Rachel Maddow's Shabby Reportage on Iraq Extends to Iraq Itself

Here is how the Wall Street Journal began its lead editorial, "Victory in Iraq," on Aug. 20 --

When the men and women of Fourth Brigade, Second Infantry Division deployed to Iraq in April 2007 as part of President Bush's surge, American soldiers were being killed or wounded at a rate of about 750 a month, the country was falling into sectarian mayhem, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had declared that the war was 'lost.'

On Wednesday, the 'Raiders' became the last combat brigade to leave Iraq, having helped to defeat an insurgency, secure a democracy and uphold the honor of American arms.

For viewers of NBC and MSNBC earlier that week, the title of Fourth Brigade, Second Infantry Division would likely have struck a chord -- on Aug. 18, both networks interrupted their scheduled broadcasts with exclusive live coverage of the brigade crossing the border into Kuwait, the last US combat brigade to leave Iraq.

The two networks' coverage went far beyond that, however. NBC's chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, was embedded with the brigade as it left Iraq while MSNBC cable show host Rachel Maddow weighed in from Baghdad.

Maddow remained in Iraq for the rest of the week, broadcasting four hours of her show from there, an hour more than usual. Yet through all that coverage, much of it focused on this specific combat brigade's departure from Iraq, at no time did Maddow (nor any of her NBC/MSNBC colleagues appearing on her show) mention when the brigade went to Iraq -- in April 2007, at the start of the much-maligned surge that was surely doomed to fail. Or so we were repeatedly told.

Not that Maddow was obligated to mention the surge in her lede, as it were, as did the Wall Street Journal (on the opposite side of the political divide) in its editorial. But surely she could have cited it even once during her three days in Baghdad.

Then there was Maddow's arch retelling of recent Iraqi history (first part of embedded video) --

The history of Iraq for the last generation is, Saddam taking power, a decade of the war with Iran, where we took Iraq's side, then the first American war, then a decade of sanctions, then the second American war, toppling Saddam, presiding over a civil war, and now there's us leaving. After all that, good luck! Hope it all works out for you guys!

I was reminded of this specific Maddow revisionism while watching her show on Wednesday, when she began a segment claiming this (second part of video) --

I am a crier. Some people cry at the sound of Harry Chapin's 'Cat's in the Cradle,' others at 'Old Yeller' or the end of 'Where the Red Fern Grows' where Billy visits his dogs' graves. I cry at those things too. But the one surefire way to see tears streaming down these cheeks is a live rendition of our nation's national anthem. It doesn't matter if it's a baseball game or an ad for a pickup truck or, God forbid, a busker on the subway, it's just one of those things, some people like me are hard-wired to sob by the time the broad stripes and bright stars are so gallantly streaming.

How noble indeed. More people might believe this if Maddow were not so willing to imply moral equivalence between the butchery of Saddam's totalitarian regime and American efforts to thwart his lawlessness after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

At the end of her stint in Baghdad, Maddow reported from the home of a "working class, poor Shiite family" (third and final part of video) --

... and they've agreed to talk with me a little bit about, you know, what everybody likes to talk about over dinner -- politics, war and George Bush.

... followed by Bush not coming up in the discussion, as can be seen in the segment in its entirety on Maddow's MSNBC site.

Here was an infrequent example of something on Maddow's show that piqued my interest -- what would a "working class, poor Shiite family" in Baghdad say about George W. Bush? One safely assumes from the fact Maddow is teasing this that the Iraqis will excoriate Bush. But if they did, it somehow didn't make it into the segment that ran.

Most likely scenario -- Maddow said this before the interview when she intended to ask her Iraqi hosts about Bush, followed by her forgetting to do so and them not mentioning him. Another scenario that can't be ruled out -- any of the Iraqis praising Bush, thereby ensuring that such blasphemy would not be heard by Americans watching MSNBC.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts