Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi released a bit of his new book last week which offered a pretty caustic take on the news media’s handling of the Russia collusion story. Ed discussed a bit of that here. Yesterday, Rolling Stone published a follow-up piece by Taibbi which once again takes aim at the news media, in particular MSNBC. In Taibbi’s view, the marketing of the collusion narrative was a kind of grift taking advantage of the older, liberal Americans who watch the left-leaning news networks. It was an unsubstantiated lie told for ratings, and it worked:
Members of the media like [MSNBC’s Chris] Matthews spent two years speaking of Mueller in mythical tones, hyping him as the savior who was pushing those “walls” that were forever said to be “closing in” on Trump. Mueller, it was repeatedly said, was helping bring about “the beginning of the end.”
Over and over, audiences were told the investigation had hit a “turning point,” after which Trump would either resign or be impeached, because as Brian Williams put it, summarizing a guest’s take, “Donald Trump is done.”
This manipulative brand of news programming preyed upon the emotional devastation of liberal audiences, particularly the older people who watch cable. It told them the horror they felt over Trump’s election would be alleviated in short order. The median age of the CNN viewer is 60 and MSNBC’s is 65, and these people were urged for years to place their trust in Santa BOB, who knew all and whose investigation would surely lead to impeachment and “the end.”
All you had to do was keep turning in, because the good news could come any minute now! The bombshell is coming! Never mind that this is causing our profits to soar. Don’t wonder about our motives, even though outlets like MSNBC saw a 62 percent bump in viewership in the first full year of Russiagate coverage. Just keep tuning in. The walls are closing in!
Now that the pole holding up the tent over this one-ring circus has collapsed, what’s next? If it’s a choice between keeping the narrative going and letting viewership drop 60 percent, which will MSNBC chose? Rachel Maddow, in particular, has made a career out of this. She’s making millions of dollars a year selling this narrative. Will she drop it? According to the Washington Post today, the answer is no:
Rachel Maddow, the queen of collusion, is not backing down.
A day after Attorney General William P. Barr said special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III hadn’t found collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russian agents, Maddow — prime-time TV’s primary and most tenacious proponent of the conspiracy angle — still was not buying it.
Instead, Maddow moved on to two related questions: Did Trump obstruct justice? And did Barr let him get away with it?…
Her nightly deconstructions of the case against Trump have made her the signal figure of the anti-Trump left and have abetted her rise to the most popular figure in cable news…
During one six-week period in 2017, the Intercept news site found that 53 percent of Maddow’s broadcasts focused on Russia, dwarfing discussion of any other issue…
In her first show since Barr’s memo was released, Maddow barely mentioned collusion.
According to the Intercept, she gave collusion a total of 30 seconds coverage:
Article Update: In March 2019 — 2 years after this article — Mueller rejected the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory that @Maddow promoted. Maddow reported on that result for 30 seconds, & then moved on to the issue of obstruction for the rest of the hour. https://t.co/f4bTHbmk3n
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) March 26, 2019
And that’s the other part of this that needs to be noted. Even if you put aside the business part of the story, there’s still the anti-democratic partisan aspect to consider:
[Chris] Matthews, in a tone that suggested he was being the sober adult delivering tough love, completed his thought about how “they don’t have him on collusion” by saying, with a shrug of undisguised disappointment:
“So I think the Democrats have got to win the election.” He added, “There’s no waiting around for uncle Robert to take care of everything.”
I know no one cares how this sounds to non-Democrats, but this is a member of the media looking sad that Democrats would have to resort to actual democracy to win the White House back.
Remember when Democrats and the media were in a tizzy about the possibility that Trump might not accept the results of the 2016 election? Will it ever, at some point, occur to them that they have been doing exactly what they feared he would do?
This is exactly like the media’s fixation with “Hands-up, don’t shoot” only on an even larger scale. That phrase was everywhere on cable for a few weeks until it turned out it never happened. Then the media very quickly forgot about it and acted like they hadn’t been behaving like partisans just days earlier. Having not learned anything from that story, we’ve moved from “hands up, don’t shoot” to “Trump’s collusion with Russia.” We’ve heard about it every day for two years but now that it turns out not to be true the partisans like Maddow are on to the next best angle and laughing all the way to the bank.
I posted this clip before but in case you missed it, this was edited together from a single episode of her show.
Maddow? No way it's not like this clip was spliced from a single show. pic.twitter.com/oHITN8928k
— Currie Dobson (@Ventuckyspaz) March 23, 2019