice.

The other was Carolyn Bryant. She was the 21-year-old white proprietress of the store where, according to her testimony in the September 1955 trial of her husband and his half-brother for the murder, Till made a sexually suggestive remark to her, grabbed her roughly by the waist and let loose a wolf whistle.

Now Bryant, more recently known as Carolyn Bryant Donham, has died at 88. The Calcasieu Parish coroner's office confirmed the death of Bryant on Tuesday in Westlake, Louisiana.

The truth of what happened that August day may now never be clear. More than half a century after the murder, she admitted that she had perjured herself on the witness stand to make Till's conduct sound more threatening than it actually was—serving, in the words of the historian to whom she made the admission, as "the mouthpiece of a monstrous lie."

"She said with respect to the physical assault on her, or anything menacing or sexual, that that part isn't true," the historian, Timothy B. Tyson, told "CBS This Morning" in 2017.

But in an unpublished memoir that surfaced last year, Bryant stood by her earlier description of events, though she said she had tried to discourage her husband from harming Till.

That's how yesterday's report began. In that report, Bryant "admitted that she had perjured herself on the witness stand." She had done so while speaking to historian Timothy Tyson.

Bryant had admitted that she perjured herself. Later in yesterday's report, Fox reinforced that claim:

FOX: In 2008, Carolyn Bryant admitted that she had fabricated the most inflammatory parts of her testimony—the assertions that Till had grabbed her roughly around the waist and had uttered a sexual obscenity—at the behest of defense lawyers and her husband's family.

"You tell these stories for so long that they seem true," she told Tyson, a senior research scholar at Duke University, that year. "But that part is not true."

That interview became the foundation of Tyson's nonfiction book, "The Blood of Emmett Till" (2017). Its disclosure of Bryant's fabrication made headlines around the world.

That's the way the story was told in the original Times report. Yesterday afternoon, we were surprised by that account It seemed to us that the actual truth of the matter had been less clearcut than that.

This morning's revised New York Times report:

Yesterday afternoon, we were surprised by that original Times report.

This morning, Margalit Fox's report was featured on the front page of the hard-copy Times—but Fox's account of the matter at hand was substantially different now. 

As of this morning, as of right now, the New York Times report says this, starting in paragraph 4:

FOX (4/28/23): With Mrs. Bryant’s death, the truth of what happened that August day may now never be clear. More than half a century after the murder, Timothy B. Tyson, a Duke University historian who interviewed her, wrote that she had admitted to him that she had perjured herself on the witness stand to make Emmett’s conduct sound more threatening than it actually was—serving, in Dr. Tyson’s words, as “the mouthpiece of a monstrous lie.” 

“She said with respect to the physical assault on her, or anything menacing or sexual, that that part isn’t true,” Dr. Tyson told “CBS This Morning” in 2017.

The publication of his book on the case, “The Blood of Emmett Till” (2017), prompted the Justice Department to reopen an investigation, in which it subpoenaed Dr. Tyson’s research materials. The federal authorities said Mrs. Bryant denied ever having changed her story, and they questioned Dr. Tyson’s claims, saying a tape recording of an interview that he had conducted with her, which he had provided to investigators, did not contain any sort of recantation. They closed the case in 2021 without bringing charges.

In an unpublished memoir that surfaced last year, Mrs. Bryant stood by her earlier description of events, though she said she had tried to discourage her husband from harming Emmett.

In the original Times report, we're explicitly told that Bryant admitted that she perjured herself. In the revised New York Times report, we're told that the Justice Department had questioned Tyson's account, noting that his tape recording didn't contain any such statement by Bryant.

Strange! In the original Times report, Bryant had confessed to perjury, full stop. Her confession of perjury was treated as an established fact.

Today's revised report is quite different. In today's report, an historian claimed that she made a confession, but the Justice Department seemed to have cast a great deal of doubt upon that claim.

Yesterday's report said one thing. Today's report said something different—or at least, so it seemed at first! 

At first, it seemed like Margalit Fox had changed her account of this matter. But if you read deeper down in today's report, it seems that Fox has returned to her original story:

FOX: In 2008, after maintaining her long silence, Mrs. Bryant sought out Dr. Tyson: She had read and liked his 2004 book, “Blood Done Sign My Name,” a nonfiction account of the murder of a young Black man by whites in North Carolina in 1970. She wanted, she told him, to explain her side of the story.

Interviewed by Dr. Tyson at her home in Raleigh, Mrs. Bryant admitted that she had lied on the stand.

“About her testimony that Till had grabbed her around the waist and uttered obscenities,” Dr. Tyson wrote in 2017, “she now told me, ‘That part’s not true.’”

As for the rest of what transpired that night, the precise narrative had, with the passage of time, become unclear even to her.

“I want to tell you,” she told Dr. Tyson in their 2008 interview. “Honestly, I just don’t remember. It was 50 years ago.”

Just like that, we were back to the original account! Ignore what the Justice Department said! Once again, we're being told that Bryant "admitted that she had lied on the stand."

If you don't like the weather, just wait a while! So they sometimes say in New England.

It can work that way at the New York Times. If you don't like some account of the facts, just hang in there! Keep reading!

Stating the obvious, none of this makes Till's murder less vicious. In some ways, that's the problem with this strange performance by the New York Times.

None of this makes Till's murder less vicious. It does make the New York Times possibly seem a bit disrespectful, possibly just a bit strange.

Everybody makes mistakes. Also, news orgs sometimes perform.

For the original version: As noted above, you can still see the original version of Fox's report at the Buffalo News.

BRING US TOGETHER: The eternal need for an Us and a Them!

FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2023

The disconsolate experts' tale: Friend, please riddle us this:

Suppose you learned something very surprising. In fact, suppose you learned the following things:

Suppose you learned that the teacher of your fifth-grade child had been telling your child and her class that some individuals, by virtue of their race, are inherently racist.

Also, suppose you learned that this teacher, who you've always generally liked, had been telling the class that one race is inherently superior to some other race.

Beyond that, suppose you learned that the principal of your child's school had told the teacher that she had to stop saying these things. Suppose you learned all that!

Friend, suppose you learned all those things! Would you think that the principal had "moved toward restricting your child's education on race?" 

Would it even cross your mind to think something as weird as that?

We're going to guess that you wouldn't think that! We're going to guess that you might even wonder why the teacher in question hadn't been removed from her post.

At this point, we'll make a confession:

We don't think that public school kids should be taught that any "race" is inherently superior to any other "race."  We also don't think that public school kids should be taught these things:

That any individual, by virtue of his race, is inherently racist.

That any individual should be discriminated against, or receive adverse treatment, solely or partly because of their race or sex.

That an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.

We don't think kids should be taught such things—but how odd! 

In March 2021, a state representative in the Rhode Island legislature introduced a bill which sought to prohibit teachers from teaching such "divisive concepts." 

For the text of that bill, click here.

As far as we know, this bill was never passed. But on Wednesday, a report in the New York Times seemed to describe the mere proposal of this bill (and the mere proposal of other bills like it) meant that Rhode Island (and other states) had "moved toward restricting education on race" in recent years.

Why would a major newspaper publish such a weird statement? Experts have come to us with an answer on several occasions this week.

 According to these major experts, the odd formulation in the Times represents a deeply seated human impulse. It represents "the eternal need for an Us and a Them," these disconsolate experts all said.

Before we continue, let's state a few points about the bills concerning "divisive concepts." Such bills have been introduced in many state legislatures, by Republican legislators, in the past few years.

We'd like to state these points:

We're not saying that these bills should have passed into law. (In some states, they have been. Florida is one such state.) 

We're not saying that Democrats should have worked with their colleagues to amend these bills in various ways, perhaps by cleaning up fuzzy language or by adding additional provisions.

We're not saying that these bills were needed. We're not saying that these bills would have been helpful in some way.

We aren't saying those things. Instead, we're asking a question today. Specifically, we're asking this:

Why in the world would a major newspaper describe these bills as the New York Times did, especially without making any attempt to describe what the bills contained? Why would the New York Times say that provisions like these represent an attempt to "restrict" your second, fifth, or eighth grade child's "education on race?"

Why would a journalist say that? The experts who spoke to us addressed that and other points.

According to these world-class scholars, this behavior by the Times (and others) involves what they call the "Eek, a mouse" human instinct. It's an instinct hardwired in human brains and deeply bred in the bone, or so these experts say. 

At one time, it was a survival instinct, these despondent scholars acknowledge. Today, this instinct leads us on toward tribal war, and makes it very hard to survive as a large and diverse major nation.

According to these future experts, "Eek a mouse" works like this:

We human being are strongly inclined to divide into tribes, and to fear rival tribes. As part of an ancient survival instinct, we're strongly inclined to start demonizing tribes of Others, thereby hardening our own tribe's resolve in the face of their threatening presence. 

So it goes in our modern world at this highly polarized time. In their most shocking revelation, these experts say that our own blue tribe behaves this way on a regular basis.

Our instincts tell us that our blue tribe newspapers shouldn't even interview the Others! Also, that every behavior by the Others must be described in the most negative possible way.

This is what the experts said. For ourselves, we'd offer the following point:

On occasion, we think it's hard to have sufficient contempt for the way our corporate tribal leaders urge us in this destructive direction. They're paid large sums to behave that way, and the very large money spends good.

Last week, a former president spoke to Joe Scarborough and made an odd remark. Tucker Carlson hadn't been fired yet, and so our tribunes were still pretending to care about the children and teens who had recently been killed in certain shooting events.

Bill Clinton made a very odd statement about our nation's gun deaths. As we've noted several times, this is the start of what he said:

SCARBOROUGH: You were president when Columbine happened. And at the time, obviously we were all horrified, but almost thought of that as a one-off. It's now become a regular occurrence.

You and I grew up in a culture where everybody we went to church with, everybody that was in our neighborhood, they all went out hunting. You've talked about shotguns growing up? Same here.

But it's gotten so extreme. What do we do?

CLINTON: Well, one thing that's pretty clear is, whatever we do, we need to do it more together. And I think we need to start talking across this divide.

I remember when Jack Brooks, who was a congressman from Texas and enjoyed the support of the NRA in every election he was ever in, and Tom Foley, the Speaker of the House from Washington, they both told me that when the Senate put in the assault weapons ban into the crime bill, which I wanted, that if I signed it, we would lose the House. 

And we did! And they lost their seats, because of the ability of the NRA to terrify people, but also because we were beginning to lose touch with each other across cultural divides that had always existed but hadn't been barriers you couldn't breach.

Say what? It almost sounded like he was suggesting that we should speak to Others! 

Later in his colloquy, that's exactly what he said! Clinton suggested that we should pursue state-by-state referendums concerning guns. Fair enough, but here's the way he framed it:

CLINTON: I have argued that we ought to just put it all up for referendum. Let people vote on it. Let them—then neighbors have to talk to neighbors. They have to treat each other like people.

On my side, there are too many people who favor a lot of these gun measures who don't know any of these country people. And they don't understand that, you know, most of them are people you would be glad to have as neighbors if your house caught on fire, because they'd come over and take your kids to safety and come back and help you put the fire out. 

But this whole thing has come to stand for something that's not what it's about. It's crazy. And we need to start asking each other for help on this. It is not rational that we should have a dramatically higher death rate among school age children than any other country in the world...

On the gun thing at home, the only thing I'll say is, I think that the people like me who think we ought to limit gun clips to ten bullets, for example, we just need to start asking these people for help. Ask them to come to meetings. Ask them to talk to us. Because you don't have to win them all... 

Clinton went on from there. But when he said that people like Us would have to speak to people like Them, it became clear that he's way out of touch.

For the record, the experts who have spoken to us have made one point quite clear. Nothing is ever going to change our tribe's reactions or its behaviors. Our tribe's too far gone for that.

Still, the experts say this:

When we find ourselves describing provisions with which we agree as "moves toward restricting education on race," we've passed what these scholars refer to as "the gong-show point." 

There will be no turning back. We'll be taking this path to the end.

During his successful career, we'll guess that Clinton might have said that he agreed with most of the views contained in those "divisive concepts" bills. He might not have supported those bills, but he might have found something nice to say about the basic concepts being expressed in those bills. 

He might have said that we're all in this together, that we don't have a single person to waste. That seems to be one of the ways you peel votes away from opponents.

He got elected by six points, then got re-elected by eight. In fairness, things were somewhat simpler then. As he started his campaign for re-election, Fox News and MSNBC didn't exist.  The political Internet barely existed. Social media didn't.

We don't believe in having contempt for people. If we did, we'd tell you this:

It's hard to have sufficient contempt for the way our multimillionaire blue elites insist on guiding us through this game. We expect to focus a bit more on our own tribe's possible errors in the weeks ahead.

(Even one by Reverend Sharpton, who we've long admired!)

There is no way to change any of this, those experts despondently said. Our blue tribe will continue finding ways to construct an Us and a Them while insisting that the tribe known as Us is transplendently moral and right.

It's hard to be this dumb: Last October, Education Week published a report about the sorts of proposals which were discussed in yesterday's New York Times. 

It's extremely hard to be this dumb, but here's how the folderol started:

Since last year, states have passed legislation restricting discussions about race and racism in the classroom or limiting professional development about anti-racism, and many more have proposed similar laws.

...Most of these laws have the same eight or so “divisive concepts” listed, which, in many cases, are so vague it’s hard to tell what exactly they’re banning, educators and experts across the country have said.

Under the new laws, teachers can’t tell students that anyone because of their race or sex is “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” that anyone “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex,” or that they “should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race or sex.


“School districts are having great difficulty just explaining to educators what educators are supposed to be doing or not doing in response to these bills. And, you know, educators need support,” said Alice O’Brien, an attorney for the National Education Association, which was involved in the lawsuits in two of the four states.

“They don’t need to spend their time trying to split hairs about what a legislative enactment means,” she said. “It’s impossible to understand exactly what conduct is prohibited and isn’t prohibited.”

Under these laws, teachers are forbidden from telling students that anyone, because of his race, is inherently racist.

It's impossible to understand what that means, our blue tribe's experts have said!

Is something "wrong" with Tucker Carlson?


Discussions like that aren't allowed: We want to take at least one more look at the disordered being known as Tucker Carlson, late of the Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson Tonight. 

For starters, consider the way Ellison and Barr began their front-page report in this morning's Washington Post:

ELLISON AND BARR (4/27/23): Tucker Carlson had dinner with his ultimate boss, Rupert Murdoch, two weeks ago in Los Angeles, and everything seemed just fine.

But according to people familiar with their conversation and Murdoch’s thinking, the 92-year-old billionaire founder of Fox News had grown weary of some of Carlson’s increasingly far-right commentary on his nightly prime-time show—as well as some of the swaggering host’s behind-the-scenes attitude.

At that particular moment, he was disturbed by Carlson’s stance on Ukraine. A graphic on Carlson’s show had referred to Volodymyr Zelensky, president of the besieged nation, as a “Ukrainian pimp,” and the host had repeatedly excoriated the U.S. government for providing aid to its defense against Russian attacks.

A graphic on Carlson’s show had referred to Zelensky as a “Ukrainian pimp!” Also, the sky is blue around mid-day if there aren't any clouds in the sky! 

Stating the obvious, there's no reason why an analyst has to admire Zelensky. Also, no one is required to agree with the approach to the war on Ukraine which has been taken by the United States and our NATO allies.

That said, the absurdly childish Master Carlson engaged in endless name-calling aimed at Zelensky over the course of the past year. He rarely bothered with standard types of evidence and argument as he directed his various insults at the Ukrainian president.

This peculiar behavior tended to pass with little outside analysis, aside from the standard claim that Carlson was repeating Russian propaganda. The technical inanity of his journalistic behavior tended to go unremarked.

Simply put, you can't be so journalistically deranged that other journos will notice!

Night after night, the angry Carlson performed a virtual parody of logic- and evidence-based analysis.  Our tribe tended to respond by calling him names, to the extent that we bothered citing his conduct at all.

Is something "wrong" with this famous person? In this morning's New York Times, we're offered this account of Carlson's first public statement since he was sent home by Fox:

RUTENBERG ET AL (4/27/23): On Wednesday night, Mr. Carlson posted a video on Twitter, speaking publicly for the first time since getting pushed out. Mr. Carlson did not address his exit from Fox, but railed against “completely irrelevant” debates on TV and said: “Both political parties and their donors have reached consensus on what benefits them and they actively collude to shut down any conversation about it.”

He added: “When honest people say what’s true, calmly and without embarrassment, they become powerful. At the same time, the liars who have been trying to silence them shrink. They become weaker.”

Assuming the tiniest bit of competence on Carlson's part, his behavior on the air wouldn't likely be described by many people as "honest." Seeing that highlighted self-assessment, we'll ask our question again:

Is it possible that something is "wrong" with this very strange, very angry, deeply entitled fellow?

We lost a chunk of time today. For that reason, we're forced to substitute this observation for a fuller bit of thought:

We've said it many times with respect to the disordered behavior of Donald J. Trump. It's hard to have a serious discussion of such wildly disordered behavior without asking (carefully selected) medical specialists to speak to the matter at hand.

By the rules of modern journalism, such discussions aren't allowed. We simply haven't evolved to the point where such obvious questions can be asked within our mainstream discourse.

We've often noted the fact that a significant percentage of American men could be diagnosed as "sociopaths," according to medical authorities. (Could be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.) 

Within our high-end mainstream journalism, we're allowed to speak about "mental health" and "mental illness" issues involving certain types of people. We aren't allowed to stage such discissions with respect to people like Carlson. 

Instead, we rail and call them liars and racists. This tends to bring discussion to an end. Also, it tends to bestow power on the people we angrily name-call.

In our view, Carlson seems like a genuine, stone-cold nut. We're curious how his behavior would look to a medical specialist—to someone trained and experienced in the realm of abnormal psychology.

Given our primitive way of life, such discussions really aren't possible. Also, they aren't allowed. 

For the record, we've recommended pity for people like Carlson—after they've been disarmed.

Tomorrow afternoon: Charles Blow's account of that challenging speech by Harry Belafonte 

A note on the Washington Post: That report by Ellison and Barr appeared on the front page of this morning's (print edition) Washington Post.

As of 1 P.M. today, the article didn't appear anywhere on the nearly endless front page of the online Washington Post. 

That nearly endless online front page was larded with braindead articles about LIFESTYLE, WELL+BEING, FOOD, and of course ADVICE.

Meanwhile, that front-page report about Tucker Carlson had vanished from the earth. It seems to us that something is wrong with a discourse which functions like this.

BRING US TOGETHER: Has it "moved toward restricting education on race?"


Has the state of New York really done that? Charles Blow's column in today's New York Times offers a describes a lengthy broadside by the late Harry Belafonte—a broadside Belafonte delivered tin the summer of 2013.

In part, Belafonte's statement that day was an assault on the effects philanthropy had exerted on what was left of the civil rights movement.  More to the point, his broadside was an assault on the quality of what was left of Black political leadership at that point in time.

This afternoon, we'll post the parts of Blow's column where he summarizes Belafonte's presentation. In our view, Belafonte's reported analysis of Black progressive leadership can easily be extended to progressive leadership cadres from other "racial" groups.

For now, we'll limit ourselves to Blow's account of the way Belafonte's presentation affected him at that time. This is what he says:

BLOW (4/27/23): It was a warm July day, so after that session, I decided to walk back to The Times’s offices, and as I did, Belafonte’s question kept repeating in my head. The reality seized me that I had been playing much too small as a writer, covering and commenting on society and its systems rather than truly challenging them. I was at peril of being serenaded to sleep by professional vanities. I was squandering an opportunity and a responsibility.

Belafonte’s question lived with me henceforth and changed what I wrote and how I wrote it, and a few years ago, it spurred me to write my most recent book, “The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto.” It was the thesis of that book, reversing the Great Migration to consolidate Black power in a few Southern states, that prompted my own move to Atlanta.

Blow says he was deeply affected by what Belafonte said. For better or worse, the result was a political thesis which seems to make little apparent sense..

Are Black Americans going to migrate to a few Southern states to consolidate political power? Everything is always possible—although, almost surely, not that!

We would draw a certain conclusion from this—intensity isn't enough. 

Charles Blow is a good, decent person who very plainly wants to live in a better, more decent society. Belafonte's address filled him with fervor—but intensity, and a sense of certainty about one's cause, will never be enough.

This returns us to a news report in Tuesday's New York Times. As we noted yesterday, the report dealt with the College Board's announcement that it's going to change the changes it has already made to its new, high-profile Advanced Placement course.

Yesterday afternoon, Nicolle Wallace was gushing about how brilliant the reporting had been in the Times. She fawned over one of the journalists who had produced the report.

It was typical stuff from one of our blue tribe's clubhouses. Yesterday morning, we mentioned the claim which we have highlighted in this part of that report:

GOLDSTEIN AND SAUL (4/26/23): Some experts are wary. Cheryl Harris, a legal scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a leading thinker in the field of critical race theory, has helped organize the May 3 protest. In an interview on Monday, she said she hoped the College Board had learned that it could not appease a political movement that, in her words, was seeking to “censor and suppress” ideas.

An analysis last year by the education publication Chalkbeat found that 36 states had moved toward restricting education on race.

Say what? As of last year, had 36 of the fifty states "moved toward restricting education on race?" 

That seemed like a very high number to us. Could that number be accurate?

As we noted yesterday, the brilliant reporter who Wallace praised had used some slightly fuzzy language in that formulation. When we clicked the link to the Chalkbeat report, we found that Chalkbeat had actually recorded "efforts to restrict teaching racism and bias" in at least 36 states.

"So far, at least 36 states have adopted or introduced laws or policies that restrict teaching about race and racism," the Chalkbeat reporters said (our emphasis).  In a significant number of those states, some law or policy may have been introduced, but they hadn't been adopted. 

It seemed to us the reporter to whom Wallace fawned had perhaps glossed that distinction in the brilliant Times report. In that sense, it seemed to us that the New York Times had perhaps embellished matters a bit. 

An important question remained unexplored:

What kinds of "laws or policies" were being referenced in these reports? Setting Chalkbeat to the side, what kinds of laws or policies did the New York Times have in mind when it said that 36 states had "moved toward restricting education on race" as of last year?

What kinds of "moves" did the Times have in mind? In what ways had those states "moved toward restricting education on race?"

As we mentioned yesterday, we noticed at Chalkbeat that the state of New York was listed as one of the 36 states which had "moved toward" doing that. That struck usas possibly odd.

The trees grow high in New York State / They shine like gold in autumn. Also, though, the state of New York is politically blue. 

When we clicked the relevant link at the Chalkbeat report, we found the text of the proposed law in question. According to the Times report, that proposed law meant that the state of New York had "moved toward restricting education on race."

Instantly, let it be said—the proposed law in question doesn't seem to have been adopted. It was proposed by Republicans in the state legislature, but we can find no sign that it ever passed into law.

Perhaps that's what the Times reporters had meant when they said that states like New York had only "moved toward" restricting education on race. But had the proposed law in the state of New York actually done any such thing?

Below, you see part of the text of the proposed law. You can peruse the full text here, through the Chalkbeat link.

Before you peruse it, we'll ask you this. What part of this proposed law do you disagree with?

Assembly Bill A8579 / 2021-2022 Legislative Session

AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to prohibiting courses in critical race theory

THE people of the state of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new section 817 to read as follows:


1. No teacher, administrator or other employee of a school district, charter school, or city school district shall require or make part of a course the following concepts:

   A. One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.

   B. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherenrly racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

   C.  An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.


For now, let's stop right here. So far, is it clear to you that something is wrong with what this proposal is saying?

Granted, we all know how to complain about the silly, overwrought use of the term "critical race theory." Also, some of the language in statement 1, seen above, can be said to be a bit unclear.

That said, do you think that students in public schools should be taught that "one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex?" If that's what the proposal seeks to forbid, would you actually disagree with that stipulation?

Moving along, do you think that students in public schools should be taught that some individual, "by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously?" 

If that's what the proposal seeks to ban, would you disagree with that?

The proposal moves on through six more "concepts" which, it says, "no teacher...shall require or make part of a course."  

Concept D is quite clumsily worded, but with effort it can be puzzled out. Meanwhile, how about such concepts as these:

Do you think that public school students, in any grade, should be told that "an individual's moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex?" Also, are we "restricting education on race" if we say that a teacher can't do that?

Do you think that students should be told that some individual or individuals should "feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex?" Are we "restricting education on race" if we say that shouldn't be done?

Do you think that children should be taught such things? If that's what this proposal was meant to address, do you really disagree with such assertions?

Please understand! We aren't saying that this proposal should have been adopted. As written, some of its meaning isn't perfectly clear.

Also, we can imagine provisions which might be added to some such effort—provisions which hold that children should be taught that we all bear responsibility, as American citizens, for trying to make our large, sprawling nation live up to its stated ideals.

We can imagine clarifying the language of this proposal. We can imagine adding provisions which are more positive in nature—provisions about what children should be taught.

For today, though, we'll leave you with a few questions:

Do you really disagree with what this proposal seemed to be saying? But also, we'll ask you this:

Do you know why the New York Times, a newspaper in the state of New York, would tell us that the mere introduction of this proposal means that the state of New York has "moved toward restricting education on race?"

Why in the world would a newspaper say that? As we think back to Bill Clinton's strange suggestion to Joe Scarborough, we'll offer much, much more on this question tomorrow.

For today, a simple question:

The trees grow high in New York State, but how about this:

 When Republicans offered that proposal, did that mean that the state of New York "had moved toward restricting education on race?" Because that's what the New York Times said!

Tomorrow: Disconsolate experts despondently say that The Others must always be wrong!

This afternoon: Charles Blow's account of what Belafonte said

Would you want to be Tucker Carlson?


How did he get to be like that? In the famous Orson Welles film, the last word or words of Charles Foster Kane was this now-famous word:


In Welles' rendering, that final word offered the key to how the vastly disordered (and fictional) Kane had come to be the disordered person he was. 

We've been thinking about Citizen Kane ever since Tucker Carlson was shown the door at Fox. Especially given the new accounts of the misogyny which allegedly dominated the world of Tucker Carlson Tonight, we keep wondering how this actual, vastly disordered person came to be who he is.

Yesterday, Abby Grossberg was interviewed by Nicolle Wallace on Deadline: White House. Grossberg is a former Carlson staffer. In her current pair of lawsuits against Fox News. she has described the astounding misogyny which allegedly dominated CarlsonWorld.

Grossberg was interviewed from the 4 o'clock start of yesterday's program until 4:41 P.M. Eastern. We didn't think Wallace did a great job examining Grossberg's experiences within the world of Tucker Carlson Tonight.

How sick and disordered is this sick former star? In its initial report about Grossberg's lawsuits, the New York Times offered this:

CONFESSORE AND ROBERTSON (3/21/23): The lawsuits also include details about Ms. Grossberg’s work life at Fox and on Mr. Carlson’s show. Ms. Grossberg says she and other women endured frank and open sexism from co-workers and superiors at the network, which has been dogged for years by lawsuits and allegations about sexual harassment by Fox executives and stars.


According to the lawsuits filed by Ms. Grossberg, Fox superiors called [Maria] Bartiromo a “crazy bitch” who was “menopausal” and asked Ms. Grossberg to cut the host out of coverage discussions.

Last year, she began working as a senior booking producer at “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” On her first full day, according to the lawsuit, Ms. Grossberg discovered that the show’s Manhattan work space was decorated with large pictures of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, then the House speaker, wearing a plunging swimsuit.

The next day, Justin Wells, Mr. Carlson’s top producer, called Ms. Grossberg into his office, she said, to ask whether Ms. Bartiromo was having a sexual relationship with the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy.

Mr. Carlson’s staff joked about Jews and freely deployed a vulgar term for women, according to the complaint.

Oh yes, that "vulgar term for women." What can possibly explain the fact that "grown men" behave that way?

Carlson's apparent contempt for (liberal) women was routinely apparent in his work on the air at Fox. Grossberg's claims about the behavior of Carlson and his pitiful, incel-adjacent staff seem to deepen the picture.

In his famous film, Orson Welles tries to explain the disordered life of a disordered (fictional) person. In the last few days, we've been wondering how Tucker Carlson got to be the way he, rather transparently, actually is and has been.

How do you get to be like that? What explains the ability of a wealthy person to go on TV and do the various things Carlson did? 

What explains the loathing of women which animated the noxious culture described in Grossberg's lawsuits? We'd like to see such questions explored. For starters, we'd again mention this:

Carlson was an abandoned child. We recommend pity for abandoned children—once they've been stripped of their power, of their ability to do harm to others.

The American song book urges such pity. According to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, "Motherless child sees a hard time when mother is gone."

We offer one last word of advice to all our blue tribe members:

All too often, we bestow power on disordered people when we attack them as liars and racists.

Carlson's a badly disordered child. Describing him (and others) as what they are may lead to better outcomes.

The fuller lyrics: The song tracks back further in the American songbook. But as performed by Terry and McGhee, its initial assessment is rendered as shown:

Motherless child sees a hard time when mother is gone.
Motherless child sees a hard time when mother is gone.
They don't have nowhere to go;
They will run from door to door.
Motherless child sees a hard time when mother is gone.

For a performance from (probably) the 1950s, you can just click here.

BRING US TOGETHER: The semantic mess we rode in on is back!


Also, the state of New York's misconduct: According to major anthropologists, it's very, very, very hard to "bring us [the people] together."

According to those same top experts, we humans are strongly inclined to divide into groups at times like these, then to start dreaming of war.

Experts say that we the humans are then inclined to start attacking the Others. Beyond that, we the humans just aren't super-sharp! 

According to these disconsolate experts, we the humans never were, at least on balance, "the rational animal" at all! 

As a species, our rational capacity is limited! You can come to appreciate this finding by listening to C-Span callers, who get on the phone to Washington Journal and state their views each morning.

Then too, consider what we found on the front page of this morning's New York Times.

For starters, we found this headline atop the featured report in today's National section. There it is, all over again—the semantic mess we rode in on:

Don’t Call It a ‘Cut’: G.O.P. Tries to Rebrand Its Plan to Reduce Spending

Good lord! There's that demand all over again: Do not call it a "cut!"

Back in the day, this semantic dispute lay at the heart of an endless fight over Newt Gingrich's Medicare proposal. 

Out of nowhere, Gingrich had become Speaker of the House is January 1995. He proposed a plan for Medicare that either did, or perhaps did not, involve any actual "cuts."

For perhaps a year, the mainstream press corps tried to struggle it out. Lucky for us, neither MSNBC, nor the Fox News Channel, were in existence when this folderol got its start. 

(MSNBC went on the air in July 2016. Fox News launched three months later.)

That said, the battle went on and on and on, night after night on Crossfire. Here's the way the imponderable dispute was relentlessly ed:

Was Gingrich proposing cuts to the Medicare program? Or was he simply reducing the rate at which the program would grow?

This was a sematic fight, pure, plain and simple. The two sides agreed on every factual point. They disagreed only on the way those facts should be described.

That said, solving this riddle was well beyond the skill level of the mainstream American press corps. After this site came into being, we untangled this non-dispute dispute in posts of three different lengths, with Paul Krugman linking to our explanation of this folderol at one point.

That said, matters like these take us beyond the basic skill levels of the mainstream press. Unfortunately, virtually every other type of political dispute exists in that neverland too.

As a species, we simply aren't sharp enough to untangle our basic disputes, or at least so the experts insist. Just consider the second headline which appears in today's National section:

The College Board Will Change Its A.P. African American Studies Course

In this morning's New York Times, those two reports share page A11, the first page in the National section.

At any rate, the College Board is going to change its new course again! Here's the way the New York Times report starts:

GOLDSTEIN AND SAUL (4/26/23): The College Board said on Monday that it would revise its Advanced Placement African American studies course, less than three months after releasing it to a barrage of criticism from scholars, who accused the board of omitting key concepts and bending to political pressure from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had said he would not approve the curriculum for use in Florida.

While written in couched terms, the College Board’s statement appeared to acknowledge that in its quest to offer the course to as many students as possible—including those in conservative states—it watered down key concepts. 


The College Board, which relies on state participation to administer its courses and tests, had denied that politics had anything to do with its changes to the curriculum. But over the course of last year, the board repeatedly discussed the content of the class with Florida officials, who objected to specific ideas that were later removed or de-emphasized.

The Board is going to change its course again. Having bowed to demands from Ron DeSantis, they're now responding to the views of scholars!

The Board will be changing its changes! For the record, we're not saying that they should or they shouldn't do that. As with almost everything else, there's no perfect, ultimate way to teach this (very important) material.

There's no such thing as a perfect curriculum! That said, we were intrigued by highlighted statement shown below, and so we clicked a link:

GOLDSTEIN AND SAUL: Some experts are wary. Cheryl Harris, a legal scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a leading thinker in the field of critical race theory, has helped organize the May 3 protest. In an interview on Monday, she said she hoped the College Board had learned that it could not appease a political movement that, in her words, was seeking to “censor and suppress” ideas.

An analysis last year by the education publication Chalkbeat found that 36 states had moved toward restricting education on race.

Professor Harris argued that scholars whose ideas had been removed from the Advanced Placement course should be included in the process to revise the curriculum, to re-establish trust within the discipline and “bring some degree of transparency” to the development process.

At long last, the College Board will be listening to experts, scholars and leading thinkers! That said, we were intrigued by the claim about those 36 states:

Is it true? As of last year, had 36 states "moved toward restricting education on race?"

The language there was perhaps a bit fuzzy. As scholars of conceptual chaos, it's the kind of language we like!

Skillfully, we clicked the link to last year's Chalkbeat analysis. It seemed to us that Chalkbeat didn't quite exactly say what the Times report said it said. 

More strikingly, we were surprised to see that the state of New York was listed as one of the states which had (according to the Times language) "moved toward restricting education on race." Given that the state of New York is deep blue, we were surprised to see that.

Clicking two more times, we were taken to the place where the rubber met the road. In what way had the state of New York moved toward restricting education on race?

Tomorrow, we'll show you what we found through our additional clicks away from the Chalkbeat site. But at times like these, we humans may tend to split into tribes, and we may start putting our thumbs on the scales as we make our declarations.

Just last week, Bill Clinton said we should still try to talk to the Others across the great divide. Because we still believe in a place called Hope, we continue to agree with that admittedly weird idea.

Meanwhile, is Kevin McCarthy proposing "cuts?" Dear readers, listen up:

Almost thirty years later, that's a form of the semantic mess this particular site rode in on!

Tomorrow: "And the trees grow high in New York State / They shine like gold in autumn..."

Further notes on Tucker Carlson!


A stereotype on steroids: If it weren't for all the abnormal psychology, would there be any psychology at all? 

In this passage, Swan and Haberman describe a pair of lost souls:

SWAN AND HABERMAN (4/25/23): The casual news observer would be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Trump and his family no longer had a relationship with Mr. Carlson, given the recent disclosures of the Fox host’s scathing private text messages, which emerged as part of the conservative network’s legal battle against Dominion Voting Systems.

In early 2021, as Mr. Trump desperately tried to overturn the 2020 election, Mr. Carlson texted a confidant that he hated the president “passionately.” He also described Mr. Trump as a “demonic force.”

When the texts were released in March, Mr. Trump was wounded and called Mr. Carlson to talk about them, according to a person familiar with the outreach. But the two men patched it up quickly. Since then, they have talked regularly, exchanged text messages and appeared to have a closer relationship than at any time before, according to two people close to Mr. Trump...

Tucker called Trump "a demonic force"—said he hated him "passionately."

For a New York minute, Trump's feelings were hurt. But the two men patched it up quickly!

We can't evaluate the accuracy of that account. That said, there was Trump on Carlson's program on April 11, rambling on and on and on as Tucker struggled valiantly, fighting to stay awake.

We've been surprised, but not surprised, by some of the reporting about Carlson's departure from Fox. We refer to the accounts of the runaway misogyny which is said to have prevailed inside the badly disordered, tiny-tot world of Tucker Carlson Tonight.

In her new column, Michelle Goldberg describes some of what has been said, but she does hold back a bit. This is her account of Abby Grossberg's lawsuit against Fox, the contents of which have generally been under-reported:

GOLDBERG (4/25/23): Grossberg’s lawsuit had seemed, before Monday, to be at most a footnote to the broader Dominion drama, even though the behavior detailed in it was disgusting. Grossberg describes an environment in which women of all political persuasions were constantly discussed in terms of sexual desirability. One of Carlson’s bookers, she alleges, was told that she should sleep with Elon Musk to secure an interview. She claims that Carlson’s executive producer Justin Wells, also fired on Monday, called her into his office to ask about the sex life of her previous boss, the Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo...

...Contempt for women was part of Carlson’s brand at Fox News; his infamous “The End of Men” special urged men to tan their testicles to ostensibly increase testosterone and thereby rescue society from collapse. It would be fitting if contempt for women is what finally derailed him.

Carlson's disordered contempt for the people he thinks of as women was rarely disguised on his relentlessly dimwitted TV show. That said, it's hard to understand how any intelligent person's attitudes in this area can be as deeply disordered as Carlson's seem to be.

If Grossberg's accusations are accurate, how does Carlson take his mouth home to his wife? In this passage, Goldberg dips her toe in a certain stream, then possibly pulls it back:

GOLDBERG: The similarity of Carlson and Trump’s sensibilities might derive from the similarity of their resentments. Both were children of privilege—Carlson was kicked out of a Swiss boarding school—who sought the respect of the establishment but never got it. It’s worth noting, given his loathing of the putative deep state, that Carlson tried to join the C.I.A. but was rejected. He shifted his ambitions to cable news, but before landing at Fox News, he struggled to fit in. In a 2021 interview, Carlson described having a “kind of meltdown” after being fired from MSNBC in 2008, the latest of a string of failures, and having to sell his house. Speaking of the television industry, he said, “I was living in that world and I was not succeeding.”

In everything from his wardrobe on down, Carlson seems to present a type of stereotype on steroids. As the quintessential over-privileged preppy, he even managed to get himself kicked out of a Swiss boarding school! 

That said, that's hardly where his story begins or ends.

Carlson was indeed "a child of privilege"—unless you consider the fact that he was abandoned by his mother when he was 6 years old. 

She simply walked away from the family. As the leading authority notes, "she moved to France." Remarkably, the child who grew up to be Tucker Carlson never saw his mother again.

In this column, Goldberg plays the shrink game up to a limited point, but she seems to halt there. We'll go ahead and float a question:

Should we be surprised if someone abandoned in that way grows up with a disordered loathing of the type Carlson seems to present?

Moving right along from there, is Donald J. Trump a sociopath? How about Tucker Carlson?

As we've noted in the past, a significant percentage of adult men can be diagnosed as such. That said, we live in a journalistic / academic world within which such discussions are forbidden—where we aren't allowed to wonder about how a person as disordered as Carlson came to be that way.

We'll close with the (metaphorical) language from Bob Dylan, as we've sometimes done in the past:
I pity the poor immigrant
Who wishes he would've stayed home.
Who uses all his power to do evil
But in the end is always left so alone.
That man who with his fingers cheats
Who lies with every breath;
Who passionately hates his life
And likewise fears his death.


Who eats but is not satisfied;
Who hears but does not see.
Who falls in love with wealth itself
And turns his back on me.
That wasn't a song about immigration. It was a song about Tucker Carlson—who, we'd say, deserves the pity of the world, but not till his power is stripped.

Full disclosure: We knew quite a few "preppies" in college. Quite a few were extremely decent guys, and quite a few still are.

BRING US TOGETHER: Don Lemon is also out the door!


The spectacular dumbness, it burns: Tucker Carlson is out the door today—but Don Lemon is out the door too.

In this report in today's New York Times, three reporters attempt to say why. They start with a recent, ridiculous moment which drew a great deal of attention:

GRYNBAUM ET AL (4/25/23): One of CNN’s most recognizable stars, Mr. Lemon had a reputation as a fiery political commentator during his eight years as a prime-time anchor. But inside the network, he began to lose support after he made remarks in February about women and aging that were widely perceived to be sexist. The incident generated a national uproar and a rare public rebuke from Mr. Licht.

Mr. Lemon had asserted on the air that Nikki Haley, the 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate, “isn’t in her prime, sorry,” adding, “A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” He dismissed the objections of his female co-hosts by responding, “I’m just saying what the facts are—Google it.” He later apologized to the CNN newsroom and agreed to a corporate training program to address his on-air behavior.

Allies of Mr. Lemon had hoped he would turn the page from the incident. But executives at CNN gradually concluded that his future at CNN had become untenable...

Lemon's absurd assertions that day drew a great deal of attention. As Grynbaum notes, Lemon's absurd assertions were widely described as sexist.

It isn't that such assessments were necessarily "wrong." Tt's just that those assessments seemed to skip past a more fundamental problem. 

The spectacular dumbness of what Lemon said—the spectacular dumbness of the idea that you can turn to Google to learn if a female candidate is "in her prime"—the spectacular dumbness of Lemon's assertions passed with little explicit notice on that occasion.

No, Virginia! You can't Google the question of whether Candidate Haley is "in her prime." 

You may discern the stuff of sexism in Lemon's absurd remarks that day. You may discern the stuff of sexism in Lemon's remarks—but dear God! The spectacular dumbness!

Did something similar happen last week? As they continue, the Times reporters suggest that an absurd event last Wednesday led to Lemon's dismissal:

GRYNBAUM ET AL: In recent weeks, CNN leaders were hopeful that Mr. Lemon would adjust to his new morning-show role and that higher ratings would follow.

On Wednesday, however, Mr. Lemon made headlines again after a highly contentious on-air exchange with Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate. The segment deteriorated as the men fiercely debated questions of Black history and the Second Amendment; Mr. Lemon’s co-anchor Ms. Harlow could be seen sitting silently beside him, at times casting her gaze elsewhere and scrolling through her smartphone.

The incident left several CNN leaders exasperated, the people said.

For the record, Ramaswamy is "a Republican presidential candidate" in much the way that you and your neighbor across the street are in charge of the Bolshoi Ballet. 

In our view, the absurdity of last Wednesday's event started with the decision by CNN producers to book this non-candidate Republican candidate as a guest on Lemon's program.

It's true that the 12-minute segment with Ramaswamy turned into a "contentious on-air exchange" between Lemon and his guest. That said, the spectacular dumbness on this occasion began with several peculiar claims by Ramaswamy—peculiar, absurdly partisan claims which Harlow and Lemon had a hard time defining and addressing.

We can't necessarily blame Harlow and Lemon for that. That said, the "highly contentious," twelve-minute segment ended in the (lightly edited) manner shown.

We won't identify highlights:

LEMON (4/19/23): I'm not saying you shouldn't express your views. But I think it's insulting that you're sitting here, whatever ethnicity you are, splaining [?] to me about what it's like to be Black in America. I'm sorry.

RAMASWAMY: "Whatever ethnicity I am?" I'll tell you what I am, I'm an Indian American. I'm proud of it. But I think we should have this debate—Black, white, it doesn't matter—on the content of the ideas.

LEMON: I think we should have this debate, but I think if you want to do it, you should do it in an honest way and in a fair way. And what you're doing is not an honest and fair way. OK?

But we appreciate you coming on. Thank you for that.

RAMASWAMY: With due respect, Don, I look forward to continuing that conversation.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

RAMASWAMY: Thank you, thank you. Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: We'll talk about China next time you come back.

RAMASWAMY: Yes, let's talk about China. Oh thank you. Much to say on declaring independence from China.

You can watch the entire segment here. For transcripts, see below.

A sensible person can only hope that the non-candidate Republican candidate won't be invited back to share his views on China. Or even that CNN will decide to go off the air, acknowledging that the idea of broadcasting "news" on a 24-hour basis has turned out to be a very bad, tragic mistake.

That said, did Lemon's "highly contentious" session with Ramaswamy play a role in his termination? We have no idea.

The reporters suggest that it was seen as another instance of Lemon importing his "spiky, pull-no-punches" demeanor from CNN's evening broadcasts into the channel's morning program, where it doesn't belong.

Is that what Lemon's bosses thought? We have no way of knowing. For ourselves, we'd say that the spectacular dumbness started with Ramaswamy this day, but that Lemon can be said to have possibly taken the bait. 

We'd also say that the journalistic dumbness was routinely present on Lemon's evening shows too. That doesn't mean that he's a bad person. It does mean that our national journalistic discourse is routinely a rolling technical mess.

As everyone knows, Lemon wasn't the only "recognizable star" who was terminated yesterday. Tucker Carlson was shown the door at the Fox News Channel on the same day Lemon got the boot.

Carlson's programs were routinely, though not always, politically poisonous, often in ways which seemed to defy belief. That said, the spectacular dumbness was also routinely present as Carlson indulged in tortured logic and in fractured facts.

With that, we come to a basic fact about our nation's journalistic culture.  The technical dumbness of our journalism is so ubiquitous that it passes, day after day and night after night, with virtually no comment or mention at all.

The racism and the sexism will routinely be noticed, sometimes when they may not even be present. That said, the underlying technical dumbness routinely put on display by our "recognizable stars" will almost always pass without notice.  We offer this as a point of anthropology about the dangerous moment we're in.

We don't know why CNN decided to show Lemon the door.  We do know this:

The spectacular dumbness of our journalistic discourse can be quite widely observed, extending even into the work presented on MSNBC. 

It could even be said that this technical failure has long extended into the work of our highest-end mainstream print press. So Gene Lyons alleged in his 1996 book, Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater—a book in which "the media" which invented a decade of pseudo-scandal was principally the New York Times and the Washington Post, not the rightwing noise machine.

Last night, Rachel Maddow assured us blues that people like Tucker Carlson never really achieve their goals within our American system. Starting with Father Coughlin, she cited a century of right-wing American media stars as she advanced her claim.

In our present circumstance, would that her claim were true!

In this case, Carlson and his associates have already managed to get Donald J. Trump elected president.  Also, as a result of Trump's four-year term, Roe v. Wade was overturned last year.

That said, so what?  Maddow, who played a recurring role in Trump's surprising rise to power, was there last night to assure us rubes that people like the remarkably disordered Carlson never prosper.

Through all of this, Bill Clinton was also present last week, making an unusual statement. As we noted again yesterday, he told Joe Scarborough that, whatever we decide to do, "we need to do it more together."

"We need to start talking across this divide," the former president said.

As our nation's descends into tribal war, can any such thing be imagined? Our spectacular discourse, such as it is, routinely burns all the way down.

Tomorrow: Attention, C-Span callers!

Transcripts are them: To its credit, CNN still transcribes all its shows. 

For the start of last Wednesday's "debate," you can just click this. For the rest of the exchange, you can just click here.

Presidential polling is worthless right now!

MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2023

Here are the latest results: At least in theory, we're glad to see that Tucker Carlson is out at Fox News. 

The problem involved what he might do wherever he ends up. We'd be happier if there had been some serious effort, within the mainstream press or on blue tribe cable, to report on Carlson's work while he was still on the air. 

We'll have more on this at some future date. Meanwhile, back to our original planned report:

Presidential polling is basically worthless this early in the campaign.

That doesn't mean that such polling isn't done! We offer the results from the new poll by NBC News to illustrate an important fact:

President Biden could actually lose next year!

Yes, that's right—he could lose! We applaud Michelle Goldberg for saying so right at the start of her latest column for the New York Times:

GOLDBERG (4/21/23): Watching the nascent Republican primary race, I have a sickening sense of déjà vu. As much as I abhor Donald Trump’s opponents, I’m desperate for one of them to prevail. Trump might be easier for Joe Biden to beat, but anyone who gets the Republican nomination has a chance of being elected, and the possibility of another Trump term is intolerable. So it’s harrowing to see Trump abetted, again, by the cowardice of his opponents.

According to Goldberg, Trump might be easier to beat, but even he could win. Goldberg's column moves on from there, but that's a very important point, right at the start of her piece.

That said, the sheer absurdity of our failing politics is visible in the new NBC poll. How broken is our American politics?

Let us count the ways! For starters, consider this:

Sixty percent of respondents said they don't want Trump to run for president next year.

Amazingly, that gives Trump a leg up on Biden. According to the NBC poll, seventy percent of respondents don't want him to run!

Most likely, those numbers merely mean that fewer Republicans were willing to throw their guy under the bus. That doesn't tell us how people will actually vote if Biden and Trump end up on the ballot as the two nominees.

The good news for Democrats starts with this—only 34 percent of respondents said they have a positive feeling about Trump!

Biden blows Trump away on that score. A full 38 percent of respondents said they have a positive feeling about him!

Is it likely that Trump will get nominated? At this point, it's hard to tell.

As of now, Republican respondents said they prefer Trump to DeSantis by a margin of 48-31 percent. That's a meaningless difference at this early point. Of course, if Trump can get himself indicted three or four more times, he'll likely be hard to stop!

Finally, here's the silliest finding in this whole poll, as reported by NBC's Mark Murray:

41% say they’d vote for Biden in general election

The NBC News survey finds a combined 41% of registered voters saying they’d definitely or probably vote for Biden in the general election, versus 47% who say they’d vote for the eventual Republican nominee.

It's basically silly to run a poll this far out. If you want to make it totally silly, you do what NBC did in this question:

You compare a hypothetical GOP nominee to an actual named Democrat! Polling gets no dumber than that.

There will be a lot of this sort of thing from this point on. Journalism is a round-the-clock business now, and discussing numbers like these can kill a great deal of time and burn away column inches.

That said, make no mistake—President Biden very much could end up losing next year. 

DeSantis could end up cleaning his clock. As Goldberg quite correctly warned, even Donald J. Trump could win!

STARTING TOMOROW: "Bring us together!"

MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2023

The person who died in jail: "Bring us together," a teenaged girl once said.

Her statement ended up being famous. First, though, Billy Budd!

According to Herman Melville's reporting, Billy Budd was "a seaman impressed into service aboard HMS Bellipotent in the year 1797 when the Royal Navy was reeling from two major mutinies."

The story proceeds from there. We're going to let the leading authority thumbnail the story as shown:

Billy, a foundling from Bristol, has an innocence, good looks and a natural charisma that make him popular with the crew. He has a stutter, which becomes more noticeable when under intense emotion. He arouses the antagonism of the ship's master-at-arms, John Claggart. Claggart, while not unattractive, seems somehow "defective or abnormal in the constitution", possessing a "natural depravity." Envy is Claggart's explicitly stated emotion toward Budd, foremost because of his "significant personal beauty," and also for his innocence and general popularity...

This leads Claggart to falsely charge Billy with conspiracy to mutiny. When the captain, Edward Fairfax "Starry" Vere, is presented with Claggart's charges, he summons Claggart and Billy to his cabin for a private meeting. Claggart makes his case and Billy, astounded, is unable to respond, due to his stutter. In his extreme frustration he strikes out at Claggart, killing him instantly.

When falsely accused, the astounded Budd was unable to speak. Instead, he lashed out at his accuser, killing him instantly. Or at least, so we're told.

The story is reminiscent of the greatest statement of anthropology of which major experts are aware. We refer to the statement attributed to Gene Brabender, the hard-throwing right-hander, in Jim Bouton's iconic 1970 book, Ball Four.

(For assessments of the book, see below.)

Gene Brabender was no one's sophisticate. In Bouton's telling, the right-hander spoke at a moment of high frustration during a discussion concerning a nuanced matter:

"Where I come from, we just talk for a little while," the frustrated Brabender angrily said. "After that, we start to hit."

After that, we start to hit! So it has been, within our failing nation, over the past several decades as partisanship and polarization have given way to parochialism and the politics of "tribalism"—to a type of political Babel.

"Bring us together," the teenaged girl once said, speaking to one of our 46 greatest presidents. That president failed to accomplish that task, but former president Bill Clinton says we should continue to try.

As part of a longer exploration concerning peace in Northern Ireland. Clinton's interview with Joe Scarborough will air tonight on MSNBC at 8 o'clock Eastern. On Saturday, we posted part of what Clinton said in his recent colloquy the Morning Joe host. 

In the passage shown below, Clinton responds to a question about the culture of guns. To watch the exchange, click here:

SCARBOROUGH: You were president when Columbine happened. And at the time, obviously we were all horrified, but almost thought of that as a one-off. It's now become a regular occurrence.

You and I grew up in a culture where everybody we went to church with, everybody that was in our neighborhood, they all went out hunting. You've talked about shotguns growing up? Same here.

But it's gotten so extreme. What do we do?

CLINTON: Well, one thing that's pretty clear is, whatever we do, we need to do it more together. And I think we need to start talking across this divide.

I remember when Jack Brooks, who was a congressman from Texas and enjoyed the support of the NRA in every election he was ever in, and Tom Foley, the Speaker of the House from Washington, they both told me that when the Senate put in the assault weapons ban into the crime bill, which I wanted, that if I signed it, we would lose the House. 

And we did! And they lost their seats, because of the ability of the NRA to terrify people, but also because we were beginning to lose touch with each other across cultural divides that had always existed but hadn't been barriers you couldn't breach.

"What do we do?" Joe Scarborough said. He was asking an excellent question.

We've highlighted past of Clinton's response:

Whatever we do, we need to do it more together. And I think we need to start talking across this divide.

Clinton went on to say much more about the nation's current state of affairs. We may post more of what he said as the week proceeds.

That said:

As we  ackowledged on Saturday, early commenters instantly said that Clinton is basically nuts. Despondent experts have told us this:

Where those commenters live, we humans only talk so long. After that, we start to hit!

Given the current state of our polity, did Clinton's advice make sense? Once again, we'll state our overall view, as we first stated it years ago:

We're not sure that there's a way to get "back out of all this." It seems to us that the nation has entered an unspoken state of tribal war—and it's very hard to find a way back out of such situations.

At times of war, our human groups tend to behave in ways which experts say are hard-wired. We tend to see the perfidy being expressed by The Others. But we tend to have a very hard time seeing the shortcomings of our own angry tribe.

At this site, we're a lifelong member of the blue tribe. That said, we regard the vast majority of those in the red tribe as our fellow citizens, neighbors and friends.

In our assessment, respect for Others qualifies as an immutable bottom line.

Over Here, within our blue tribe, we can't wave a magic wand and make members of the red tribe magically change their outlooks, viewpoints, understanding and beliefs. Absent the use of that magic wand, we need to use the tools of persuasion where the two tribes disagree.

We've long doubted the idea that there's really any way to avoid the onrushing war. We're also disinclined to believe that there is any actual way to win some such tribal war.

(Example: See Professor Richardson's well-regarded 2020 book. "How the South Won the Civil War.")

In our view, it's may be too late for President Clinton's advice to help. But if we want to avoid the wages of war, our own blue tribe must heal itself—must refine its own methods.

At the start of the film Gone With the Wind, some silly Southern boys are happily looking ahead to waging war on "the Yankees." An hour later, the camera draws back from downtown Atlanta, showing many acres filled with the bodies of the dying and the dead.

Whichever side you start out on, wars can be hard to "win." Clinton said we should reach out to Others. Along the way this week, we'll be looking at some of the ways our tribe may be failing to win.

Unable to respond to Claggart, Billy Budd lashed out. 

According to Melville, the story ended badly for Budd.  Are we sure that our current approach will turn out well for us?

Tomorrow: The person who died in jail?

Concerning Ball Four: In 1995, the New York Public Library included Ball Four as the only sports book among 159 titles in its exhibit “Books of the Century.” 

In 2011, Time magazine listed it as one of the 100 greatest non-fiction books written since 1923, the year when Time magazine first appeared.

We're not saying those assessments were correct. We're saying they were made.

That said, Brabender's comment lives forever. According to major anthropologists, it may be the single greatest description of our imperfect human race!

Bill Clinton makes a strange remark!


Georgia man dies in jail: During his recent trip to Ireland, Joe Scarborough spoke with Bill Clinton, a former American president.

One chunk of the interview was broadcast on Morning Joe this week. At the start of the segment, Clinton made a strange remark—a remark with which we agree. 

You can watch the whole segment here:

SCARBOROUGH: You were president when Columbine happened. And at the time, obviously we were all horrified, but almost thought of that as a one-off. It's now become a regular occurrence.

You and I grew up in a culture where everybody we went to church with, everybody that was in our neighborhood, they all went out hunting. You've talked about shotguns growing up? Same here.

But it's gotten so extreme. What do we do?

CLINTON: Well, one thing that's pretty clear is, whatever we do, we need to do it more together. And I think we need to start talking across this divide.

Say what? "We need to start talking across this divide?" Plainly, Clinton had made a very strange remark.

As the conversation continued, Clinton returned to events which took place five years before the mass slaughter at Columbine. For the record, he's discussing the "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act" of 1994:

CLINTON (continuing directly): I remember when Jack Brooks, who was a congressman from Texas and enjoyed the support of the NRA in every election he was ever in, and Tom Foley, the Speaker of the House from Washington, they both told me that when the Senate put in the assault weapons ban into the crime bill, which I wanted, that if I signed it, we would lose the House. 

And we did! And they lost their seats, because of the ability of the NRA to terrify people, but also because we were beginning to lose touch with each other across cultural divides that had always existed but hadn't been barriers you couldn't breach.

The conversation continued from there, as you can see on the tape. For the record, it's widely believed that Candidate Gore lost the 2000 election because of massive, last minute NRA ad campaigns in Tennessee and West Virginia—a pair of states which went red that year and have never looked back.

(In the wake of Columbine, Gore had favored new gun control measures. The NRA fought back.) 

When MSNBC posted the tape, many commenters were incredulous about Clinton's strange remarks. Here are a few of the first comments posted:

COMMENTER: This is like Chamberlain saying we need to make "peace in our time." What we need is to vote so overwhelmingly against the un-American party that they crawl away.

COMMENTER: I agree but it's hard to have a conversation when half of the country don't agree on the meaning of words, on reality, and on live and let live

COMMENTER: How, exactly, do I talk to people who openly hate me and wish me dead because my views aren't their own?

COMMENTER: Chamberlain "peace in our times." Reward the aggressor for aggression. This is what I'm hearing.

COMMENTER: How do I talk to people who have threatened my life? Bill has no clue what's really going on out here in the real world.

Just for the record, the first of those comments came from "Commando Soto." The last came from "Mr. Sharpie."

Bill Clinton got elected two times, by six and then by eight points. Commando Soto and Mr. Sharpie feel that he has no idea what's going on in the world. 

For ourselves, we're inclined to agree with the general thrust of Clinton's remarks. For what it's worth, he makes a key point hear the end of this segment:

"You don't have to win them all."

You don't have to persuade the most intransigent of The Others—the people who openly hate you and wish you were dead, the ones who don't agree on reality. You have to peel a certain percentage away, and then continue from there.

In our view, there's a lot to discuss in what Bill Clinton said. We're also inclined to think that the war is going to come, and that such wars can't be won.

More on such matters next week. At some point, we'll also discuss the Georgia man whose death has gone undiscussed.

THE WAGES OF STORYLINE: "Please come to Washington..."

FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2023

Initially, she said no: We're so old that we can remember when Charles Blow's column appeared.

In fact, the column appeared last Thursday morning in New York Times print editions. Looking ahead to next year's election, the column suggested a possible way Joe Biden could possibly lose.

Could Joe Biden possibly lose? We'll repeat an award-winning bromide:

Be careful what you're sure of! 

In our view, the president's age creates a potentially dangerous factor. For a gloomy assessment built on standard demographic analysis, consider Ruy Teixeira's recent analysis piece for the Washington Post, "How DeSantis could beat Biden." 

(Also, note the dismissive, name-calling comments insisting that "Meatball Ron / DeSatan" couldn't possibly win. So it went when we assured ourselves that Ronald Reagan couldn't possibly win. If memory serves, neither could Donald J. Trump!)

Could Biden possibly lose next year? Plainly, he possibly could. In his recent column, Blow quoted James Carville warning about "abysmally low Black turnout" in the 2022 midterm elections—more specifically, about low turnout among "younger Black voters.”

Blow provided no data about this decline in turnout. In limited fashion, Kevin Drum was able to do so, linking to an analysis piece in the New York Times in November 2022.

Blow provided no statistics, but he seemed to view Carville's warning as a valid point of concern. So did Terrance Woodbury, a founding partner of a firm "which researches Black voter sentiment."

Assurances on cable news to the side, we think Joe Biden could lose next year. We have no idea if he will, but plainly he could.

Yes, we think that Biden could lose—and we think that blue tribe members should worry about that too. Because we think Joe Biden could lose, our spirits fell when we read Blow's column.

Also, we thought of Angel Reese, a 20-year-old All-American basketball player at LSU.

Why did we think of Angel Reese as we read Blow's column? You're asking an excellent question!

Reese went viral last month when she was crudely insulted by Keith Olbermann, and by another male sports analyst, in the aftermath of LSU's win in the NCAA national championship game. 

Reese's taunting behavior after the game struck us as highly unusual, and as a bit over the top. That said, Reese is twenty years old. It wasn't the end of the world.

That said, a funny thing happened to Angel Reese after she was insulted by the likes of Olbermann and Dave Portnoy. In a highly familiar manner, mainstream press organs fell into line, reinventing basic facts about what the young person had done.

Her post-game taunting was quickly turned into trash talk during the game—all in service to the claim that she'd done nothing out of the norm.

We don't think we've ever seen an inaccurate Standard Press Corps Account take form quite so rapidly. This group behavior didn't gigantically matter either, except for the fact that such press corps behavior has been so familiar over the past thirty years, and also just in the past decade.

We thought Reese's post-game behavior after that game was quite unusual, and perhaps not the greatest idea. That said, Reese is 20 years old. It wasn't the end of the world.

Our journalists are all older than that. The behaviors in which they've engaged have been much more consequential.

Thirty years ago, the giants of the mainstream press initiated a decades-long pattern of group behavior which would end up sending Trump to the White House. We refer to the long-standing press corps war against Clinton, Clinton and Gore.

This war raged on for 25 years. Our tribe was never quite able to see it. 

More to the point, careerist tribal leaders simply didn't want to tell the truth about something they all understood. (For an account of the start of this war, see Gene Lyons' 1996 book, Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater.)

That war raged on for 25 years. In the end, it sent Trump to the White House. Along the way, a second bit of Storyline was widely adopted all through our blue tribe, starting with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

What actually happened on the miserable evening when Trayvon Martin, age 17, was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida? As we noted yesterday, basic facts about what happened that night never became clear—except within the cartoonized versions of that night's events which quickly swept through blue tribe organs.

Alex Wagner repeated that cartoon account of those events just this past Tuesday night! For ourselves, we'll offer this suggestion:

Cartoonized stories aren't what we need, but cable stars know what we want.

Today's young adults have grown up in an age which has featured many such episodes. Repeatedly, our  blue tribe has created accounts of high-profile events which have served these young people quite poorly.

There is no conceivable way to explain that fact to many blue tribe members. We see the lunacy which prevails on Fox. We can't see what we've done Over Here. 

In our view, young people like Angel Reese have been poorly served by this endless behavior.  Does Angel Reese have political views? We have no idea. 

But in the aftermath of LSU's win, Jill Biden offered a somewhat imperfect suggestion. Reese responded with a great deal of clatter as journalists cheered her on.

Would LSU go to the White House, as victorious sports teams do? At first, Reese seemed to say that she wouldn't go. We'll go see the Obamas instead, she said.

"Please come to Boston," the old hit song said. In this case, the invitation would be to the White House.

"Please come to Washington," the song now said—and at first, the young woman said no.

Finally, not unlike Achilles, Reese said that she'd go to the White House. In this passage, ESPN reported the diplomatic breakthrough:

ESPN (4/7/23):  LSU star Angel Reese said Friday that she will visit the White House with her team, days after suggesting the Tigers should instead celebrate their national championship with former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama rather than with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden.

Reese made the suggestion after saying she was not inclined to accept an apology from Jill Biden for suggesting that both LSU and runner-up Iowa be invited to the White House. President Biden did not follow through on that idea, inviting only LSU and men's national champion Connecticut.

We thought of Reese's initial reaction when we read Blow's column last week.

As our press corps has performed its fake racial greatness, a lot of young people have been persuaded of a lot of things which may not quite have been true.

We feel sorry for those young people. We think they've been badly served. 

There's no excuse for telling the story of Trayvon Martin's death the way Wagner did this week. That said, today's young adults have been fed that particular stew again and again and again.

Along the way, our blue tribe has performed very badly. 

First, we sat out the war against both Clintons and Gore—the war which sent Trump to the White House. Obediently, we fell in line and agreed to perform this newer Storyline too! 

Angel Reese was 9 years old when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. We thought of her when we read Blow's column.

We hope she casts a vote next year, preferably for Candidate Biden.