Maddow Show, last Friday night: Last Friday morning, the New York Times offered a front-page news report under this headline:
"Trump Humiliated Jeff Sessions After Mueller Appointment"
According to the Times report, Donald J. Trump went ballistic when he learned that a special counsel, Robert Mueller, had been appoimted to investigate possible links between his campaign and the Russkies.
According to the Times report, Trump blamed Attorney General Sessions for the unwanted appointment. Furiously, he called Sessions an "idiot," then demanded, and received, a letter of resignation.
Why is Sessions still on the job? Here's what the Times reported:
SCHMIDT AND HABERMAN (9/15/18): Mr. Trump ended up rejecting Mr. Sessions’s May resignation letter after senior members of his administration argued that dismissing the attorney general would only create more problems for a president who had already fired an F.B.I. director and a national security adviser. Mr. Trump once again, in July, told aides he wanted to remove Mr. Sessions, but for a second time didn’t take action.According to the Times report, aides talked Trump out of dismissing Sessions. Trump had just fired James B. Comey ("Comey the God"), the FBI director. It would create a world of hurt, aides are said to have said, if he proceeded to can his attorney general as well.
Is that what actually happened? We have no way of knowing, but it seems to make perfect sense. Unless you watched the Maddow Show last Friday night, in which case you saw a certain well-known cable news host angrily insist that this report made no sense, given the many White House officials who have resigned, or have been fired, over the past eight months.
We thought the cable star's tirade made little apparent sense. We also thought that Friday's show was strikingly disingenuous, even by this cable star's extremely modest standards.
The star in question is Rachel Maddow. In large part, she insisted that the Times report made no sense through a set of silly claims in which she conflated unknown figures with major officials and resignations with firings.
(To watch this whole segment, click here. Warning: 17 minutes!)
How silly were Maddow's examples? In July, "they lost" Tera Dahl, we were told in one of her examples. Dahl is so little known that Nexis seems to have thought that Maddow was talking about Tara Dowdell, a progressive Democrat. In typical fashion, MSNBC hasn't yet posted its own transcripts for Maddow's programs last week.
In July, the Trump administration "lost Tera Dahl!" According to Maddow, this shows that they wouldn't have worried about blowback from letting Sessions "resign," in an obvious firing, right after Comey got fired.
This was very, very dumb, but Maddow was weirdly insistent about the alleged absurdity of the Times report.
We have no idea why Maddow was so exercised about that particular report. But from there, she proceeded a remarkable string of cherry-picked and distorted reports.
She offered a familiar old recitation about the many lies of Vice President Pence—a familiar old recitation which features a chain of embellished accounts of murky events.
In a later report, she told us that "we also now know that the State Department is not responding to the Cuban government when they have been offering to bilaterally investigate what`s happening" with respect to the apparent "sonic attacks" at the U.S. embassy in Havana.
How do we know that the State Department is laying down on the job in this fashion? How do we know that "the State Department [is] apparently blanking Cuba when Cuba offers to help with this investigation?"
According to Maddow, this is how we know that:
MADDOW (9/15/18): Cuban sources also tell NBC News that the Cuban government allegedly sent a diplomatic note on this issue to the State Department, offering that they themselves would help investigate the incident. They offered to be part of a bilateral investigation with the United States into this matter. Cuban sources tell NBC News that they sent this note to the U.S. State Department, never got a response back.Needless to say, Maddow is always eager to say that the current State Department is failing to function. That said, how do we know that the State Department is laying down on the job in the case of the sonic attacks?
I understand they're having some staffing issues at the State Department. They didn't get a response?
According to Maddow, we know that because that's what "Cuban sources" have said! Full stop!
For the record, we can find no sign of NBC News reporting any such thing. But so what? According to Maddow, we know the State Department is laying down on the job because "Cuban sources" have said so!
In an earlier segment, Maddow offered a highly slanted account of those nursing home deaths in Florida. We were surprised to see her raising this topic at all, until she slanted the story in such a way as to make it sound like it was all the fault of another favorite political target, Florida governor Rick Scott.
Over the years, we've warned you that Maddow often seems to be "less than obsessively honest." In Friday's performance, she seemed to have slipped over the edge into a type of serial dissembling which bore the feel of pathology.
We don't know when we've seen so many topics tilted so dumbly in such a blatantly partisan fashion. Our conclusion?
Wealth and fame can cause real harm, not unlike sonic attacks.