The Crazy has never been so robust!


These are the days of The Crazy:
"These are the days of miracle and wonder."

Long ago and far away, we believe Paul Simon said that.

By contrast, these are the days of The Crazy. Has our discourse ever been as crazy as it is right now?

Last Friday morning, the Washington Post presented this report. In the report, a woman claimed that Roy Moore had molested her when she was 14 years old.

That was a very serious charge. Across the journalistic landscape, it touched off The Crazy.

The Crazy has been voluminous ever since. We couldn't come close to getting to all The Crazy this week.

A continental nation can't long endure if everyone's going to be this crazy. We'll leave you with this point:

On the whole, our upper-end press corps has been venal, self-serving and largely crazy for a very long time now.

On balance, Crazy is what they do best. Crazy, plus working from script. No nuance allowed!

These are the days of Putin's great triumphs! Not to mention all the scuffling in search of the children's next jobs.

Next week: Believe the accusers!

PERISHING FROM THE EARTH: Revolution of the saints!


Part 5—You may be a Puritan if...:
We hate to start with the Maddow Show again, but you pretty much have to go where the statements are most instructive.

On Wednesday night, the host of that cable news show interviewed Beth Reinhard. She's one of the trio of Washington Post reporters who broke the Roy Moore story last week, whatever that story is taken to be.

Last Friday morning, Reinhard and two colleagues reported that Moore had been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, an attack which was said to have occurred in 1979.

They also reported that Moore had dated two young women at that same time. They were 17 and 19 years old. According to the Post, both mothers were cheering ol' Roy on, dreaming of possible marriage.

(That may represent a cultural difference. Are we enlightened impressive progressives prepared to tolerate that?)

From that day to this, the saints have been trying to define what Moore is accused of. In this morning's New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer muddles the matter in a way many others have done:

"Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls."

So says Steinhauer, in today's Times, perhaps at the direction of editors. But is that what Moore has been accused of? Does he stand "accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls?"

Hopelessly muddled scribe, please! In our lexicon, Moore has been charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault, one of which involved overt acts of physical violence. The saints seem to think it's equally bad that he once dated a 19-year-old, kissing her two separate times with her mother cheering him on.

Moore kissed someone 19 years old when he was 32! We wouldn't recommend that as a general matter, but do Steinhauer and her editors think that was "sexual misconduct?" At any rate, the saints can't quite seem to distinguish a violent sexual assault from a pair of consensual kisses. This led to that peculiar exchange on Wednesday's Maddow Show.

Beth Reinhard is one of the scribes who brought us that report at the Post. Last Wednesday was the first time we got to hear her in person.

As Maddow ended her telephone interview with Reinhard, she asked a rather odd question, with a bit of high drama thrown in. For our money, Reinhard, in her statement, may have marked herself as one of the saints. For ourselves, we're inclined to trust her judgment less because of what she said.

In a new report in the Post, Reinhard had reported that Moore had dated two other teenage women or girls. He'd kissed one in an undesired manner. As she ended her interview, Maddow asked a peculiar question:
MADDOW (11/15/17): Have you discovered any evidence that Roy Moore ever dated someone age-appropriate? That he ever dated somebody his own age? I mean, the discrepancy between the age of these teenage girls and the fact that he was 30 and older does seem remarkable. It's the source of all this controversy. He's defended it himself by saying he denies dating girls who were below the legal age of consent.

That—if that denial is accurate, that may leave open the possibility he was still a 30-something man pursuing girls in tenth grade. Did you find any evidence of him dating women his own age?

REINHARD: Uh—we haven't.


MADDOW: Beth Reinhard, part of this remarkable team has broken this story over. Thank you for joining us on very short notice tonight, Beth. Appreciate it.
Several parts of Maddow's question struck us as odd. For starters, she said "the source of all this controversy" lies in the fact that Moore, who was over 30, was dating "teenage girls."

Really? That's the source of the controversy? We would have thought the controversy stemmed from the fact that Moore has been accused of criminally assaulting two young women, one 14 and the other 16, in one case in an overtly violent manner.

We would have thought the "controversy" had possibly stemmed from that! But when the saints begin to rampage, they'll often be unable to imagine such distinctions.

All offenses, real and imagined, will now seem equal in their eyes. That will include a pair of kisses with a 19-year-old "girl" whose mother is praying that Moore might want to marry her daughter, perhaps in line with regional cultural norms of the type we brilliant progressives deride, except in the widely-praised 1979 film Manhattan.

When the saints begin to rampage, all judgment leaves the room. But as a second part of that question, Maddow, who has long been a saint, seemed to say that a date can only be "age appropriate" if the man in question is dating a woman who is "his own age."

Can that possibly be what she meant? Plainly, that's what her words implied. Could she possibly mean that?

At any rate, how about it? Did the Washington Post find any evidence that Moore had ever "dated women his own age?" We thought it was strange when Reinhard said no, though she can't be blamed for the oddness of the question.

What made that question seem strange? In December 1984, Moore, who was then 37, met Kayla Kisor, a 23-year-old mother who was separated from her husband. You can read all about it in the Washington Post.

Moore and Kisor began to date. One year later, they got married. They're still married today.

At the time they started dating, he was 37, she was 23. Were their dates "age appropriate," puritanically speaking?

Maddow seemed to say they weren't. Reinhard offered no resistance, no clarification, no nuance.

Were those dates "age appropriate?" If not, do we understand how many dates, and how many marriages, will have to be denounced? Do we understand how many happily married people will have to be frog-marched off to the camps? How much re-education will have to be performed?

Were those dates age appropriate? Did Maddow, a long-time saint, really mean to say that they weren't?

We don't know, but just for the record, when Rachel Maddow met Susan Mikula, she was 26 years old; Mikula was 41. Should we organize an intervention to rescue Rachel from Susan's home? These are the kinds of questions which may arise when saints stage a moral revolution, setting their minds at ease.

When Roy Moore began dating his wife, were those dates "age appropriate?" We regard that question as strange, but the saints will say those dates were wrong.

We know that's what the saints will say because of William Saletan.

We met Saletan briefly once, long ago. By any normal standard, he is thoroughly sane. But when the saints go rampaging in, very strange judgments may start to appear. This past Tuesday, in a laborious effort to show that Moore was lying about various matters, Saletan offered this bizarre assessment at Slate:
SALETAN (11/14/17): “I’ve been married to my wife, Kayla, for nearly 33 years.” Moore presents this as proof of his character. But do the math. Thirty-three years ago, when they met, Moore was 38, and his wife-to-be was 24. That’s a difference of 14 years, roughly the same age gap his accusers describe. Kayla Moore’s bio also mentions that she had “previously been named Miss Alabama US Teen 2nd Runner up.” Moore didn’t just date pretty women who were 14 years his junior. He married one.
How weird in that final remark? After doing the math, Saletan seems to suggest that a man shouldn't marry someone 14 years younger—and certainly not if the woman in question is pretty! So what should he say about Maddow's life with the person she loves? Maddow was fifteen years younger than the person she met!

Why have we described Maddow and Saletan, and possibly Reinhard, as saints? Let's consider a famous book which may speak to these very strange times.

In 1965, at the age of 30, Michael Walzer published The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics.

Walzer went on to a long career, which continues today, as a "public intellectual" of the left. The Revolution of the Saints became a well-known book. According to the Harvard University Press, it's "a study, both historical and sociological, of the radical political response of the Puritans to disorder."

For the record, we're mainly talking about Puritans in England, not here in North America. (Where their response to disorder produced, among other things, those famous Salem witch trials, when we Americans famously decided, for the first time, that we should always "believe the girls.")

Walzer was talking about the Puritans in the 16th and 17th centuries, as the feudal system was breaking down, producing confusion, uncertainty and disorder—and attendant anxiety. At the Moral Imagination site, Ron Sanders pens a capsule of that era, which perhaps and possibly seems to reflect our own times:
SANDERS: [Walzer] argues that Calvinism’s appeal (the dominant theological perspective of the Puritans) was that it confirmed and explained, in theological terms, “perceptions men already had of the dangers of the world and the self " and that it presented a remedy to the anxiety created by the shifting tide of culture through the rigid discipline of “sainthood.” The important theological themes that characterized Calvin’s ideology were, (1) “the permanent, inescapable estrangement of man from God,” (2) “a cure for anxiety not in reconciliation but in obedience,” (3) a “holy commonwealth” and (4) the necessity of “wholehearted participation” on the part of his followers.

The state (holy commonwealth), for Calvin, had dual roles. Its negative role was to repress sin in individuals. Walzer states that, “Calvin accepted politics in any form it took, so long as it fulfilled its general purpose and established an order of repression.”
Does Sanders get Walzer right? We can't tell you that. But at various times in history, anxieties and upheavals have led to puritanical revolutions which feature extremely crazy judgments producing large amounts of dumbness, disorder and death.

At times of upheaval and disorder, people may escape anxiety "through the rigid discipline of sainthood." In China, they frog-marched the intelligentsia off to the camps during the Cultural Revolution. In this country, they hung the witches until sanity prevailed; later, they found a Commie under every bed, then locked up the McMartin Preschool teachers.

Today, they can't tell the difference between kissing a 19-year-old woman (two times!) and conducting a violent sexual assault. It's all just unthinkably evil, wrong, inappropriate, bad!

The last eight days have produced the craziest revolutionary conduct we've seen in a great long time. For example, even after Duke and UVa, the saints insist we have to believe accusers instantly, every single time.

Can humans actually get this stupid? Answer: Yes, we can!

By Friday morning of last week, the saints were already attacking the "if true" crowd—the people who said we ought to maybe wait a few hours before we make our final judgment about that Post report.

In theory, Duke and UVa had shown the world that some accusers who come along are just completely crazy! But even after Duke and UVa, even after the moral stampede in the preschool cases, our rampaging modern-day saints were trashing the "if then" crowd, who wouldn't deliver instant judgments.

How crazy do the saints become when they start to rampage? Historically, the saints are often fairly young, and they can get very crazy.

If we might borrow from Brother Foxworthy, you might be a Puritan if you can't tell the difference between a violent sexual assault and two kisses, over three months, delivered to a 19-year-old woman (not a girl) whose mother hopes you're on your way to marriage.

Also this:

You may be a Puritan if your own age difference is 15 years, and you're willing to hang the witch because his age difference is a much-too-large 14 years! Plus, have you heard the Bentley sex tape, where someone actually dared to say he loved his lover's body?

"The fear that somewhere, someone is happy?" How crazy do you have to be to keep on playing that tape?

Lincoln has come to us this week to warn us about what's happening. A continental nation can't long endure, he has masterfully said, if fifteen years up north is fine, but fourteen in Bama is not.

If living with a 17-year-old is high art when it's cinematically performed in Manhattan, but kissing a 19-year-old is a crime when it's done Down There.

That said, the saints are on the march. Last night, we saw an utterly crazy discussion on Don Lemon's CNN show. This morning, the initial Morning Joe segment was fraudulent all the way down.

That said, our press elites have been stunningly fraudulent lost souls for a long time now. They know how to pursue their careers by repeating their scripts. They seem to know little else.

The end of the feudal system was, of course, a great advance for humanity. But massive change creates anxiety. In a search for blessed relief, the saints came rampaging in.

We also live at a time of great change today. For example, the rapid acceptance of love like Rachel's with Susan represents a phenomenal social advance. Opportunities and norms have rapidly changed in many other realms.

These are the days or miracle and wonder, just like Paul Simon said. But rapid change can also produce conflict, confusion, disorder.

Down through the many death-dealing years, we humans have sometimes fled the anxiety of rapid change through the adoption of sainthood regimes. It's been happening in the past week all over cable TV, among the ranks of bogus souls who have fought their way onto such programs.

The various children of all ages are living in times of remarkable change. Again and again and again and again, they seem to be amazingly stupid, unpleasant, tribal, self-serving and scared.

Next week: Believe the accusers! (of Clinton)

Once again, a basic question!


Erin Burnett works a blur:
We often ask the analysts a basic question. It goes exactly like this:

Are the stars of cable news capable of making accurate statements?

We popped the question again last night as we watched Erin Burnett.

Burnett was speaking to a Bama official. Fearlessly, she was pushing him hard. This created a bit of an irony:
BURNETT (11/15/17): Do you think the truth matters here?

MERRILL: Oh, the truth matters greatly. I think the truth matters in all cases. Whenever an allegation has been made, it should be proven true or proven false and that helps people decide who they need to support and why.

BURNETT: So when it comes to—

I mean, we're talking about Beverly Nelson here. When it comes to the other four accusers, all four of whom were detailed in the Washington Post's expansive report, they spoke to more than 30 people who verified their accounts. More than 30 people!
According to Burnett, those "more than thirty people who said they knew Roy Moore" verified the accounts of the original four "accusers."

Full stop.

The Washington Post made no such statement in its report. It's amazingly easy simply to read what the Post actually said. Almost surely, Burnett's fuzzy paraphrase is at least misleading, in a stampede-friendly way.

We've seen bigger misstatements too, but Burnett is paid millions of dollars per year. What can possibly make it so hard to avoid inaccurate or misleading statements, especially when you're snarking at one of The Others about the glorious need for the truth?

What is truth? Pilate thoughtfully asked. After they get out of makeup and hair, so should our big cable stars!

BREAKING: Your Daily Howler keeps getting results!


The fruit of 19 years:
If at first you don't succeed, persist for 19 years!

That's what Mother always said. This morning, we learned why.

In this morning's New York Times, Peter Baker reports on the way the children are pretending or attempting to rethink the past. We plan to discuss their efforts next week.

Meanwhile, Baker wrote what's shown below. And it only took 19 years:
BAKER (11/16/17): Mr. Clinton’s behavior, proved or otherwise, has long been an uncomfortable subject for Democrats. Many chose to defend him for his White House trysts with Ms. Lewinsky because, despite the power differential between a president and a former intern, she was a willing partner. To this day, Ms. Lewinsky rejects the idea that she was a victim because of the affair; “any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath” when the political system took over, as she wrote in 2014.
After all these years, it has finally happened. Lewinsky was a former intern during those thrilling years!

For full fairness to Baker, see below. Meanwhile, we should make an important point:

Did some humans "defend" Bill Clinton for those "trysts?" Or did they perhaps distinguish those "trysts" from, let's say, violent acts of sexual assault?

In the world where the children play, such distinctions are hard to come by. Such distinctions are even more important when evaluating the (improbable) claims made by Gennifer Flowers, a favorite of pundits and press.

Much more on this topic next week. The children are at it again!

Full fairness: Baker has described the Lewinsky of those years as a "former intern" on two prior occasions, once in 2014, once in 2012. Neil Lewis even did so once, way back in 2004.

In a scan of the Washington Post, we found one such unambiguous reference. It appeared in 2008—in a letter to the editor!

A journalist could always go ahead and call her a "federal employee," of course. But dearest readers, use your heads! That would reduce the fun!

(Technically, Lewinsky was still an intern during tryst the first, but she'd already accepted a federal job. She had like a week to go before that employment started. During the vast bulk of this famous affair, into which the whole world stuck its long nose, she was a 22- to 24-year-old federal employee. She was an intern for roughly a week; she was never 21.)

PERISHING FROM THE EARTH: Huge star makes craziest statement yet!


Part 4—Future anthropologists speak:
The richness of the current stampede has transformed this award-winning site.

At its start, it was devoted to critiques of the upper-end press. This new stampede has been so rich that we've been forced to make an admission:

We're now involved in pure anthropology—anthropology of the future. An anthropology which seeks to define who "we, the people" really are.

Are we really "the rational animal," as we've long insisted? The richness of the current stampede turns that claim into a joke for the gods.

Then too, there is the evidence of our recent night visits.

These visits have come to us from 500 years in the future, courtesy of a previously undiscovered wormhole in our landline "telly-phone." (We're channeling Elvis' 1956 impression of Jackie Wilson's Las Vegas impression of him, an impression Wilson performed as lead singer for Billy Ward and the Dominoes. We strongly recommend it. "Man, he sung that song!...He got a big hand on it too, boy.")

The visits have involved a group of "future anthropologists." Their story, in a nutshell:

After "Mr. Trump's Ten-Minute War of Distraction" (2018, in response to the Mueller indictments), human life, as previously known, perished from the earth. On the brighter side, the radiation blasts strangely invested a few survivors with certain time travel mental techniques, which were retained and refined in the centuries which followed.

With human life perished from the earth, survivors used these channeling skills to explore the reasons for Mr. Trump's War. As we moderns look back with embarrassment at Isaac Newton's belief in witchcraft and his attempts to turn lead into gold, they looked back at their "human" ancestors, wondering how the "perishment war" could have come to pass.

In their searches, they stumbled upon this site and its author, who they describe, in the future, as "the Herodotus of the anthropologists." It's a reference to the famous Greek whose historiography was all wrong, but who at least had started to have a bit of the right idea.

"What made you suspect that your fellow humans weren't actually human?" these travelers have respectfully asked in their nightly visits.

We've mentioned the magazine racks at the big book stores with their highly improbable number of magazine titles. Who could possibly be buying those putative magazines, we've long thoughtfully asked. Surely, we've long thought, those improbable specialist publications must be some joke of the gods.

That was one of our earliest clues, dating at least to the 1990s. This week, we've also mentioned what a certain cable news star said on Monday night.

That afternoon, Beverly Young Nelson had described a violent sexual attack on her person—a 1979 attack she attributed to Roy Moore. She was describing a criminal act, as Leigh Corfman had done before her.

Nelson's statement began to establish a pattern of sexual assault by Moore. But how odd! That night, an apparently human cable news star made history's strangest known comment.

The cable star began by citing last Friday's original Washington Post report. In that report, Corfman had described a statutory sexual assault.

Two other women said that Moore had dated them when they were 17 and 19 years old. A fourth woman said Moore had asked her for a date when she was 16.

That made four women in all. On Monday, Nelson became the second woman to describe a criminal sexual assault.

This brought the total number of women to five. It led the star to make human history's weirdest known statement, at least so far:
MADDOW (11/13/17): Remember that all five women who have made these allegations against Roy Moore have described remarkably similar types of behavior. They've all given their names. None of these women apparently knew each other in any other context. They say they have not coordinated their efforts.

The initial Washington Post story not only named all four women accusers, they also corroborated these women's allegations with 30 other interviews.
You'll note that the star was stretching the facts—indeed, was misstating the Post's actual claim—about those "30 other interviews."

By now, though, plays like that were culturally required. When we spoke to our night visitors, we only cited this thoroughly ludicrous, plainly non-human assessment:

"All five women who have made these allegations against Roy Moore have described remarkably similar types of behavior."

Say what? All five women have described remarkably similar types of behavior? Sheepishly, we told our visitors that statements like these triggered the insight they were hailing, from the future, as one of history's greatest.

All five women have described remarkably similar types of behavior? Could an actual human being, as described by sacred Aristotle, possibly make such a statement?

Consider two of the women's accounts:

Nelson said she was taken behind a dark building in a car which was then parked where it couldn't be seen. Subterfuge was involved in this action. She'd been told by Moore that he would simply be driving her home, on a cold night, from the restaurant where she worked.

Instead, Moore drove his car behind the restaurant and parked it where it couldn't be seen. According to Nelson, she was then physically groped by Moore, with Moore also attempting make her perform oral sex. In the course of this criminal assault, she was subjected to physical violence of the type a person might experience in a simple street mugging. This left significant bruising.

That's what Nelson said. She was describing a criminal sexual assault with attendant criminal physical violence.

That's what Nelson said, in an act we regard as a public service, assuming her statement is accurate. Below, you see what one of the other women said. We'll edit out extraneous material perhaps inserted by the Post to help its readers stampede:
MCCRUMMEN, REINHARD AND CRITES (11/10/17): “My mom was really, really strict and my curfew was 10:30 but she would let me stay out later with Roy,” says Deason, who is now 57 and lives in North Carolina. “She just felt like I would be safe with him. . . . She thought he was good husband material.”

Deason says that they dated off and on for several months and that he took her to his house at least two times. She says their physical relationship did not go further than kissing and hugging.

“He liked Eddie Rabbitt and I liked Freddie Mercury,” Deason says, referring to the country singer and the British rocker.
What's what Deason said. Is that story "remarkably similar" to the story Nelson told? Asking our question a different way, could an actual human, as described by sacred Aristotle, possibly think that those two stories are "remarkably similar?"

Could an actual human think such a thing? Adding to our puzzlement, here's the "remarkably similar" story told by one of the other women cited in the Post:
MCCRUMMEN, REINHARD AND CRITES: Gibson says that they dated for two to three months, and that he took her to his house, read her poetry and played his guitar. She says he kissed her once in his bedroom and once by the pool at a local country club.
Say what? According to Gibson, she dated ol' Roy for two or three months, during which time he kissed her twice! According to Gibson, when Moore first asked her for a date, her mother said that, if Moore had asked her out, “I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world.”

Gibson was 17; ol' Roy was 34. We moderns may not approve of such age differences, and, without any question, our modern judgments about such things are superior to those of anyone else at any time in the history of the world.

That last point goes without saying. That said, ol' Roy dated her for two or three months, with everyone's knowledge and approval, and he kissed her twice!

Instead, he read her poems and strummed his guitar. Granted, these sound like horrible dates. But on what planet does that story seem to be "remarkably similar" to the story of violent sexual assault Nelson told this week?

Putting it another way, on what planet could a human think those stories were "remarkably similar?"

Ol' Roy kissed her twice! Trust us—in an earlier, more homophobic Alabama politics, these stories would have been used, in oppo research, to drive a whispering point like this: "Ol' Roy don't much seem to like gur-ls!"

Let's hope we're past such days! That said, in what world could these stories possibly seem "remarkably similar?"

Our night visitors have answered that question all week. They say such stories can seem similar in a world where sacred Aristotle was just tremendously wrong.

For the record, our visitors insist that the cable star actually is fully human. She isn't a cyborg, our visitors say. She wasn't hatched on a distant planet. She wasn't quite built in a lab.

Our visitors tell us that we've been wrong when we've launched such speculations about other puzzling journalists down through the many long years. They've all been "human, all too human," our visitors hotly insist.

It's just that Wittgenstein was right, they obscurely say, and Aristotle, though sacred, was crazily wrong.

Crackpots like this cable star shrink in horror from the age difference in these last two stories. In a burst of crackpot runaway Puritanism, they can see no other element to the stories which have appeared this past week.

As such, these runaway crackpots reveal themselves as human, much less than human. One teenager got kissed twice; one was violently assaulted. Locked inside their runaway world, these life forms can't see the difference.

To their empty, malfunctioning hearts, those stories seem the same!

In last night's visit, the future anthropologists ruefully assailed the cultural xenophobia of folk like cable star. "It led us straight toward Mr. Trump's War," the rag-covered cave dwellers said.

Still and all, on the brighter side, they retain a sense of humor.

Was it crazy when ol' Roy Moore, age 32, dated late teens in '79? They reminded us of the film Manhattan, which appeared that very same year, in which the Woody Allen character—said to be 42 in the script—was living with his high school girl friend, who was 17.

Her parents were never mentioned. It was the 70s, people!

Up in Gotham, elite Yankee journalists loved the adorable film. But when ol' Roy went crazy and kissed a teenager two separate times that same year, he was just so horrifically wrong that his two kisses were indistinguishable from a violent act of assault.

"Face it," our saddened night visitors said. That cable star is visibly crazy, pretty much out of her mind. She did so many things, they said, to bring on Mr. Trump's War.

The heat was off all over our campus last night. Where they live, it's colder.

Tomorrow: Crackpot runaway Puritanism, with so many additional points to cover! Also, back to Mr. Lincoln's concern about "perish[ing] from the earth!"

Culturally speaking: Culturally speaking, Priscilla Beaulieu was 14 when she began dating Elvis. Elvis was already 24—indeed, well past 24 and a half.

When Beaulieu turned 17, her parents, stationed in Germany, let her fly to the States for a two-week visit with Elvis. They married after an eight-year courtship, still different in age by ten years.

Culturally speaking, was any of this a good idea? On balance, possibly not, but neither are the kinds of stampedes conducted by our legion of non-humans, whose craziness we can't see.

"Remarkably similar!" As Nelson fights for her life in that car, we'd call that inhumanly wrong.

Scarborough's former misstatement grows!


He drags Kasie Hunt down with him:
After a richly-deserved four-day weekend, Joe and Mika returned to Morning Joe yesterday morning. In their opening segment, they mugged and clowned with one of the performance hooks Joe liberated from Imus.

It's just as Imus-and-them used to entertain us! Mika pretends to be trying to read the news. Joe just keeps talking to the boys, usually about something trivial.

Mika pretends to be annoyed. It's a silly hook stolen straight outta Imus.

(Back in the day, Imus would disregard Charles when Charles was trying to read the news. This showed us that Imus was a rebel. When Scarborough liberated the bit, he added a pleasing gender hook, since it's Mika who can't bring the boys to heel. Mika swallows the abuse, then heads off to write her books about female empowerment.)

(Years ago, when the show began, Joe would insult her much more.)

For this kind of bullshit, Joe and Mika are paid millions of dollars per year. For our money, Mika may be the most unqualified person we've ever seen in any major role in any American industry. But then again, who really cares? It's just the American discourse!

This morning, Joe provided a good example of the way our big stars toy with the facts. Truly, you can't believe a thing you hear, especially while watching cable.

He started the show by praising Jeff Sessions for pooh-poohing the idea of naming a special prosecutor to chase down Hillary Clinton. But then, he switched over to the current stampede in which everyone is trying to show that Session has been a big liar.

We find this stampede unconvincing and highly underwhelming. We're embarrassed by the way major Democrats are pursuing it. That said, Joe got especially hinky today, misstating some basic facts to make the preferred story play.

The tediousness of this whole discussion would be hard to describe. It you want to let some brain cells die, you can watch the segment here.

Eventually, Joe began saying how crazy it was to think that Sessions didn't remember that one non-meeting meeting he attended, the one at which 28-year-old George Papadopoulos suggested he could help set up a meeting between Donald J. Trump and the uncle of his very good friend, Vladimir Putin's niece.

Sessions claims he didn't remember this meeting, and especially those remarks, until his memory was jogged by recent news reports. That may be true, and it may be false. Given who Papadopoulos seems to have been, we don't find it hugely hard to believe. (Nor do we find it important.)

That said, a stampede is on! As of today, all the children are looking for ways to insist that Sessions has been lying lying lying. Joe decided to stampede like this, with several howling misstatements:
SCARBOROUGH (11/15/17): But Kasie, I was debating somebody about this yesterday. They were saying "Oh, he [Papadopoulos] was just such—he was a low-ranking official."

Well, at the time that request was made, Donald Trump was saying he was one of his two top foreign policy advisers. which goes back to the fact that this was such a mom-and-pop operation, without the mom, that everybody knew everybody there.

There was no campaign infrastructure at this point. And Donald Trump told the Washington Post, "Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were my two foreign policy advisers."
That's the very first thing we saw today. America wakes to this sh*t!

Meanwhile, we're sorry, but no. Donald J. Trump didn't say any such thing to the Washington Post, or to anyone else.

As everyone with the Internet knows, that simply isn't what he said at the famous editorial board meeting where he gave Papadopoulos' name to the waiting world. And what he did say, on that one occasion, may have been a silly charade—an attempt to pretend he had foreign policy advisers, when he actually didn't.

What did Donald Trump actually say on that one occasion? As everyone with the Internet knows, this is what he actually said—and yes, he had to ask Corey Lewandowski for a printed list of his august "advisers," whose names and qualifications he proceeded to read:
RYAN (3/21/16): Mr. Trump, welcome to the Washington Post. Thank you for making time to meet with our editorial board...

We heard you might be announcing your foreign policy advisory team soon. If there's anything you can share on that?

TRUMP: We are going to be doing that, in fact, very soon. I'd say during the week we'll be announcing some names. We always will.

RYAN: Any names you can start off with this morning with us?

TRUMP: Well, you know, I hadn’t thought of doing it, but if you want I can give you some of the names. I wouldn't mind.
Corey, do you have that list? I can be a little more accurate with that?


OK, you ready?

Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus, and counter-terrorism expert.

Carter Page, Ph.D.

George Papadopoulos, he's an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy.

The honorable Joe Schmitz, inspector general at the Department of Defense.

Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg.

And I have quite a few more. But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with. We have many other people in different aspects of what we do, but that's a pretty representative group.
As you can see, Trump gave five names to the Post editorial board, not just the two Joe preferred. He didn't say, on that occasion or anywhere else, that Page and Papadopoulos were his "two foreign policy advisers."

He didn't say that to the Post in the now-famous meeting Scarborough was reinventing. He didn't say it to anyone else.

He wasn't parading around "saying he [Papadopoulos] was one of his two top foreign policy advisers." Endeavoring to advance a script about Sessions being a liar, Scarborough made that bullshit up!

Eight days ago, we criticized Scarborough and David Ignatius for making other misstatements about this editorial board meetng. At that time, Scarborough merely said that Page and Papadopoulos were the first two names on Trump's list that day.

Even that remark was false. Eight days later, with the guild stampeding, Scarborough amended his earlier misstatement, making it substantially worse. In this way, he convinced the world that Sessions is constantly lying.

Here's the most horrific part. After making this morning's misstatements, Scarborough threw to fresh-faced Kasie Hunt. Instead of correcting his mistake, she added some groaners of her own.

This was awful on Hunt's part. As always, Mika chimed in:
HUNT (continuing directly): Well, and they keep dismissing him [Papadopoulos] too as a young foreign policy volunteer? I mean, he was thirty years old. How old was Jared Kushner during the campaign? 35, 36? I mean—

MIKA: And he was going to solve peace in the Middle East!

HUNT: And still is! So I think—there are some real questions about that in my mind.
Deeply, horribly sad.

Quite reasonably, Kushner has long been ridiculed as being too young and inexperienced at age 35. That said, he was and is Trump's son-in-law. This explains the absurdity of his plainly absurd portfolio.

In fact, Papadopoulos was 28, not the newly imagined 30, when his name was read to the Washington Post that day. (Also, when that later "meeting" was held, with Sessions attending.) Weirdly, Hunt embellished his age today, thus enhancing his claim to gravitas and grandeur.

In fact, Papdopoulos was clownishly young and inexperienced to qualify as a serious "foreign policy adviser." Everybody began saying that on the day Trump read his name to the board. We don't find it hard to believe that Sessions paid exactly zero attention to anything he said.

Scarborough's misstatements get bigger by the week, and how he's dragging Hunt down with him. She embellished Papadopoulos' age, then advanced a silly argument, undercutting the idea that Sessions wouldn't have taken him seriously.

How depressing should it be to see Hunt heading down that road? She's youngish (32), and personable, and perfectly capable. That said, does anyone enter the maws of "cable news" without soon handing over her soul?

You can't believe a thing you hear, certainly not on cable. This morning, in the 6 AM hour, manifest script-driven bullshit was even coming from Hunt!

Love in the afternoon: The "Ryan" whose name you see in that transcript is Frederick J. Ryan Jr., the Washington Post's little-known publisher.

With Putin's niece now out of the picture, rumors swirl that Papadopoulos, who turns 30 this very month, has, in a clever networking move, begun dating Ryan's daughter.

PERISHING FROM THE EARTH: Lawrence moves from one to five!


Part 3—Reports from the children's hour:
When the children start to stampede, they engage in certain familiar, time-honored behaviors.

They disappear unhelpful facts. They're strongly inclined to embellish all the others.

Presently, we will see how Lawrence may perhaps have engaged in a bit of embellishment at the start of Monday night's "cable news" show. First, though, a brief note on the number and nature of the sources the Washington Post cited.

We refer to the Washington Post's original report about Roy Moore—the report in which Leigh Corfman said that she'd been assaulted by Moore when she was just 14.

The children have taken turns saying how great the Post's research was. In one particular, they've stood in line to embellish, distort and misstate this statement by the Post's team of reporters:

"This account is based on interviews with more than 30 people who said they knew Moore between 1977 and 1982, when he served as an assistant district attorney for Etowah County in northern Alabama, where he grew up."

Let's reread what the Post's reporters actually said. The reporters said that they had interviewed "more than 30 people who said they knew Moore between 1977 and 1982."

In that statement, the reporters didn't characterize what those "more than 30 people" had told them. More specifically, they didn't say, or even imply, that the more than thirty people had all described misconduct by Moore.

If you actually read the Post report, it seems fairly clear that most of these "more than 30 people" didn't describe misconduct by Moore, depending on what you choose to count as misconduct. Example:

Did anyone connected to that girls' softball team describe misconduct by Moore? If they did, why didn't the Post report what those people said?

Not since Plato, in his famous Seventh Letter, described the rise of "The Thirty" in Athens has a group of (more than) thirty people been discussed in such detail. But because the children were on a stampede, they quickly began overstating the role of this "more than thirty" in the Post's report.

This began in jumbled incoherence on Thursday, November 9, soon after the Post report appeared on line. Wolf Blitzer threw to Nia-Malika Henderson, who is transcribed as shown below:
BLITZER (11/9/17): Because there's been like 30 people the Washington Post interviewed, including these women who are now adults, who were girls at the time. You've read the article.

HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, you look at the Washington Post story, right?, on Roy Moore—30 people they talk to, corroborating statements, at the time, from the young woman who was in that lead, phenomenal reporters, three reporters on that byline, one of whom is Alice Crites, who's been attached to almost all of the Pulitzer Prize-winning stories that the Post has done over the last ten or 15 years. So yes, I mean, I think there is this standard and a lot of this stuff. I mean, you have Republicans essentially saying "Oh, we don't know if you'll even be believed." I think the question is what is the standard of believability? And it feels like journalists—many of whom are women who are doing some of this reporting at the New York Times, at the Washington Post, there is I think a pretty good standard.
For our money, Henderson's normally very bright. But that incoherent, press-backing statement represents the early excitement which obtains when a stampede is starting.

In a murky rush of words, Henderson linked the thirty people to corroboration. By Friday morning, Chris Cuomo was referring to "thirty surrounding sources in terms of corroboration for their reporting."

Eventually, in his excitement, he had to be dragged down from behind by his CNN cohost, Alysin Camerota. Incoherent snap judgment looks a great deal like this:
STELTER (11/10/17): These rumors have existed in Alabama political circles for years. The Washington Post stumbled upon it, didn't seek it out. And eventually was able to convince these reluctant sources to speak on the record.

CUOMO: Thirty of them, by the way. Thirty sources were cited in their reporting.

STELTER: Right. Four women, and then corroboration of these women's accounts, and then other sources on top of that.

CUOMO: That's why the "if true" thing bothers me because—

STELTER: How much more do you need?

CUOMO: Right. An allegation is a suggestion without proof. That's what that word means in the law. Their word, their accusation is proof, right? I mean, that—it's being ignored.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, it's not proof, right? I mean—

CUOMO: Sure. If a woman comes forward and said this happened.

CAMEROTA: This is evidence.

CUOMO: Yes. Someone coming forward with testimony is evidence. You could have other evidence.

Camerota, who's very sharp, was recently stolen by CNN. Normally, Cuomo is quite sharp too. CNN's morning show is a hundred times smarter than Morning Joe, to which it loses in the ratings.

But on this occasion, Cuomo and Brian Stelter were joining a stampede. Weirdly, Cuomo said that if a woman says something happened, that's proof! It fell to poor Camerota to drag him down from behind.

Meanwhile, Cuomo and Stelter made it sound like the thirty sources had all "corroborated" the charge, or charges, against Moore—a suggestion which is thoroughly murky and, it would seem, untrue. The Post reporters had never said that, but the boys had begun to stampede.

"How much more do you need?" Stelter excitedly asked. Exactly what Rolling Stone said!

Cuomo is normally much, much sharper than this. Camerota brought him back to his senses concerning the concepts of "evidence" and "proof."

That said, the stampede had clearly begun. In CNN's 11 AM hour, Kate Bolduan, grumpy anchor of At This Hour, raced down the Cuomo road:
BOLDUAN (11/10/17): What more is there to learn? That's the question a lot are asking today. I'm hearing from Republicans as well, what more is there to learn? If it's four people on the record, the then-14-year-old says—is on the record talking about what amounts to sexual abuse, back then, and 30 people corroborated their stories? And these—and this then-14-year-old, not that it should matter, says she's voted Republican in the last three elections and voted Republican for Donald Trump. What more is there to learn?
Did thirty people actually "corroborate their stories?" That isn't what the Post had said, and it almost surely isn't accurate. But so what? A stampede was on!

"What more is there to learn?" Bolduan excitedly said. Exactly what the professors said about the Duke lacrosse case!

In fairness, the children simply can't help themselves at such times as this. We think of Chekhov's description of Gurov, in the beautiful story Nabokov said was possibly greatest of all:
Long and indeed bitter experience had taught him that every new affair, which at first relieved the monotony of life so pleasantly and and appeared to be such a charming and light adventure...invariably developed into an extremely complicated problem and finally the whole situation became rather cumbersome. But at every new meeting with an attractive woman he forgot all about this experience, he wanted to enjoy life so badly and it all seemed so simple and amusing.
Anthropologically speaking, the children seem to "want to enjoy life so badly," or so the experts now tell us. The only way they can accomplish this end is by rushing off in their tribal group stampedes, embellishing and disappearing facts as they go.

All through these early days of excitement, pundits cited the thirty sources as proof of the claims against Moore. If you actually read the Post report, it's clear that most of those thirty people didn't "corroborate" what Corfman had said, nor had the Post attempted to say how many of The Thirty corroborated the claim that Moore had dated young women when he was 32, if that was the crime we were now pursuing.

No matter; a stampede was on! Finally, on Meet the Press, Elise Jordan achieved apotheosis.

There was competition that day. On ABC's This Week, host Martha Raddatz was making this baldly inaccurate statement, in which, to add a bit of amusement, the thirty people had somehow become thirty women:
RADDATZ (11/12/17): Let me say again, there are four women who were named and 30 women who have corroborated it.
She went ahead and said it again! By now, thirty women had "corroborated it," whatever "it" might be taken to be!

Raddatz was saying that, and quite a bit more, on ABC. She was joined by Matthew Dowd in a prescribed rush to judgment.

Raddatz was talking a whole lot of smack. On Meet the Press, Jordan may have topped her:
JORDAN (11/12/17): It was so uncomfortable for Senator Toomey to try to defend these charges of pedophilia against Roy Moore. And he was forced to say the allegations were 40 years old—

TODD: In fairness, molestation doesn't—it isn't pedophilia. Molestation is— We looked up this legal definition to be careful. But it's "molestation—"

JORDAN: Molestation!

TODD: —when it's teens. When it's preteen, it's "pedophilia." We're having to debate this—versus pedophilia.

JORDAN: But when you're having to debate molestation, when you're having to defend someone who is accused of it, and who there are corroborated [sic] eyewitnesses backing up the case? It's a tough position to be in.
Heroically, Jordan didn't report a number! But now, viewers were being told that there were "eyewitnesses" who were backing up the charge of molestation, a charge only Corfman had brought.

The Post had cited exactly zero "eyewitnesses" to this alleged assault. Todd, who was being so careful with his definitions, let Jordan's thrilling misstatement slide. Maybe Camerota should host a Sunday morning program!

We're just giving you a tiny sample of the ways the children ran with the Post's statement about the "more than thirty people who said they knew Moore" during the years in question. Those people had quickly evolved into "corroborating" sources, even into "thirty women," on their way to becoming "eyewitnesses" to a criminal act. But this is the way the children react when a stampede begins.

(In this same way, the children embellished an endless series of statements by Candidate Gore on their way to electing Candidate Bush as punishment to that vile man, Bill Clinton. Along the way, they even slipped "invented" inside quotation marks—the one word Gore had never said in his one utterly pointless remark about the Internet! People are dead all over the world because of that prior stampede. The children can cause enormous harm when they stampede in this manner.)

In this case, we'll guess that the children have been stampeding after a guilty party, but they're on a stampede nonetheless. That said, it's always amusing to watch the children's hours. This brings us back to what Lawrence said at the start on Monday night's program.

Yesterday, when we left our story, two of Lawrence's guests had made peculiar remarks on Friday evening's program. Each set of remarks was weirdly inaccurate, a situation Lawrence made little attempt to address.

In October 2000, this same fellow went on the smelly old McLaughlin Group show and reissued an 11-month-old howler about what a big liar Candidate Gore was. That howler maintained the two-year stampede which led to vast death in Iraq.

Last Friday night, it was Lawrence's guests who were making the weird misstatements. Lawrence had been rewarded for prior misconduct by getting his own cable show.

This brings us up to Monday night, when Lawrence went back on the air, prepared to make a peculiar remark of his own. Earlier in the day, Beverly Young Nelson had alleged a brutal sexual attack on her person, an attack she said had been staged by Moore in 1977.

We think Nelson performed a great service that day. In response, Lawrence started with a statement which struck us as slightly peculiar:
O'DONNELL (11/13/17): And now, there are five—five accusers of Roy Moore. A fifth accuser of Roy Moore emerged this afternoon. And this time, the woman appeared before cameras and told her own story in her own words about what she says Roy Moore did to her when she was 16 years old.
Was Nelson the fifth accuser of Moore, or was she the second accuser? Needless to say, it would all depend on what you thought Moore was being accused of.

For ourselves, we'd regard Nelson as the second accuser. She was the second person accusing Moore of committing a sexual assault, an extremely serious crime. The three other women Lawrence was counting had accused Moore of such heinous acts as buying them a glass of wine when they were 18 or 19 (the "accuser" in question wasn't sure), when 19 was the legal drinking age in the wilds of Etowah County.

Below, you see two "accusations." Should they be conjoined?
Accusation 1: Roy Moore committed a brutal sexual attack against my person.

Accusation 2: Roy Moore bought me a glass of wine when I was maybe 19.
How similar are those accusations? To us, those accusations seem immensely different.

Indeed, what kind of person would conflate or conjoin these types of "accusation?" Can you see where our tolerance for press corps stampedes can take us, in our desire to enjoy life?

To us, those accusations seem extremely different. For ourselves, we'd be hard-pressed to describe Accusation 2 as an "accusation" at all.

But when the children stage a stampede, five is better than two. Five is a bigger number than two. It makes the story better, just as all those plays on the "more than thirty people who said they knew Roy Moore" did.

Our press corps has staged many stampedes since 1992. One of those stampedes sent George W. Bush to the White House. To this day, all the children agree that it simply can't be discussed.

Another one of the press corps' stampedes continues with the GOP's focus on the scary uranium deal. To this day, none of the children will discuss the disgraceful role of the New York Times in creating that mess. Another stampede has been extended this week as Michelle Goldberg writes an unintelligent column in which she heroically reaches a judgment which, truth to tell, she isn't positioned to reach.

This site began as press critique way back in 98. By now, this site has become anthropology. The conduct of the children in question is so comically strange that it leads a sensible person to realize that it involves the deepest questions about our very species.

The current stampede is a highly instructive stampede. In the next two days, we'll continue to ask these basic questions:

Are we looking at five accusers, or are we looking at two? If we're looking at five accusers, what exactly is the children's target being accused of?

This takes us to the two different tribes who have emerged from this stampede. On the one hand, we have the tribe which initially said "if true." They were opposed by the tribe of angry avengers who "can't tell the difference."

We'll also examine the crazy puritanical wave which tends to emerge, within our malfunctioning species, when matters like these are in play. For our money, William Saletan, who isn't crazy, went all in on this puritanism in a crazy piece which appeared at Slate just yesterday.

Are there five accusers, or are there two? Also, very importantly, how long should a journalist wait before reaching a judgment about a serious claim?

Spoiler alert! When the children stampede, they don't wait long. The Dimmesdales rush in behind them.

Tomorrow: The "if true" crowd is swiftly denounced in a time-honored "rush to judgment"