MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has a reputation as one of the liberal/progressive media’s hardest-hitting truth tellers. So last week, I decided to take a close look at a week of her shows. Did she expose this system’s most intolerable outrages—wars of aggression, the oppression of Black and Brown people, the degradation and subjugation of women, the assaults on immigrants, and the destruction of the environment—outrages which are now being greatly intensified by the Trump/Pence regime?
No! She focused your attention away from these outrages. She obscured Trump/Pence fascism. But she did direct your attention to Trump’s connections with Russia, the Mueller investigation, and how Trump is weakening America’s global dominance!
In other words, she spent the week building support for the moves of one faction of the rulers—grouped around the Democrats—to deal with the upheaval caused by Trump’s election and maintain their system, the very system responsible for one horror after another.
On Monday Trump unleashed a racist tirade against the Philadelphia Eagles football players, there are near daily outbursts of open racism against Black and Brown people just for living their lives, and the vitriolic reassertion of white supremacy is at the core of the Trump/Pence regime’s fascist agenda. But Maddow didn’t cover this, and never uttered the words “white supremacy.”
Also on Monday, the Supreme Court made religious bigotry and anti-LGBTQ discrimination the law of the land, and women’s reproductive rights have been under sustained assault. But Maddow didn’t do any segments about those outrages.
The U.S. is now waging wars in at least seven countries, is threatening Iran and may escalate its involvement in Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen, but Maddow’s only mention of recent or current wars was the “information warfare” reportedly waged by Russia in the 2016 election.
Russia, Russia, Russia. Mueller, Mueller, Mueller.
What did Maddow talk about? Out of the 220 minutes she was on air this week, she spent over half her time—123 minutes—talking about Russia! How Russia had interfered in the 2016 election. How Trump allies (and probably Trump) were involved. How Russia was America’s enemy. How Trump is soft on Russia. And how Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is getting to the bottom of this. She mentioned “Russia” more than 79 times; “Manafort” (Trump’s former campaign manager) at least 88 times, and “Mueller” some 44 times. Oh, and the word “fascism”? Never mentioned. Not once.
Compare these 123 minutes on Trump and Russia to the 12 minutes she spent on the barbaric terrorizing of refugee children and their families!
To be fair, Maddow did do two segments on Trump’s EPA head Scott Pruitt. But she didn’t expose him for criminally accelerating the global environmental crisis threatening humanity’s future; she went after him for using his office for personal gain. “He’s about as swampy as you get,” she said, turning this existential threat to humanity into an opportunity to jab at Trump for not delivering on his promise to drain the swamp! (What, it would be good or justifiable if Trump did deliver on his fascist promises?)
Is Trump Just a Russian Stooge, or Is He an American Hitler?
What Maddow is doing here is insidious and reactionary!
She’s covering up the ugly white supremacy at the core of American society and how its forcible reassertion is at the core of the Trump/Pence fascist agenda. This is what got Trump elected—not Russia, whatever it did or didn’t do in the election—and this is what Trump is doing with his racist tweets, as Bob Avakian details in his talk THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible.
Maddow is peddling one dangerous delusion after another. With one Russia/Mueller related news item after another, delivered with breathless urgency night after night, Maddow is training you to see Trump as a corrupt Russian stooge—and not mainly as the racist, misogynist, xenophobic American Hitler that he is, which is WHY he poses such a danger to humanity. She radiates confidence that Mueller’s investigation is digging up dirt and will surely take care of Trump.2 And in segment after segment on the primary elections, she’s promoting the illusion that electing Democrats in November will “change everything in terms of power dynamics on Capitol Hill.” In other words, that “the system is working”; which it is, if by that you mean that it is disarming and confusing people whose better impulses would lead them to uncompromisingly oppose the Trump/Pence regime.
In fact, at most, electing Democrats may result in a few minor changes or reforms, which would come nowhere close to stopping Trump/Pence fascism, much less ending this system’s most devastating nightmares.
The effect of Maddow’s bullshit is to pacify and paralyze people at the very moment they should be filling the streets in outraged protests to stop the consolidation of fascism and demand Trump/Pence Must Go!
For her—and the ruling class liberals in the Democratic Party for whom she basically speaks—opposition to Trump must remain within the confines of what is good for this system. Again, the last thing they want is to uncork the kind of mass political struggle that could actually lead to Trump/Pence being removed from office and lead as well to a process where millions of people are drawn into real political life and to larger questions of what caused this fascism, how is it related to this system we live in, and what must be done to fundamentally change this society.
Is the Problem That Trump Is Squandering America’s Global Dominance? Or, How Rachel Maddow Longs for Ronald Reagan
In short, Maddow is training you to see the world through the eyes of the predators who run America’s empire, in particular those who see Russia as one of their biggest global rivals. One way she’s doing this is by framing her critique of Trump in terms of whether or not he’s squandering U.S. great-power interests and weakening America’s global dominance! (One of her segments: “Trump seen as threat to Western alliance, likely delighting Putin.”)
Maddow began her Friday night show with a gushing remembrance of a speech Ronald Reagan had given on that date in 1982 to the British Parliament, in particular Reagan’s announcement of a bellicose offensive against the former Soviet Union (by then an imperialist power). Here’s Maddow, waxing eloquent:
This day in 1982 Reagan went on to give an absolutely blistering critique of the USSR. This wasn’t the evil empire speech, but that speech he gave in British Parliament, 1982, was equally as blunt and even as provocative toward Russia. One of the things that Reagan denounced the Soviet Union for in that speech was them giving covert political training and assistance to Marxist-Leninists in countries all over the world. Just went after the USSR. It was a very aggressive speech. But then he announced what amounted to an American counterpunch against Soviet efforts to promote communism around the world. He announced an American-led international effort to promote democracy—small d democracy—around the world.
So we have some questions for Rachel Maddow. Since you praise Ronald Reagan’s “American counterpunch” against the Soviet Union, we’re wondering if you support his murder of 15,000 people in Nicaragua by the Contras (whom Reagan—correctly, in fact—compared to the “founding fathers”) and the slaughter of 150,000 in El Salvador and Guatemala? After all, these were key elements of Reagan’s “counterpunch.” This was in fact part of his promotion of “democracy” as well. How about fomenting and supporting the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in general and Al Qaeda in particular through Reagan’s “counterpunch” in Afghanistan? And what about Reagan taking the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation, not just once but repeatedly? Do you support all that? And what about Reagan’s other “achievements,” like refusing to recognize AIDS when thousands were dying, railing against abortion, legitimizing the Christian fascists, and escalating racist terror and mass incarceration in the name of fighting drugs?
Maddow may believe that America SHOULD be the world’s number one imperialist power, that it should adopt a warlike posture towards rivals like Russia, and that political figures should be judged on the basis of how warlike they are in protecting America’s “interests” (interests that mean the grinding up of billions of people in the imperialist machinery every day, including millions of children). Or she may think hitting Trump for being soft on Russia is the most opportune way to build support for the Democrats. But either way, her stance is bankrupt, morally and politically.
After all, suppose Trump—who is nothing if not “improvisatory”—should decide to suddenly oppose Putin and clash with him militarily over Iran, say? Suppose Trump’s negotiations with North Korea go badly wrong—as well they might—and he undertakes to go to war, which would quite likely involve nuclear weapons and quite possibly endanger human life altogether. Would Rachel Maddow even oppose this? And if she even somehow had the impulse to do so, on what basis would anyone listen, after she has so fostered the mindless patriotism that initially kicks in whenever one of these presidents decides it’s time to go kill in the name of America?
How DO We Stop Trump… and Get to a Radically Different and Far Better World?
It IS in fact extremely urgent—and it is still possible—to drive the vile Trump/Pence fascist regime from power, but that’s going to take breaking out of the Russia-Mueller-Democratic Party narco-stupor Rachel Maddow is peddling night after night, facing the reality that this is American fascism, and joining with others in the great struggle to drive this regime from power through massive, sustained, nonviolent political protest and resistance.
More than that, this imperialist system that Maddow sets you up to celebrate and, yes, fight and die for—this is NOT the best of all possible worlds. You can go here and here to find out how this system’s dynamics gave rise to this extremely dangerous situation. And more, you can find out—here and here—how that system could be overthrown and what could replace it.
Look at where Rachel Maddow’s logic has led her, and where she is trying to lead you. Then think about—and get with—the alternative.