The things you were never told: On Wednesday, three individuals were charged with crimes stemming from their alleged conduct in the Flint water mess.
That evening, Rachel Maddow reported these charges. In the passage shown below, she continued to build her cartoonized version of what happened in Flint.
Can you spot a few thumbs on the scale?
MADDOW (4/20/16): Today, these first charges, it turned out they were brought by the state attorney general in a big, splashy press conference, with tons of media there, the state attorney general himself making the announcement, giving a big speech. He's widely known to have higher political aspirations in the state of Michigan.According to Maddow, the attorney general—he's a Republican— announced these charges "in a big, splashy press conference." But then, he's "widely known to have higher political aspirations in the state of Michigan."
If today's press conference about these criminal charges felt like kind of a well-staged political event, that probably was not by accident. The three people who were charged today, they were, as you probably expected, they were fairly low-level folks, one engineer and one supervisor from a state agency and one guy from Flint who worked at the water treatment plant.
But in addition to being low-level government officials, there's also a sense in which these guys were the low hanging fruit in terms of criminal culpability.
Attorney General Bill Schuette today went out of his way to praise and thank and talk up the skills ands credentials of his crack investigating team that he formed on this matter. And this is not to take anything away from them, but all three of these people who were charged today, the things they were charged for are all things that have been basically reported out in great detail in public by journalists in Michigan.
The allegations against these three low level public officials, they're now spelled out in a criminal indictment from the attorney general, but they were first spelled out in great detail in the public domain.
If his press conference "felt like kind of a well-staged political event," that probably wasn't an accident! And not only that. "As you probably expected," the three people who were charged "were fairly low-level folks."
Maddow offered one more grumbling semi-complaint. The actions for which these people were charged "have been reported in great detail in public by journalists in Michigan," Maddow said. The allegations were being spelled out by the attorney general, "but they were first spelled out in great detail in the public domain."
Not that Maddow was trying to take anything away from the attorney general, or from his team!
Rachel Maddow has the soul of a propagandist. Since December, she has been treating Flint as one of her favorite cartoons. She seems annoyed by anything that doesn't fit the cartoon she's been drawing, in which a mustachio-twirling Governor Snyder engaged in cartoon-level criminal conduct from beginning to end.
Might we state the obvious? It's common in prosecutions of various types to charge the lower-level participants first. Beyond that, if the alleged misconduct by these three people has been widely described in the press, it isn't hard to see why they would have been charged.
In the course of his big, splashy, well-staged press conference, the attorney general said these charges were just the start. It remains to be seen if anyone else will be charged. It remains to be seen if Tuesday's charges will be upheld in court.
For today, we thought you ought to consider something else Maddow said Tuesday night. After her initial grumbling and spinning, she interviewed Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the Michigan ACLU who has been deeply involved in this matter.
Uh-oh! Guyette said he's been impressed by the work of Attorney General Schuette's team, by whom he has been interviewed.
("The people he brought in to really conduct the investigations independently have really, really good reputations," Guyette said. "I was one of the person they talked to because of the work that we had done. And they were very thorough. I really got a good opinion of what they were doing as far as the state attorney general's office." It sounds like Guyette has been turned!)
Guyette was interviewed by Schuette's team because of his investigative work concerning the water disaster. During her opening presentation, Maddow played videotape of an interview Guyette conducted with one of the people who have now been charged.
For ourselves, we're never happy when people get themselves into serious trouble. But in this videotaped interview with Guyette, Flint water supervisor Mike Glasgow seems to acknowledge substantial wrongdoing:
GUYETTE: How were you able to determine that every single house had a lead service line?For the videotape of Maddow's first segment, just click here. The Guyette/Glasgow interview occurs at 7:30.
GLASGOW: We're not, really. We throw bottles out everywhere just to collect as many as we can to try to hit a number. And that's why, we just turn in every result that we get in.
GUYETTE: You indicated on those reports that all those lines were lead service lines—
GLASGOW: To the best of our knowledge.
GUYETTE: When you didn't have actual documentation for each house where you put that down.
GLASGOW: Yes, we're still looking for the records.
Regarding that interview, Oof. Once the problem began, Glasgow seems to have been involved in falsifying inspection records.
Guyette does not seem amused on that tape. That said, here's the problem:
According to Maddow, all the conduct for which Glasgow and the two others were charged has been "reported out in great detail in public by journalists in Michigan." Their conduct has been "spelled out in great detail in the public domain."
Here's the problem:
According to the Nexis archives, Glasgow's name has never been mentioned on the Maddow Show. A cynic would tell you why:
Glasgow was an employee of Flint. He didn't work for Governor Snyder, the cartoon villain Maddow has been cartoonishly trying to hang.
Can we mention two other names you've never heard on the Maddow Show? We refer to Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, the two state workers who were criminally charged this week along with Glasgow.
How odd! According to Maddow, the alleged misconduct by these three people has been laboriously described in the Michigan press. (Presumably, the videotape of Glasgow speaking with Guyette may have been available.) But how strange! Maddow has never mentioned their names or told you what they apparently did.
A cynic could explain that omission. In reality, Maddow has been pretending to report what happened in Flint. In reality, she has been offering viewers a deeply selective cartoon, in which she has been carefully sifting the information we are allowed to hear.
She hasn't interviewed Professor Edwards, or even told you what he has said about what happened in Flint. (Edwards has said that state employees were systematically lying to others in the state government and to the EPA. That doesn't fit Maddow's cartoon.)
Maddow hasn't been willing to tell you what Edwards has said. Beyond that, she hasn't reported the apparent conduct of the three people who got charged, none of whom are Snyder hacks.
Can we talk? Ever since the start of Flint, Maddow has been crafting her latest cartoon, aiming her narrative at one of her long-time favorite villains. At this point, cartoonizing favorite demons is pretty much all Maddow does.
Maddow shouldn't be on the air. She's tremendously skilled at selling herself, much less than obsessively honest regarding everything else.
In our view, Maddow needs help. So do her misused viewers.