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Daily Howler: ''Countdown'' keeps getting dumber and dumber, right before our eyes
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WHAT GOVERNOR PALIN WANTS! Countdown keeps getting dumber and dumber, right before our eyes: // link // print // previous // next //

Watching us become like them: Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial about the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, the so-called “card check” legislation. Labor wants it—management doesn’t. Here’s part of what the Journal said:

WALL STREET JOURNAL (3/20/09): The bill doesn't remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act but in practice makes it a dead letter. The bill allows a union to automatically organize a worksite if more than 50 percent of workers simply sign an authorization card, so pressure for employees to sign in public view would be enormous. The legislation also imposes a contract through binding arbitration if labor and management reach a stalemate.

“The bill doesn't remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act but in practice makes it a dead letter” (our emphasis). That statement, of course, is barely distinguishable from saying that the bill in question would “remove the secret-ballot option.”

Question: How can a pseudo-progressive deal with this sort of problem? Of course! With a bit of creative “editing!” Here’s the way a pseudo-progressive might want to “edit” that quote:

WHAT THE JOURNAL ACTUALLY SAID: The bill doesn't remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act but in practice makes it a dead letter.

HOW TO QUOTE WHAT THE JOURNAL SAID: The bill doesn't remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act.

If you “quote” the editorial that way, you get to pretend the Journal agrees with you, although it basically doesn’t.

This isn’t about your view of the bill. It’s a question of your respect for your readers—of your respect for the truth.

The use of the bogus “quotation” has long been a staple of pseudo-con wars. As it turns out, pseudo-progressives like playing you too. We first saw this clipped pseudo-quote at Steve Benen’s site, though he linked to ThinkProgress (click here). Last night, the edited “quote” made its way to the Maddow Show.

Translation: Hey, you dumb f*cking rubes!

This isn’t about your view of the bill; this is about your view of the truth. For amusement purposes only: Read the comments to Benen’s post. Repeatedly, outraged liberals complain that conservatives simply won’t tell them the truth.

Governor Palin only wants 69: Percent of her stimulus package! That’s how Olbermann teased a segment at the start of last night’s show. And we’d swear he took a big pregnant pause after that famous number, which has always been very funny to the children whose eyeballs he covets:

OLBERMANN (3/20/09): Governor Palin only wants 69 percent of her stimulus package. She is trying to refuse $288 million for Alaska, $170 million for education alone.

We’d swear the galoot took a big pause after saying that funny number. Indeed, he seemed to have a thing for those digits. Later, he teased them again:

OLBERMANN: For Governor Sarah Palin, the magic number is 69, the percentage of stimulus funds she will condescend to keep for the state of Alaska.

Odd! As happenstance has it, neither of these Olbermann Moments appears in the taped segments available on-line. We’d swear we heard the big galoot take that naughty, pregnant pause—though we’d be happy to be shown different. But if you think he wouldn’t have done that, you simply don’t understand the depth of this guy’s gender-nut.

Governor Palin only wants 69! Did the big gender-nut really say it? Having gotten that impression, a question popped into our heads: Is there a single progressive in the whole USA? Is there a single progressive woman within sound of Olbermann’s voice?

Larger point: The sheer stupidity of last night’s Countdown may have broken all previous records. By the time we reached the third story (of five), we’d been reduced to a long discussion of the various dirty words Republicans said this week. (Olbermann’s framework: “In a week that brought us a president on late-night TV, we also got a series of Republicans whose language and imagery seemed better suited for R-rated TV.”) Here’s a clip from the thoughtful discussion of this extremely seminal topic. Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, had been dragged in to serve as the guest:

OLBERMANN (3/20/09): Let’s go through these one at a time, shall we? The Media Research Council, which is a lunatic-fringe website run by the perpetually-angry Brent Bozell, hosted Joe the Plumber last night, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And Joe the Plumber likes his snake.

WURZELBACHER (videotape, following music, God Bless the USA) : Hey, thank you guys! Got all this love in the room and everything. I’m horny!

OLBERMANN: Well, that—


OLBERMANN: Yeah, that image guarantees everybody in the country an extra week of psychotherapy, doesn’t it?

MACFARLANE (cartoon voice): They are the people who are supposed to be opposed to homosexuality.

OLBERMANN: Why is it—that sort of vibe there?

MACFARLANE: That was kind of an oddly gay entrance, wasn’t it? “God Bless the USA” and that lilting, wistful tone.

OLBERMANN: And the guy looks like he just jumped off the Brawny towel thing.

MACFARLANE: I’m thinking Vito in The Sopranos.

Joe the Plumber is very dumb—but how about Keith the Host? Before long, the boys were having some good solid fun, discussing whether you’re allowed to say “sphincter,” “sucking,” “tit” and teat” on national television. Your progressive intelligensia was hard at work last night:

OLBERMANN: Put me on camera again. Tit! So now we’ve said it, because we are quoting the senator. So we can get away with it.

MACFARLANE: I don’t think O’Reilly would have the balls to say “tit” on the air.

This was the third “news story” (of five) explored on last night’s program. And uh-oh! When the boys ran out of naughty Republican words, they launched an amazingly pointless discussion of MacFarlane’s career. Very soon, we returned to The Naughty:

OLBERMANN: Let’s take a couple of minutes to talk back in the real world of animated comedy. You have American Dad, Family Guy and now you’ve got another Star Wars episode coming up this season?

MACFARLANE: Yes, our "Empire Strikes Back.” Which is called "Something Something Something Darkside."

OLBERMANN: OK. You have a spin-off. You created another—

MACFARLANE: It is our "Jefferson’s" to Family Guy’s “All in The Family." Cleveland, the African-American neighbor, leaves to go back to his home town of Stool Bend, Virginia. Get the joke, kids!

OLBERMANN: Thank you, senator.

MACFARLANE: Sucking the tit of his old hometown.

OLBERMANN: I understand this—I remember.

For average people, it’s inspiring to see the creative process at work.

(In a study of genius, researchers once asked Thomas Edison where he got the idea for his biggest imvention. “I can’t explain it,” the inventor replied. “It was just like a light bulb went off in my head.”)

We think we heard Olbermann take that pause, although we’re willing to be shown different. (Only a fool would think he wouldn’t.) But over the past twenty years, the defining characteristic of our political discourse has been its sheer, unrelenting stupidity. Stupidity has served our nation quite poorly. But Countdown gets dumber and dumber and dumber. It now seems to get dumber each night.

Modern societies can’t run on dumb, as the past twenty years have shown. But millionaire hacks can use The Dumb to amass their big stupid ratings. Meanwhile, must we state the deeply unfortunate? Advertisers love the type of viewer who finds himself drawn to The Dumb.