by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
I had a summer vacation this year, and I got so incredibly bored I started to dabble in masochism. By that I mean that I decided to tune into The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast by MSNBC from the US.
I haven’t watched her for years (or ever, really) but since the election of Donald Trump Rachel Maddow has become the figurehead of a rather sadistic and certainly reactionary movement in US mainstream media: employing Russophobia to distract attention from the sins, failures, lawbreaking and cheating of the US Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential campaign.
It’s been two years and there is still no proof of Russian involvement, LOL! I “LOL” because it stopped being serious on around December 31, 2016, and has been purely comedic ever since. And yet Maddow – patron saint of the deluded Democrat – has been laser-focused on Russia for five nights a week ever since. Or so I have read – why on earth would I watch that junk?
Because I was on vacation, I was in a great mood – I was certain that I would return to my regular life with a new, recharged way of thinking which would make me immune from previous routines, habits and sources of aggravation. I felt bullet proof. So I flipped on her program on August 28, 2018.
Here is what I found, and I hope the reader will learn from my hubris.
The Rachel Maddow Show – MSNBC
Date: August 28, 2018
0:00 – The program will review today’s court transcript from on the the pre-trial arguing of ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s 2nd felony trial.
Oh wow, what did I get into…that sounds way, way more boring than I expected. We aren’t even going to watch a program about Manafort’s trial, but merely his pre-trial! We are a LONG way from resolution – i.e. “real news”. But, fool that I am, I always finish what I start – take us away into the glory and fascination of pre-trial logistics Rachel!
0:01 – Manafort is calling for a change of venue from Washington DC. Ok, that’s like a 2-line news brief in a newspaper – they can’t make an hour-long show about that…can they? Determined, plucky, ever-smiling Maddow looks like she’s going to try.
0:03 Maddow tells us that the list of evidence against Manafort has recently been increased to 1,500 pieces. The Manafort defense team – four people – told the judge they need more time to go through all that. Seems reasonable – 1,500 is one more than 1,499, after all, and 1,499 pieces of evidence is a lot. Maddow does not agree, and denigrates the intelligence of the Manafort defense team – they “cannot get it together”.
0:04 – Maddow insists that the she can read between the lines of the transcript, and that the judge is displeased at the certain incompetence of the Manafort defense team.
0:06 – The next 2.5 minutes is her reading the court transcript – it’s a one-person re-enactment of selected pre-trail minutiae.
Has anyone ever met a gadfly? I mean a real gadfly: the type who attend obscure county board meetings hoping to catch local officials off-guard? They ask hyper-detailed questions which officials don’t even bother trying to answer, but neither can they stop him or her from asking. Gadflies usually have major personal hygiene issues, but what is more off-putting is: why on earth do they spend so much time mastering such obscure issues, and why do they care about this almost useless subject so passionately? All the rest of are getting paid to organize/observe the public proceedings taking place.
Oh yeah, Maddow gets $7 million a year to do this – she may be the world’s richest gadfly. Besides poor hygiene, gadflies are always smugly convinced that they had the last laugh, so that’s another reason nobody likes to talk to them.
0:09 – We finally got somewhere! “It’s clear from this transcript today she (the judge) does not appear to be inclined towards Paul Manafort’s motion that they want to move this second case out of Washington DC.”
That’s the first bit of real news of the day, and…we waited 9 minutes for that? Terrible writing, Rachel: It’s “clear” that she “does not appear” that she is “inclined” to changing the venue? Waitaminut…there was no news to report today – nothing was decided!
This happens in daily life as well as in trials – nothing of note. Most of us don’t spend 9 minutes to announce that conclusion – those that do perhaps fail to realize that the people they are talking with have long ago tuned them out.
0:10 But wait, there is some news, and it’s not good for the MSNBC home team: “On this issue of Paul Manafort’s not being able to handle the requirements of preparing for his second trial – just not being able to get it together – well, the judge today – in D.C. – gave them a very hard time on that. But in the end – it’s interesting – she did actually give them a little bit of an extension.”
After admitting that Manafort’s team was indeed capable of getting exactly what it asked for Rachel has difficulty swallowing; Maddow’s conscience is having difficulty eating all that crow she now has to swallow. All that talk about Manafort’s team being incapable – all the snide looks, gestures and smug tones and the judge did not agree with Queen Rachel. Do I get my 10 minutes back?
So, why did she spend 10 minutes setting up a false premise of incompetence? After all, she was not surprised by the Manafort team’s legal victory – she knew of that decision before she went on the air.
I’d say the reason is clear: “incompetence” is the narrative she and other Democrats and mainstream journalists take no matter what the facts are when it comes to Trump and his allies. Repeatedly they have been declared incompetent and unqualified for office and thus must be eventually impeached.
Somebody should have told the judge to play along with her script for today…most journalists would have just changed their script, of course.
0:11 – I start to feel bad for Maddow: She has been thinking about Donald Trump 24 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 2 whole years. Who would wish such a life on a person?
She must wake up, and the first person she thinks about is Trump. She goes to work, where she’s all Trump, all the time. She does the show – all about Trump, of course. Then she goes home, and she’s probably kicking around some ideas for work while still trying to relax – that means more Trump. Not even Trump’s wife thinks about Donald that much, nor should she! Not even Mother Trump when she had Baby Donald thought so much about him! And yet Maddow chooses to live like this…odd.
My question is: would she do it for MY yearly paycheck? I wonder if she would…. Even though I’ll never make $7 million in my entire life combined – I’d need not quite two centuries, but well over one century – I’m not complaining about my life and journalistic choices.
0:11 More bad news for Maddow. Given that the US government has dumped 1,500 pieces of evidence on Paul Manafort, the judge grants Manafort’s team what they request – a delay. They get an extra week. Again – looking rather competent.
0:14 – Maddow wraps up the previous 14 minutes with “The news about this minor delay in Paul Manafort’s next trial is set today. There’s a new trial date in terms of when opening arguments are going to start.” (Maddow took 14 minutes to say what should have taken 10 seconds.) Here, Maddow has that difficulty swallowing thing happen again.
I hope she’s ok, health wise. But I can see why she’d feel a bit constricted – she has stretched 14 minutes out of a week’s delay in Manafort’s trial. Because this is TV, she has had to physically appear that this is actually serious news for 14 minutes – lying is hard on a body.
You know I’m on TV occasionally. Yeah that’s right – Iranian state television. That makes me a pretty big deal, I know. But I’m pretty terrible on camera – I evince zero charisma. Hey, I studied newspaper journalism, not TV journalism! Maddow, on the other hand, is pretty impressively professional: she has gone 14 straight minutes talking. What’s more, she has been able to maintain a smile which is on the verge of hilarious laughter for much of the time – I assume it’s because she finds Trump and his allies so incompetent and stupid.
I don’t think I could maintain smugness for 14 minutes straight. That’s why I’m glad I can just look serious and unpleased when I’m reporting the news – hard news is usually bad news, after all, and I have zero interest in trying to appear otherwise. This is also part of why I don’t get $7 million a year….
0:15 – Been all Manafort so far, Rachel must be going through Trump withdrawal. So should many of her viewers.
Speaking of normal people: It’s not possible that Maddow’s viewers are giving this their rapt attention. They must be folding laundry, or on the internet or drinking heavily. As I said, it has been 15 minutes about nothing. I know this for certain: Anyone who has told someone else “Shhhhh!” during the last 15 minutes must be unbearable to be around.
The next topic’s lead-in is being delivered and…it’s Trump! “The president himself continues to be basically losing his mind over the Russia scandal writ large….”
Frankly, I think Trump has remained “Trump” for 2 years – I haven’t seen any change in his behaviour. No way he’s lost his mind. He’s one of those types who has not changed since puberty, regardless of pleas to do so. But, of course, this is just how crazy, tense, angry Democrats like to talk. I’m no psychologist, but they seem to be projecting their own fears onto the Donald, no matter how immature and lacking in facts.
I wonder…what was Maddow like as a youngster? Was she one of those girls who would say anything to get attention or to be popular? Was she one of those girls who would hound, harass and psychologically torture another young girl into bulimia or anorexia or something? That’s how girls get that stuff in many cases, right? From female bullies. I was always playing sports as a kid, so I never knew what they were doing standing around and talking during recess every day – now I know: they were giving each other eating disorders via passive-aggressive conversation. I bet that if Maddow met that girl now – who went on to have a history of anxiety, depression and medication as a result of bullying – she’d tell her, “I had the biggest crush you in school! But you were elected student council president instead of me, so I had to take you down.”
One thing is absolutely clear from this digression: We must demand taxpayer funds to investigate my unfounded allegations of mental cruelty on the part of Rachel Maddow in 1986, when she was in the 8th grade!
0:16 Back to the show. How could I get so distracted after that riveting first 15 minutes?
Part 2 starts with the background is of the FBI and the headline “The Next Target”. The target must be an ally of Trump’s, right?
Wrong. It’s the target of the Trump administration to stop the Russia investigation. Rachel has headed down the rabbit hole of conspiracy.
Rachel goes into a long digression revisiting The New York Times coverage of the conviction of Jose “El Feo” Reyes, a drug kingpin from decades ago. This is sensational, exciting stuff – but what on earth does this have to do with Trump? Now she’s talking about the prosecutor of El Feo, and what a great guy he is, what a great bureaucrat for the justice department, a real public servant/hero, who would later be a part of a federal team which indicted – wait for it – ”the Godfather of the Russian mafia”. Groan…3 minutes about “El Feo” to get to this?!
0:19 – Maddow spends a minute talking about and showing how broadcasters have trouble saying the Russia mafioso’s name “Semion Mogilevich.”
This is pretty Russophobic, no? Maddow hugely grinning because “nobody could pronounce the name”, and laughing at it, as well as indirectly making fun of it via “awkward” humour…this is all designed to dehumanise Russians by showing how “different from us” they are, right? If the person in question was an African-American named LaShawnedro Tyreekolio Jefferson…would Maddow be laughing at his name? Would she laugh at Schlomo Hershlag Rabinowitz? Of course not.
I am not being overly sensitive, as my point here is: if she is doing these little Russophobia / Russian-insulting things night after night, month after month – that’s bigotry.
0:20 Back to the program…but I cannot keep track and thus cannot relate her conspiracy properly:
Maddow cites unproven allegations of Russian ex-cons to Trump and Manafort, thus meaning they have possible ties to Mogilevich (which is terrible journalism). Now she’s talking about Oleg Derapaska, who no American could care less about but who is described as a “Putin ally”. Ok, whatever, just move on.
Back to the great federal prosecutor, the “Harvard brainiac”, who Maddow praises to the high heavens: “that same official, ‘was part of a group of government officials who revoked the visa of Oleg Deripaska. Officials were concerned that Mr. Deripaska would try to come to the United States to try and launder illicit profits through real estate, a former law enforcement official said.” Yeah, ok, big deal for John Q. Public – another money launderer, and it seems like he was stopped. He should have just applied for an LLC in Delaware. All I know is: This has taken up 8 minutes of my life!
0:23 – But this is what that all lead up to, and it really is shocking:
“The Russia scandal around this president – and particularly the part of it which has led up to these two federal trials against the president’s campaign chairman – (she says this part with feeling) it has an organised crime element to it. It has a Russian organised crime element to it.”
Wow, that was totally not proven at all….
This is terrible journalism, because it is opinion presented as fact. It seems like slander – I wait for her to walk it back, but she doesn’t. I get the impression this is not the first time she has made this allegation – only regular viewers of Maddow could answer that. What’s certain is that if you repeat something enough people will believe it.
I am now emphatically reminded: The Rachel Maddow Show is not “news” – it is “fake news”.
0:24 Finally, after another huge build-up of his qualities and virtues, she gives us the name of the world’s greatest Justice Department official, who eventually went from “El Feo” to became the “Justice Department’s expert on Russian organized crime”, per Maddow. His name is Bruce Ohr and he was called to testify today to Congress- in private, to avoid public spectacle – about the whole Russia investigation.
Maddow reads the headline from yesterday’s New York Times: “Bruce Ohr Fought Russian Organized Crime. Now He’s a Target of Trump.”
LOL, that is rich…after two years of witch-hunting Trump, Putin and all Russians (and I say that as an objective journalist – there has been 2 years with no evidence produced!) and what does The New York Times and MSNBC do? They follow Goebbels’ playbook – “accuse the other side of that which you are guilty”.
0:25 – And she said it again like it’s a fact! “There is a Russian organised crime element to the Trump-Russia scandal.”
Man, that is an incredibly broad, sensationalistic and totally unproven allegation. As a journalist you can’t make an unproven claim just because you hope the future proves you right. Well, the truth is that The Rachel Maddow Show is editorial news, not hard news – there are different standards…but not for slanderous claims presented as fact.
Here’s the problem: If countless Americans take the news satire The Daily Show as “news”, how many people don’t realize The Rachel Maddow Show is just as big a joke of journalism?
Ugh, this is why I don’t watch this garbage – not only have I not learned nothing, I have had someone try to replace facts and integrity with lies and false propaganda.
However, I can see why many do – there hasn’t been one commercial! What kind of show in the US goes 30 minutes without the mental rape of advertising these days? They have turned the “news” into a movie. After all, history is way more interesting than fiction, and what is journalism but the history of today?
0:26 – “In going after Bruce Ohr today they are trying to take out one of America’s top experts on Russian organised crime.”
Well if he’s the Justice Department’s top expert on Russian organised crime, who has been so very involved with Russia, isn’t he rather compelled to testify to public servants if asked, and to defend and explain his work? Or course he is Ramin – that’s balance of power between the executive and legislative branch. That’s why it cannot be called a witch-hunt against Ohr: he isn’t accused of anything – he’s just testifying about what he’s done on the taxpayer’s dime.
But Maddow continues: by “going after” Ohr they are weakening America’s ability to stop Russian money-laundering, Russian intelligence operations, Russian organised crime, etc.
And now the news/cinema is at its end and climax – that’s how you do drama, whereas in journalism the climax is in the lede sentence. It’s a pretty good cinematic moment:
“But you can imagine how satisfying a day like today must have been for Semion Mogilevich, to see Bruce Ohr get his turn in the barrel like this, right? You can imagine how delightful that was for the Russian mafia. You can imagine what a nice turn of events today must have been when viewed from the perspective…(dramatic pause) of the Kremlin. We’ll be right back.”
Well, that’s all pretty shameless, manipulative and terrible journalism, isn’t it?
Maddow is working her self-proclaimed “there IS a Russian organised crime element” by linking a democratically-elected Putin to the Russian mafia; she has implied that Republicans are working on their behalf; she has said that having legislative branch officials question executive branch officials is not balance of powers but actually weakening the ability of the US to defend itself from foreign criminals, and there’s more besides.
But I think it’s all right there, eh? Fear-mongering, Russophobia, anti-democratic attitudes, unfounded allegations, sensationalism, etc. You can’t present these links and then cut to commercial – not if you are a real journalist or if you have any integrity – but that’s what she just did.
However, Maddow is obviously a fanatic: she has an end in mind and everything which exists must be bent towards achieving that end, regardless of truth or any other consideration.
She is a great actor – puts plenty of feeling in what she’s saying. I can’t tell if she’s acting or if she believes it. I’m not sure which is worse.
I don’t even have the space to get into this, as I had planned, but there was ACTUAL NEWS which occurred on August 28, 2018! I mean the stories which actually impact the average person’s life, unlike this conspiratorial, fear-mongering nonsense which is nothing but a diversion from the misdeeds of Maddow’s Democratic friends. Maddow totally ignored such stories, but true leftists do not.
0:27 – I’ve had enough. I’m on vacation. There is one-third of the show left, and I couldn’t care less about the results of the Democratic primary in Florida.
This was supposed to be a funny article, but when you diagram it out…I rather feel like I just watched Joseph McCarthy at work. I am not trying to exaggerate nor do I think I need to: wild allegations, targeted xenophobia, reading a fact and then declaring it to be something else, unfounded charges of conspiracy, repeating dramatic but unproven claims which spread fear and anger, etc. It’s seriously wrong.
American TV journalism, man…it’s bad stuff. I don’t work for it.
What kind of summer vacation is this? How much of a journalist nerd am I that I thought this was a good way to spend my vacation? Do I really have nothing to better to do? Didn’t I just confirm what I already knew (that The Rachel Maddow Show is dangerous Democratic & 1%-er propaganda). How did my life get to his point, and what can I do to change? Am I capable of change?
I hope everyone sees just how bad the effects are of just 30 minutes of The Rachel Maddow Show. Imagine the inner life of a regular viewer.
Wow! That last thought was enough to scare me straight! I can happily report that I did not watch any more Maddow for the rest of my vacation.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.