Listening to Rachel Maddow's criticism of Israel for the conflict in Gaza, I was reminded of a cartoon I saw years ago when World War II was still vividly within memory for many Americans.
The cartoon showed a German having built what he expected to be a toy, with the empty box and its assembled contents beside him and a friend standing nearby. The man turned to his friend in exasperation and said -- No matter what they send out, it always ends up a machine gun.
Maddow is like the postwar German industry of the cartoonist's premise -- not much versatility in the product line. Regardless of circumstances leading to renewed conflict in the Middle East, her deconstruction of reality places only Israel on the trigger end of a smoking gun, and guilty for whatever actions led to its use.
Here's what Maddow imparted to her Air America Radio listeners on Monday --
But while we're on the wild wide world of scary tour, of course, Israel has started another war. A third straight day of airstrikes on Gaza, the death toll now more than 300 people. Israel says they are doing this to prevent Palestinians from firing rockets into southern Israel. First of all, there's the question of proportionality as to how many people those rockets have killed versus how many people the Israeli bombing has now killed. There's also the issue of effectiveness. In the midst of this massive air assault killing hundreds of civilians in Gaza, a rocket fired from Gaza today killed a man and wounded seven in the Israeli town of Ashkelon. Effectiveness. Three Israelis were also stabbed by a Palestinian in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank today. Is there a military solution to this problem?
In a manner akin to Barney Fife charging a mugging victim with assault for swinging back, Maddow blames Israel for having "started" another war, instead of citing the undeniable aggressor -- Hamas. But what lowers Maddow's comments to the contemptible is her condemnation of Israel for alleged lack of "proportionality" in response to Hamas' aggression -- while Maddow exaggerates the number of civilian deaths caused by the Israeli counterattack.
News reports out of Gaza, such as the following excerpt from a story earlier today in the International Herald News, don't come anywhere near Maddow's claim of "hundreds of civilians" killed by Israel --
So far, more than 350 Palestinians - about 60 of them civilians - have been killed, according to the United Nations. Four Israelis - three civilians and a soldier - have died.
You'd think being able to say "dozens" or "scores" of civilian deaths in Gaza would suffice for Air America propagandists, but apparently this level of carnage doesn't meet their standards.
As 2008 draws to a close, Maddow has received abundant praise from likeminded quarters for her rapid ascension in the punditrocracy. Among critics outside the chorus, however, is CNN anchor-reporter Anderson Cooper, who had this to say to the Los Angeles Times --
LA TIMES: This year we saw the rise of Rachel Maddow and Campbell Brown -- very opinionated. You haven't succumbed too much. Do you have plans to?
COOPER: I have no plans to, no. I think those people are really good at what they do. Rachel Maddow is an incredible talent -- she's funny, and smart, obviously well researched on subjects. I'm just not interested as a viewer in listening to anchors' opinions. It seems like there's an awful lot of yelling, and this year yelling's been replaced by sarcasm and snarkiness.
Cooper's criticism of Maddow was picked up by wowOwow, "The Women on the Web" blog. I was struck by one of the comments to the post --
Commentators and reporters are two different things and comparing the two is ridiculous and a non-issue. The fact that Cooper would require a commentator like Maddow to act like a news reporter makes me question his understanding of the news media. It’s not her job to act like Cooper. It’s not Cooper’s job to act like Maddow. This is a non-issue.
To which I say, couldn't agree more. Maddow is a commentator, not a straight news reporter (no pun intended), nor an anchor. She is free to pontificate about whatever she wants and, to her credit, could hardly be more transparent in her politics.
But this doesn't mean Maddow can create her own facts, which she did on Monday -- and not for the first time, as described in previous posts at NewsBusters.