Rachel Maddow Inexplicably Lapses Into Accuracy on Bush Tax Rates

Mark your calendar, who knows when you'll see this again.

Rachel Maddow provided two different takes about congressional action on extending the Bush tax rates during her MSNBC show Thursday, the first account characteristically wrong, the second belatedly accurate. 

Here's Maddow at the start of the show, describing what occurred in the House that day (first part of embedded video, below the page break) --

MADDOW:  Today Democrats in the House voted to extend the Bush tax cuts and Republicans (pause for effect) voted not to! House Republicans, all but three of them, voted against tax cuts. Do not adjust your TV machine, those numbers are correct. It was Republicans, 168 Republicans, who voted today in favor of lettting the Bush tax cuts expire. Democrats voted to extend the Bush tax cuts. Republicans voted for everyone's taxes to go up.

Got that? Democrats love the Bush tax cuts, Republicans hate 'em. Whoda thunk?!

Sure enough, these far-fetched claims couldn't survive long. A short while later in the same broadcast, Maddow conveyed "breaking news" to her viewers (second part  of embedded video, 0:31) --

MADDOW: Some real live breaking news for you. In the wake of today's vote in the House of Representatives to approve the extension of tax cuts on income up to $250,000 a year but not on income over that amount, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has just made this announcement just moments ago about what happens next. Check it out.

Footage was then shown of Reid at a press conference announcing separate Senate votes Dec. 4 on extending the Bush tax rates on the middle class and wealthy. (The Senate went on to reject both)

Notice how when Maddow broke with this news, she read from a bulletin, most likely as reported by AP or NBC News (occasionally confused with its polemics division at MSNBC). In other words, from a news organization -- which did not echo Maddow's earlier fantasy about Republicans rejecting Bush tax policy while Democrats embrace it.

The difference between the two parties on this is so simple that even an MSNBC pundit can grasp it, if so inclined -- Republicans don't want anyone's taxes going up while Democrats want the wealthy to pay more. During a recession in all but name with unemployment on the rise.

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