How honest should Maddow be: Yecch. Let’s finish last week’s opus with a question:
How honest should Maddow be?
Our question is inspired by the presentation we’re posting below. Like the various groaners we discussed last week, it comes from Rachel Maddow’s program on Thursday, March 27.
The Mastro report had been released that morning. That evening, Maddow devoted most of her program to the Mastro report.
As we showed you last week, she made an array of major “mistakes” that night. In the passage below, Maddow discussed, or pretended to discuss, one part of the Mastro report’s presentation about Fort Lee.
(For our first report on this topic, click here. For our second report, click this.)
As she started this presentation, Maddow cited some new information from the Mastro report. It concerns something Bridget Kelly did the night before she sent her famous email to David Wildstein.
As she started, Maddow discussed what Kelly did that night, then drew a possible conclusion. So far, this all made sense:
MADDOW (3/27/14): We also learned one important new detail about why, at least maybe why, all of this happened in the first place.So far, this makes perfect sense.
You remember the damning e-mail that’s become the most famous thing about this story, right? “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
That e-mail was sent by Bridget Kelly on the very early morning of August 13th.
Well now, according to this new report from the governor’s lawyers, we have brand new information about what, at least contemporaneously, at least on the timeline, what might have caused Bridget Kelly to send that e-mail when she did.
Remember, this e-mail was sent the morning of August 13th. It was sent roughly 7:30 in the morning.
Now we know that, 7:30 in the evening the night before, Bridget Kelly reportedly called a member of Governor Christie’s campaign staff who was in a diner in Jersey City at the time.
She called the staffer and asked, according to the report, about the status of Mayor Mark Sokolich’s potential endorsement—Mayor Sokolich, of course, the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Bridget Kelly, the night before she sent that e-mail, called a campaign staffer and asked whether Mayor Sokolich of Fort Lee was going to endorse Governor Christie.
The staffer responded that the mayor was not going to endorse Governor Christie. Kelly responded, in sum or substance, that that was all she needed to know. And then, 12 hours later, she sent that e-mail, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
So that kind of makes it seem like, hmm, maybe it was the endorsement issue. Maybe it was that lack of an endorsement from the mayor of Fort Lee that was the impetus for this whole thing. She called to check, to see, whether or not he was endorsing Chris Christie. She heard no.
“All right. That’s all I need to know.” Twelve hours later, she orders, time for some traffic problems in his town. That’s a new detail.
On August 12, Kelly inquired about the status of Sokolich’s endorsement. She was told that he wasn’t going to endorse.
She sent her famous email to Wildstein the following morning.
To Maddow, “that kind of makes it seem like” maybe it was the endorsement issue which led to the traffic lane closings. And of course, that certainly could be the case.
The problem comes in the passage which follows. In this presentation, Maddow withholds other new information from the Mastro report. On that basis, she rolls her eyes at one of the report’s conclusions—a conclusion she overstates.
How honest should Maddow be when she broadcasts her show? Assuming basic competence, this doesn’t look super honest:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Now, as soon as they give us that detail, rather inexplicably, the new report from Christie’s lawyers—they give us that crucial new piece of information, and then they conclude this. Look:For starters, the Mastro report does not “assure us that the endorsement had nothing to do with” the lane closings. Even the passage Maddow quoted doesn’t go that far—and that passage is found in an endnote, not in the body of the report, which leaves the lack of endorsement on the table as the possible motive.
“The lane closures, the lane realignment, based on all available evidence, does not appear to have been based on Mayor Sokolich’s decision not to endorse the governor.”
Really? Except for the fact that she called to confirm that he wouldn’t endorse right before she said, “Oh, he’s not endorsing? That’s all I need to know. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
They give us that information and then assure us that the endorsement had nothing to do with it.
In its strongest statement, the body of the report says “it seems unlikely that political retaliation for Sokolich’s unwillingness to endorse could have been the true objective of the lane realignment” (our emphasis). And yes—despite what Maddow said, the Mastro report gives an explanation for that judgment
In fact, the Mastro report explains its judgment about possible motive in some detail. In the process, it seems to provide a batch of new information.
For whatever reason, Maddow chose to omit the explanation and the new information. She then seemed to say that no explanation was given.
Why does the Mastro report cast doubt on the lack of endorsement as the real motivation? In some detail, the report says that the Christie administration had known as early as March 2013 that Sokolich wouldn’t be endorsing the governor—and that the administration continued to have good relations with the mayor.
Kelly’s email was sent almost five months later, and outreach to the mayors was her major area. On this basis, the Mastro report said it “seemed unlikely” that Sokolich’s failure to endorse was the true motivation for the lane closings, or the real source of the animus Kelly seemed to have toward the mayor.
Why did Kelly send that email? Why did she seem angry with Sokolich? Like Maddow, we have no idea. But in the passage we’ve posted above, Maddow disappeared a bunch of new information from the Mastro report, then acted as if no explanation had been given for its judgment about motivation.
Like so much she said that night, this just wasn’t true.
The Mastro report involves a lot of terrible work. If anything, Maddow’s performance may have been worse.
When you turn on Maddow’s show, how honest do you think she should be? How much are you owed?
Concerning that August 12 phone call: If the endorsement wasn’t the cause of the animus, why did Kelly make that phone call on August 12?
Who knows? Maybe some other offence has occurred, and she was double-checking the endorsement, reasoning that she wouldn’t retaliate against an ally.
The Mastro report says it doesn’t know what the cause of the animus was. Maddow doesn’t know the cause, and we don’t know the cause either.
We do know this—the Mastro report explains its reasoning in some detail, presenting a chunk of apparent new information in the process. Maddow disappeared that apparent new information, then acted like no explanation had been given at all.
As we’ve told you in the past, Maddow just isn’t obsessively honest. We think the public deserves something better from their big TV stars.