Most simply put, not honest: Rachel Maddow’s handling of the Fort Lee matter continues to warrant attention.
Last night, Maddow continued to frame events in highly prejudicial ways. By now, we would simply have to say that she is being dishonest.
Maddow ended her program with a short segment about the release of some new emails and texts. To watch the full segment, click this.
This is the way Our Own Lynch Mob began:
MADDOW (3/17/14): “At least we have explained the counter-narrative.”The text message in question was sent on November 26 of last year. The day before, Baroni had testified to a New Jersey legislative committee. In his testimony, he said the lane closings in Fort Lee were part of a traffic study.
That’s a newly released text message from former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s campaign manager at the time, Bill Stepien.
That text message is in reference to Mr. Baroni telling the New Jersey legislature that some traffic study explained why access lanes had been closed onto the George Washington Bridge. We now know that was an untrue cover story.
“We now know that was an untrue cover story,” Maddow said, putting her thumbs on the scale in a familiar fashion.
Let’s make an assumption. Let’s assume we know there was no attempt to conduct a traffic study or test in Fort Lee—none at all. Let’s assume it has been shown that David Wildstein’s alleged traffic study was always a hoax, a scam.
Plainly, that doesn’t answer a basic question: Did Baroni know, when he testified, that the alleged traffic study was a hoax, a scam?
Despite the rather obvious gap in her logic, Maddow almost always seems to suggest that it does. She almost always seems to suggest that we know that Baroni was aware that the alleged traffic study was a hoax—a mere cover story.
She has never explained how we know that at this point. But quite routinely, she keeps advancing that suggestion.
Go ahead! Watch last night’s segment; you will see this unsupported suggestion extended again. This is the way she continues:
MADDOW (continuing directly): This new exchange in these text messages comes from court filings by the New Jersey legislature. They show Bill Stepien texting Bill Baroni the day after his now proven-to-be-false testimony.Let’s note the several things Maddow has done in that passage.
He texts him, “Hey, great job yesterday. I know it’s not a fun topic and not nearly as fun as beating up on Senator Frank Lautenberg,” which is a reference to a heated exchange Bill Baroni had with Frank Lautenberg in a hearing in 2012 in the U.S. Senate.
But the text message continues, "But you did great, and I wanted to thank you."
Mr. Baroni responds, "Thanks, William”—William Stepien. "Loretta and Wiz," meaning New Jersey Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, "will keep up their nonsense, but at least we will have explained the counter-narrative."
"The counter-narrative," AKA the cover story.
So Bill Stepien, who’d been Chris Christie’s campaign manager, tells Bill Baroni “great job” about his cover story, and Bill Baroni celebrates having sold “the counter-narrative.”
First, she reiterates the claim that Baroni’s testimony about the traffic study has been “proven to be false.” Even if we assume that’s true, it once again begs the question:
Did Baroni know his testimony was false? Did he know that the alleged traffic study was a hoax, a scam?
Having glossed this basic distinction again, Maddow reads the message Baroni sent, then stresses, for the third time, that he is referring to “the cover story.” She even implies, at the end of this passage, that Stepien knowingly congratulated Baroni for presenting a cover story.
If we assume this was a cover story, that still doesn’t tell us if Baroni knew it was. Meanwhile, we know of no evidence—none at all—that suggests that Stepien knew the alleged study was a hoax, although of course he may have.
Since December, Rachel Maddow has made a career glossing these obvious distinctions. At this juncture, it seems to us there’s little point in pretending that her work should be regarded as honest, unless we assume that she is unable to draw even the most basic journalistic distinctions.
For the record, we’re not trying to tell you about the status of Baroni’s testimony. (It may turn out that his testimony was dishonest.)
Instead, we’re trying to tell you about Maddow’s work, which strikes us as plainly dishonest.
While we’re at it, might we note something about the text of Baroni’s message? In his text to Stepien, he says that Weinberg and Wisniewski “will keep up their nonsense” in spite of his testimony.
Does that mean Baroni believed that the pair’s complaints were “nonsense?” Not necessarily, no! Baroni may have been maintaining a facade for Stepien’s consumption. But it doesn’t exactly sound like Baroni and Stepien were co-conspirators at this point.
We certainly wouldn’t draw any firm conclusions from this one text message. But Maddow hurried past the part of Baroni’s message which might suggest that he and/or Stepien still may have believed that Wildstein was telling the truth, that Weinberg and Wisniewski were just peddling “nonsense.”
Maddow ignored that part of the message. Instead, she kept pounding away with the “cover story” talking point, ignoring that basic question:
If we assume the traffic study was a cover story, did Baroni understand that when he testified?
In our view, it no longer makes much sense to assume that Maddow is working in good faith. She has had more than three months to flesh out the full story here, including Wildstein’s elaborate attempts to give the impression that a traffic study or test was being conducted.
She just keeps refusing to do it. If Maddow worked for a real news org, her keister would quickly get fired.