It's not often I see something on The Huffington Post I look forward to reading. Here's an exception.
In a post ungrammatically titled "Why Has the New York Times and Rachel Maddow Misled Us?", novelist and essayist Richard Greener on Thursday wrote a stinging rebuke of a Times' June 8 editorial and Maddow's coverage on her show the following day of the Supreme Court emergency order intervening in Arizona's political matching funds law.
Greener laid it on thick when it came to Maddow, initially describing her as "always intelligent, smart and savvy and usually 100 percent credible" before going after her assertions about the court's action.
He concluded that "only two explanations remain for Rachel's bad behavior" --
One is, she's just another TV entertainer, another pretty face in a long-line of million-dollar talking heads. She shows up, gets her make-up on and she performs her 'show' for the camera. Unsaid, is that she hasn't a clue what the program's about and perhaps doesn't care very much. After all, it's show business and it's her living we're talking about. It's only 'acting' isn't it? Second is she read the order. She knows perfectly well what it says. But she had a reason to do what she did, the way she did it.
I don't want to believe the first possibility. Don't ask me why. I don't know Rachel Maddow and I never will. But I kinda like her. I think she's cool. And, I admit it -- I usually agree with her. But I really don't want to believe the second because its (sic) so fundamentally dishonest, deceptive and downright creepy that it makes me a little queasy.
Greener deserves credit, as does The Huffington Post, for publishing this, knowing full well that many if not most of the readers on the site are also inclined to agree with Maddow. Where I part company with Greener is in his description of Maddow as "usually 100% percent credible."
Leaving aside the many examples on NewsBusters that undermine this claim, one need not venture far from the Maddow segment that Greener criticizes to see further evidence of this.
The day before Maddow's take on the Supreme Court action, Maddow interviewed Las Vegas Sun columnist and cable-show host Jon Ralston. The interview ended with a minor but telling error on Maddow's part when she thanked Ralston for coming on her show (click here for audio) --
MADDOW: Jon Ralston, columnist for the Las Vegas Sun, host of 'Face to Face with Jon Ralston,' and as a political dean of the press corps in Nevada you've got one of the best jobs in American politics.
... Except that Ralston works in journalism, not politics. Unless the person saying this sees no distinction between the two.
What followed from Maddow on Wednesday and Thursday, however, was egregious.
On Wednesday's show, the same one featuring the segment criticized by Greener, Maddow revisited her verbal jousting with John Birchers at last winter's CPAC gathering in her attempt to tar GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle with guilt by association (audio here) --
MADDOW: Seeing the John Birch Society back in the heart of the conservative movement has been sort of a trip. I mean, once they got over the impulse to try to pretend that they are not now and never were crazy about stuff like fluoride, they then got right back into the business of being super-paranoid, highly-imaginative conspiracy theorists about stuff like fluoride.
These guys really believe if we're going to get serious about stopping communist mind-control plots, we must oppose the dreaded Bolshevik fluoride in the water. Here's the most amazing thing, though. The John Birch Society now, in that view, has a very highly placed champion, the Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, Sharron Angle -- fighter against fluoride! Really!
In 1999 the Nevada state assembly passed a bill requiring the fluoridation of water in two Nevada counties. Then-assemblywoman Sharron Angle tried to block fluoridation in one of those counties. According to an account in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, 'Angle said she simply does not like fluoride.'
A day later, Maddow embellished on the basis for Angle's opposition to fluoridation (audio here) --
MADDOW: Now that Sharron Angle has won the Republican nomination for Senate to run against Harry Reid in Nevada, now the fun part. Now the fun part is watching the national Republican political establishment try to figure out what to do with Sharron Angle. Try to figure out how to balance that national Republican frothing, clamoring, heart-racing desire to beat Harry Reid with the fact that their candidate against Harry Reid thinks that fluoride in drinking water is a conspiracy and recently suggested that beer should be illegal. Sow's ear, can you become a silk purse? Can you?!
To recap: Maddow on Wednesday -- Angle's opposition to fluoridation, according to the newspaper Maddow cited quoting Angle, is personal distaste. Maddow on Thursday claims as "fact" that Angle believes fluoridation is a "conspiracy" -- as in Bolshevik.
Sharing Angle's concern, by the way, is that scurrilous right-wing rag Scientific American, which ran an article titled "Second Thoughts on Fluoride" in 2008. Guess they're in on the conspiracy too.
Maddow is "usually 100% percent credible"? Hardly. More like, slippery as an oil slick.