Tabloidy star likes to clown: Unless you enjoy watching millionaires making convincing chicken sounds, Rachel Maddow is increasingly a waste-of-time hack. (For link to clucks, see below.)
In recent weeks, Maddow has been telling a tabloidized tale about the death of Ibragim Todashev, whom the FRBI shot and killed during an interrogation on May 22, in Florida. Previously, Todashev had lived in Boston, where he was an associate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
He was being questioned about those associations when he was shot and killed.
Maddow is certainly right on one point—the FBI ought to be made to explain the circumstances under which Todashev was shot and killed. But last night, Maddow authored one of her “rodeo clown” performances as she discussed the way the press corps has reported this matter.
The FBI has refused to explain how Todashev ended up getting killed. Yesterday, the Todashev family’s lawyers held a press conference in Florida.
Here’s the way Our Own Jerry Lewis described the press corps’ ongoing conduct. To enjoy the performance, just click here, then move to 2:45:
MADDOW (8/13/13): There were a lot of reporters at this press conference in Florida today asking questions, which I have to say is nice to see, given how terrible some of the press has been about just writing down, and not challenging at all, the contradictory claims by anonymous law enforcement sources about this case—including the totally contradictory reports that the dead man was brandishing a weapon when he was killed. It was definitely a knife or a blade of some kind! No, it was a ceremonial sword! No, it wasn’t a ceremonial sword, it was a broomstick! No, it wasn’t a broomstick, it was a pole. No, actually, maybe it was nothing? It was nothing, he was unarmed. But who knows?Viewers enjoyed a top-notch performance as Maddow clowned her way through this text. But which news orgs was she talking about as she hammed it up?
They’ve all been reported as fact, citing anonymous self-congratulatory law enforcement sources, usually without any reference at all to the fact that other anonymous leaks in this case made totally different claims. Mr. Todashev’s brand-new lawyers today were asked about those conflicting reports.
Which news orgs have been “just writing down, and not challenging at all, the contradictory claims by anonymous law enforcement sources?” By whom have these claims “been reported as fact, citing anonymous self-congratulatory law enforcement sources, usually without any reference at all to the fact that other anonymous leaks in this case made totally different claims?”
Which news orgs have done this? Who was Maddow talking about as she wondrously clowned?
As Maddow hammed it up with this text, a Boston Globe report appeared on the screen behind her, complete with pull quotes about broomsticks and poles. It appeared on the screen for a full 35 seconds, possibly seeming to brand the Globe as a prime offender in this matter.
Sorry. That report, by Wesley Lowrey, made the same sorts of points Maddow was making last night. And it appeared on June 1, ten long weeks weeks ago.
Below, you see what the Globe was saying by June 1, just nine days after Todashev’s death. Warning! Lowrey’s report is highly misleading in one important respect:
LOWREY (6/1/13): In the absence of authoritative information, national media outlets have reported at least five different scenarios of how Todashev came to be killed.That was the Globe ten weeks ago, way back on June 1. Last night, Maddow suggested that the press corps has just now started to question the conflicting reports from (unnamed) law enforcement authorities.
Some media outlets, including the Globe, initially reported that Todashev attacked the officers with a "blade"—with reports differing on whether it was a knife or a sword. More recently, The New York Times reported that Todashev's weapon was a "pole" that could have been a broomstick.
Still others, including the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, have reported that Todashev was unarmed when he was killed, but that he could have been reaching for the agent's gun.
Attempting to clarify the confusion, a person who was briefed on the shooting of Todashev told the Globe on Thursday that investigators had initially thought Todashev had wielded a sword at the FBI agent, but later concluded that it was a pole. Adding to the chaos at the shooting scene, this person said that Todashev did own a ceremonial sword which was in the room.
In truth, Lowrey’s June 1 report was quite misleading in one key respect. In truth, his own Boston Globe had never “reported that Todashev attacked the officers with a ‘blade’” full stop.
On May 23, in its first report on the killing, the Globe attributed that report to law enforcement officials. It didn’t report the claim in its own voice as a fact. Similarly, when the New York Times mentioned the pole and the broomstick on May 31, it too attributed the account to a law enforcement official. And sure enough, the Times was already noting the problem involved in the shifting stories which had emerged from such officials:
SCHMIDT AND BARRY (5/31/13): A man who was killed in Orlando, Fla., last week while being questioned by an F.B.I. agent about his relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, had knocked the agent to the ground with a table and ran at him with a metal pole before being shot, according to a senior law enforcement official briefed on the matter.Ten weeks ago, on May 31, the Times was already noting the conflicting accounts from law enforcement. Its new account was again attributed to officials, not stated as a fact.
The official's account of the shooting, the most detailed to date, came several hours after the man's Chechen father claimed at a news conference in Moscow on Thursday that his son, Ibragim Todashev, was unarmed when he was killed on May 22. The father, Abdulbaki Todashev, displayed photographs of his son's bullet-ridden body and demanded that the United States government explain how he was killed.
On the day of the shooting, federal law enforcement officials provided differing accounts of the episode, initially saying Mr. Todashev had a knife. Later they said Mr. Todashev had ''exploded'' at the agent and might have had a pipe or might not have had anything in his hands.
The shooting occurred after an F.B.I. agent from Boston and two detectives from the Massachusetts State Police had been interviewing Mr. Todashev for several hours about his possible involvement in a triple homicide in Waltham, Mass., in 2011, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.
Mr. Todashev, according to the F.B.I., confessed to his involvement in the deaths and implicated Mr. Tsarnaev. He then started to write a statement admitting his involvement while sitting at a table across from the agent and one of the detectives when the agent briefly looked away, the official said. At that moment, Mr. Todashev picked up the table and threw it at the agent, knocking him to the ground.
While trying to stand up, the agent, who suffered a wound to his face from the table that required stitches, drew his gun and saw Mr. Todashev running at him with a metal pole, according to the official, adding that it might have been a broomstick.
The agent fired several shots at Mr. Todashev, striking him and knocking him backward. But Mr. Todashev again charged at the agent. The agent fired several more shots at Mr. Todashev, killing him. The detective in the room did not fire his weapon, the official said.
Who was Maddow talking about as she entertained us last night? Granted, Maddow can be a barrel of fun, especially if you don’t really care if what you’re hearing is accurate.
But which news orgs have behaved in the way she so colorfully described? MaddowBlog presents no links. We’ll guess there pretty much aren’t any.
Increasingly, Maddow is a tabloid-leaning rodeo clown. What a shame that the suits picked her as the voice of the new liberal world.
Rachel can sound like a chicken: Did Walter Cronkite ever imitate a chicken on the air?
We doubt it! Last night, Rachel entertained us the rubes with her masterful impression. To enjoy all the fun, just click here.
The first two clucks come at 3:30. The third cluck comes a few minutes later. What's our review of Rachel's clucks?
All three are convincing, and sad.
(By the way, those claims about Elizabeth Warren around 4:40 are pure BS. Charitably, let's assume that Rachel's staff didn't understand the statistics.)