Part 5—Making those kids go away: Yesterday, a certain special counsel issued 32 new indictments.
The indictments were aimed at former Trumpkins Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. On The Rachel Maddow Show, this action by special counsel Mueller made the rest of the world go away.
Make no mistake—Mueller's action constituted a genuine news event. In the New York Times and the Washington Post, news reports about the indictments appear above the fold on today's front pages, though they're on the left hand side of the page.
By normal reckoning, these news reports are positioned as the second most important reports of the day. That said, Michael Schmidt's report in the Times runs 1119 words. A huge array of other topics are reported within the paper.
That isn't the way this event was played on The Rachel Maddow Show. On The Maddow Show, the new indictments ate roughly three-fourths of the cable star's minutes last night.
The cable star discussed the indictments long into the night, offering her usual array of unreliable speculations. As she talked and talked and talked, the rest of the world went away.
How much time did Maddow devote to these tribally thrilling indictments? Answer:
Her opening monologue ran 25 minutes. After her first commercial break, she devoted seven additional minutes to a pair of largely pointless interviews about the indictments.
As such, Maddow spent roughly 32 minutes on the new indictments. By our count, she appeared for roughly 45 minutes in all, excluding commercial breaks.
(It was "a very, very, very busy news night," Maddow said at one point, as she typically does. "Stay with us." The way she clung to that one topic conveyed a different impression.)
Maddow devoted the bulk of last night's program to the new indictments. Along the way, she offered her latest shaky speculation, this time concerning the reason why Manafort took his job as head of the Trump campaign without receiving pay.
Admittedly, Maddow's speculation was pleasing and fun, though it didn't exactly seem to make chronological sense. It made us think of the failed speculation on which she'd wasted everyone's time in the week before last night's program.
So cool! Last Thursday, CNN was reporting some BREAKING NEWS. At this point, it looks like the thrilling report was false, but it was way cool at the time.
CNN's alleged BREAKING NEWS concerned Rick Gates. Because it involved the thrill of The Chase. a certain major cable star wanted to tell you about it:
MADDOW (2/15/18): I mentioned at the top here that there was some important breaking news on the Mueller investigation, that actually relates to Rick Gates, who was the deputy chairman of the Trump inauguration, the very unusual Trump inaugural committee, as well as being the deputy campaign chairman of the Trump campaign.Are you able to follow that so far? According to this manifest idiot, the rumblings had made it seem like maybe Gates was dropping his legal team. Or that maybe he was possibly getting dropped by them!
Rick Gates was arrested in October and charged with multiple felonies alongside Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. They`ve been rumblings for a while that there might be something going on.
In Gates' criminal case, he had dumped the first lawyer who was representing him. For a couple of weeks now, there have been some intriguing and mostly secret court proceedings that made it seem like maybe he was either dropping or getting dropped by his second legal team as well.
That's what the rumblings had made it "seem like maybe!" At this point, the major star cut to the thrilling new chase:
MADDOW (continuing directly) CNN's Katelyn Polantz was first to report that a third legal team led by veteran Washington scandal lawyer Tom Green might be taking over Rick Gates' representation and potentially negotiating a whole new relationship between Rick Gates and the prosecutor Robert Mueller.So cool! CNN even had one super-intriguing detail! Please don't touch that dial!
Well, tonight, Polantz at CNN is first to report, based on multiple sources, that Rick Gates, the president's deputy campaign manager, is in fact about to flip and become a cooperating witness for Robert Mueller.
Mueller has already obtained a guilty plea and a cooperation agreement from Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and from Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn. If he also gets Trump's deputy campaign chair, who was on the campaign longer than Paul Manafort was, he was still there after Manafort got fired, he was an integral part of the presidential transition, he was number two in charge of the Trump inauguration, he was a frequent presence in the White House for the first months of this administration—if he flips, this would be the biggest development that we could see, publicly at least, in the Mueller investigation since Flynn and Papadopoulos announced that they would become cooperating witnesses.
Again, NBC News has not confirmed this reporting. This is CNN's story at this point, but they're citing multiple sources and they've got one super-intriguing, super-specific detail about what has happened legally already between Robert Mueller and Rick Gates. It's a detail that we're definitely going to need an expert to explain.
That part of the story and the expert are next.
After her commercial break, Maddow proceeded to an excited interview with her "expert," Barbara McQuade—her interview about the "important breaking news" from CNN.
Maddow juiced things up with lots of fun about the super-intriguing detail, which turned out to be CNN's use of the term "Queen for a Day interview." She then introduced McQuade, "who is very plain-spoken on these and other matters."
Maddow and McQuade conducted a speculative interview about CNN's "important breaking news." This past Tuesday night, Maddow brought McQuade out for another worthless segment concerning this rank speculation.
Out in Cable TV Land, all us Maddowsketeers got to enjoy the thrill of these discussions. As of today, though, it has turned out that CNN's "important breaking news" about Gates seems to have been wrong.
Gates hasn't flipped, or pled guilty, or agreed to cooperate with Mueller. Last night, NBC's Julia Ainsley broke the news to Rachel:
AINSLEY (2/22/18): So a week ago, we were hearing [Gates] had this third lawyer, he was going to cooperate and perhaps plead guilty and flip on Manafort and change his whole thing.Oof! That's speculation too, of course. In theory, Gates could become a cooperating witness today. Maybe he does know enough to cut a deal with Mueller!
Today, this really changes the narrative and what we see is a man who is perhaps kind of stuck in a really tough place. What I'm hearing, he might not have enough to offer Robert Mueller to be able to get this kind of cooperation, leniency, that he wants.
That said, all that prior bullshit with McQuade was just so much speculation. Maddow burned all sorts of time on something that hasn't happened.
Granted, Maddow's blather those two night was tribally enjoyable. But it had this significant downside:
As Maddow speculated, blathered and clowned about the breaking news which wasn't, she was making the rest of the world go away. This brings us back to Patrisse Khan-Cullors, whose new "Black Live Matter Memoir" has been a New York Times best-seller.
Will Khan-Cullors ever appear on Maddow's show? Or is Khan-Cullors the kind of person the cable star makes go away?
We'd place the latter bet. Unless she's dropping dick jokes on their heads, Maddow spends almost no time on the lives and interests of the lower classes—the lesser breed. Then too, there would be journalistic challenges involved in interviewing Khan-Cullors.
We strongly recommend Khan-Cullors' book. Despite its many peculiar aspects, we think its author's voice is extremely unusual and unusually potent.
That said, its peculiar aspects can't exactly be ignored. Consider Khan-Cullors' account of what happened when her older brother, struggling with mental illness, was released from prison after four years. Did this really happen?
KHAN-CULLORS (page 53): In 2003, two years after I graduate high school, Monte is released from prison...The prison loaded him onto a bus on one side of the state and now, finally, here he is disembarking on our side. I am excited beyond the telling and then I see him, for the first time, since he was taken in 1999. But when I see him, I am left breathless.Did that actually happen? Did the California prison system really treat her brother that way?
My brother is hunched over. He is swollen from all the medication he's on. He descends the bus steps in the clothes the prison gave him to return to us in: a thin muscle shirt and a pair of boxer shorts. They gave him underwear, but no pants, their final fuck you, you ain't human to this man whom I have loved for all my life. If we had not been there to pick him up, I'm sure Monte would have been picked up and sent back to some jail.
Because Khan-Cullors is an significant public figure, the answer is important in more ways than one. Based on the swollen state in which her celebrity has left her, we'll guess that Maddow wouldn't want to involve herself in such real world matters as this.
Khan-Cullors is a major figure with a best-selling book. That said, she has been interviewed on Weekend All Thing Considered and on no other commercial program.
With respect to MSNBC, she joins a long list of major figures you don't see inside that corporate clown car:
You didn't see Elisabeth Rosenthal when she had a best-selling book about the looting which characterizes our health care system.
You didn't see Diane Ravitch when she became a major figure on the left in the rolling public school debates of the Bush years and beyond.
You haven't seen Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, a major book about mass incarceration. You haven't seen Khan-Cullors, and she's co-founder of Black Lives Matter, an organization our corporate stars will all pretend to admire.
Khan-Cullors' memoir paints a remarkable picture of the way one very bright, highly spiritual child grew up in low-income Los Angeles. A few years back, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a best-selling book which described the way a very bright child grew up, not poor but black, in Baltimore.
Here's the problem:
As is made endlessly clear, a corporate channel like MSNBC doesn't care about children like those. Their lives and interests play no role in the channel's topic selection. Few things could be more clear.
This channel also doesn't tackle topics like corporate looting, for example in the realm of health care. They'll promote Democratic Party perspectives on some particular proposal, but they won't push an inch beyond that.
Low-income schools don't exist in this channel, nor do the kids who attend them.
In the main, the channel exists for enjoyable tribal hijinks. Maddow is the ridiculous former Rhodes scholar who throws out the kickball each night.
She weirdly grins and produces forced laughter, presumably in the way the consultants prescribed based on their focus groups. We liberals get dumbed way down in the process, and the bulk of the world goes away.
One final point:
Each night in the past week you've been exposed to news about the shootings, indeed the deaths, in high-income Parkland. This is completely appropriate, exactly as it should be.
That said, how often does anyone on our liberal channel tell us about the kids who get shot in D.C., or Chicago or Baltimore? Who ever speaks to their parents?
Those children are frightened too. But they live in the part of the world our Rhodes scholar makes go away.
For all the puzzlements it may seem to contain, Khan-Cullors has written a fsscinating book. We'll leave today with one basic question:
Why haven't liberals been told about that? Who's making her go away?