Democracy dies like this: Should Rod Rosenstein have done the things he did?
First, he agreed to let the DOJ Inspector General investigate the FBI's conduct with the informant who approached George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.
That strikes us as a nothingburger. Then, Rosenstein agreed to another deal whose contents aren't yet clear. For obvious reasoos, we have no view on that.
Last night, MSNBC worked all night to edit your knowledge of what the informant actually did. Whatever you think of the informant's conduct, this was a striking performance.
Viewers were kept from learning the facts. But for our money, the oddest statement of the night was made by Rachel Maddow.
Rather plainly, Maddow doesn't like Rosenstein. You can tell by the way she puts her thumbs on the scale when she discusses his actions, past and present.
Rachel tends to play that way. Even so, she acknowledged the possibility last night that Rosenstein could be making the best of a bad situation with this pair of moves.
In the passage shown below, she was discussing Rosenstein's decision to let the inspector general investigate the FBI and the informant. We're showing you a large chunk of what she said, but we're only interested in the highlighted assessment made at the end.
Does democracy die in darkness, as the Post says? This is where democracy goes when big giant corporations create partisan "cable news" channels and invents big major stars:
MADDOW (5/21/18) To bolster that sunny side way of looking at it, you should look at the statement that Rosenstein actually made when he gave in to the president's demand that the Russia investigation itself get investigated.No really—that's what she said! If Rosenstein is sure that the FBI didn't engage in impropriety, then it's OK to let the IG conduct a probe.
The statement from Rosenstein was really spectacularly specific. The investigation he ordered is supposed to determine, quote, "whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election." That's the investigation that he ordered after the president's tweet.
So on the one hand, he is giving in to the president's tweeted demand for a new investigation. On the other hand, he's confirming in his statement that the FBI was engaged in a counterintelligence investigation of people who were suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who were interfering in the election at the time. And those people who were the subject of that counterintelligence investigation were on the Trump campaign.
It's kind of actually good to have that all laid out in black and white. That's all confirmed now. OK.
And honestly, if he's confident that there wasn't any, what does he say, "impropriety or political motivation" in how the FBI conducted that investigation, then maybe it's not giving away much to allow the inspector general to look into it.
[PAUSES AND SHRUGS]
How do we know? How do we know whether Rod Rosenstein is doing the right thing?
The corollary is all too obvious. If Rosenstein believes the FBI did misbehave, then he shouldn't let the probe go forward. He'd want to keep that under wraps!
In all honesty, Maddow shouldn't be on the air without much greater journalistic supervision. But this is where democracy and the discourse go when partisan victory has come to be the only consideration.
Maddow is a very strange duck. Our tribe isn't able to see this. That doesn't mean it's not true.
This also happened last night: We were interested to see Maddow interview the New York Times' David Kirkpatrick, live and direct from London. All the analysts came in the room to watch.
Long ago and far away, Kirkpatrick wrote the New York Times' 7300-word front-page report about the actual events which actually transpired during the deadly attack in Benghazi. That said, his December 2013 report arrived on the scene much too late. People like Maddow had sat on their hands and played it safe all through the fall of 2012, when the Benghazi mythology was being created and was hardening into stone.
Four years later, that mythology was part of the narrative war which elected Donald J. Trump.
In real time, Maddow sat it out. The bullshit had started with John McCain and Bob Schieffer, and people like Maddow never challenge people like that. She completely sat it out that fall as Susan Rice was thrown to the wolves and the Benghazi myths were formed.
Four years later, she did the same thing when James B. Comey (Comey the God) savaged Candidate Clinton in July 2016. Here's the way it went down:
As of July 2016, Comey was still a major establishment god. People like Maddow never challenge the conduct of people like that. Quite literally, Maddow never so much as mentioned his name until late in October 2016. As she'd done with Susan Rice, so she did with Candidate Clinton. On the brighter side, she did a lot of other stuff to keep us entertained.
It gets worse! In early July 2016, when Comey delivered his attack, Maddow's guest host, Steve Kornacki, actually took Comey's side on two consecutive nights, ridiculing Democrats who were criticizing the irregular conduct of the great godlike figure. When Maddow returned from vacation the next week, she never so much as mentioned Comey's name for the next three months-plus.
Maddow is stunningly good at selling the car. Aside from that, she has 1) a high IQ and 2) a highly self-serving set of instincts.
Good God! She even tried to sell us Greta Van Susteren, her drinking buddy and Fox's chief enabler of Trump the birther king. That said, nothing Maddow does will ever turn our tribe against her. She's simply that good at selling the car, and we're that weak and helpless.
About last night! You could tell that the London-based Kirkpatrick isn't one of the gang. You could tell that because this was the first thing he said:
MADDOW (5/21/18): Am I correct that your reporting indicates that Joel Zamel's company drew up this proposal for a social media manipulation campaign but we don't know whether this proposal was ever actually picked up by the Trump campaign, we don't know what happened to the proposed campaign?He thinks she's overstating something? Dearest darlings, use your heads! On the Rachel Maddow Show, such things simply aren't said!
KIRKPATRICK: Correct. So I think you're overstating his lawyer's denial, by the way.