On May 25, it got worse: Did Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe receive unlawful campaign contributions? Did he do something else that was wrong?
Everything is always possible! That includes the obvious possibility that murky claims about an FBI probe of McAuliffe represent the latest ginned-up, campaign-year attack on Clinton, Clinton and Gore.
The murky claim of the fuzzy probe surfaced on May 23. Needless to say, the murky claim was based on anonymous sources.
A decent, mature and responsible journalist would want to be extremely careful about this sort of fuzzy campaign-year claim. A halfway intelligent liberal journalist would be especially wary, given the history of ginned up probes of Clinton, Clinton and Gore.
That's how a responsible person would act. Instead, we got the gruesome reaction of Rachel Maddow, corporate cable TV's self-adoring clown.
Maddow is frequently called "The Nun" because of her silly faux prudishness and her desire to punish. To Maddow, accusation equals conviction—and the rumor of a possible probe is equal to an accusation.
On the ridiculous Maddow Show, it's been this way for years.
Maddow has been "hanging them high" on her program for years. On May 23, she leaped into action, hanging McAuliffe high with a set of snarky insinuations of his obvious guilt.
Two nights later, she staged a segment about McAuliffe which was even dumber and worse.
Maddow's presentation on May 23 was, in itself, bad enough. Snarkily, she implied that the new report meant that the state of Virginia is just as corrupt as Illinois! To review our prior report, click here.
That was more than bad enough. But after Maddow's insinuations were done, she spoke with the Washington Post's Matt Zapotosky. Arguably, the young Post scribe was even worse than Maddow had been.
The interview started like this. So far, nothing was awful:
MADDOW (5/23/16): Joining us now is Matt Zapotosky, who covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post national security team..."There's a lot we don't know," Zapotosky said. He proceeded to describe his "understanding of the investigation."
So do we know anything more specific about why the FBI started this investigation or what specifically it is that they're looking into with McAuliffe?
ZAPOTOSKY: There's a lot we don't know. We know they started this investigation over a year ago, which is quite a long time. And what they're looking at is a series, not just that one contribution you mentioned, but a series of campaign contributions that Governor McAuliffe got. They're also looking at his personal finances.
My understanding of the investigation is they're looking to see if there was any kind of public corruption, that there was a quid pro quo that he got something, whether it was money on a personal account or a campaign contribution and then specifically related to that, he did something official for somebody. It's a tough thing to prove, but that's my understanding of what they're looking at.
Let's just say that his understanding didn't seem extensive.
A sensible journalist would want to be careful with something as fuzzy as this. Rachel Maddow isn't that kind of person. Instead, as she routinely does, she continued hanging him high:
MADDOW (continuing directly): And that in Virginia screams Bob McDonnell, who is currently appealing his conviction to the Supreme Court.Truly, that's pathetic. Although she knew nothing about this alleged probe, she quickly linked McAuliffe to another governor who had been convicted of a crime. This extended the insinuations Maddow had offered before Zapotosky came on.
McDonnell's conviction may yet get overturned. Even that didn't inspire Maddow to be a bit careful in her insinuations about this new alleged murky probe.
Having said that, let's be fair! As she continued, Maddow noted that Zapotosky's report for the Post said "there's skepticism among prosecutors among whether this is ultimately going to lead to charges."
You'd almost think that might have kept Maddow from indulging in her earlier insinuations!
But Maddow doesn't work that way. Sadly enough, Zapotosky doesn't either.
His comments here are barely coherent. They're also highly insinuative:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Matt, one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you tonight is that, in your report on this for the Washington Post, you said there's skepticism among prosecutors among whether this is ultimately going to lead to charges. What can you tell me about that?Zapotosky's meaning was a bit hard to discern. That said, we were struck by his final construction:
ZAPOTOSKY: Well, look, Terry McAuliffe is a wealthy guy. He has a lot of financial transactions that have been reported on in the past. I think there's some skepticism among the people handling this investigation that there could be some type of quid pro quo.
You know, if you have a lot of money going into your campaign or into your personal bank accounts from a variety of sources, including foreign sources, I think that raises people's suspicions, particularly when you're in, you know, when you're in public office. But there is some skepticism, among the people who are kind of overseeing this investigation, as to whether there will be enough to substantiate criminal wrongdoing.
In the McDonnell case, they said that, in exchange for all this money from a businessman named Johnny Williams, the governor lended a lot of official help. That may be harder to prove with Terry McAuliffe.
McDonnell had been judged to have committed a crime, Zapotosky said. But "that may be harder to prove with Terry McAuliffe!"
It may be harder to prove? Is it possible that it will be "harder to prove" because it didn't happen? There was no sign that this possibility had entered these strivers' heads.
Zapotosky didn't seem to know a whole lot about this alleged investigation. Still, he used the insinuative language of the hanging judge.
In the final Q-and-A, the interview reached peak cluelessness. Here's how the twin ingenues left things:
MADDOW (continuing directly): One last question for you, Matt. In the terms of the way this story got to press today, obviously, it was a number of different news sources have been able to confirm it, including NBC News, including the Washington Post. Is there any story about why this has become public information?Imagining no evil, the Post scribe said he "didn't know that there's anything really funny about this coming to light." Neither of these clueless wonders imagined that the "investigation" might perhaps have anonymously "come to light" as a way to smear McAuliffe and, by extension, the Clinton presidential campaign.
Obviously, no charges have been filed. There's been no formal announcement from the FBI. It strikes me as interesting that the governor himself had never been notified that he was target of an investigation.
Anything unusual about this coming to light in the way it did today?
ZAPOTOSKY: You know, I think a lot of investigations come to light before people in the Justice Department or the FBI would want them to. And I don't know that there's anything really funny about this coming to light. If anything, it surprises me that they were able to keep things quiet for over a year.
MADDOW: Matt Zapotosky, a reporter with the Washington Post. Matt, thanks for helping us understand this ongoing story.
All in all, this was an unfortunate presentation. Through her typical snarky asides, Maddow slimed the state of Virginia first, then slimed McAuliffe himself.
Virginia was just like Illinois! McAuliffe was just like McDonnell!
Maddow was too clueless to imagine nefarious motives for the leak of the alleged probe, which doesn't seem to have gotten very far. In her standard role as a hanging judge, "The Nun" doesn't think that way.
Aside from Fox's Megyn Kelly, Maddow led all cable purveyors in pimping this extremely murky story this night. CNN and the rest of Fox barely mentioned this topic at all. If anything, Kelly was more fair to McAuliffe—and Maddow's worst was yet to come.
Tomorrow, we'll review the ridiculous clowning Maddow aimed at McAuliffe two nights later. Especially from a "liberal" corporate news star, Maddow's clowning on May 25 was a gong-show and a disgrace.
The First Amendment protects such clowns. On the bright side, The Nun has gotten very rich hanging the evildoers high and flashing her big orange shoes.
Tomorrow: May 25. No, we aren't making this up