TUESDAY, MAY 11, 2021
Cable star blown off course: Rachel Maddow was sold to Our Town as Our Own Rhodes Scholar.
According to this corporate branding, Maddow is very smart. With that branding exercise in mind, consider the "imitation of life" interview the star conducted last night.
Maddow attempted to interview Oregon senator Jeff Merkley. She spoke with him about "the Democrats` big voting rights bill, the For the People Act."
She's widely believed to be our brightest "corporate cable" star This was the (thoroughly sensible) premise to which she gave voice before introducing Merkley:
MADDOW (5/10/11): This is the Democrats' big plan for trying to beat back all of the voter suppression bills that are being rammed through Republican-controlled states all over the country—Georgia, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Iowa, state after state after state. Tomorrow is going to be a real food fight over that and what's in that bill.
But is that bill going to pass? It does right now seem like there is something interesting going on strategically with that bill.
Tomorrow, Democrats say they plan to introduce several amendments to the bill. And again, remember, it's their own bill. They're going to introduce several amendments that are aimed at creating broader support for the bill with an eye toward eventually getting it passed and getting it to President Biden's desk.
Now, Mitch McConnell has said there won't essentially be any Republican votes for anything the Biden administration supports. What does Democratic strategy look like in the face of that? And what is the path toward getting this voting rights bill done?
Let's get clear on what Maddow seems to have said:
She seems to have said that Democrats will be amending the bill to create broader support. On the other hand, McConnell has said there won't be any Republican votes—or at least, no significant number of Republican votes—for this or any other Biden bill.
This raises an obvious question. Will Democrats be amending the bill in hopes of gaining some Republican support, perhaps enabling them to beat back a filibuster through a 60-vote override?
Or will Democrats be amending the bill to appease a few recalcitrant Democrats, perhaps hoping to pass some version of the bill with nothing but Democratic votes, under some 50-vote version of "reconciliation?"
The last time we looked in on Maddow, she was butchering two attempts to explain what the Senate parliamentarian had said about the Democrats' ability to use the reconciliation process again this year.
Back then, about a month ago, Maddow completely mangled two attempts to explain what the parliamentarian had ruled. Since that time, we've seen no further attempt, by anyone, to clarify that widely bungled matter.
By all accounts, it would be difficult to pass a voting rights bill under the reconciliation process. So what's the Democrats' plan?
Maddow was bringing Merkley on to explain the Democrats' plan for passing the For the People Act! How exactly were they planning to do it?
The first exchange went wonderfully well. The transcript reads as shown:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Senator Merkley, it`s really nice to see you. Thank you so much for making time.
MERKLEY: It's great to be with you, Rachel.
So far, so good! Now, Maddow asked the first of her two (2) actual questions. That first question went like this:
MADDOW (continuing directly): I think that our audience and the American people pretty broadly understand why this is such a big priority for you and for the Democrats right now, particularly when we look at what's happening in Republican- controlled states around the country, the big lie on the Republican side that it was somehow election fraud that explained why President Trump lost his reelection bid. This crackdown on voting rights is like nothing we've seen in a generation.
The question, though, is whether or not you have a plan to get to it President Biden's desk. Do you?
Do Democrats have a plan to pass the For the People Act and get it to Biden's desk? If so, how do they plan to do it?
Maddow had asked the obvious question. In response, Merkley wandered the countryside, completely failing to address the question he'd been asked.
After Merkley's rambling non-response, Maddow posed her follow-up question. Except by now, she had completely lost the thread of her original question.
As usual, she spent a bit of time discussing herself. That said, this was the second of her two (2) questions for Merkley, and no sign of her original question survived:
MADDOW: I think that you're exactly right that the Arizona shenanigans with this recount is designed to keep alive among Republicans this idea that there is something wrong with the security of the vote and that the most important thing should be that we should make it harder for people to vote because somehow too many people are voting and we have to be suspicious of it. Their deliberate slowness in Arizona, their effort to spread that kind of a road show to Georgia, Michigan, even New Hampshire, any other place they can spread it to, I think is designed to keep that narrative alive.
I struggled covering this in the news with whether or not to keep talking about what they're doing because I feel like to a certain extent, we're helping them promote that idea just by covering what they`re doing.
On the other hand, I feel like they've been effective at persuading Republican voters that there was something wrong with the election and the security of the ballot must be sort of cranked down on in a way that impedes voting rights. How do you balance those two considerations?
Whatever happened to the original question? By now, remarkably enough, the original question was gone.
How are Democrats going to pass the For the People Act? That had been the original question. It was an obvious, very good question.
But Merkley wandered the countryside, and Maddow got distracted. She asked a totally different second question, and after another Merkley ramble, the short "interview" was done.
Go ahead—read the transcript of this completely pointless "interview." As you do, remember this:
Maddow is understood to be our smartest corporate-picked star. Corporate branding has convinced us, here in Our Town, that Our Own Rhodes Scholar is the best and brightest ever.
The reality is quite different. Ain't corporate entertainment grand?
Discourse on method / interview length: Maddow routinely opens her show with extremely long monologues.
She then conducts extremely short interviews with people who might actually know what's going on in the world and/or what they're talking about.
Merkley knows if there's a plan. Maddow got blown off course.