Is this how you want to be served: A few weeks ago, we mentioned the way Rachel Maddow had conned her viewers concerning those Bay State debates.
Scott Brown had agreed to two televised debates with his challenger, Elizabeth Warren. Unless you listened to Maddow on June 19, in which case you were led to believe that Brown was avoiding debates altogether (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/20/12).
Maddow gave you no idea that any debates had been scheduled. In fact, she made you think the opposite. Liberal viewers were misled again.
Maddow does this sort of thing quite often. Last Wednesday, June 27, she played the debate card once again, this time with Warren as her guest.
By now, Brown and Warren had scheduled four televised debates. As the Boston Globe had noted on June 26, “Brown has agreed to the most debates by an incumbent Massachusetts senator since Democrat incumbent John F. Kerry faced off against Republican Governor William F. Weld in 1996 for a series of eight epic debates.”
This doesn’t make Brown a good guy; incumbents tend to schedule debates if they feel they have to. But Senator Kerry didn’t schedule as many as four debates in his re-election campaigns in 2002 or 2008. Neither did Senator Kennedy in 2000 or 2006.
As of June 27, Brown had scheduled four debates—unless you were watching Maddow. Before bringing Warren on, Maddow did one of her lengthy monologues in which she continued to give the impression that Brown was ducking debates.
With apologies, we’ll post the whole thing. This will give you a sense of its length, and you can see what was said:
MADDOW (6/27/12): This was a debate held in this year’s Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, two days before they voted in their primary this year. The debate was sponsored by the Manchester Union Leader newspaper.As usual, Maddow was dissembling. This monologue followed her segment from the previous week, in which she fooled viewers into thinking that Brown was ducking all debates. (She also conned them rather badly about several other points.) In this new effort, she made it sound like Brown has pulled a bit of a scam, “do[ing] a debate on a conservative talk radio show in Boston hosted by a man who said he is a personal friend of Scott Brown and his wife.”
Now a few weeks before this debate, in January, that same newspaper hosting the debate endorsed one of these candidates in the race. They endorsed Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination. So, technically, while they were sponsoring this debate, they had a horse in the race. They had endorsed one of the candidates. Nobody much cared because that’s kind of a normal thing about debates.
Here’s a debate a couple months ago in the Austin, Texas mayor’s race, sponsored by the Austin American Statesman newspaper, which endorsed the older guy on the right there, the current mayor, the guy you just saw a second ago, him.
This was a debate held in the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race between Ted Kennedy and a guy you might have heard of named Mitt Romney. That debate was sponsored by the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. The Boston Globe endorsed Ted Kennedy that year. The Boston Herald endorsed Mitt Romney that year.
The organizations that sponsor debates sometimes also endorse one of the candidates in those debates. It happens all the time, at every level of debating.
This year in Massachusetts, U.S. Senator Scott Brown is running for re-election against Elizabeth Warren. Before Scott Brown, the seat in the Senate he currently holds now was held for decades by Ted Kennedy, by Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Asked to participate in a debate sponsored by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, Scott Brown decided there’s a new rule for debates. He said he would not participate in that Kennedy Institute debate if anybody associated with the Kennedy Institute was going to make an endorsement in the race.
Now, he didn’t just mean somebody who was going to be moderating the debate and asking the questions or anything like that. What Republican Senator Scott Brown insisted on rather was that the widow of Ted Kennedy personally be banned from making an endorsement in the Senate race because she has an association with her late husband’s institute.
To be clear, there was never any indication that Vicki Kennedy was going to be participating in the debate in any way or asking the questions or anything like that. Just because she’s associated with the institute named for her late husband, Scott Brown said he forbid her from making any endorsement in the election before the debate, after the debate, ever—all the way through to the election.
Scott Brown’s condition for accepting that debate was a personal endorsement ban on the late Ted Kennedy’s wife. If you didn’t get that, he said that debate just wouldn’t be fair.
When Ted Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, responded the way you think somebody would respond to something like that, Scott Brown said he would not participate in the debate, but he said he would like to do a debate on a conservative talk radio show in Boston hosted by a man who said he is a personal friend of Scott Brown and his wife.
So that’s where Scott Brown is tonight. He’s having a debate on a conservative talk radio show in Boston hosted by his friend. And he’s having that debate alone.
Joining us here now, without Scott Brown, is his opponent, Elizabeth Warren. She was scheduled for this interview a long time ago before it was clear he would be debating himself alone tonight. So the timing of all this, Scott Brown on his friend's radio show, and Elizabeth Warren here now, this frankly is all just a fun coincidence. Blessed be the news gods.
Elizabeth Warren, thank you so much for being with us tonight. I appreciate it.
Sorry—that was misleading. According to the Boston Globe, Brown had proposed a pair of radio debates, one with the conservative host, one with a pair of liberals. According to the Globe, it was Warren who had been dragging her heels concerning these radio sessions. On June 26, Glen Johnson reported that Warren had refused to say if she would do the radio debates until that very Monday:
JOHNSON (6/26/12): Elizabeth Warren, trying to wrest control back from Scott Brown over their debate agenda, rejected on Monday a joint appearance on WBZ radio this week while announcing her acceptance of a second regional TV debate that the incumbent senator has already said he will not attend.Maddow didn’t mention the pair of radio sessions. She made it sound like Brown had clownishly proposed just one, the one hosted by the conservative.
Brown accused her of trying to duck their first meeting by refusing the radio forum.
Warren's move comes as the Democratic challenger tries to arrange appearances that give her maximum exposure, or to embarrass Brown by forcing the Republican to reject invitations from prominent media and civic organizations in parts of the state that often feel overlooked by politicians.
It also comes after Brown accepted four televised debates initially sought by Warren, as well as two radio debates. One was to have been Wednesday with WBZ-AM host Dan Rea, while another was on an unspecified future date with WTKK-FM hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan.
Warren refused until Monday to answer whether she would accept the radio invitations, while Brown has already declared himself finished with negotiations.
Brown has agreed to the most debates by an incumbent Massachusetts senator since Democrat incumbent John F. Kerry faced off against Republican Governor William F. Weld in 1996 for a series of eight epic debates.
Maddow just isn’t real honest when dealing with folk she don't like. By now, her viewers had been played on two separate programs concerning these Bay States debates. And now, when Warren was introduced, she drafted Maddow’s lead-in.
As Warren started, a viewer might well have gotten the impression that Brown was still ducking all debates. The confusion rattled along:
WARREN (continuing directly): Thanks. It’s good to be here.“They won’t even talk about the debates!” A viewer still might get the impression that no debates had been scheduled! That would be especially likely for viewers who got conned by Maddow’s presentation one week before.
MADDOW: Has your campaign been able to sit down with Senator Brown’s campaign and hammer out terms for debates? Normally, this stuff does not all happen in public. It’s just kind of worked out, out of the spotlight.
WARREN: You know, look, I don’t get how this would have worked out, but after I got the nomination three weeks ago, for the Democratic nomination to run for the Senate, the next Monday morning, we sent an e-mail to Scott Brown’s office and said, “Gosh, we’ve got a lot of invitations for debates, we figure you’ve got a lot of invitations, let’s sit down, let’s sort them out, let’s talk them through, and let’s figure out how many debates we can do, where they’ll be. Let’s be sure we get diversity all around the state.”
And they said no! I really mean this, they called me back and said no. I said, what do you mean, no? They said no, they won’t talk about it. They won’t even talk about the debates.
So then Scott Brown’s campaign manager started accepting some debates like this one you just mentioned, and refusing others, and so the whole thing has been three weeks of kind of this public thing over debates, including the business around the Kennedy Institute. And including now two regional debates, one in Worcester and one in New Bedford down on the south, that would involve important issues and he’s said, “No, not doing them.”
So that’s where we are.
Finally, a fact flew past our ears! As is often the case on Maddow’s show, you had to listen carefully:
WARREN (continuing directly): So that’s where we are. We’ve got four television debates, which I think is good, but it took a lot of effort to get them there, and I really genuinely wish we had more because there are a lot of issues we should be talking about. I genuinely wish we were going to be in central Mass in and southern Mass, and I think it’s a mistake not to do that, but I think it’s hard to debate alone. So there we are.Say what? Maddow went back to tweaking Brown about “his friend’s radio show.” But if you listened carefully, you may have realized that you had been told that four TV debates had somehow been scheduled. But you had to listen very carefully, through two long segments, starting on June 19.
MADDOW: Right. Well, Scott Brown attempted it tonight on his friend’s radio show.
Plainly, Maddow thinks poorly of Brown—and Maddow isn’t especially honest when dealing with scumbags like that. Her June 19 segment was a pure scam. Her second segment on June 27 wasn’t a whole lot better.
We won’t say Warren was being deceptive, although she came disappointingly close. Reading the Boston Globe’s full reporting, we’d have to say Maddow was.
On June 19, Maddow disappeared the two televised debates which had already been scheduled. On June 27, she failed to tell viewers about the two radio sessions Brown had proposed, making the two sound like one.
Reading the Globe, we were surprised to see several commentators, including the editorial board, saying that Brown had been more straightforward than Warren regarding the effort to schedule debates. The editorial board even seemed to take Brown’s side regarding the proposed debate at the Kennedy Institute. (We won’t bore you with the details.)
The Boston Globe always endorses the Dem. But as we read the paper’s full reporting, we saw that we had received a highly distorted picture of these (rather trivial) events from watching Maddow’s programs.
Can this really be the way we liberals want to be served?
Candidates often fight about debate schedules. There’s nothing shocking or novel about that, though Maddow kept implying different. But Maddow’s behavior does strike us as puzzling.
Maddow tends to be rather dishonest. We’ve been puzzled by this pattern for the past several years.
Coming: Maddow on Bain