THURSDAY, JULY 5, 2012
Chapter 3 of a disordered tale: We’ve often wondered why Rachel Maddow takes such liberties with the truth—and with the most basic norms of journalistic and intellectual functioning.
As we said Tuesday, this new profile of Maddow in Rolling Stone may start to suggest an answer. Tomorrow, we’ll review two other recent episodes which made the analysts marvel at Maddow.
For today, we thought we’d add a few more thoughts to what we wrote on Tuesday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/3/12).
That profile struck us as very strange. Here’s why:
The profile is built around a recent incident in which Maddow made an error. On April 29, she appeared on Meet the Press. She said women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for doing the same or equal work.
She said this several times.
Alex Castellanos challenged Maddow’s presentation. As the debate unfolded that week, he too made some inaccurate statements about this policy matter. But Maddow’s basic assertion was mistaken:
In fact, no one claims that the “77 cents on the dollar” statistic is a measure of discrimination. No expert claims that women are underpaid to that anywhere near that extent, as compared to men, for the same or equal work.
Maddow made a mistake that day. Indeed, the expert she brought on her show the next night implicitly said that she'd been mistaken. But she did so in such a jumbled way that few viewers may have realized.
(Elites tend to cover for other elites. “Of course, these numbers from BLS and Census Bureau are not really talking about discrimination,” the expert told Maddow that night. This meant that Maddow’s statements on Meet the Press wrong. But this expert's fuller discussion was so jumbled that few viewers may have realized.)
Maddow made a mistake on Meet the Press. We humans make mistakes all the time! Castellanos also made mistaken statements as the week proceeded—although, on a purely statistical basis, his basic claim seemed to be closer to the truth than Maddow’s original claim was.
Rachel Maddow made a mistake—unless you listen to Maddow! That next night, on her own show, she said she still couldn’t understand why someone might want to challenge her point. (She said she had “spent a long time going through the Republican side of this argument today just trying to understand how you could look at these very blunt numbers and come up with the opposite truth.”)
She said she still couldn’t understand why someone might want to challenge her claim. But the simplest fact-check would have shown her what was wrong with her presentation on Meet the Press. On its face, it’s hard to believe that she wasn’t perhaps pretty much lying by then.
On her own program, Maddow doubled down on her own erroneous claim from the day before. In the new profile in Rolling Stone, she gets a third chance to clarify this matter—and she triples down on her position, even harder this time. At no point in the profile does she note that she made a mistake. Even worse, she how seems to be saying that Castellanos “lied” when he challenged her (erroneous) claim.
It isn’t enough to say that he was wrong in certain ways, just as Maddow herself was wrong. If you challenge Maddow, you can’t be wrong:
It has to be said that you lied.
We know, we know—the representations in the profile belong to its author, Ben Wallace-Wells, not to Maddow herself. It may be that Wallace-Wells introduced the topic of that discussion with Castellanos. It may have been his point of interest.
But by now, Maddow surely understands that her claim on Meet the Press was mistaken. That said, there isn’t the slightest sign that she said any such thing to Wallace-Wells. Instead, she seems to have shared with him, on a word-for-word basis, the wonderful thoughts that went through her head when she instantly realized that Castellanos was “lying.”
This is amazingly dishonest conduct—but Maddow does this stuff all the time. For quite some time, we’ve wondered why.
Granted, we liberal ditto-heads cheer her on. But why does she engage in such deeply disordered conduct?
We’ve wondered about that for a long time. As she triples down on this latest bad act, Wallace-Wells’ fuller profile may start to help us see why.
Tomorrow: Brown and Bain