Maddow as Inquisitor Accuses GOP Heretic of Racism and Attempts to Burn his Reputation at the Stake

October 13th, 2010 9:10 AM

Cable television doesn't get any shabbier than this.

In the wake of her train wreck of an interview with GOP congressional candidate Art Robinson, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow resorted to the most threadbare tactic in the left-wing playbook, accusing Robinson of racism on the basis of evidence so barren that even other liberals must have winced in embarrassment.

The caustic Oct. 7 exchange ran 18 minutes, too long to show in a video clip here. (Follow this link to see the segment in its entirety). For the sake of concision, I include here a two-minute snippet that exemplifies Maddow's dishonesty, followed by a second clip from her show on Oct. 8 when, in lieu of prevailing over Robinson in debate, she set out to destroy his reputation.

In the first part of the embedded video, Maddow and Robinson argue over Robinson's previous writings, specifically about "hormesis," the theory that low levels of toxins and radiation can be beneficial to human health. After Robinson attempts to explain hormesis and is twice interrupted by Maddow, she asks this at 2:20 in the video --

MADDOW: Have you ever done a satellite interview before?

ROBINSON: Have I ever done what?

MADDOW: A satellite interview before, a TV satellite interview?

ROBINSON: I don't, I guess I actually think I have, yes, but not very often because I don't often do these things. I'm running for political office for the first time. I'm not a politician, I'm a scientist, a very good one, I'm sure you've checked it out and found that to be true, but you're going to smear my reputation anyway.

MADDOW: One of the things that happens in satellite interviews is there's about a one and a half second delay ...


MADDOW: ... between me asking a question ...

ROBINSON: Hmm hmm.

MADDOW: ... and you hearing it. So, you can interpret that ...

ROBINSON: Fine, but when I start answering, you know that I'm in the middle of the answer, don't you?

MADDOW: ... as sarcasm but it's actually just the way the medium works. I'm sorry it's been so awkward for you.

ROBINSON: No, no ...

MADDOW: I would love to ...

ROBINSON: ... your interruption was not caused by the delay. That's just the speed of light, madam, it's much faster than that.


"Much faster" than the second and a half delay Maddow claims, as was apparent throughout the exchange. To the extent there was a delay, it was miniscule. For example, at 0:42 when Robinson insults Maddow by saying she is not "capable of understanding" hormesis, her response -- "that's patronizing and charming" -- is immediate. Same thing happens at 1:11 when Robinson accuses Maddow of an "outright lie." Her reaction -- wide-eyed innocence -- is instantaneous.

I could cite a half-dozen other examples of this in this short clip alone, all refuting Maddow's claim of a prolonged satellite delay when in reality Robinson got the better of her and Maddow tried to explain it away with a self-evidently false excuse.

Anyone familiar with Maddow's modus operandi knew she would not long suffer such a blow to her self-esteem. Sure enough, Maddow went after Robinson right out of the gate the following night, with Robinson conveniently absent and unable to fluster her.

After criticizing Robinson's theories on hormesis, global warming and AIDS, Maddow unsheathed her intended coup de grace, the inevitable accusation of racism. And Maddow did so with guilt-by-association so thin that it requires nanotechnology to measure (second part of video, starting at 3:33) --

MADDOW: Instead of public schools, Mr. Robinson promotes home schooling. He says he has home schooled all of his own kids, although he does not teach them, he lets them teach themselves. As part of the home-schooling curriculum that he sells, Mr. Robinson has acquired the rights to and has reprinted the life's work of a child's adventure book author, a spectacularly racist British writer named G.A. Henty. Art Robinson recommends that you teach your kids based on the historic (sic) novels of G.A. Henty. May I please read a passage from one of those? This is from a chapter titled "The Negro Character" --

"They are just like children ... They are always either laughing or quarreling. They are good-natured and passionate, indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond. The intelligence of the average Negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old ... they are fluent talkers, but their ideas are borrowed. They are absolutely without originality, absolutely without inventive power. Living among white men, their imitative faculties enable them to attain a considerable amount of civilization. Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery."

A meditation on the Negro character -- that is what Art Robinson has kept in print for the home schoolers, for you to teach to your kids. Or, rather, for your kids to teach themselves. Again, quoting from a pro-Art Robinson article in The American Spectator, the conservative magazine back in 2001, "Art has managed to convert the education of his children from a financial drain into a thriving business. Among them, the family members have developed a home school curriculum ... with typical single-mindedness, Robinson tracked down all 99 historical novels ... by G.A. Henty, and they in turn optically scanned. Three thousand Henty sets (6 CDs) were shipped in the first year. They retail for $99."

This is Art Robinson, OK? Now, here's the thing. There is a guy like Art Robinson, I'm guessing, in your town somewhere. Maybe on the outskirts of town, I mean, Americans are like this!

... assuming that the "guy like Robinson ... in your town somewhere" once worked closely with Nobel laureate (twice over) Linus Pauling. Robinson, moreover, was "one of the few students ever to be appointed to the faculty of the University of California (in San Diego) immediately after getting his Ph.D," according to the same American Spectator article cited by Maddow. The same Art Robinson who showed Pauling evidence refuting Pauling's theory that Vitamin C could cure cancer, only to have Pauling allegedly attempt to blackmail Robinson to hide this evidence from the public. Robinson sued Pauling for breach of contract, slander and fraud, according to The American Spectator, and "the case was settled out of court with Pauling paying Robinson $575,000."

Yeah, just like that guy on the outskirts of your town.

As for the G.A. Henty passage cited by Maddow, it comes from an 1884 book titled "By Sheer Pluck, a Tale of the Ashanti War." My interest piqued by Maddow's placement of an ellipsis so quickly in the excerpt, I looked it up online for further edification. It came as no surprise to learn the rationale for Maddow putting the ellipsis where she did. Here is how the passage reads in the original -- "They are just like children," Mr. Goodenough said. "They are always either laughing or quarreling."

What if Robinson had acquired the rights to the works of Harriet Beecher Stowe? Would Maddow cherry picking the vile opinions of a specific character -- plantation owner Simon Legree -- also render Robinson a racist?

Maddow took another stab at Robinson on her show Monday, reading the same quote from "By Sheer Pluck" during a segment in which she mocked House Republican candidate Rich Iott for donning Nazi attire in historical re-enactments.

How odd that Maddow would take exception to this, considering how fluidly she dons Nazi tactics to destroy her political opponents.