Maddow’s strange meltdown continues: In our view, it’s understandable, though not especially wise—many liberals are displeased by criticism of Rachel Maddow.
The reaction is understandable. That said, Maddow continues to spiral downward, in her manic presentation and in her basic facts. Consider her ginormous misrepresentation of fact on last evening’s eponymous show, accompanied by the standard doses of clowning, snark and snide.
Fairly late in last night’s program, Maddow teased her final segment. She said that Fox had been confronted with some “uncomfortable or damaging numbers.”
How had Fox reacted to those numbers, which hadn’t been specified yet? Maddow said the channel was engaged in “a fantastical reimagining of what the real numbers actually mean:”
MADDOW (10/29/14): I’m not sure they know what they’re doing is very funny, but it is, in fact, very funny when you see them do it. If you know somebody who watches Fox, this is what they’re being told right now is the state of the country.Great! We were going to get some funny tape of what Fox viewers are being told is the state of the country.
That story, and the funny tape of it happening live on TV, is next.
As the segment in question began, we learned that Maddow was referring to the nation’s low gas prices. Quite correctly, she noted that conservative pundits, including many on Fox, trashed Obama in 2012 because gas prices were high.
She even played tape of Candidate Romney saying that Obama “gets full credit or blame for what’s happened...to gasoline prices under his watch.”
That’s a fairly silly notion, of course. But back then, Romney said it!
Now that gas prices are low, how is “Fox” handling the subject? According to Maddow, “Fox”—by which she seemed to mean Stuart Varney—was saying that low gas prices are harmful to the economy!
For the record, Varney is one of the most ridiculous pundits on Fox, but he’s a relatively minor player. At present, he hosts the 11 AM weekday show on the Fox Business Network, with occasional horrible guest spots on Fox News itself.
Varney is a frequent nightmare. Increasingly, so is Maddow. As she continued, she showed a chyron from Varney’s program. Plainly, the chyron said this:
“CHEAP GAS HURTS ECONOMY?”
Just in case you're wondering, yes. The question mark was there.
On the basis of that, and that alone, Maddow proceeded to what you see below, clowning as she went. Warning! What follows is grossly inaccurate:
MADDOW (10/29/14): Republicans have been saying forever that President Obama is responsible for gas prices, right? There’s Mitt Romney saying President Obama gets the full credit or blame for gas prices.To watch the full segment, click here.
OK, so credit then, right? The president is supposed to get credit for low gas prices now, right? A week before the election?
That’s a problem for the right. But don’t worry, Fox has got it covered. On the business version of Fox News, look at their headline on this story about the unusually low gas prices right now. Look at this. Ha! [Banging on table in hilarity] “Cheap gas hurts economy?” Ha-HA!
This is genius. This was flagged by the website Media Matters.
Fox has now decided that actually looooooow gas prices are a threat to America! Is President Obama purposefully tanking the economy with these unconscionably loooow gas prices?
Hey, we report, you decide!
Fox has now decided that low gas prices are a bad thing. Obama and his low gas prices hurting the economy. Presto change-o! Problem fixed!
Maddow went on to moralize about what “the right”—by which she apparently means Stuart Varney—could or should have done. “The right could have just decided they just don’t believe low gas prices,” she said. “They could have decided the numbers were cooked.
“But this is even easier,” she said. “The low gas prices exist, but now they’re bad.”
Somehow, Maddow had jumped from Varney’s ambiguous chyron all the way to “Fox” and “the right.” On the basis of one chyron, we were learning what Fox is now telling “half the country.”
Unfortunately, Maddow was completely wrong about what Varney had said. What follows is becoming a nightly occurrence on Maddow’s increasingly strange TV program.
What had Varney actually said about our low gas prices? In fact, he spoke with a guest, Anthony Scaramucci, about a Wall Street Journal report which said that $3 gas “carries rewards—and risks.”
Varney and Scaramucci both came down on the side of rewards. As a courtesy, we’ll guess that Maddow had no idea what Varney had actually said on his show. But here’s the relevant transcript, drawn from the actual tape:
VARNEY (10/28/14): We’ve been trumpeting the virtues of low gas, low oil prices. The Wall Street Journal this morning says gas at three dollars carries rewards and risk. It says you get down too low and American producers stop producing and that’s bad for the economy. You go with that?It isn’t the biggest deal in the world. But Varney hadn’t said anything like the words Maddow crammed in his mouth. As he closed the segment in question, Varney said the low gas prices would be good for the economy. At the start of that transcript, he says that he has been “trumpeting the virtues of low gas prices” all along.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think there’s an efficient frontier. So I’m not exactly sure what that number is...
What I think is critical for the economy, though, is if you look at the average consumer, Stuart, below making $50,000 a year, their energy costs are roughly 21 percent of their disposable income. That’s two times more than it was in 2001 and that’s crimped the economy and that’s stalled the consumption for the middle class and the lower middle class.
So this decrease in gas prices is going to be very good for the Christmas season. It’s good for Walmart, it’s good for Macy’s, I also think it’s good for Costco.
And so, net-net, I take the position that it’s better for the economy because of the consumption value there.
VARNEY: I’m with you. Anthony Scaramucci!
Everybody makes mistakes, but Maddow is now committing these groaners pretty much every night. It only gets worse if you see the way she clowns and cavorts through her bungled reports, trashing “Fox” for misstating facts even as she does the very same thing.
This segment was the latest embarrassment. A few extraneous factors make it even worse.
For starters, Maddow made an even bigger blunder about what “Fox” is saying on last Friday’s program. We’ll discuss that groaner tomorrow.
Second, consider the matter of the chyron under which Maddow herself performed:
“WHAT YOUR UNCLE WHO WATCHES FOX ALL DAY IS UPSET ABOUT NOW”
This extended a tasteless hook which Maddow introduced, in unpleasant fashion, on last Friday’s program. We’ll discuss that tomorrow too.
In fairness to Maddow, Media Matters badly blundered here too. Because Maddow cited them as her source, we looked to see what they had posted.
All they had was Varney’s chyron, minus the question mark. There was no sign that Media Matters checked to see what Varney actually said.
Maddow took their bullshit and ran. As she closed the embarrassing segment, this is the pablum she fed to us, her hapless viewers:
MADDOW: If you don’t watch Fox on a regular basis, I understand.Is that really what half the country is being told? In fact, Varney said nothing like that. And he was her only example!
But it is important to know this is what half the country is being told this is the news right now about the election with six days to go. Be mad about the low gas prices! They’re hurting the economy!
That does it for us tonight. We’ll see you again tomorrow.
Something seems to be wrong with Maddow. As we’ll continue to note tomorrow, something is wrong with her show.