For better or worse, youth will be served!

MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2017

The Smithsonian meets the press pool:
Last Saturday morning, the Washington Post reported a horrible set of groaners.

The groaners appear in a $50 picture book about Donald J. Trump. At the time, the book was on sale at the Museum of Natural History, a branch of the Smithsonian.

Oops. According to the Post's Ian Shapira, the photograph-laden book contains a supply of "false assertions," or howlers:
SHAPIRA (1/21/17): The Trump book, which is heavy on photos and pullout memorabilia and bears the words "Make America Great Again" on its cover, contains a series of false assertions:

On Trump's years of challenging of President Obama's birthplace and citizenship: "Donald Trump took the fall for what should have been the fault of Hillary Clinton, whose campaign first propagated the misinformation about President Obama."

On the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee's computers: No proof it was the Russians, the book maintains, despite the intelligence community's assessment that the evidence against the Russians is overwhelming. "The Clinton campaign desperately claimed that Russia hacked the DNC and that Putin was trying to influence the American election. This was a strange maneuver on their part. ... Outside her most loyal supporters, the tactic flopped and most Americans were able to see through this blatant manipulation to distract them from the ugly truth."

On Trump's surprise victory on Nov. 8: "Sweeping" and "decisive." Clinton only won the popular vote by 200,000 ballots, the book says—although her edge was actually almost 3 million.

On Trump's history of charitable giving: The new president "is a kind-hearted philanthropist and humanitarian," according to the book, although he went years without contributing any money to his own charitable foundation.
In an update to his report, Shapira says the book has been removed from sale.

Who managed to write this ridiculous book? According to Shapira, the author is Brandon Christopher Hall, "a 25-year-old from Atlanta." In an interview with Shapira, Hall said "he voted for the Green Party's Jill Stein and described himself as a former supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders." (That makes him one of ours.)

Everybody makes mistakes. Needless to say, this includes people of various ages.

Still, when we read Shapira's report, we couldn't help thinking of Time magazine's Zeke Miller, who made a now-famous mistake on Inauguration Day.

Miller's now-famous groaning mistake involved the bust of Dr. King—the now-famous bust of Dr. King which didn't get removed from the Oval Office. Last Friday, Miller reported that the bust had been removed. He made this claim in a press pool report he authored from the White House.

Everybody makes mistakes, Miller included. That said, his groaner served as the latest pretext for the claim that the Washington press corps is out to get Donald J. Trump.

Everybody makes mistakes; Miller's became an instant classic. In this morning's New York Times, Jim Rutenberg helps place this groaner in context. He spoke with Ari Fleischer, the former Bush press secretary:
RUTENBERG (1/23/17): The Trump team’s emotions were raw over the weekend, Mr. Fleischer noted, after a mistaken pool report was sent to the rest of the White House press corps, claiming that Mr. Trump had removed a bust of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. Zeke Miller, the Time magazine journalist who had written the report, quickly corrected it and apologized when the White House alerted him to the error.

“It rightly leaves the people inside feeling that ‘reporters were opposed to us all along for being racist and the first thing they did was imply we were,’” Mr. Fleischer said.
Indeed. For ourselves, we'll take a wild guess. The fact that Miller's mistaken perception painted Trump as a racist helps explain why Miller made this mistake in the first place. It also explains why Miller should have been especially careful before he sent his mistaken claim to the rest of the press.

Everybody makes mistakes. That said, who is Zeke Miller?

It turns out that Miller is in his sixth year out of Yale. Presumably, his relative youth is saving Time some money in labor costs. His relative youth may also explain why he was foolish enough to make this foolish mistake, which served the crackpot partisan ends of Donald J. Trump and them.

Everybody makes mistakes, including people who recently went to Yale and may turn out to be fantastic journalists. That said, we're often amazed by the youth of the modern press corps.

On the bright side, youth comes relatively cheap. Still, we've often wondered about the possible down side to this smart money move.

A 25-year-old wrote that groaner-laden book. Subsequently, a kid from Yale made a now-famous mistake which painted Trump in a familiar way.

In fairness, everyone makes mistakes. But people upset by the rise of Donald J. Trump need to start getting angry about the various practices which have helped fuel his rise.

These recent mistakes were made by players Over Here, by players on Our Own team. Miller's groaner is the type of mistake our self-impressed team very much enjoys. Hall's mistakes may have come from one of our tribe's brainwashed legion of Hillary haters.

Fleischer explained why Miller's mistake made people mad. Miller's mistake was very dumb, and groaningly predictable to boot.

Did his mistake make people mad? We can't exactly say we blame them. Will the day ever come when Our Team starts getting mad about these gong shows too?

CONWAYISM AND BABEL: On Day Two, Cooper got it right!

MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2017

Part 4—Yesterday's efforts by Todd:
To appearances, Conwayism, which leads us to Babel, can almost look like a form of mental illness.

Chuck Todd confronted the strange condition on yesterday's Meet the Press. For the full transcript, click here.

Back in October, Todd had weirdly punched through a journalistic fourth wall. In decidedly non-journalistic fashion, he'd weirdly vouched for Kellyanne Conway, weirdly declaring that she "is a very good person."

For background, just click here.

Yesterday, that "very good person" was accusing Todd, again and again, of all sorts of deliberate misconduct. Mainly, though, the very good person was refusing to answer a fairly basic question.

At the top of yesterday's program, Todd played tape of Trump press secretary Sean Spicer making the following statement about the Trump inauguration:

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe."

Todd then showed several photographs—photos which seemed to show that Spicer's statement was wrong, at least in the "in person" part. He showed the pair of photographs two separate times.

Based on the photos which Todd displayed, it seemed fairly clear that Obama's 2009 inauguration had been watched, in person, by a much larger crowd. On this basis, Todd kept asking Conway why Spicer had made his claim, which Todd said was "provably false."

Again and again and again and again, Conway refused to answer.

Todd kept asking; Conway kept ducking. For the record, here's the first way Todd asked this basic question:
TODD (1/22/17): And joining me now is the counselor to President Trump, Kellyanne Conway.

Ms. Conway, welcome to the White House North Lawn, which will become a familiar place for you, I think. Let me begin with this question:

The presidency is about choices, so I'm curious why President Trump chose yesterday to send out his press secretary to essentially litigate a provable falsehood when it comes to a small and petty thing like inaugural crowd size.

I guess my question to you is, Why do that?
To watch the whole interview, click here.

In our view, Todd has already made several journalistic mistakes. Somewhat weirdly, he has also welcomed Conway to the White House, a somewhat weird piece of behavior Conway chose not to exploit.

That said, Todd had asked Conway a rather basic question. He'd said that Spicer's claim about crowd size was "provably false." Assuming facts not in evidence, he'd then asked Conway why Trump told Spicer to make the false claim.

Despite a bit of embroidery, Todd's question was fairly clear. For the record, this was the first, rambling example of Conway's refusal to answer:
CONWAY (continuing directly): Chuck, the president did many things yesterday and the day before that are very meaningful to America. He signed executive orders to stop Obamacare and all of its problems. Many people have lost their—millions of people have lost their insurance, their doctors, their plans.

So that stops right now. He's going to replace it with something much more free market and patient-centric in nature.

And on this matter of crowd size, I mean, for me, I think the most quantifiable points of interest for Americans should be what just happened a few months ago that brought him here, the 31 of 50 states he won, the 2600 counties, the 200 counties that went for President Obama that now went to President Trump, and the fact that 29-30 million women voted for Donald Trump for president. They should be respected. Somebody should cover their voices as well.

I'm about things that are quantifiable and important, I don't think that—I don't think ultimately presidents are judged by crowd sizes at their inauguration. I think they're judged by their accomplishments. And we know that President Obama and his accomplishments, that there's a lot of unfinished business there.

And on this matter of crowd size, I think it is, I think it is a symbol for the unfair and incomplete treatment that this president often receives. I'm very heartened to see Nielsen just came out with the ratings, 31 million people watching the inauguration. President Obama had 20.5 million watching his second inauguration four short years ago.

So we know people are also watching the inauguration on different screens and in different modes and that there was—I mean, for me, there was a prediction of a downpour of rain, I think, that deterred many people from coming.

But no question, there were hundreds of thousands of people out on the mall—
Has Trump's inauguration really been watched, "in person," by the largest crowd in history? Conway wandered the countryside, failing to answer.

So far, Conway had said nothing which spoke to Todd's actual question. Finally, Todd broke in:
TODD: All right, Kellyanne, let me stop you here because you make a very reasonable and rational case for why crowd sizes don't matter. Then explain— You did not answer the question.

Why did the president send out his press secretary, who is not just the spokesperson for Donald Trump, he could be—he is also, serves as the spokesperson for all of America at times. He speaks for all of the country at times.

Why put him out there, for the very first time, in front of that podium, to utter a provable falsehood? It's a small thing. But the first time he confronts the public, it's a falsehood?
Had Trump been watched, "in person," by the largest crowd in history? It seems quite clear that he was not—that Spicer's claim actually was "a provable falsehood."

As she wandered the countryside, Conway had failed to address this point. And as the interview continued, she refused to address this point again and again and again.

Again and again, Todd broke in on Conway's rambling remarks, reminding her, again and again, that she hadn't answered his question. By our count, he told her that she had failed to answer his question at least nine additional times.

Conway simply kept refusing to address Todd's rather basic question. As she did, she displayed a remarkable aspect of Conwayism:

The Conwayist must be willing to take offense at everything which happens around her, to the point where she may appear to be borderline mentally ill.

Conway declared herself offended by Todd again and again. Again and again, she took offense at his minor word choices, just as she'd done one week before when interviewed by Anderson Cooper.

She took offense at factual mistakes made by other journalists. She complained that Todd was being "overly dramatic."

She complained about Obamacare. She complained about "the devastation and destruction in our schools."

She complained that Todd was laughing at her. She took offense at the way Todd was referring to "our president" and "our press secretary." She complained about the way the Trump campaign had been covered by the press.

She complained about the Democrats' failure to confirm Mike Pompeo as CIA head, which was threatening "the peaceful transfer of power." She claimed that "lies have been told about [Trump's] relationship and his respect for the intelligence community."

She complained about the fact that BuzzFeed released "a dossier of junk and lies and fake news," then took offense at BuzzFeed's alleged reasons for "releas[ing] the dossier." Last week, speaking with Cooper, she had taken offense at the very use of the word "dossier," a troubling Frenchified term.

These are only some of the points concerning which Conway took offense during her endless session with Todd. Again and again and again and again, she took offense at everything around her—past, present and future.

That said, make no mistake! As she kept reacting to the latest forms of disrespect and offense, she also kept refusing to address Todd's question. Why had Spicer made a provably false statement? Again and again and again and again, Conway refused to reply.

If you watch the tape of this interview, you're seeing Full-Tilt Conwayism in action. You're also seeing a person whose partisan craziness has become so absurdly intense that she may seem to be in the grip of some form of illness.

It's a basic tenet of Conwayism! The Conwayist must truly believe, or must at least seem to believe, in her own constant sense of grievance. At all times, she must truly believe that she's being treated with disrespect. She must truly believe the relentless claims which emerge from her paranoia.

Unless we assume that she's simply being disingenuous, Kellyanne Conway doesn't seem entirely "well." This raises a basic question—how should journalists like Todd deal with Conwayism?

Last week, Cooper dealt with Conway very poorly on Day One. During a 25-minute interview, he chased her around the countryside, taking every piece of bait he was offered.

He contested her every point. Again and again and again and again, he let himself be distracted from the basic questions at hand.

On Day Two, Cooper did much better. He presented a full segment in which he calmly reviewed Conway's various bogus claims from the night before.

Yesterday, in his own Day One, Todd performed more skillfully than Cooper had done. In our view, he did make a series of minor journalistic mistakes. But rather than chase Conway around as Cooper had done, he kept returning to his one basic question:

Why had Spicer made a claim which seems to be "provably false?"

He asked the question again and again. Again and again and again and again, an angry, aggrieved, offended Conway just kept refusing to answer.

Could Kellyanne Conway be "mentally ill" in some sort of way? Or is she simply crazy?

We don't know, but people like Cooper and Todd have to learn how to deal with Conwayism. It's an offshoot of Trumpism which leads us directly to Babel.

Yesterday, Conway may have seemed borderline nuts. She took offense, again and again, at virtually everything Todd said and did. Scarily, she actually seemed to believe the ridiculous things she kept saying.

She's been this way for decades now. The press corps, and the liberal world, have persistently averted their gaze from Conway, and from a host of other ridiculous people just like her.

As recently as last October, Todd was reacting to this Babel by calling Conway "a very good person." This is one of the crazy ways we got to our current place.

The annual schoolwide spelling bee!

THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2017

A fascinating post about health care:
We're off on a mission of national import. We're headed south, by Amtrak no less, for the annual schoolwide bee.

Two years ago, when a certain unnamed relative was a mere third grader, we attended the bee for the first time. As we reported in real time, we were very much impressed by the greatness of the event.

Last year, we got blizzarded out. Tomorrow, as other ceremonies occur, we'll be in the public school auditorium, awaiting the word which was under review when we called the young scholar's home last evening:

"Promulgate: P-R-O-M-U-L-G-A-T-E. Promulgate."

(Journalistic definition: "Promulgate: A scandal involving trivial conduct committed by person or persons named Promul.")

We don't expect to post in the next few days. Under the circumstances, we'll have to postpone our final discussion of the scourge of Conwayism.

Upon our return to our sprawling campus, we'll discuss the role played by Anderson Cooper in the lengthy, ridiculous non-discussion we've been assessing this week. Our question:

Do people like Cooper really want to counter the noxious practices of this rhetorical style?

As we leave, we'll recommend two readings about people who voted for Trump:

In last Sunday's New York Times, Susan Chira offered brief interviews with several women who voted for Trump. Because we liberals are often so eager to cartoonize and generalize about Trump voters, it might be worth our time to consider the things these people said.

In a similar vein, we strongly recommend this fascinating post by Kevin Drum. We suggest you read it for what it says, and for what it doesn't.

Drum's post concerns another 50-something woman who has health insurance under Obamacare but can't afford to pay for actual health care. We strongly recommend Drum's post, and the first few ugly comments about the woman in question:

"Hard to feel sorry for someone who never asked for details. Ignored all his racism, misogyny, hate and out right lies and now is upset."

That was the very first comment appended to Drum's post.

Easy to be hard! All too often, that old bromide seems to capture the state of loathing which is so common in our liberal team's self-impressed soul.

For what it says and what it doesn't, we think Drum's post is very important. What makes our health care "system" so clownish, so awful? We'll discuss Drum's fascinating post upon our return.

We'll leave you with an important word:

"Tribalism: T-R-I-B-A-L-I-S-M. Ugly massive dumbness."

It savages our human functions. It blinds us to human concerns. It makes us very, very dumb. We tend to prove this in comments.

Michigan schools in the age of DeVos!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2017

Headed for the bottom:
Yesterday, by happenstance, we experienced a rare mid-afternoon sighting.

By happenstance, we happened to watch this ten-minute, mid-afternoon segment on MSNBC. During the segment, Kate Snow interviewed two guests about our public schools.

Specifically, the segment was inspired by yesterday's Senate hearing involving Betsy DeVos, who will almost surely be our next secretary of education.

First, Snow interviewed a conservative who spoke in praise of DeVos. Then, she interviewed Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, who took a different view.

Largely because of her family's vast wealth, DeVos has played a major role in Michigan's public schools over the past twenty years. At one point, Weingarten issued a warning about the state of Michigan's schools in the age of DeVos:
WEINGARTEN (1/17/17): Look at the statistics from Michigan...What's happened in Michigan, on the same Naep test that you just talked about, they went from the middle of the pack in 2003 to the bottom, to 41 out of 50. That's not success. That's actually going backwards.
We decided to check it out. To access state-by-state comparisons on the Naep, we skillfully clicked here.

Yikes! In terms of their rankings among the fiftry states, Michigan's school have been in a serious downward spiral during the age of DeVos. As always, we'll disaggregate.

Below, you see the relative standing of Michigan's white students in Grade 8 reading and math, as compared to their counterparts in the other 49 states. Some states didn't participate before 2003. For the sake of simplicity, we're omitting some intermediate testing years:
Michigan, standing among the fifty states
Grade 8 reading, white students, Naep

2002: 19 out of 41 states
2003: 12 of 50
2005: 30 of 50

[...]

2013: 41 of 50
2015: 42 of 50

Grade 8 math, white students, Naep
2000: 10 out of 39 states
2003: 25 of 50
2005: 31 of 50

[...]

2013: 42 of 50
2015: 42 of 50
That has the look of a terrible downward spiral. Here are the rankings for Michigan's black kids. Some states don't have enough black kids to produce a statistically significant sample for purposes of the Naep:
Michigan, standing among the fifty states
Grade 8 reading, black students, Naep

2002: 22 out of 32 states
2003: 29 of 40
2005: 33 of 39

[...]

2013: 33 of 42
2015: 39 of 43

Grade 8 math, black students, Naep
2000: 22 out of 28 states
2003: 35 of 40
2005: 32 of 40

[...]

2013: 41 of 43
2015: 37 of 39
As compared with their peers in other states, Michigan's black kids started from a lower place than the state's white kids.

Among the state's white kids, the drop during the age of DeVos is really quite extreme. As compared with their counterparts in the other states, both groups of students in Michigan now rank near the bottom.

You won't see these data elsewhere; the truth is, nobody cares. We'll also say this about yesterday's report on MSNBC:

Kate Snow is perfectly bright. She went to Cornell, then got a master's degree at Georgetown. Her father is an anthropology professor at Penn State. For some C-Span learnin', click here.

Snow brought nothing, zero, nada, to yesterday's discussion. She seemed to be reading perfunctory questions which had been prepared by staff. She showed no sign of knowing a thing about public schools or testing data, a topic she quickly introduced to no useful effect.

Snow looked great, and she's perfectly bright. But she seems to know nothing about these topics. Basically, she was phoning it in. Simply put, her owners don't care.

That said, the story is largely the same all through our liberal world. We'll pretend to squawk about DeVos. In truth, we don't really care.

Please note: We're talking here about relative standing among the fifty states. From 2003 to 2015, white students' average scores in Grade 8 math actually improved by a small amount in Michigan.

That said, average scores in other states improved a whole lot more. This left Michigan near the bottom in terms of relative standing.

In Michigan, black students' average scores actually dropped by a small amount during those same years. In the age of DeVos, with test scores rising, Michigan has been a major outlier.

Here's the good news for DeVos—nobody actually cares!

CONWAYISM AND BABEL: Now you're insulting BuzzFeed, she said!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2017

Part 3—A blizzard of crazy complaints:
Is Moscow blackmailing Donald J. Trump? Or doing something like that?

To us, that seems like an obvious possibility, given Trump's endless array of puzzling statements and crazy ideas. We'd like to see a stronger push for a full-blown, serious probe.

That said, sometimes a crazy idea is just a crazy idea. (We believe Freud said that.) Trump's puzzling statements and crazy ideas may come straight from the heart.

In our view, CNN got out over its skis a bit when it offered a breathless report about Donald J. Trump last Tuesday afternoon and evening, January 10.

In truth, the channel was reporting a small, but puzzling, piece of news about the intelligence briefing Donald J. Trump had received the previous week. Based on the excited way CNN proceeded, you would have thought their "enormous team effort" had produced Pentagon Papers II, or even brand-new information about the white Bronco chase.

In our view, CNN went overboard pimping its own greatness when it made its report. The channel also seemed a bit credulous about the possible motives behind the intelligence briefing it was reporting, and about possible reasons why the news of this briefing was leaked.

For our money, CNN didn't cover itself in glory last Tuesday, even though its basic reporting seems to have been accurate. The next night, though, the gorilla dust really hit the fan when CNN burned twenty-five minutes letting Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway blather, distract and emote.

We refer to the dust Conway threw in the air last Wednesday, January 11, as she pretended to discuss the CNN report. Assisting her was Anderson Cooper, who seemed to lack the basic skills required for such an assignment.

Cooper videotaped, then aired, a 25-minute session with Conway. During the session, Conway displayed the main practices of the gruesome rhetorical style now known as Conwayism.

What did Conway do in her session with Cooper? For starters, she made a repeated claim, again and again—a repeated claim which turned out to be false. Beyond that, she displayed the central conceit of Conwayism:

The Conwayist must always be willing to make the next stupid complaint.

If you watch the tape of the Cooper-Conway exchange, you'll see an endless array of complaints by Kellyanne Conway. A few of her complaints may even have some merit, although it will be hard to tell through all the confusion and dust.

Most of Kellyanne Conway's complaints are ludicrous, groanworthy, silly, absurd. Her complaints are routinely inane. But this is the gong show she's chosen.

For decades, Conways has been perfecting the practices and skills which constitute Conwayism. She's a master at adopting an air of grievance as she lodges absurd complaints.

For unknown reasons, Cooper seemed innocent of any knowledge about how to handle such an approach. A cynic would say that, for business reasons, he prefers the Crossfire-style nonsense which marked this pseudo-discussion.

If you watch that 25-minute tape, you'll see a giant at work. We refer to Conway's preternatural skill at producing a blizzard of silly complaints while maintaining an air of deep grievance.

Good God! By our count, she falsely claimed, a dozen times, that CNN linked to BuzzFeed the previous night, a repeated claim which was wrong. But as she and Cooper pretended to stage an important discussion, she also made, by our count, roughly thirty other complaints and claims, most of which were utterly silly blather.

Kellyanne Conway is always prepared to make the next inane complaint! If you watch that full tape, you'll see her do so again and again.

You'll see her complain that CNN's polling turned out to be wrong in last year's election. You'll see her complain about the way Obama's transition was covered in 2009.

You'll see her complain that "heads didn't roll at CNN" when its election polling was imperfect. You'll see her complain that no one will get fired at CNN if this new report turns out to be wrong—which, of course, it hasn't.

You'll see her say that CNN's report from the previous night was "just not true." You'll never get clear on what it was that the channel got wrong. (As far as we know, CNN's factual statements were all correct.)

You'll see her claim that CNN should carry the blame for various things that BuzzFeed and others did. You'll even see her praise herself for being "gracious enough to come on and discuss it."

You'll see her complain that CNN based its report on anonymous sources. That's something all news orgs do, often in quoting Conway herself.

You'll see her complain that CNN's chyrons were wrong during last year's election. Also, that their "chyrons were wrong" during the previous night's report.

You'll see her constantly changing the subject, for example by asking tangential questions like these:
CONWAY (1/11/17): If cybersecurity was such a big priority to this administration and the Democratic Party and its apologists in the media, then why didn't we do more about it over the last eight years? Why, when 21 million personnel files were hacked of innocent Americans to the Office of Personnel Management by China, President Obama basically gave them a slap on the wrist?

[...]

CONWAY: If the four intelligence officials that gave the top-secret briefing last week that some fools think they should leak to the media when it's a top-secret intelligence briefing for a reason so they we're all protected, everybody, then why according to your own report last night—"report" used as a loose word here—why do they not tell the president-elect about it? Because your own reporting says that there's no confirmation that they briefed him orally. If it was so darn important...if it's worthy of a CNN screaming headline that became this huge fake news story, then why did they not brief him?
For the full transcript, click here.

In response to that second complaint, Cooper sensibly said that he didn't know why the IC chose to brief Trump in the way it did, but that this didn't affect the accuracy of what CNN reported. (According to later reporting, James B. Comey did brief Trump orally about the contents of the two-page summary.)

In response to the first distraction, Cooper sensibly said, "I know you like to pivot." By that he meant that Conway likes to change the subject, thus creating a bewildering pseudo-discussion. That said:

Cooper's willingness to let Conway do that is one of our key topics here.

If you watch that 25-minute tape, you'll see an impressive blizzard of charges, complaints, distractions, sleights of hand and semi-comical groaners. The work product of this practice is sometimes described as "gorilla dust." It represents the attempt to create so much confusion that no clear point can ever be established within our public discourse.

How silly were some of Conway's complaints? Let's focus on a few of the absolute dumbest. Remember the basic tenet of Conwayism:

The spokesperson must always be willing to lodge the next complaint, no matter how silly or dumb.

How absurd were Conway's complaints? How much contempt did she show for CNN's viewers? Consider this early nonsense, in which Conway claimed that CNN called its January 10 report a "bombshell:"
CONWAY: Anderson, because CNN went first and had this breathless report, you know, everybody said it was a bombshell, earth-shattering report last night—

COOPER: We didn't say it was a bombshell.

CONWAY: BuzzFeed then went ahead— Yes you did! Yes, you did. It says right here: "Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian effort to compromise him." That's not true.

COOPER: Where's the word "bombshell?"

CONWAY: Your headline is wrong. Well, then Seth Meyers said that he, confronted me on the "bombshell." None of it is true.

COOPER: I'm sorry what Seth Meyers said to you.
Conway insisted that CNN had used the world bombshell. As proof, she read a CNN headline which didn't use that word.

Confronted with this obvious problem, she said that Meyers had used the word when she appeared on his show. Conwayism is powerful!

The sheer inanity of that exchange captures the essence of Conwayism. Remember, though—the Conwayist must always maintain an air of grievance as he makes her claims.

A few minutes later, Conway launched another absurd complaint. As the exchange begins, Cooper is trying to discern what Conway is actually saying about CNN's report. Quickly, Conway expresses her next point of grievance:
COOPER: So you're saying there was no two-page summary that was included in briefing material?

CONWAY: The president-elect was asked that question today. You should refer to his answer. But I will tell you—

COOPER: No, you can answer it. He said, he said—

CONWAY: No, I wasn't in the briefing.

COOPER: OK. So you can't say whether or not— You're saying it's not true, but you're saying also you can't say—

CONWAY: What did the president-elect say when he was asked?

COOPER: I don't know, you tell me.

CONWAY: Well then, you didn't pay attention to the press conference!
Vintage Conwayism! When Cooper asked Trump's spokesperson to relate what Trump had said, she replied, with an air of grievance, that Cooper hadn't paid sufficient attention during that day's press conference.

"I just don't want to misquote the president-elect," Cooper replied. "I assume you know what the president-elect said today." Cooper then paraphrased what Trump had said, and Conway raced ahead to the next in her long list of complaints.

Conwayism means never having to say you're not offended. At various times, Conway lodged silly, absurd complaints about Cooper's use of words:
COOPER: This is a red herring. You're just, it's like you got— You're trying to distract from my question which is, you do not have information whether it's true or not.

CONWAY: Anderson, you can use words like "pivot," "distract," "red herring" all you want. The fact is that the media have a 16 percent approval rating for a reason. It's been earned. And it's crap like this that really undergirds why Donald Trump won.

[...]

CONWAY: It's all fake news. And let me just say Anderson, I really think—

COOPER: But it's not all fake news. I mean, that's just disingenuous.

CONWAY: Well, in [the BuzzFeed] report, it is fake news. And people keep using the word "dossier" like some, like using some fancy French word is going to imbue it with credibility.
Please don't say "red herring," or even "distract!" Meanwhile, those French! They have a different word for everything!

Joking aside, those exchanges represent Conwayism in its purest form. In Conwayism, the practitioner must always be willing to issue the next complaint, no matter how silly or stupid.

At one point, Cooper was forced to take The Conway Challenge. When he successfully passed the test, Conway conjured an instant rebuttal:
COOPER: I get the anger over the BuzzFeed stuff. I thought that was—when I read that, it was totally unsubstantiated. We're not reporting that. I guess I don't understand— I guess actually, I think I do understand because I think it's politics for you to try to link all the reporters together. But it seems just unfair and frankly disingenuous.

CONWAY: No. Actually, very few people came to CNN's defense today. I'm sure you're aware of that.

COOPER: Well actually, Shepard Smith on Fox did, which I thought was interesting and actually pretty courageous.

CONWAY: That's a cherry pick. Great.
When Cooper cited a major host who did "come to CNN's defense," Conway knew how to react. Remember: when dealing with a Conwayist, there's nothing a person can say which won't produce instant aggrieved rebuttal.

(For the record: "cherry pick" seems to be OK, although "red herring" is not.)

At one point, Conway produced a truly amazing reaction. It happened when Cooper criticized the very news org she herself had criticized all through their pointless exchange.

This is Ultimate Conwayism. Giving the demagogue her due, the analysts burst into applause:
CONWAY: Anderson, do you think that BuzzFeed, or anybody else, after months of deciding against publishing specious, scurrilous, unverified, uncorroborated junk in a Democratic opposition research document, do you think they would have released it last night had CNN not preceded it with its own report? I doubt it. There was a nexus here.

COOPER: The last time I read BuzzFeed, I saw a headline that said like, "Ten top sex toys that was going to improve your sex life." I don't read BuzzFeed.

CONWAY: OK, now you're insulting BuzzFeed.
In a virtuoso performance, Conway adopted an air of grievance on behalf of BuzzFeed itself! Truly, the Conwayist will always be willing to voice the next complaint.

If you watch that 25-minute tape, you'll be watching Conwayism in its purest form. On the one hand, you'll see Conway make a false claim again and again, insisting, again and again, that CNN linked to the BuzzFeed report, which it actually didn't.

Beyond that, you'll see the essence of this rhetorical style. Conwayism involves the constant churning of aggrieved complaints, no matter how silly/inane.

Conway's performance on that tape is a public disgrace. She's churning clouds of gorilla dust every step of the way, creating maximum confusion while maintaining an air of deep grievance.

Vladimir Putin opposes the practices of civil society; Kellyanne Conway does too. Her conduct on that pitiful tape produced a perfect Babel.

We're left with the role played by Anderson Cooper. What should we think about him?

Next: Cable loves heat, not light