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Daily Howler: Something's wrong with a big cable host. Let's start with Anderson Cooper
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THE MOCKING OF PARTS! Something’s wrong with a big cable host. Let’s start with Anderson Cooper: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2009

Ravitch rolls: Diane Ravitch is rolling today (just click here). We’ll examine her piece on the morrow.

An endless jones: The New York Times seems to have an endless jones for climate change deniers. Today, we get this largely worthless profile of pitiful Marc Morano.

Morano is an important person. For years, he churned out pap for Senator Inhofe, perhaps the biggest kook in the Senate. Now, he’s starting his own climate site. It’s funded by a high-minded non-profit—an organization which gets its money from ExxonMobil and Richard Scaife. Morano says that he’ll be paid “more than the $134,000 he [was paid] annually in the Senate.”

Morano is influential. That’s why it’s sad that we had to wait until paragraph 29 for hints that he’s a fairly large joke. Finally, after barrels of blather, Leslie Kaufman got around to citing the case of Chris Allen:

KAUFMAN (4/10/09): But some scientists and environmental advocates who have made it their business to monitor Mr. Morano see his reports—the most recent was titled ''More than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims”—as far from balanced.

Kevin Grandia, who manages, which describes itself as dedicated to combating misinformation on climate change, says the report is filled with so-called experts who are really weather broadcasters and others without advanced degrees.

Chris Allen, for example, the weather director for WBKO-TV in Kentucky, is listed as a meteorologist on the report, even though he has no degree in meteorology. On his Web site, Mr. Allen has written that his major objection to the idea of human-influenced climate change is that ''it completely takes God out of the picture.'' Mr. Allen did not respond to phone calls.

As she continues—in paragraph 30—Kaufman tells more:

KAUFMAN (continuing directly): Mr. Grandia also said Mr. Morano's report misrepresented the work of legitimate scientists. Mr. Grandia pointed to Steve Rayner, a professor at Oxford, who was mentioned for articles criticizing the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international treaty on curbing carbon dioxide emissions.

Dr. Rayner, however, in no way disputes the existence of global warming or that human activity contributes to it, as the report implies. In e-mail messages, he said that he had asked to be removed from the Morano report and that a staff member in Mr. Inhofe's office had promised that he would be. He called his inclusion on the list ''quite outrageous.”

Because Morano is influential, examples like these constitute major news. They should have led today’s report, where they could have been examined more thoroughly. Instead, Kaufman wasted time with piffle and palaver. (In paragraph 16, she briefly previewed these apparent problems, but made no attempt to evaluate them.) Did you know that Morano grew up “with an affinity for nature and animals”—that “his basement was home to a menagerie of reptiles, including a boa constrictor?” You learn that piffle in paragraph 20, long before Kaufman tries to evaluate his influential work. By the way: Morano’s early attraction to reptiles seemed to extend into adulthood. He took his first “reporting” job with radio titan Rush Limbaugh.

The New York Times seems to have a real jones for “ceaseless purveyor[s] of the view that global warming is overblown.” Earth to Gotham: Those teen-age reptiles don’t make any difference. Marc Morano is influential. You need to examine his work.

THE MOCKING OF PARTS: “Today, we have naming of parts.” So wrote British airman Henry Reed, starting his famous World War II poem. (To hear Robert Pinsky read it, click here.) Even as he was being trained for war, Reed saw the wider world around him. Here’s how his poem began:

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

Even as he was being trained in the use of his rifle, Reed ruefully and sardonically saw the living world around him.

In the best-known poem of World War I, Rupert Owen had managed to see a dying comrade near him, “yelling out and stumbling/And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.” In the next war, Reed could see the japonica glistening near him.

Today again, we’ll have naming of parts, so you’ll understand last evening’s “news.” You see, if you don’t know the term “tea-bagging” (and some may not), you can’t understand the perfect crap your corporate “news” entities serve you:

WIKIPEDIA: Teabagging is a slang term for the act of a man placing his testicles in the mouth or on or around the face (including the top of the head) of another person, often in a repeated in-and-out motion as in irrumatio The practice vaguely resembles dipping a tea bag into a cup of tea.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it! (And there isn’t, of course. For the fuller discussion, click here.) But there is something vastly wrong with the grisly imitations of news our corporate fronts are now paid to sell us. They may not be able to see how inane their conduct is; we can’t all be Owens or Reed, after all. But today, we’ve offered a naming of parts—just to be sure you’ll understand what’s transpiring on your cable “news” programs.

The inanity started with Cooper: For ourselves, the problem started as we watched Anderson Cooper last night. He’d opened his program with a full segment about five pirates who were holding a captain. The captain has “a thick Boston accent,” we were told by cable beauty Erica Hill; “beautiful sunrises and sunsets, we're told, drew him to the ocean.” (In the 1970s, he drove a cab, we were told. More Hill: “Before he got behind the wheel of that cab, we're told he played basketball, football and lacrosse.”)

We were struck by the relative pointlessness of this long segment. But as Cooper promoted the rest of the program, we were very much struck by his list of “news topics:”

COOPER (4/9/09): We're digging deeper on this story tonight. We're going to have more on it. But don't just watch it alone. You can join the live chat happening at

Up next, though, why didn't the [pirated freighter] carry armed guards? Why don't all these freighters? We're going to have the answers on that.

Also, the latest on those wildfires and the hurricane-force winds we're talking about in Texas, Oklahoma. The winds are driving them strong. We will—we will take a—we will have—bring you the latest.

Plus, a story everyone is talking about: a young pitcher's life tragically cut short—details of the hit-and-run that has stunned a team and their fans.

And, later, 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigating the death of actress Natasha Richardson. What really happened on that mountain? Sanjay takes a close look.

And first lady Michelle Obama planting the first White House vegetable patch in generations. She was out there again today, with a little help from her young friends.

Let’s see: A pitcher had died—and so had an actress. Michelle Obama was back in the garden—and high winds were driving a fire. At a momentous time in the planet’s history—with major stories all around us, stories few of us understand—this was Cooper’s idea of the “news.” More specifically, this was CNN’s attempt to draw—and hold—our rube eyeballs.

Few citizens understand the momentous stories currently driving world news. But Cooper didn’t use his massive resources to attempt to explain these stories; instead, he planned to discuss an athlete dying young, and show us pictures of fire. In this way, a cable entertainment event pretended to be a cable “news” program. Before last night, had you ever heard that Captain Phillips had that thick Boston accent?

Onward and downward: We were struck by Cooper’s promo, which we watched in the 1 AM hour. At then, at 2, it was onward and downward with another cable entertainment.

Cooper pretended to be doing news. In the next hour, so did Rachel Maddow.

As she’d done on Wednesday night, the lady began with a full segment about that pirated freighter. (Given the fact that Phillips was being held hostage, she tried to suppress her normal joking and clowning—and, for the most part, succeeded.) She followed with a full segment about a rather marginal event—the apparent cutting of cable lines near San Jose, California. (“Check this out. Someone today cut fiber optic cable lines belonging to AT&T and Sprint, knocking out land line and cell phone service to more than 50,000 people in four counties.”) Before long, we got one of the utterly ludicrous “analyses” for which this show is becoming famous (details below). We also got a short human-interest report about the Masters tournament.

We were now at the halfway point of the show, and very little had been discussed. As with Cooper, so with Maddow: She has a chance, every night of the week, to clarify the monumental news stories which are now reshaping the world. Instead, she tends to mug and clown and joke and play. And to call on a lady named Cox, as she did again last evening.

We’ve seldom seen a more clownish segment than the one which soon transpired. Having called on her fool from Capitol Hill, Maddow clowned for seven minutes (6:54) about—ha ha ha!—“tea-bagging.” To be certain you’d “get” this important news report, we offered that naming of parts.

The fool on the Hill: As you may know, some conservatives are staging events to complain about levels of federal spending and taxation. The Boston Tea Party has been used as a model. Some have started sending tea bags to politicians as symbols of their protests.

This created the framework for Maddow’s segment with Cox—a segment comprised of sheer, inane clowning. Maddow began by framing the segment. As staff laughter began to reward her, she turned to that comical term:

MADDOW (4/9/09): The Republican Party controls no real levers of power in Washington. They have yet to settle on any national leadership at all. They did come up with a Republican budget proposal in the House of Representatives, and 38 House Republicans even voted against that.

The GOP, in other words, is clearly in exile. But the conservative movement has found a reason to live. They have found something about which they feel very positive, something which they are ready to rally around. I speak of course of tea-bagging.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (videotape): Angry tax-payers, or at least some of them, are taking to the streets in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party.

BRET BAIER (videotape): More than 250 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies April 15th.

NEIL CAVUTO (videotape): Americans sick of government bail-outs and wasteful spending, taking their message to the street and it’s spreading fast. We’re all over it.

UNIDENTIFIED FOX ANALYST (videotape): They’re going to try and send tea-bags to D.C. D.C.—tea-bag the White House...Tea-bag the fools in D.C.

MADDOW: Tea-bagging. [Staff laughter.] After spending weeks mailing tea bags to members of Congress, conservative activists next week say they plan to hold “tea parties” to proverbially tea-bag the White House. And they don’t want to tea-bag alone, if that’s even possible. They want you to start tea-bagging, too.

They want you to tea-bag Obama on Twitter. They want you to, quote, "send your tea bag” and “tea-bag Obama on Facebook." They want you to tea-bag liberal Dems before they tea-bag you. [Staff laughter.] And all this non-consensual conservative tea-bagging is just the start.

As you can see, Maddow’s staff had a hard time finding Fox broadcasters who used the term “tea-bagging.” But she introduced the exceptionally humorous term—and she and Cox spent the next seven minutes mugging and clowning about it. Indeed, as Maddow continued, she had to beg the staff to stop their very infectious laughing. How could she keep explaining the news with staff laughter all around?

MADDOW (continuing directly): All across America on Tax Day, Republican members of Congress are lining up to speak at tea bag “Tea Party” events. Even Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina is getting in on the hot tea-bagging action.

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, previously most famous for his self-admitted very serious sin with prostitution services—he wants to give tea-bagging the Senate seal of approval. [Laughing.] He has asked the Senate to commemorate the day of anti-Obama protests in law.

In terms of— Now, no laughing off-set, or I will lose it! [Laughing] I’m only barely making it through as it is! All right. Ready? [Clears throat.] In terms of media, our colleagues at Fox News are not just reporting on tea-bagging, they are officially promoting it.

Maddow could barely continue, so general was the hilarity. And sure enough! When the dim-witted Cox was at last dragged out, the hilarious joking continued. By the way: How funny is that—her last name is “Cox?” It’s amazing that Maddow can say it::

MADDOW: Ana Marie, thank you for being here.

COX: Good to be here, Rachel.

MADDOW: The Boston Tea Party was about taxation without representation, right? The protests planned for Tax Day are about the plan to go back to the Clinton-era tax rates for rich people. Is that the purpose of these and is this a parallel they’re trying to draw?

COX: Well, it’s the parallel they’re trying to draw, Rachel. But you know, it is true that tea-baggers are grossly unrepresented in Congress. I’m trying to work on that personally. But one can only do so much. I think David Vitter really is the right spokesperson for the movement, though.

MADDOW: Well, that’s a point well taken, and which I was afraid to allude to. And that’s why you’re here because you’re braver [i.e., even a bigger clown] than I am. So many Republicans are addressing the Tax Day tea bag parties. Michael Steele has been rejected. Is he not considered a true tea-bagger by the movement?

COX: Well, you know, he said in that GQ interview that he thought tea-bagging wasn’t a choice, that you couldn’t change whether or not you would be a tea-bagger. I think the tea-baggers now really believe that it’s something they’ve chosen to do, that they could change if they wanted to. But they won’t.

Wow! Could these idiots keep it up all night? In fact, they pretty much did:

MADDOW (continuing directly): Well, in terms of what’s going to happen on Tax Day and what’s been happening with the tea-bagging of Congress, which has been happening through the mail, which I didn’t even know was possible: I sort of never believed you can be held responsible for the people who say they agree with you.

So we had this enthusiasm expressed for the tea-bagging events by white power groups like Storm Front and by the secessionists and by the armed militias. And I don’t think you can really hold the tea-baggers responsible for that. But is there a radical message here? I mean, the whole idea here is about revolution, sort of, right?

COX: Well, yes. I mean, I think that the people—the tea-baggers would like it to be more radical than it is. But the fact is people have been tea-bagging for a long time and they probably will continue to do so.

If you watch this long, childish segment, you will see it was wholly devoted to “tea-bagging” double entendre. Omigod! These two are just so gifted:

MADDOW (continuing directly): Fair enough. Most of the energy of these events seems anti-Obama. You saw all, you know, the Facebook and Twitter things, “Tea-bag Obama. Tea-bag Obama.” But then, there’s the rejection of Michael Steele and I wonder if there’s also a chance that this sort of gets channeled into being, “Tea-bag Arlen Specter,” “Tea-bag John McCain.” Against Republicans who voted for any of the bailouts.

COX: Well, who wouldn’t want to tea-bag John McCain? That’s all I have to say.

And it’s true—this is all Cox has to say. (Funny name!) Cox is a worthless political analyst. Plainly, she is brought on this program to look young, make sardonic jokes, and to talk very dirty. (Advertisers like young viewers—and this pitiful program, which poses as news, is plainly a corporate money-grub venture.) At any rate: Even ignoring her funny last name, Cox can bring it all night long:

MADDOW: Well, is there an effort to divide the conservative movement from the Republican Party once again, though? Because there is something about the origin of the current Republican Party that owes very much to the conservative movement which was not organized within the party. It was sort of organized without and took it over.

I wonder if they’ve trying to cleave themselves again and say, "No, we’re tea-baggers, and you’re not? And we’re, therefore, the future of the right wing?”

COX: You could say there’s a big split between the tea bags. I think that you’re right.

Do you think that “cleave themselves” set-up was planned in advance? We’d have to guess that it was.

Go ahead. We advise you to instruct yourselves by watching that full segment (just click here). Last night’s show was already a joke by the time this segment began. Result? Maddow and Cox spent seven more minutes laughing about some dirty words they cleverly said on the air. This brings us to an inevitable question: Why is Maddow on TV at all? Why is she mugging and clowning this way, when momentous, confusing events are occurring all over the world?

After marveling at last night’s segment, we pondered some profiles of Maddow. Her autobiography is intriguing—so is O’Reilly’s—but truly, it all comes down to one thing. Maddow “dresses like a first grader,” she tells us in her Air America bio. Unfortunately, she behaves like a first-grader too, more and more of the time.

What explains Rachel Maddow’s odd self-juvenilization? Last October, she actively balked at a call for a more “grown-up” public discourse. Just this week, she told the world that she has “the sense of humor of a 12-year-old.” We can’t explain the Peter Pan strain that Maddow seems to insist on expressing. But increasingly, the conduct constitutes a rolling insult to people all over the world.

Henry Reed could see the living world around him, even as he was trained with his rifle. Owen saw the suffering around him as he walked “behind the wagon that we flung him in/And watch[ed] the white eyes writhing in his face/His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin.” The world around Maddow involves billions of people—people all over the world. They will be all caught in the hazy new systems which are evolving as we speak. Many of them may suffer.

Few of us understand the monumental issues being played out in the corridors of power. Maddow has a chance, each night, to help us figure them out. Instead, she keeps introducing the baboon Cox, with whom she childishly simpers and mugs. Here’s how last night’s play date ended:

COX: You could say there’s a big split between the tea bags. I think that you’re right. I think the social tea-baggers and sort of the fiscal tea-baggers are really starting to move apart from each other.

MADDOW: Actually, I just heard from “Standards,” we’re not allowed to talk about fiscal tea bags. But thank you for bringing it up. Ana Marie Cox of Air America Radio and The Daily Beast, it is always wonderful to have you on the show, particularly more tonight than ever. Thanks.

Was it as good for Cox as it was for Maddow? Extremely dumb minds want to know.

Something is wrong with Rachel Maddow, an odd combination of climber and child. What results, of course, is “corporate news”—entertainment masquerading as news. Yes, it’s aimed at a new demographic, much as another corporate entity once extended its reach from McDonald’s to Chipotle. But the entertainment is presented to capture your eyes for a screen, where other fools can sell you their products. If the ladies have to clown all night, their clowning will only continue.

Dumbest analysis in the world: It’s stunning to see how bad the “analyses” can get on the Maddow Show. Example: Before we were served last evening’s laugh riot, we sat through the following bit of cosmic dumbness. It concerns a supplemental funding request the Obama Administration has filed. For unknown reasons, Maddow and/or her staff thought it was a big story:

MADDOW: But first, it’s time for a couple of “holy mackerel stories” in today’s news.

When President Obama unveiled his budget, he and his budget director acknowledged that it was a big expensive budget. It was a budget for very difficult times. They were starting off with a $1 trillion deficit, which President Bush and Vice President Cheney had thoughtfully left behind on fire in a paper bag on the White House doorstep when they moved out.

But Mr. Obama and the budget director, Mr. Orszag, did, felt— they said that they had at least one simple, big-deal thing to brag about unequivocally in that budget. They said that that budget was honest. By which they meant it did not have any of the budget trickery of the Bush era budgets—accounting and procedural moves designed to make budgets look smaller than they actually were, things like paying for the wars every quarter, not by an allocation in the budget but by demands for emergency supplemental funding. Like after five, six, seven years of war, it was still a complete surprise every quarter that we’d have to pay for those wars.

Even as a candidate, Barack Obama had criticized that kind of budgetary chicanery, pledging that his administration wouldn’t do it like that.

Today, at about 6:30 p.m. Eastern, we got word that the Obama administration is sending Congress an emergency supplemental war funding request—for $83 billion. The administration is acknowledging that as a candidate and as president, Obama has criticized this thing that he is now doing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that it’s necessary because the appropriations process will not be over by the time the money is needed to fund the troop increase in Afghanistan this summer. Gibbs also said this will be a one-shot deal.

ROBERT GIBBS (videotape): This will be the last supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan. The process by which this has been funded over the past—the course of the past many years, the president has discussed and we`ll change, and this will be the last time.

MADDOW: This will be the last time. It will change. It will change at some point in the future, at which point that will be change we can believe in. Until then, not so much.

It would be had to overstate how stupid that analysis is. We’ll assume that Maddow’s staff composed it; maybe if Maddow would quit her day job, she could devote more time to the blather she churns every night. (Sorry: In the past decade, people like Maddow have almost always doubled down on the money and fame.) Obviously, the need for supplemental funding now, before Obama’s first appropriations process is done, doesn’t constitute the kind of dishonest budgeting the candidate criticized in the campaign. This commentary was as dumb as it gets. It’s amazing how often this type of work is blathered out on this weak program.

Does anyone know why GE had to hire a former Rhodes Scholar to churn such perfect pap? Something is very wrong with this program. Its clowning is an endless insult. But its “analyses” are often as bad.

By the way: As a bone-simple fact-check shows, Maddow has been playing you about Tammy Duckworth and Richard Burr too. This too may be her staff’s fault.