For weeks, MSNBC has advertised Rachel Maddow's two-hour special broadcast about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building. This special, aired on the 15-year anniversary of that bombing, was billed as a way for viewers to see what can happen if anti-government sentiment gets out of control.
"So tonight, exactly 15 years later, this special edition of ‘The Rachel Maddow Show' brings you the inside story of the Oklahoma City bombing," Maddow said on her April 19 broadcast. "MSNBC obtained 45 hours of audio tape interviews in which Timothy McVeigh describes the planning and the executions and the motivations behind his horrific attack. This is a detailed account as it has never before been heard, told to us by the terrorist himself."
However, there's an opportunity for viewers to reflect the status quo as they view this documentary, Maddow explained.
"Nine years after his execution, we are left worrying that Timothy McVeigh's voice from the grave echoes in a new rising tide of American anti-government extremism," Maddow said. "On this date, which holds great meaning for the anti-government movement, the McVeigh tapes are a can't-turn-away, riveting reminder."
But it just wasn't the case with this documentary moderated by Maddow. Complete with computer-generated graphics meant to recreate certain scenarios, the special showed McVeigh had very little similarity to the political movement Maddow often criticizes on her MSNBC program. McVeigh's voice from the grave just happened to the feature on Maddow's program and not elsewhere.
Perhaps the only thing that could be tied to a hot-button topic that pertains to 2010's political debate was how gun rights and gun shows were portrayed in the documentary. The scene was McVeigh's involvement in certain militia movements and how he thought the federal government was going to take away his 2nd Amendment rights - which inspired some of his activities.
"And that same mentality is what you see from gun show to gun show to gun show," Cate McCauley, an investigator in the Oklahoma City bombing case said to MSNBC. "You know, get your weapons now. Stockpile them now. You know for Tim McVeigh, this must seem like the next war that's about to be waged."
But as Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, an organization that promotes constitutional government, economic freedom and traditional values, pointed out - the timing and advertising of this McVeigh special by MSNBC turns the tragic Oklahoma City attack into a "cheap political talking point" for opponents of grassroots political activism, including the Tea Party movement.
"These smears have been bubbling up for months in the mainstream media. Every fringe lunatic, every tragic killing is attributed to conservative ideas or boisterous media personalities. The evidence is clear that as the Tea Party message has taken hold, liberals are growing increasingly desperate and the tired slogans aren't sticking," Hanna said. "Instead of engaging the Tea Party movement on the issues of economic freedom, government intrusion, and individual fiscal responsibility, MSNBC's primetime star is turning one of the nation's great tragedies into a cheap political talking point."