An old joke comes to mind -- a man hiring for an accountant interviews two applicants. He asks the first applicant, two plus two, what's the answer? Four, the applicant responds.
Second applicant, same question. The response -- what do you want it to be? You're hired, he's told.
After watching Rachel Maddow's default tendency toward deceit for more than a year, I wonder if those seeking work at MSNBC undergo similar winnowing.
Here, for example, was Maddow describing the response in Congress after Obama called for a tax on the "biggest" banks during this year's State of the Union address (first segment in embedded video) --
MADDOW: Here in Washington today the president unveiled his new budget and he name-checked what Democrats are fast realizing could be the funnest thing in it. (cuts to Obama announcement)
OBAMA: There are other steps we're taking to rein in deficits. I've proposed a fee on big banks to pay back taxpayers for the bailout.
MADDOW (pointing finger for emphasis): Making banks pay back the bailout. This is turning out to be the best thing for Democratic politics since Michael Steele. (cuts to Obama's State of the Union speech)
OBAMA: And we've recovered most of the money we spent on the banks. (applause) Most but not all. To recover the rest, I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks. (more applause) Now I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea. But if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need. (wild applause, Democrats waving banners, swinging from chandeliers)
MADDOW: And that's the political moneyshot right there. Should Wall Street pay back taxpayers for the bailout? Democrats applauding, thundering applause, leaping to their feet. Republicans, uh, time to fidget and maybe grumble. Definitely no applause. Republicans siding with Wall Street against paying back the bailout money is pure political gold for Democrats at a time when Democrats really need some of that.
No sooner had Maddow tossed out this demonstrably false claim about Republicans wanting banks to renege on TARP that she came to this curious aspect of the saga --
MADDOW: On the substance, though, there's one fact about the bailouts and the whole idea of paying it back that hasn't really sunk in politically. When it comes to TARP funds, that $700 billion bailout, most of the banks have already paid back their loans.
Yes, and one of the reasons this hasn't "really sunk in politically" is because of propagandists like Maddow parroting the Obamist lie that the rationale for the bank tax is, as Maddow put it, "making banks pay back the bailout." But how can that be when most have already done so?
In the same segment, Maddow reeled off the names of those who've repaid TARP money -- JP Morgan, American Express, Capital One, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley.
Then came this revelation from Maddow's guest during the segment, so-called "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg (second segment of video) --
MADDOW: As I understand it, your job is very narrowly defined by Congress. You are to set executive pay limits at companies that received the most bailout money and only while they still have bailout money outstanding, is that right?
FEINBERG: That's exactly right. That's the way the statute reads. I started with seven companies. Bank of America and Citigroup repaid the taxpayer. That was my primary objective under the law. They're out. In 2010 I'm down to five companies -- AIG, GM, GMAC, Chrysler and Chrysler Financial.
Five "companies" -- two auto manufacturers, their financing branches, and AIG, an insurance and financial services company. Is it my imagination of does this cast of characters tilt heavily toward Detroit, not Wall Street? Hence the urgent need to seize wealth from our "biggest banks" in the guise of fairness.
In a moment of rare candor, Maddow let slip the actual reason for whacking the banks -- it is "pure political gold" at a time when Democrats "really need some of that." Yes indeed -- and all crimes, rhetorical, legislative or otherwise, are justified when one is saving the world.
Needless to say, Maddow did not ask Feinberg why Obama isn't seeking a tax on Detroit automakers for their puzzling failure to repay TARP money.
Next example, as shown in third segment of video -- Maddow's commentary on Justice Samuel Alito's response to Obama's State of the Union criticicism of the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v FEC --
MADDOW: This year both the speech made some news and the theater around the speech made a tiny little bit of news. One moment of pure political theater tonight was a quasi-reprise of Congressman Joe Wilson's 'you lie!' moment from last year's speech on health reform. As President Obama was describing last week's Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations the world over to spend without limit on American politicians and political campaigns, incredibly, a justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Alito, shook his head and said 'not true' or possibly 'simply not true'. A Supreme Court spokeswoman told NBC's Pete Williams tonight just moments ago that Justice Samuel Alito, who was himself unavailable for comment on the heckling ...
Got that? Whatever it was Alito muttered or mouthed constituted "heckling" of the president. And didya happen to notice what a truly racist heckle it was?
Back on Jan. 25 while commenting on Obama's proposed partial spending freeze, Maddow pointed out that McCain suggested much the same in the 2008 campaign (fourth video segment) --
MADDOW: You might recall that Republican senator John McCain ran for and lost the presidency on the idea of answering economic calamity with a spending freeze, since that's the kind of strategy that Herbert Hoover used in the '30s to make the Depression great.
What a contrast with what Maddow said about Hoover in December 2008 -- when she claimed that "Hoover cut spending." I wrote about it at the time in a NewsBusters post linked here; go to 1:01 into its embedded video for the following quote --
MADDOW: The country needed massive federal spending to stimulate demand and keep people working. Hoover cut spending. The government had an economic responsibility to borrow some money and get credit moving. Hoover picked that awesome time to balance the budget.
In fact, Hoover neither cut federal spending nor froze it -- the budget increased nearly 60 percent between 1929 and 1932 during his single term. Hoover was considered so profligate that Ur-Democrat Franklin Roosevelt ran against Hoover in 1932 on a platform of balancing the budget.
In fairness to Maddow, at least she's heading in the right direction. Given her pace of revisionism, she'll get it right sometime in early 2011.
Last example, from Maddow's show last night, in a segment on possible repeal of the military's don't ask, don't tell policy toward gays, Maddow said this about Colin Powell (last segment on video) --
MADDOW: General Colin Powell is the sort of American public figure who offers a lot of politicians a lot of political cover. There's not a lot of risk, especially if you're a Republican, to saying, I'm with General Powell on this or that subject.
Such as agreeing with Powell when he endorsed Obama over McCain. No more risk for Republicans there than in hiring David Gergen to run your campaign.