The Post's peculiar reporting: On Wednesday evening, May 10, Rachel Maddow made an angry allegation about acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, her program's latest villain.
Back in February, Maddow angrily said, McCabe became part of "the Trump disinformation campaign!" We discussed this topic all last week.
Did McCabe really do that? If so, someone should tell Dianne Feinstein! On Sunday's Face the Nation, she recommended that McCabe become the FBI's permanent director. Apparently, Feinstein hasn't been watching the Maddow Show!
Full disclosure! In our view, Maddow's May 10 report was her latest weirdly researched, embellished "villain tale." During her twenty-minute performance, she offered exactly one journalistic source for her fiery claim about McCabe—an analysis piece in Time magazine whose author had simply seemed to accept the truthfulness of a set of accusation by Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, the nation's least famous truth-tellers.
Priebus and Spicer made their claims during the period when Donald J. Trump was thrashing about, trying to shoot down reports about possible collusion with Russia. Absent evidence, why should anyone have believed the claims by Priebus and Spicer?
Maddow never addressed that point during her May 10 report. Very few viewers would have realized that her attack on McCabe was based on claims by Priebus and Spicer, claims they made last February during a highly fraught time.
Maddow simply launched her attacks. In fairness, her diatribe was exciting.
As a postscript to last week's reports, we thought we'd note the peculiar way the Washington Post reported these accusations by Priebus and Spicer.
The paper's sole report on this topic appeared on Saturday, February 25. In the passage shown below, Miller and Entous reported the accusations by Priebus and "administration sources."
In the process, they simply seemed to accept the accuracy of these claims. No further evidence needed!
MILLER (2/25/17): The administration's push against the Russia coverage intensified Sunday [February 19] when White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said in television interviews that he had been authorized "by the top levels of the intelligence community" to denounce reports on Trump campaign contacts with Russia as false."In doing so, the FBI's leadership would appear to have been drawing a distinction between authorizing comments by a White House official and addressing the matter themselves?"
Priebus's denunciations ranged from calling the articles "overstated" to saying they were "complete garbage."
Administration officials said that Priebus's comments had been cleared by FBI Director James B. Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. In doing so, the FBI's leadership would appear to have been drawing a distinction between authorizing comments by a White House official and addressing the matter themselves.
In that statement, Miller and Entous seemed to assume that the administration's accusations were accurate. They offered no evidence in support of this assumption.
Later, they quoted former CIA director Michael Hayden casting doubt on what Priebus had said. But in that earlier passage, they seemed to accept the accuracy of the administration accounts.
It gets worse. On that same day, a Post editorial did the same thing. For unknown reasons, the editors even referred to the accusations by Priebus and Spicer as "the week's revelations."
In its own report on this topic, the New York Times didn't seem to accept the accuracy of the administration's claims in the way the Post did. Still, we'd have edited one part of the Times report to make this fact more clear.
Back in February, Priebus and Spicer delivered a set of accusations against McCabe and Comey both.
According to Priebus and Spicer, McCabe and Comey had both said that a New York Times report about collusion was inaccurate. For reason which went unexplained, the Washington Post seemed to accept these accusations as accurate.
At that time, Rachel Maddow did two reports which cast McCabe as the hero of the piece. (As we noted last week, those reports appeared on February 23 and 24.) On May 10, without explanation, she launched her attack on McCabe, apparently accepting the accuracy of what Priebus and Spicer had said.
Just like that, McCabe went from hero to goat! Priebus' attacks on Comey went completely unmentioned. Maddow's earlier reports, which cast McCabe as the hero of the piece, also went unmentioned. No explanations required!
Maddow often plays this way. In fairness, accusations of this type are exciting and tribally pleasing.
Beyond that, it's fun when she mugs and clowns! It helps Our Own Channel beat Fox!
Rachel Maddow is very good at giving us liberals our villains. Someone should tell Senator Feinstein about what Our Scholar has said.