Washington couldn't tell a lie, Nixon couldn't tell the truth, and Reagan couldn't tell the difference ~ Mort Sahl (b. 5/11/1927) a Canadian-born American comedian and actor who occasionally wrote jokes for speeches delivered by President John F. Kennedy.
I'm a diehard Liberal who loves to worship partisan Liberal pundits who reaffirm what I already believe. Which is why I like Rachel Maddow, despite the fact that she's a partisan stooge, liar, and dumbass to boot. But I'm willing to overlook all that because she hates Ronald Reagan as much as I do. On the 5/12/2011 TRMS, Rachel impugned the Gipper's reputation with disgusting innuendo suggesting that (in the late 40's and early 50's) Ronald Reagan was a red baiter sympathetic to McCarthyism.
How do we know this? Because Rachel Maddow said Reagan testified as a "friendly witness" before The House Un-American Activities Committee (HCUA) on 10/23/1947. In her set up to her uncalled for Gipper bash, Rachel Maddow said...
|RM: ...you may remember the House on American Activities Committee. Part of that was Senator Joe McCarthy red baiting the living heck out of the entertainment industry, dragging in writers and actors and anyone he thought might have a whiff of communism on them. Remember those hearings? All the people who turned in their friends who then got blacklisted as communists and some of them got sent to prison. A bunch of them never worked again.|
The problem with this statement is that Joseph McCarthy had nothing to do with HUAC, which was a House committee. McCarthy had his own Commie witch hunt committee in the Senate: The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI). That committee was looking into imaginary Commie infiltration in Washington, not Hollywood. It also didn't begin this task until 1950, two years after the House began ruining the careers of Hollywood types for no good reason - other than to scare the public into voting Republican.
Needless to say, the Maddow haters pounced. David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun described Maddow's words as "ignorant snark". According to Zuarwik, MSNBC is the "most biased and propagandist television news outlet in America", so it's no surprise that he gleefully tore into Maddow, declaring that she was "guilty and then some" of re-writing history, and that she's a dummy because this was something she should have learned in sixth grade civics. Willis Hart of the blog "Contra O'Reilly" suggested that Rachel Maddow and Michele Bachmann both need to stay after school (and then he added an "LOL").
Willis Hart is probably going to be muy surprised (if he reads this), but I'm going to concede that Rachel Maddow was historically inaccurate in her description of the relationship between HUAC and Joe McCarthy. I am, however, inclined to believe that she misspoke, and that what she said isn't what she meant. I certainly do not believe that she is an ignoramus on par with Michelle Bachmann (who believes the "Founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery"), which is why I defended her on Willis' blog.
Later, in preparation for my own post on the topic, I re-read the quote and realized my previous interpretation of it was wrong. Which is a little embarrassing, considering how I posted numerous times explaining that when Rachel said McCarthy was a "part of that" she meant that he and HUAC were both a part of the Congressional communist witch hunts that were in vogue at the time. But then she goes on to suggest that it was McCarthy who was dragging in the Hollywood types.
This is why I've decided I'm going to throw Rachel Maddow under the bush and blame her for this. If she hadn't misspoke then I wouldn't have been placed in the position where I felt I needed to defend her. I usually watch the program every night, although I don't recall if I missed any programs since her "gaffe" (and therefore missed her issue a clarification or correction). A Google search and careful examination of The Maddow Blog did not result in my finding any clarifications or corrections. But, according to The Maddow Blog, "We read our mail", so I shot them at email at the address provided (see below).
I'll also blame the haters on the Right and in the Middle (like Willis Hart and David Zurawik) who were so quick to take out the knives and have at Ms. Maddow. Although, of the two, I think Willis was the worst offender. Because in addition to pointing out that Rachel misspoke (which isn't at all how he worded it) he also claimed that when Rachel said Reagan testified as a "friendly witness" before HUAC, she was implying that Reagan was down with McCarthyism - and he turned in his colleagues and gave up names to save his own skin. Willis insists there is ZERO evidence that Reagan did anything of the sort.
The truth of the matter is that Reagan did names names and he did use the HUAC hearings to slime SAG (and other Hollywood) union members who wanted better pay and benefits. It is also a FACT that Reagan testified at those hearings as a "friendly witness". As I pointed out on the Mr. Hart's blog, I believe Reagan was a crap president who deserves to be pissed on (metaphorically speaking). But I'm going to hold off revealing the details until my next post because I want that information to take center stage - instead of being revealed secondary to this unflattering account of the "Rachel Maddow gaffe".
"Reagan... is the devil in the minds of most progressives and the ends ALWAYS justify the means", says the Hartster. No Willis, Reagan isn't "the Devil", but he is the absolute worst POTUS ever. Of that there is no doubt in my mind. Aside from getting the relationship between McCarthy and HUAC wrong, the rest of Rachel Maddow's story was absolutely correct. Ronald Reagan didn't fight Communism in Hollywood, he implied certain elements within SAG (and other unions) were pinko Commies because they advocated striking for higher pay and benefits, an act I find utterly despicable.
My Message to TRMS
Subject: 5/12/2011 TRMS Huckabee/Reagan Story
email sent to: Rachel@msnbc.com on 5/22/2011 at 3:36pm CT
Hello. The purpose of this email is to inquire about a story TRMS covered on 5/12/2011. First, I'd like to let you know that I am contacting you because, as a loyal fan and regular viewer of the Rachel Maddow program - the integrity of the show is something I feel is very important.
The story I'm inquiring about is the Mike Huckabee cartoons that re-write Ronald Reagan's history of "fighting Communism" in Hollywood. While Rachel was entirely correct that Reagan did appear as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee, I believe she mischaracterized Senator Joseph McCarthy's relationship with that committee.
On the program Rachel said (quoting from the transcript), "Part of that was Senator Joe McCarthy red baiting the living heck out of the entertainment industry, dragging in writers and actors and anyone he thought might have a whiff of communism on them". Senator McCarthy couldn't have dragged anyone into those hearings, because he was a Senator and not a member of that House committee.
Senator McCarthy, as chairman of the The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, red baited the living heck out of Washington (not Hollywood). He accused federal employees of being communist infiltrators or of being sympathetic to communism. As far as I know he didn't have anything to do with the Hollywood red baiting.
Can you tell me if Rachel will be issuing either a clarification or a correction to counter the criticisms of David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun (there are probably others, but his is the article that was brought to my attention)? Mr. Zurawik questioned Rachel's integrity (and her intelligence) in a 5/13/2011 article titled, "Rachel Maddow: American history as ignorant snark". It is my feeling that these allegations need to be answered.
If a clarification or correction has already been made I haven't been able to find it (I've looked).
Thank you, a loyal (and concerned) fan.
See also: Not Even a Hedgehog: The stupidity of Ronald Reagan by Christopher Hitchens, 6/7/2004.