We think there's a great deal to learn here: It's fascinating to see Rachel Maddow get whacked around in the mainstream press. Today, she's mocked as "the queen of collusion" in this profile by Paul Farhi in the Washington Post.
It's hard to capture the sweep of Maddow's madness in a short newspaper profile. Her astounding bad judgment goes back a long way, but so does her unmistakable ability to "sell the car."
We're thinking of the various crazy things Maddow has done, but also of the various times she's run off and hid in the woods. In July 2016, the Maddow Show actually endorsed Jim Comey's initial attack on Candidate Clinton. That's how ridiculous it can get on this ridiculous program, without a word of concern or complaint from the press corps' "career liberals."
The code of silence held!
At this point in time, there's no way to know how the end of the Mueller probe will play out. That said, a few high-ranking liberals and Trump critics have been evaluating the ways our tribe got out over its skis in the pursuit of collusion indictments.
Consider the conversation between Chris Hayes and Michel Isikoff on All In this past Monday night. Isikoff appeared with his writing partner, our old pal David Corn.
Isikoff and Corn wrote the anti-Trump best-seller, Russian Roulette. In October 2016, Corn became the first major journalist to bring the Steele dossier to light.
This Monday, Hayes asked first about the problems with the William Barr letter. But uh-oh! His second question concerned the many fundamental errors in the Steele dossier.
The dossier was once holy writ. Is Hayes allowed to say this?
HAYES (3/25/19): Here is one set of factual matters I think is fairly established, even with the thin gruel that we've gotten [from Barr], David and Michael.Is Hayes allowed to say such things? Hayes was throwing major parts of the dossier under the Soviet-era bus!
I'll ask you both, starting with you, David, which is that the most, say, in the dossier, like, the most sort of lurid ideas about collusion, conspiracy are not true, definitively, right?
I mean, the idea that, like, Michael Cohen went to Prague and that there was this like extended and coordinated back and forth that was happening as they were running this operation hand in glove, that comes through in some of the dossier—like, that just did not happen, we know pretty definitively at this point. Would you be comfortable saying that?
He said we now know, definitively, that major elements of the dossier were simply bogus!
In our view, Corn largely ducked these criticisms of the dossier, but then Isikoff jumped in. Here's the way he started:
ISIKOFF: I agree with everything David said, except that the dossier did set expectations, and it did shape what people were looking for, what they thought might have happened. You know, it was endorsed on multiple, multiple times on this network, people saying, "It is more and more proving to be true." And it wasn't!Good God! Can Michael Isikoff say that? Can Isikoff say that people right there on MSNBC made serial misstatements?
Oof! In one of her typical cons, it was Rachel Maddow who kept telling unsuspecting viewers that large parts of the dossier had been established as true, while nothing had been disproved.
Maddow routinely embellished this point. Mercifully, Isikoff didn't name any names, but he and Hayes continued as follows:
ISIKOFF (continuing directly): And in fact, I think one of the reasons people were so surprised by the Mueller finding is that it undercuts almost everything that was in the dossier, which postulated a well-developed conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign. That's what got people worked up initially and we do have to acknowledge that, you know, that which was alleged has not panned out.Warning! In line with the way this network does business, MSNBC's official transcript is substantially wrong.
HAYES: That—the first appearance in the public domain, the document that, you know, first begins this sort of real coverage of this during the transition, which I think he was briefed on this document shortly after Buzzfeed publishes it, postulates, in a series of memos, both a well-coordinated attack by the Russians, but a back and forth between—actively, between TrumpWorld and the Russians, and that's the introduction to the notion of what happened that then, you`re right, I think sets a framework.
ISIKOFF: And can I just make one more point, Chris, because a lot of this was—we could have—we did see, some of us, did see, just in the court filings that Mueller was making— Take the Roger Stone indictment. Everybody got worked up about the fact that the Trump campaign was trying to use Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had.
IDIKOFF: Well, go back to what the original allegation was in the dossier, it was that it was all a well-developed conspiracy And the Trump campaign was in on it from the beginning.
HAYES: Exactly. Right.
ISIKOFF: Which means they wouldn't have needed Roger Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had. If the allegations in the dossier were true, they already knew what they were.
ISIKOFF: But those allegations were not true.
Routinely, the transcript identifies Corn as speaking where it really was Isikoff. But there you see Isikoff and Hayes speaking to the reign of error which ran through large parts of the Steele dossier—the dossier which liberals embraced as surely, of course and by definition plainly completely accurate.
We liberals longed to truly believe, and we proceeded to do so. We knew that Steele just had to be right. It turns out that Steele was in la-la land concerning all sorts of basics.
At this point, no one thinks Cohen went to Prague, but do you mind if we tell you something? According to the Nexis archive, Maddow viewers still haven't been told. Maddow's been too busy trying to make the rubble bounce around Paul Manafort's jail cell.
No one believes that Cohen went to Prague. Concerning the manifestly bizarre allegations about the "pee tape," does anyone have any faith in that bizarre story now?
We liberals longed to believe in Steele the Magnificent. As the Carter Family predicted, our idol has turned to clay.
We think there's a very good lesson here. In the future, it will almost surely be observed in the breach, given the way we "rational animals" are wired to play the game.
In closing, Hayes is this network's straightest player. Let's just say that the competition isn't especially strong.
Strange but also not: How strange! Videotape of the Isikoff interview hasn't been posted at the All In site.
According to Isikoff, false claims were made on MSNBC! Are pundits permitted to say that?