Sunday, November 21, 2010

TV: To Know, Know, Know Her Is To Avoid Her

In a perfect world, we could leave things to Bob Somerby and focus on what we wanted. For example, we've been more than happy to leave all the lifting -- heavy and otherwise -- on Rachel Maddow to him. We avoid her, we know she's a liar, we know she lies intentionally, we know she can't handle anything but scripted moments (as demonstrated when Elaine caused her to have an on-air radio meltdown for daring to point out in 2005 that Unfiltered should have on guests opposed to the war), we know that someone involved a stable and happy relationship doesn't behave as she does . . .


When it comes to Rachel, we know pretty much all of it. About her scheme to remain on Air America Radio after Unfiltered was canceled. We know all about her explaining to AAR management how she could 'sell' Lizz Winstead's disappearance. There is no one she will not stab in the back -- and there are very few that she hasn't already. Take her sanctimonious speech on the Keith Olbermann suspension [see David Zurawik, "Free Keith: Watching MSNBC go off the rails" (Baltimore Sun)] which was analyzed from all angles but one: Suck up. Why in the hell would Rachel be allowed to navel gaze so on MSNBC?

No one paying attention caught what was happening because few people know the inner-Rachel. To most viewers, she was sticking up for her 'buddy' Keith who made her on MSNBC. To those who know her -- and those who know she screened her screed past MSNBC before delivering it (she alway was teacher's pet), it's typical Rachel. She's not defending Olbermann, she's 'going out on a limb' for her corporate masters. 'Brave' Rachel, always sucking up to who ever signs her checks.

We think she's destructive and damaging but we comfort ourselves with the fact that Bob Somerby's had her number better than many for some time. And we let him do all the lifting on this because we know something 'big brain' Rachel Maddow doesn't.

It's called: Women.

It's called: Aging.

She can play butchest MSNBC broadcaster on TV all she wants while she looks like Chachi on the verge of asking Joanie to the high school dance. But how long will that last? They've already piled on more pancake foundation than an ABC daytime drama used to fall back on in the 80s to cover the heavy drug use of two of its stars. Can this bit really age?

It's doubtful. Tomboy rarely ages well. Tomboy is what originally brought down Katharine Hepburn's film career. Maybe like Hepburn, Maddow can ritually take place in the public spectacle of a woman being degraded by a man breathing a second and third life into her later career? Doubtful and who wants to see Maddow paired with Chris Matthews anyway? Equally true, for all the stories (fables) of Hepburn as upper-class, she never made her public persona one of looking down on the people while "sneering" best describes Maddow's tired bit.

Tired bit? She's like a child actor who quickly outgrows their welcome. In fact, her closest archetype is Jane Withers,the tomboy tyke who was momentarily a craze and then managed to hang around long enough to wear out her welcome thirteen years after her brief moment passed. In the supporting role that started the brief craze, Withers squared off against star Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes and we can easily picture Maddow ripping the head off a doll and then skipping around singing "Happy, happy, happy days, happy days, happy days, happy days . . ."

In fact, anyone viewing Maddow's 'logic' and 'reasoning' in action will quickly be reminded of Jane 'informing' Shirley of realities about Santa Clause in Bright Eyes. Long after the craze passed, Withers could be found still flailing around onscreen, brimming with arrogance, as she performed "Baby's A Big Girl Now" in 1942's strictly B-movie Johnny Doughboy. The performance, like the car she's driving in the scene as well as her career itself, is running out of gas.

The same is true of Maddow. You can't picture, for example, Diane Sawyer morphing into Maddow onscreen, mincing about wildly as she scolds and screeches. Ditto Andrea Mitchell, ditto any woman behind a desk on TV. Maddow's act has a very, very short shelf-life -- a reality we take comfort in. It's also a reality she herself is aware of which is why she's the ultimate suck up, always toadying to her bosses.

And that was what was on display in her Olbermann suspension performance and everyone missed it. Rachel Maddow was not sticking up for her buddy Keith who made her an MSNBC presence, she was sticking the knife in, she was agreeing Keith did wrong and deserved to be suspended. That was the whole point of her pompous 'we aren't Fox' talking point: 'When we do wrong, we get punished!' Making that point, as she did, carries with it the tacit understanding that Keith did wrong -- a point many overlooked. (An MSNBC friend agreed to read over this. He informed us that Robert Arend, at OpEdNews, grasped the point of Rachel's little speech.)

We overlook Rachel because her mugging, mincing and other crap is so damn annoying. Watching her preen and pose makes us sick to our stomachs. Seeing her speak out of the right side of her mouth screams, "Send her back to radio!" But Friday, Bob Somerby was continuing his dissection of the Jon Stewart Gently Chides Rachel Maddow exchange and he included the following:

STEWART (11/11/10): I don’t take any satisfaction in just being a critic. Roger Ebert doesn’t make movies. So to say, like, "Well, Roger, you’re in the game." No, he’s not. He`s not making movies. He’s sitting in the seat going, "This movie sucks!" That’s me.

And by the way, very proud to do it. There is no honor in what I do, but I do it as honorably as I can.

MADDOW: In politics, in covering politics, we don’t get involved. I don’t get involved and tell people what to vote for, who to vote for.


MADDOW: I don’t tell people, you know, "Call your congressman. We need to do this thing." I don’t do anything like that.


MADDOW: And so for me, I’m not on the field either.

Now there's a lot of work Bob Somerby is doing with regards to Maddow and you can't grab everything. We understand that. But the above contains one of the biggest lies Maddow may ever tell and it zipped right past Somerby.

"In politics, in covering politics, we don't get involved," insisted Maddow. "I don't get involved and tell people what to vote for, who to vote for. [. . .] I don't tell people, you know, 'Call your congressman. We need to do this thing.' I don't do anything like that."


That would be a huge change from her AAR persona. A simple Google search demonstrated that no such transformation has taken place.

The very first result was Crooks & Liars posting video from The Rachel Maddow Show September 11, 2010. In the video, Rachel puts words into Barack Obama's mouth ("he saying") to declare, "Here's the difference between us and them . . ." Yes, the tribal wars never end on MSNBC.

"Your finanical health really does depend on who's in charge," she insists displaying a graph that she obviously doesn't grasp. Is this 'reporting' or voter action?

maddow graph

It was clearly a get-out-the-vote segment, it's entire point being that if you vote Democrat, you will be better off.

No, you won't be. Not by that graph. Though Ezra and Rachel had time to whore as well as josh ("You always dress up as a pie chart! I know your kind, Ezra!"), they didn't have time to address reality. A news program (yes, Maddow pretends she hosts a news program) deals in reality. "Under Republicans," declared Rachel, "if you're rich you did pretty great." Especially, she insisted, when compared to other income groups. A 1.9% increase is not great. For that matter, neither is a 2.1% increase.

In the graph, blue equals Democratic presidencies, red Republican ones. The income growth is measured. To accept this get-out-the-vote premise masquerading as an honest discussion, you have to (a) pretend that presidents and only presidents impact the national economy and (b) focus on income growth only.

Are you better off, economically, under Republicans or Democrats? We'd guess most people were better off under Democrats but that's a guess based on many factors including that we're Democrats. The chart from Maddow's show demonstrates nothing other than stupidity.

We were saying 1.9% growth in income is nothing big and it's not. Especially not if prices around you are going up. Yeah, that thing called inflation.


That chart is inflation rates and the red represents a negative number and the blue a positive number (an increase in inflation). There's no effort made with the chart to argue partisan politics, it's merely tracking the rate of inflation. Just eye-balling, for example, the 90s, you see that inflation goes up and you can guess that 3% is the minimum average increase for the decade. The highest income growth rate under Democratic presidencies is 2.6%. In a decade that averaged a 3% increase in inflation, by the Maddow chart, it was still running a negative in terms of income growth.

'Wait a second,' you may be thinking, 'Maddow's chart was an average increase in averages not charted by decade but by which of the two major political parties occupied the White House.'

True. And that's our point. You learn nothing from Maddow's presenation. It's pure You-Must-Vote-Democrat propagnada. A true discussion of income growth would break it down in terms of what the income growth was in this decade or that and what the rate of inflation was. If, that is, our interest was in learning about the economy.

If, however, our interest was in advancing simplistic talking points, by all means provide a simplistic graph that pretends to explore the domestic economy by focusing on only one measure and breaking it up into which party controlled the White House. By all means, look at the meager numbers (where 2.6% increase in economic growth was something to crow over) and pretend that the chart demonstrates that either party served any income group.

A real discussion might have asked why 2.6% (for one income group only) was something to be thrilled about? A real discussion might have questioned the bar appearing throughout the echo chamber revival which read: "INCOME GROWTH GRAPH SHOWS VAST MAJORITY DO BETTER UNDER DEM LEADERSHIP." A real discussion might have explored why meager increases are being hailed as anything incredible.

Laughing, Ezra declared of the income equality, "You see this in countries that are usually not America but right now we're seeing it here." We're so very glad he finds it amusing. We'll assume it's much easier for him to be amused in his income-bracket than it is for those further down the graph. If we're seeing vast inequality currently (we'd agree we are), Ezra, who occupies the White House right now, a Democrat or a Republican? He's basically half-way through his elected term. What does that say about your simplistic 'economic' 'theories'?

Rachel stands on the sidelines, like a journalist, she insists. "Vote. It Makes All The Difference" was posted to The Maddow Blog, it's her discussion with Eugene Robinson of how Democrats will hold the House if registered voters vote. That's standing on the sidelines?

Rachel Maddow is so full of s**t that is oozes out of her heavily caked over pores and threatens to stream down her forehead and knock those false eye lashes off. Just watching her fills the room with the smell of bed pans and porta-potties. And when her manner's not running off viewers, her words are as she repeatedly ridicules America. Does she think she's funny? Seriously?

Here's some serious reality for her which friends at MSNBC grudginly now agree with: She's at her height. Rachel Maddow is not an unknown quality. She's had plenty of press, plenty of promotion. That her show still struggles for ratings, that it still can't be considered a cable hit unless you narrow "cable" down to just MSNBC, is not a case of people not knowing she's out there. She's a known. What you're seeing in each ratings cycle is viewers rejecting her.

Graphs added November 22nd, thank you to Tori for e-mailing to note they were mentioned but not inclued.
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