Columns, Opinion

BERMAN: Rachel Maddow isn’t what she used to be

“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.


  1. Thought of viewing Maddow’s stories in the context of the big picture? Including Europe with Eastern Europe? Or hey, have you motored through primary sources like Putin’s early speech to his government. Maddow has uncanny, keen political instinct…. no castles in the air there.
    Keep watching her……that’s where news is!

  2. What a petty load of drivel . You question Miss Maddow’s style , while simultaneously claiming she is exaggerating facts , while showing NO proof that what she has reported is wrong . I watch her show , and I know she STILL does what she has always done , present the facts available at the time so that people are aware of what Politicians and Leaders are doing . You claim to be a Liberal , but You sound like a Democrat who Voted for Trump and is now clamoring for excuses to Justify your actions !

  3. Entitled to your opion. Disagree

  4. you’re SO right. She’s twice what she used to be. her report tonight left me breathless. you just don’t get her. your loss. she is very, very smart you know~~~

  5. Finally someone calling out Rachel Maddow! It was a great piece Max!! After the election the media has gone crazy after this Russia speculation. There is still no hard evidence showing the Russian influence in the US election but democrats and the MSNBS is propping up this Russian hysteria. I think promoting this Russian collusion will keep the real news out of sight for people, i.e. the fact that Trump administration and Republicans in the state legislatures bulldozing many vital programs and laws.

    Obviously 30k a day Rachel Maddow doesn’t care about regular Americans.

  6. Rachel Maddow’s Tax scoop was a total BS. She essentially portrayed Trump as a tax paying good citizen who makes a lot of money. I know that MSNBC has forgot how to do investigative journalism (or even journalism), but at least they should have done some analysis before publicizing a big SCOOP. Total disaster.

  7. You went extremely soft on her. It has much to do with Bill Clinton’s Telecommunications Act of 1996 – Two decades later and we now have just five (5!) corporations that own more than 90% of our media (TV, radio, newspapers, and periodicals.). How long before everything you see and hear is delivered to us via 1 corporation? Imagine that it’s Murdoch’s media!
    Rachel makes what? 30k per day. Millions make less than 30k annually. I suspect she closely guards her current job, even if that means she must carry water for the corporate overlords. We have an openly corrupt government that carries out lethal attacks on 7 Middle Eastern countries weekly (but never in Saudi Arabia!). Why? Are we at war? Does anyone care? Corporate lobbying is bribery. They write (or block) laws at will. Hijacked – and not by Russia! But Putin!? We need to wake up.

  8. Good article. It is important that Democrats don’t succumb to the same conspiracy theory-style thinking that has essentially made Republicans irrational. Maddow has provided no shred of hard evidence of a Trump-Russia connection and even less evidence that Russia actually affected the outcome of the election! (Even if Putin were responsible for the Wikileaks dumps, how can any legitimate journalist think telling the truth about a politician is somehow bad or ‘election interference.’ All Wikileaks gave us was hard facts that HRC was indeed the two-faced Wall Street lover everyone already knew her to be.) Further, how much does Maddow report on the US intervention in elections? The Ukraine interference, for one recent example, resulted in a civil war, heightened tensions with Russia and a neo-Nazi backed government in power.