Alex Blaze

The Miseducation of America

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 18, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay rights, log cabin republicans, misinformation, MSNBC, rachel maddow, study

A clip from Rachel Maddow's show, where she blames Log Cabin Republicans for Patrick rachel_maddow.jpgMurphy losing reelection and for the lack of progress on gay rights generally, is making the rounds (video is after the jump). Here's the big quote:

If you have ever wondered how it is that the American public keeps getting more and more positive about gay rights, but gay actual rights, policy that affects gay people, lags decades behind that public acceptance, this is why. Behold what is supposed to be a gay rights movement siding against Congressman Patrick Murphy. It's astonishing.

She could have tried to have a real discussion of the reasons Murphy lost reelection. Just looking at Wikipedia I found that Michael Fitzpatrick, who beat Murphy, won the 2004 election in that district by just over 10% of the votes. Murphy beat Fitzpatrick in both 2006 and 2008 by a hair, and those were both Democratic wave years. In 2010, a Republican wave year and without Obama's coattails, Fitzpatrick won by just under 10% of the votes.

Some people would look at the district's make-up, but Rachel Maddow wouldn't; her viewers might learn something that way. Instead, she seems to blame the Log Cabin Republican endorsement, which everyone knows is worth at least 10% of the vote in any electorate. I say "seems" because her work is so sloppy that it's hard to tell what she's arguing other than that LCR is insufficiently grateful to Rep. Murphy and still, unbelievably, supports Republicans in elections (gay Republicans, they're still Republicans! That's news, folks!).

Even sillier, she does directly blame them for the lack of progress on gay rights, specifically DADT repeal when they just won a suit for repeal. The DADT deal just got through the Senate, and she mentions the House votes, and if she's worried about LGBT issues other than DADT then she really hasn't shown it in 2010. And, you know, there are all the other people holding back LGBT progress, like Democratic homophobes, Republican politicians, straight Republicans, everyone in the public who's ambivalent on these issues, our silly media....

Pinning all the blame on LCR is just incorrect and it encourages poor organization of activist resources, but I'm sure it makes some people feel better to have an easy punching bag. It feels good to point at Republican rubes and just blame them for our problems. And I'm sure they love to absorb the damage since it keeps us from understanding what's going on.

In related news, Americans are really uninformed about a lot of issues, according to the University of Maryland. MSNBC viewers are also uninformed, although we can't blame that all on Rachel Maddow since her fellow clowns help her out (has anyone ever learned anything on a non-social issue by watching Chris Matthews? Did Sam Seder, filling in for KO last week, know that his little yellow scare segment was based on little other than a complete misunderstanding of how federal debt is created? Is Lawrence O'Donnell still pretending to be ignorant about what'll happen if no tax deal is passed by December 31 in order to get himself a bigger tax cut? And Joe Scarborough...).

In the important issues that they asked about, 45% of daily MSNBC viewers thought the health care bill will increase the deficit. 34% didn't know that the stimulus bill included tax cuts. 39% weren't sure Obama was born in the US. 38% thought Obama, not Bush, signed TARP (the bank bail-outs) into law.

And the worst of the statistics: 65% thought the stimulus saved or created "few" jobs or caused job losses. That, the crux of left-wing economics, the main reason for the government's involvement in the economy, the only way to soften the blow of capitalism's economic cycles, a concept that's taught in high school economics... well, don't ask MSNBC viewers about that. Most will parrot some rightwing garbage back at you.

Now that study is making its rounds on the internet, especially in the liberal blogosphere, for a different finding: Fox News viewers are tragically uninformed, like they're living in a hyper-reality constructed by wealthy people who want to control the rubes so they can expand their wealth and power. 91% of them thought that the stimulus didn't create the millions of jobs that it did. What idiots! They're so stupid!

The fact that two-thirds of people watching the Official Liberal Network every day couldn't get the right answer to that question is ignored because we can point to the Republicans and say they're worse.

Does is bother anyone else that even the most informed liberals don't understand the basics of liberalism? More specifically: does it bother Rachel Maddow that her viewers don't know that the stimulus created millions of jobs, even though most economists also thought it was too small? It's impossible to know, but judging from her behavior I'd say no. Her job was neither created nor saved by any stimulus spending on peasants, and it's a fucking awesome job. She gets paid millions to make fun of Republicans.

MSNBC viewers did better on that key question than people who got their news from other cable or broadcast networks, but they did worse on other questions, even sometimes worse than Fox News viewers (anything partisan that made Democrats look better tripped them up). The entire report is worth looking through and most of it isn't about media outlets (77% of Democratic voters don't think the stimulus created the jobs that it did, and then we wonder why Democratic politicians are so conservative).

I imagine there are people who think that LCR's endorsement, as wrong as it is (I don't agree with it or them), actually unseated Patrick Murphy. I would also imagine that there are LGBT people who don't follow politics out there, perfectly nice people with perfectly sensible opinions on LGBT issues who just don't have the time or the care to do anything more than watch Maddow or read The Advocate's website where her clip was posted, who think that the LCR is the only thing standing in the way of LGBT legislation, not other LGBT nonprofits, the much richer and more powerful Religious Right, the outright homophobia of many politicians, or the lack of care of most of the American population.

Not a big deal, I suppose. The Log Cabin Republicans suck as human beings, so who cares if people think less of them. If one doesn't think there's inherent value in the public knowing and understanding the truth, if one thinks that it's OK to bend it a little to advance an agenda (even if that agenda is the Get Rachel Maddow a Mansion in Tuscany Fund), then I guess it's fine.

Although if one doesn't think that the truth is paramount, then why would that person get into journalism in the first place?

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Congrats on being voted one of the best LGBT blogs by Guide to Online Schools! :-)

Here's the link:

Rodney Hoffman | December 18, 2010 5:21 PM

I heard the Rachel Maddow segment. She didn't blame LCR for the election result. Her point is why on earth any LGBT organization would endorse an opponent of gay rights over a strong supporter of gay rights. Yes, I know the usual LCR reply, but I'm with Rachel on this!

"She gets paid millions to make fun of Republicans."
Exactly! Well put, and I'm so glad you wrote that.

And the cost of this stilted discourse, which makes straight and gay liberals pee themselves in joy, is that there is no real discussion of the complexity of the issues. It's a simple matter of caricatures ("Ha, ha, look, stupid Republicans are at it again!") and a far departure from any real left analysis, which is what we sorely need. If we were to actually have a complicated and nuanced public conversation, we'd be questioning mainstream gay politics in the first place, but Maddow wouldn't touch that with a bargepole.

But I could go on about that. Oh, that's right. I do.


We've never COMPLETELY agreed about anything, and I know if we were to delve into this further, we'd find where we differ quite quickly, but I COMPLETELY agree with you here, and I just want to say, you rock and please keep doing what you do!

1. Rachel is right. Democrat Murphy supported repeal of DADT. Republican Fitzgerald did not.

2. A GOP-controlled House is not going to be passing ENDA.

3. Factor into your MSNBC viewership those who watch their 3-hour Republican-hosted show.

1. On that she's right, but that wasn't her whole point. Notice she blames literally every failure of the LGBT movement in the last 20 years on LCR.

2. I don't think she mentioned ENDA. I don't think the GOP-controlled House can be blamed on LCR.

3. Good point.

As for #2, I do believe that LCR has some responsibility for a GOP controlled House.

I'd be really surprised if Maddow much cares about ENDA...feel free to correct me, though, as I don't know that for sure. Has she ever mentioned ENDA on her show?

The truth is LCR does not make the difference between Republicans getting elected or not elected. There is no Republican elected to a national seat that got elected with overwhelming Republican support, and had to pick up the phone and dial R Clarke Cooper at the victory party to thank LCR for tipping him over the edge. Never happened. Fantasy.

LCR DEFINITELY DID move Mark Kirk, John Ensign and Richard Burr to vote against repeal yesterday--thanks to the very timely argument that LCR's LCR v USA case would undo DADT if Congress didn't step in first--as well as likely moving Scott Brown, George Voinovitch, and Lisa Murkowski. Now, we got over the filibuster hurdle by 3 and 6 Republicans were part of that mix, where in the case of the NDAA only 1 Republican was supporting. Those 5 gets before yesterday's cloture and the 2 more after cloture were DEFINITELY thanks to the LCR v USA case.

Mind you, I'm not making an appeal to support LCR--they don't gel with a LOT of people's values in many ways. Some of us hold ideas that are the very opposite of Republican ideals, even LCR ideas. However, as Yasmin argues above, we need to be less lazy. Its far more nuanced than "Republicans are bad, mmkay?" It does us no favors to look at everything as a black & white issue. If you can't see shades of gray, you're just not trying, and you're no better than the enemy.

Senator Kirk already supported DADT repeal at the time of the first cloture vote, but he voted against it because he had agreed with other Republicans to demand to do tax and budget bills first. Of course LCR's legal case is good stuff.

I've been watching TRMS since it's inception, and only once can I remember ENDA being mentioned on the show. It was a passing reference by NAACP President Ben Jealous, made on a night when Rachel was off and Chris Hayes was filling in.

In addition, TRMS has been guilty of the erasure of transgender people from important stories, such as their coverage of the passage of the federal hate crimes bill.

It will be interesting to see if now that DADT has been repealed if MSNBC will finally start to pay attention to what happens when these gay and lesbian soldiers leave the service and return home to their civilian lives.

Ugh. Neat I don't agree with Rachel Maddow or Alex. Oh Alex, I totally agree with you on Rachel Maddow's pseudo-analysis of the LCR...but then you go on to criticize her show which you don't watch and is very different from the daytime shows on MSNBC.

For example, Rachel Maddow argued repeatedly, repeatedly like a broken record that the stimulus created jobs. If her viewers didn't get it, they're never going to.

While Maddow's point was made rather clumsily, it's a little absurd to say she "directly blame[s]" the LCR for lack of progress on gay rights. They're certainly not the only people she's pointed her finger at when discussing progress on gay rights. I believe her point is that gay Republicans frequently support candidates who either are lukewarm on LGBT issues, or actively work against them.

You also assume that Maddow's viewers = MSNBC viewers. Unless the survey makes the distinction between Maddow's viewers and MSNBC's, it's a big leap to assume that Maddow's viewers are as misinformed as the rest of the networks. She frequently debunks myths on her show and dedicated several segments to explaining exactly what key pieces of legislation will do.

That link is just one instance of Maddow explaining Obama and the Democratic Congress has done. There are many segments like it.

I agree that Maddow is quick to point the finger and laugh at Fox News viewers (and tea partiers) but she's been very good about informing viewers about what the President has done. As to why her, I mean, MSNBC's viewers are so misinformed, it could be any number of reasons. Like maybe they get their news from more than one place.

I don't think it's absurd to say that she blamed LCR for the lack of gay rights. After talking about LCR and making a point that's still unclear even to the people defending her in the comments here:

If you have ever wondered how it is that the American public keeps getting more and more positive about gay rights, but gay actual rights, policy that affects gay people, lags decades behind that public acceptance, this is why.

Maybe "this" is referring to something other than LCR's endorsement of Fitzpatrick, a bigger issue implicated in the segment, but I can't see a bigger issue that she was talking about other than LCR's disloyalty to Democrats, generally.

Anyway, I'm not pinning all the results on that survey on Maddow. I specifically said it was "related news" and that I can't blame it all on her because of all the other, often worse pundits on her network. And, as you point out, the survey doesn't break out individual shows, so it's entirely possible that the 35% of MSNBC daily watchers who knew what stimulus does included all the people who just watch her show.

K, going to watch the clip...

I'm ambivalent about this, and it's probably the nature of the clip since she doesn't really talk much about the policies that were enacted. Obviously, since it was from just before the election she wasn't going to discuss the negatives of any of the legislation she was discussing or any of the bad legislation or policy moves of the Obama administration.

It goes to the heart of her role: is she a liberal pundit, a journalist, or a partisan Democrat? seems like the last one, which is one of the bigger findings of U of MD's study of MSNBC's viewers - they were most likely to believe false statements that made Democrats look good. It's strange that she's being hyper-partisan and criticizing LCR for being hyper-partisan, when LCR is a partisan organization (Republican is in the name, gay isn't) but she's supposed to be a journalist, or at least an ideological polemicist.

I also think it's weird that she spends so much time talking about all the "tax cuts" the Obama administration passed, as if the best thing a government can do is cut taxes. But then we're all Friedmanians now.

Anyway, good points, thanks for bringing them up.

I believe "liberal pundit" is the label the fits her best. She's criticized Obama and other Dems at different times.

Also keep in mind, that's just one clip where she explains what the Obama admin has done. I remember she devoted a segment explaining exactly what HCR did and when those provisions went into effect. Someone on another site called what Rachel does "infotainment" and I tend to agree. If Maddow's viewers were wrong about facts, I tend to think they either 1) aren't paying close attention or 2) get their news from multiple sources and don't know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I didn't get to finish. There was no discussion of the complexity of the issues here either. It's just some more trumped up charges, piled on more trumped up charges.

Congressman Murphy didn't just support DADT repeal, it was his bill that he championed in the House. It's true that Murphy had won his seat by a width of a hair. LCR didn't cause him to lose, it was the fact that he went out on a progressive limb even though it wasn't politically advantageous to do so.

The error in what LCR did was to oppose a gay rights champion because he's a Democrat. It is not in the interest of the gay rights movement to oppose gay rights champions in congress. I don't agree with Rachel Maddow that it's entirely the LCR's fault, but I do agree that what they did was a bad move strategically.

Here's where Alex's trumped up charges begin. Rachel Maddow never said it was wrong for the LCR to support pro-gay Republicans or gay Republicans running for office. He then goes on to essentially defame a gay rights advocate who covered the hell out of DADT repeal. No one had more gay soldiers on their show to tell their story than Rachel Maddow, including active service members who risked their damn careers. No one covered DADT more than Rachel Maddow. But Alex doesn't want to talk about what she did right, hell no. He would rather spend the rest of the piece connecting every single MSNBC viewer to a host with a 1 hour show who is actually saying something different on the network.

The real reason for the lack of progress on gay rights is many small reasons which on their own seem insignificant. But taking on those reasons I guess just isn't satisfying enough. There is a sickness in the gay rights movement where people get some sick joy out of defaming people who champion gay rights.

The error in what LCR did was to oppose a gay rights champion because he's a Democrat.

You mean, their error is that they're hyper-partisan? With their name? And Democrats like Maddow can never be hyper-partisan?

He then goes on to essentially defame a gay rights advocate who covered the hell out of DADT repeal.

She defamed the org that's made the most progress on DADT in court ever.

But Alex doesn't want to talk about what she did right, hell no.

And Rachel doesn't want to talk about LCR did right.


How do you know Alex? Do you watch the show regularly? She gave LCR credit for the lawsuit in a previous program. She messed up in this one because she was mad. I sent her an email and left comments on her blog. But that's not good enough for you.

If your argument is that you can do it because she did it, that's hypocrisy. It is mind boggling that would attack a liberal feminist lesbian who is a champion of gay rights for things she didn't do. Like, all the rest of this post where you blame her for misinformed liberals.

This wasn't fair criticism, it was straight up fucking cannibalism.

Nevermind her interview with Richard Cohen or David Bahati.

And no, she doesn't just talk about tax cuts. That was just the policy at hand. If you knew anything about the opinions she holds, it would be that she argues for more spending, especially food stamps and unemployment benefits because they're more stimulative. And she argues for infrastructure spending.

She's just some talking head like all the others. You couldn't possibly take the time to look into it.

Also, I'm guessing it brings Bilerico a lot of traffic to stir shit up. Not from me for awhile. I've reached maximum disgust. I need a break.

Yes, we're all in it for the money. I had to get this post out before December 31 for my contract negotiations with Bil. I'm trying to get an 8-figure salary instead of a puny 7-figure salary.

Aubrey Haltom | December 19, 2010 9:08 AM

I saw Maddow as commenting on:
(1) LCR's support of a candidate who does not support glbt issues (at least, DADT) at the expense of an 'ally' who was at the front of this particular legislative matter.
(2) her closing comment seemed to be directed at a broader topic - LCR's support of Republicans who are not supportive of glbt rights being an example, not the core concept.
I have never watched Maddow's show on MSNBC, though I do watch various clips on sites, e.g., Bilerico.
Maddow was in Cambridge recently (at Harvard) where she addressed topics such as 'journalistic objectivity'. I don't want to reduce her speech to a simple sentence or 2 - but the gist seemed to be that (a) there isn't such a thing as 'objective journalism' (all journalists operate from a particular idealogical viewpoint); and/or (b) in 2010, people are not interested in the watered down, non-committal coverage evident in mainstream media.
I only read Maddow's address, so please don't assume I've captured the whole thought.
Finally, from some of what I've read and seen of Maddow, it strikes me that she has a particular political viewpoint. But not necessarily a Democratic (as in pol. party) viewpoint.
I've heard/seen her criticize the Dems as stridently as I've heard her criticize the Reps.

I think this segment is making the larger point of the disconnect between what the public (becoming more pro-gay) and what the people who have political power (LCR, politicians who drag their feet on gay rights) want to accomplish. LCR wants to repeal DADT, and fought in court, yet endorsed the candidate that opposed the man who authored the bill to repeal it. Sure, her comments don't analyze what LCR stands for or really how much progress on gay rights matters to their endorsements. I think she says "this is why" to point out that this is an example of a larger problem.

Also, Rachel Maddow didn't just cover DADT in 2010. I've seen plenty of clips talking about the "Kill the Gays" bill in Uganda and its ties to American politicians. DADT is not the only gay rights issue she's covered this year.


You get paid actual money to write this stuff? Kewl! ;)

Rachel Maddow is an economist. Education and all. And she has spoken clearly and presuasively about how the Stimulus money and extending unemployment insurance both have an immediate, positive impact on the economy -- not just corporate profits.

But I, too, wonder about her obsessive focus on the Log Cabin Republicans. She's not the only commentator kicking them, but she seems to be the only one who thinks that they have any real influence.

But who cares who signed TARP?

The financial services industry was deregulated in 1999, with large bipartison support from a pro-business Congress, and signed into law by President Clinton. By 2002, it became evident to many that the economy was being adversely affected, and when the housing bubble burst in 2008, the most odious of the legislative changes reared its ugly head; mortgages had to be valued at the current value of the underlying assets, houses. And when no one wanted to buy a house, trillions in assets disappeared (on paper) from the balance sheets of banks, funds, 401Ks.

Initially, companies that had foolishly insured these assets against a loss in value, such as AIG, tanked, only to be propped up by the federal government. Hundreds of billions flowed out of the US Treasury to cover these paper losses. Then the government agreed to buy the mortgages.

Will the government make money on the mortgages? Probably not, as it is busy selling marketable ones to private investors at huge discounts while guaranteeing their FACE VALUE.

Is it any surprise that the banks were able to repay loans? No! They collected on insurance, then dumped "toxic assets" on the government!

Neat and tidy, they went back to making money.

But when middle class wealth evaporated, people stopped spending money. Our economy, driven as it is by consumer borrowing and spending, is stalled by a (relative) lack of demand.

And there is no way government can stimulate the economy by cutting taxes -- trillions are already sitting on the sidelines because of a lack of investment opportunity. But the Republicans will want to lower the deficit by reigning in government spending.

We are royally screwed.