SATURDAY, JANUARY 22, 2022
"Forgery" appears only once: It's one of our most frequently asked questions. The question goes something like this:
Why are you so negative about the work of Our Own Rhodes Scholar?
We'd call that a perfectly decent question. Our answer goes like this:
Because we watch her show.
This brings us to a lengthy, front-page news report in yesterday's Washington Post. Five reporters contributed bylines to the lengthy report.
The report appeared above the fold on page A1. Its continuation consumed the whole of page A4.
Online, the report appears beneath the headline shown below. It was the Post's initial reporting concerning a topic which has dominated the Maddow Show of late.
Headline included, the report begins as shown. This is sane and sober reporting about one of Rudy Giuliani's many unusual plans:
As Giuliani coordinated plan for Trump electoral votes in states Biden won, some electors balked
On Dec. 14, 2020, the day of the electoral college vote, Republican electors convened in the capitals of five states that Joe Biden had won. They declared themselves “duly elected and qualified” and sent signed certificates to Washington purporting to affirm Donald Trump as the actual victor.
At the time, the gatherings in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin—all states that had officially approved Biden electors—were widely derided as political stunts intended to bolster Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud.
Understanding the origins of the rival slates has now become a focus of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to people familiar with the panel’s activities. Two Democratic attorneys general have asked federal prosecutors in recent days to investigate whether crimes were committed in assembling or submitting the Trump slates.
The Trump electors gathered in plain sight, assisted by campaign officials and Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said publicly that the rival slates were necessary and appropriate. Internally, Giuliani oversaw the effort, according to former campaign officials and party leaders who, like some others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Rudy was at it again. In five states which Biden had won, Republicans met and declared themselves to be the real electors.
In most cases, their names had appeared on the November ballot in their respective states. They'd hoped to be elected to the absurdly anachronistic position of elector—and they were pledged to Trump.
Now, even though Biden had won their states, they were presenting themselves as the duly elected electors. (Many of them may have believed that Trump had actually won their states.) They even "sent signed certificates to Washington" in which they affirmed these claims.
According to the Post's reporting, these events on December 14 were conducted "in plain sight." According to the Post, the events "were widely derided as political stunts" in real time.
As its article continues, the Post reports that some of the original Trump electors refused to take part in these December 14 events. Meanwhile, a larger question now prevails:
Were these "stunts" part of a wider plan to have Trump "re-elected" even though Biden had actually won?
Were these gatherings something more than a "stunt?" Were they part of an elaborate scheme even as they were occurring? Did they become a part of some such scheme in the days and weeks preceding January 6?
According to the Post's report, the January 6 committee is exploring such questions, as they very well might. That said, the Post's reporting is sane and sober—and Maddow's endless treatment of this topic has been quite different in content and tone.
We'll focus on one question today. In fact, we'll focus on one word:
We focus on the word "forgery"—a word which occurs only one time in the lengthy Post report.
The words appears just one time in the Post's report. The same is true today as the New York Times files its first report about this general topic.
In each case, the word "forgery" appears only once, and only as part of a public official's statement. In each case, the word is attributed to Dana Nessel, the Michigan attorney general.
The Post and the Times do not describe the "signed certificates sent to Washington" as "forgeries." On the Maddow Show, Maddow has seemed to be attempting to set a new world record for most uses of that term in the course of one-hour "news" shows.
What role might these stunts have played in an attempt to keep Donald J. Trump in the White House? Presumably, the January 6 committee will shed some light on that question before its work is done.
In the meantime, if you watch the Maddow Show, you're being relentlessly proselytized, and rather dumbly at that. The transcript of three or four recent shows can be summarized in this manner:
"Forgeries forgeries forgeries forgeries fake forged documents forged."
For ourselves, we have no idea, after watching these program, why the documents which emerged from those stunts should be regarded as "forgeries." When Nessel made this claim on the Maddow Show, she (of course) wasn't challenged or questioned in any way.
We don't know why those certificates should be regarded as "forgeries." There could always be a reason, but the question hasn't yet been explained or explored.
Stupid though the conduct was, the designation doesn't strike us as obvious in any way at all. But of one thing we feel fairly certain:
Maddow will never make any attempt to analyze that basic question. She'll simply keep repeating the magic words, over and over and over again, as she lets us us viewers dream of seeing Others frog-marched to jail.
Maddow will simply keep saying words like "forgery" and "forged documents." She'll keep repeating those magic words, and then she'll say them some more.
(Yes, we've done the word counts. On January 11, Maddow said some version of the word "forged" 39 separate times.)
This is the dumbest possible kind of tribal pseudo-journalism. Our nation is sliding into the sea, and Our Scholar is taking us there.
Yesterday, we tried to cover all the nonsense involved in one recent nine-minute jag. It's very, very hard to accomplish such a task. On balance, Maddow's show tends to be partisan clowning and partisan bullroar pretty much all the way down.
At some point, you simply have to be able to see and hear that. For today, we'll suggest that you proceed with care concerning this super-hyped new topic.
Warning and full disclosure: Last night, Chris Hayes offered a brief but much more nuanced treatment of this emerging topic. His guest was Amy Gardner, one of the five reporters involved in the Post's report.
MSNBC hasn't yet posted a transcript.