Rachel Maddow‘s preparation for each of her MSNBC shows is well-documented. Her rise in the ratings is a direct result of this meticulous preparation…around finding facts (instead of noise) to support her nightly claims of GOP hypocrisy.
On some cable shows, there’s no there there. With Maddow, while mistakes are made as they are on every other program, there’s some real meat to chew on.
By many accounts, the 39-year-old Oxford Rhodes Scholar seems to have embraced an old Chinese proverb applied by the Navy SEALs when putting together six blocks of segments with her producers every night: “The more we sweat in peacetime, the less we bleed in war.” With no radio show (See: Hannity, Sean) to prevent her from solely concentrating on her MSNBC presentation, Maddow delivers the kind of hearty meal her progressive viewers crave.
Which is why it’s disappointing to see her get down in the gutter with nonsense like the Marco Rubio “Watergate” loop that dominated her show on Wednesday night. On cue, said loop has since been criticized by right-leaning media and particularly by the highly-rated The Five and The O’Reilly Factor on FOX News. In my case, I wrote here that the Rubio Watergate coverage is just another example of a lazy media choosing style over substance.
The primary and justifiable beef is MSNBC’s obsession with such a benign event. To that end, Fox News has referred to a media study that found its own network ran the clip a dozen times, CNN 34 times, and MSNBC an eye-popping 155 times (as of Thursday night), including 101 times on Maddow’s program in the form of a corner-third window.
It’s not the first time Maddow has been scolded for going to the well once too often. Back in 2010, fellow progressive Jon Stewart—who knows how to connect with an audience as well as any performer alive—politely scolded her on repeating the whole “Teabagger” line over and over (and over) again during her show.
STEWART: Didn’t you hate when the Republicans used to use the phrase Democrat? Democrat.
MADDOW: The Democrat Party. Has the word rat in it.
STEWART: It seemed dickish. Democrat Party. Or when you spoke out against the war, there was a subtle undertone of you’re un-American, you don’t want to win the war on terror. Well, I think that what also comes out sometimes from the other side is teabagger. Now that’s I think derogatory. And I don’t think anybody would mistake it for that, for anything other than that. And it’s been used on this network quite frequently, by hosts, by guests…
MADDOW: You don’t think it was funny that they were calling them, they were saying tea bag the White House before the White House tea bags you?
STEWART: I thought it was funny for a day. I thought it was funny for a day.
MADDOW: Funny enough to play the John Waters clip of the teabagging thing on a bar?
STEWART: For a day. Probably wouldn’t have run with it with guests and things for months.
MADDOW: I didn’t run it for months.
STEWART: No, but your part…
MADDOW: But I got criticized for it for months.
STEWART: Well, because you kind of made hay of it. You made more hay of it than maybe that, you know, that…
MADDOW: Took the joke too far.
Once again, by childishly looping Rubio in an effort to somehow Palinize a cum laude law school graduate and U.S. Senator before his 2016 Presidential campaign even begins, Maddow has again taken the joke too far. But for Fox News to complain about playing any tape one-too-many times is patently hilarious.
It wasn’t that long ago that Fox decided to make Reverend Jeremiah Wright a central figure in the 2008 Presidential campaign. The infamous “chickens are coming home to roost/God-damn America” tape of Wright—Mr. Obama’s pastor for 20 years to that point—was played hundreds of times on the network…most often on the late Hannity and Colmes.
Mr. Obama eventually was forced to divorce himself from Wright to avoid being painted with the same extremist brush Fox had successfully colored the Reverend with. No matter…as the Illinois Senator obviously was able to still win the election vs. John McCain going away.
Both MSNBC (in the case of Rubio) and FOX (in the case of Wright) replayed each video ad nauseum to hammer home a selected narrative. Whether it was pushing the Rubio looking foolish/not ready to be President angle or the Wright/Obama apple-doesn’t-fall-far-from-the-extremist-tree narrative, that was the intent. Was the Wright story bigger than a sip of water? Of course. But the way both networks used what they saw as damaging video to the “opponent” was basically the same.
Does Fox have a worthy argument against MSNBC and Maddow over the Rubio water hype?
But they should also remember of once being guilty of the same crime.
Editor’s note: This post has been edited since its original posting – Jon Nicosia
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org