Daily Howler logo
A LONG AND WINDING ROAD! We think our liberal shows are a wreck. But how can we best explain that? // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2009

A long and winding road: We’ve spent a lot of time today trying to continue yesterday’s discussion. Let’s say it again: At present, we think the disintegration of our liberal cable programs is the most important story in media. But we want to tell that story with care. And frankly, we find these programs so appalling it’s rather hard to do.

For that reason, we’re going to wait until we’re less repulsed by what appears on our screen at night.

That said, let’s offer this:

As noted yesterday, Rachel Maddow offered a superlative, deeply informative segment on Wednesday evening’s program (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/26/09). Steve Benen seemed to have a similar reaction. Just click here.

Maddow interviewed Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) about the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, an important measure which (Maddow’s words) “removed a Great Depression-era regulation that had said that banks and investment banks and insurance companies all had to be separate.” Dorgan was one of only eight senators who voted against the bill, which opened the door to some of the financial disasters with which we are now engaged. “This bill will, in my judgment, raise the likelihood of future massive taxpayer bailouts,” Dorgan said on the Senate floor early in the legislative process. When the bill finally passed in November, he said this to the New York Times: “I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say, 'We should not have done this.’”

As she was closing the segment, Maddow praised Dorgan for his pre-vision. And Dorgan said something important:

MADDOW (3/25/09): I have this kooky idea that people who were right when everybody else was wrong and we did the wrong thing, I have this kooky idea that the people who were right are the ones who should be allowed to decide what happens next time. So could you, like, sort of be in charge of figuring out what regulations we need the next time around when this comes up in the Senate in a couple of months?

DORGAN: I'll be happy to. I'll be happy to. But let me tell you what else we need. We need a select committee of the United States Senate with subpoena power that gives us the narrative of what happened so that everybody understands what happened. We need a financial crimes prosecution task force down at the Justice Department right now working on these issues. And we need to restore a portion of the Glass-Steagall Act, to say to banks, "You're over here, and the riskier things are over here, and we're not going to bring you together again—never again.”

MADDOW: Democratic Senator from North Dakota Byron Dorgan, it's a real pleasure to have you on the show, sir.

We need prosecutions, Dorgan said, and we need to restore regulation. But we need something else, the senator said: We need “the narrative of what happened so that everybody understands what happened.” Citizens need to understand the process by which we got into our messes. Maddow’s segment with Dorgan that night surely aided that process.

Maddow’s session with Dorgan was superb—tightly focused, highly informative. But it’s amazing how rarely you’ll see such segments on the nightly cable news programs which are driven by liberal/progressive outlooks. Such segments almost never occur on Countdown—and they’re amazingly rare on The Rachel Maddow Show. On Wednesday, for example, Maddow played it real tough about those conservaDems—then meekly refused to ask real questions when conservaDem Jeanne Shaheen appeared.

We got turned on by all her tough talk—and then, we got left with nothing.

Our nation is badly in need of “narratives of what happened (or is happening).” But let’s be honest: That simply isn’t what these two increasingly useless programs are about.

What are these two liberal programs about? We’re going to take a bit more care as we try to answer that question. But the mainstream press press corps is very weak—and the “conservative” world is a screaming joke. If we don’t informed by progressive media, we simply won’t get informed at all. And this nation is going to die if it gets any more dumb.

As Dorgan said: We badly need narratives—real understanding. In our view, these liberal programs rarely provide that. They serve us comfort food—and jokes. And sometimes, they lie in our faces. We think of a clowning host last night as we make that unfortunate statement.

For what it’s worth: In today’s Post, Al Kamen more or less acknowledges that his poorly-reported story was pure perfect crap. “Reports of the Long War’s Death Were Apparently Premature,” his headline reads. This story was so dumb and so convoluted that we won’t attempt to summarize it here; see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/25/09, for our original treatment. But Hannity and Beck have pimped it all week—and a liberal host swallowed it whole Tuesday night. Go ahead—read through the transcript. Don’t forget to enjoy all the jokes.

Kamen corrects himself today. We wonder if Maddow will? On a simple factual basis, her report was more bogus than Kamen’s.

She played the story for good solid laughs. Increasingly, clowning and comfort food is what these liberal shows are about. We get to clown around with our liberal pals. They tell us how dumb the other tribe is.

That segment with Dorgan was very smart. Such work is amazingly rare.

Why would anyone pay attention to Kamen: Kamen earned his bones on Christmas Eve 1999 as America’s number-one “Christmas card critic.” What a surprise! The Gore family’s Christmas card showed that Gore was a fake! No, we really aren’t making it up; see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/24/99. Why would any liberal show pay attention to this vintage nut?