What a difference four years makes. Far-left MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in 2016 saw journalism as doomed, saying it would “crumble” under the threat of Donald Trump. Four years later, a more upbeat (but no less partisan) host reversed herself. Journalism is saved! On December 21, 2016, Maddow appeared on The Dan LeBatard Show where she fretted for the future of journalism under the looming shadow of Trump:
Every president hates the media, and every smart politician plays itself against journalists and it’s fun to yell at us…But, I feel like the incoming presidential administration is really, really, really against the media, including the president-elect’s wife currently suing a blogger for $150 million. So, I’m worried that, if there is a real attack on the press, the press will just crumble because we are so weak as an institution. So, I think people fall for fake stuff all the time, and the solution to that is just to debunk stuff and tell better real stories. But I’m worried about like a real attack on the press.
Got that? The evil Trump will destroy the press. Turns out though, things were just fine. Appearing on the December 9, 2020 edition of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Maddow presented this as some sort of great, newly discovered truth:
This is a great time to be in the news business because we've never been more vital. Just to learn these basic rules again that if we didn't know them before, you know, don't listen to what they're saying. Just watch what they're doing. Don't— don't take at face value something you get from a government official because a government official is saying it.
Those might seem like obvious points that a first year journalism student would know, but they were revelations to Maddow. What can we expect from Maddow in 2024? Well, probably that everything has been just fine and that there was no need to investigate anything.
With no self awareness, she told Colbert: “It's been weird, and I think has un-wired a lot of us in the business in a way. I'm really looking forward to Biden being boring. I mean, he sort of promised to be boring."
Whatever you expect from the next four years, don’t expect the partisan, Democratic activists at MSNBC to be consistent.
For more examples from our FLASHBACK series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.