MSNBC has had a hard time lately. The network fired Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin for craziness, on-air and off-air respectively. Melissa Harris-Perry was forced to apologize, first on Twitter and then, tearfully, on the air, for making political hay out of Mitt Romney’s adopted grandson. The network put Ed Schulz out to pasture, and most people wrote Chris Matthews off as a hysteric long ago, so that pretty much leaves Rachel Maddow–amazingly enough–as MSNBC’s supposed voice of sanity. Eliana Johnson has reported on Maddow’s status as the “queen” of MSNBC, who wields more control than anyone else over the network’s often-crazed content.
But is Maddow any better than the rest? A recent incident suggests that if anything, she is worse.
Last Thursday, 45 minutes before Maddow’s show began, her producer sent this email to representatives of Koch Industries, with which MSNBC has long been obsessed. Click to enlarge:
The Koch employees who received the email were a bit nonplussed, since Koch had nothing to do with the Florida welfare legislation in question, and had never supported–or, as far as I know, ever heard of–the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability. One of them responded to the producer; by that time, the show was already in progress:
Rachel Maddow, naturally, didn’t wait to learn the facts. Her segment on the Florida law, which required drug testing of all welfare applicants and had just been struck down by a federal judge, was all about Koch–bizarrely so, since Koch had nothing to do with the law in question:
Ms. Maddow moved on to a discussion of a 2011 Florida welfare law and a Florida federal court ruling concerning that law, falsely stating that the “Koch brothers . . . have been promoting forced drug tests for people on welfare.” Ms. Maddow based this false statement on her claim that the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability (“FFGA”) was involved in the legislation. This was a knowingly false and malicious statement by Ms. Maddow – Koch is not involved in promoting any such issue and we are not working with the FFGA on any such issue, as we explained to you last night. Indeed, your email from last night shows that you knew Koch had no link to the FFGA or this issue since you stated that Koch “donated to the State Policy Network of which FGGA is a member.” Nevertheless, Ms. Maddow repeatedly and falsely referred to FFGA as a “Koch brothers affiliated group,” a “Koch brothers connected Florida group,” a “Koch brothers related group,” and “this group (FFGA) affiliated with them (Koch) in Florida.”
Given that Koch has zero relationship with FFGA, Maddow based her claims on the fact that Koch has donated risibly small amounts–$40,000 over eight years–to the State Policy Network, and FFGA, which advocated for the Florida law, is a member of the State Policy Network. She used this graphic to explain the connection to her audience:
But this is an utter non sequitur. The State Policy Network–let alone the Koch brothers!–had nothing to do with the Florida legislation. Ms. Maddow perhaps was trying to suggest that the State Policy Network is a funding source for FFGA, so that the Koch brothers have indirectly supported FFGA, albeit to a ridiculously small level (nowhere near $1,000 on a pro rata basis). But that isn’t true either. I happen to know a little bit about this, since I was formerly the Chairman of the Board of a think tank that is a member of the State Policy Network. The SPN is like a trade association of conservative think tanks, with members in every state. The SPN doesn’t support the local groups, like FFGA; on the contrary, the local think tanks pay dues to support SPN. So there is no connection–not even a minute, indirect one–between Koch and FFGA. I repeat: as far as we know, no one at Koch had ever heard of FFGA before Rachel Maddow’s show on Thursday of last week, and Koch did nothing–zero, nada–to support the Florida legislation in question.
So Rachel Maddow’s entire segment was one big lie. Her central premise, that the Florida welfare statute was an initiative of the Koch brothers, was false, and she knew it. She made the whole thing up to fool the low-IQ viewers who form MSNBC’s base. But the story gets even worse.
In an email dated January 3–follow the link above–Koch asked MSNBC to retract, and apologize for, Maddow’s fabrications. Instead of correcting her misrepresentations, Maddow, in her show on Friday, triumphantly refused, saying “I don’t play requests.” Or, in other words, “I lie with impunity, and MSNBC gives me cover.” The left-wing echo chamber swooned. Daily Kos–remember them?–headlined, “Rachel Maddow Speaks Truth to Powerful Koch Brothers.” Raw Story’s sycophantic take was, “Maddow scorches Koch brothers on ‘correction’ demand: ‘I don’t play requests.’” So if you are a left-winger, blatant lies about conservatives make you a hero.
But the corruption goes deeper still. Rachel Maddow says that any company that supports the State Policy Network is “affiliated with” the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability, and is responsible for everything FFGA does. That is wrong, but let’s go with it. Who else, besides Koch, has supported the State Policy Network? You might be surprised: the list includes Microsoft, Facebook, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods, and many more. So Maddow randomly singled out Koch as opposed to any of these other companies as the sponsor of the Florida legislation which, as far as we know, Koch wasn’t even aware of. Well, not randomly, because MSNBC is obsessed with Koch, but you get the point.
But wait! A final level of deception remains to be revealed: one of the many companies that have contributed to the State Policy Network is Comcast, which owns MSNBC and is Rachel Maddow’s employer. So in her Thursday broadcast, Maddow could equally well have said that MSNBC “ha[s] been promoting forced drug tests for people on welfare,” and that FFGA is an “MSNBC-affiliated group.” She didn’t do this for obvious reasons. She knew that she was addressing a stupid audience that would never know the difference.
If Rachel Maddow is the best that MSNBC has to offer, MSNBC is in even deeper trouble than its steep ratings decline would indicate.
PAUL ADDS: Wow! This is surely one of the greatest takedowns ever. I hear they are planning to put up an apartment building on the site where Maddow used to be standing.