News organization or theater of the absurd? You decide.
During an interview with her MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz on his radio show Nov. 30, broadcast from MSNBC studios in New York, Rachel Maddow said this about liberals in media (video follows after page break) --
MADDOW: The point I feel like of having a media in which people are allowed to say that they're liberal and that they support liberal policies is that you can trust those people given that they are being open with you. And my belief is that progressive policies are better for this country. And, therefore, Democratic politicians who support progressive policies are probably doing the Lord's work more than people who don't support those policies. If you are not supporting progressive policies, I have no interest in you other than for what's good for the country. I'm not here to cheerlead for anybody. I'm not here to root for some team 'cause they're wearing a different color jersey than some other team. I'm here for what I think is right for the country and the way I see the facts.
Yet all of three days later, on the eve of a Senate showdown over extending the Bush tax rates, Maddow and her producer Bill Wolff cited the Ohio State University marching band as a model for Democrats to emulate in rousing their spirits.
Maddow showed footage of "Script Ohio," the band's famous signature formation at home games in Columbus, when band members march onto the field and spell out "Ohio" on the gridiron. Wolff, a self-proclaimed college fight song aficionado, described it this way (0:30 in YouTube video linked here) --
WOLFF: It is the Ohio State University, home of the Buckeyes, Columbus Ohio, and their marching band, which they call the best damn band in the land officially, like even children call it the best damn band in the land, before every humongous football game, this giant marching band comes out on the field in a horseshoe stadium called the Horseshoe and they spell out Ohio in cursive. There you see it on the screen.
WOLFF: And the entire time that they're spelling it out in cursive, which is awesome, the crowd of 100,000 people all dressed in red and committed to the Buckeyes, is going absolutely ber-serk. Now! You see the 'i' there in Ohio?
WOLFF: The pinnacle moment, the key thing, is the dotting of the 'i' when a special chosen senior sousaphone player and the drum major do that!
MADDOW: Oh God! Yeah.
WOLFF: High-steppin' it, the drum major points to where the guy's gonna stand and the guy stands there and then, bows to the crowd ...!
WOLFF: ... 'cause he's dotting the 'i'! And everybody is more fired up than we ever get fired up about anything and it is totally tremendous. Like, I'm fired up now.
After Wolff elaborated on his love of college fight songs, Maddow described her rationale for invoking the Ohio State marching band (3:59 in same YouTube video) --
MADDOW: That, what you are expressing right there, and you're getting fired up talking about it right now ...
WOLFF: Yes, I am.
MADDOW: ... and I know that when you go to the gym the only music that you will listen to when you are at the gym trying to make yourself go farther is fight songs...
WOLFF: Other people's fight songs.
MADDOW (laughing): That, this evidence that you, that we have before us here in you, manifested in Bill Wolff, this phenomenon, being fired up like that, that is the key to the most important thing going on in American politics right now, I am convinced. This weekend Congress is going to be in session, this weekend! On a Saturday! We heard it as breaking news last night during this show, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announcing that he is not letting the Senate go home, the Democratic leadership is keeping the Senate in Washington over the weekend, because the thing that we have been talking about, the thing that they have been fighting about for months now is finally going to happen, tomorrow, on the weekend. Senate Democrats are finally going to do it. They are finally going to go through with this vote that they've been trying to psyche themselves up for on the Bush tax cuts.
Followed shortly after by Wolff donning a tall furry hat and marching off the set while thrusting a baton, as seen in embedded video, while Maddow said this --
MADDOW: This is not a matter of figuring out the policy! That is done. This is not a matter of doing the polling. That's been done. This is not a matter of doing the math. The math has been done, the argument has been made, the numbers have been crunched, the debate has been worked through. It is a matter of whether or not the Democrats are psyched. It's a matter of whether or not the Democrats have the fight in them to make this happen.
Go team! Not that I want you to win!