For a fleeting moment MSNBC host Rachel Maddow rose to an astonishing level of stardom in cable news.
Just one year ago she was the reigning queen of The Resistance as the leading authority on Russiagate. Her brand became associated with a colossal scandal that was expected to topple alleged Putin puppet Donald Trump.
For three year she almost single-handedly propped up the fantastic hoax spawned by Democrats that Trump was colluding with Russia. She led the media choir singing the chorus that the “walls were closing in” and the president’s arrest was imminent.
She sacrificed her credibility to propagate the outlandish tales in the Democratic Party manifesto, the Steele dossier.
She even burnished her Russia credentials with a book published last October: “Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth.”
When Attorney General William Barr read the four-page summary in March last year ending the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, it pierced the Russia collusion hoax like a knife. The president had not been charged with a crime, sending shockwaves around the world.
Maddow — visibly shaking and weeping, muttered incoherently that it was the “start of something apparently, not the end of something.”
“I have been looking forward to be on TV tonight in a way I almost never am on any other day,” she said that night. “But this is — I’m always glad for my job. I love my job. It’s the greatest job on the face of the Earth.”
U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant shattered the last vestiges of her credibility on Friday, confirming what everyone already knew by ruling that her program is one of “opinion and rhetorical hyperbole.”
She dismissed a lawsuit filed last fall against Maddow, MSNBC and Comcast by Herring Networks, the parent company of One America News Network. OAN alleged that Maddow had defamed the channel in July 2019 when she said its programming “really literally is paid Russian propaganda.”
The judge stated that Maddow engaged in an “exaggeration of the facts.” “No reasonable person should consider this program to convey facts or to be engaged in actual news reporting.”
“Considering the totality of the circumstances — including the general context of the statements, the specific context of the statements, and the statements’ susceptibility of being proven true or false — a reasonable fact finder could only conclude that the statement was one of opinion not fact,” Bashant wrote in a 17-page ruling.
With her credibility decimated Fox News rival Sean Hannity has been clobbering her in viewership for 52 consecutive weeks. On Thursday he trounced her in the primetime ratings at 9:00 p.m., racking up 3.57 million overall viewers and 591,000 in advertisers’ favorite demo 25 – 54, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Rachel Maddow Show came in second with 2.93 million total and 429,000 25 – 54 viewers.
“Nothing is the same,” she whined on Friday. “Time has no meaning. All days of the week are just days that end in Y now. I haven’t tied my shoes in weeks. So, why not spread The Rachel Maddow Show out into 90 minutes instead of an hour on Friday night? Who are you going to complain to? The boss?”
It really doesn’t matter how much airtime the network gives to her show. It’s still second rate. The coronavirus pandemic also appears to be taking a toll on the channel behind the scenes.
“The boss, at this point, is just like any of us,” Maddow said. “The boss is just another inch-and-a-half tall head in a tiny Zoom box that sometimes cuts out in the middle of a meeting, especially when he’s talking. I mean, it’s anarchy at this point.”
Many cable news viewers hope that Maddow will also be relegated to a tiny Zoom box soon.