Supplemental: One additional night in the life!

SATURDAY, AUGUST 1, 2015

By now, Our Own Version of Fox:
Does Rachel Maddow’s “campaign coverage” ever make any real sense?

Is it possible that her campaign coverage is a form of partisan entertainment, designed with an eye to ratings?

Consider her relatively truncated campaign coverage on Thursday night’s Maddow Show. After showing us photos of Rep. John Lewis with puppies, she made a presentation about Candidate Trump that pretty much has to be false:
MADDOW (7/30/15): Anyway, so here’s Donald Trump today, the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, arriving at one of his golf courses in Scotland. And I don’t know, maybe Donald Trump always goes to Scotland this time of year. It’s wicked hot and humid in New York. Maybe he always likes to get away to cooler climes this time of year. I don’t know.

But the fact that he is running for president has not stopped him from taking this trip to Scotland. The first Republican presidential debate is in a week. Donald Trump and his campaign staff has made a big deal out of pointing out that Donald Trump does not plan to do any preparation for that debate. And this long weekend of golf that he took off for today in part I guess showcases that he is not working to prepare for the debate. He’s just doing his Donald Trump thing.
Twice, Maddow said she didn’t know why Trump had gone to Scotland, except that he was engaging in a “long weekend of golf.”

The claim of ignorance seems quite hard to believe. Over the previous several days, it had been widely reported, again and again, that Trump was going to Scotland to attend the British Women’s Open, which was being held at the golf course he owns.

It had also been reported that, due to the campaign, Trump would cut his planned visit short, returning on Saturday.

There’s little chance that Maddow’s staff didn’t know these things. We’ll take a guess:

From a partisan entertainment standpoint, it sounded better to say that Trump was off for a “long weekend of golf” and to leave it at that. It sounded better to drop the part about sponsoring and attending the Women’s Open.

It sounded better for Maddow to say she didn’t know, even though she presumably did.

As she opened, Maddow flirted with an apparent lie. Things got dumber from there.

As she continued, Maddow discussed the new Quinnipiac national poll. The poll had Trump in the lead in the Republican race with 20 percent support.

But “oh happy day,” Maddow said. In a head-to-head matchup, Candidate Clinton had beaten Candidate Trump quite badly.

She absolutely spanks him, Maddow said. She beats Trump by a mile:
MADDOW: It’s his biggest lead in—Look at that!—his biggest lead in that poll by far. It’s actually the biggest lead that anybody has had by poll by far.

Donald Trump, leading with 20 points. His nearest rival is Scott Walker at 13. Jeb Bush, the only other candidate who hits double digits, is at 10 points.

This is the sixth straight national poll that’s put Donald Trump in first place for the Republican presidential nomination.

But oh happy day! This latest Quinnipiac poll did not just poll within the Republican Party. They also polled head-to-head matchups for theoretical contests in the general election.

And so, for the guys who are polling a distant second and third place for Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, for Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, those head-to-head polls end up interesting and sort of close matchups between each of them and the likely Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For the man who is the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination, though, the front-runner by a big margin, when you match him, Donald Trump, against Hillary Clinton in a theoretical general election matchup, well, in that case, it’s not close at all.

Hillary Clinton absolutely spanks him,
beats him by 12 points.

In this poll, Scott Walker and Jeb Bush do OK against Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump loses to her by a mile...
“Oh happy day?”

It’s silly to focus on general election polling now, especially with politically volatile figures like Clinton and Trump. But that 12-point margin strikes us as depressingly close, and Bush and Walker were both polling dead even with Clinton.

As always, Maddow was pushing to make us viewers feel tribally good. We’d say those polling results are quite scary.

(Videotape of this segment hasn’t been posted at the Maddow site.)

As she continued, Maddow showed how silly and worthless her campaign analyses tend to be. She tried to explain why Republican voters want to nominate Candidate Trump, even though they know he would lose to Candidate Clinton.

Please. Maddow presented absolutely no evidence that Trump’s supporters think he would lose to Clinton. As solipsists frequently do, she seems to think that other people know and believe the exact same things she does.

Maddow offered no evidence in support of that basic contention. Much more remarkably, consider what she kept saying about “Republican voters.”

They told us we had Our Own Rhodes Scholar. This is what she now peddles:
MADDOW: Donald Trump loses not only to Hillary Clinton in general election matchups, he would lose to Bernie Sanders if he made it to the general election. But Republican voters do not care! They want their Donald Trump!

He’s the only top-tier candidate who loses by double digits, not only to Hillary Clinton, but also to Bernie Sanders. But Republican voters want him anyway. And that ends up not being an interesting thing about Donald Trump. It’s an interesting thing about Republican voters.

They keep picking him, and they know he would lose, but they like him anyway. They know he’s going to lose, and they don’t care. They love this guy!

So all this Beltway analysis that says that Donald Trump’s star is going to fall, because all of the ways in which he is not electable, right? There’s a reason all that punditry, and all that Beltway common wisdom keeps getting proven wrong with each new passing day and each new poll showing Donald Trump on top. It’s because Republican voters do not give a flying comb-over about who is electable. They just want somebody to fall in love with, and they have fallen in love with him.

They know he’s not electable! They do not care.
And so, the Republican nominating process, as we head toward the first debate, looks likely to remain the Donald Trump show for a long while yet, even though the Beltway keeps telling us it’s about to be over.
To watch this second campaign coverage segment, just click here.

Try to ignore all those unsourced claims about what “the Beltway” keeps telling us. Consider what Maddow keeps saying about “Republican voters.”

According to Our Own Rhodes Scholars, Republican voters “want their Donald Trump.” Earlier in the segment, she said Republican voters “luvvvvv them some Donald Trump.”

“They love this guy,” Maddow said. Republican voters “do not give a flying comb-over about who is electable.”

Republican voters just want somebody to fall in love with, she said, and Republican voters have fallen in love with him. “They know he’s not electable. They do not care.”

Again, there is zero evidence that Trump supporters think he would lose to Clinton. Beyond that, please understand—Maddow is basing these sweeping statements about “Republican voters” on a Quinnipiac poll in which 80 percent of Republican voters didn’t support Candidate Trump.

Twenty percent of respondents said they’re supporting Trump. In a 17-candidate field, that's enough to put him in first place.

It also means that 80 percent of “Republican voters” said they aren’t supporting Trump. More precisely, 68 percent of respondents named a candidate other than Trump who they said they support. An additional twelve percent said they’re undecided.

Given this circumstance, Maddow’s sweeping claims about “Republican voters” made no sense at all. But so what? She was also able to explain why “Republican voters” “keep picking Trump” even though “they know he would lose.”

“It’s an interesting thing about Republican voters,” Maddow said. She went on to explain:

Maddow based her explanation on cherry-picked responses to an unusual poll question—a question which was answered the same way by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Why do “Republican voters” keep picking Trump even though “they know he would lose?” To explain this conundrum, Maddow referred to a question which appeared in a recent poll by NBC/Marist:
MADDOW: When NBC and Marist polled New Hampshire and Iowa, Republican voters again in those states said they luvvvvv them some Donald Trump. Mr. Trump was way out ahead in New Hampshire, and he was a very close second to Scott Walker in Iowa.

But the pollsters at NBC and Marist did not just ask Republican voters who do you like for president? They also asked them one crucial follow-up, which I think maybe kind of explains everything.

They asked them this: Which is more important to you, a Republican nominee for president who shares your positions on most issues, or a Republican nominee for president who has the best chance of winning the White House?

In both Iowa and in New Hampshire, by a 2:1 margin, Republican voters said they want a nominee for president who they agree with rather than one who can win. 67 percent of Republicans say that in Iowa, 67 percent of Republicans say that in New Hampshire.

And so yeah! It otherwise looks like this conundrum, right? Donald Trump loses not only to Hillary Clinton in general election match-ups, he would lose to Bernie Sanders if he made it to the general election. But Republican voters do not care. They want their Donald Trump...
Does that maybe kind of explain everything? According to Maddow, Republican voters were asked this question:

Which is more important, a Republican nominee for president who shares your positions on most issues, or a Republican nominee for president who has the best chance of winning the White House?

When they were asked that question, 67 percent of Republican voters said they would prefer the nominee who shares their positions, as opposed to the nominee who had the best chance to win.

Does that maybe kind of explain everything? No, it kind of doesn’t.

Warning! That is an unusual type of survey question, for which we have little track record. We don’t know what a typical response to that question looks like. We don’t know if those responses by Republican voters were unusual in any way at all.

Beyond that, that obvious point again: Those responses came from all Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the large majority of whom are not supporting Trump.

Here’s something else you ought to know—something Maddow didn’t mention. Democratic voters were asked that same question by NBC/Marist. They responded the same way Republican voters did.

In New Hampshire and Iowa, 66 and 65 percent of Democratic voters said they would prefer the candidate who agreed with their positions. Suddenly, the 67 percent response from Republican voters doesn’t seem so striking.

In short, that reaction to that unusual question was not unique to Republican voters. There’s no sign that it was especially strongly held by Trump supporters. And there’s no indication that Trump supporters think their man would lose to Clinton. As she pretended to solve that conundrum, Maddow was blowing bubbles around, as she does, night after night, in her embarrassing “campaign coverage.”

While we’re at it, might we show you the bubble with which Maddow closed her “campaign coverage” this night?

It wouldn’t be the new Maddow Show if Fox didn’t get knocked around in some silly, selective fashion. Here’s how Maddow performed that mandated task Thursday night:
MADDOW: New York Magazine published some new details about [the August 6] debate today, including that Fox News had now told the candidates that they will be organized physically on stage according to their polling numbers. So not only do you have to make the top ten in national polls in order to make it on stage, so Rick Perry won’t even be there. But the highest polling candidate, Donald Trump, will apparently be in the center of the stage for the debate.

So it really will be the Donald Trump show! This whole Republican Party presidential nominating process has become the Donald Trump show, thanks in part to national polls being the grounds on which people are allowed to participate in the nominating process or not.

A week from tonight, the fact that this is the Donald Trump show will not only be basically official, it will be on display physically on that stage when he stands in the middle like Gladys, surrounded by a whole bunch of Pips on either side.

Fox, are you sure you want to run the Republican presidential primary like this?
That was the dramatic end to the segment.

Corporate-owned hustler, please! Primary debates have been run this way by the various networks for a very long time.

Front-runners are typically placed behind podiums “in the center of the stage.” More marginal candidates splay out to the right and the left.

To see this completely familiar practice in action, just click here. You'll see the introductions of the candidates in the Democratic primary debate of June 3, 2007.

That debate was run by CNN. For the corresponding Republican debate that same night, just click this.

You’ll see the front-runners perched in the middle. The networks pretty much always do this in primary debates.

This practice has nothing to do with Fox. Maddow, who is dumb as a rock or perhaps just dishonest, was simply providing our nightly dose of low-IQ tribal pleasure.

Maddow’s “campaign coverage” was shorter than usual Thursday night. It may have been even dumber than her usual fare.

Her analyses made little sense. Beyond that, she kept omitting information which would undercut the joy of our nightly sponge bath.

Questions:

Do “Republican voters” luvvvvv them some Trump? Not exactly, no. In the poll from which Maddow was working, 80 percent of Republican voters didn’t support Candidate Trump.

Do Trump supporters think he would lose to Candidate Clinton? There’s no evidence of that.

Was there something strange or revealing about the way Republican votes responded to that unusual survey question? Not exactly, no. Democratic voters responded the same way.

Should Dems be saying “oh happy day” about those general election matchups? Walker and Bush were even with Clinton. To us, those results seem appalling.

Did Maddow know why Trump was in Scotland? Did Maddow know how candidates get arranged on the stage?

We’re going to guess that the answer to each question is yes. As we’ve long told you, Rachel Maddow simply isn’t obsessively honest.

They said we were getting Our Own Rhode Scholar. By now, what we’re getting more closely resembles Our Own Sad Version of Fox.

In fairness: The photos of the puppies were cute.


THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE: With sympathy for The Maddow 15!

FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2015

Part 5—Like Jesus, the analysts wept:
The long, insulting, brain-dead jihad received its formal launch on Tuesday evening, May 5.

The eventual shape of this ludicrous jihad wasn’t yet clear at that point. On that evening, Rachel Maddow discussed an actual, though fairly minor, problem:

The Republican Party was going to have a very large number of White House candidates, Maddow correctly said. With the help of some unlikely names, she set the possible number at 22.

This creates a management problem, Maddow correctly said. How can a party run its debates with that many hopefuls?

That was, and is, a perfectly sensible question. For reasons only she and her owners can explain, Maddow has devoted her life to this question over the past three months.

She has endlessly cavorted and clowned as she has pretended to discuss this question. She has offered some of the dumbest analyses we have ever seen on cable.

She has burned enormous amounts of time over the course of those three months, time in which she could have been discussing some actual societal problems.

On May 5, it wasn’t clear where Maddow’s penchant for nonsense was going to take her. That said, a hint of her analytical skill in this general area did come clear at this point:
MADDOW (5/5/15): In 2008, the Democrats thought they would have a pretty good chance as a party of taking the White House after two long difficult terms of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. So a lot of Democratic contenders, a lot of potentially viable Democratic contenders, turned out in 2008.

That year, the presidential debate had as many as eight people on stage on the Democratic side. And yes, that included people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But also, you know, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd.

You know, for more than ten of the debates that year, there was also a guy up there on stage named Mike Gravel. Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska. You might remember him as the guy that did that one amazing campaign ad where he didn’t say anything, he just stared into the camera for a long time and threw a rock into a lake and walked away. That was his whole ad.

Mike Gravel, I miss you!

That same year in 2008, Republicans also sometimes had ten people on the stage at once for their debates. And yes, it does make for a big crowded debate stage. But there is a reason, right?

There’s a “small D” reason to err on the side of inclusion rather than the side of exclusion. I mean, who are the parties or the TV networks to say who should be allowed onto that stage and who shouldn’t?
In that passage, Maddow stated her preference for “erring on the side of inclusion” when we conduct these debates. As usual, she also also displayed her wonderful specialness, telling us how much she misses the silly nonsense put on display by Mike Gravel back in 2008.

(“I I I I I I I!” That’s what the analysts always say at such Maddovian moments.)

Should Gravel have been burning up time in those debates that year? Should Alan Keyes have been wasting time in the Republican debate in South Carolina in February 2000, taking time from the two remaining contenders, Candidates Bush and McCain?

There’s no objective way to answer such questions. We’d be inclined to err on the side of telling such vanity candidates to scram. But that is a matter of judgment.

(Keyes ended up with a cable TV show, his probable goal all along. His presence in that otherwise heated debate was an absolute joke.)

Maddow seems to like jokes. She also seems inclined to very strange judgment in the area of this jihad. Consider the question which ends the passage we have quoted:

“I mean, who are the parties or the TV networks to say who should be allowed onto that stage and who shouldn’t?”

Who are the parties to say who should be allowed on that stage? That strikes us as a wondrously strange question.

Who are the parties to do such a thing? The parties are the political organizations which are picking their candidates! Presumably, they should have some say in the way the process works.

Whatever! Maddow loved the crazy Gravel—and she wanted her viewers to know it. She also said she favored erring on the side of inclusion. If we assume that we’re destined to err, there’s nothing “wrong” with that preference.

All in all, Maddow’s (long) presentation that night made perfect sense. She had defined an actual question the GOP would have to resolve.

On that evening, there was no way to know how crazy, and how insulting to her viewers, her jihad was going to get. By May 27, the ridiculous drift of her nightly nonsense was becoming fairly clear.

As she started her program that night, she sat before a graphic she had unveiled on May 5. The graphic showed the head shots of the twenty-two major Republicans who might run for president.

“We started this as a joke,” she said. After that, she joked some more:
MADDOW (5/27/15): We’ve got a lot coming up this hour. I’m very excited about tonight’s show. But we start tonight with this.

Because we started this as basically kind of a joke—the Republican field of candidates and likely candidates for 2016. We started this as a graphic, this thing that you see on your screen, basically as a joke to show how many people were either running, or were likely to run.

It’s such a big field! It’s such a big field that there’s basically not even enough room to get these guys’ names up there, along with their faces.

And we figured, when we first made kind of funny graphic, Well, yeah, OK, we figured there are 22 Republican candidates, or possible candidates, for president this year, but it’s early days. We won’t be stuck with this graph for long. A lot of these guys will drop out very soon. We’ll have a much easier visual to work with soon enough.

That’s what we thought would happen. That is not at all how it has worked out.

We started with 22 candidates and likely candidates. That was weeks ago. So far, we’ve only been able to “poof” three little Republican heads off that very crowded screen.

The first one we were able to take off the list was Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Poof! Php!

[Snyder’s head disappears]

Second one we were able to take off the list was U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Poof!

[Bolton’s head disappears]

And then it was Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Poof! Bye-bye!

[Pence’s head disappears]

That was three of them. Buh-bye! Three of them saying they definitely won’t run. But we’ve still got 19 little Republican heads up there; we are still at 19. And maybe we are not going to go down from that number at all, at least we’re not going to any time soon.
To watch that entire segment, click here. Standard warnings apply.

As you can see, Maddow was snarking hard this night. Around the nation, liberal brain cells were dying in droves as the wonderful corporate star made three of the “little Republican heads” go “poof.”

Incredibly, that wasn’t the stupid part of that program. The stupid part—the part which truly insulted her viewers’ intelligence—was yet to come.

How stupid has Maddow been as she wastes time, night after night, with this dull-witted combination of tribal entertainment and propaganda? Time which she could have spent discussing serious topics?

If you have some time this weekend, we think you should consider watching the tape of that fourteen-minute segment. If you don’t feel your intelligence is being insulted, it may be time that you conducted a search for same.

Maddow, a corporate TV star, has been entertaining us with this manifest bullshit for the past three months. How dumb have her presentations been? This is where she went as she continued exploring the twenty-two headshots:
MADDOW (continuing directly): I mean, we can add this, right? These people, with the little red boxes around them, they have formally confirmed that they are in.

[Eight headshots are enclosed in red boxes]

All of these people have formally declared that they are running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

But it’s very clear they’re not going to be the whole field. And it’s not just that we’re going to add the obvious and very famous people like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker to that list, and we will eventually have to add them.

It’s now becoming clear that even the most obscure and anonymous remaining people on our potential list are not going to be “poofed” off this list either. They’re just not opting out. Nobody’s opting out any more.

One after the other, they keep either announcing that they’re in or signaling that they’re going to be announcing that they’re in.

Like, for example, this guy!


[Large, single headshot appears]

Do you recognize this man? Could you pick this man out of a lineup? Could you pick him out of this specific lineup?

[Chuckles]

I mean no offense by that! I just mean to say, by virtue of his deep national obscurity, and honestly, his lack of any distinguishing political characteristics in this field, this guy was one of my personal top contenders for a guy who would take a look around and decide not to actually run.

But alas and behold! The Washington Post reports today that he, Ohio Governor John Kasich, is in.
Could Maddow get dumber and live? She went on to roll her eyes at the monumental absurdity of a possible Kasich candidacy, what with Kasich’s “deep national obscurity, and honestly, his lack of any distinguishing political characteristics in this field.”

That was the night when Maddow fully unveiled the poisonous cross which would define her silly jihad—the cross between his unparalleled tribal snark and her manifest cluelessness concerning American politics.

Good God, that presentation was dumb! Maddow seemed unaware of the “distinguishing political characteristic” known as Kasich’s 31-point victory margin in his 2014 re-election as governor of Ohio, a hugely important swing state.

Maddow seemed utterly clueless, as she has so frequently seemed during her three-month jihad. How utterly clueless was she?

This past Tuesday night, she and fresh-faced Kasie Hunt discussed that same Candidate Kasich. Maddow didn’t bother explaining her new point of view concerning Kasich. She was still “overly excited” concerning Kasich, though in the opposite direction:
MADDOW (7/28/15): Am I unnecessarily overly excited by John Kasich’s surge in the poll numbers?

HUNT: No, I don’t actually think that you are. I am also in some ways excited about John Kasich’s poll numbers, in part because I think that a lot of the other candidates, particularly the Jeb Bush camp, think that John Kasich is for real. And I think when he announced, it was pretty interesting to see the traffic that came out privately from the Bush campaign. They paid a lot of attention to what John Kasich is doing. They are paying a lot of attention to what John Kasich is doing.

And you’re right. He’s doing it the old-fashioned way, on the air in New Hampshire. He’s going to do it the old-fashioned way on the ground in New Hampshire too. And that’s a potential threat. And he is, I think, from the perspective of people who are watching this, in the traditional way, a serious threat.

MADDOW: In terms of John Kasich’s role in this very large group of candidates, one of the things that he has always been able to leverage in terms of his national appeal, and I think a certain extent his power in Ohio, is he is well connected. He’s kind of like Mitch Daniels. He knows everybody else in his generation in politics.

He doesn’t seem to have enemies in high level Republican politics. He knows people from Washington. He knows people on the party machine. He knows people obviously in the Ohio machine, which is so important to Republican primary voters.

Does that mean that people are going to be reluctant to pick on him if he does end up being one of the guys to beat?

HUNT: Well, look, he’s been around a long time. He’s fought the hard fights, the fiscal battles in Washington during the Clinton years in the 1990s. And you know what? He represents Ohio. And whoever is the nominee is going to need him to work on their behalf. That’s not to say he wouldn’t, regardless of how things went down.

The one thing I will say about Kasich—you know, you were pointing out Fox News. Don’t forget, he hosted a show on Fox News—

MADDOW: On Fox News, right.

HUNT: —for quite a long time, Heartland with John Kasich. And that is the center of his—

When he got up on that announcement stage, he was saying, “I am going to bring the lessons of the heartland to the rest of America.” And I think that’s something that, in some ways, he is hitting notes that are missing from the rest of the Republican field.
Rachel did a wonderful job pretending she’d known this shit all along. Two months before, she was mocking Kasich as one of the total jokes of the GOP field.

We wouldn’t vote for Kasich ourselves. But Maddow’s presentation on May 27 was just blindingly stupid. And the dumbness just rumbles along.

Despite three months of nightly obsession, Maddow’s misused viewers still haven’t heard a full discussion of Kasich’s political profile. In just the occasional segment about the GOP race, Chris Hayes’ viewers have been much more fully informed about Kasich.

And uh-oh! Back in May, things only got dumber as Maddow continued her torrent of snark and snide.

Maddow continued rolling her eyes at Candidate Kasich. Mocking his dumbness, she even seemed to misunderstand a joke he had told.

She then presented another headshot of another possible candidate. Warning! If you watch this performance on that tape, some brain cells are certain to die:
MADDOW (5/27/15): So Ohio Governor John Kasich, I mean, (A), even though he’s the governor of Ohio, sadly, at least for now, he’s totally unrecognizable and indistinguishable from all of the other candidates in the field. At least he will be to most Americans looking at him in the midst of this giant field of contenders, (A).

But (B), he’s apparently going to run anyway. And (C), if his initial quotes about running are anything to go by, let alone his well-known tendency toward emotional outbursts in public in Ohio politics, John Kasich might end up being fun to watch.

If we can just remember which one he is when it comes to putting a camera on the guy who we think is John Kasich? Is that him?


Oh, but that’s not at all in today’s news of this sort, though. Because John Kasich’s leading competitor for the national Republican figure least likely to be recognized in a crowded room is this guy.

[New headshot appears]

OK, who is he? Ha-ha-ha!

His name is—I mean, do you know what his name is?

I mean, hit PAUSE. Ask anybody near you! Does anyone in the room watching TV with you right now know who this man is? Do you have any guesses as to who this man is?

His name starts with a “Juh” sound. That’s helpful.

“John” something maybe? “Jim” something maybe? Jehosephat? No?


His name is “George!” Now do you know who he is? Nope?

Time’s up! His name is George Pataki. That’s him.

[Chuckles]
Maddow went on to ridicule Pataki, like Kasich before him. Pataki was going to make his formal announcement the next day, she said. Then she offered more of her marvelous snark:

“That feeling in your chest is your heartstrings thrumming.”

The sheer stupidity of this behavior is its distinguishing characteristic. Let’s try to understand the depth of the nonsense performed by this corporate clown.

Maddow has spent the past three months arguing that the GOP should “err on the side of inclusion” in running its debates. She has treated it like an attack on the republic when she tells us that Fox News is going to restrict the first GOP debate to just ten candidates.

(She almost never mentions the fact that CNN is going to do the same thing in the second debate. Part of the scam Maddow is running involves the tribal joy we feel when we’re turned loose against Fox.)

On May 5, Maddow said the political parties should “err on the side of inclusion.” By May 27, she was treating viewers to mountains of ridicule aimed at Pataki and Kasich.

Question: If Pataki and Kasich are such buffoons, why would the GOP, or anyone else, want to include them in a debate? The obviousness of such a question doesn’t occur to this corporate clown when she serves us her poisonous mixture of self-adoration and snark.

Maddow’s performance has been a disgrace all through this long national nightmare. As Marshall McLuhan said in Annie Hall, she seems to know nothing about this work.

Her basic political cluelessness seems to know no bounds. But neither does her disrespect for her liberal viewers. Throw in her self-adoration and her relentless snark.

Maddow seems to know virtually nothing about American politics. Presumably, her corporate owners have wanted her to do two things as she has pursued her ludicrous jihad. Presumably, they've have wanted her to pleasure us in tribal ways, and to keep us entertained.

Persistently, Maddow has done those things. Last night, the nonsense continued in a wide array of ways. But as we close, let’s return to last week’s “three days in the life.”

Maddow spoke with Rick Santorum last week. She told her “dog pee” story two times and wasted viewers’ time in a wide assortment of ways.

Somehow, she managed to work in some questions for Santorum. When she did, he disagreed with her basic premise about next week’s debate:
MADDOW (7/22/15): This year, the rules are different. I mean, if you’re not on—because of that Fox News rule that they’re only taking ten people. They’re basing on it national polls.

I mean, if you’re not there on stage, you and Chris Christie and Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal and all the rest of these people who are probably not going to make the stage, if you guys aren’t there, you’re effectively not running.

SANTORUM: I disagree with that. I just think what happens in July and August, you know, it’s like the Las Vegas ad. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” What happens in August, stays in August.

I don’t think there really is going to be that much of an impact. Lots of thing are going to happen between now and January. Lots of folks are going to rise, lots of folks are going to fall.

And, you know, I always feel like the focus we’re going to have is trusting the good people of Iowa, which I did last time. That when push comes to shove, and when they start to pay attention to this race, which historically is about two to three weeks out, they’re going to look at the candidate who they think is going to be the best person to be the president of the United States, at a time that is critical of this country.

And I feel very confident, after having spent the time there and folks get to know me and kick the tires of all these models in the showroom, that we’re going to do just fine.
Night after night, week after week, Maddow has said that exclusion from next week’s debate will end candidacies, even careers.

Santorum said that isn’t how Iowa works.

In a world which wasn’t a scam, that might have triggered further discussion. Maddow might have interviewed knowledgeable people, asking them what they think about what Santorum said.

The Maddow Show doesn’t work that way. Maddow doesn’t interview people about the shape of the race.

Instead, she issues her standard nightly lecture about the perfidy of Fox News, with the Republican Party occasionally mentioned. Santorum’s statement about the way Iowa works was simply never mentioned again. By Friday, Maddow was back to her regular nightly lecture:

“They’ve only got a few days left to act. If they do not change course on this, the candidacies of a whole bunch of the Republican candidates, including seriously some of the candidates who are most impressive on paper, a whole bunch of presidential candidacies including a bunch of governors, their candidacies are effectively going to end by the end of next week when those debates are set to start and they are not going to be allowed on stage.”

Santorum’s assessment was never mentioned again. We returned to the nightly doomsday lecture featuring the perfidy of Those People at Fox.

It may be hard for liberals to understand this. But Maddow’s three-month jihad has been one of the dumbest episodes in the long, miserable history of cable news.

Bill O’Reilly’s fight against the war on Christmas? The years in which Hannity & Colmes bravely battled the scary spokesmen from the New Black Panther Party?

Chris Matthews’ decade of insults and misstatements aimed at both Clintons and Candidate Gore? Maddow’s ridiculous, three-month jihad ranks right up there with these gruesome episodes, these ghosts of cable news past.

She’s turning liberal brains to dust as she plays this game each night. And in the hours she spends on this silly gong-show, a long list of serious issues go completely ignored.

Sandra Bland has never been mentioned on the Maddow’s show. She weeps instead for Carly Fiorina, whose non-existent candidacy may soon be derailed.

Rachel Maddow has become a self-adoring corporate cable news clown. She seems to know virtually nothing about domestic politics. We wouldn’t swear that she’s “well.”

She’s paid to entertain us each night and to make us feel tribally pure. She’s very good at these corporate tasks, and at hiding what she does.

She’s especially good at the self-adoration. That’s why the analysts wept.

Last week, Maddow staged three days in the life which were an open insult to us, her liberal viewers. At one point, she shared her analytical brilliance with Santorum:
MADDOW (7/22/15): I had an interesting conversation with my staff the other day. We were talking about— I was making my case to them about the fact that I think you are a good communicator.

I disagree with you on almost everything. But I think that you—I think that a lot of people have worked very hard on their elocution in this round. People are trying to set themselves apart. A lot of people look like high school debate-losing team captains right now, and you’re a very effective communicator. That’s why I think it will actually hurt you if you don’t get in the debates because I think it’s such an opportunity cost for you.
Maddow has been offering that analysis since May 27. Keep an eye on Santorum, she has said. He’s the best communicator in the whole GOP field!

Today, Santorum, who everyone knows from the last campaign, stands at one percent.

After watching that tape, the analysts sat around glumly. Eventually, we could see that their eyes were swollen and red.

They were hurting for Maddow’s staffers, they were finally willing to tell us. Imagine if you had to sit through that guff each day, they said.

Last night, Maddow played videotape of herself, as she frequently does. Her videotapes help us learn the various ways to adore her.

In the tape, she was conducting another staff meeting. In these tapes, we normally see her telling jokes, with the staffers comprising The Maddow 15 forced to sit there and laugh.

Last night, we watched another such tape. Full of love for the whole human race, our analysts writhed, then wailed.

Later today or tomorrow: Special bonus! Last night’s cons!

Supplemental: A bad week for examining Perfect Examples!

THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2015

A simplified story instead:
This has become a very bad week for discussing Perfect Examples.

That said, the simplification of narrative is all around us in the mainstream press. Routinely, our “journalists” transform complex stories into simpler tales which lead us to the moral judgments they like.

For an example which carries high interest but minor consequence, the New York Times is at it again, transforming the “Deflategate” conundrum into a settled matter. Your assignment, should you choose to take it:

Read this 1500-word, front-page report from yesterday’s New York Times.
See if you’re told, at any point, that a controversy exists concerning the science of the NFL’s Wells Report.

Even in a lengthy front-page report, the simplification of this story—its sanitization—is essentially total.

At one point, reporter Ken Belson does quote Don Yee, Tom Brady’s agent, saying this: “Neither Tom nor the Patriots did anything wrong.” But how odd! At no point does Belson explain the basis on which Yee is making that statement.

Does a dispute exist about the Wells Report? Not if you read the Times! Below, you see the closest Belson comes to reporting the fact that a controversy exists. As is the norm in matters like this, Belson has skillfully crafted language which is extremely murky:
BELSON (7/29/15): The investigation of and penalties against Brady and the Patriots have divided fans across the nation, generated a debate over the integrity of the nation's most-watched sport and brought scrutiny to how the N.F.L., the country's largest professional sports league, treats misconduct among players.

The controversy has also cast a pall over the Patriots, the Super Bowl champions, who will be without their starting quarterback until Oct. 18, and will raise fresh questions about Brady and his legacy on a team with a history of controversies. The accusation that he impeded the league's efforts may prompt some fans to abandon their sympathy for him, while undercutting some analysts who argued that the game balls did not have to be manipulated to lose air pressure.
Say what? Some analysts “argued that the game balls did not have to be manipulated to lose air pressure?”

Was that absurd construction crafted in good faith? If so, Belson and his editors should all be instantly fired.

In fact, every analyst agree with that statement. That includes the people who wrote the Wells Report for the NFL.

It's true! The game balls didn’t “have to be manipulated to lose air pressure!” NFL footballs lose air pressure during every cool- or cold-weather game. The Wells Report explains this fact with perfect clarity.

The actual question is different: Did the game balls have to be manipulated to lose as much air pressure as they lost by halftime?

A controversy exists on that point, though you’d never know it from reading Belson’s front-page report.

At this point, an irony appears. Did someone associated with the Patriots reduce the air pressure in the game balls? For ourselves, we don’t know, in large part because we read the New York Times.

That said, a controversy exists on that point, as one section of the Times acknowledged in mid-June. On June 14, the paper’s high-profile Sunday Review published a report on the subject by Kevin Hassett and Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute.

The report ran under this headline: “Deflating Deflategate.” The writers offered this nugget concerning a study they had conducted:
HASSETT AND VEUGER (6/14/15): Deflategate is a dispute about whether the New England Patriots used deliberately underinflated footballs in their playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts in January. (Each N.F.L. team provides its own footballs when on offense, and an underinflated football may be easier to handle in cold or wet conditions.)

The N.F.L. commissioned a study, known as the Wells report, that concluded that it was ''more probable than not'' that Patriots personnel deliberately violated the rules and that Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback, was aware of it. Following the release of the Wells report last month, the N.F.L. penalized the Patriots organization and suspended Mr. Brady for four games.

Our study, written with our colleague Joseph Sullivan, examines the evidence and methodology of the Wells report and concludes that it is deeply flawed. (We have no financial stake in the outcome of Deflategate.)
To read the full report, click this. To read the study on which it is based, you can just click here, although we don’t recommend it.

Seven weeks ago, the Sunday Review thought that piece raised a serious question about the NFL’s basic claims. Seven weeks later, Belson, in a front-page report, doesn’t even tell Times readers that such a dispute exists.

Check that! He does tell readers that “some analysts have argued that the game balls did not have to be manipulated to lose air pressure!” When the Times is simplifying a story, such bafflegab will be employed in place of the English language.

We have no idea why the New York Times has played this story this way. That said, you could watch ESPN discuss this topic for the rest of your life; you would have little chance of learning that a dispute exists.

In the case of ESPN, this may be an editorial decision, with the network’s assortment of NFL athletes-turned-analysts told to disappear all mention of the dispute.

On ESPN, the guilt of the Patriots in this matter is treated as a settled question. In passing, the network’s reporters may fleetingly note that Brady, Yee and Robert Kraft are denying that any wrongdoing occurred. They won’t explain the basis on which this claim is being made. They certainly won’t attempt to deal with the analytical issues involved.

(On ESPN, Tony Kornheiser routinely says that the Wells Report’s science is junk. But the channel’s assortment of former jocks speak with one memorized voice, apparently like Coach said.)

Back to the Times:

Over the past two days, the paper has published a front-page report, and several fiery opinion columns, which review the latest chapter in the Deflategate drama. At no point have Times readers been told that any dispute exists.

For whatever reason, the Times has been cleaning up the story, making it simpler, easy-to-follow. An enormous percentage of our national discourse is simplified and reinvented in precisely this way.

Tomorrow: Two sets of statistics

THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE: Most clueless broadcasts we’ve ever seen?

THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2015

Part 4—Maddow does not know elections:
Sometimes, we find the analysts hiding red, swollen eyes.

One such occasion occurred last week. Incomparably, we asked them why they’d been crying again.

Expressing their sympathy for a group we won’t name until tomorrow, they pointed to the following statement from last Wednesday evening’s Rachel Maddow Show.

The passage comes from Maddow’s interview with Candidate Santorum. As we read it, the analysts began quietly sobbing again:
MADDOW (7/22/15): If you don’t—

I had an interesting conversation with my staff the other day. We were talking about— I was making my case to them about the fact that I think you are a good communicator.

I disagree with you on almost everything. But I think that you—I think that a lot of people have worked very hard on their elocution in this round. People are trying to set themselves apart. A lot of people look like high school debate-losing team captains right now, and you’re a very effective communicator. That’s why I think it will actually hurt you if you don’t get in the debates because I think it’s such an opportunity cost for you.

If you don’t win, if you don’t end up in the debates, if don’t end up getting the nomination, or nobody picks you as VP, what else do you want to do? This is the third time you’ve run for president—
Too funny! Less than three minutes into her Q-and-A with Santorum, Maddow was asking him what he plans to do if he doesn’t win!

That isn’t why the analysts cried. For now, let’s consider what occurred as that discussion continued:

At this point, Santorum interrupted, telling Maddow that it’s only his second run for the White House. It was the second time that Maddow had mistakenly pegged this run as his third attempt, so he apparently felt he had to correct the record.

That isn’t why the analysts sobbed. But let’s make a basic point here.

Maddow has obsessed about the GOP presidential field, night after night after night after night, for the past three months, dating at least to May 5.

Dating to May 27, she has repeatedly stated the view that Candidate Santorum is the most effective communicator in that field. But so what?

Despite her Rain Man-like, repetitive focus on the GOP primary process, Maddow had somehow gotten it into her head that this was Santorum’s third run for the White House. Moments before, she had made an even stranger remark concerning the rules for getting into this year’s first few GOP debates:
MADDOW (7/22/15): If— So Fox is going to do this thing, and I don’t know if CNN will do the same thing, where they’re going to have what everybody has been sort of derisively calling “the kids’ table,” where you don’t get to be in the real debate but you’re allowed to be in—
At this point, Santorum broke in. But what about that highlighted statement? Rachel Maddow “doesn’t know if CNN will do the same thing?”

Just for the record, Fox News is hosting the first GOP debate, on August 6. CNN will host the second GOP debate, on September 16, from the Reagan Library.

CNN announced, long ago, that it will conduct that second debate the same way Fox News will conduct the first. Again, let’s consult the record.

“The Sept. 16, 2015 event will be divided into two parts featuring two groups of candidates,” CNN announced on May 21. “One grouping will feature the top 10 candidates according to public polling, and the other will include candidates who meet the minimum threshold of 1 percent in public polling but are ranked outside the top 10.”

For those who may have missed that announcement, CNN announced it again just a few weeks later.

“The prime-time debate will actually be split into two parts,” CNN declared on June 16, as it unveiled Jake Tapper as the moderator of its debate. “One with the candidates that national polls rank as the top 10 GOP contenders, and one with the candidates who didn't make that cut.”

Which part of those announcements didn’t Maddow understand? Her statement to Santorum last Wednesday night can perhaps, with considerable effort, be defended as almost technically accurate. But it extended a persistent feature of her obsessive nightly monologues about the upcoming debates:

In those nightly monologues, Maddow assails Fox, Fox News and the Fox News Channel for running the first GOP debate on this disgraceful two-tier basis. As a general matter, she does this without telling viewers that CNN has adopted the same basic structure for the second debate.

Routinely, she fails to make another obvious point—to all appearances, the RNC has agreed on this structure for those initial debates. In hours of repetitive broadsides, Maddow’s viewers rarely hear this basic point stated. They never hear this obvious point analyzed or discussed.

It’s hard to avoid a basic thought about Maddow’s amazingly repetitive broadcasts:

Night after night, liberal viewers see Maddow assail Fox News for the disgraceful way it has chosen to eliminate candidates from the first debate. They don’t hear that CNN is planning to do the exact same thing. They don’t even hear that the RNC seems to be down with this process.

It’s hard to avoid a basic thought as this pattern continues. In her stunningly repetitive monologues, Maddow is feeding us liberal viewers a pleasing plate of tribal gruel.

Over and over and over and over, we tune in to our favorite show to hear “Fox News” assailed for the way it’s running that first debate. Below, you see the way she delivered the diatribe last night, as she railed about “this ridiculous Fox News ten-candidate cut-off:”
MADDOW (7/29/15): I should tell you that [new] Reuters/Ipsos poll is an online poll. It is not generally considered to be as good as a telephone poll. All these polls have different methodologies and different sample sizes now, but it feels worth to it report all of them as they come out because nobody knows which polls are going to be included in the calculations by Fox News Channel when Fox News Channel averages five recent national polls in order to decide which ten candidates they’re going to allow into the Republican debate next week.

So, I mean, maybe they’ll consider this new Reuters poll. Maybe they won’t. I don’t know. They’re not saying.

Fox will not say how they’ll cut people in and out of their debate. We’re just supposed to accept that they’re going to do it somehow and the candidates are supposed to accept it when Fox pronounces who is allowed to debate for the Republican presidential nomination and who is not.

We keep trying to guess what Fox might do. Our best estimation of what Fox might decide is what we call our "Who’s Allowed to Compete Cable News-Derived Random Number Generator.” When we plug in the polls which Fox may or may not use to determine eligibility for the debate, it looks to me like there are basically eight places on the debate stage that are fairly safe right now...

But that leaves the whole rest of the field fighting it out for the last two places on stage. And up until today, this ridiculous Fox News ten-candidate cut-off had meant that there were eight candidates battling it out for the last two seats on stage.

Well, as of today, it will be nine candidates battling it out for those last two seats on stage, because today, the Republican candidate number 17 has filed his paper work the FCC. It’s my friend, Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia. He also ran for president in 2008.

Jim Gilmore. Full disclosure—I only call him “my friend” on TV because his campaign sometimes answers the phone when we call them. That qualifies as “my friend” in this day and age.

Jim Gilmore today filed his papers to become the 17th Republican candidate in the race. No word from Fox yet on whether or not they’ll let Jim Gilmore—presumably he’s not going to make the top ten, right? But is Fox going to let him into the second-tier event, their also-ran “kids table” event that they’re doing before the real debate? I don’t know.

I mean, if they don’t include him, there will be no justification for that. But who knows if they’ll let him in?

The rules from Fox News, they may not be arbitrary. They may be very firm rules. But as far as we can tell, they’re secret and nobody knows who Fox News will let in and who Fox News is not going to let in, either for the main debate or for both events, the “kids table” and the debate.

And that is really how the Republican Party is choosing its presidential nominee this year. It is just astonishing.
Most of those amazingly narrow complaints are specific to Fox and to next week’s debate. But “this ridiculous Fox News ten-candidate cut-off” is also “this ridiculous CNN ten-candidate cut-off.”

It seems to be “this ridiculous RNC ten-candidate cut-off” too.

Maddow delivers this diatribe every night. We’ll guess that the vast majority of her viewers don’t understand those elementary points.

Is this the best way to run these debates, given the presence of seventeen candidates who might at least seem to be major? We don’t know, but we wouldn’t call this procedure “astonishing.”

Here’s what we would call astonishing. It’s amazing that a journalist can discuss this topic night after night, at considerable length, over the course of three solid months, without giving viewers a fuller picture of the way this procedure is working.

We already thought it was astonishing when Maddow kept flogging this dead fish night after night, beating the carcass of Fox, almost always without mentioning CNN or the apparent role of the RNC.

It went a step beyond “astonishing” when she spoke to Santorum last week.

Rachel Maddow “doesn’t know if CNN will do the same thing?” Astonishing, our dear Watson—although that actually isn’t why the analysts had red, swollen eyes.

For today, let’s leave it here, stating one basic point:

Basic point: It’s astonishing to see how little Maddow seems to know about the topic on which she has chosen to obsess, with the Rain Man’s zeal, since at least May 5.

In the history of cable news, has anyone ever spent so much time discussing a topic about which she seemed to have so little to say? For months, Maddow has pimped Santorum as the best communicator in the field, a man the pundits should be watching—but she doesn’t even know how many times he has run in the past?

Each night, she attacks the perfidy of Fox. But she doesn’t know if CNN is planning do the same thing?

The clueless comments occur each night. There’s no way we can discuss them all. That said, consider this groaner:

Last Thursday night, Maddow complained about the way “the Beltway press” had been discussing Ross Perot’s 1992 third-party race.

Amazingly, she made some accurate statements about that year’s exit polls. She then offered a grossly speculative analysis, on the basis of which she said that Perot probably cost Clinton votes.

Everything is possible, but on its face, Maddow’s analysis made no actual sense. Softly, the analysts started to whimper. But then, they saw her say this:
MADDOW (7/23/15): Poppy Bush did not lose the presidency in 1992 because of Ross Perot. Poppy Bush lost the presidency in 1992 because he had a 33 percent approval rating. He would have lost to a chia pet.

And now, we are facing the prospect of another outsider, a somewhat conservative, somewhat hard to place businessman who doesn’t play by the political rules, and he might self-finance and run a third-party candidacy against both the Democrats and Republicans.

Oh my God, won’t that make debates more fun? We’re facing that again!

But what the Republicans are trying to sell you about this prospect, what they’ve been trying to sell you about this prospect forever, what the Beltway press today is eagerly repeating and regurgitating as if 1992 was too long ago for any of us to live through it, the story they are telling you about what it would mean for Donald Trump to run as a third-party candidate, is that it would doom the otherwise inevitable Bush presidency.

Well, that was not true for Poppy Bush in 1992. And if you are extrapolating from that experience, there is no reason to believe it would be true for Jeb Bush in 2016 or for whoever else the Republicans pick to be their nominee.

Bad history makes for bad punditry. The Ross Perot myth you keep hearing today is a myth. It is total bunk.

We have no idea what the Donald Trump third-party candidacy would be like, and who it would help and who it would hurt.

For now, Donald Trump is the clear unequivocal front runner for the Republican nomination, as hard as that is for other Republicans to grasp. He’s beating all other Republican candidates.

Republicans should stop worrying about what they’re going to do if he hypothetically is the third-party candidate and they should worry about what they’re going to do if he is the actual Republican nominee.

MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt joins us next.
“We have no idea what the Donald Trump third-party candidacy would be like, and who it would help and who it would hurt?”

From anyone other than Maddow, that would have seemed astonishing. From her, it seemed to be par for the very peculiar corporate liberal course.

Why was “the Beltway press” suggesting that a third-party run by Candidate Trump could damage the GOP? We’ll let The Hill’s Jonathan Easley explain, though everyone on the planet had already done so by the time Maddow declaimed:
EASLEY (7/21/15): If Donald Trump leaves the GOP and runs as an independent candidate for president, it would badly damage Republican prospects for winning the White House, a new poll finds.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll released late Monday showed that in a head-to-head matchup, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) has a small lead over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) at 50 percent to 44 percent.

However, in a three-way matchup between Clinton, Bush and Trump, Trump siphons off significant support from Bush, propelling Clinton to a 16-point lead.

In that scenario, Clinton takes 46 percent over Bush at 30 percent and Trump at 20 percent. Bush was the only Republican contender the poll tested in a three-way match up with Clinton and Trump.
According to the 1992 exit polls, Candidate Perot drew evenly from Candidates Clinton and Bush. That doesn’t mean that a third-party Candidate Trump would affect things the same way.

No matter! In the face of that major poll, Maddow blunderbussed dumbly ahead, saying “we have no idea” who such a candidacy would help or hurt. But then, this is Santorum’s third campaign. And she doesn’t know if CNN will run its debate that same way!

Maddow’s overall cluelessness concerning these, her chosen topics, is truly amazing. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a major broadcaster devote so much time to a topic concerning which she seemed so clueless, concerning which she had so little to say.

That isn’t why the analysts sobbed. Tomorrow, we’ll finish our discussion of last week’s three nights in the life.

When we do, we plan to reveal why the analysts cried. We may even tear up ourselves, as we tell you why we think this insulting, three-month corporate sideshow has been such a disgrace.

Tomorrow: Empathizing on their behinds with those Maddow staffers