There She Goes Again: Maddow Descends Into Deceit to Malign Orrin Hatch as Liar

If there's one thing Rachel Maddow hates, it's hypocrisy. That and dishonesty, oh, don't get her started. Especially when they emanate from the GOP side of the aisle, at least as perceived by her.

But when coming from Maddow, well, let's just say her blind spot is broad of breadth.

On her MSNBC show Tuesday, for example, Maddow repeatedly called Sen. Orrin Hatch a liar in response to a Hatch op-ed that day in the Washington Post criticizing Democrats for their expected use of budget reconciliation to pass health legislation.

In her criticism of Hatch (full segment can be seen here), Maddow cited numerous examples of legislation passed through reconcilation that Hatch voted for, followed by Maddow saying this (first clip in embedded video) --

MADDOW: Now he's says that doing what he's done all those times would wreak havoc! Orrin Hatch then goes on to admit that, yes, 'both parties have used the process,' he says, 'but only when the bills in question stuck close to dealing with the budget. In instances in which other substantive legislation was included, the legislation had significant bipartisan support.'

That is a total, utter, complete, 100 percent, unambiguous lie. It is a lie. It is an L - I - E and I do not mean the Long Island Expressway. It is not the truth. I, maybe I'm naive. I find it hard to believe they think they can get away with stuff like this. In 2003 Republicans used reconciliation to get the Bush tax cuts passed, the tax cuts that exploded the deficit ...

... but not before inexplicably causing the deficit to plummet. And I would not attribute Maddow's refusal to accept this reality to her alleged naivete.

As reported by the Associated Press on July 8, 2005 --

WASHINGTON -- Higher-than-expected tax receipts and the steadily growing economy have combined to produce an improved picture for the federal budget deficit, congressional analysts said yesterday.

The deficit for the current budget year, which runs through Sept. 30, should be significantly less than $350 billion, perhaps below $325 billion," according to the Congressional Budget Office. ...

... Last year's $412 billion deficit was a record in dollar terms, but economists say the more significant measure is against the size of the economy. In those terms, the current deficit picture -- a $350 billion deficit for this year would equal 2.9 percent of gross domestic product -- is significantly better than deficits witnessed in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. Then, deficits of 4 to 6 percent of GDP were common.

The following year, on July 10 2006, The New York Sun ran an editorial titled "Laffer's Victory" --

It's official -- Arthur Laffer wins. New data shows federal receipts surged in the first three quarters of the current fiscal year. Corporate tax receipts are up more than 26% over the same period last year, ringing in at $250 billion. Individual income tax collections, at $791 billion, are up 14% over the first nine months of fiscal 2005. ...

On Oct. 12 2006, under the headline "US deficit hits four-year low" in the Boston Globe, the Associated Press reported --

WASHINGTON -- The federal deficit fell to a four-year low in the budget year that just ended, a result President Bush pointed to yesterday in saying that Republicans are better stewards of the economy than are Democrats.

The administration said the deficit dropped to $247.7 billion -- welcome news for Republicans struggling to keep control of Congress. Bush boasted that he had made good on a 2004 campaign promise to cut the deficit in half over five years. ...

... Administration officials said the actual 2006 deficit is down to 1.9 percent of the gross domestic product. They said that is below the 40-year average deficit of about 2.3 percent of the GDP, which measures the value of all US goods and services. This continues a positive trend that comes despite soaring war costs and $50 billion in emergency spending for hurricane relief. ...

All of which begs the question -- what reversed the plummeting deficit and sent it skyward again? Massive federal spending, as described here at The Foundry, the Heritage Foundation blog.

Maddow, in attempting to pain Hatch as a hypocrite, cited numerous votes the Utah Republican took over the years that passed through reconciliation. (starting at 3:45 in the segment linked here and above). The legislation cited by Maddow included the omnibus budget reconciliation act of 1989, balanced budget act of 1995, balanced budget act of 1997, taxpayer relief of 1997 and several others dealing with the budget -- for which reconciliation is intended.

 "In instances in which other substantive legislation was included," Hatch wrote in his op-ed, as cited by Maddow, "the legislation had significant bipartisan support." Not surprisingly, Maddow neglects to tell her viewers what Hatch wrote next, preferring instead to repeatedly label him a liar as if repetition makes it so.

Here's what Hatch wrote next --

For example, Congress used reconciliation to carry welfare reform in 1996, which ultimately passed with 78 votes. And when reconciliation was used to create the Children's Health Insurance Program that I authored with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 1997, the program got 85 votes and served as the glue to passing the first balanced budget in 40 years. Both plans were negotiated with, and signed into law by, President Bill Clinton. ...

Nor could Maddow bring herself to acknowledge two Democratic Party leaders cited by Hatch to bolster his case --

Less than a year ago, the longest-serving member of the Senate, West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, said, "I was one of the authors of the legislation that created the budget 'reconciliation' process in 1974, and I am certain that putting health-care reform ... legislation on a freight train through Congress is an outrage that must be resisted."

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, also a Democrat, said last March, "I don't believe reconciliation was ever intended for the purpose of writing this kind of substantive reform legislation."

Back in early February, I wrote a NewsBusters post titled "Maddow Excels as Exemplar - of Intellectual Dishonesty." Little did I expect that Maddow would so quickly rack up more examples of her tenuous grasp on truthful reporting. Alas, I was naive.

Here, for example, is Maddow from her show on Thursday, describing GOP robocalls to constituents in Democrat Tom Perriello's congressional district in Virginia (second clip in embedded video, starting at 0:51) --

NRCC ANNOUNCER: Hello, I'm calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee with a code red alert about an impending health care vote in Congress. Even though a majority of Virginia voters want them to scrap it, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama are planning to ram their dangerous, out-of-control health care spending bill through Congress anyway. What's worse, Congressman Tom Perriello voted for this bill the last time it was up and might vote for it again. ... Please call Tom Perriello now before it's too late and tell him to vote no on Nancy Pelosi's dangerous health care scheme. ...

Followed by Maddow's imaginative, read-between-the lines retelling of what was said in the call --

MADDOW: Anyway. So the message from Republicans to, again, a Democratic congressman, Tom Perriello in this case, is essentially, you know, look man, we'll totally go after you if you vote yes on health reform again. But if you change your vote and vote no, we will leave you alone (laughs), right? We'll never, ever call you a flip-flopper. We'll never talk about the time you did vote for health reform, ever. We swear, inky (?) pinky swear.

The premise of this strategy, in other words, is that Democrats are stupid enough to think that after voting for health reform once, Republicans will back off and leave them alone and not try to beat them in November and not run attack ads against them if only they switch their vote and vote no and help out Republicans this second time. Also, they have some watches they'd like to sell you. They're here inside my coat. I swear they're real Rolexs.

Operative phrase here -- "in other words" -- which bear no relation to those actually stated in the call. And rest assured, the watches in Maddow's coat are accurate only twice a day, though unintentionally so.

Another example, also from March 2, with Maddow going after Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky (third clip in video, at 2:14) --

MADDOW: It is not possible to report accurately on what's been a very bizarre term of events in the Senate without also explaining that Sen. Bunning has a history of bizarre behavior, behavior that's not just politically strong-willed, that's not just him having extreme opinions on issues. But rather we mean literally strange behavior, to the point where even his hometown newspaper has at times questioned his mental fitness ...

More accurately, it is not possible for Maddow to report accurately. She claims that Bunning's "hometown newspaper" has "at times" questioned his mental fitness -- followed by a single example of a newspaper doing so. And the paper cited is the Louisville Courier-Journal -- Bunning was born in Southgate and, according to his congressional website, still lives there. Maddow falsely claims the Courier-Journal is Bunning's "hometown newspaper" to imply it possesses more familiarity with him than a news outlet from elsewhere in the state -- such as the one she cited.

Another example, from Maddow on Feb. 26 after a major snowstorm swept across the Northeast and caused power outages in several states. The storm was so powerful that it helped popularize a new word in the lexicon of weather -- "snowicane". But as described by Maddow, the epic blizzard was hardly out of the ordinary (fourth clip in video, 2:58) --

MADDOW: ... So once again the most powerful nation in the world has such decrepit, fragile infrastructure that we are stunned into helplessness and are shivering in the dark because it snowed in the winter, like it does every single year. USA, USA (while pumping arms in mock cheer) ...

"Stunned into helplessness and are shivering in the dark" -- an apt description of how liberals respond to crisis while waiting for Government to save them. Meanwhile, conservatives light candles, grab shovels and get to work restoring electricity. 

Final example, from Maddow's appearance on "Meet the Press" on Feb. 14 in which she challenged House Republican Aaron Schock, again for alleged hypocrisy (fourth clip, 3:50) --

MADDOW (on her Feb. 15 MSNBC show): No one should bother engaging with policy hypocrites on policy because by their very hypocrisy they prove that they do not care about policy.

MADDOW (on Meet the Press day before): I mean, you in your district, just this week you were at a community college touting a $350,000 green technology education program, talking about how great that was going to be for your district. You voted against the bill that created that grant. And so, that's happening a lot with Republicans sort of taking credit for things that Democratic bills do and then Republicans simultaneously touting their votes against them and trashing them. That's, I think, a problem that needs to be resolved within your caucus because, I mean, you seem like a very nice person but that's a very hypocritical stance to take.

SCHOCK: Well, Rachel, with all due respect, I can assure you Republicans were not consulted on the stimulus bill ...

MADDOW (from Feb. 15 MSNBC show): Whether or not House Republicans felt adequately consulted on the stimulus bill, that's not the point. They all voted no on it, every single one of them. And that's fine. You can be against the stimulus and not think it's going to work and not going to create jobs. You can also be for the stimulus, you can think it's going to work and create jobs. But you cannot be both against it and for it at the same time -- unless you are a hypocrite. You cannot denounce it as creating no jobs and then claim that it's creating lots of valuable jobs at the same time -- or you're a hypocrite.

And having allowed Schock all of five seconds to respond, Maddow triggers the trapdoor under his feet, lest her viewers learn that Schock made a strong argument in response -- which he did, as can be seen from the rest of his answer (final clip in video, quotes below starting at 5:51) --

SCHOCK: ... I can assure you, Republicans were not consulted on the stimulus bill. That bill was filed at 11 p.m. the night before the 10:30 a.m., we began debating it. None of our amendments were considered. There was no debate, no bipartisanship on that bill ...

At this point Schock is interrupted by MTP moderator David Gregory, who asks, "to Rachel's point, does that mean that you will not accept any federal money that comes the way of your district?" --

SCHOCK: No, I think that argument that liberals are making is absolutely ridiculous. With all due respect, Rachel, does that mean you're going to give back your Bush tax cuts that you continue to rail against? (no response from Maddow)

The fact of the matter is, our country operates and (is) governed by a majority. And I along with almost all of my Republican colleagues and a good number of Democrats have voted against the stimulus, the omnibus, all of this runaway spending. But we've lost those battles in the House and at the end of the day ...

Schock is again interrupted by Gregory, and Maddow, but he forces through his point that Maddow felt compelled to shield from her viewers --

SCHOCK: ... At the end of the day, my constituents and their children and grandchildren will be on the hook for the debt that's being created by this majority and they deserve to have their fair share of federal spending.

A valid argument Maddow would not let past her inner censor and onto her show -- lest anyone inclined to criticize her think she might be honest.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts