Part 1—Maddow’s paper dolls: Rachel Maddow has been on vacation. There’s nothing “wrong” with that!
Maddow may have needed her break, which started on July 31. You see, on Wednesday night, July 30, she was (literally) playing with dolls, right there on the air.
One night before, she had played with a battery-powered remote control car. Right there on the air!
A cynic will say that Maddow was possibly trying to juice her ratings with bits of entertainment. Others will say that she may have been experimenting with alternative forms of news presentation.
We don’t know why Maddow played with the dolls and with the toy car. Nor are we going to say that she shouldn’t have done so.
We do know when the dolls appeared. On June 30, Maddow was doing her latest segment on the Bob McDonnell trial, a relatively minor news event to which she has devoted a fair amount of attention.
Six minutes into the segment, Maddow said the trial had been “amazing.” At that point, out came the dolls:
MADDOW (6/30/14): It’s been amazing stuff. It’s amazing enough that the alt weekly in Richmond, Style weekly, just published a cutout paper doll activity book for following along with the trial.To watch the entire segment, click this. The dolls appear six minutes in.
[Holds up Style weekly feature]
Look! “Paper Doll Evidence Play Time!”
That’s the Ferrari on its side, you see there? And the Rolex, right next to the wedding catering. The big wedding cake, right underneath the tower of the businessman’s supplements.
[Holds up individual dolls, pretends to speak in their voices]
“I’m Bob McDonnell.” “I’m Mrs. Bob McDonnell.”
“This is my white Ferrari. It’s just a favor.”
The corruption trial of Bob McDonnell has been incredible so far. Today was Day Three...
In our view, the McDonnell trial hasn’t been especially “incredible.” We’d say the trial has been sordid, stupid and sad, and perhaps a fair bit overblown.
The New York Times has been treating the trial as a mid-level national story. Maddow has given the trial a somewhat higher profile.
In our view, the trial hasn’t been amazing. But by Day Three, the trial of Governor Ultrasound and his wife had reduced Maddow to (literally) playing with dolls.
Her 14-minute segment got even stranger after that. Maddow complained, rather bitterly, that the national press corps was trying to help the McDonnells beat the rap.
“The press is bending over backwards to help the McDonnell legal defense,” Maddow said as she ended her segment. “You’re being played,” she angrily told her unnamed colleagues, two times.
Had the press been behaving that way? Maddow’s argument made no discernible sense, and she had started by playing with dolls. The night before, she had been playing with a remote control toy car.
In our view, Maddow probably shouldn’t be playing with dolls on the air. That said, her anger about the press corps’ behavior really grabbed our attention.
There too, she seemed to be playing with dolls. We’ll examine her charges tomorrow.
For us, Maddow’s focus on recent botched executions has been another point of interest. In our view, it’s of a piece with her anger at the press—and with her somewhat obsessive focus on the McDonnell trial.
Can we talk? All around us, we think we see the stars of our (corporate) liberal news orgs playing with assortments of dolls. On that recent Wednesday night, Maddow made the practice official.
For many years, we liberals were silent as the right-wing machine and the mainstream press spread an assortment of frameworks and charges. After Iraq, we liberals finally began to pipe up—and it turned out that we may not be especially skilled at communicating with voters.
Maddow’s ratings haven’t been great. (That isn’t a measure of quality.) In our view, her topic selection is often peculiar, sometimes to the point of concern.
On that pre-vacation Wednesday, Maddow was (literally) playing with dolls. But then, we think we see people playing with dolls in quite a few of our emerging liberal venues.
Is it good when progressives play with dolls? We’ll tackle that question all week.
Tomorrow: Maddow’s charges about the press. Also, a Dick Nixon doll!
Fun with cars:: On July 29, Maddow played with a remote control toy car.
To watch her warm-up segment with the toy car, just click this. (It only takes 34 seconds.) For her full segment with the car, click here.