Part 3—Echoes her dive on Beghazi: Just for the record, Slate's Fred Kaplan is no pajama-clad blogger.
Despite his tender years—he was born in 1954—Kaplan has already established a real journalistic career.
In 1983, he was part of a Boston Globe team which won a Pulitzer prize for its report on the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. That same year, his book on the creation of American nuclear strategy was named political book of the year by the Washington Monthly. As recently as March 29, he guested on The NewsHour!
What has Kaplan done for you lately? On July 6, he published a report at Slate—a report which did the unthinkable.
The previous day, James B. Comey—Comey the God—had held an irregular press event. During this unusual event, Comey accused Candidate Clinton of having been "extremely careless" in her email practices while secretary of state.
Within the insider Washington establishment class, Comey had long since been cast in a familiar role. Following a long line of other Republican figures, he'd been cast as the latest straight-shooting Republican whose obvious moral rectitude simply cannot be doubted.
Such figures as Judge Starr, Powell, McCain and Ryan had been joined by Comey the God in this basket of unassailables. Despite this fact, Kaplan did the unthinkable in his report at Slate. He challenged the basis on which Comey had assailed Candidate Clinton just one day before.
Dearest darlings, such things simply aren't done! Now, a major journalist had done it anyway! He had challenged the analysis offered by Comey in his highly irregular press event—a press event we should have expected, based on modern history.
(More on that tomorrow.)
Quickly, let's review the chronology here. Comey held his press event on Tuesday, July 5. He assailed Candidate Clinton for being "extremely careless" with classified national security material, including some material which he said was "top secret."
On Thursday, July 7, Comey repeated his claims about Candidate Clinton in a highly irregular appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
Kaplan challenged Comey's claims on Wednesday afternoon, July 6. Inevitably, his analysis of Comey's claims rapidly disappeared.
Sure enough! In line with Comey's godlike status, an array of major Democrats hailed him for his moral greatness at that committee hearing. Also, sure enough! In three straight nights of Clinton-bashing, Steve Kornacki didn't mention Kaplan's critique, or challenge Comey's irregular conduct, as he guest hosted for Rachel Maddow that week.
Kornacki filled in for Maddow on the evenings of July 5, 6 and 7. On Friday night, July 8, MSNBC programming was devoted to the murders of several police officers on Dallas. As such, viewers of the Maddow Show hadn't so much as heard Kaplan's name by the end of that punishing week.
Here on our own sprawling campus, our young analysts were sure of one thing at this point. They felt sure that Maddow would right the balance when she returned to her anchor chair on Monday, July 11.
Skillfully, we issued a warning. "There's a good chance she'll want to be Comey's girl," we thoughtfully told our young helpers.
Sure enough! Recalling Marcie Blane's hit song from 1962, Maddow deferred to Comey's authority when she strapped on her big orange shoes and returned to the air. Once again, let's review the history here.
Fueling the singer/songwriter revolution, Blane had made a frank admission in a big hit song which went to number 3 on the charts. "I want to be Bobby's girl," she had memorably said.
Watching Maddow perform that night, we thought we heard a hidden homage to this earlier show business star. "I want to be Comey's girl," the corporate-selected Rhodes Scholar seemed to say, all through the summer and fall.
Let's return to Maddow's performance on Monday evening, July 11, first night back on the air:
As Maddow's hour passed that night, the analysts' faces fell. Kaplan was never mentioned that night. Neither was Comey the God.
In fairness, we liberals did get to enjoy some of Maddow's mugging and clowning as she spooned some of our favorite porridge. Comey's kill shot on Candidate Clinton would go unmentioned until late October. But we did get entertained this night, and we were foolishly told that the state of Indiana would be in the play in the fall.
Along the way, we got to roll our eyes at Those People, the Hoosiers. The first of two silly, ridiculous segments opened as shown below.
"No offense to Indiana," Maddow said, though that was one of the obvious points of the segment. As she started, we got to chuckle at the photograph of an Indiana senator—a person normal people like Us couldn't pick out of a lineup:
MADDOW (7/11/16): No offense to Indiana, but it's a rare day when national politics in this country revolves around Indiana. It just doesn't happen that often. But today turns out as one of those days. It`s in part because of this man [photograph appears].Needless to say, this was prologue to a second segment in which Maddow served tribal porridge concerning Mike Pence, who was emerging as a possible VP nominee. Maddow wasted two segments that night predicting Democratic success in Indiana and, of course, trying to guess if Pence would be Trump's running mate.
Do you know who this man is? Could you pick this man out of a lineup? Do you know this man's name?
No, you're thinking of Arlen Specter, that's the guy on the right. No, it's not Hank Paulson, the former treasury secretary either. Close.
Nor is it the mom's second husband from "Six Feet Under." No, no, no, the man you can't quite place is named Dan Coats.
He used to be a lobbyist, and then he stopped being a lobbyist so he could become a United States senator.
Now, this man, on the other hand [new photo appears], he stopped being a U.S. senator so he could become a lobbyist. He and Dan Coats are mirror images of each other. They just traded positions, lobbyist to senator, senator to lobbyist.
Well, now, the first guy, Dan Coats, is retiring from the Senate, and the lobbyist, Evan Bayh, has decided he wants his old Senate seat back. And the reason that's important is because Evan Bayh could win his seat back.
The Bayh family name is a household name in Indiana. Evan Bayh's dad, Birch Bayh, he held that Senate seat for decades. He's very popular in that state. He ran for president in 1976.
His son, Evan Bayh, then held the Senate seat thereafter. Evan Bayh also served for a time as Indiana governor. Evan Bayh is kind of a Joe Lieberman-style conservative Democrat. He's not everybody's cup of tea.
But he probably can win in Indiana, not just because he's already sitting on almost $10 million in unspent campaign contributions from past campaigns, while the Republican running for that seat barely has $1 million on his bank account. I mean, in part because of all that cash.
But it's also because of his dad's continuing popularity. It's because Bayh is a household name, because he's a former governor and because he himself held that exact Senate seat before.
I mean, Evan Bayh is kind of running with advantages of incumbency without being an incumbent. He could win that seat and flip it from red to blue. And that could be a help to flip the whole United States Senate from red to blue.
Even if Evan Bayh can't win that seat back outright, though, he will be a strong enough contender for that seat that he will almost assuredly mean the Republican Party will have to spend millions of dollars hand over fist in the state of Indiana to try to hold onto their chances for that Senate seat. And that alone will make Indiana interesting and important this year in terms of that one Senate seat, in terms of control of the United States Senate, and all that, you know, spending we weren't expecting in Indiana, that will be coming in a year Indiana could be a swing state in the presidential election.
Remember, President Obama won Indiana in 2008 and lost it in 2012. Could it be back in play this year? Will all that Senate spending affect that?
As Maddow wasted time in these ways, she didn't mention Comey all week. In fact, she didn't mention Comey at all until very late in October.
She never mentioned Kaplan or his important critique. As she commonly does, Rachel Maddow took a dive on the challenging kill shot Comey the God had delivered.
Maddow was hardly alone in her Comey-avoidance. According to the Nexis archive, Kaplan's name was never mentioned on any of MSNBC's evening programs during the rest of the White House campaign. As for Maddow, she never mentioned Comey's name until he made his next assault on Candidate Clinton, very late in the fall.
That happened on October 28. For almost four months, Maddow had done what she typically does—she had avoided this difficult, dangerous topic. Instead, she gave us lots of failed predictions; entertained us with a lot of mugging, clowning and fun; and directed a lot of dangerous mockery at the fatuous Others.
We couldn't pick Coats out of a lineup! Bayh lost by ten points.
Just so you'll know, this is exactly what Maddow had done when the first of this campaign's kill shots was developed for use against Clinton. We refer to the the fall of 2012, when a previous Republican of official rectitude played the leading role in inventing the Benghazi scam.
The straight-shooter in question was John McCain, a man Maddow tends to praise for his moral greatness. On Sunday, September 16, 2012, McCain played the leading role in inventing the factually bogus attacks on Ambassador Susan Rice—bogus attacks concerning Benghazi which were later repurposed for four years of use against Clinton.
Benghazi came first; Comey's kill shot came later. In each instance, Maddow and her corporate colleagues ran off and hid in the woods rather than enter a difficult fray.
In the fall of 2012, they threw Susan Rice under the bus, with Candidate Clinton to follow. In the summer of 2016, they did the same thing to Clinton herself with regard to Comey's attacks.
Comey and McCain are establishment gods. Smart career players give them wide berth. Dearest darlings, use your heads! Millions of corporate dollars per year hang in the balance!
All summer, then deep into the fall, Maddow played this familiar old game. Comey's attacks were completely avoided. Fred Kaplan disappeared.
"I want to be Comey's girl?" Eventually, the analysts grimly agreed. That's what our orange-shoed corporate star almost seemed to be singing.
Tomorrow: The Comeys who came before Comey