MSNBC just announced that their panel of moderators for the first Democratic primary debate will include Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, José Diaz-Balart, Chuck Todd, and Rachel Maddow. And as might be predicted, the last name on that list has already stirred some controversy.
Rachel Maddow is unambiguously opinionated. Her program covers the news from a liberal perspective, although always dedicated to presentations that rely on factual sources. Whether or not it’s appropriate for her to be a moderator for a political debate is – well, debatable. But it’s MSNBC’s decision to make and her performance can be judged on the merits. That is, unless you’re Sean Hannity of Fox News. In which case Maddow must be preemptively denounced with childish nicknames (ala Donald Trump) like “Roswell Maddow” and absurd slurs that portray her as “left of Mao, by public admission” (an admission that exists only in Hannity’s cartoon brain).
Hannity devoted a whole segment of his program on Tuesday to this manufactured controversy and brought in Sean Spicer and Jesse Watters to add their “unbiased” analysis (video below). Hannity led off by referring to Maddow as…
“Tinfoil hat-Maddow, the single biggest liar, conspiracy theorist in the country, the person that pushed the Russiagate lies night after night.”
Never mind that the role of “biggest liar, conspiracy theorist” has long been held by Hannity himself. He has pushed destructive falsehoods ranging from Obama’s birth certificate to Pizzagate, to the Seth Rich murder, and to countless and malicious assaults on special counsel Robert Mueller. But Hannity was unable to cite a single alleged conspiracy theory promoted by Maddow. With regard to Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia and his obstruction of justice, Maddow has actually broken stories that have held up over time. But that wasn’t the worst of Hannity’s drooling outburst. In response to the news of Maddow’s selection as a moderator, he offered a programming proposal of his own:
“Here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll have a debate moderated by me, the Great One [Mark Levin], Rush Limbaugh, Jesse [Watters] can join us, and Laura [Ingraham] and Tucker [Carlson]. How’s that?”
How’s that? That’s actually pretty funny. Hannity just slogged through several minutes of whining about how prejudicial and dishonest Maddow is, and thus unfit to be a moderator. So what’s his method of balancing out this partisan tilt? Countering it with his own flavor of prejudice and dishonesty. He is, in effect, admitting that he and his Fox News colleagues are as unfit to moderate a debate as he says Maddow is. It’s kind of like Hannity telling a schoolmate “Your mother would win an ugly contest unless my mother was a contestant. How’s that?”
For the record, Maddow already moderated a Democratic primary debate. Back in 2016, she was on a panel during a debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. At the time, Howard Kurtz of Fox News didn’t think she was the right choice. But he nevertheless said that “Rachel Maddow did a pretty good job in questioning Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at MSNBC’s Democratic debate last night.” And why wouldn’t she? She’s a Stanford graduate and a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate in political science. Hannity is a dropout who rose to fame as a radio shock jock.
Hannity’s meltdown over this issue is typical of his bombastic response to everything that Democrats or liberals do, whether or not there is any cause. He is oblivious to the fact that a primary debate (as opposed to the general election) is a partisan event to begin with. He’d probably be shocked to learn that every one of those debaters are Democrats. And it’s not as if he and Fox News have distinguished themselves during their many interviews (aka tongue baths) with Trump, who is too scared to be interviewed by anyone on MSNBC or CNN. So much for being fair and balanced.