CONSENSUS: The first three callers all agreed!


The fourth cited Campaign 2000: The first three callers to Sunday's Washington Journal formed a type of consensus.

All agreed on a basic point. This year's presidential campaign is the most important ever.

In the past two daysIn the past two days, we've shown you the full text of what the program's third caller said. This is the specific question to which callers were asked to respond:


That was the official question. For the record, here's the text of the full response from the first caller this past Sunday morning:

MODERATOR (6/9/24): So what do you think? Is 2024 the most important election in our history, or in our lifetimes? 

Jim in Washington State, Democrat. What do you think?

JIM FROM WASHINGTON STATE: It definitely is. Why do so many Republicans support a convicted rapist, a convicted fraud, a convicted felon with no shame? I mean, what's wrong with the Republican Party? And that's terrible. Yeah. What—yeah.

The first caller said it was the most important election, at least within our lifetimes. 

(For the record, Trump isn't "a convicted rapist," but he is "a convicted felon.")

That's what the first caller said. The second caller said this:

MODERATOR (continuing directly): Danny is in Louisville, Kentucky, Republican.  Danny, is this the most important election in history?

DANNY FROM KENTUCKY: Yes. I tell you, I don't know how anybody can't see this has got to be the most important, because if things keep going the way they're going, we ain't gonna have a republic.

You know, just like the other guy said, you know, he's wondering what's wrong with the Republicans. I'm wondering what's wrong with Democrats. I used to be a Democrat and I switched over. And you know—I'm blind and I can see so much going on, I'm just so glad I can't really physically see what's going on, but I'll go to church this morning and I'll be praying for all the Democrats.

MODERATOR: Danny, have you thought that in the past, about past elections, that it was the most important?

DANNY FROM KENTUCKY: No, not more so—more so now than ever before.

The second caller agreed with the first—this election is the most important. As we've noted in the past two days, the third caller said the same thing.

In this somewhat peculiar way, a type of consensus formed.

Throughout the hour, callers said it was the most important election—and they agreed on one other point.

They agreed that we could lose our republic (or perhaps our democracy) in the aftermath of this year's election. They agreed what we could lose our way of life after this election. They greed that this could happen if the other party's candidate won.

Thar represented a type of consensus. The callers disagreed on that one point:

Some said that Candidate Trump presented this existential danger. As with Callers Two and Three, others said it was President Biden who could bring our republic down.

Throughout the hour on this C-Span program, callers from the two Americas presented those dueling viewpoints. Under current arrangements, the peculiar type of consensus is formed, at least in part, by the organizational structure of our "cable news:"

Citizens of Red America—those who watch the Fox News Channel—are constantly offered the one point of view.  Citizens who watch MSNBC are routinely exposed to the other. 

It's hard to find a discussion on cable news in which proponents of the one point of view are asked to defend their claims against proponents of the other. As a general matter, panelists all agree with each other on Fox News Channel programs. 

On MSNBC, it's extremely rare to see a guest who diverges from that channel's standard point of view.

In such ways, we the people are being helped to create a pair of dueling Americas. In Blue America, we're told that the election of Candidate Trump might bring an end to our democracy-and that could always be true. 

In Red America, viewers are told that the re-election of President Biden might bring the republic down. On Sunday morning, Callers Two and Three to Washington Journal stated that point of view. 

Sunday morning's fourth caller took a somewhat different tack. As we noted yesterday, his statement started like this:

MODERATOR (continuing directly from above): That's Dennis in Hudson, Indiana. And this is Gregory, Sherman Oaks, California, Democrat. 

Gregory, good morning to you.

GREGORY IN SHERMAN OAKS: And good morning to you. And this is the most important election, at least in six elections...

Say what? This caller agreed that this was the most important election—but only, it suddenly seemed, in the past five or six!

As he continued, his fuller statement returned us to Campaign 2000—to an election concerning which we've done a lot of work, including at this companion site.

According to the day's fourth caller, that election was "the most important" too. He continued along as shown:

GREGORY IN SHERMAN OAKS: And good morning to you. And this is the most important election, at least in six elections. 

I've heard a bunch of Republicans talk about how we're going to lose our republic, or our Second Amendment rights, or jobs or some other stuff.  What we're going to lose is our planet. If we don't get behind doing something serious about climate destruction and global heating, all the other issues are going to be dying out, on a planet that is dying out...

So said the caller at the start of his statement.  Eventually, he specifically referred to the aftermath of the 2000 White House campaign.

In our view, we denizens of Blue America still could learn a great deal from the workings of that campaign. Tomorrow, we'll look at the full statement by Sunday morning's fourth caller—and at his reasons for listing that election as "the most important [possibly] ever."

The caller said a great deal of damage resulted from the outcome of that campaign. For the record, he didn't offer any thoughts about the way that campaign was covered by the upper-end mainstream press.

We Blues! In our view, we can learn a lot about the coverage of the current campaign when we think back to the coverage of that earlier race. It's too late for any of this to make a major difference this year. But whoever wins in November this year, a challenging road lies ahead. 

Tomorrow, we'll post the full statement by the fourth caller, and we'll proceed from there.

Tomorrow: "We wasted the first decide of this new century on a president who gave us climate betrayal, two stupid wars and a financial meltdown, among many other failures."

Blue Americans, tell us again! If we believe that some such statement is true, do we understand yet how we got there?


  1. Morrie Markoff has died.

    1. See ya later, Morrie.

    2. Morrie, here - this is incorrect, I am alive and well.

    3. I'll mark him off my list then...

    4. He was one hundred and ten years old.

  2. Somerby says: "(For the record, Trump isn't "a convicted rapist," but he is "a convicted felon.")"

    Here Somerby is focusing on a technicality. The judge in the E.J. Carroll defamation case ruled her allegation that she had been raped by Trump was substantially true. The finding supporting her allegations of defamation hinged on that ruling. So, for the record, a court found that Trump had raped her and then defamed her in his public statements.


    1. It is a strange but telling "correction" from Somerby, minimizing and even obfuscating Trump's criminal behavior.

      Few "liberals" defend Trump as heroically as Somerby does, he is an army of one in this respect.

      Somerby frequently touts Fox News, saying that while they often present news in a childish manner, they also often get things right; however, notably Somerby has been silent on one of the most significant occurrences on Fox News recently, which is former House Speaker under Trump, Paul Ryan, has come out on Fox News and attacked Trump, in much the same way Thomas Sowell has, by saying Trump is unfit to be president.

      This is big news, and could well fit in with Somerby's framework of Fox News, but nothing from Somerby...crickets.

      This is yet another strong indication that Somerby is no longer held back by any sense of integrity, that his moral compass is broken.

    2. Another in the genre: Somerby didn't say X, proving his corruption. (And, if you're interested, Trump was found liable, civilly, for sexual assault, not convicted of the crime of rape.)

    3. It was technically sexual abuse but the judge explicitly called it rape. That makes Trump a rapist.

  3. If this election was so important, we'd make it way easier for everyone to vote in it. I don't see that happening.

  4. Jordan Peterson has died.

    1. You didn’t provide a link.

    2. It's his birthday today. Not at all the same as dying.

    3. He’s sixty-two years old.

  5. Wouldn't it make more sense to say that our opposition between supporters of Trump vs Biden is formed by our two-party system, which predates cable news? Somerby may have causality confused here. It seems more likely that MSNBC addresses viewers who already were Democrats while Fox addresses viewers who already were Republicans, rather than MSNBC and Fox turning people into partisans using its programming.

    Most Democrats I know have watched at least a brief amount of Fox and decided not to watch it any more because it was extremely right wing. I suspect at least some Fox viewers watched a bit of CNN or MSNBC and decided the same thing. So it is the viewers selecting the cable news that fits their perspective and not vice versa. No amount of Fox viewing could make me into a Republican.

    These cable news stations are a symptom of partisan division that arises from different causes. But Somerby really should be looking for the cause of extreme partisanship elsewhere in our culture/society, and not blaming cable news. That is like blaming Alito's support for 1/6 insurrection on the upside-down flag, not vice versa.

  6. Three people do not make or suggest a consensus (general agreement). They are too small a sample to generalize beyond these individuals. Also, the moderator is suggesting the answer to the question in the way the question is phrased. A more neutral question might be "how important is this campaign" instead of "is this campaign the most important in history?"

    1. Ronald Reagan: Best president or best president ever?

    2. 12:22 depends, if you are in the top 1% he is the best, if you are in the bottom 99%, he is one of he worst.

  7. Somerby has today identified the astounding fact that some people prefer Trump while others prefer Biden! Stop the presses!

  8. MSNBC: there hyperbole occasionally goes off course, saying things about Trump not completely accurate. Maybe because of this, they are capable of letting him off the hook when they shouldn’t. BOB: poor Trump is disordered, and it’s best to ignore his awful behavior, never consider his victims, and rationalize ugly hubris and stupid lies.

    I pick MSNBC.

  9. How we got here?

    By a thousand little moments, each inconsequential when taken alone. One that springs to mind for me today: George W. Bush smirking into the camera to tell America, "There is no plan on my desk to invade Iraq."

    There were plans being made throughout Washington, but not on his desk! So it's wrong to say he was lying!

    We have a press that still thinks and acts as if our political arena is just the same as it was in 1970. Bush looked straight into the camera and lied in our faces and the press didn't blink.

    1. How about when Rumsfeld said we know where the the WMDs are, they're near Tikrit and Baghdad.

    2. Those WMDs turned out to be an unknown unknown.

  10. "What we're going to lose is our planet. If we don't get behind doing something serious about climate destruction and global heating, all the other issues are going to be dying out, on a planet that is dying out..."

    Only one candidate in the current election is concerned about global warming and environmental issues. That is Biden. (Somerby cannot say Biden's name, apparently.) Biden has a long list of accomplishments from his current term that have advanced alternative energy, addressed climate change, protected species and public land, nad participated in global efforts to save the planet, reversing Trump's previous destructive acts. But Somerby cannot say his name.

    Meanwhile, Trump tells stupid stories about having to choose between being electrocuted by a boat battery or being eaten by a shark, and about windmills killing whales. And it was Trump who refused disaster relief to blue states because they didn't support his election in 2016.

    Is Somerby suggesting that cable is treating Trump like it did Al Gore? I don't see any evidence of that -- Trump has been softballed by the media, which seems solely focused on attacking Biden these days, in planted stories (akin to the National Enquirer) in the Wall Street Journal, interviewing prominent Republicans about Biden's age. I haven't heard Somerby complain about that at all -- instead he furthers the complaints against Biden, forming his own consensus with the press against Biden.

    So, I find nothing coherent about today's essay which may be nothing more than a way to complain about Al Gore's loss and advance Trump's interests.

  11. Somerby notices that Americans think elections are important.

    No shit, Sherlock.

    Then he rambles on needlessly to get to his Big Question: "do we understand yet how we got there?'

    Yes, Somerby, we pretty much do. It has largely been through right wing corruption.

    In 2000 the Supreme Court handed the presidency to Bush, after his campaign was surprised that Jeb and his cronies were not able to deliver Florida for W.

    Furthermore, Republicans have engaged in all sorts of "dirty tricks" like Gerrymandering, gutting the Voting Rights Act, colluding with Russia/Putin, any form of voter suppression they can think of, weaponizing culture wars, on and on.

    Survey says: a majority of Americans prefer progressive policies. Right wingers can only gain and maintain power through corrupt means.

  12. Over the past months it seems like several formerly mainstream media sources have been changing their format to attract Republicans (conservatives). The New York Times has a large liberal audience but it has added many right wing opinion writers and features quite a bit of articles attacking Biden. CNN went through a period of getting rid of more liberal on-screen hosts and replacing them with more conservative ones. The latest is the Washington Post, which has just replaced its top editors with right wingers.

    This makes Somerby's continual reference to blue America and the blue press bitter to us. An actual blue press would be more positive (or even balanced) in talking about Democratic candidates and would not have an editorial lineup that is mostly conservative, with outrageously biased opinion pieces. I feel like I am being forced to find my news elsewhere.

    Meanwhile Somerby dumbly calls the NY Times our thought leader or blue press, when it is not and hasn't been since before it attacked Hillary in 2015. The so-called blue media gave newspaper and TV space to those who swiftboated Kerry over his service, but also suggesting he was effete because he went wind-surfing and had a wealthy wife. But we should be ever so concerned about Al Gore, who ran a bad campaign and then didn't fight for his victory in FL. It was the press who proved that he had won the vote there and should have become president, not Bush.

    Somerby's views here are propaganda, not reasoned analysis or media commentary. He is advancing Trump and attacking Biden, under the guise of being liberal when he hasn't been liberal in a long time (if he every really was). Today's essay is more confused than usual, but the coherence doesn't matter as long as he gets his daily message in. Today, it is that Trump is as reasonable a choice as Biden, that Trump is not a rapist, and that the mainstream media is actually blue, so when it attacks Biden, liberals should believe them.

    1. On the nose, thank you.

    2. You say "today's message" is that "Trump is as reasonable a choice as Biden." You cannot support this assertion with any quotation from today's posts. You just made it up.

    3. It is inherent in his equating all of the choices as a consensus that one side is good and the other bad, as if there were no objective way to choose.

    4. I guess “It is inherent” is your way of saying “I just made it all up.”

    5. Actually Pied that is pretty much Bob’s message every day. Once again you indignantly suggest it is impossible to see through ticket paper.

    6. Very well said ( though I am more sympathetic to Bob’s take on Gore, though that was the Somerby of long ago) and this week, as the The Biden family’s rather valiant support of Hunter Biden’s recovery was on display, that Bob fully signed on to the Right’s ugly attempts to use his Son’s drug problems against the President.

  13. "It's hard to find a discussion on cable news in which proponents of the one point of view are asked to defend their claims against proponents of the other," laments Somerby. Does he think that Dennis from Indiana, whom he quoted yesterday saying that "All of the jobs, all of the wealth, [Biden] is transferring to the illegals. The man is a pedophile and he needs to be removed from office immediately," is likely to be responsive to someone presenting "claims" that contradict him? Should that be the task of the media, to present Dennis from Indiana's lunatic views as one of two equal sides in a rational discussion?