'Today' Replaces Banned/Bumped Ann Coulter with Rachel Maddow

Presumably a last minute replacement for the possibly NBC banned Ann Coulter, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow appeared on Tuesday's "Today" show to drop invective about the Bush administration's "torture" policies. Instead of the rousing bit of Barack Obama bashing and criticism of the fawning coverage of him by the liberal media that would've surely been delivered by Coulter, "Today" viewers were treated to the following slam of Bush policies via a Maddow defense of Obama's choice of Leon Panetta as CIA Director:

RACHEL MADDOW: Well, I think that he made a bold choice in Leon Panetta, and we have seen from Barack Obama a lot of leadership by building consensus, by making people not disagree with him about important and hot-button issues. But on Panetta that was an, "elections have consequences" moment. If you were in the Bush administration and which, with, with warrantless wiretapping and enhanced interrogation, torture. With rendition, with these other controversial policies in the intelligence community, that's not going to be a career asset. And if you were a Democratic senator in an intelligence oversight role, while all these things were happening, your objections may not be the most important thing for this new president looking to make a clean break.

Maddow appeared during the 7am half-hour where, according to the Drudge Report, Coulter was originally scheduled to have been slotted before being bumped/banned. The following is the full transcript of the Maddow segment as it was aired on the January 6, "Today" show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Rachel Maddow is the host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC. Rachel, good morning.

RACHEL MADDOW: Hi Meredith.

VIEIRA: Thanks for getting up early for us.

MADDOW: Oh sure.

VIEIRA: Like his daughters, it was really first day of school for Barack Obama yesterday. And by all appearances he seemed to be the most popular kid in the class but underneath, as Chuck pointed out, a lot of drama going on, some bumps along the way. How do you think he did?

MADDOW: Well, I think that he made a bold choice in Leon Panetta, and we have seen from Barack Obama a lot of leadership by building consensus, by making people not disagree with him about important and hot-button issues. But on Panetta that was an, "elections have consequences" moment. If you were in the Bush administration and which, with, with warrantless wiretapping and enhanced interrogation, torture. With rendition, with these other controversial policies in the intelligence community, that's not going to be a career asset. And if you were a Democratic senator in an intelligence oversight role, while all these things were happening, your objections may not be the most important thing for this new president looking to make a clean break.

VIEIRA: So, when they say some of these Democratic leaders that he does not have, Panetta does not have the intelligence experience, are they wrong?

MADDOW: Well, when you look back at the past eight years, of the people who've been involved in the intelligence community, it appears that the Obama administration, the, the transition team looked at those people and said, "You know what, if you were there in the last eight years, we're gonna leapfrog over you and look to people who have different kinds of experience." You sort of can't find anybody who is more Washington mainstream than Leon Panetta, and he does have a lot of experience in national security and, and, and sensitive matters. He served on the Iraq study group and has been involved in the highest levels of government.

VIEIRA: He's also another Clintonite though. That's what some people are saying.

MADDOW: In a lot of ways, he is a very, very safe choice. The only pseudo controversial thing about him is he was not in the intelligence community during these last eight years. But anybody who was, has political problems now. And if they were in a senior role in the intelligence community, the elections have consequences. And with torture and warrantless wiretapping and rendition and these other things, those things are going to continue to resonate in your career for the rest of your life.

VIEIRA: Let's talk about expectations, because right after he was elected, Barack Obama said he wanted this economic stimulus package, that he was pushing yesterday, on his desk for signing day one, January 20th. That is not gonna happen. Now he's saying, "End of January, beginning of February." Is that realistic, or is he gonna continue to lower expectations?

MADDOW: Well, he's not lowering expectations about what the outcome is going to be ultimately, it's how fast it's going to get done. Unfortunately, in this economic climate, the reason there is going to be an economic stimulus package is because something needs to be done quickly. That's what all the economists say. So, the, the, this seems like the ambition on how to move forward in the, on the economic field may be being curtailed a little bit by the desire to make it appear that we are moving forward by consensus, to hope that there isn't a big acrimonious fight between Republicans and Democrats about this, about these things. It may be the Republicans' ball, ultimately to decide how big a fight this is gonna be.

VIEIRA: Alright, let me give you two names, you tell me what's going to happen. Roland Burris, Al Franken.

MADDOW: Roland Burris is going to continue to have the time of his life. He is enjoying this process very much. I interviewed him last night about that.

VIEIRA: I saw, yes.

MADDOW: And he's-

VIEIRA: He's gonna go today and expect to be sworn in? He's gonna put on his nice suit and go.

MADDOW: I do not think that he is so deluded that he should expect to be sworn in, but I think he's gonna do everything he can to try to get sworn in. He sees this as his moment. Doesn't matter to him that Blagojevich was the person who appointed him. The fact that, that matters very much to Senate Democrats will be a point of contention, but I think for him he's gonna ride this train as far as it goes.

VIEIRA: And in the end, do you think he will be?

MADDOW: In the end, I think that the Senate Democrats are going to put in such an awkward position that they will, they may delay, they may make it awkward, but it will be hard to imagine him not becoming senator in some way.

VIEIRA: And Al Franken, will he be a senator Saturday night and every other night?

MADDOW: Al Franken's fate is, again, partly in the hands of Republicans. Norm Coleman has to decide what sort of legal challenges he's gonna put the people of Minnesota through in waiting to get their new U.S. senator. Franken has been declared the winner. This one is gonna be fun to watch.

VIEIRA: Alright Rachel Maddow. As always, a real pleasure to see you.

MADDOW: Thanks Meredith.

VIEIRA: And you can watch "The Rachel Maddow Show," weeknights at 9 Eastern on MSNBC.

Readers are encouraged to watch Harry Smith's interview with Coulter on Tuesday's "Early Show," and to read Brent Bozell's comment concerning NBC's banning of Coulter. 

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.