It’s no secret that MSNBC’s launching of The Rachel Maddow Show signaled the network’s decisive turn towards the left in its coverage of political news. After all, Maddow had risen through the ranks of liberal media organizations in recent years, hosting her own show on Air America Radio and standing in on occasion for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC’s Countdown. But, as the first two airings of Maddow’s show have demonstrated, Rachel Maddow is hardly MSNBC’s response to Sean Hannity. Rather, she is MSNBC’s response to fact-based political commentary, with the one-time Rhodes scholar dedicating her hour of nightly airtime to furthering blatant conspiracy theories.
For example, take Maddow’s discussion of yesterday’s alarming report that, seven years after 9/11, the United States is still “dangerously vulnerable” to a WMD attack by terrorists. After attributing this quotation to 9/11 Committee Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton–and mislabeling him a Republican–Maddow unleashed this ridiculous rant:
There’s actually a bunch of reports coming out now on how little we’ve done to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction. “The Washington Post” today describes, quote, “years of bureaucratic drift” that all these blue ribbon commissions are trying to cut through. So we’ve had years of bureaucratic drift and we’ve made only minor progress on this issue in seven long years.
But the political machine designed to hype our fear of an attack using weapons of mass destruction, that’s banging on all cylinders, working very well, thank you. Because converting fear into votes is apparently a much more urgent priority right now than actually taking concrete steps to make the country safe from those threats.
Got that? In Maddow’s fact-free analysis, the Bush administration is so cunning that it has enlisted a respected former Democratic congressman as its tool for spreading fear–paradoxically benefiting electorally from a report that actually criticizes the (lame-duck) administration’s performance.
Later in the show, Maddow reaffirmed her political ignorance. While discussing the Bush administration’s announcement that it would transfer troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, Maddow demonstrated a disturbing unfamiliarity with the U.S. Constitution:
… in terms of Iraq strategy, wouldn’t we be better served by the next president-elect making these decisions in November, starting the day after the election, rather than this administration pledging now what’s going to happen in February, after Bush’s gone?
Apparently, Maddow doesn’t know that the sitting president–and not the president-elect–makes decisions regarding military strategy in his capacities as commander-in-chief. But luckily for Maddow, she made this comment while hosting the rare U.S. Army general similarly unaware of this constitutional factoid. “Oh yes,” responded Gen. (ret.) Barry McCaffrey, “I couldn’t agree more.”
For this reason, it must be pretty cool being Maddow. In a media culture that technically aims to present both sides of every issue, it must be nice to host guests who agree with your outlandish assertions unequivocally.