"Lean Forward," MSNBC's new slogan suggests. The better to stick a shiv in your opponent's back.
Ethics-averse Rachel Maddow did exactly that on her MSNBC show last night. After disparaging Republican candidates for their gall in criticizing reckless federal spending and government-controlled health care, Maddow made this jaw-dropper of a claim --
MADDOW: Yes, this has happened to a smaller degree before. In 1994, in the first mid-term election after the last Democratic president was elected, we got a slate of candidates that included Helen Chenoweth of Idaho and Steve Stockman of Texas. These two were so close to the militia movement in this country that Mr. Stockman actually received advance notice that the Oklahoma City bombing was going to happen.
... and by that, Maddow implies, Stockman consigned 168 innocent people to death. Except that Stockman received no such prior, uh, "notice" (note how Maddow did not say "warning") , which explains why Maddow neglected to attribute this outlandish assertion to a source, any source.
Problem is, she'd have trouble doing so beyond left-wing fever swamps comparable to MSNBC. A perfunctory search through Google quickly reveals evidence refuting Maddow's claim.
For example, on April 25, 1995, six days after the destruction of the Murrah federal building, the Dallas Morning News ran this story under the headline, "Fax referring to bombing sent by ex-GOP Texas official, party aide says" --
Mr. Stockman on Sunday denied reports that his office passed the fax to the National Rifle Association and failed to give it to the FBI. Yesterday he released a letter to the FBI confirming his version of events.
Mr. Stockman also said that a staff member had given the fax to the NRA without his permission. He said he was considering whether to discipline the aide.
Telephone toll records indicate that the fax was sent about 50 minutes after the bombing, a federal official said.
According to the Morning News, a hand-written message on the fax read, "First update. Bldg 7 to 10 floors only. Military people on scene -- BATF/FBI. Bomb threat received last week. Perpetrator unknown at this time. Oklahoma." The machine that sent the fax to Stockman stamped "Wolverine" at the top of the page, the Morning News reported.
That Stockman received the fax after the bombing was also reported in a June 22, 1995 column in the Houston Press by Jim Simmon, titled "God, Guns and Kombucha: Is Steve Stockman a committed crackpot, or just a hapless goofball?"As its headline suggests, this was hardly a puff piece favorable toward Stockman. Nonetheless, Simmon wrote --
Contrary to suggestions in some earlier reports, Stockman's office had received the fax after the bombing and promptly passed it on to the FBI. (Ironically, the initial misunderstanding about the fax was propagated by the National Rifle Association, Stockman's chief patron.)
I'll venture a guess that self-proclaimed geek Maddow not only has access to computers, but that those computers are connected to the Internet -- leading to all sorts of wondrous possible discoveries (and, alas, inconvenient facts), assuming a person is inclined to look.
Maddow's mention of late congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage is even more gratuitous than her attempt at character assassination of Stockman. Chenoweth and Stockman "were so close to the militia movement," Maddow says, that he, Stockman, but not she, Chenoweth, received "advance notice" of the bombing. Chenoweth-Hage, killed in a 2006 car accident, is no longer able to defend herself. Maddow didn't give Stockman the chance.