A bizarre reaction from Maddow: Last week, for unknown reasons, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal seem to have asked a strange poll question as part of their joint national poll.
Below, you see the question they apparently asked. We got the text of the question from Polling Report:
“If a Republican primary for president were being held today, which one of the following candidates would you favor: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Ben Carson or Donald Trump, or would you vote for one of the other candidates that were mentioned in the previous question?”Can you see why that question was strange? The question included the names of ten Republican candidates. Candidate Kasich wasn’t included.
Early this week, Fox News decided it wouldn’t use the results from this NBC/WSJ poll when it determined which ten candidates would participate in this evening’s debate. It was one of the five most recent polls, but Fox decided not to use it.
On Tuesday afternoon, selection day, Fox posted an explanation for its decision to bypass the NBC/WSJ poll. If we actually want to be honest, this explanation actually makes perfect sense:
FOX NEWS DECISION DESK (8/4/15): We did not include the highly-respected NBC/WSJ poll, which is the fifth most recent poll, only because it did not meet our criterion that the poll read the names of each Republican candidate in the vote question. We would note, however, even though their ballot question included Perry but did not name Kasich, the unaided “Kasich” response tied the aided “Perry” response. In short, their results are consistent with the results of the other polls in our review, and consistent with the resulting placement in the Fox News debate.As noted, and just for the record, Kasich tied Perry in the NBC/WSJ poll, even though his name wasn’t included in the question respondents were asked. In other recent polls, with both names included, he has outperformed Perry.
In its report, Fox said it didn’t want to use a poll which handicapped one candidate that way. So it didn’t use the NBC News/WSJ poll. It used a slightly earlier Quinnipiac poll instead.
That decision makes perfect sense. Or at least, it seemed to make perfect sense until Rachel Maddow went on the air a few hours later, staging a 2500-word meltdown about the way Fox had decided to “rig” the selection of Kasich.
In what follows, we aren’t discussing the wisdom of limiting the GOP debate to ten candidates. For ourselves, we don’t think that’s a horrible decision, and it seems to be what the RNC wants, for reasons which aren’t insane.
You may see it differently. But that isn’t what we’re discussing here.
We’re discussing Maddow’s epic meltdown over the decision to bypass a poll which omitted Kasich’s name from the list of candidates. More specifically, we’re discussing Maddow’s failure to report Fox’s stated reason for making that decision.
Make no mistake. It seems fairly clear Maddow had seen Fox’s explanation—or at least, the staffer who wrote her monologue had. During her lengthy diatribe, Maddow actually quoted part of the explanation by Fox which we’ve posted above.
Later, the Maddow staff emailed Mediaite about this manifest nonsense. They made no attempt to claim that they hadn’t seen Fox’s full explanation.
Did Fox have a good reason for dumping the NBC News/WSJ poll? In our view, they did.
Your opinion might differ; that isn’t the point. The point is this:
In a 2500-word screed in which Maddow called Fox every name in the book, she never reported Fox’s explanation. She withheld that info from her fans, the so-called Maddowsketeers.
Maddow kept saying that Fox had “rigged” the outcome. Indeed, “it’s kind of being rigged in plain sight,” she excitedly said.
On several occasions, she said that Fox’s decision was “inexplicable.” This is one example:
MADDOW (8/4/15): In that Quinnipiac poll, John Kasich beats Rick Perry 5-2, beats him by a lot. Fox News inexplicably picked that poll and threw out the one where those guys were tied, apparently arbitrarily throwing out the NBC poll and picking Quinnipiac instead, even though Quinnipiac is not one of the five most recent.To watch the whole segment, click this.
Bypassing the NBC/WSJ poll was “inexplicable” and “arbitrary,” Maddow kept telling her viewers. She never reported the obvious problem with the NBC/WSJ poll—the problem Fox had cited as its reason.
“This is nuts. I can’t believe they did this,” Maddow said at one point.
“I can’t—I honestly can’t believe they did this,” she said a bit later on.
Eventually, here’s the way she described Fox’s explanation for the terrible thing it had done. A very basic point was strangely missing in action:
MADDOW: I mean, this is the part where I would say, “Oh, you sneaky bastards.” It’s not at all sneaky, though. This is all happening, it’s kind of being rigged in plain sight.In that passage, Maddow mentioned several parts of Fox’s full post of explanation. She only omitted the relevant part, in which Fox noted that Kasich’s name had not been included in the NBC/WSJ poll.
I mean, after they announced tonight, they had an explanation for what they did. After they announced tonight who was going to be in the debate and announced the five polls that they used to come up with their debate participants, and they weren’t the five most recent polls—
After they made those announcements tonight, they also, for the first time, tonight, retroactively announced brand-new criteria they had never publicly explained before, which they say justify why they didn’t include what they call “the highly respected NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.”
We’re just learning from them today that Fox believes that that poll doesn’t meet a previously unannounced Fox News criteria for the exact manner in which the candidates’ names had to be read to poll respondents, and in what order and using what titles. This has never previously been announced as part of how Fox would decide which polls they were going to include and which polls they not include.
They just said it today, for the first time, as a retroactive explanation for why they were not including the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, even though it was one of the five most recent polls.
But apparently, it’s done now! They didn’t take the five most recent polls. They took five of the six most recent polls that, when averaged, would show that Rick Perry was being excluded from the debates thanks to more than a one percentage point difference between him and the other candidates in the polls, instead of a less than one percentage point difference between him and the other candidates in the polls, which is which would have happened if Fox News had run this process the way they announced it would be. And that would look terrible for them and so they made sure that would never happen.
Maddow speculated wildly about Fox’s motive for dumping the NBC/WSJ poll. She speculated that Fox wanted Kasich to outscore Perry by more than one point, not by less than one point.
In the process, she called Fox every name in the book. She went on and on, and on and on, in an opening segment which lasted 13 minutes and 35 seconds.
But good grief! She never explained the reason Fox gave for dumping the NBC/WSJ poll! She never explained that the poll had included Perry’s name while excluding Kasich’s.
In 13 minutes and 35 seconds, Maddow never said that.
On Monday and Tuesday nights of this week, Maddow completed three solid months of obsessing about the size of the field for this first debate, while complaining about the conduct of Fox News.
She also continued deceiving her viewers. On Tuesday night, she kept saying that Fox was ruining the election by using only ten debaters, while failing to say that CNN plans to do the same thing in the second debate.
She also kept ignoring a string of important news topics. The Planned Parenthood videotapes? The Voting Rights Act? The nature of recent police shootings? None of these topics can be analyzed or discussed on the Maddow program.
Instead, the program’s host has spent night after night, for three solid months, obsessing about this ridiculous matter—and let’s just say that her presentations have often been less than obsessively honest.
That said, Maddow’s harangue about the NBC/WSJ poll seemed crazy even for her.
One can always imagine that Maddow and her staff simply failed to understand Fox’s explanation. We can imagine that they read Fox’s post too quickly, that they missed the part about Kasich’s name having been omitted.
But uh-oh! To peruse her staff’s legalistic response to Mediaite, you can just click here. Even after Mediaite inquired about this specific matter, staffers trod the narrow path, making no claim of ignorance.
As the weeks and months have gone by, we have wondered more and more if some sort of mental health issue might be affecting this cable “news” program. If you watch the videotape of this segment, you might see what we mean.
Tomorrow, we’ll end the week with the manifest craziness which consumed Monday’s entire program. In our view, the suits at this corporate cable channel ought to be concerned.