Part 4—Maddow does not know elections: Sometimes, we find the analysts hiding red, swollen eyes.
One such occasion occurred last week. Incomparably, we asked them why they’d been crying again.
Expressing their sympathy for a group we won’t name until tomorrow, they pointed to the following statement from last Wednesday evening’s Rachel Maddow Show.
The passage comes from Maddow’s interview with Candidate Santorum. As we read it, the analysts began quietly sobbing again:
MADDOW (7/22/15): If you don’t—Too funny! Less than three minutes into her Q-and-A with Santorum, Maddow was asking him what he plans to do if he doesn’t win!
I had an interesting conversation with my staff the other day. We were talking about— I was making my case to them about the fact that I think you are a good communicator.
I disagree with you on almost everything. But I think that you—I think that a lot of people have worked very hard on their elocution in this round. People are trying to set themselves apart. A lot of people look like high school debate-losing team captains right now, and you’re a very effective communicator. That’s why I think it will actually hurt you if you don’t get in the debates because I think it’s such an opportunity cost for you.
If you don’t win, if you don’t end up in the debates, if don’t end up getting the nomination, or nobody picks you as VP, what else do you want to do? This is the third time you’ve run for president—
That isn’t why the analysts cried. For now, let’s consider what occurred as that discussion continued:
At this point, Santorum interrupted, telling Maddow that it’s only his second run for the White House. It was the second time that Maddow had mistakenly pegged this run as his third attempt, so he apparently felt he had to correct the record.
That isn’t why the analysts sobbed. But let’s make a basic point here.
Maddow has obsessed about the GOP presidential field, night after night after night after night, for the past three months, dating at least to May 5.
Dating to May 27, she has repeatedly stated the view that Candidate Santorum is the most effective communicator in that field. But so what?
Despite her Rain Man-like, repetitive focus on the GOP primary process, Maddow had somehow gotten it into her head that this was Santorum’s third run for the White House. Moments before, she had made an even stranger remark concerning the rules for getting into this year’s first few GOP debates:
MADDOW (7/22/15): If— So Fox is going to do this thing, and I don’t know if CNN will do the same thing, where they’re going to have what everybody has been sort of derisively calling “the kids’ table,” where you don’t get to be in the real debate but you’re allowed to be in—At this point, Santorum broke in. But what about that highlighted statement? Rachel Maddow “doesn’t know if CNN will do the same thing?”
Just for the record, Fox News is hosting the first GOP debate, on August 6. CNN will host the second GOP debate, on September 16, from the Reagan Library.
CNN announced, long ago, that it will conduct that second debate the same way Fox News will conduct the first. Again, let’s consult the record.
“The Sept. 16, 2015 event will be divided into two parts featuring two groups of candidates,” CNN announced on May 21. “One grouping will feature the top 10 candidates according to public polling, and the other will include candidates who meet the minimum threshold of 1 percent in public polling but are ranked outside the top 10.”
For those who may have missed that announcement, CNN announced it again just a few weeks later.
“The prime-time debate will actually be split into two parts,” CNN declared on June 16, as it unveiled Jake Tapper as the moderator of its debate. “One with the candidates that national polls rank as the top 10 GOP contenders, and one with the candidates who didn't make that cut.”
Which part of those announcements didn’t Maddow understand? Her statement to Santorum last Wednesday night can perhaps, with considerable effort, be defended as almost technically accurate. But it extended a persistent feature of her obsessive nightly monologues about the upcoming debates:
In those nightly monologues, Maddow assails Fox, Fox News and the Fox News Channel for running the first GOP debate on this disgraceful two-tier basis. As a general matter, she does this without telling viewers that CNN has adopted the same basic structure for the second debate.
Routinely, she fails to make another obvious point—to all appearances, the RNC has agreed on this structure for those initial debates. In hours of repetitive broadsides, Maddow’s viewers rarely hear this basic point stated. They never hear this obvious point analyzed or discussed.
It’s hard to avoid a basic thought about Maddow’s amazingly repetitive broadcasts:
Night after night, liberal viewers see Maddow assail Fox News for the disgraceful way it has chosen to eliminate candidates from the first debate. They don’t hear that CNN is planning to do the exact same thing. They don’t even hear that the RNC seems to be down with this process.
It’s hard to avoid a basic thought as this pattern continues. In her stunningly repetitive monologues, Maddow is feeding us liberal viewers a pleasing plate of tribal gruel.
Over and over and over and over, we tune in to our favorite show to hear “Fox News” assailed for the way it’s running that first debate. Below, you see the way she delivered the diatribe last night, as she railed about “this ridiculous Fox News ten-candidate cut-off:”
MADDOW (7/29/15): I should tell you that [new] Reuters/Ipsos poll is an online poll. It is not generally considered to be as good as a telephone poll. All these polls have different methodologies and different sample sizes now, but it feels worth to it report all of them as they come out because nobody knows which polls are going to be included in the calculations by Fox News Channel when Fox News Channel averages five recent national polls in order to decide which ten candidates they’re going to allow into the Republican debate next week.Most of those amazingly narrow complaints are specific to Fox and to next week’s debate. But “this ridiculous Fox News ten-candidate cut-off” is also “this ridiculous CNN ten-candidate cut-off.”
So, I mean, maybe they’ll consider this new Reuters poll. Maybe they won’t. I don’t know. They’re not saying.
Fox will not say how they’ll cut people in and out of their debate. We’re just supposed to accept that they’re going to do it somehow and the candidates are supposed to accept it when Fox pronounces who is allowed to debate for the Republican presidential nomination and who is not.
We keep trying to guess what Fox might do. Our best estimation of what Fox might decide is what we call our "Who’s Allowed to Compete Cable News-Derived Random Number Generator.” When we plug in the polls which Fox may or may not use to determine eligibility for the debate, it looks to me like there are basically eight places on the debate stage that are fairly safe right now...
But that leaves the whole rest of the field fighting it out for the last two places on stage. And up until today, this ridiculous Fox News ten-candidate cut-off had meant that there were eight candidates battling it out for the last two seats on stage.
Well, as of today, it will be nine candidates battling it out for those last two seats on stage, because today, the Republican candidate number 17 has filed his paper work the FCC. It’s my friend, Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia. He also ran for president in 2008.
Jim Gilmore. Full disclosure—I only call him “my friend” on TV because his campaign sometimes answers the phone when we call them. That qualifies as “my friend” in this day and age.
Jim Gilmore today filed his papers to become the 17th Republican candidate in the race. No word from Fox yet on whether or not they’ll let Jim Gilmore—presumably he’s not going to make the top ten, right? But is Fox going to let him into the second-tier event, their also-ran “kids table” event that they’re doing before the real debate? I don’t know.
I mean, if they don’t include him, there will be no justification for that. But who knows if they’ll let him in?
The rules from Fox News, they may not be arbitrary. They may be very firm rules. But as far as we can tell, they’re secret and nobody knows who Fox News will let in and who Fox News is not going to let in, either for the main debate or for both events, the “kids table” and the debate.
And that is really how the Republican Party is choosing its presidential nominee this year. It is just astonishing.
It seems to be “this ridiculous RNC ten-candidate cut-off” too.
Maddow delivers this diatribe every night. We’ll guess that the vast majority of her viewers don’t understand those elementary points.
Is this the best way to run these debates, given the presence of seventeen candidates who might at least seem to be major? We don’t know, but we wouldn’t call this procedure “astonishing.”
Here’s what we would call astonishing. It’s amazing that a journalist can discuss this topic night after night, at considerable length, over the course of three solid months, without giving viewers a fuller picture of the way this procedure is working.
We already thought it was astonishing when Maddow kept flogging this dead fish night after night, beating the carcass of Fox, almost always without mentioning CNN or the apparent role of the RNC.
It went a step beyond “astonishing” when she spoke to Santorum last week.
Rachel Maddow “doesn’t know if CNN will do the same thing?” Astonishing, our dear Watson—although that actually isn’t why the analysts had red, swollen eyes.
For today, let’s leave it here, stating one basic point:
Basic point: It’s astonishing to see how little Maddow seems to know about the topic on which she has chosen to obsess, with the Rain Man’s zeal, since at least May 5.
In the history of cable news, has anyone ever spent so much time discussing a topic about which she seemed to have so little to say? For months, Maddow has pimped Santorum as the best communicator in the field, a man the pundits should be watching—but she doesn’t even know how many times he has run in the past?
Each night, she attacks the perfidy of Fox. But she doesn’t know if CNN is planning do the same thing?
The clueless comments occur each night. There’s no way we can discuss them all. That said, consider this groaner:
Last Thursday night, Maddow complained about the way “the Beltway press” had been discussing Ross Perot’s 1992 third-party race.
Amazingly, she made some accurate statements about that year’s exit polls. She then offered a grossly speculative analysis, on the basis of which she said that Perot probably cost Clinton votes.
Everything is possible, but on its face, Maddow’s analysis made no actual sense. Softly, the analysts started to whimper. But then, they saw her say this:
MADDOW (7/23/15): Poppy Bush did not lose the presidency in 1992 because of Ross Perot. Poppy Bush lost the presidency in 1992 because he had a 33 percent approval rating. He would have lost to a chia pet.“We have no idea what the Donald Trump third-party candidacy would be like, and who it would help and who it would hurt?”
And now, we are facing the prospect of another outsider, a somewhat conservative, somewhat hard to place businessman who doesn’t play by the political rules, and he might self-finance and run a third-party candidacy against both the Democrats and Republicans.
Oh my God, won’t that make debates more fun? We’re facing that again!
But what the Republicans are trying to sell you about this prospect, what they’ve been trying to sell you about this prospect forever, what the Beltway press today is eagerly repeating and regurgitating as if 1992 was too long ago for any of us to live through it, the story they are telling you about what it would mean for Donald Trump to run as a third-party candidate, is that it would doom the otherwise inevitable Bush presidency.
Well, that was not true for Poppy Bush in 1992. And if you are extrapolating from that experience, there is no reason to believe it would be true for Jeb Bush in 2016 or for whoever else the Republicans pick to be their nominee.
Bad history makes for bad punditry. The Ross Perot myth you keep hearing today is a myth. It is total bunk.
We have no idea what the Donald Trump third-party candidacy would be like, and who it would help and who it would hurt.
For now, Donald Trump is the clear unequivocal front runner for the Republican nomination, as hard as that is for other Republicans to grasp. He’s beating all other Republican candidates.
Republicans should stop worrying about what they’re going to do if he hypothetically is the third-party candidate and they should worry about what they’re going to do if he is the actual Republican nominee.
MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt joins us next.
From anyone other than Maddow, that would have seemed astonishing. From her, it seemed to be par for the very peculiar corporate liberal course.
Why was “the Beltway press” suggesting that a third-party run by Candidate Trump could damage the GOP? We’ll let The Hill’s Jonathan Easley explain, though everyone on the planet had already done so by the time Maddow declaimed:
EASLEY (7/21/15): If Donald Trump leaves the GOP and runs as an independent candidate for president, it would badly damage Republican prospects for winning the White House, a new poll finds.According to the 1992 exit polls, Candidate Perot drew evenly from Candidates Clinton and Bush. That doesn’t mean that a third-party Candidate Trump would affect things the same way.
An ABC News-Washington Post poll released late Monday showed that in a head-to-head matchup, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) has a small lead over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) at 50 percent to 44 percent.
However, in a three-way matchup between Clinton, Bush and Trump, Trump siphons off significant support from Bush, propelling Clinton to a 16-point lead.
In that scenario, Clinton takes 46 percent over Bush at 30 percent and Trump at 20 percent. Bush was the only Republican contender the poll tested in a three-way match up with Clinton and Trump.
No matter! In the face of that major poll, Maddow blunderbussed dumbly ahead, saying “we have no idea” who such a candidacy would help or hurt. But then, this is Santorum’s third campaign. And she doesn’t know if CNN will run its debate that same way!
Maddow’s overall cluelessness concerning these, her chosen topics, is truly amazing. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a major broadcaster devote so much time to a topic concerning which she seemed so clueless, concerning which she had so little to say.
That isn’t why the analysts sobbed. Tomorrow, we’ll finish our discussion of last week’s three nights in the life.
When we do, we plan to reveal why the analysts cried. We may even tear up ourselves, as we tell you why we think this insulting, three-month corporate sideshow has been such a disgrace.
Tomorrow: Empathizing on their behinds with those Maddow staffers