With decades of self-defeat: Precisely one week after April Fools Day, Rachel Maddow started her high-rated "cable news" show in the way she seems to like best—by talking about herself.
Maddow was also "selling the car" this night. She was "humble-bragging" in such a way as to help her roughly four million viewers learn how to adore her more fully.
Cable news bluster has been a fact of American life for at least three decades now. For those of us in the liberal world, the phenomenon has become a major part of the sociological phenomenon now known as "Leadership Down."
Maddow started her April 8 program in the self-referential way her viewers may even enjoy. In a bizarre profile of Maddow for The New Yorker, Janet Malcolm once referred to this sort of thing, gushingly, as Maddow's "performance of the Rachel figure."
Incredibly, Malcolm voiced approval of this silly performance art. On the recent evening in question, the performance started like this:
CHRIS HAYES (4/8/19): That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel!So far, almost so good! Unfortunately, this was a Monday evening. Maddow had had an entire weekend to think about the various attributes and traits found within herself.
MADDOW: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Two years ago, in the early weeks of the Trump administration, the spring of 2017, the New Yorker magazine published a story about the new president's business history. And it was a story that was almost too much to believe.
Result? As cable news stars have learned to do, she veered off the path of traditional "news." Instead, she encouraged viewers to think about one of her endearing traits. Viewers were now in The Mickey Mouse Club, and Maddow turned into Annette.
For the cultural background, just click here. Rachel continued as follows:
MADDOW (continuing directly): And if you know me from this show, if you have seen this show before, you may know that one of the things that makes me not awesome at this job is that I'm kind of a prude.To watch this pure bullsh*t, click here.
I am—I am easily embarrassed. I blush and stutter and get tongue-tied when I am confronted with things that make me uncomfortable on TV, and a lot of things. it turns out, make me uncomfortable on TV.
Anyway, you're probably aware of that about me and my failures as a TV host.
This is the part of the Maddow Show colloquially known as the "I I I I I I I Block," according to victims familiar. Right out of the gate, Maddow was talking about herself—and she was humble-bragging.
Readers, poor Rachel Maddow! Because she's such a hopeless prude, a welter of things make her embarrassed, she likes to claim, and therefore uncomfortable on TV.
On this particular evening, Rache was open and honest enough to admit that this is "one of the things that makes [her] not awesome" at her job as a TV host. This familiar type of nonsense is supposed to read as modesty.
In fact, this familiar type of humble-bragging is deigned to make us feel that the emotionally hapless Rachel needs and deserves our love, our support and our understanding, and most of all our help. Or so we're told by industry insiders familiar.
As every Maddow viewer knows, Maddow frequently plays this "I'm embarrassed by sexuality" card. Generally, she does this while going a million miles out of her way to clog her program with silly, gratuitous, dare-we-say-stupid insertions of utterly pointless sexual imagery into the evening's frolick.
On this particular evening, she wouldn't be playing the telephone tape in which Governor Bentley tells his girl friend that he loves touching certain embarrassing parts of her body. (It's a tape she played again and again while covering her ears and closing her eyes to show us that she was embarrassed, indeed a virtual child.)
She wouldn't be watching Ana Marie Cox drop "tea-bagger" dick jokes on the heads of early Tea Party members. (At one point, she did this night after night, constantly saying how embarrassed she was by her guest's double entendres.)
On this night, Maddow the Prude would be embarrassed by a photograph of a hotel in darkest Azerbaijan. She returned to that two-year-old New Yorker report—and to one of the ways her life as a prude ends up making her good at her job:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Anyway, you`re probably aware of that about me and my failures as a TV host. That said, I also think that gives me a little bit of an insight into why some things take off and others don't.A photograph of a large hotel now appeared on the screen. As she continued, Maddow explained that the photo couldn't be shown on daytime TV—and her embarrassment continued.
I will tell you, ever since that New Yorker piece was published in March of 2017, that unbelievable article in the New Yorker, I have truly believed, as a prude, that part of the reason it didn't take off, part of the reason it didn't become one of the things that everybody knows about Donald Trump's business history and his potentially serious trouble in that business history, I think one of the reasons that story has stayed kind of obscure instead of becoming part of a, you know, Trump legal trouble pantheon that everybody talks about, I think part of the trouble with that one is because this is what that hotel looks like that is the subject of that business story in the New Yorker from two years ago.
And honestly, I mean, it's just—
I think this is part of it.
Ridiculously, Maddow now claimed that the two-year-old New Yorker report never took off because other journalists were too embarrassed by that photograph to discuss the report. Nonsense like this is standard fare on The Maddow Show, a corporate program deeply involved in the destructive phenomenon known as Leadership Down:
MADDOW (continuing directly): I know we're safe to put this on TV right now because it'S 9 PM Eastern or whatever. But would you even be allowed to put this picture up like on a morning news show, or dayside?In short, Maddow thinks the orchid-shaped O'Keefe homage looks like the female sexual organ. Inanely, she burned the opening three minutes of her show with this lively blend of self-serving self-reference, feigned personal embarrassment and sexual super-stupidity.
Why did they build it to look like this? What did the people of Baku, Azerbaijan, think about this building in their midst? But this resplendent Georgia O'Keefe homage is the Trump Tower Baku.
Or it was, at least. It never actually opened.
Incidentally, I can actually show you what it looks like on fire. There's actually a bunch of pictures of it on fire, since there are precisely two things this Trump Tower Baku is known for.
One of them is it catching fire last year as it sat empty and unfinished. The other thing it is known for, to the extent that it's known at all, is that gobsmacking reporting that the New Yorker ran about it in 2017, which everyone then promptly filed away, never to talk about in polite company ever again. How could you?
That New Yorker story was the story of the Trump Organization, the president`s business, developing this would-be orchid-shaped Trump luxury tower in a random corner of Baku, Azerbaijan...
The corporate star pretended to think that the New Yorker report went down the memory hole because other journalists were too embarrassed to discuss a building project which ended up looking like somebody's you-know-what! Tomorrow, we'll let you know what Susan said back in 2017 when she caught Rachel reading that article!
At any rate, how could journalists talk about that embarrassing New Yorker report? That was the silly/faux orchid-shaped question this corporate idiot asked.
Some will say that this manifest nonsense was just three entertaining minutes off the top of an hour-long variety show. Others will say that Maddow's "selling of the car" is an important part of the marketing of a major corporate star.
We'd say this type of bogus, self-referential clatter helps define the decades-old problem now known as Leadership Down.
According to Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), what is Leadership Down? On cable, it's a problem which has stalked liberal, progressive and Democratic Party interests since the time when Chris Matthews spent a decade calling Hillary Clinton "Nurse Ratched" and "Evita Person" while saying how "witchy" she was.
Matthews spent roughly a decade trashing Clinton that way. During that same era, he spent several years trashing Candidate Gore as "today's man-woman" and as "Albert the waiter" while working extremely hard to send George W, Bush to the White House.
In fairness, some of Candidate Gore's suits featured suit jackets with three buttons instead of just two. Matthews psychoanalyzed that fashion matter for weeks. Along the way, he pleased his owner, GE CEO Jack Welch, with throw-away comments like these:
Chris Matthews on Hillary Clinton: "I hate her. I hate her. I hate everything she stands for."In short, back when Hardball was more influential, Matthews was a prime example of "Donald J. Trump before Trump."
Chris Matthews on Al Gore: "He doesn’t look like one of us. He doesn’t seem very American, even."
The liberal world just sat there and took it. Today, Maddow says that her dear friend, Chris Matthews, is the best analyst around!
Maddow's clowning about O'Keefe in Baku was one small recent episode. In the weeks since she sold the car that way, she has also done this:
She has spent ten minutes attempting to revive the idea that there really is a videotape of Donald J. Trump soiling that bed with those Moscow sex persons.
She has spent an entire program pretending to re-discuss the Bridgegate matter, the episode she beat to death while trying to send Governor Christie to jail.
(In that recent presentation, she staged the most incompetent interview of all time, failing to ask the most obvious questions of pitiful alleged victim Bridget Kelly, whose story makes little sense.)
On April 18, she even told Andrew McCabe that it was "an honor" to interview him. We're so old that we can remember her program of May 10, 2017, when she staged one of her crazy nervous breakdowns, devoting the first twenty minutes of her program to this hysterical claim:
MADDOW SITE (5/10/17): New Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe improperly discussed the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia with Reince Priebus and became part of the Trump disinformation campaign.Her reporting that night made no earthly sense. We'll only say that, if McCabe "became part of the Trump disinformation campaign," it looks like someone forgot to tell the Trump campaign about it!
How in the world did Donald Trump ever end up in the White House? Decades of crazy attacks on Hillary Clinton played a key role in that matter. No one played that card in an uglier way than MSNBC's Matthews, who is today an integral part of the "corporate pseudo-liberal malinformation machine."
Ugly attacks on Candidate Clinton helped elect Candidate Trump. So did the way The Maddow Show took the side of Comey the God when he launched his initial attack on Candidate Clinton in July 2016.
As liberals, we rarely hear about such matters. Tomorrow, we'll highlight that awkward point as we stave off embarrassment long enough to continue with Leadership Down.
Tomorrow: These (journalist) kids today!