Maddow Oddly Invokes 'Manchurian Candidate' - to Mock Fears of Enemy Infiltration

February 7th, 2011 8:48 PM

Next time Rachel Maddow cites a movie to bolster her argument, she might want to watch it first.

On her MSNBC show Thursday night, Maddow disparaged Fox News hosts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney for warning of a Middle Eastern caliphate possibly emerging in the wake of upheaval in Egypt and of Muslim Brotherhood subversion in the US.

Maddow's response? Little more than making faces and uttering mock horror. That was it -- no talking-head experts to refute the claims, no demonstrable proof of anything said being false. Doing either would have required an effort and Maddow clearly wasn't in the mood when she could resort to snark.

Then came what she intended as the coup de grace, an excerpt from original version of the film "The Manchurian Candidate," a Cold War era classic released in 1962.

[Video after page break]

The excerpt was shown right after a clip of Gaffney from the liberal blog ThinkProgress, naming Obama administration officials he considers dupes of Muslim Brotherhood front groups (2:36 in embedded video) --

GAFFNEY: John Brennan is the Homeland Security Advisor for the President of the United States. He's absolutely daft on what the nature of the threat is and is insistent upon using Brotherhood-front organizations as sources of information and as vehicles for reaching out to the Muslim-American community. Jim Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has said that these sorts of groups are "sources of wisdom," as he puts it, to the United States government. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, is incessantly meeting with Muslim Brotherhood  front organizations and I think has in the past, if not today, employed people who are associated with them.

Followed by Maddow digging deep again --

MADDOW:  So the director of national intelligence, the president's homeland security advisor and of course al-Janet al-Napolitano, they're all Muslim Brotherhood, don't you know.

..... and the clip from "The Manchurian Candidate," specifically the scene where Sen. John Iselin interrupts a televised hearing while his wife, played by Angela Lansbury, watches on a TV monitor in the hearing room --

ISELIN: And I have here a list of the names of 207 persons who are known by the Secretary of Defense as being members of the Communist Party!

MADDOW: Egypt is a big, complicated and important story. For some folks in the media, including some folks reporting at Fox News, it is really bringing out their best work and I mean that uncynically. But also, there's Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. God bless them.

Maddow says nothing about the scene from "The Manchurian Candidate," allowing her viewers to draw their own conclusions. But clearly the insinuation is made here that Gaffney, and by extension Hannity and Beck, are no better than the buffoonish Iselin, who in turn was modeled after Joseph McCarthy.

But as anyone familiar with "The Manchurian Candidate" is aware, in the context of the movie, there was communist infiltration of the US government. In the very scene shown by Maddow, one of the top-placed conspirators in the plot is Ellie Iselin, Iselin's wife, played by Lansbury.

In fact, both principal characters in the excerpt, the two Iselins, are gunned down at the end of the movie by Ellie Iselin's son, Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), who had been brainwashed by the communists after he was taken prisoner during the Korean War and programmed to become an assassin upon his return to the United States.

Shaw's commanding officer, Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) gets through to Shaw with the truth of what occurred during their captivity, though not until after he has murdered three people. At the end of the movie, Shaw kills his hated mother and stepfather, Sen. and Mrs. Iselin, instead of a presidential nominee as instructed by his mother in an attempted coup by the communists.

Reviewing the awful 2004 remake of the film, John Podhoretz wrote in "The Weekly Standard" --

The first "Manchurian Candidate" is ideologically unclassifiable. It makes vicious fun of Joseph McCarthy's Red hunt inside the American government, while at the same time positing a worldwide Communist conspiracy so immense and effective that is seeking to place an unwitting Soviet dupe in the White House.

Maddow too makes vicious fun, of Hannity, Beck and Gaffney, and belittles their warnings about radical Islam. But by invoking "The Manchurian Candidate" to make her point, Maddow also acknowledges -- unwittingly or otherwise -- that the threat is real.