NO, I’m not watching TV all day. Are YOU?

live tv

I’ve never been fond of “man-on-the-street” interviews. I prefer “people-who-know-what-they’re-talking-about” interviews. Guess that makes me an elitist. That, and… other stuff.

Anyway, this morning on NPR — I think it was on “The Takeaway” — there was this long string of short clips of Real People answering the question of whether they’d be watching the impeachment hearings on TV today. As usual, I could only take so much of it before switching it off.

If I remember correctly, most of the Real People were not planning to watch the hearings. (Actually, I just went back to check, and all of the ones I heard said that. There was a string of people who said “yes” after that, but I had turned off the radio before they came on.)

Presumably, I was supposed to be interested in their reasons for watching or not watching, as though there would be something edifying in these reasons, as though I would be somehow wiser for having heard the usual comments like “I’ve made up my mind,” “It’s all a partisan farce,” “I have a life,” etc.

And I’m thinking, Who can sit and listen to TV all day — TV about ANYTHING? And moreover, who on Earth would WANT to?

Or NEED to in order to be an informed citizen? I take in news and analysis from quite a few competent professional services every day. I’ll get all the information I need from those sources. (Unlike the president, I trust professionals to do their job — and I know if one slips up in doing it, the next one will fill in that gap.) If — and this seems doubtful — I feel the need to watch a portion of the testimony, to get intonation or whatever, I can go back and find and watch it with little trouble. In fact, I most likely won’t even have to look for it, because so many sources will be throwing the clip at me.

So in other words, the Real Person who sounded most like me was the one who said he would not be watching, but “I will pay close attention to the media recaps.”

Which will give you more than anyone needs to know. In fact, you’ll have to scan the whole mess with skill, discernment and alacrity if you’re going to get anything else done that day.

So who’s watching? And why?

the room

156 thoughts on “NO, I’m not watching TV all day. Are YOU?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Speaking of “people-who-know-what-they’re-talking-about” interviews, there was one just before that segment with a couple of knowledgeable-sounding people (I didn’t catch their names, and a synopsis of the show hasn’t been posted yet) talking about Trump’s plan to shrink NSC staff.

    You could tell they had a clue because they kept drawing a distinction between what might happen “in a NORMAL administration” and what might happen in this one. (They weren’t being mean or judgmental about it, they were just making the distinction in a clinical, academic sort of way. There are normal administrations, and then there’s this one.)

    The upshot, if I recall correctly: While it’s certainly a bizarre time to be doing it — in the middle of a scandal that shows just how little Trump listens to people who know what they’re talking about (such as professional national security staff), and just how much he likes to turn foreign policy over to yahoos within his personal circle — it’s really not necessarily a crazy idea. Especially since these people’s work product is going to be ignored, anyway, by a president who won’t read anything (especially not anything from experts) and conducts foreign policy according to his mood at the moment.

    As one guy said a couple of times, arguments about the size of NSC staff are always going on, even during normal administrations…

    So I guess we can all relax. At least, about this one thing…

    1. Barry

      I caught a bit of Judge Napolitano on Fox yesterday saying the Democrats made a good case and the Republican opposition was ill prepared and a bit illogical.

      He also said that the Democrats had used the same process republicans were all in favor of in the late 1990s.

      That had to be a sucker punch to Fox News and Republican sycophants to what one of their own said.

    2. Barry


      Satellite radio has it on various channels, which can also be heard on phones and tablets, etc.

      Twitter allows anyone to recap the high points in about 10 minutes. NPR has brief updates at the top of every hour.

      I was in class all this week in Raleigh and I’ve caught up on the testimony with a quick recap on Twitter.

  2. Doug Ross

    If I wanted to watch theatre, I’d go to the movies. I don’t have to watch what has already been choreographed on both sides. Two sets of partisan liars lying isn’t interesting.

    Note .Schiff was given four Pinocchio’s by the Washington Post regarding his recent statements about never speaking to the whistleblower. So that gives you an idea of the circus this event will be.

    Trump will still be President six months from now.

      1. Doug Ross

        Not clicking on music links from you. Tried it enough to know you try WAY too hard to prove how eclectic your tastes are. If you gotta tell people you’re cool, you’re not.

        You’ll just have to resort to using the photo of me and Tulsi to indulge your fantasies. Print a waterproof copy and you’ll be all set.

    1. David T

      Someone released the whistlefairy’s identity today, it was Shiff’s childhood imaginary friend.

      “Trump will still be President six months from now.”

      Trump will still be President six years from now.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug — what? Partisan liars?

      I’m not watching it, but I do have a clue what’s going on. And from everything I’ve seen, William B. Taylor is pretty much the diametric opposite of a “partisan liar.”

      It would be pretty gross to call him that…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Then again, if you’re talking about the members of Congress, you’ve got a case. Especially the Republicans, whose absolute desperation to say and do ANYTHING to try to distract people from the facts of the case could make a reasonable person ashamed of the human race…

        It’s worse every time I’ve heard them. They’ve got NOTHING, but they carry on and on…

        1. Mark Stewart

          One would think the better play, for the party as well as for the country, would be to convict Trump – and move on to the new opportunity to present a better candidate. One would think, anyway.

          1. Barry

            The best part about impeaching Trump is how it will gnaw at him deeply for the rest of his life. He’s as sensitive as a butterfly anyway so this will be rough for him.

                1. Barry

                  I don’t th8nk he hides it well at all. Per even some of his friends, it’s the gift that keeps on giving and he can’t escape it.

                  Plus, this is about trump, not Clinton. If you don’t think being impeached will gnaw on egomaniacal Donald Trump every day he has left, you should climb out of his jock and take breath of fresh air.

                2. David T

                  ” If you don’t think being impeached will gnaw on egomaniacal Donald Trump every day he has left, you should climb out of his jock and take breath of fresh air.”

                  When accusations are false, there’s little to gnaw on. I’ve had people I work with accuse me of doing things that I never did, proved that I never did what I was accused on and to this day I don’t lose any sleep over it. The accuser was later fired for trying the same thing with someone else, so it all comes out in the end.

                3. Barry

                  Who cares who accused at work except for you….. it’s irrelevant. It’s also a red herring.

                  Just because someone supposedly falsely accused you of something at work doesn’t make every other or any other allegation false. That’s illogical on its face.

                  This ain’t about you or any other Trump sycophants.

                  This is about Trump. Mulvaney admitted he did it. That issue is dead. The issue is how he did it and to what extent. Plenty of his defenders in Congress have said they don’t like what he did, but don’t think he should be impeached over it. So comparing it to a false allegation is nonsense.

                  We know he did it. It’s not about him not doing it. It’s about the punishment for doing it.

        2. David T

          “Especially the Republicans, whose absolute desperation to say and do ANYTHING to try to distract people from the facts of the case could make a reasonable person ashamed of the human race…”

          Is Rachel Maddow guest moderating this blog today?

        3. David T

          Then again, if you’re talking about the members of Congress, you’ve got a case. Especially the Democrats, whose absolute desperation to say and do ANYTHING to try to distract people from the facts of the case could make a reasonable person ashamed of the human race…

          It’s worse every time I’ve heard them. They’ve got NOTHING, but they carry on and on…

        4. Doug Ross

          The members of the committee already know what is going to be said. They just want their chance to get some air time. Schiff is unctuous. A smarmy, whiny, grandstander who is likely as corrupt as anyone else on that committee.

          It’s a sham. What Trump did isn’t worse than Watergate, Iran contra, Reagan coincidentally getting the Iran hostages released the day he was inaugurated…(pure quid pro quo there). Clinton banging an intern in the oval office multiple times was worse as well in my opinion. If Trump’s call to the leader of Ukraine is worth impeachment, the bar is being set lower and lower. Deranged sore losers have been harping on getting Trump out for almost three years now. This is their last resort. And it’s going to fall miserably. And that failure could lead to another four years of Trump.
          Democrats are rudderless and useless at this point.

          But Joe will save us all…

          1. David T

            Joe’s has had a lot of work done recently to try and not look like an 80 year old man. Face lift, hair plugs, botox, fillers and let’s not forget those denture looking veneers.

                1. Barry

                  This part was funny regarding Trump

                  “During divorce proceedings in 1990, Ivana Trump testified under oath that her former husband was in agony over an alleged scalp reduction surgery performed the year before.”

                  I’m not sure that explains his goofy scalp but maybe it does. It doesn’t explain the constant fake tan and orange skin. Or maybe it does….

          2. Phillip

            Sorry Doug, gotta disagree with you here. The Democrats in fact bent over backwards NOT to launch impeachment proceedings for three years out of political fear, until Trump’s own malfeasance and corruption made it impossible not to at least go forward with hearings, even knowing there’s a chance of energizing the Trump-base even more, and no chance for Senate conviction (unless the erratic President is triggered to angrily take authoritarian actions too quickly even for the anti-democracy activists of his own party).

            The Democrats may be rudderless, whatever you want to say: but the Republicans should not even be called that anymore, they should simply be called the Anti-Democracy party. When Trumpists attack the so-called “deep state,” what their anger and frustration is really aimed at is the institutions of democracy and the rule of law, and the balance of powers as prescribed by the Constitution. Virtually no one in the Republican Party has any faith or loyalty left for the ideals of democracy, only for the lure of absolute power, unfettered by the inconveniences of things like an independent judiciary, a free and independent press, or the niceties of ethics codes that hamper in any way their ability to mine the machinery of government for every method of personal enrichment possible.

            We already no longer have, at the federal level, a functioning two-party democracy. To have that would imply that both parties at least accept the fundamental tenets of American democracy, and I just believe that the GOP has just decided to jump ship on that score.

            Perhaps there’s hope in the future for a new political party that can rise from the ashes of the former Republican Party, one that espouses limited government, fiscal conservatism, and yet also embraces the rule of law and the principles of democracy.

            1. David T

              “Sorry Doug, gotta disagree with you here. The Democrats in fact bent over backwards NOT to launch impeachment proceedings for three years out of political fear”

              Okay I’ll bite, what were the Democrats going to impeach Trump on three years ago… getting elected? After one day of testimony the Democrats put their star witness on the stand and all he had was “someone told me something that they overheard during someone else’s phone call and asked for their opinion on what they thought Trump thoughts were during the call”. Brilliant!!!!

              Patty Hearst has nothing on Democrats today, their level of brainwashed stupidity gets worse by the day.

          3. Brad Warthen Post author

            Doug, I know I shouldn’t argue with your cynicism, but sometimes I have to. In this case, I’m responding to “The members of the committee already know what is going to be said. They just want their chance to get some air time.”

            No, Doug. Having conducted a preliminary investigation in the SCIF, they’re making their public case. Both sides are doing so. This is a political process, and what happens will depend to a great extent on how it flies publicly.

            Or do you think it would have been better to conduct the whole thing in the SCIF and have the vote on impeachment there, too?

            People can’t win with you. They try to do the right thing, in an open way, and you insist they’re doing it for the worst reasons — “worst” in your book, anyway….

            1. Doug Ross

              I’m never disappointed when I set my expectations low for politicians. Haven’t let me down yet.

              Are you suggesting that the members asking the questions have heard something that was surprising to them so far? Why do all the committee members have their questions already written out before the testimony then? This is a charade, not an investigation.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Except I don’t support Trump. I laugh at the the hypocrites on both sides. I don’t care who is President. Trump hasn’t impacted you or me and whoever is in there next time won’t either.

                  Imagine pinning your hope for the country on people like Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, Biden, and Warren. Good luck with that crew…

                2. Barry

                  “Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, Biden, and Warren”

                  None will impact your life at all.

                  Dougs’s ridiculous claim is that nothing Trump does impacts anyone but the democratic candidates will all greatly impact everyone. LOL

                  That’s the silly logic and strained cries of a closeted Trump supporter.

                3. Doug Ross

                  Keep trying, Harry. I clearly stated that it’s Democrats who think those losers are the key to turning the country around.

                  But thanks for playing, Larry

              1. Barry

                If that won’t impact anything, then it doesn’t matter who is elected.

                Your entire premise is as silly as a 3 year old kid- which is year up from the usual.

                Trump isn’t impacting anyone. So why would anyone else impact anyone? If that ridiculous idea works for you which it seems to since you keep repeating it, you are going to have to deal with it tossed back at you.

      2. Barry

        Bill Taylor was excellent in the snippets I caught. He’s not easily distracted by folks like GYM Jordan.

  3. David T

    I didn’t watch any of the proceedings today, but from what I’ve gathered from different forums and comments is that the Democrats are relying on these witnesses they have less than no case. Both people who testified today were not involved with the phone call. Both admitted they got their information from someone who overheard someone who was on the call. So, their testimony is based on 3rd hand information. Even a Charleston Law School graduate knows that will not hold up in court.

    1. Mark Stewart

      You might be one of those people who might benefit from an open-minded first hand watching of the testimony.

      Doesn’t matter the president or the party they belong to; do you want a lawless president who will co-opt foreign governments to push his own personal domestic political career or one who would stiff-arm the Congress’ enumerated duty to be a check on the executive branch (or vice versa to have a congress criple a president from acting as executive)?

      Anyone who argues that this is a partisan hack job is, in actuality, a hack themselves. We all need to have an open, attentive mind here to these proceedings – and what they hold for the future even more than for the present.

      1. David T

        Check back with me when and if the Democrats can put anyone on the stand who has first hand information on the charges.

        1. Barry

          If only Mulvaney would testify and only repeat what he said a few weeks ago (You know, when he admitted to it)… but for some reason he’s being blocked.

          I wonder why………

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      David, it’s not about the phone call, and hasn’t been for a long time. It’s about the fact that everyone involved in our Ukraine policy knew it had been hijacked by Trump’s desire to get dirt on his political opponents.

      The phone call was just our first indication of the mess that these people are testifying to….

    1. Mark Stewart

      Because he is the chair.

      Have you attended a governmental hearing of almost any sort? Oh, nevermind…

      1. David T

        I figured it was because he had the chair raised as high as it’d go so he’d look important. It looked to me like his feet likely weren’t touching the floor.

          1. Bob Amundson

            And if a double-decker bus
            Crashes into us
            To die by your side
            Is such a heavenly way to die
            And if a ten-ton truck
            Kills the both of us
            To die by your side
            Well, the pleasure – the privilege is mine

  4. bud

    I find it fascinating that so many people here and elsewhere seem proud of the fact that they do not watch the impeachment hearings. Sort of like passing judgement on a book or movie that they’ve never read or seen. Come on folks, watch the damn hearings or shut the hell up. This just shows how indifferent people have become regarding the issues of the day. Anyone who actually DID watch the hearings with an open mind would have seen what a complete cluster F the Trump presidency is. Too bad we live in a world of willful ignorance.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But see, I don’t have to watch TV to know that. I read. A lot. And during my daily walks, I listen to podcasts, such as The Daily at NYT, which takes VERY deep dives into a different subject each day.

      I occasionally find myself trapped in a room with TV news on. I can’t remember the last time I learned anything of significance from it that I didn’t already know. The operative words there being “of significance.” I occasionally hear the name of some celebrity with whom I was not familiar, and didn’t want to be familiar…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I need to diversify my reading, beyond the various newspapers I subscribe to and similar stuff.

        I mentioned recently that I’m reading Guns, Germs and Steel. Enjoying it, too. But it’s slow going, since I only reading while I’m eating dinner each night. Also, I read it with my iPad next to me so I can look up something the book mentions and learn more about it. So I digress a lot while reading…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          The last full chapter I read went into detail on the germs. They’re important — after all, they wiped out as much as 95 percent of the population of this hemisphere, before they even met any white people. (The germs spread across the continents much more quickly than the Europeans did. Entire civilizations were wiped out, sometimes as much as a century before human contact.)

          Now I’m on the development of written language, which is the fun stuff, and lighter by comparison…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            One more thing. I’ll complain a bit that the book started out with an exciting incident — Pizarro’s capture and eventual murder of the Inca emperor, Atahuallpa — and after that there’s not quite as much action.

            But everything that follows TIES INTO that action.

            For instance, the parts on the domestication of animals explain how a tiny number of Spaniards were able to overcome a vast Inca host — the Indians were entirely unprepared for the shock and awe of cavalry. The part on germs explains why the Spaniards found the Inca in a state of political disarray — disease that arrived before them had killed the previous emperor, and a civil war had followed.

            And written language gave Pizarro a huge leg up. Although he was illiterate, he had people with him who had read of how Cortez had overcome the Aztecs. He knew how it could be done, and he followed the same playbook. Atahuallpa didn’t have a clue such things could happen. (Another way to put it would be they didn’t have a clue people could be such a__holes.) A newspaper with a correspondent in Mexico would have been really helpful…

      2. bud

        But see, I don’t have to watch TV to know that.

        The only way to actually watch the hearings is to watch the TV. (Unless you’re there in person). I’m not talking about reading, hearing or seeing second hand accounts of the hearings. Isn’t that exactly what the Republicans are accusing these witnesses of doing? No, I’m referring to the actual witness questioning. Of course not many can actually watch the entire thing. But let’s not pretend we’re getting a factual account from a New York Times report or a podcast. Now that is elitist. Those have biases just like Fox News. To be truly informed you MUST watch the actual hearings. And that doesn’t have to be live. Nor do you need to watch it all. But what really gets under my skin is all these so-called “experts” who proudly boast that they never watch the hearings then somehow claim to know what went on. That’s nonsense.

    2. Realist

      I think most of us still work bud, not retired like you so we can spend our free time watching the proceedings. So I guess we are not entitled to voice our opinions if we haven’t been glued to the television screen. About the only time I have to watch or read any of the testimony is when I take a short break from work. Not as fully informed as you so I guess I will “shut the hell up” and depend on your unbiased opinions and commentary.

      Have a good day!

      1. bud

        Not as fully informed as you so I guess I will “shut the hell up” and depend on your unbiased opinions and commentary.

        Great! I’ll send you a list of who to vote for. 🙂

        1. Realist

          Don’t bother. There is no need to send a list because it will be voting a straight Democrat ticket. There is no mystery when it comes to you and your predilections. 🙂

    3. Brad Warthen Post author

      I watched some of the Watergate hearings. But then, I was a college student on summer break.

      But my memory is playing tricks on me. I have a memory of watching them on TV at the beach. But they started on May 17, 1973, and continued live for a couple of weeks, Wikipedia tells me. I didn’t go to the beach, I don’t think, until sometime in June. I was working construction the first part of the summer.

      Maybe I remember watching some sort of recap of the hearings.

      But I do have specific memories of seeing Mo Dean. There was also a bunch of guys saying a bunch of stuff…

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    Sometimes the internet really lets me down.

    For instance, in the first graf of this post, I write, “That, and… other stuff.”

    I wanted to link to a video clip or gif of Will Ferrell saying that in “Old School.”

    It’s when Frank the Tank’s wife has just thrown him out, and he explains that “Marissa is going through
    some personal stuff.”

    His friend Mitch asks, “Personal stuff like you running through the neighborhood drunk and naked?”

    Frank replies, “That and some other stuff.”

    But it was not to be…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      On the upside, I DID manage to slip into that graf a link to this piece by Joel Stein I read and enjoyed last month but never got around to posting about. The headline is “Impeachment is an elitist trap,” and it begins:

      As an elitist, I enjoy a good impeachment. Especially if followed by a trial in the Senate, overseen by the chief justice in a black robe with gold stripes. In fact, I wish there were an even more complicated way to kick out a president — one with a Latin name that centered on the opinions of Ivy League historians and presented as a nine-part documentary on PBS….

      Which is why you should always click on the links. They take you away from the blog and to something you might actually find entertaining…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “if proven to be true”

      And there you have the impeachment scandal in a nutshell — Trump trying to move heaven and earth to get someone to prove stuff like that to be true…

      1. David T

        Wow, I should be a press secretary for someone. Is that all there is to being a journalist? Now if it just paid better.

      1. David T

        I never said it was true, I just saw it being reported on another forum where there more than a few sources stating basically the same thing.

        Besides, at least when I post stupidity I quote a source unlike you who just states whatever is in your head.

            1. David T

              No, and what you’re failing to understand is I also really don’t care. They’re mainstream media so I’m guessing it’s some flaming left-wing liberal such as yourself.

            2. Barry

              Well, he did post The Gateway Pundit link. It’s clear his critical thinking is a bit damaged by posting conspiracy promoting sites and thinking its worth posting, and worth consideration.

              1. David T

                Apparently you’re more up on conspiracy websites than I am. Maybe next time I’ll vet the sources more thoroughly, I guess I don’t have as much free time on my hand for such things as you and Mark do.

                1. Barry

                  It takes no time to realize Pundit is a conspiracy site. If you can’t do any better than that, posting links wouldn’t be smart.

                2. David T

                  “If you can’t do any better than that, posting links wouldn’t be smart.”

                  Got it, so rather than post the source in my comment I’ll just make ignorant comments up as I go along like you do.

                3. Barry

                  “Got it, so rather than post the source in my comment I’ll just make ignorant comments up as I go along like you do.”

                  Posting conspiracy sites is always wrong.

                  Your comments might be ignorant or not. But backing them with conspiracy sites is always wrong.

                4. David T

                  “Your comments might be ignorant or not. But backing them with conspiracy sites is always wrong.”

                  I bet you were one hell of a hall monitor in junior high.

            3. Mark Stewart

              Rupert Murdoch.

              The NY Post has been an unreliable “news” source for longer than Fox News has been on the air. In fact, it has been Trump’s favorite spin machine since the late seventies – it’s where he learned “fake news.” Murdoch also owns the WSJ. While it still reports the news within the bounds of perspective, its opinion section has gone way to the right since Murdoch purchased the paper. Since Trump won election the editorials have also started to vere far from their historical perspectives.

              Have you noticed that every link you’ve ever put up here – except for the one BBC one you went searching for today – has fallen in the unreliable/propaganda/ridiculous catagory? No? Well yeah…

    2. Barry

      The Gateway Pundit? You discredit yourself well (even more than you were already discredited) .

      I like how Gateway puts that ludicrously dumb conspiracy: “ “Documents REPORTEDLY leaked ” and “According to counter intelligence in Latvia“. LOL

      Gateway is the site that peddled a ludicrous story that Robert Mueller raped a woman in 2010, and that the Parkland shooting in Florida was staged with actors. Great job David. It’s juts too perfect that you promote that garbage.

      Even Fox News won’t cite that conspiracy site.

      1. Mark Stewart

        I read Latvian counter-intelligence sources and thought Russian disinformation for sure. Just the thing for the right wing sheep. Again. They just go back to the wells that keep on giving…

            1. David T

              I guess I’m not up on dumb conspiracy websites like the two of you are. Maybe I should limit my sources to approved sources such as USA Today and DemocraticUnderground as to not upset you and Mark.

              1. Barry

                Educate yourself. Maybe you’ll avoid web sites ites that promote conspiracy theories that state school shooting victims are actors. Then your posts won’t look so ridiculous.

                I know it’s a hail marry pass for you.

                1. Barry

                  “Good idea Barry, when I get as much free time as you have I’ll look into it.”

                  You clearly have as much free time, or more, than anyone here.

                1. David T

                  Oh that’s good. CNN is Skwed Left, Time is Neutral, ABC, CBS and NBC are Neutral, The Washington TImes (one of Brad’s favorites) is considered Hyper-Partisan RIght.

                  Check out the team they put together, that’s quite the diverse team of “analysts”. Not one minority in the bunch… oh wait, there’s one at the bottom who may acdtually fit in as Asian unless she married one. Of the 11 “analysts” you have an attorney who focuses on child support, the director of a college library, two college faculty members, two teachers or retired teachers. That’s a panel of some hard hitting hard science analysts.

                2. David T

                  “Or use the Media Bias / Fact Check site.”

                  I’m not writing my dissertation or thesis here, I’ll let those who want to argue validate my sources. In a blog with a dozen regulars I’m not too concerned about making a mistake or spelling error.

  6. Mark Stewart

    Someone needs to send you a traffic cone.

    After all these years one would have expected you might be open to learning something, but appears not.

    1. David T

      Send me a traffic cone? And what would I need a traffic cone for?

      Talk to bud, maybe he can pull some strings for his like minded buddies here and get one from the DOT.

  7. bud

    In his own ridiculous way David T kind of makes my point. All news outlets have their own biases. That’s not to say that many are thoughtful outfits that do their best to conform to journalistic integrity standards. But I think it’s a mistake to simply rely on regurgitated accounts to formulate your opinion. The NY Times is a great example. They are generally regarded as a first rate news outfit. But did they ever get it wrong regarding the Iraq war. That’s why I watch the debates live and immediately write down what I saw. Even a news organization as good as MSNBC gets it wrong sometimes.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Online and on-air news sources do not do an even reasonable job of differentiating news and opinion as print papers more often than not have historically done. That has lead a lot of people to assume the “news” they consume is just that – when 85% of it is actually opinion masquerading as information.

      1. bud

        Fair enough. But the 15% can at times be a good source of information. Shephard Smith recently left Fox News because of this opinion-encroaching-on-hard-news issue. Shep was a good journalist and it’s a shame to see him go. But I would suggest the print media is not as pure in this regard as you or Brad maintain.

        1. Realist

          Wait a minute bud! Are you trying to tell us that you and possibly Mark don’t rely on “World News Daily Report” as a legitimate source of information?

          Rumor on the internet is that Shephard Smith is going to work for them in order to provide legitimacy for their totally accurate news features and as we all know, everything on the internet is true otherwise it wouldn’t be there.

          1. Mark Stewart

            That’s an interesting perspective; where people formulate their opinions?

            My typical go-to sources:
            WaPo / NYT
            Politico / The Hill
            The Economist
            The New Yorker
            Vox – for edgier but still credible takes on the news of the day

            If its TV “news” I probably turn on MSNBC first, but for the perspective.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Those are good. Some of the best. In fact, most of the best in this country.

              I don’t consciously seek out Reuters (or its more ubiquitous relative, the AP), Bloomberg, Politico, The Hill or Vox, but I sometimes follow links that lead me to those places.

              The sources I deliberately turn to are The State, The Washington Post and The New York Times (all of which I subscribe to), then the Post and Courier and sometimes The Guardian.

              I would include The Wall Street Journal, which I enjoy reading, but it just got too expensive.

              I read a good bit in The New Yorker, but in a weird way. I don’t read the magazine itself, in print or on my iPad app (where I subscribe to it). But I get emails from it more than daily, and I tend to click on the stories and read them that way.

              I’m pretty much indifferent to the papers’ editorial stances, so I enjoy the NYT and (when I could afford it) the WSJ more or less equally. Or I did, sort of. I don’t see it much anymore, but when I do, I’m struck by the paucity of opinion writers I want to read — especially since the Times stole Bret Stephens away from the Journal. In fact, the Times is now my favorite source of conservative writers — Stephens, Ross Douthat, David Brooks (if you want to call him “conservative;” I see him as more communitarian).

              I enjoy the Post very much — it has more energy than it’s ever had before, since Bezos bought it (something I can’t say for other things he’s bought, such as Whole Foods). But it only has two “name” conservatives — George Will and Kathleen Parker, and I don’t necessarily see Kathleen as conservative any more than I do Brooks.

              The Post also goes out of its way to run relatively obscure “conservatives” who will actually defend Trump (which none of the above would do). But they don’t really have anything constructive to offer.

              Where was I going with this? I forget…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, that’s too bad, because I was offering some thoughts on good news sources from the perspective of someone who knows more about journalism than probably anyone else you know. Not bragging — there are lots of things I don’t know much about, but newspapers aren’t among them.

                  And of course I read The State. It would be kind of nuts to try to keep up with the world without subscribing to one’s own hometown paper. It’s a necessary part of the mix…

              1. Mark Stewart

                The WSJ was axed when I no longer got it at work. But since Murdoch bought it I don’t really have much interest in it anymore. Reuters and Bloomberg have all the news, though without the good contextual analysis the Journal used to provide – sometimes to ad nauseum. The NYT can be like that, too, but it’s not usually as dense.

                The Hill is a good source to follow outlandish political spining, and a good way to identify the jokers quickly.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I have to say I haven’t noticed anything particularly bad about the Journal since Murdoch came along.

                  And I’ve seen some good things happen over the years (although I can’t remember what came before or after Murdoch). First, it became less of a business paper and addressed many different topics more thoroughly — otherwise I probably wouldn’t have read it at all.

                  I also liked the addition of the third opinion page, with the daily book review. I think they did that when the shrank the width down from the traditional broadsheet size — the last paper I can think of to do so. (If you don’t know what I mean, see if you can dig up a newspaper from 30 years ago, and I think you’ll notice the difference immediately.)

                  Finally, they’ve hired some good reporters, such as my friend Valerie Bauerlein.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    When it comes to reputable newspapers — assuming they stay reputable — people tend to overemphasize ownership.

                    The main effect you usually see is one of quality, not political bias. Bezos has improved the quality of the Post, because he can afford to invest in it and is interested in doing so. On the other hand, if the paper is owned by a financially strapped company, you’ll see the quality go down.

                    For instance, the biggest reason you’ve seen the Post and Courier get better and expand coverage as The State has faded is ownership. The P&C is privately owned and diversified, which gives it vastly greater wiggle-room to operate and do good things than McClatchy, which happened to buy a company bigger than it was at the worst possible moment, and has been struggling ever since…

              2. Brad Warthen Post author

                Oh, to bend over backward to be fair (which is what the Post is doing in running mediocre columnists who defend Trump), one of them DID say something thoughtful the other day.

                Marc Thiessen wrote a piece posing the question, “Why don’t Democrats drop impeachment and just censure Trump?” Which is a thought I had had myself.

                Note that even he can’t bring himself to defend what Trump has done with regard to Iraq — because it’s indefensible.

                But why not censure him for it?

                It could be strategically smart, since we know the Senate almost certainly won’t convict, and impeachment is almost certain to produce a backlash that could help Trump get re-elected.

                If all you’re going to get out of it is an expression of disapproval from the House, why not make is censure?

                It’s a tempting proposition, except for this: The Constitution has impeachment in it as the proper response to just the sort of abuse of power in which Trump has engaged and continues to engage. Even if censure were the smart way to go, the House has a duty to impeach him — however the chips fall after that….

              3. Brad Warthen Post author

                Oh, and I meant to say… Mark mentioned The Economist.

                I miss it, but when I lost my subscription I had through the paper, I sort of lost track of it.

                Couple of things I liked about it, as an opinion guy. One, the fact that the editorials (the “leaders”) actually lead the publication, with the “straight” news playing a subordinate role.

                I think that’s a British thing. Canadian, too. I once met the editorial page editor of the paper in Toronto, who told me that it was a policy of the paper to follow the priorities of editorial in news coverage.

                I thought that made a lot of sense.

                And no, I’m not talking about the news pages being “polluted” by opinion. I mean, the issues that the editorial board saw as significant and worth writing about actually get COVERED by the newsroom.

                Newsrooms tend to have a penchant for the noisy and insignificant, and tend to ignore the more important issues that a good editorial board concerns itself with. And that’s a problem.

                A news editor will disagree, but I’m here to tell you that I’ve done both jobs, and I know that when I was on the editorial board, I got smarter about discerning what was important, and devoting my limited resources to that. You have to think a LOT more deeply about things when you’re going to pass judgment on them, and put your opinions out there for thousands of people to shoot at. It’s harder than getting the who, what, when and where right. How and why require a great deal more effort…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Oops, I digressed, and didn’t mention the other thing I liked about The Economist.

                  They call themselves a “liberal newspaper,” even though they don’t mean “liberal” the way most Americans use it, and it’s a magazine, not a newspaper.

                  Essentially, they are libertarian. But they made their arguments so well that they very often persuaded me, when the last thing I am is libertarian.

                  They were good. And I like good.

                  Being good, making the case well, matters more to me than the actual political bent, when it comes to my reading preferences.

                  If it’s good enough to make me think, whatever the perspective, it’s valuable…

            2. Realist

              You took the content of the comment as being serious? ROTFLOL! It was a joke!!

              Have you ever read some of the hilarious made up stories posing as legitimate news on the “World Daily News Report” website. It is a totally made up parody of articles one might find in the supermarket tabloids. They are actually more outrageous than anything the Onion or Babylon Bee has ever published.

              With the exception of MSNBC, a cable news outlet I don’t watch along with all of the others including Fox, I get my news from the NYT, WaPo, Bloomberg, Politico, and a couple of conservative sites. I never depend on one point of view and basically, all of the ones you posted share like opinions on just about everything. I don’t need to be feed a constant diet of information from sources that only reinforce a singular position on politics or social issues.

              1. Mark Stewart

                Of course not. I have no idea what that site is but it was obvious it’s like InfoWars.

                You made my point; getting info from a wide, but credible, array of sources is what most people who just watch FOX News or MSNBC really need to distill the political detritus that spues from DC – and state capitals – almost daily.

                You can say the sources I cited are all the same, maybe they are. That would be in comparison to all the crap that spills forth from both extremes, however

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      “did they ever get it wrong regarding the Iraq war”

      I don’t recall anything of the kind. That sounds to me sort of like you are complaining that they failed to reflect your opinion.

      Which is what most people mean when they talk about media bias.

      1. bud

        I don’t recall anything of the kind.

        Well, you recall it WRONG! The Times pushed this narrative that there was overwhelming evidence that Iraq had WMD. THEY DID NOT. And there was plenty of evidence to support that.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          No, there wasn’t.

          Everyone, including (if I recall correctly) Saddam’s commanders, thought he had the WMD. In fact, everyone KNEW he HAD had them, because he had used them.

          Which was why it was a shock that Saddam had let that arsenal fall apart, so that we only found rusting remnants of it.

          I’ve still never seen a good explanation of why he let that happen…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Of course, I wasn’t paying as close attention to the WMD stuff as others, because that wasn’t my reason for supporting the invasion.

            But I don’t recall any credible arguments being advanced BEFORE the invasion indicating that Saddam had no WMD.

            But once we realized they weren’t there, a miracle occurred: Suddenly, we learned that all the people who had not wanted us to invade to begin with had KNOWN there were no WMD, as they repeatedly told us. Apparently, there had been no doubt in the minds of these magic people.

            It might have been nice if they had presented to us the unassailable evidence that caused them to KNOW (not just “believe”) this ahead of time, but I don’t recall that happening at all…

            1. David T

              Don’t you wish you had the option of locking a discussion? This top is now going in about four different directions none of which are still on topic. The thread has turned into a complete $#!+-show.

            2. bud

              But I don’t recall any credible arguments being advanced BEFORE the invasion indicating that Saddam had no WMD.

              Wow! And double WOW! You just proved my point. If you had been reading something besides your hand picked newspapers you would have seen convincing, credible, persuasive arguments that Iraq didn’t have the WMDs pre invasion. The administration was advancing a false narrative and many people knew it. Did you check out Mother Jones for instance? How about the Huffington Post? They pushed hard on the now proven to be bogus claim of WMD. Many folks in the intelligence community were skeptical. Folks like Hans Blix, Scott Ritter and Joseph Wilson all raised red flags regarding these claims. Certain of our allies were also calling into question these claims. The moral to the story is that we should all rely on a variety of sources to get at the truth. Brad proves that a narrow choice of information, even if these are well respected, can give an incomplete picture of the truth.

          2. Realist


            Why do you waste your time trying to refute bud’s obsession and obvious hatred of anything GWB because tying WMDs to GWB is essential to justify denial? Convenient memory loss or selective memory recollection seems to have been lost when it comes to the WMDs in Iraq and the totally believable public perception they existed based on the number of Democrats who took any opportunity to publically announce they knew Saddam had them. One who made a public declaration was the wife of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton.

            This in defiance of the fact that Saddam destroyed at least two villages by using chemical weapons against them. There is or was documentation and photographic evidence showing the swollen bodies of the dead villagers. He used them in the conflict with Iran. He purposely lead the world and his own advisers and commanders to believe they existed. Bill Clinton stated post his administration that when he left the WH, they knew for certain Saddam’s WMDs did exist.

            To a very large degree, this obsession is just as ridiculous as the obsession of the far right in believing everything Trump promotes as fact.

            1. bud

              Convenient memory loss or selective memory recollection seems to have been lost when it comes to the WMDs in Iraq and the totally believable public perception they existed

              Problem is, they were never found, other than some chemical weapons, so that point is bogus. The implication by Bush and his fawning minions, was that Iraq had an advanced nuclear program. That was totally refuted and many people suspected as much. That is just a fact whether people want to acknowledge it or not.

              But that is really not my intended point here. But I got drawn into a rathole. My broader point, that Brad just proved, is that when people rely on a narrow selection of information sources they have a specific worldview that is often incorrect.

              1. Realist

                Cannot change your mind bud.

                The WMDs referenced were the chemical and possibly biological weapons. Hussein also led the world to believe he had a nuclear weapons program. Whether he had one or not is not the issue. What is the issue is that the world “believed” he had one based on his own claims.

                Like you, drawn into a rathole but with a different interpretation of the propaganda campaign by Saddam Hussein and his available weaponry, chemical and nuclear.

  8. Mark Stewart

    Online and on-air news sources do not do an even reasonable job of differentiating news and opinion as print papers more often than not have historically done. That has lead a lot of people to assume the “news” they consume is just that – when 85% of it is actually opinion masquerading as information.

    1. Barry

      Fox News is simply embarrassing. It’s amazing the spin they engage in 100% of the time. They are scared to death that their conservative base (over 60 year old white men) who sit in the recliner and watch the short skirts all day will revolt. I know how it works because I have family members (almost exclusively men) that do it and I know why they do it.

      MSNBC takes the opposite approach in everything. Hosts are all behind desks so the women there aren’t showing off their legs. They did that when they defended OBama 100% of the time. As a result, their audiences isn’t as big, and is younger.

      1. Bob Amundson

        “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” This has often been attributed to Sun Tzu and sometimes to Petrarch. It comes most directly from a line spoken by Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II.

  9. Bob Amundson

    POTUS Tweet during Ambassador Yovanovitch’s testimony: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

    Adam Schiff interrupted the hearing to talk about the tweet and asked the Ambassador how this made her feel. Even some on Fox are questioning the wisdom of the tweet. The Democrats are crying “witness intimidation;” the Republicans are responding “she is too strong to be intimidated.”

    Listening live is fascinating, and the tweet sent me to Fox as soon as the hearing recessed. Kenneth Starr: “Ill timed, ill conceived tweet.” History “Live.”

    1. Barry

      Yes, that tweet from Trump was as dumb as his other tweets. They man is simply a egomaniacal moron.

      When you have Ken Starr on Fox and Republican Chris Stewart saying on Fox that sort of thing is not a good idea, you know you are off the rails.

  10. Mark Stewart

    I believe we had a long, and a bit contentious discussion about this idea not long after Trump was inagurated. As if it were an inevitability that we would get here. Not because people hounded him looking for something that would stick, but because Trump would do something(s) himself that would demand an impeachment response.

    I wish people would stop saying the Senate will never convict. The reality is that the GOP congressmen have a way higher probability of surviving – politically – their votes against impeaching Trump. And I do think most of them will not want to buck the President or the party on this set-up vote.

    But the Senate is an entirely different beast. In that chamber the calculus is flipped completely; the Senators will need to justify to a much wider range of voters why they did not vote to convict. [I am assuming for the moment that more than 2/3rds won’t vote for conviction.] This will leave most of them exposed to being voted out of office down the road, including a good many in 2020. If Trump is not convicted and he runs for reelection, it seems almost apparent that the outrage against the Senante and the GOP in general will lead to his defeat – and theirs, too. Now people may argue with this outcome and say he and the GOP will win biggly in 2020; but I certainly would not wager on that dilusion.

    Therefore, I think many of the GOP Senators are going to think if Trump continues to erode the standing of the GOP as a party that can win majorities ahead, as he is doing now peeling off masses of independants and moderate Republicans with his unsuitability for his office, then they themselves will become at risk in their statewide races. So the calculus might be: Convict Trump and survive in office once the GOP “base” has calmed down, or go down with Trump in this coming election – or their next one – as the wave of general outrage over Trump’s acquittal is not forgotten by a plurality of voters.

    I think it is going to be a much more challenging evaluation for the Senate. Both the information that is coming out in the impeachment testimony and Trump’s own actions/reactions to it are really going to box the Senate Republicans in. The most logical answer is going to be let the “proof” insulate them and vote to convict Trump – thereby saving the GOP and themselves. Trump himself would do nothing less, after all. Also, the ghost of John McCain will make it even harder for some of the GOP Senators to duck and cover. This will be the Senate’s moment; their historical legacy. Only a few – hi, Lindsey! – will be willing to see their’s trashed over a vote history will most assuradly see as weak and horrendous.

    Conviction will be the more politically palatable route for 2/3rds or more, I suspect.

    1. Mark Stewart

      This was supposed to be a response to Brad’s Marc Thiessen comment, but it seems to have stuck here instead.

    2. bud

      Love the sentiment and the optimism. But sadly I think this is probably wishful thinking. The ONLY thing that moves the 90% of Republicans who support Trump is a deteriorating economy. With a new record DOW that doesn’t seem likely any time soon. And no I’m not pulling for that, just making and observation.

      1. Mark Stewart

        Bud, I think the current level of support for Trump among Republicans is closer to 75%, maybe less. And for independents it is now below 40%.

        These are big drops since the summer.

        Two other points:. One, which is more likely, Trump’s support continues to ebb (or even crater) as the impeachment process continues, or Trump manages to reform support? Two, the GOP is dependent on women voters to prop up the party. Trump’s misogyny is, I believe, undercounted in the public polls. Women might not want to reveal their political support is flagging, but in the voting booth?

        Both if these trends are not what the GOP senators are going to want transferred to their own elections.

        There might also be a third factor; AG Barr. His rapidly partisan actions are not going to reflect well on the GOP with either independents or with women. He is obviously angling to pull something autocratic – and it is going to bite the Republicans when it happens, further eroding any chance for the GOP in 2020.

        1. bud

          Trump’s misogyny is, I believe, undercounted in the public polls.

          We have something else to gauge that – actual elections. Trump campaigned for 3 red state governors. Two lost outright and the third was close. Women seem to be breaking hard against Trump.

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