Maddow Continues to Misrepresent Union Campaign Contributions

It is said that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

Maybe this is Rachel Maddow's intention behind continually saying the following on the MSNBC show bearing her name (video follows with transcript and commentary):

RACHEL MADDOW: The longer it goes on, the clearer it becomes that this whole fight is not about what they say it is about. This whole fight is not about the budget. This fight is about destroying the unions. It is about corporate titans who give lots of money to Republicans and who can get them on the phone for 20 minutes in the middle of a crisis, guys like David Koch wanting to bust the unions, and it is about dismantling a key part of the Democratic base in terms of fund raising. You want to see those numbers from the 2010 elections again? Right. Okay, unions are the only significant outside spending group that Democrats have to compete with the conservatives. Union members also tend to support Democratic causes and they provide a good chunk of the get out the vote infrastructure that Democrats rely on to win elections. The Republican Party more than almost anything else represents corporate interest. The Democratic Party more than anything else represents people who work for corporate interests or people who represent something other than corporations.

As she was saying this, the following graphic was on the screen clearly reading "Outside Groups":

As NewsBusters first reported last Wednesday, Maddow made virtually the same statement on her February 18 program:

MADDOW: Of the top ten outside spending groups in last year's elections, seven of them were right wing groups, groups like the Chamber of Commerce, and Karl Rove`s organizations, which are mostly funded by billionaires. Conservative groups like the American Future Fund.

The only non-conservative groups that cracked the top ten in the last election were the Public Employees Union and the SEIU, and the teachers union, that's it. In terms of large scale money spent in elections, unions are the only competition that Republicans have.

The following Monday she said:

MADDOW: Here again are the top ten big money contributors in last year's elections, seven of the top ten are right wing. The only three that are not are -- ding, ding, ding -- unions.

The following day she said this to Jay Leno on NBC's "Tonight Show":

MADDOW: But, if you look at like the last election cycle, of the top ten people donating money in that election, seven of them were giving to Republicans. It was all corporate interests and right-wing PACs and stuff. Seven of the ten were all right-wing. And the only three that weren't were unions.

Since February 18, she has uttered this falsehood at least four times on four programs airing four different days.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

Once again, here are the facts.

Maddow is actually referring to "outside non-party committees" wherein seven of the top ten contributors in 2010 were indeed conservative, with the only three liberal contributors being unions. These are groups that contribute money for political causes but not specific candidates. That's why they're deemed "non-party."

If you look at all "outside spending groups" for 2010 - which by Maddow's wording consistently has been the implication - you'll find that four of the top ten contributors were liberal with only two of them being unions.

This completely destroys her point that "unions are the only significant outside spending group that Democrats have to compete with the conservatives" thereby invalidating her assertion that this is the reason Gov. Walker is trying to blame the “supposed” deficits on public sector unions in his state.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

What makes this even more absurd is the commercial airing on MSNBC to promote Maddow's program:

MADDOW: News is about stories. It’s about finding all the disparate facts and then finding their coherence. Doing this right takes rigor and a devotion to facts that borders on obsessive. At the end of the day, though, this is about what’s true in the world.

In the promo for the defacto new face of MSNBC, Maddow claims, "It’s about finding all the disparate facts and then finding their coherence. Doing this right takes rigor and a devotion to facts that borders on obsessive. At the end of the day, though, this is about what’s true in the world."

Yet at least four times in the last seven business days, Maddow has completely misrepresented the very same thing about 2010 campaign contributions.

Over and over.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

The folks at MSNBC and Comcast should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen.

Is there any integrity at this network, or did they learn from Keith Olbermann that such a virtue is unimportant when advancing a cause?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.