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?


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.

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!


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?


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

Supplemental: To Trevor Noah, it doesn’t make sense!


But here’s where impressions can come from:
Is Trevor Noah perhaps a bit of a hack?

That fear surfaced a few months ago, right after he was chosen to succeed Jon Stewart. In a piece at the new Salon, Silman and Saraiya describe a concern the young comic expressed in a recent stand-up set:
SILMAN AND SARAIYA (7/29/15): Talking about his own experience being pulled over by police, Noah observed: “you know what’s crazy, is I don’t know how not to die. That’s the thing that freaks me out right now—I don’t know how not to die.” Saying he felt “there was a time when black people and police had an unspoken agreement,” now he notes that “every time I turn on the news another black person’s being killed for seemingly fewer and fewer reasonable reasons. It just doesn’t make sense.”

He then turned one-by-one to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott to illustrate the random, absurd reasons that police have used to justify the taking of black lives.
Just for the record, Trayvon Martin wasn’t killed by police. Did we mention that this report appears at the new Salon?

At any rate, Noah seems to feel that something has changed in this society, which he only recently joined. Every time he turns on the news, “another black person’s being killed for seemingly fewer and fewer reasonable reasons.”

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Noah says. We’ll assume he’s being sincere, that he’s not being a hack.

Noah seems to think that those increased news reports reflect a change in police behavior—an upswing in black deaths at hands of police. That’s possible, of course. But an upswing in certain kinds of news reports may also reflect a change in the values of news directors—a change in the types of events directors choose to put on the air.

We’ve seen no statistics which demonstrate that police killings are on a major upswing, or on any upswing at all. (As has been widely noted, this country doesn’t keep good statistics about deaths at the hands of police.) It does seem clear that news directors are deciding to put such events on the air more frequently than they may have done in the past. This may be driven by an increase in cellphone videotape, and/or by the heightened belief that such deaths deserve coverage.

Is Noah seeing more black deaths on the air because more deaths are occurring? Or is he seeing more black deaths on the air because news judgments have changed?

We don’t know the answer to that question—and Noah assumes the worst. Like punditry, comedy can get a whole lot easier when you play it that way.

We’ve seen no statistics which settle this matter. We have seen the wide discussion in recent years of a string of “anecdotal” examples, four of whom are named in the passage above.

Where does Noah get the sense that police killings are on the rise? In part, it may be because more such events are getting put on the air, where they get treated as Perfect Examples. And it may be because we increasingly massage, invent and disappear facts to create our Perfect Examples.

Consider another recent piece at the pitiful new Salon. Somewhat horribly, the piece was written by Scott Timberg, a former writer for the Los Angeles Times who isn’t a young, inexperienced kid.

To what extent do we on the pseudo-left now massage our examples? Alas! Where the other tribe has developed its birthers, we increasingly have our own less-than-fully rational “deathers.” Try to believe that Timberg, an experienced adult journalist, began his report like this:
TIMBERG (7/27/15): The police killings of unarmed black men like Eric Garner, Michael Brown and, most recently, Sam Dubose at a July 19 traffic stop at the University of Cincinnati, have enraged many and baffled more. Why did Cleveland police shoot and kill 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year? How did self-styled block watch patrolman George Zimmerman decide to shoot and kill teenager Trayvon Martin, who was armed with nothing but a bag of candy on that night in 2012? These outrages have caused demonstrations, urban unrest, more violence and a larger sense that something has gone wrong in the nation’s race relations.

Besides outright racism, what motivates the overreaction of law-enforcement and vigilantes who have left these men dead?

A social psychologist at Wellesley College who studies diversity and friendship, Angela Bahns, has recently completed research that helps to explain part of the puzzle: It shows that people can imagine a sense of threat—a threat serious enough to justify violence—even with no real evidence besides their own stereotypes. And the stereotypes, the research suggests, are the root causes of the violence.
Is Scott Timberg a “deather?” It’s hard to believe that a serious, adult professional journalist composed a passage which is so deeply selective about such a serious subject.

As he starts, Timberg almost makes it sound like Martin was killed by police, as Silman and Soraiya do in their piece about Noah. Presumably, he means to classify George Zimmerman as a “vigilante,” a term he introduces in paragraph 2.

That said, please note what Timberg says in that passage about the killing of Martin. In truth, he presents a textbook example of the way our “deathers” now work:

According to Timberg, people are “baffled” by the killing of Martin, who he correctly says was unarmed. In fairness, it’s no wonder that Timberg’s readers are baffled! This is the way he describes the killing:

“How did self-styled block watch patrolman George Zimmerman decide to shoot and kill teenager Trayvon Martin, who was armed with nothing but a bag of candy on that night in 2012?” Timberg seems to suggest that Zimmerman “imagined a sense of threat—a threat serious enough to justify violence—even with no real evidence besides [his] own prejudice.”

Whatever you think of Zimmerman’s conduct that night, that’s classic “deather” writing! In the manner of propagandists worldwide, Timberg simply omits the fight which was occurring between Zimmerman and Martin, “who was armed with nothing but a bag of candy.”

He omits the testimony of the one eyewitness who came out of his house and got a good look at what was occurring during that fight. He doesn’t mention the injuries suffered by Zimmerman before his fired the fatal shot.

As propagandists have always done, he mentions the piteous bag of candy and disappears everything else. This is classic post-journalistic behavior at the gruesome new Salon.

Timberg’s description of that scene is classic in its lack of obsessive honesty. For Ta-Nehisi Coates’ initial reaction to the “not guilty” verdict in that case, please keep reading.

In the meantime, Timberg’s description of the killing of Michael Brown is classic “deather” prose too. He disappears the Justice Department report which judged that every shot fired by Darren Wilson was “justified,” due to Brown’s behavior.

Once again, Timberg eliminates basic facts which don’t lead us to the conclusion he wants us to reach. In this case, he wants us to judge that Wilson “imagined a sense of threat—a threat serious enough to justify violence—even with no real evidence besides their own stereotypes.”

After a detailed investigation, Eric Holder’s Justice Department judged different. Writing for a deather journal, Timberg doesn’t tell.

Wherever incipient TV stars dwell, Noah feels he’s seeing more reports of wanton police killings. It doesn’t occur to him that this may be a function of the numbers of such events which are now being put on the air, or that he may be getting selective accounts of what actually occurred in those Perfect Examples.

It’s easy to gin a Perfect Example if you play the game the way Timberg does. Increasingly, that’s the way we in the pseudo-liberal world have decided to play.

They’ve had their birthers for almost ten years. We have countered with our deathers. This brings us back to Coates.

A jury found George Zimmerman not guilty on July 13, 2013. The next day, Coates wrote a post at The Atlantic in which he said this:

“I think the jury basically got it right.”

At the time, Coates was interacting heavily in the comment threads at his site. He did so in this instance.

His comments aren’t the simple-minded piddle people like Timberg now serve, with Noah perhaps following along. Might Zimmerman have been in reasonable fear for his life when he was being pummeled by Martin? Might he reasonably have been in fear of “imminent danger of death or great bodily harm,” the standard under Florida law and the law of most states?

The horrible Timberg has wished that away, but Timberg is a deather. This is what Coates wrote that day, responding to a commenter:
COATES (7/14/13): I am on the ground and you are on top of me wailing away. I am most certainly in “imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.”

I say this as someone who has been in that position,
and the person putting someone in that position. It is really, really frightening. And you are in danger of “great bodily harm” at the very least. Punches kill people. Skulls hit concrete or tables and cause great damage.

And that assumes that you know you are only being hit with someone’s fist. What if it feels like you’re being hit with brass knuckles? What if you think you see the person reaching for something to finish the job?

Fights are not tame staid events. They are chaotic, random and very, very scary. They are not regulated. There are no TKOs. Fist-fights kill people—and there is no guarantee that a fist-fight will stay at that level.
About a month later, Coates largely flipped. By now, we’d say he’s a bit of a deather too. Given his brilliance as a writer, we’d call it a loss to the world.

The other team has the repulsive birther Trump. We have people like Timberg. Each group has been widely enabled by the mainstream press.

Tomorrow: The development of a Perfect Example

Friday or Saturday: Two sets of statistics

THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE: And now, for the rest of the “dog pee” story!


Part 3—Also “empathize on your behind” and of course so much more:
Rachel Maddow only did three programs last week.

On Monday and Tuesday, she was fishing, a fact she forced herself to share on Friday night’s program, during the Friday Night News Dump.

Her Wednesday night program was her first of the week. Her Friday night show was her last.

That Friday program ended with the good solid fun of the News Dump. Yesterday, we showed you Maddow saying “Yay” and declaring herself ready for all the fun. Below, you see the way the fun proceeded on from there.

To enjoy all the piddle, click here:
MADDOW (7/24/15): Are you ready? I’m ready.

{Energetically clapping hands] Yaaaaaay! Friday Night News Dump time!

Producer Nick Tuths, who’s tonight’s lucky player?

TUTHS: Tonight, we have Benny Zelkowicz from Los Angeles, California. He’s an animator. He once published a neuroscience paper in a major journal and he’s co-author of a novel for young readers called "The Foundry’s Edge."
Rachel, meet Benny.

MADDOW: Benny, it’s very nice to meet you. You are a fascinating person from all I hear.

ZELKOWICZ: Thank you very much. It’s nice to be here.

MADDOW: What was the topic of your neuroscience paper?

ZELKOWICZ: It has to do with semantic memory in Alzheimer’s patients.

MADDOW: Semantic memory in Alzheimer’s patients! You’re a fascinating guy! I’m very happy that you’re here. Thank you very much for playing.

ZELKOWICZ: My pleasure.

MADDOW: Three multiple-choice questions. They’re all about this week’s news. I debated whether or not I could ask you questions about when Steve Kornacki was hosting at the beginning of the week and I was off fishing. But I decided it would only be from shows that I hosted, because that’s only fair.

So it’s a sort of condensed quiz this week. But if you get at least two of the questions right, you will win this— [ostentatiously throws to Tuths]

TUTHS: —Mini Rachel Maddow drink mixer!

MADDOW: Teeny, teeny, teeny-tiny cocktail shaker. And for extra credit or a consolation prize, we have something for you that until tonight was cluttering up our office. It’s extra-weird tonight. Go ahead, Nick.

TUTHS: We’ve got Bacon Rub!

MADDOW: It’s to create the sensation of bacon, but there is no bacon in the Bacon Rub.

ZELKOWICZ: Bacon Rub! I look forward to rubbing it on something. I’m not sure what.

MADDOW: Very good. Our friend Anthony Terrell was producing in Iowa. Apparently, Iowa is lousy with this stuff. Anyway, we’ve got it for you.

We’re also going to bring in the voice of Steve Benen from MaddowBlog. He’s the man who determines whether or not you got the right answer. Hello, Steve Benen?

BENEN: Good evening to both of you.

MADDOW: Good evening. All right! Yes, he is up there for you, too. He’s in all of our orbit.


MADDOW: OK! First question is from Wednesday’s show, Benny...
We didn’t mark all the ersatz laughter with which we viewers are conned into thinking that we the Maddowsketeers are sharing lots of fun with our friends from the Maddow show. But the ersatz laughter is liberally present, performed for us gullible viewers.

With this enjoyable News Dump segment, last week’s “three nights in the life” ended with lots of fun. The segment had been preceded by an enjoyable videotaped segment in which we got to see Rachel and Tricia McKinney select that enjoyable Bacon Rub as one of the evening’s swag gifts.

After that, but before The Dump, we had even more fun. We got to see Rachel tell the “dog pee” story again.

On this occasion, she punished us a teeny, teeny, teeny-tiny bit. As we showed you yesterday, she told the wonderful “dog pee” story “long story short.”

What did Maddow mean by that? In effect, she told a teeny, teeny, teeny-tiny version of the “dog pee” story on Friday—a shortened version of the story she likes so much she told it twice last week.

She told it last Wednesday in lengthened form. Today, we thought we’d let you enjoy all the fun from that earlier presentation.

Freshly returned from her fishing, Maddow was going to interview an actual candidate last Wednesday night.

Candidate Santorum was there on the set! He barely registers in current polls, but there were quite a few things Maddow could have asked him, especially given her incessant, improbable nightly claim that candidates like Santorum are about to see their political careers brought to an end by “our friends” at the Fox News Channel.

Maddow has pushed that tribally pleasing theory on a nightly basis for several months. There were a lot of things she could have asked her guest about.

But first, we got to have fun! In the process, we learned to appreciate the wonderfully obvious specialness of our ridiculous corporate host.

Toward that end, Maddow told the “long story long” version of her “dog pee” story. For extra credit or as a consolation prize, she discussed two other funny URLs she has wonderfully purchased.

Below, you see the bullshit we all sat through before she spoke to Santorum. Here’s the way she burned away time right at the start of this segment:
MADDOW (7/22/15): Around the time that President Obama was getting ready to nominate Sonia Sotomayor to be a Supreme Court Justice, the political right decided it was very controversial that President Obama said one of the things he was looking for in a potential Supreme Court justice was that that person should have a sense of empathy.

And our friend Michael Steele was chairman of the Republican Party at the time. And he got on the radio one day in the midst of that kerfuffle and he said this:

He said, and I quote: “Crazy nonsense empathetic. I’ll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind.”

STEELE: I’ll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind.

MADDOW: And so, I bought “” We bought that website. And then one day down the road, when I really did make pals with Michael Steele, I was able to offer him

I was able to offer him that website as a gift. It was very satisfying.

We also own “”
If I ever meet and make friends with Senator Fred Thompson, I look forward to give him that web address as well.

I also have one that I’ve been holding on to all of these years and hoping to give to Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

In the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination, Senator Santorum went to Florida and he gave a stump speech that included this anecdote, where he was talking about long days, door-knocking on the campaign trail and one particularly hot day when a nice lady not only opened her door to him, she invited him in for a glass of water.

He says this, quote:

“The lady comes back. She hands me the water. I’m patting the dog and taking a drink. The next thing I know, I have this warm sensation. And I immediately jump up, and there on my tan pants is a wet spot where you do not want a wet spot.

“So I get up and she says, ‘Let me get that.’ I said, ‘No, that`s OK. I’m fine, thank you.’ She says, ‘I can get a hair dryer.’ I said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that either.’

“Then she offered to have me take my pants off and put them in the dryer. And by that time I was almost out the door. I thanked her for the water and for the experience and said, ‘I’ll be fine.’ I get out the door and walk out on the sidewalk, I’m halfway through the neighborhood. What do you do?”

The Sarasota Union Tribune in Florida wrote up that anecdote from Rick Santorum’s 2012 stump speech. And then they put this headline on it: "Dog pee can’t stop Santorum."

That was the headline in the local paper. Which seemed both nice, like they got the point of the anecdote, resilience in the face of challenge. But it also sort of seemed sort of unfair.

And so, as a sort of gesture of protectionism, we bought “” And I’ve always wanted a chance to offer it to the senator as a gift.

I mean no harm. I have kept that URL safe as a redirect to my own page all these years...
In fairness, she only burned three minutes with this. To watch that whole segment, just click here, though standard warnings apply.

In fairness, Maddow only burned three minutes with her “long story long.” In the process, we received further instruction in how wonderfully fey and unpredictable the wonderful cable star is.

Such instruction is a very familiar part of this show. So are the types of problems which followed, some of which came into view even before she spoke with her guest, who was still sitting there waiting.

Santorum is a patient man! This was the rest of his introduction, in which we made the key transition from dog pee to man-on-dog:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Particularly, if you are on the left of the political spectrum, there are a handful of things you probably know instantly when you hear the name “Rick Santorum.”

In 2003, he became nationally famous when he was discussing homosexuality and gay rights with an Associated Press reporter. He suggested an equivalence between same-sex relationships and, in his words, quote, “You know, man on child, man on dog, whatever the case may be.”

That inspired the best AP reporter response I have ever seen transcribed ever.
This reporter said in response, quote, “I’m sorry. I didn’t think I was going to be talking about ‘man on dog’ with a United States senator. It’s sort of freaking me out.”

After Senator Santorum lost his Senate seat in 2006 and started campaigning for the presidency, he did keep up a hard edge on social issues.

SANTORUM: One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is, I think, the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea.

Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s OK. I mean, you know, contraception’s OK.”

It’s not OK, because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to what, what, how things are supposed to be.

MADDOW: If you know just one thing about Senator Rick Santorum, that right-wing culture warrior stuff is probably what you know.

But widen the lens a little when you think about him. Because yes, he is running for president again, for a third time this year. And he is the one Republican candidate who says he is in favor of raising the minimum wage.

In my view, he is the most effective communicator, the best speaker, of all the Republican candidates running for president. And that should count for something, especially in such a large field.

He is also right, absolutely correct, on the issue of how badly the Fox News Channel is screwing up the Republican primary this year by saying they’ll only let ten candidates in the debate, even though at least sixteen are running, and they’re going to set the cut-off over who makes and it who doesn’t based on national polling.

Rick Santorum was the first Republican candidate to both recognize how wrong that was and to be brave enough to say it out loud, even though that meant criticizing the Fox News Channel out loud:

SANTORUM: In January of 2012, I was at 4 percent in the national polls and I won the Iowa caucuses. I don’t know if I was last in the polls, but I was pretty close to last. And so, the idea that a national poll has any relationship as to the viability of a candidate, ask Rudy Giuliani about it. Ask Phil Gramm about it.

MADDOW: He’s right! He’s been right on that for weeks and weeks and weeks.

National polls are and should be meaningless at this point in the process. It is a perversion of the process for Fox News to say national polls are going to decide who’s allowed to debate and who isn’t. He’s right!

That said, Senator Santorum may have been polling at four percent nationally when he ran and ultimately came in second to Mitt Romney four years ago. In the national polls now, he’s barely pushing one percent.

Rick Santorum is in the fight of his political life right now just to stay in the running and be allowed to compete. How did it come to this?
And how does he plan to turn things around?

Joining us now for the interview is the former senator from Pennsylvania and now presidential candidate, Rick Santorum.
Maddow loved that AP reporter’s response! As a matter of fact, it was “the best AP reporter response [she has] ever seen transcribed ever.”

By now, six minutes were gone. Six minutes remained in the segment, at least one minute of which was burned by jocular joking around, along with Maddow’s discussion of her own past experiences with Rand Paul.

Maddow’s first question for Santorum came at the 7:15 mark. In fairness, she did a second segment with Santorum, which ran just under nine minutes.

As we learned on Friday’s program, Maddow had planned to gift Santorum with the “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum” URL during that second segment, thus burning away more time. But in all the excitement, she forgot—and so she did what anyone would have done:

She devoted a segment on Friday’s show to telling the “dog pee” story again. It was teased as an “important matter” she wanted to “finish up.”

Was Maddow’s interview with Santorum worthwhile? How useful was the session, once all the joking was done?

Tomorrow, we’ll start to make an assessment. In fairness, as everyone knows, there are no perfect interviews.

That said, you’ve already spotted a basic factual error in Maddow’s introduction. As she spoke with Santorum, she made a deeply puzzling statement about CNN’s plans for the second GOP debate.

And no! After playing that tape of Santorum, she never asked him if he still thinks that contraception is wrong, if he still plans to talk about that problem as president. After all the joking was done, she didn’t have time for that.

Maddow loves to buy URLs—and she loves to please us Maddowsketeers by discussing herself. But over the course of the past several months, she has mainly loved obsessing about the way Fox News is ruining next week’s August 6 debate, along with everything that’s good and holy about our election process.

This has been one of the dumbest cable news jihads we’ve ever seen performed. It has been performed for months, in robotic fashion, night after night after night.

Why is Maddow playing this peculiar low-IQ game? Two days are left in which we’ll discuss last week’s three days in the life.

We’ll look at her interview with Santorum, and at her months-long obsession concerning next week’s debate. On the bright side, her ratings seem to be on the rise as she clowns and performs in this manner.

Tomorrow: Anatomy of a jihad

Supplemental: Marshall discusses the Times’ latest mess!

TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2015

But first, you snark at the Clintons:
Late last week, the New York Times ran an exciting front-page story which it had to correct two times.

For our previous post, click here.

The exciting, dramatic front-page story initially said that a criminal referral had been directed at Candidate Clinton. That was a fairly serious claim, presidential campaign-wise.

That was a fairly serious claim. But uh-oh:

In its first correction, the Times said the criminal referral in question wasn’t directed at Candidate Clinton.

In its second correction, the Times said the criminal referral in question wasn’t a criminal referral at all!

To us, that seemed like a fairly gigantic pair of mistakes, especially with the White House at stake. For that reason, we had to chuckle at Josh Marshall’s initial reaction to the Times’ latest disaster.

Marshall’s post appeared late Friday night. The scope of the problem had been apparent for at least ten hours.

The New York Times had done it again—to a Democratic front-runner named “Clinton.” This was a very serious, very familiar occurrence.

The Times had made a gigantic mistake. For whatever reason, here’s how Marshall started his post, headline included:
MARSHALL (7/24/15): How Did This Happen Exactly?

I’ve [sic] watching this New York Times blockbuster about the now non-existent criminal referral about Hillary Clinton's emails. And it is one of these stories that didn’t just come apart in one big way. It fell apart in several different big ways over the course of the day. Former Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald has a good dissection of how it all unfolded that makes a pretty good case that even now—post corrections and sorta retractions—the piece still contains major omissions and distortions.

One thing worth noting is that if you’re going to publish a piece that really lands a big blow on the Clintons, you really need to be a totally certain it’s not entirely wrong. Because, man, they will never let you hear the end of it!

But as I said in the title, how did this happen exactly?
Please note: Before he starts trying to figure how the Times managed to do this again, Marshall takes a gratuitous shot at the Clintons.

People, don’t slander the Clintons on your front page during a presidential campaign! They’ll never let you hear the end of it! You know what those Clintons are like!

This was an amazing reaction. What makes people do that?

In the current case, we have no idea. As we’ve often noted in the past, that’s the way the career players tend to play it when the powerful Times is involved.

On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter played it much the same way. Stelter jumped to CNN from the Times. He interviewed Michael Oreskes, another former Timesman who’s now at NPR.

This is the way their discussion began. Could these guys rent a room?
STELTER (7/26/15): So what is the lesson we should learn from this Times screw-up?

Mike Oreskes is one of the country's top news editors. He used to be a deputy managing editor at The Times. He’s now the head of news at NPR.

Mike, I used to work at the Times as well. So we both know how the newsroom works. This story went online late in the evening. Presumably, the Clinton campaign started complaining about it. And then these changes were made in the middle of the night, without a correction.

What's your reaction to this dust-up?

ORESKES: Well, one thing. First of all, Brian, it’s important to put on the record what’s right here before we get into all the things that went wrong. The democracy must have journalism organizations that are aggressive about trying to hold public officials to account. I’m convinced the editors and reporters at the Times were honestly trying to do that. And it’s very important.

So it’s very important, in the process of fixing what went wrong here, we not defang journalists who want to hold public officials to account. That needs to be said because we don’t want to throw away what’s important here as we try to understand what’s wrong.
Could these guys possibly rent a room and share it with the Times?

According to Stelter, the Clinton campaign began complaining, thus producing a “dust-up.” According to Oreskes, it’s very important to say how great the New York Times is before we say anything else.

Oreskes went on to offer a stunningly soft appraisal of what the Times had done wrong—an appraisal that was flatly inaccurate in one major respect.

In his own post, Marshall went on to say that something peculiar had happened here, though “not something nefarious, I don’t think.” He drew that conclusion after saying this:
MARSHALL: As I noted this afternoon, a lot of this has a disturbing similarity to the Times Whitewater coverage, which dominated much of the Clinton presidency and turned out to be either vastly over-hyped or in numerous cases simply false. And this is the Times! What's supposedly [sic] to be the best paper in the country.
(For clarity, we’ve edited one error by Marshall. We’ve left one error in.)

Marshall specifically noted the “disturbing similarity to the Times Whitewater coverage, which dominated much of the Clinton presidency and turned out to numerous cases simply false.” Despite that track record, he started with that weird remark about the way the Clintons complain so much, then included the mandatory reference to the Times’ presumed greatness.

Marshall didn’t mention another recent matter. We refer to the weirdest “news report” of the current campaign, the New York Times’ sprawling, 4500-word report about the scary uranium deal, in which the paper basically had Clinton and Clinton nailed on treason charges.

It would be hard to imagine a phonier, higher-profile example of bogus campaign reporting. Back in April, well-mannered liberals let it go without a word of complaint. Chris Hayes even vouched for the giant piece, which he twice described as a “blockbuster report.” Our fiery leaders seem to have a hard time telling the truth about the relentlessly awful work of the gruesome New York Times.

The Times has done this again and again. You have to be deeply in the bag to feel you have to keep making remarks about the way the New York Times is “supposedly to be the best paper in the country” (sic).

How did the Times manage to bungle so thoroughly again? We don’t know, but the New York Times bungles all the time, often spectacularly, often about the Clintons.

Marshall’s subsequent posts on this subject are perhaps worth reading. We thought it was worth recording that peculiar first reaction.

Why do the Clintons sometimes complain so loudly? Because people like Hayes and Marshall won’t! (Rachel is playing her toy xylophone and buying new URLs.) In March 1999, the jihad was transferred to Candidate Gore, producing a similar silent reaction from our fiery career brigade. Historically speaking, that didn’t work out real well.

Was there something “nefarious” about the Times’ latest mega-blunder? We can’t answer that question. But the paper has long since passed the point where it deserves a presumption of basic competence, basic innocence and/or basic good faith.

Because we’re discussing the New York Times, career players don’t seem eager to make such unseemly comments.

Tomorrow: Back to statistics v. anecdotes

THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE: Dog pee can’t stop!

TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2015

Part 2—The latest regarding herself:
As it turns out, it looks like CNN’s Drew Griffin may have had it right!

Late Friday, in the 8 PM hour,
he told Anderson Cooper this—the Louisiana shooter was able to legally purchase his gun because, as a legal matter, he’d never been committed to a mental institution on an “involuntary” basis.

This morning, a front-page report in the New York Times
seems to support that analysis. Assuming that analysis holds, CNN’s viewers saw Griffin getting it right during the 8 PM hour!

One hour later, we the liberals were perhaps underserved. In a hurried, four-minute news segment, Rachel Maddow said she didn’t understand how the purchase of the gun could have been legal.

It was one of the few segments Maddow devoted to news that night. There was no sign that she or her staff had actually tried to get the answer to that question, which she said was “important,” during their arduous work day.

Maddow hurried through the segment about the Thursday night shootings. In her program’s next segment, we got to see one of the ways the cable “news” star had spent her time that day.

In that next segment, Maddow wasted viewers’ time with the latest monument to her own wonderfulness and perfectly obvious greatness. Through the wonders of videotape, we got to watch Maddow and a staff member as they selected the “swag gifts” for that evening’s closing segment, the weekly “Friday Night News Dump,” a silly, utterly pointless quiz show which is designed to let us enjoy Maddow’s wonderfulness and perfectly obvious greatness.

Increasingly, this rearranged corporate news show is being transformed into “The Mickey Maddow Show”—a silly, insulting exhibition in which we, the dull-witted liberal viewers, are transformed into Maddowsketeers, dull-witted admirers of Maddow’s wonderful personal greatness.

No waste of time is too inane if it serves that purpose.

Last Friday, we got to enjoy the swag gift selection and the Friday Night News Dump. In between those dumb-making tributes to the wonderfulness of the host, we got to enjoy a third example of her manifest personal wonderfulness.

How big a gong-show is corporate now presenting in its 9 PM slot? Consider another segment from Friday’s show, a segment Maddow teased like this:
MADDOW (7/24/15): We’ve got a bit of unfinished business coming up with my interview this week with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum made quite a bit of news in that interview he did with me here. We’re very happy to have him here.

But there is one important matter that was unresolved in that interview that we will hopefully be finishing up tonight. That’s still ahead.
Maddow had interviewed Candidate Santorum on Wednesday night’s program. During the Friday night show, she teased the fact that there was “one important matter” from that interview which she would “be finishing up.”

We wondered what that matter might be. During the Wednesday interview, Santorum had made some claims concerning his famous “man on dog” statement which seemed less than obsessively accurate. Would that be the “important [if ancient] matter” Maddow would “finish up?”

Or might it be something else? During that Wednesday interview, Santorum said he wasn’t hugely concerned about the possibility of being excluded from the August 6 GOP debate—the debate on which Maddow has madly obsessed, night after night, for the past several months.

He wanted to be included, he said—but he also told Maddow that Iowa voters don’t start making up their minds until the last few weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Since this grossly contradicted the dystopian picture Maddow’s been selling for several months, we even imagined that she might address what Santorum had said.

Maddow viewers, please! Along with the videotaped selection of swag; along with the campy “quiz show” which now ends every Friday show; along with those silly wastes of time, we the viewers were also condemned to watch Maddow pimp her manifest wonderfulness by telling us Maddowsketeers about something that slipped her mind.

As it turned out, the “important matter” which got “finished up” concerned Maddow’s ownership of the “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum” URL. In yet another brainless segment, Maddow explained how she came to own the “dog pee” URL and what she hoped to do with it.

Warning! Brain cells may be destroyed if you read what follows:
MADDOW (7/24/15): So, very interesting to have Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum here. I hope to have all the presidential candidates on this show.

None of the rest of you ever said “man on dog!” Think how much easier your interview will be here!

I hope Senator Santorum will give me a good reference. I thought it was really nice to have him here. But there is one thing I forgot to do in that interview, which I really wish I had done.

We purchased a domain name a while back, inspired by a Rick Santorum campaign story
about him meeting a nice lady with a dog while he was door knocking on the campaign trail one day. And, long story short, the dog ended up peeing on him.

That anecdote inspired this headline in a Florida newspaper. Quote: “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum.”

When that headline came out, we bought “”
And we set it up so when you go to “,” it redirects you to our Web site. To MaddowBlog.

Well, while the senator was here, I meant to formally offer that Web site to him as a parting gift. Senator, it’s yours to do whatever you want to with it!

In the end, things got a little exciting at the end of the interview. You know, taking back the “man on dog” thing and all the rest of it, I totally forgot.

So now, I am making it right. I am officially offering that Web site to Senator Santorum. Sir, if you would like “,” it is all yours.

In the meantime, while you make up your mind, we have changed the landing page of that Web address so it no longer goes to Maddow Blog. It now goes straight to—

Look! Watch where it goes! It goes to— Watch! Go! Yep! Where does it go?

It goes to a lot of very handsome pictures of Rick Santorum. There he is, reflected in glasses. Here he is, looking good with the American flag.

“” now takes you to handsome pictures of Rick Santorum. And Senator, if you want to direct people somewhere else with that, all you have to do is ask. It’s all yours.
To watch that entire segment, click here. Warning! Possible damage!

At that point, Maddow went to commercial break, then launched the Friday Night News Dump. Just to give you a rough idea, that segment started like this:
MADDOW (7/24/15): Are you ready? I’m ready!

Yay! Friday Night News Dump time!

Producer Nick Tuths, who’s tonight’s lucky player?

TUTHS: Tonight, we have Benny Zelkowicz from Los Angeles, California. He’s an animator. He once published a neuroscience paper in a major journal, and he’s co-author of a novel for young readers called “The Foundry’s Edge.”

Rachel, meet Benny!

MADDOW: Benny, it’s very nice to meet you! You are a fascinating person from all I hear!
We didn’t get much news that night. But we got to enjoy that first burst of fun, along with the bullshit which followed.

(Note: Tuths may be the person who walks behind Maddow with the phony graphic when she bangs on her toy xylophone.)

At this point, let’s return to “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum.” In fairness, Rachel was returning to this topic herself when she discussed it last Friday night.

We’re going to guess that Rick Santorum doesn’t want the URL to “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum.” In fact, Maddow staged this dog pee-and-pony show for a very familiar reason—so we could marvel even further at her fey, wonderful differentness.

On Friday night, this wonderfulness found expression in the “swag gift selection” segment. Also, in the “dog pee” segment, and in the News Dump itself.

Please note: During the “dog pee” segment, Rachel said she was telling her story “long story short.” She was willing to tell it that way because she had told the same story in a more interminable fashion on the Wednesday evening show.

Under the current corporate arrangement, there’s no excuse to waste your time this program’s host won’t seize. And so it came to pass:

On Wednesday night, before speaking with Santorum, she told the story of her “dog pee” wonderfulness in a much longer fashion.

On Wednesday, she told the full story of how Santorum got peed on and how the event inspired her to purchase that URL. In the process, she also told the story of her purchase of two other URLs. This helped us Maddowsketeers appreciate how wonderfully fey she is.

On Wednesday night, Maddow told the longer story of her purchase of the “Dog pee can’t stop Santorum” URL. She also described her purchase of the “Empathize right on your behind” URL and the “Fred Thompson is inherently funny” web address.

Warning! Tomorrow, we’ll start with Wednesday’s lengthier version of the “dog pee” story. We’ll also start to ask a key question:

Does Maddow ever do anything but waste time in her current format? Does she ever present any real news or analysis in endless, repetitive “coverage” of the Republican presidential race?

Night after night, for the past several months, she has burned enormous chunks of time on this alleged topic. Quite routinely, she burns time with the silliest, most pointless thing which happened that day to any one of the sixteen candidates on whose number she has obsessed for the past several months.

Presumably, this is a corporate-designed, corporate-approved pursuit of higher ratings. Question: Does this ever produce anything but the manifest wasting of time?

Maddow did only three programs last week. All this week, we’ll be reviewing those three nights in the life.

Last Friday night’s program was drenched in piddle concerning swag gifts, dumps and dog pee. Did anything of any value emerge from those three nights in the life?

Tomorrow, we’ll continue our search. Warning! We’ll start with that longer story.

Tomorrow: “” The story behind the purchase!

Supplemental: Creating our latest Perfect Example!

MONDAY, JULY 27, 2015

Anecdotes versus statistics:
Argument by anecdote can be easy, especially if you get to invent or disappear your facts.

Statistics may tend to be harder. They can also be unsatisfying.

That said, much of our discourse has run on anecdote since the death of Trayvon Martin. We keep inventing Perfect Examples of the conduct we say we loathe. We’ve often done so by making up some of our facts while disappearing others.

We’re now inventing our newest Perfect Example; her name is the late Sandra Bland. In this morning’s New York Times, Charles Blow is still inviting people to think that Bland must have been murdered.

On a journalistic basis, Blow's conduct today is quite amazing. But then, he’s done this sort of thing before. After the death of Trayvon Martin, he often teamed with Lawrence O’Donnell in the invention of facts.

(The Sanford police wouldn’t tell the family for the next three days! Not true, but widely promulgated and treasured.)

When you get to break the rules, it’s fairly easy to keep presenting Perfect Examples. Beyond that, it’s easy to create painful impressions about the frequency with which certain events occur in the wider society.

Anecdotes are easy to play with, especially if you get to invent or massage them. By way of contrast, statistics can be frustrating and hard.

That said, our discourse has been relying on the former; this can often lead to rank abuse of the latter. For an example of what we mean, consider what was said on yesterday’s State of the Union, CNN’s flagship Sunday program.

Jake Tapper is now the program’s host. He spoke with a four-member panel about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tapper played tape from Candidates Clinton and Bush, then threw to his lone black panelist. This is what was said—good-naturedly, we will add:
TAPPER (7/26/15): Hillary Clinton versus Jeb Bush on the Black Lives Matter movement which has been tripping up Democrats and Republicans on the campaign trail. We're back here with our panel. Let's talk about this.

What’s the right answer, Bakari? I turn to you. You’re African-American! Tell me!

SELLERS: And I wonder why I’m getting this?

TAPPER: Help me out! What’s the right answer on Black Lives Matter? What is supposed to be said by candidates?

SELLERS: Black Lives Matter has an implicit “too” at the end of it. It speaks to a very, very specific pain. When we—it’s more than a slogan.


The problem is that we’ve seen the video of Walter Scott. We’ve seen the video of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and the list goes on and on and on and on. And you have African-Americans who literally do not get the benefit of their humanity. And that’s a problem.

And so, when you—

You know, in my next interaction, I’m the only person at this table whose next interaction may cause them to be a hash tag. It may be #bakarisellers. And that’s something that we feel. That’s a very deep pain.
To watch the whole segment, click here.

Bakari Sellers is 30 years old. He has already served for eight years in the South Carolina House of Delegates, from which he’s now retired.

Sellers offered sensible statements about the “very deep pain” which lies behind the Black Lives movement. As he spoke, he named some well-known recent victims—some famous Perfect Examples from our highly anecdotal discourse.

Sellers is quite impressive. That said, in the highlighted statement, he almost seemed to imply that no one ever gets killed by police except black people.

Sellers almost seemed to imply that. And sure enough! After some discussion about the “Black lives matter” slogan, another panelist came right out and made that as a statement.

That person was Neera Tanden. In this passage, she speaks with S. E. Cupp:
CUPP: I think a lot of people recoil at the idea that when a Democrat says “All lives matter,” and this starts a fight inside the party—

TAPPER: Which is what happened last week with Martin O’Malley.

CUPP: Yes, with Martin O’Malley. I think that—I think most people react to that and say that’s really silly.

TANDEN: But let me explain why people reacted. And I think it is, we have gone through these incidents, incident after incident, in which African-Americans have died at the hands of police.

And we all see that. We live in this country. And that’s why people are saying, “Black lives matter too.” Black lives matter—

We don’t need to say “All lives matter” because white citizens aren’t dying at the hands of police! And that's why it’s interesting to me that people think there’s something wrong with actually saying— We need to say “black lives matter” because we live in this context in which African-Americans are dying.
Tanden has been president of the Center for American Progress since 2011. She was policy director to Candidate Clinton in 2008. Later, she worked for President Obama.

Tanden is very prominent. Yesterday, she flatly made this factual statement: “White citizens aren’t dying at the hands of police.”

Maybe she didn’t mean it. But that’s what she actually said, and we will guess that many people actually believe that claim. Anecdotes can create strong impressions—and we’ve been exposed to a single type of anecdote in “incident after incident” in recent years, to borrow Tanden’s language.

Sellers implied it; Tanden stated it. But uh-oh! According to the Washington Post’s compilation, about twice as many white people have been fatally shot by police this year, as compared to blacks.

That’s the Post’s rolling statistic. No one doubts that it’s basically accurate. But yesterday, viewers saw a leading figure make the following statement:

“White citizens aren’t dying at the hands of police.”

A steady drumbeat of anecdotes can create a strong impression. So can crazily inaccurate statistical claims, as we’ll see again tomorrow.

Statistics can be hard to interpret, but anecdotes can be crazy-making, especially when we toy with our facts and limit the types of anecdotes to which we’re exposed.

Anecdotes versus statistics! We’ll examine those two routes to the truth in our afternoon posts all week.