You're More Than Welcome, Rachel, Keep the Gaffes Coming

Last night on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow planted a brave smile on her face and ran what passed for a correction of her scurrilous -- and legally problematic -- claim that a Republican congressman "received advance notice" of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.  

As to be expected, such a reckless polemicist could not issue a mea culpa without a healthy dose of self-justification and alleged delight. Here's what Maddow had to say --

Recently we have been covering on this show the tension between extremism and electoral politics, the role that politicians can play in mainstreaming even violently radical politics. In the course of that coverage I made a brief reference two nights ago to a former politician named Steve Stockman. Mr. Stockman was a very conservative Republican politician elected in 1994. That was the last time we had our first midterm elections after a new Democratic president was inaugurated.

Now I mentioned Steve Stockman on Monday's show, but it's not the first time we have discussed him and his record on this program.

Maddow then showed a clip from her show on March 24, three days after passage of the health care bill --

Back in 1995, on the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing, just after the explosion, a member of Congress named Steve Stockman, Republican of Texas, was sent a fax touting the bombing. He was sent that fax by somebody in the militia movement. Mr. Stockman later turned that fax over to the FBI. He was never implicated in any way in the bombing itself. But there is a reason that the militia movement trusted a member of Congress enough to go to him with that.

Mr. Stockman had, for example, written an article in Guns & Ammo magazine proclaiming that what happened at Waco was a government conspiracy to 'prove the need for a ban on so-called assault weapons.' Mr. Stockman peddled conspiracies that he got from the militia movement about the government planning a takeover, the government planning attacks, paramilitary attacks on American citizens.

Back to last night's correction --

When I mentioned Steve Stockman again on this show on Monday night, I misstated the details of that true account that you just heard me give there back on the show in March. On Monday I said that Mr. Stockman's notice from the militia movement about the Oklahoma City bombing was advance notice. It wasn't in advance, it was right after the bombing, I apologize for the misstatement. It was an editing error and it was mine alone.

To all the conservative bloggers who are extremely angry with me for making that mistake and who no doubt will now be extremely angry with me for airing this correction, let me say this to you guys -- thank you. Thank you for signaling such enthusiasm for discussing guys like Steve Stockman and for getting all the details right. If the country talked a lot more about the Steve Stockmans of the world and anti-government extremism and what the experience of having anti-government extremists in Congress was like for this country the last time we tried it, I think that would be good for us as a country. Particularly before this round of elections. So I am sorry for the error and thanks, you guys.

Am I the only extremely angry conservative blogger walking with a bounce in my step today knowing I influence the content of Maddow's show? I doubt it.

What strikes me as equally implausible about Maddow's chirpy defensiveness is her claim that this was "an editing error and it was mine alone." Right -- and "Dewey Defeats Truman" was a typo. Is this how it works at MSNBC -- one of their most high-profile hosts makes an inherently outrageous, demonstrably false and hence patently libelous claim -- and not a single other person (as in, editor) sees it before broadcast?

Something tells me this has already changed, and that people in shiny suits who charge hefty fees by the hour are already poring over upcoming MSNBC content.

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