PROMISICUITIES: Scarborough's bombast, plus two confessions!

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2023

As cultural norms decay: Our cultural norms, such as they were, have been in a visible state of decay. 

For one example, consider the recent, videotaped deposition of one Donald J. Trump.

Over the course of the past two days, parts of the deposition were played for the jury in the E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit trial. In this morning's New York Times, Weiser et al. report the contents of what was shown, starting with this:

WEISER ET AL (5/5/23): The defendant has been absent throughout, but he still loomed over the proceeding in federal court. He has been cited in testimony, photographs and legal arguments. And over two days this week, he appeared in a different form, as Ms. Carroll’s lawyers played for the jury excerpts from a video deposition they had taken of Mr. Trump in October.

In the video clips, he sits at a table, dark-suited and solemn, answering questions posed by Ms. Kaplan. He calls Ms. Carroll “a wack job,” “sick” and “a nut job” and turns his disdain on Ms. Kaplan, calling her a “political operative” and a “disgrace” and insulting her to her face.

According to the Times report, Trump went on to insist that no such event had ever occurred. You can read the transcript of the deposition here, though it doesn't seem to be searchable. 

Meanwhile, how deep was the defendant's "disdain" when aimed at Roberta Kaplan, Carroll's attorney? Weiser et al. say this:

WEISER ET AL: At one point, Ms. Kaplan asks about a statement Mr. Trump made in June 2019, after Ms. Carroll first told her story in a magazine. At the time, Mr. Trump denied that the encounter had even occurred and added that he could not have raped Ms. Carroll because she was not his “type.”

Ms. Kaplan, in an excerpt the jury was shown on Thursday, asks him to explain that statement.

“You wouldn’t be a choice of mine, either, to be honest,” Mr. Trump tells her. “I wouldn’t under any circumstances have any interest in you.”

So it goes as norms of behavior decay in astonishing ways.  Even Olbermann and Musto were never that deranged, one of the analysts sighed.

At this point, we'll add a familiar suggestion:

We can't have a serious discussion of such behavior until one journalistic norm is amended or abandoned—until we find a way to discuss such apparent "abnormal psychology" through the help of (carefully selected) medical specialists.

Our journalists still refuse to do that. In the place of such discussion, we're strongly inclined to resort to the time-honored calling of names.

Norms of behavior have been decaying around us in visible ways. That's true of Donald J. Trump's behavior, but it's also true in the case of Tucker Carlson—and the behavior of Justice Thomas doesn't seem to be real far behind.

Norms of behavior are decaying almost wherever we look. In fairness, that includes the opening segment of last Friday's Morning Joe, where the program's host went on a pleasing but factually challenged rant as seven onlookers looked on.

That rant was an artifact of a new journalistic norm. In this new journalistic norm, the age of Crossfire was thrown away in favor of The Age of Tribe—an age in which political discussion is increasingly segregated by viewpoint.

Red tribe voters tune in to Fox. We blues have MSNBC.

Each of these corporate entities hands its viewers the stories they like. At Fox, "seldom is heard a discouraging world." At MSNBC, the more accurate word would be "never." 

At MSNBC, we're handed the novelized stories we very much like, with few embellishments left behind. And so it went as a person who is actually very bright screamed and yelled last Friday, in pleasing ways, about someone who apparently didn't.

There is, of course, no perfect was to discuss news events and news topics. That said, our current way is a disaster, a joke. 

In our tribe, we hear about Trump Trump Jail, and we hear about little else. Real world problems don't exist, unless they serve Storyline.

So it has gone, within the past week, as our tribe has pretended to discuss the Carroll lawsuit and the red tribe has tried to ignore it. 

For ourselves, we would have liked to hear serious discussions about the best ways to handle claims of sexual assault—more specifically, to handle such claims in circumstances where there may be little hard evidence.

We'd also like to hear discussions about the best ways to create a world in which victims of sexual assault know they will be treated with respect when they come forward with their claims.

Instead, our tribe's discussion began with the screaming and yelling, then sometimes descended from there. This past Monday, an unfortunate bit of comic relief was thrown in the stew when "legal analyst" Katie Phang spoke with TV's Nicolle Wallace.

Phang is one of Wallace's "favorite reporters and friends." As if that embarrassing phrase wasn't awful enough, Phang now copped to this:

PHANG (5/1/23): Nicolle, I kind of wanted to start today by saying apparently my name came up today during the trial. It was name-dropped by Joe Tacopina in an attempt, I think, to distract from the issues in this case, about a dinner than never happened that I attended with E. Jean Carroll. 

So I wanted to make sure that everybody knew that I am friends with E. Jean Carroll. But that doesn't distract, in my humble opinion, when it comes to my legal analysis. And to answer your question... 

In Phang's (barely discernible) humble opinion, she wanted us to know that her personal friendship with the plaintiff doesn't affect her legal analysis. 

(All right, then! Good to know!)

Also, the villainous Tacopina had been at it again! Pleasingly, we were told that he'd been "attempting to distract from the issues in this case!" He had "name-dropped" Phang in court, possibly trying to make himself famous!

Should NBC News have a legal analyst cover a trial in which she's friends with the plaintiff? By traditional norms, it seems to us that the answer is probably no—and surely, this would have been seen as a matter for disclosure, of the kind we demand of the badly compromised Thomas.

In this case, Phang was making her admission only after Tacopina had engaged in his latest misconduct! (We'll guess she'd been told she had to.) 

And then, good God! The very next day, a second legal analyst told Nicolle Wallace this:

WALLACE (5/2/23): Take me inside where you think this case stands so far.

VANCE: Right. So absolutely—and Tacopina, I'm told, actually mentioned my name yesterday in court, raising the notion that a small group of E. Jean Carroll's close friends supported her during the Second Circuit argument. 

We've been friends for years, and I think that whole situation really goes to what you're saying here, this notion that they wanted E. Jean Carroll to react in the way that they thought a rape victim should, and E. Jean Carroll apparently reacted and has testified in a manner that is authentic for her...

Go ahead! This lawsuit concerns a very serious matter, but you're briefly allowed to laugh.

As with Phang the day before, Vance offered this bit of disclosure only after her name had been dropped in court. Meanwhile, does MSNBC have anyone "analyzing" this trial who isn't a long-standing personal friend of the plaintiff?

We don't know the answer to that. But on Tuesday, Vance made a belated, hurried admission, then rushed ahead in a transition which didn't much seem to make sense.

First Phang confessed, then Vance followed. This constitutes a bit of unfortunate comic relief, spinning off from a federal trial about one of the human race's most grievous forms of criminal misconduct.

Can anyone here play this game? Casey Stengel once asked. By traditional norms, the answer may be no at MSNBC in these brave new days of journalistic segregation.

Good God! Phang is a personal friend of the plaintiff, but then again so is Vance! We're prepared to assume that Lisa Rubin is not—and Rubin, like the other two legal analysts, is plainly a good, decent person.

That said, she's strongly devoted to certain feminist issues, and she has been all her life

In our view, she should be devoted to such issues, but does that help her journalism? As we've scrolled through the tweets of this good, decent person, we've found ourselves reading this:

RUBIN (4/30/23): If you’ve seen my coverage, it’s apparent I have strong feelings about the case. That’s partially because Carroll herself is compelling, in no small part because of her imperfections. She knows she doesn’t adhere to cultural expectations of victims, and she aims to upend them.

But it’s also because of what a victory in her case could signify for victims writ large. If a 79-year-old woman can hold a former president and the dominant figure in Republican Party politics liable, other women might find it less daunting to voice their own truths.

I am not a survivor. But I have been surrounded by their stories since my teens. A roommate raped by her uncle. The classmate groomed by our high school biology teacher. A friend assaulted by a ride-share driver. The list goes on and on and on.

For all of them and for all of you, I’ll keep breaking down the courtroom action and bearing witness. Stay tuned. FIN.

Is "bearing witness" to one's "strong feelings" a form of reporting or analysis? We aren't sure that it is. That said, Rubin offered this highlighted bit of advice last Friday, even as our tribe thrilled to claims about all the screaming and yelling:

RUBIN (4/28/23): If you were a trailblazing Emmy winner once known as the "coolest woman in journalism" by a woman who herself redefined the zeitgeist for a generation of New York women, ask yourself whether you'd risk that legacy all for a lie. Yeah, I didn't think so. Trust women. FIN.

Try to ignore the somewhat embellished lionization of the plaintiff in this very serious case. 

Rubin ends by telling us this: "Trust women." Was she saying that President Biden really did assault Tara Reade, as Reade still insists?

We know of exactly zero reason to think that E. Jean Carroll is lying in the claim at the heart of this case. Sometimes, though, some women haven't been telling the truth when they've made claims about such assaults. 

We've had several high-profile examples of this in recent years, but nothing on earth can make our tribe come to terms with such complexities. As humans, we're wired for tribal true belief—or at least, so all the experts keep saying.

Cultural norms, such as they were, have been breaking down. A great deal of Crazy can be found Over There.  But then again, this is Us:

Wallace will keep introducing groups of "our favorite reporters and friends." (On the brighter side, it begins to seem that she really did mean the part about all the friends.)

Branding like that will continue, creating a warm clubhouse feel.  But as people like Trump and Carlson drag our norms deep into the ground, our own careerist blue tribe tribunes will continue to parade about the countryside, saying the things we want to hear and dumbing us way, way down.

(As they do, they keep convincing us of a troubling possibility—Joe Biden could lose next year!)

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Having said that, go ahead:

On Monday afternoon, Phang copped. The very next day, Vance followed. In this one instance, you're allowed to laugh, though mordantly, and only for a brief moment.


  1. The second amendment is evil.

  2. I get anon 12:45, you think the Second Amendment is "evil." Is it really accomplishing anything by repeating this fairly dumb observation over & over? It's part of the Bill of Rights. Another amendment to the Constitution could delete it, but that ain't going to happen in the foreseeable future. Did you ever read Justice Scalia's decision? and the dissents? I think the majority decision was wrong - it pushes aside the part in it about "militias" and brushes aside that firearms have radically changed since the time the bill of rights was enacted. Maybe if the libs ever become a majority on SCOTUS, Scalia's decision could be overturned, just like Roe v Wade. Even if that happened, it wouldn't result in some type of Edenic paradise, there's loads of other bigger problems. You're annoying, over and over with what is a rather dumb assertion.

    1. "... it wouldn't result in some type of Edenic paradise, there's loads of other bigger problems."

      And just like that, no one spoke about the problem with people/ business/ groups being woke ever again.

    2. AC/MA -- try to put yourself into someone else's position. If you were a parent, you wouldn't be asking for any edenic paradise. You just want your kid to survive to adulthood. For myself, I don't want to be shot because some neighbor is having a bad day. These are small things to ask.

      Having someone you care about be injured or killed so that some bigot in TX can carry a firearm seems like a pretty big problem to me. Your desire to minimize it suggests that perhaps you have no one you care about, or perhaps you don't think it would happen to you? Last weekend, there was a shooting between two Tesla drivers contesting a charging station. It was right next to the cat urgent care where I happened to take my cat that same day, because he broke a tooth. You think this can't happen to you because you're normal or unimportant -- random shootings are random and they happen to everyday people going about everyday business. And this is wrong and worth making a fuss about.

    3. The idea that an “Edenic paradise” is implied by the “second amendment is evil” commenter is nuts. It’s a facially bad and poorly written amendment. No one thinks that paradise would result with any gun control measure, including the repeal of the second amendment. And all of those other problems you allude to aren’t going to disappear either, resulting in an Edenic paradise. You shouldn’t expect perfection, but you should at least try to improve things as you can.

    4. We ought not to confound the matter of gun control with the wider issue of gun violence when we discuss potential remedies to this difficult quandary.

    5. When you control guns the violence decreases. That means the two issues are related and can or even should be considered together.

  3. tdh keeps flogging his idea that if only a few "carefully selected" medical specialists could get on board to establish, apparently, that Trump is somehow psychologically deranged, we then could have a "serious discussion" about the former POTUS. TDH seems significantly naive, ignorant of politics and history, in his constant flogging of this concept (never mind that we are supposed to "pity" Trump). Not to say that Trump isn't kind of a nut, from a layman's perspective, but certainly not to all laymen (laypeople?). If Trump is a mental case, what does that say for all his followers? Who is going to "carefully select" this band of "medical specialists?" Politics is about power, not dilettantish rationality. In a "democracy" like ours to get elected depends on a lot of factors, and being reasonable and objective in one's message to the voters plays a limited part, if any.

    1. "being reasonable and objective in one's message to the voters plays a limited part, if any"

      Unless you're a Democrat, in which case being reasonable can get you elected. Look at Katie Porter and Barney Frank and Elizabeth Warren. All elected because they spoke good common sense to voters.

    2. Somerby has championed mental health professional Dr Bandy Lee, but not of late.

      That could be because in a recent interview Dr Bandy Lee said Republicans are afflicted with what she terms Trump Contagion, she said they are suffering from a pathology that makes them stuck in survivor mode such that reasonable persuasion has no effect, she said Trump and the Republicans are dragging our country down a death spiral.

  4. Republicans should support statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

  5. “For ourselves, we would have liked to hear serious discussions about the best ways to handle claims of sexual assault—more specifically, to handle such claims in circumstances where there may be little hard evidence.
    We'd also like to hear discussions about the best ways to create a world in which victims of sexual assault know they will be treated with respect when they come forward with their claims.”

    The legal system has had to deal with the lack of “hard evidence” (properly called “physical evidence”) for forever.

    And where was Somerby when the MeToo movement started? It was precisely about creating a “world in which victims of sexual assault know they will be treated with respect when they come forward with their claims.”

    Oh, I remember. He was berating the MeToo movement for making hysterical demands.

    1. There are many crimes where people are convicted in the absence of physical evidence. Often there is circumstantial evidence. The idea that there is no evidence in this case is wrong. Carroll's attorney presented a variety of evidence, including Carroll's sworn testimony. Trump's sworn testimony in his deposition tended to corroborate Carroll's. Trump has refusef to supply DNA. His attorney also declined to present any defense. There is plenty that Somerby might have discussed. Further, women have been attempting to seriously discuss how claims of sexual assault can be handled, for decades, going on centuries.

      And look at all the respect Somerby gave Chanel Miller!

      Somerby just cannot keep from labeling this particular discussion "promiscuities," when that word does not describe Carroll and is not allowed to be proposed during trial, because HER BEHAVIOR HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TRUMP'S BEHAVIOR. There is no circumstance where even the most promiscuous woman can be raped without it being a crime. But Somerby is doing his bit to advance the right wing smear campaign against Carroll. Let's have a serious discussion about why that is OK and how that relates to the word "respect".

    2. Somerby never defined what he meant by “hard evidence”, which is not a legal term. I helpfully supplied the term “physical evidence”, but perhaps that was presumptuous and too generous of me.

      Once, as a potential juror, the prosecutor asked me if I thought that physical evidence was important. I answered that it could be, that it could make the case stronger. I was rejected as a juror. Apparently, the prosecutor felt that I would be unwilling to entertain only circumstantial evidence in making a conviction. I do not believe that you must have physical evidence to convict, but the prosecutor must’ve been concerned about that. The case involved the sexual assault of a minor by an adult, and apparently there was no physical evidence. The man was eventually convicted. I wonder if Somerby has ever actually been called for jury duty or has ever spent any time studying the legal system to know that this type of thing goes on all the time.

    3. In my case, the prosecutor asked "If you saw someone go into an ice cream store, would you assume they were buying ice cream?" I said that I could imagine a number of others reasons for going into the store (to apply for a job, to meet someone, to get out of the heat and cool off, to sell ice cream supplies), so I got dismissed. For me, I would want to see converging circumstantial evidence.

  6. "Our journalists still refuse to do that. In the place of such discussion, we're strongly inclined to resort to the time-honored calling of names."

    Attaching diagnostic labels to people in a journalistic context IS name-calling too. Even psychiatrists and mental health professions only use those diagnoses for insurance billing and instead deal with people as individuals, as a whole person (and not a diagnosis), as people.

    Somerby thinks there is something to be gained by labeling Trump with one or several disorders. It doesn't work that way. A person like Trump doesn't get to rape anyone simply because you call him mentally ill. There are legal criteria for insanity, and if those don't apply, you get tried just like anyone else. Mental illness does not excuse someone who has broken laws.

    This repeated idea that mental health specialists must be "carefully selected" is very odd.

  7. "Each of these corporate entities hands its viewers the stories they like. At Fox, "seldom is heard a discouraging world." At MSNBC, the more accurate word would be "never."

    This is a lie that has been corrected here many times.

  8. "Phang is one of Wallace's "favorite reporters and friends." As if that embarrassing phrase wasn't awful enough,"

    What is embarrassing about having friends?

  9. Defund the Supreme Copurt.

  10. "He had "name-dropped" Phang in court, possibly trying to make himself famous!"

    Somerby doesn't quote Phang saying that Tacopina was trying to make himself famous. She says he was trying to distract from Carroll's testimony by mentioning Phang's name. Why would Somerby add a gratuitous lie like that? Perhaps to make Phang sound foolish? If she did say that, Somerby should have included it in the quote (e.g., not selectively quoted her).

  11. "Should NBC News have a legal analyst cover a trial in which she's friends with the plaintiff?"

    E. Jean Carroll worked for the NY Times at one point and knows a lot of journalists and media figures. She is a professional in that field. It is unreasonable to expect the various media covering her trial to find writers who do not know her (or know of her). Somerby doesn't explain that about her. It would undermine his contention that the media is somehow unable to set aside their personal knowledge and report facts or analyze law after meeting her. It doesn't appear that any of these journalists would have anything to gain personally by coloring their descriptions of what happened.

    Remember that it is the anonymous sequestered jury that will decide the case, not any journalist. The jury members are not permitted to read or watch any reporting on the case, nor to discuss the case among themselves before deliberations begin.

    When has Somerby ever demanded that no Fox reporter be allowed to comment on any of Trump's behavior, because they all know him and are favorable to his MAGA causes.

    I think that once Phang has announced that E. Jean Carroll is a friend, her comments become more interesting. I can discount any favoritism myself, but I would like to hear her insights. When it is not possible to find a disinterested media person, it is better to have them disclose their possible biases, than to skip reporting while you wait for that perfectly unbiased person who has never met anyone, been anywhere, done anything.

  12. "Is "bearing witness" to one's "strong feelings" a form of reporting or analysis? We aren't sure that it is. "

    Of course it is. Modern social scientists are taught to place themselves in the context of what they are studying. That means admitting prior experiences, examining one's unavoidable personal attitudes and beliefs that might color one's perspective. All people are embedded in context. Examining that context is part of analysis.

    Somerby went to school in the early 1960s. He had no graduate training. He seems to think it is possible to find perfectly objective observers, but the field of journalism, like other fields involving observation, understands embeddedness and the way you deal with it -- by analyzing and revealing your own influences. Then the reader can judge whether that experience might have affected the reporting.

    Hubris makes Somerby repeat his errors over and over. He doesn't read his comments, so he doesn't learn. He repeats the same outdated nonsense over and over, suggesting that Rubin, Phang and Vance shouldn't be writing about this case at all, because they are concerned about it, have a feminist perspective or know Carroll. That is stupid and silly nonsense on Somerby's part. Worse, he seems to be accusing these women of wrongdoing when they are well within the standards of their profession and need not pretend to an objectivity that exists in no one, especially not Somerby.

  13. "Try to ignore the somewhat embellished lionization of the plaintiff in this very serious case. "

    Embellished? Here are some facts from Carroll's Wikipedia bio:

    Pi Beta Phi and a cheerleader, she was crowned Miss Indiana University in 1963, and in 1964, as a representative of the university, she won the Miss Cheerleader USA title.[9] She appeared on To Tell The Truth in 1965.

    Carroll wrote for Saturday Night Live in the mid-1980s.[6] She was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program in 1987.[20]

    From 1994 through 1996, Carroll was the host and producer of the Ask E. Jean television series that aired on NBC's America's Talking—the predecessor to MSNBC.[21][6] Entertainment Weekly called Carroll "the most entertaining cable talk show host you will never see."[22] Carroll and the show were nominated for a CableACE Award in 1995.

    In addition to writing for magazines including The Atlantic and Vanity Fair, Carroll served as a contributing editor for Outside,[24][6][25] Esquire,[26][27][28] New York,[29] and Playboy. She was Playboy's first female contributing editor. She has numerous other writing credits, including five books, the longest running advice column in the US, articles in magazines and short stories in anthologies.

    In 2002, Carroll co-founded with her sister, Cande Carroll. On the site, women recommended their ex-boyfriends to each other.[42] GreatBoyfriends was acquired by The Knot Inc. in 2005. In 2004, she launched, a spoof of Facebook. On the site, people put their profiles on trading cards and bought, sold, and traded each other.[43] She launched an online version of her column,, in 2007. Ten years later Carroll co-founded Tawkify, "a personal concierge" for dating." She also advised Tawkify's matchmaking team.

    Via these various activities, she was well known and had many friends, and was a celebrity in her own right at the point where she encountered Donald Trump (a much less talented person).

    For Somerby to imply that anyone was puffing up a person with these accomplishments is insulting to Carroll. Somerby's routine dislike of the kind of thing that Carroll became famous for writing doesn't excuse him from knowing who she is. His attempt to diminish her is noted and reflects badly on Somerby, who may even be jealous of her ability to write and get her work published. It makes him look petty.

    1. In deposition, Trump is shown a photo of him and Carroll, and Trump says “That’s Marla, that’s my wife”. Trump claims Carroll “isn’t his type” but then mistook Carroll for his wife Marla. Apparently Trump is even more disingenuous than Somerby!

    2. Ans with those credentials and that experience in the Big City she didn't know what rape was until someone explained it to her. Because she was raised in Indiana or something.


  14. “So it goes as norms of behavior decay in astonishing ways.”

    After quoting from Trump’s deposition, he then describes this as an example of the decay of the norms of behavior.

    When was Trump’s behavior ever different from this? He’s been like this since he’s been in public life.

    And if he is deranged, as Somerby contends, how does Somerby imagine Trump would be able to abide by “norms of behavior” in the first place?

    1. Somerby’s worldview is that as it turns out Republicans are mentally disordered, but require the blue tribe to bend a knee to their whims, because otherwise we empower them.

      This is a mentally disordered worldview.

  15. I don't see anything particularly feminist about the idea that women shouldn't be raped.

  16. A close personal friend is someone who pays for your child's private school tuition. Do you suppose Phang did that for E. Jean Carroll? Somerby seems to think she did.

  17. Somerby seems to be suggesting that if a woman is a feminist she must recuse herself from any position where she might be involved with women, including reporting on their behavior, defending them in court, analyzing a case involving a woman on TV, and so on.

    "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

    If you accept this definition, then a feminist must recuse herself from everything involving people, and that is ridiculously limiting.

    Insisting that a woman who is a feminist must not fulfill certain roles in society strikes me as an MRA talking point and paranoid position. How is someone who thinks women are people going to produce a result that damages the desired outcomes of various professions? It seems to me that it would only improve the efforts of a person involved in the legal system, journalism, teaching, etc.

    Men who consider women to be already too privileged in society, as MRA adherents do, are going to resist a woman who believes women should be treated equally, because such men see women as privileged people claiming victimhood in order to disadvantage men. Somerby's misogyny may take this path -- I don't know because he most denigrates women, without stating his own opinions on such subjects. Somerby's unwillingness to come clean about his own attitudes is a major reason we cannot have a real discussion at this website. Rubin and Phang are honest about their views, but Somerby hides behind cutsie subheads "promiscuities" without explaining anything about what he believes in this case, except that Trump is deranged, he says. So what?

  18. Phang is friends with Carroll. So? Can you point to any instance where she has misreported or rooted for Carroll that might have influenced any potential jurors? (Remember how the jurors were chosen).

    Besides, the decision in the case isn’t Phang’s to make. (Why did Tacopina mention her anyway?)

    On the other hand, Thomas renders decisions on constitutional matters that affect all of us, and in some cases benefit his benefactors, like Crow or Leo, or his wife, in ways that show corruption of the highest order.

    1. Nobody grasps at straws like Bob.

  19. "(As they do, they keep convincing us of a troubling possibility—Joe Biden could lose next year!)"

    Biden is not going to lose next year because Phang and Rubin were friends with Wallace or Carroll. No one cares if a cable news host engages in pleasantries with a guest.

  20. Disclaimers about personal conflicts are mentioned from time to time in news reporting, that’s what these two MSNBC commentators did.
    What’s new in these Trump deposition clips (that Bob doesn’t really want to mention or talk about) is that Trump is essentially admitting his “grab’um by the pussy” remark is how he sees things, not “locker room talk” as his campaign successfully bullshitted. Bob argues that this is a symptom of a degenerating America, and surely it is that.
    Yet Bob, by soft peddling what Trump really said, wants to sell you the idea that all sins are equal. Joyce Vance has been quite scrupulously fair minded in her commentaries on MSNBC. She is clearly, also, appalled with Donald Trump, as Bob would be if he were not a creepy fool.

    1. I've always wondered if Trump has ever had positive, consensual experiences with women when he's been aggressive like that, or if they've ever done that to him -- grab him sexually.

      I'll bet he has. And so what does that tell you?

      A rude question, I know. Too bad.

  21. "Scarborough's bombast, plus two confessions!"

    A better word for what Phang and Vance's admissions about being friends with Carroll would be "disclosure," not confession. The word confession implies guilt and crime or sin. Disclosure means you are telling people something that hasn't been previously known.

    Is it a crime or a sin to be friends with Carroll? Of course not. Why does Somerby use the word confession? Because he either thinks they have done something wrong, or he wants to imply that to his readers.

    1. It’s also the ultimate example of such an admission being irrelevant. But, if it makes Bob feel better about his moral laxity their is nothing we can do for the sad fellow.

  22. Now watch Thomas vote to strike down the partial student loan forgiveness for 10's of millions of Americans.

  23. Can't watch MSNBC anymore, but it's hardly a pernicious

    1. Well, it’s transgressions are a great justification if you happen to be a MAGA idiot.

    2. Anti MAGA makes sense on one level but it also facilitates divide and conquer leadership tactics which makes it a problem.

    3. Divide and conquer is a right wing tactic to keep an orderly, obedient, and compliant labor force.

      Anti MAGA is not “divide and conquer”, it is fighting against pernicious oppression.

  24. One should note, Bob’s own version of the decay of norms in behavior never enter into his realm of self reflection. Did Trump’s ghastly testimony effect his own standards of decency? They didn’t effect my standards of behavior for me, as imperfect as those standards are.

    1. To heck with Bob. It’s time to move on.


    Here is some actual media criticism about something that matters, not a trivial nitpick.

  26. "Rubin ends by telling us this: "Trust women." Was she saying that President Biden really did assault Tara Reade, as Reade still insists?"

    Of course not. That phrase "trust women" means don't automatically trust men above women in "he said, she said" situations. It means take women's claims seriously and investigate them, instead of dismissing them as unverifiable or motivated by spite.

    It quickly became evident that Tara Reade was not telling the truth. Investigation revealed that, not disbelief of Reade's accusations. In this court case, it is obvious that Trump has a sense of entitlement about kissing and sexually assaulting women, by his own words at his deposition. From the testimony of witnesses, Carroll told others at the time the rape occurred and didn't make this up recently due to Trump's recent presidency or celebrity. From the testimony of other women claiming to be victims (making independent statements at the time), Trump has a pattern of behavior that includes a sequence of actions. Coupled with the sworn statements of the women involved, which is also evidence, this is more than a he said, she said situation, and Carroll is a person whose story has been consistent and who has not engaged in previous unsubstantiated accusations or lying. She does not need money, nor does she need notoriety, having achieved a substantial career of her own in which a media focus would harm not help her. And she is 79 years old, and thus has no reason to expect other benefits from accusing Trump. All of that adds to her credibility.

    But more than that, these factors suggest what things should be considered when taking a woman's claims seriously and not automatically dismissing them on the word of a rich and powerful man. And that is what trust women means. It doesn't mean automatically believe women. It means investigate and take them seriously.

    This has been explained to Somerby here several times before. Yet he comes back again with this complaint about what feminists mean. He could read what they say, but somehow he doesn't. And he keeps raising Tara Reade, as if she proved anything. Upon investigation, Reade was not found to be credible. That cannot mean that all women are lying about their accusations. Feminists don't say that all women tell the truth either. So what does Somerby think raising her examples proves? It is as if he thinks reminding us that Reade lied could bear upon Carroll's case. It is irrelevant and cannot serve as a smear of Carroll because these are two different women, with different stories, in different situations. Note especially that Biden is nothing like Trump, even if the right wing wants to call him a rapist too. Unlike Trump, Biden has no evidence against him and it would be entirely out of character -- whereas Trump has always had problems with women:

    It seems to me that Somerby's intention is to smear Carroll, not trust her. Even against the most obvious misbehavior by someone like Trump, Somerby reminds us of Reade and pretends feminists cannot be objective. This is blatant nonsense and reveals a great deal about Somerby's attitudes towards women in general.