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The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week: Lawrence O’Donnell

September 4, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Lawrence O'Donnell

The 411mania Dumpster Fire of the Week

Hello, everyone, and welcome to The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week. I’m Bryan Kristopowitz.

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Before I get into this week’s winner, I just want you to know, just in case you missed it, that there was a Dumpster Fire of the Week column last week, but it appeared in the video games section of 411 as opposed to the movies/TV section. The column was devoted to the classic NES game Contra, and was similar to the column I did not that long ago about Super Mario Bros.. I’ll probably do another one of those video game editions before the end of the year, but I’m not sure when I will do it. So, in the event that you don’t see Dumpster Fire of the Week here in the Movies/TV zone, be sure to check the video games section as it may be there.

So here’s the link to the Contra column, and be on the lookout for another video game centric column in the near future. There are plenty of video games to choose from.

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Video game nostalgia really is wonderful, isn’t it?

And now onto this week’s Dumpster Fire of the Week.

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This week, the 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week goes to MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell for having to retract a story about President Trump. The story, which aired on O’Donnell’s weeknight show The Last Word this past Tuesday night, had O’Donnell claiming that a “source” had told him that there were Deutsche Bank documents where “Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin” had co-signed loans for President Trump. O’Donnell made the report at the start of his Tuesday night show and to say that it was an explosive revelation would be a serious understatement. President Trump has been under a cloud of suspicion when it comes to potential contacts/connections/partnerships with Russian individuals for several years now, and it if this Deutsche Bank story was true, well, the President would have a lot to answer for, wouldn’t he?

Except there was one problem with the story: it was single sourced, and NBC News couldn’t verify the source’s claims. In fact, no one else in the news media could verify the story. It was, at best, a rumor and, at worst, bullshit. The next night, as the President’s attorneys threatened to sue O’Donnell and NBC News if they didn’t issue a retraction and an apology, O’Donnell both apologized and issued a full retraction of the story.

Now, it’s true that O’Donnell did attempt to put the story into some kind of perspective as he did admit that the story was single sourced and he didn’t know if it was true, and that the story was going to need more verification, but then if you know all of that ahead of time, why report on it at all? Why not wait for the information to pan out before saying anything about it? It wasn’t like anyone else in the media was going to report on it before O’Donnell. Why be the first to report on a big story that had all of the potential in the world to not be true or with such thin evidence that it wasn’t worth diving into? I mean, wouldn’t Robert Mueller’s team had said something about that in the big Mueller Report if there were bank loan documents with Trump’s name on them along with “Kremlin connected figures?”

Well, yeah, probably. But Mueller’s report didn’t say anything about that and, as far as I know, no one in the media has ever made anything resembling this claim before O’Donnell reported on it, and I’m fairly certain that someone would have done so because, if true, it’s a big goddamn story. But that’s the problem. It isn’t a big story because there’s no real evidence of it being true. Instead, the big story is Lawrence O’Donnell potentially just making shit up. And who does that serve?

It doesn’t serve anyone. It doesn’t serve O’Donnell or the people on his show’s staff because it makes everyone involved with that show look bad. It doesn’t serve NBC and NBC News because it makes them look bad. And it doesn’t serve the movement to beat President Trump at both the ballot box and in the world of public opinion. This story is exactly what ultra-right wing media loves to see, the “liberal” media just making shit up. The “liberal” media is supposed to be better than that. You know, facts and all that shit?

I doubt that O’Donnell will lose his job at MSNBC or get fined or anything like that over this story, and I doubt that this will be a cautionary tale for anyone in the media. “If you can’t verify your claim in any way whatsoever, you probably shouldn’t report on it” should be the minimal standard for all stories, especially potentially big stories like the one O’Donnell reported on. Anything else is just stupid and irresponsible.

Yes, stupid and irresponsible.

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And now for this week’s honorable mentions…

-Former Canadian Prime Minster Kim Campbell, for tweeting that she hoped Hurricane Dorian hit President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Campbell eventually deleted and then apologized for the tweet, which she claimed was a joke. There’s nothing funny about hurricane damage, regardless of who it hits, and Campbell should have known that ahead of time. What the hell is wrong with people?

-Former U.S Vice-President and current 2020 Democratic front runner Joe Biden, for his latest “gaffe” on the campaign trail. VP Biden’s latest “gaffe” is his “mistelling” of a story involving a Navy captain and a medal he gave the sailor. Apparently, Biden has been telling versions of this same story for several years now and most of it is just plain wrong (you can check out the story at the link for the details). After several people and media outlets pointed out that Biden’s story was wrong, Biden “went on the defensive” wanting to know what the problem was? At the moment, this kind of stuff hasn’t hurt Biden in the polls (he’s still the front runner among the Democrats), but, as the gaffes continue to accumulate, it’s going to eventually become a problem, either in the primary fight or the general election. And how is that a good thing?

-Former Democratic Congressperson from Maryland and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney, for for continuing his campaign despite having essentially zero support. Delaney isn’t going to be in the next debate and his poll numbers are shit, but he’s staying in the race because he thinks he’s got a shot in Iowa and New Hampshire (I actually heard him say on TV that he’s “winning on health care”). Motherfucker, you aren’t winning on anything. No one knows who you are. You’re done. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand had enough sense to get out, so why not follow her lead and move on?

-Dumpster Fire Hall of Famer, 2018 Dumpster Fire of the Year, and (Jesus Christ) 45th President of the United States Donald Trump, for for complaining about Fox News. Yes, the President complained about Fox News, claiming that, and these are his words, the network “isn’t working for us anymore!” Because Fox hired Donna Brazile? Because Fox keeps Shepard Smith around? Because the network’s coverage isn’t always, 100% pro-Trump? What the fuck is the President talking about?

I mean, is he hoping that people will move to that Newsmax channel or something? What the hell is he talking about?

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