Maddow makes fools of her viewers, part 1!


A truly ridiculous segment: In Monday morning’s Washington Post, Laura Vozzella penned a strange report about Virginia governor Bob McDonnell.

Has the state of Virginia been picking up the tab for some of McDonnell’s personal expenses? It’s impossible to tell from Vozzella’s report, which was journalistically peculiar. It’s also very hard to care, so piddling are the offenses the Post scribe tries to establish.

For a full review of Vozzella's report, see yesterday's post.

McDonnell seems to be in some serious doo-doo concerning a separate matter, in which he accepted a $15,000 gift from a private citizen with interests before the state. But Vozzella is worried about who pays for the governor’s body wash and whether an energy drink should count as the governor’s breakfast. Meanwhile, she didn’t run her current concerns past the state official in charge of this matter, the man who required McDonnell to reimburse the state in 2010, after his first six months in office.

The official in question is Dennis Johnson, Division Director of the Division of Selected Agency Support Services. Back in 2010, Johnson required McDonnell to reimburse the state to the tune of $317 and change, after McDonnell’s first six months in office.

But that was then, and this is now. In her report in the Post, Vozzella reported what Johnson told her about McDonnell’s conduct in the past three years:
VOZZELLA (6/17/13): Like all new governors and their families, the McDonnells were told the expense rules at the outset of the administration but needed some time for them to sink in, Johnson said in an interview. Energy drinks aside, Johnson said that ever since he gave the McDonnells their refresher on what the state will and won't pay for, their spending has been in line with state policy.

“Typically when an administration comes in, we do discuss things," he said. "There are growing pains, and early on in the administration, there will be some things we have to review and discuss."
As we noted yesterday, the state’s various rules in this area seem to be quite arcane. (Mouthwash yes, body wash no! Bar soap in, deodorant out!) Vozzella goes on to claim that McDonnell still seems to be billing the state for his body wash, and for some other verboten items. But there is no sign that she ever asked Johnson about these claims. Nor did she attempt to resolve several other aspects of puissant matter.

This was terrible journalism. But so what? On Monday night, Rachel Maddow took Vozzella’s report and proceeded to bay at the moon, treating her viewers like absolute fools and engaging in seventeen minutes of balls-out journalistic lunacy with a very large dose of deception.

In case you haven’t heard, Maddow doesn’t care for McDonnell much. Let that fact explain the misconduct in which she engaged that night.

Maddow’s sins took a wide range of forms. We’ll break them down as best we can, though we strongly suggest that you should watch the tape of her seventeen minutes.

To watch the full segment, click here.

Ludicrous overemphasis: In truth, Vozzella’s report was so blatantly flawed that it’s impossible to draw any conclusions from it.

Despite this fact, Maddow devoted the first 17 minutes of her program to this topic. The first six minutes were devoted to the attempt to compare McDonnell’s body-wash spending to Richard Nixon’s “corruption scandal” in 1952, which led to the famous “Checkers speech.”

We got to watch old tape of Nixon. Maddow then made the connection:
MADDOW (6/17/13): [The Checkers speech] was genius. And he did not get dropped from the ticket and they won and he became vice president. And now, two generations down the road, with the word "Nixon" a synonym for corruption, and us having mostly forgotten that he even ever was vice president— Now, I think maybe it is time for Checkers II, or it had better be. There needs to be some move of equally audacious political genius sometime soon in Virginia politics, for what is happening there right now is not going to end well. Even then, it might not end well.
On the basis of Vozzella’s report, Maddow spent six minutes on old Nixon tape. She went on to make a set of claims that even Vozzella hadn’t advanced.

She conned her viewers hard this night. The cable star tends to do this.

Coo-coo for colonics: Early in her report in the Post, Vozzella describes some of the expenses for which McDonnell reimbursed the state three years ago. In her second paragraph, she mentioned such items as body wash, sunscreen, dog vitamins “and a digestive system ‘detox cleanse.’”

This last item worked its will inside Maddow’s head.

In the passage below, Maddow misstated what we “know” from reading Vozzella’s report. Beyond that, she staged the first of two nervous breakdowns about the governor’s detox cleanse.

You really need to watch the tape to see how coo-coo this is:
MADDOW: The governor was asked to please pay back the state, specifically $317.27 for the breath strips and the dog vitamins and all the rest of it. That was six months into his time being governor.

But as of today, as of new reporting from the Washington Post today, we now know that the humiliation of this whole incident is not just shared between that poor state employee who had to write that letter about dog vitamins to the governor and ask for the money back. It’s not just between that employee and the governor, who presumably was a little embarrassed by having to receive that letter and pay the money back. No, now it’s not just between them.

Now we all get to share in the embarrassment because now we know that, even after being confronted with that, even with being confronted with that and having to pay the state back for his personal hygiene items and dog things that he charged to the taxpayers of Virginia, even after that confrontation and having to cut a check back to the state, Bob McDonnell kept doing it.

Vitamins for people, not just for dogs. Nasal spray. More body wash, even after they were specifically told, “The taxpayers will not pay for your body wash, Governor.”

Still, though, more body wash! And how about a digestive system detox cleanse? Charged to the taxpayers of the state of Virginia by Governor Bob McDonnell. You paid for that, for him.

Do you want to know what a digestive system detox cleanse is? It’s exactly what you think it is. Just take a second.


You paid for that, for Bob McDonnell, if you live in Virginia. And now we all have to know he does that. We all have to have this information about him and his family which everybody would prefer would be private, right?
In fact, we don’t know that McDonnell has continued to charge the state for his body wash, even if we’re dumb enough to care. Vozzella says the records indicate this, but she doesn't seem to have asked Johnson, the state official, about this concern.

Meanwhile, at no point does Vozzella claim or suggest that McDonnell has continued to charge the state for his detox cleanse. Maddow’s suggestion to the contrary is, in a word, made up.

Beyond that, Vozzella doesn’t claim that McDonnell has continued to charge the state for vitamins for his dog, although that seems to be implied by Maddow's remarks.

By now, Maddow was advancing claims that aren’t even made by Vozzella. More strikingly, she was having her first nervous breakdown about that “detox cleanse.”

Loudly, Maddow complained that “we all have to know he does that,” even as she went out of her way to shout this fact to the world.

Everybody would prefer that this be private, Maddow plaintively said, as she wasted everyone’s time blabbing it to a rapt world.

Maddow has done this before, of course. In 2009, she spent two weeks having Ana Marie Cox tell dick jokes about average people, even as Madddow complained each night that she found the whole thing deeply, deeply embarrassing.

Maddow isn’t especially honest, but she is a bit of a loon. And sure enough! A few minutes later, this led her to complain about the detox again:
MADDOW: So maybe the Republican governor of Virginia can pull himself out of this. Maybe, he saves himself with a speech that leverages the, frankly, ostentatious cuteness of the first dog to defuse the paying for the vitamins part of the scandal, right? Maybe he could pull a Nixon here.

But it does not feel like that. In part, because we all just know too much, right? We know about the Ferrari and the pushing the magic tobacco pill that coincidentally is made by the guy who lent you the Ferrari. We know about the detox cleanse and I will pray daily that we never learn the brand or any more specific information.
By all accounts, including Vozzella’s, “the paying for the vitamins part of the scandal” ended three years ago—and no, it wasn’t ever a scandal. But Maddow returned to the detox cleanse that had a tight grip on her mind.

“I will pray daily that we never learn the brand or any more specific information,” this full-blown nutcase now avowed. Do you ever wonder why such a nut is hosting a national news show?

It’s hard to get to all the lunacy, and all the deception, in this 17-minute report. For today, we’ll stop right here, suggesting that you take the time to watch the tape of this deeply ridiculous segment.

Vozzella’s report was very weak. Weirdly, the scribe advanced tiny, ten-cent claims while making no apparent attempt to run her claims by the state official who was in charge of the matter.

In response, Maddow treated herself to an evening of old Nixon tape and she staged a two-part nervous breakdown about the governor’s colonics. Tomorrow, we’ll show you the remarkable ways she conned her viewers, toying with them in exactly the way Sean Hannity toys with his.

Do liberals want to be played this way? If so, we all understand who provides the service.

Tomorrow: From ridiculous on to egregious


  1. The 17 minute segment was weird and a waste of time. Maddow spent too much time on somethings that were nothing and hardly any time on something that may be something, ($15 thou. in wedding expenses and the use of the Ferrari.) Maddow,seemed to be trying to be funny with toilet humor and implied that it was deeply troubling. You are correct, the troubling aspect was Maddow wasting news time with nonsense.

  2. Much as I dislike Maddow, I think you're quite wrong about the larger issue, which is that McDonnell thinks it's perfectly cool to nickel and dime the taxpayers of Virginia for his personal care items, etc. OK, there's a statute that spells this stuff out. If I were a Virginia taxpayer, I'd demand it be repealed. Giving the governor a nice big mansion (which none of the states I've lived in do) is dubious, IMO. But paying for his and his family's soap? Give me a break.

    If the statute authorizes this, McDonnell should have enough shame or enough self-respect not to take advantage of every $2 reimbursement for personal items he can possibly squeeze out of the public coffers.

    What's the governor's salary? What's the man's personal wealth? Is he really, really, really unable to afford to pay for his own damn soap?

    Yes, the total cost is petty. *That's the point*.

  3. Think of these costs, instead of the dollar amount, as a percentage of the state's budget. Would it even be on the radar? Maddow, et al., are pushing this as a moral issue. In other words, just worthless "do you want to have a beer with him?" drivel.

  4. To evaluate the seriousness of the current Governor's sins, one ought to compare his conduct to prior Governors. Was his level of mistaken charges more than others in his situation? It's too bad that the reporter didn't get this information as a way to add context to this episode.

  5. It's Friday morning, and I'm reading this after seeing Rachel's Thursday show in which she destroys WI Gov Walker for kicking a college boy off some council for signing the recall petition. Then there was the piece condemning the Maine governor (a vulgar man lacking any of Christy's NJ charm) for a political remark in which Vaseline is mentioned. Perhaps Rachel felt justified since the story had made the National Journal that afternoon

    As if it already hasn't been, Rachel's show is turning into a coast-to-coast roundup of the Republican petty behavior -- the result being that the show has become more boring than ever. This in a time when MSNBC ratings are plummeting to humiliating depths.

    I used to make fun of O'Reilly for stuff like this. If anywhere in America there was a pervert getting off with what in O'R's mind was a light sentence, he'd be there shouting for the judge's impeachment. Maybe he still does occasionally. Maybe Rachel notices and sees that as her way out of the ratings hole she's dug herself into.

    But I'm just an old fuddy-duddy who wants news programs to be more like a not so well-mannered PBS Newshour.

    1. Almost as boring as a blog dedicated to the misbehavior of MSNBC hosts, isn't it?