BREAKING: Has it really been ten years?

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2017

Those memoirs continue to beckon:
Has it really been ten years?

Apparently, yes it has! Yesterday morning, Morning Joe celebrated ten years on the air. This brings us back to Mika Brzezinki's three (3) peculiar memoirs.

We tried to handle the books last week. As we said at the time, it would take several weeks to do justice to all the nonsense found in the books—to their serial weirdness.

In large part, this involves Mika's ruminations about the role of money in her career. As usual, her apparent self-contradictions provide a great deal of amusement, even as she offers us an unusual look inside this important part of mainstream press/pundit culture.

What do we mean by "her apparent self-contradictions?" Consider the early pages of her second memoir, Knowing Your Value: Women. Money. and Getting What You're Worth.

This book is built around Mika's quest to gain the million of dollars she's so plainly worth, given her array of professional skills and her astonishing thinness. The story starts in early 2008, when she says she discovered that Joe himself was being paid fourteen times what she was paid, and that other "male colleagues," including Willie Geist-Haskell, were being paid "much more" than she was.

These claims are rather fuzzy. It's never made clear how she came to know the things she says she knew. But soon, we seem to be told that Mika had been shortchanged all through her career. On page 4, we're made privy to this:
BRZEZINKSI (page 4): My meeting with Joe that February [2008] morning was the culmination of a problem that had been brewing for decades. I had spent my career moving from job to job, accepting pay that I knew wasn't competitive because I always felt lucky to be there. I figured if I just worked hard, took on more hours, more assignments, and more stories, I could prove myself, and eventually my bosses would reward me with a raise and promotion. Often while I was hustling and hoping for more money, I would discover that my male colleagues were making more than I was. I wouldn't get angry at the men for this—I'd be angry at myself for not earning more respect and compensation from management. Then I'd start feeling underappreciated, talk to other networks, and and then move on and repeat the pattern somewhere else. Clearly the pattern wasn't getting me anywhere.
It sounded like Mika had been a real vagabond, that she'd "spent [her] career moving from job to job, accepting pay that [she] knew wasn't competitive." That said, in her first memoir, she'd described her ten-year history at CBS News and MSNBC, and it didn't exactly seem to fit this description.

According to that first memoir, Brzezinksi started at CBS News on the day she turned 30. A few years later, she moved to MSNBC to host an afternoon show, giving her better hours. CBS News hired her back rather quickly. On the day she turned 39, CBS told her it wouldn't renew her contract when it expired, though she stayed on the job for several months after that.

It's true that she'd been "fired" at age 39, and for a year, she couldn't get anyone else to hire her. But had her career really been as peripatetic and penurious as she seemed to say on page 4 of that second memoir?

You be the judge! On page 12 of this same second book, Mika describes the poorly-paid, part-time job she took at MSNBC in 2007, after a year of stone-cold unemployment. It's the job which led to her discovery by Joe Scarborough, thus to her role on Morning Joe. Along the way, she tells us this:
BRZEZINSKI (page 12): If you looked at that MSNBC job, you'd see that it was a considerable step back from my high-profile correspondent job at CBS. It was even a big step back from my job at MSNBC, ten years earlier. I spent my fortieth birthday doing cut-ins, but it was fine. It was work, and I was proud of myself...There was as much value in this moment as the day I got a huge contract at CBS that included a 60 Minutes deal. I was going to be okay.
Say what? On page 4, we're told that she "had spent [her] career moving from job to job, accepting pay that [she] knew wasn't competitive" and never being recognized for her amazing array of skills. Eight pages later, she cites the "huge contract" she got at CBS News, the huge contract (for a "high-profile job") under which she even did spots on 60 Minutes.

What's the truth about Mika's pay through the years? How much was she paid in her ten years in network news before she landed her spot at Morning Joe? Was she being paid what she was "worth," as compared to male colleagues?

Based on Mika's memoirs, there's absolutely zero way to settle such basic questions. She only cites one specific salary she ever received. According to her first memoir, when she first went to CBS News, in 1997, on the day she turned 30, she was paid $150,000 per year for anchoring the network's little-watched, 2-5 AM overnight news show.

(Adjusting for inflation, that would be roughly $230,000 today.)

Was that a cheapskate salary? Was she being underpaid as compared to male colleagues? We have no idea. In our view, everything is possible.

But during her second stint at CBS News, she was rewarded with a "huge contract," or so we're told on page 12 of Knowing Your Value. A mere eight pages earlier, we were told that she had "spent [her] career moving from job to job, accepting pay that [she] knew wasn't competitive."

How do these stories fit together? We aren't sure, but just as there were a million stories in the naked city, there are a million apparent self-contradictions in Mika's trio of memoirs.

Mika's memoirs are full of amusing apparent self-contradictions. They're also full of anecdotes that seem so improbable that the puzzled reader is left to wonder if Mika could possibly mean what she seems to have said.

These books rarely fail to amuse the diligent reader. That said, one question arises all through these books, at least to us: How can it be that the author of these puzzling memoirs is a highly influential member of our celebrity pundit corps?

We can't answer that question. But as we watched Morning Joe's tenth birthday, our thoughts were drawn, again and again, to those entertaining but puzzling books.

For at least three decades, our American public discourse has been a dangerous joke. In this particular instance, Joe and Mika loved and fawned to Candidate Trump, then all of a sudden they flipped.

Brzezinksi's three memoirs offer an unusual look inside the world of our big major pundits. At one point, she says the book deal which led to these books was arranged to move her income to the big fat level she so plainly deserves.

Money plays a very large role within our upper-end press corps. It plays a large, very dangerous role, which is why it's so rarely discussed.

WHERE THE DEPLORABLES ARE: Over Here!

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2017

Part 3—Hillary Clinton's admission:
Some of the questions which get asked in our ubiquitous surveys and polls are extremely straightforward. One such question is this:

"If the election were held today, which candidate would you vote for?"

That question is straightforward to the point of being simple-minded. Everyone knows what's being asked. In part for that reason, responses to that question tend to yield useful data.

That question is extremely straightforward. Other times, our academicians and researchers may perhaps get a bit "creative" in formulating their survey questions.

This may not be a great idea. For one thing, academicians' less-than-fully admirable values may even start shining through.

Consider this murky, perhaps unfortunate survey question. It has been asked as part of the General Social Survey dating at least to 1977:
Question from the General Social Survey:
"On the [sic] average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"
Yesterday, we discussed some of the problems with that venerable survey question. Before we examine the way different groups responded to that question last year, might we consider one of the ways the values of our upper-class researchers may perhaps be announcing themselves in that question's wording?

GSS researchers ask that question about "most Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans" and about no other group. In truth, few groups have ever shown more mettle in emerging from abject economic subjugation, but the academicians continue to ask a question which seems to suggest that most most Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans remain in poverty today, which is of course untrue.

Beyond that, note the unfortunate wording. Along the way, many African-Americans worked at the types of jobs at which they were permitted to work. For example, they may have worked as railroad porters and as maids, not as academicians.

To the people who run the GSS, those were "worse jobs" than the lofty positions they themselves hold today. The researchers couldn't even bother themselves to use a term like "lower-paying jobs" as they formulated the question they've asked for the past forty years.

In short, this less straightforward, "creative" question may perhaps let us ponder the less-than-fully attractive values which may sometimes be found at the top of our liberal world. Such questions may also be full of "triggers" which help direct the types of responses the questions will receive.

The most ridiculous question of this type is another "creative" question which has been asked for decades in the "social science" game. We refer to the question in which respondents are asked if blacks deserve "special favors" to help redress the effects of past discrimination.

"Special favors!" What could possibly be the right way to answer that loaded question? Since no conservative would ever be likely to say that anyone deserves "special favors," the question almost seems designed to create an exaggerated sense of tribal division.

The wording of that common question is transplendently clueless. However one imagines its provenance, the question about those "special favors" has been routinely asked for decades.

Today, we liberals cite responses to that question as a marker of The Others' "racial resentment." That's a newfangled (and meaningless) academic term which seems to have been created so professors and partisans can claim that they really aren't trying to measure The Others' "racism."

At any rate, that GSS question about These Unmotivated Blacks Today strikes us as a very poor survey question. In effect, it's an "inkblot" question, one which seeks an instant reaction to a rather peculiar, counterfactual scenario which the researcher has proposed.

In her new book, What Happened, Hillary Clinton cites responses to that question as evidence of the fact that half The Others are "deplorable / irredeemable," just as she said last year. In fairness, she does make passing mention of the way We Flawless Liberals responded to that same question.

On Monday, we showed you Dan Merica's (accurate) account of what Clinton says in her book. Below, you see the fuller passage from her book, in which she says she was right on the substance, if not on the politics, when she trashed Those Trump Voters last year:
CLINTON (page 413): I'm not saying that all Trump voters are racist or xenophobic. There are plenty of good-hearted people who are uncomfortable about perceived antipolice rhetoric, undocumented immigrants, and fast-changing norms around gender and sexual orientation. But you had to be deaf to miss the coded language and racially charged resentment powering Trump's campaign.

When I said, "You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," I was talking about well-documented reality. For example, the General Social Survey conducted by the University of Chicago found that in 2016, 55 percent of white Republicans believed that blacks are generally poorer than whites "because most just don't have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up and out of poverty." In the same survey, 42 percent of white Republicans described blacks as lazier than whites and 26 percent said they were less intelligent. In all cases, the number of white Democrats who said the same thing was much lower (though still way too high).

Generalizing about a broad group of people is almost always unwise. And I regret handing Trump a political gift with my "deplorables" comment." I know that a lot of well-intentioned people were insulted because they misunderstood me to be criticizing all Trump voters. I'm sorry about that.

But too many of Trump's core supporters do hold views that I find—there's no other word for it—deplorable.
Clinton can find no other word for it! We regard that as a major problem, of politics, morals and substance.

In fairness, Clinton's first statement is perfectly accurate, even in retrospect. She never said that all Trump supporters were deplorable / irredeemable. Even in real time, she only said that half his voters should be consigned to the regions of Hell, where they could roast in eternity.

That said, she didn't explain, in real time, how to separate the deplorables from the redeemables. And in the real world, when a candidate makes a sweeping condemnatory claim about half her opponent's supporters, all her opponent's supporters will likely feel that they've been condemned, along with their favorite aunts, who may be named Myrtle, and their sainted mothers.

Every candidate says something unwise or even dumb in the course of a long campaign. Clinton acknowledges that her statement was politically unwise. What's surprising is the fact that she continues to defend her claim on the merits. Also surprising, and unimpressive, is the way she does so.

Clinton still seems to be saying that 55 percent of white Republicans gave the "deplorable / irredeemable" answer to that inkblot GSS question about These Blacks Today. Their answer to that inkblot question burned the scarlet D onto their breasts.

That said, uh-oh! As Clinton pens this defense of her past remarks, she makes a fleeting admission. Some members of Our Own Master Tribe gave the deplorable answer too! This raises a troubling question:

How many deplorables do we have, Over Here, within our own liberal tents? Clinton admits that the number is "way too high." (She never says what the desirable number would be.) But she also seems to say that Our deplorables are "much fewer" than Theirs.

Tomorrow, we'll show you the actual numbers. We'll ponder what those numbers might mean. For today, we'll only say this:

To our eye, the numbers from our two warring tribes are much closer than Clinton's passage might make you suspect. Does she even know what the full set of numbers looks like?

We have no earthly idea. Our discourse is narrative all the way down. We rarely have time for full facts.

Tomorrow: And the most deplorable is...

WHERE THE DEPLORABLES ARE: Over There!

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

Part 2—The problem with inkblot questions:
Last year, respondents were asked an unfortunate question as part of the General Social Survey (GSS), "a sociological survey created and regularly collected since 1972 by the research institute NORC at the University of Chicago."

NORC has been asking this particular question for decades. With apologies, the question goes like this:
Question from the General Social Survey:
"On the [sic] average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"
That strikes us as perhaps an unfortunate question. A few of our reasons are these:

For starters, the GSS asks this question about African-Americans and about no one else (as best we can tell). Respondents aren't asked to answer a similar question about Hispanics, or about Appalachian whites, or about lower-income people in general.

Rather plainly, the question plays to a stereotype about that one group of people. That said, NORC's researchers have been asking that question for a great many years.

Arguably, there's another obvious problem with that loaded question. Stating the obvious, most African-Americans have already "pulled themselves up out of poverty," or were never there to begin with.

The large majority of African-Americans aren't currently living in poverty. It may be that these individuals have already pulled themselves out of that state, or it may be that their forbears did; or it maybe that their families have no history of poverty at all.

As such, this question seems to imply a fact which isn't in evidence. Then too, the question is groaningly imprecise, in the following sense:

Respondents are asked if most African-Americans have what it takes "to pull themselves out of poverty." Stating the obvious, that would depend, in a given case, on the depth of poverty in which a given person was mired, and on the state of the economy at some point in time.

When times are flush, it's relatively easy for a person to pull himself out of poverty. In other circumstances, whether in this country or around the world, it may be very difficult to do so, perhaps essentially impossible.

For ourselves, we wouldn't answer a question like that if were taking an survey like the GSS. It's the type of question we call an "inkblot question"—a question which mainly serves to record a respondent's flash reaction to a question which doesn't exactly make sense.

Ignoring the way that question is built upon an insulting stereotype, the question is highly imprecise. It stands in contrast with the simpler types of question which are used in highly coherent surveys. One such question would be this:

"If the election were held today, would you vote for Hillary Clinton, or would you vote for Donald J. Trump?"

That's a clear, straightforward, highly familiar type of survey question. Everyone understands what it means. It will generate zero confusion.

By way of contrast, the question about those lazy blacks is built upon, and meant to trigger, an ugly stereotype. Beyond that, it's so full of fuzzy logic that the only clear-thinking answer would be this:

"I don't understand your question."

Or, a bit less perfectly, the most frequent correct answer of all:

"I don't know."

For ourselves, we don't have the slightest idea whether "most blacks," or most whites, have what it takes to pull themselves out of some definable level of poverty in some definable circumstance. Neither does anyone who went ahead and answered that question last year.

We don't have the slightest idea how to answer a question like that! We also don't know why a competent researcher acting in good faith would want to ask that question.

We don't have a ton of respect for "researchers" who dream up such questions. We think it reflects a bit poorly on the NORC brainiacs that this question has remained in their famous national survey down through all these years.

We've mentioned several problems with an "inkblot" question like that, in which we're asked for a snap reaction to an extremely imprecise imagined state of affairs. Now, we'll mention another problem:

Respondents' answers to questions like that will almost always generate much more heat than light! Routinely, their answers will end up being used by partisan players of some type to present some picture of the world which serves some tribal narrative.

So it is when Hillary Clinton cites respondents' answers to that question in her new book, What Happened. Rather, when she cites the answers given by one lone group of respondents, even as she omits the answers given by everyone else.

In her book, Clinton gives an accurate account of the way one group of respondents answered that inkblot question. Once again, here is CNN's Dan Merica, recording what Clinton says:
MERICA (9/12/17): Clinton writes that she handed Trump a "political gift" in September when she told an audience of supporters that "you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables."

Her admission of a mistake isn't without equivocation, though.

Clinton writes that she was "talking about well-documented reality," citing a 2016 study by the General Social Survey that found 55% of white Republicans "believed that blacks are generally poorer than whites 'because most just don't have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up and out of poverty.' "
According to Merica, Clinton discusses the way one group of respondents answered that inkblot question:

Clinton discusses the way "white Republicans" answered that question. Beyond that, she says their answers show she was right when she said that half of Donald J. Trump's supporters can be listed as "deplorable" (and perhaps as "irredeemable") because they're "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it."

Presumably, those white Republicans displayed their racism when they answered that inkblot question. So it seems Clinton has said.

For today, we'll only say this. Clinton's basic account of their responses seems to be basically accurate. Yesterday, we showed you the fuller set of responses to that question by "non-black Republicans," and by Republicans in general. Once again, their responses broke down like this:
Responses to particular question, 2016 GSS
"On the average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"

Responses by non-black Republicans:
Yes: 53.1 percent
No: 43.1 percent
Don't know: 3.7 percent

Responses by Republicans overall:
Yes: 53.3 percent
No: 42.8 percent
Don't know: 3.9 percent
That's the way Republicans responded to that question. On the basis of those responses, Cliton dropped one of our liberal tribe's favorite bombs on tens of millions of heads.

We can't tell you why those people answered that question the way they did. Unlike Clinton, we can't peer into their souls and assure you that the 53.3 percent of those respondents were "deplorable/irredeemable."

We can do this:

We can show you the way respondents from other groups answered that inkblot question. We can show you how Democrats answered that question. We can show you how Hispanics answered. We can even show you the numbers for respondents who were"black!"

Clinton has told us how one group responded to that inklblot question. Tomorrow, we'll show you what other groups of people said.

As we do, we'll get a chance to marvel at how widely deplorable we the people actually are. On Thursday, we'll take a look at some of the data William Saletan skipped.

Tomorrow: Blacks and Hispanics and Democrats oh my!

Partisan pandering out of control!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2017

Maddow Show, last Friday night:
Last Friday morning, the New York Times offered a front-page news report under this headline:

"Trump Humiliated Jeff Sessions After Mueller Appointment"

According to the Times report, Donald J. Trump went ballistic when he learned that a special counsel, Robert Mueller, had been appoimted to investigate possible links between his campaign and the Russkies.

According to the Times report, Trump blamed Attorney General Sessions for the unwanted appointment. Furiously, he called Sessions an "idiot," then demanded, and received, a letter of resignation.

Why is Sessions still on the job? Here's what the Times reported:
SCHMIDT AND HABERMAN (9/15/18): Mr. Trump ended up rejecting Mr. Sessions’s May resignation letter after senior members of his administration argued that dismissing the attorney general would only create more problems for a president who had already fired an F.B.I. director and a national security adviser. Mr. Trump once again, in July, told aides he wanted to remove Mr. Sessions, but for a second time didn’t take action.
According to the Times report, aides talked Trump out of dismissing Sessions. Trump had just fired James B. Comey ("Comey the God"), the FBI director. It would create a world of hurt, aides are said to have said, if he proceeded to can his attorney general as well.

Is that what actually happened? We have no way of knowing, but it seems to make perfect sense. Unless you watched the Maddow Show last Friday night, in which case you saw a certain well-known cable news host angrily insist that this report made no sense, given the many White House officials who have resigned, or have been fired, over the past eight months.

We thought the cable star's tirade made little apparent sense. We also thought that Friday's show was strikingly disingenuous, even by this cable star's extremely modest standards.

The star in question is Rachel Maddow. In large part, she insisted that the Times report made no sense through a set of silly claims in which she conflated unknown figures with major officials and resignations with firings.

(To watch this whole segment, click here. Warning: 17 minutes!)

How silly were Maddow's examples? In July, "they lost" Tera Dahl, we were told in one of her examples. Dahl is so little known that Nexis seems to have thought that Maddow was talking about Tara Dowdell, a progressive Democrat. In typical fashion, MSNBC hasn't yet posted its own transcripts for Maddow's programs last week.

In July, the Trump administration "lost Tera Dahl!" According to Maddow, this shows that they wouldn't have worried about blowback from letting Sessions "resign," in an obvious firing, right after Comey got fired.

This was very, very dumb, but Maddow was weirdly insistent about the alleged absurdity of the Times report.

We have no idea why Maddow was so exercised about that particular report. But from there, she proceeded a remarkable string of cherry-picked and distorted reports.

She offered a familiar old recitation about the many lies of Vice President Pence—a familiar old recitation which features a chain of embellished accounts of murky events.

In a later report, she told us that "we also now know that the State Department is not responding to the Cuban government when they have been offering to bilaterally investigate what`s happening" with respect to the apparent "sonic attacks" at the U.S. embassy in Havana.

How do we know that the State Department is laying down on the job in this fashion? How do we know that "the State Department [is] apparently blanking Cuba when Cuba offers to help with this investigation?"

According to Maddow, this is how we know that:
MADDOW (9/15/18): Cuban sources also tell NBC News that the Cuban government allegedly sent a diplomatic note on this issue to the State Department, offering that they themselves would help investigate the incident. They offered to be part of a bilateral investigation with the United States into this matter. Cuban sources tell NBC News that they sent this note to the U.S. State Department, never got a response back.

I understand they're having some staffing issues at the State Department. They didn't get a response?
Needless to say, Maddow is always eager to say that the current State Department is failing to function. That said, how do we know that the State Department is laying down on the job in the case of the sonic attacks?

According to Maddow, we know that because that's what "Cuban sources" have said! Full stop!

For the record, we can find no sign of NBC News reporting any such thing. But so what? According to Maddow, we know the State Department is laying down on the job because "Cuban sources" have said so!

In an earlier segment, Maddow offered a highly slanted account of those nursing home deaths in Florida. We were surprised to see her raising this topic at all, until she slanted the story in such a way as to make it sound like it was all the fault of another favorite political target, Florida governor Rick Scott.

Over the years, we've warned you that Maddow often seems to be "less than obsessively honest." In Friday's performance, she seemed to have slipped over the edge into a type of serial dissembling which bore the feel of pathology.

We don't know when we've seen so many topics tilted so dumbly in such a blatantly partisan fashion. Our conclusion?

Wealth and fame can cause real harm, not unlike sonic attacks.

WHERE THE DEPLORABLES ARE: Data are hard!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2017

Part 1—Under every bed:
Should Hillary Clinton have said what she said about our many deplorables?

You may recall the incident! In early September 2016, while running for president, Clinton made an unusual comment about the people supporting her opponent, Donald J. Trump.

She about that half of Trump's supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables." They deserved that designation because they were "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it," she rather expansively said.

"Some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America," she said as part of this same comment. From Clinton's full remarks, it wasn't clear if all the deplorables were irredeemable, or if only some of them were.

This was a highly unusual statement from someone running for president. Her opponent, Candidate Trump, said that Candidate Clinton's statement showed "her true contempt for everyday Americans." The statement became a rallying-point for Trump's supporters.

(For the record, 63 million people ended up voting for Candidate Trump. [66 million voted for Clinton.] As such, Clinton had placed well over 30 million people in her now-famous basket.)

Clinton has now released a book, What Happened, in which she offers her account of last year'as campaign. In a somewhat surprising passage, she defends the substance of her remarks about the deplorables, if not the political wisdom of making such a remark.

On the substance, Clinton says that her sweeping assessment was right. In this essay, CNN's Dan Merica quotes from Clinton's book:
MERICA (9/12/17): Clinton writes that she handed Trump a "political gift" in September when she told an audience of supporters that "you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables."

Her admission of a mistake isn't without equivocation, though.

Clinton writes that she was "talking about well-documented reality," citing a 2016 study by the General Social Survey that found 55% of white Republicans "believed that blacks are generally poorer than whites 'because most just don't have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up and out of poverty.'"

"Generalizing about a broad group of people is almost always unwise. And I regret handing Trump a political gift with my deplorables comments," Clinton writes. "I know that a lot of well-intentioned people were insulted because they misunderstood me to be criticizing all Trump voters. I'm sorry about that."
Quite correctly, Clinton says she didn't condemn all of Donald J. Trump supporters to the agonies of Hell. She's sorry that people misread her remarks—remarks whose accuracy she has now reaffirmed.

It's very unusual for a political figure to make such comments about such a wide swath of the public. It's amazing to see Clinton double down on the accuracy of her assessment, in a book for which she presumably conducted full measures of research.

Having said that, let us also say this:

What Clinton says about last year's General Social Survey is basically accurate, perhaps perfectly so—at least as far as she went.

What is the General Social Survey? The GSS is a giant survey of social and political attitudes. According to the leading authority on the project, it's "a sociological survey created and regularly collected since 1972 by the research institute NORC at the University of Chicago. It is funded by the National Science Foundation."

As such, the GSS is conducted by some of the nation's top brainiacs in the general field of social science. Last year, as in prior years, this is one of the questions respondents were asked. We apologize for reprinting the question:
Question from the General Social Survey:
"On the [sic] average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"
That's a stereotype-laden question. As best we can tell, the brainiacs at NORC ask this question about no other group. Arguably, its inclusion in the GSS helps draw back the curtain on the hearts and minds of Those Top Researchers Today.

We'll discuss the judgment of those NORC researchers before the week is through. That said, that unfortunate question was indeed asked and answered as part of last year's GSS, and Clinton's statistic is basically accurate, perhaps even perfectly so.

For ourselves, we can't easily find the series of clicks which tells us what "white Republicans" said in response to that question. But according to the somewhat unwieldy GSS site, these were the responses to that question from "non-black Republicans," and from Republicans overall. Once again, we apologize for posting the question:
Responses to particular question, 2016 GSS
"On the average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"

Responses by non-black Republicans:
Yes: 53.1 percent
No: 43.1 percent
Don't know: 3.7 percent

Responses by Republicans overall:
Yes: 53.3 percent
No: 42.8 percent
Don't know: 3.9 percent
On the basis of that survey question, Clinton continues to say that half the people who supprted Trump belong in the "basket of deplorables" and may even be irredeemable. She was dumb to say it, but right on the substance, Clinton has said in her book.

Let's ignore the possible lack of political wisdom in Candidate Clinton's original remark. Every candidate says something unwise at some point in a long campaign. There's no reason why Candidate Clinton should have been the exception.

Forget the possible lack of political wisdom in Clinton's extemporaneous comment. Over the next few days, we're going to review her defense of the accuracy of her assessment.

Having said that, we offer this trigger warning:

We've reviewed the full data set from the GSS. We've seen how Democrats responded to that question as well as Republicans.

We've seen how our different "racial" groups responded—whites, Hispanics and blacks.

A full year later, Candidate Clinton is still upset about the way Trump's supporters answered that unfortunate question. Tomorrow, we're going to show you how her own supporters answered that question. We may even try to figure out what the full set of data might mean, perhaps about the usefulness of including such questions in social science research.

This probably isn't the most significant part of Clinton's new book. That said, we think this episode has much to tell us about the way our broken American discourse currently works.

We think the episode tells us some things about Candidate Clinton herself. We think it tells us some things about the American press corps.

We think the episode tells us some things about the nation's liberal social scientists. As a general matter, we think it tells us somethings about the "hive mind" of our own liberal world, which has misfired very badly over the past several decades.

More than anything else, we think this episode helps us ponder our liberal tribe's desire to loathe The Others. To a substantially lesser extent, we'd say the same thing about this recent piece at Slate, in which William Saletan examines five recent surveys in an attempt to examine (we're quoting a headline) "the president’s racist base, by the numbers."

We'll review that piece later on in the week. Tomorrow, we'll look at the wider set of responses to that stereotype-laden question from last year's GSS.

All through the annals of time, tribal groups have looked for ways to loathe, despise and negatively characterize The Others. This deeply entrenched human desire has given rise to the endless succession of wars we've conducted down through the annals of time.

We humans are always able to see how bad The Others are. AS our horror grows, we usually manage to find such demons under every bed.

In the modern context, as we pleasure ourselves with our exquisite loathing, we rarely bother to take the time to review full data sets. We're much more likely to pick and choose our data, selectively feeding the beast of our exquisite loathing.

In the world of us rational animals, loathing The Others has always felt good. Checking the data is hard.

Tomorrow: "White" and "black" responses