WHOS HYPOCRITICAL NOW! Rachel Maddows crusade has been a dumb, dishonest mess: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2010
Rovner and Calmes get it right: How does the legislative process called reconciliation work? On Tuesday night, Jessica Yellin and Dana Bash made a gruesome mess as they tried to explain the process (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/24/10). Yesterday, over at NPR, Julie Rovner made it look easy:
Duh. Under the process known as reconciliation, a Senate bill can pass with a simple majority. The process prevents a filibuster. How hard is it to explain these things? For Yellin and Bash, very hard.
In this mornings New York Times, Jackie Calmes is a bit more writerly. But she was somehow able to offer a simple, clear explanation too:
Like Rovner, Calmes was able to state two basic facts: Under reconciliation, a bill can pass the Senate by a simple majority. The process protects a bill against being filibustered.
On CNN, Yellin and Bash seemed determined to assert Republican points about this procedure. Most people dont know what reconciliation is. After Yellin and Bash got through, many still had no idea.
PART 3WHOS HYPOCRITICAL NOW (permalink): Anderson Cooper played the fool on CNN this past Monday night. Kucinich is a hypocrite too, he announced on his nightly program, in a report so wondrously dumb it could only be seen on American cable (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/24/10). In so saying, Cooper and his correspondent, Ali Velshi, were riding the latest chic wavea wave which started on our side as fearless leaders like Rachel Maddow denounced long strings of Republicans for their allegedly hypocritical conduct.
Alas! Velshis report made no earthly sense. But then, many of our own sides claims havent made much sense in the past few weeks, as weve sent this latest chic wave rushing toward shore. And Coopers pitiful Monday night segment helps us see an unfortunate fact: Given the ways of the mainstream press, the claim of hypocrisy can, and will, quickly be turned against key players on our own side. When we clown as Maddow has done, thrills may run up our liberal legs. But the lazy standards we thus enshrine will quickly be turned back against us.
Cooper and Velshi played the fool Monday night. But then, so did Maddow on her own program, as she screeched, howled, clattered and wailed about the hypocrites all around her. Lindsey Graham was one such miscreant, Maddow told us this night.
Introducing an interview with Barney Frank, the lady spilled over with true belief, as she so persistently does. Unfortunately, the lady was also cherry-picking an old, misleading quote:
A thrill ran up the ladys leg as she outed the latest hypocrite. According to Maddow, this is what Graham says on TV about the stimulus: Clearly, it has not helped jobs. And yet, he also said that the stimulus would create nearly 600 jobs in his own state! According to Maddow, Graham trashes the stimulus as uselessexcept when hes trying to get some of the stimulus money.
Maddow was being dumb or dishonest. That same night, Cooper showed you where these silly games lead.
Does Graham parade about on the TV machine saying the stimulus creates no jobs? Its possible, but Maddows presentation was essentially bogus, like so much of the work she performs on her nightly show. In fact, Grahams taped statement came from June 2009, when the stimulus had barely gone into effect. Below, you see his fuller statement on the program in questionthe June 28, 2009 Meet the Press.
The background: David Axelrod had already guested on the same program. Given the rising unemployment rate (the rate now stood at 9.4 percent), he had said that additional stimulus might be needed in the fall. In his next segment, David Gregory asked Graham to comment on that idea. Maddow cherry-picked her quote from a longer, more nuanced presentation:
Had the stimulus helped jobs at that point? We dont know; wed assume that it had. But does Graham say on the TV machine that the stimulus creates no jobs/clearly had not helped jobs? In that eight-month old appearance, Graham said he wanted to revisit the package to make sure it was more focused on job creation; he said a different stimulus package would have created more jobs.
Overall, its hard to claim that Graham was saying the package would produce no jobs. And this was just one statement, made eight months ago. Its not what he says all the time.
In this instance, Maddow did precisely what cable hacks do, cable hacks with names like Hannity. She journeyed back eight months in time and cherry-picked a partial quote. Slipping into the present tense, she paraphrased her partial quote, claiming that Graham trashes the stimulus bill as useless, claiming that Graham says that it creates no jobs. Alas! If a person wants to be honestMaddow rarely betrays such desiresthat just isnt what Graham said, even at that point in time. And of course, if Maddow wanted to let viewers know what Graham has said this very week, she could have quoted his statement from the Bloomberg report she cited. No amount of political spin will change the fact the bill created more government than jobs and dramatically increased our national debt, Graham said, this very week. Sorry. In that statement, he doesnt claim that the stimulus creates no jobs.
Unless youre a cable hack.
But then, Maddow rarely tells the truth when embellishment, invention, jokes and misstatement will serve her narrative better. In the case of Graham, she cherry-picked an old, partial quotean old, partial quote which she put to ill use. In a similar way, heres how Rep. Jean Schmidt became a hypocrite on last Wednesdays program:
Unfortunately, the only thing astounding there is the dumbness, or the dishonesty, of Our Own Rhodes Scholar. Note the instant sleight of hand: Schmidt is quoted saying that the stimulus hasnt created the jobs that were promised. Instantly, Maddow converts that into a claim that the stimulus hasnt created any jobs at all. But Maddow has endlessly driven her claims in such childish, low-IQ ways. Sometimes, she creates silly paraphrases of actual statements, as she did in this particular instance. Often, she simply asserts that some Republican has said the stimulus does no good at all, without offering any evidence that such a statement was actually made.
Maddow seems to like making shit up. Consider the semi-howler she emitted on Monday when Barney Frank appeared on her program.
In her second question, Maddow turned to her favorite themethe overwhelming hypocrisy she currently finds all around her. More than a hundred members of Congress have been found to be trashing the stimulus and saying it doesnt work while theyre also saying that it does work in their home districts, she thundered, paraphrasing remarkably broadly. She turned to Frank for his thoughts: Everybody keeps telling me that hypocrisy doesnt matter as a charge in Washington, that everybody is too comfortable with hypocrisy for that to be embarrassing anymore, she lamented. What do you think?
In the first part of his answer, Barney made a sensible statement: If I vote against a program and I think its fraud, that doesnt mean the people I represent who have paid their share of tax money for it should be denied it. So Im not objecting to someone who votes against a program and says, But you shouldnt exclude my district from it. Barney articulated some other complaints about the conduct of some Republicans. But his first observation led Our Own Scholar to offer the following claim:
According to Maddow, she has never complained about Republicans simply taking stimulus money for their districts. If we slice our baloney quite thin, that statement may even be accurate. But the claim is somewhat hard to square with the presentation she made as she continued discussing Schmidt. The following passage continues directly from what was presented above:
In that tape, Cavuto criticized Schmidt because she sought stimulus funds even though she had railed against stimulus spending. With effort, a person can torture Maddows distinction out of that exchange. But she then moved ahead to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, another hypocriteand even torture, liberally applied, cant really sustain her distinction here. Also note some typical conduct: Note the way she puts a large, gonzo statement in Chaffetzs mouth, without offering any evidence that he ever said such a thing:
As we noted last week, Maddow was simply inventing the claim that the Salt Lake Tribune is nailing Chaffetz about this matter (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/19/10). This claim is falseshe made it up. But her account of the papers complaint seems fairly clear; in her account, the Tribune was nailing Chaffetz for seeking $95 million in stimulus funds for the Provo River Water Users Associationpresumably, for seeking such money after voting against the bill. By the way: When did Chaffetz ever say that the stimulus does no good at all? This is precisely the type of gong-show paraphrase which litters Maddows work on this subject. But did Chaffetz ever say such a thing? As with dozens of alleged hypocrites, Maddow made no attempt to show that the young gun had.
Simple story: Anyone can be a hypocrite or a liarif were allowed to make up silly claims, then pretend that our target has made them. Were not fans of Jean Schmidt around herebut no, she actually didnt claim that the stimulus does not create jobs. And no, Graham doesnt seem to say that the stimulus creates no jobs. These are silly, invented claims; Maddow persistently puts such claims into her targets mouths. The mainstream press corps perfected this practice during the Clinton/Gore years. Now, a lazy, wanton former Rhodes Scholar puts the practice to use on our team.
From February 9 on, Maddows work on this subject has been a long rolling messan intellectual gong-show. (What a joketo see such work done by our famous Rhodes Scholar!) In the world known as reality, some major Republicans have made over-statements about the worthlessness of the stimulus. (Though just as a political matter, it would be fairly easy for these people to clean these statements up.) Rather than focus on those people, Maddow has instead put wild statements in the mouths of long lists of others, an exceptionally dim-witted form of lying. In that sense, its hard to know whats worse about her workits consummate dumbness, or its grinding dishonesty. But as a simple matter of politics, two basic problems arise:
First: When liberals adopt such lazy standards, were begging for what came next. Sure enough! By this past Monday night, Dennis Kucinich had been outed as a big hypocrite too! Sorry. But this is exactly the way the process will work when liberals adopt and advance the gong-show standards which have driven the right and the mainstream press corps over the past several decades. When we advance these lazy standards, we advance and affirm a system which will, inevitably, by the rules of power, mainly be used against us.
Second: In her dumb, dishonest crusade, Maddow has walked away from a more basic task. She has given up on the attempt to argue the merits of our positions, except in secondary, inferential ways. Youre right: During the last year, Maddow never wasted much time on that project anyway; she was too busy chasing Republican sex scandals all over town. (Good times!) But now, we liberals are arguing our case in a secondary wayby attacking those who oppose it. In advancing this secondary crusade, Maddow makes a simple statement: Our side is too dumb, too lazy, too inept to win these fights on the merits.
Maddow may actually be that inept. But is the liberal world as a whole?
Tomorrowpart 4: But arent they truly hypocrites?