Accuracy in Media

Even Slate has begun to think Rachel Maddow has not been in a good place since President Donald Trump was cleared of collusion and obstruction charges 10 days ago.

She is worse now than even Sean Hannity, charged Willa Paskin of Slate in “Rachel Maddow’s Conspiracy Brain” – subhead: “I tuned in to Maddow’s show after the Mueller investigation ended. It has not been pretty.”

“Hannity, the president’s phone-a-friend, is widely understood to be a propagandist for the administration – perhaps even by his own audience, MAGA devotees who would never hold such a thing against him. Night after night he pushes deranged ‘factual’ interpretations – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an actress, not a congresswoman; the Mueller investigation is an attempted deep state coup – that turn the world into a wall of crazy targeting the Trump regime.

“But Maddow too has turned the universe into an intricate web of intersecting plots that all lead to one conclusion: collusion.”

On her first show after Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of the Mueller report – which exonerated President Trump both on collusion and obstruction of justice – Maddow had “15 questions worth of skepticism about the “Barr Report.”

Had Mueller “expected the attorney general to jump in and make a no prosecution, no collusion announcement? Was it appropriate for the attorney general to make that kind of determination at this point in the process?”

These were obvious and suitable questions, Paskin wrote, but then she started “taking sudden swerves into the conspiratorial.”

“’Well,’ Maddow wondered, ‘why did Mueller make that determination and was it, in fact, a choice?’ Was it possible that the special prosecutor had not explicitly described the president’s behavior as a crime in his report because there were plans to indict him as soon as he left office?”

Maddow then cued up “’the mystery sound’ – a not particularly eerie ding she used to introduce a long digression about a still-active ‘mystery case,’ in which a ‘mystery company owned by a mystery country’ has resisted all attempts to testify about some mystery topic at the special prosecutor’s request, which she then tied to a number of other still active parts of the Mueller investigation, which she intimated could still result in something damning.”

There are some cases still going on, such as one involving a still-anonymous foreign company and that of Roger Stone, Paskin noted. “But we can be fairly certain that Mueller has decided these cases are not relevant to the question of whether he will issue indictments for ‘conspiracy and coordination’ with Russia – since, among other things, he seems to have decided to issue no indictments at all. Maddow’s winking insistence otherwise feels like willful misdirection.”

Maddow still expects Mueller to slay the evil Trump, Paskin wrote.

“The Howard Bealeization, or Glenn Beckification, of Rachel Maddow is a reminder that partisan paranoia has bipartisan appeal,” Paskin wrote. “Maddow is right to question the summarizing of a 300ish-page report into four measly pages, to insist on transparency, to challenge the motives of the Trump-friendly AG – and she’s not alone in doing so. But for Maddow, every piece of information remains a clue that might take down the Trump empire. There is no adjustment for how the report has been widely received, no skepticism about what the report might actually contain, jut cockamamie connections, the feverish belief that every single thing we don’t know is the all-important fact, that the smoking gun of collusion is out there and that, yes, Robert Mueller is still going to swoop in and save us.”

This may not end well, Paskin wrote.

“Turning on her show this week (after not having watched it for years) was like discovering a Facebook friend is on the verge of a nervous breakdown,” Paskin wrote. “She looks the same as she did, she even sounds the same, but 15 minutes into a conspiratorial rant with no sense of proportion or, honestly, responsibility, you realize that something has gone wildly wrong.”

It’s easy to understand why this might appeal to Trump haters, Paskin concluded. “But her audience is being served an alt-reality just as surely as Hannity’s is.”

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