“The Rachel Maddow Show” was the first cable news television program I watched regularly. It was a tumultuous time. I was a junior in high school starting to get involved and informed with all things political. Maddow was my introduction into the liberal media. I could always count on her to tell me in a logical argument why Republicans were crazy and Democrats were rational. Unfortunately, I’m afraid to say that Maddow has lost her way.
Maddow has a great format for her show. She starts off with a long, commercial-free 10-20 minute segment and then discusses other news events with some interviews and discussions. This form allows for an in-depth story on cable news uninterrupted by partisan “elites.” One of my favorite Maddow openings was about three unpopular Republican governors: Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rick Snyder of Michigan. Maddow started with her typical long-winded intro, talking about a high school football player for a reason unbeknownst to me. Turns out this high school football player was planning to go to a Louisiana state university, but decided against it because of cuts to the program caused by Bobby Jindal. Maddow said it best:
“And thanks to Bobby Jindal’s economic genius about how to run the state, not only did Bobby Jindal squander the state’s budget surplus, which they have when he got there, but every year thereafter, while he was governor, the state went deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper into a financial hole.”
Maddow goes into more detail about Jindal and the other two governors. She was discussing a major problem regarding the fallacy of austerity measures combined with tax cuts (for the rich primarily).
However, I believe recently Maddow has played fast and loose with the facts in order to appease an energized liberal constituency. If all you watched was her show, you would be sure President Donald Trump was directly involved in a complex long-term relationship with Vladimir Putin. She draws connections that are completely circumstantial. For example, Maddow “points out” that Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, has a connection to Russia. Let me walk you through the process. First, Deutsche Bank was fined for laundering money for Russia. Then, the chairman for Deutsche Bank became the chairman of the Bank of Cyprus through an appointment by two Russian oligarchs. After, one of these Russian oligarchs bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of real estate to shield his assets from a divorce settlement. One of these purchases was for Trump’s giant mansion in Palm Beach, for which this Russian oligarch paid $100 million even though Trump paid $40 million for it. On top of that, Ross is a vice chairman of this Bank of Cyprus.
While seemingly tantalizing, this 20-minute segment I reduced to five main points is completely circumstantial and is essentially just throwing fresh kale to the liberals (see what I did there with reversing the red meat conservative thing. Well, I thought it was clever). And look, maybe Trump has been colluding with Russians for over a decade. But there is no hard evidence or actual proof that shows this to be true. Instead of talking about real issues that affect real people, Maddow wasted 20 minutes on what happens to veer on liberal conspiracy.
And I haven’t even mentioned Maddow’s “big reveal” of Trump’s taxes. It turns out that over a decade ago, Trump earned a ton of money and paid a ton of taxes. Insanity. Was it worth the 20-minute Russia conspiracy story? It depends on whether you think Trump released these taxes himself or not. But that is a conspiracy I don’t even care about.
What Maddow is doing is over-exaggerating the “Russian connection.” This reduces other reports of Russian involvement. If you’re expecting a castle and end up getting a car, it makes the car seem unimportant. But hey, you got a car. Maddow, stop promising castles and get back on the road.