Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rachel Maddow: A Big Fat Idiot on Gaza

I used to be a big fan of Rachel Maddow. Until this broadcast from last night. As my comrade Laurie King noted, Rachel has "drunk the kool aid on Gaza." I guess I should have known earlier, I've been told that Rachel has expressed support for the Israeli position on Gaza previously.

I wish I had more time to analyze and critique this entire segment. It is so wrong, so insidious, on so many fronts. At the same time it is entirely conventional US pro-Israel propaganda. Just look at the image in the embedded file, which conveys very graphically the fact that Hamas/Palestinians are terrorists, scary, the equivalent of those who cut off innocent Jewish and American heads with swords.

Maddow's expose starts with a map of Israel, surrounded by a sea of hostile Arabs, who have always threatened it, from without, and more recently from within. No mention of the fact that the "within" was the West Bank and Gaza, occupied in 1967. No mention at all, throughout the entire segment, that Palestinians lived under military occupation. No mention of the suffering Gazans have endured under the embargo Israel (with US and EU support) put in place after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006.

And she repeats that tired but ubiquitous formula, the "cycle" of violence. It's not a "cycle" when one side is pummeling the other with its warships, with F-16s and Apache helicopters and the latest in "smart bombs," is getting set to send in tanks, and the other has at the most some rockets that inflict a lot of fear and terror but are not major killers. (Mind you, I am totally opposed to the stupid Palestinian deployment of rockets as a strategy. Or is it tactic?)

Maddow's guest, NBC Middle East "expert" Richard Engel, can't even explain the basic facts about the elections, that the Palestinian Prime Minister was Hamas member Ismail Haniyeh and the Parliamentary was held by Hamas and that the Palestinian Authority essentially was Hamas until President Abbas (illegally) ousted them in June 2007.

Engel does say a couple things that are right. Egypt and Saudi Arabia gave Israel the green light for the assault on Gaza. And he says that if Israel eliminates all of Hamas' rockets, that's good for "moderate" (i.e. slavishly pro-US) Arab states--IF there isn't a massacre of Palestinians. Thus showing more sympathy for Palestinians than cute Rachel. (Although isn't the massacre going on right now, whether through outright killing and more "subtle" means like starvation.)

I hope someone will give this execrable piece of phony news the full treatment it deserves. I consider it more dangerous than Limbaugh and O'Reilly and the rest of the right-wing commentators, because Rachel is such a hero for the liberal left. And deservedly so. But she needs to have her feet put to the fire on this issue.


Anonymous said...

Or maybe she just disagrees with your analysis? Jesus, way to have a fucking dialogue!

parsifal81 said...

Anonymous is delusional. This is not about "disagreements".
Just like other media personalities, Rachel Maddow needs to be held accountable for how she is depicting reality! She skips crucial details on Israeli raids, kid-nappings, extra-judicial killings, blockades, and economic sabotage. It would be irresponsible for us to overlook this piece of sloppy journalism, just because Maddow is a "liberal". We need to hold everyone to the same standards. Kudos to hawblawg!

Pedestrian said...

Thank you for this ... I am shocked to see this segment on the Rachel Maddow show. And I despise Engels ... Yes, the problem in the middle east is that the leaders are "western educated" and the people "ignorant and chauvinistic" ........

There is SO much wrong with this ... So much ignorance and arrogance in only 11 minutes ...

Alasdair said...

Maybe what we should be talking about is why an otherwise bright person is so obviously adrift on Lake Ignorance.

So she drank the Koolaid. Big fucking surprise. Lots of people drink that Koolaid. Both flavors.

I know it is too much to expect people in general to abruptly become critical thinkers, but that is at the heart of these kinds of issues. Same thing goes for climate change, really.

Of course, talk shows on MSNBC and Fox aren't really the place to go looking for original reporting and thoughtful analysis, but I think you've got a much harder row to hoe than waking up Rachel Maddow if you want to wean networks off investing in that crap and socking their dough into some better programming.

Just my two cents.

Alasdair said...

That was way too many gerunds. My point is: Get invited to her show!

She's been hanging around D.C. types too long - she could use a new perspective.

parsifal81 said...

This isn't just about individual people lacking creative thinking skills. There are obviously much greater forces at work here. The same thing is happening here as in climate change debate. There are entire institutes devoted to painting an entirely false picture of reality. These institutes receive a rediculuous amount of funding from industry executives, in this case from the surveillance and security industries which have a strong foothold in the Isreali government.
It wasn't merely a "mistake" that Rachel's show featured scary images of Hammas millitants while omitting scary images of the Israeli blockade or of police raids. There are a whole series of production decisions and deliberations that are necessary in order to arrive at such a warped representation of this conflict.
As far as the public, how can you blame them for accepting what General Electric says as the truth? People are fed these kind of images everyday. "Public demand" is only a small part of what determines the content of these news shows. It's the media that creates demand by selectively favoring certain narratives (the narratives told by the powerful) over other narratives. Also, preferences will be given to stories that correspond to themes described in past stories, since consumers will look for updates and trends.
It's true that the Rachel Maddow show is better than many other major network programs. But that's exactly why this story is so depressing! No matter how much of a "critical thinker" she is, Rachel is not only "hanging out" with D.C. types, she is being directed by them. Even on the most liberal cable news show, it seems that compassion for Palestinians is where major networks draw the line.

Anonymous said...


I was your biggest fan until about 45 seconds ago. Your smirking performance here has left me literally nauseated. I can't believe that the same person whose intelligent, penetrating coverage on everything else left me thrilled, could prove to be such a complete fucking stooge when it comes to this issue. What gives?? SHAME ON YOU!

Barth said...

I am not 100% certain how I would up on your blog, but I am glad not to be taking courses with you or to have any children that do.

I would also love to read a learned analysis of how Rachel got it wrong, but I suspect it may not be all that convincing.

You write, for instance, that she did not mention that "the 'within' [from where Israel is being attacked] was the West Bank and Gaza, occupied in 1967" as if one day in 1967, the Israelis decided to occupy these areas.

In fact, as Rachel mentioned, they were attacked by Egypt, Syria and Jordan and in defending themselves did rather well and then decided that their continued security required continued occupation of these areas and more, until their enemies chose to make peace with them.

Egypt did and Israel left most of what they occupied. They did not leave Gaza until a few years ago, and Egypt did not claim Gaza. The result of that withdrawal are relentless attacks by a government that refuses to acknowledge their right to exist, much less negotiate a peace.

But, as your students might say, what-ever. Keep spreading the nonsense you are trying to feed.

Anonymous said...

Barth doesn't seem to remember who attacked who in 1967, and ignores the colonial legacy of the Suez crisis. Barth also ignores the fact that the Israeli government encouraged and abetted the development of illegal settlements in these territories, and maintained control over their borders and resources, denying basic sovereignty to the Palestinians. Peaceful protests have been met with brutality and armed invasions.
Until we stop searching for ways to justify the bombing of civillians by Israel, while hypocritically condemning these same actions when committed by Hammas, there will be no end to this conflict.

Unknown said...

check this please:

How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

Avi Shlaim
The Guardian, Wednesday 7 January 2009
Article history

Anonymous said...

im never watching this show again. im tired of the inconsistency of liberals critiquing the bush propaganda, but failing to carry that same logic to the obvious israeli propaganda. in 50 years everyone will condemn what israel has done to the palestinians and rachel maddow will just be another nazi zionist that joined in aiding in their racist, subhuman cause. even jon stewart could see through the facade of the u.s. blind support of israel. everyone write jon stewart thank you mail....and hate mail to rachel maddow!

Anonymous said...


finally truth comes out!! i will make sure i pass this on everywhere! People need to be more educated about the israel-palestinian conflict.

who was israel before 1948? huh who? nothing nothing at alll.

Jews, real jews that is, will say the same exact thing Rachel is saying. that land their claiming isnt there's never was never will. It is for the palestinian people. they need to understand that aand stop trying to connect Judiasm to that land. Its a holy land and palestinians lived in it first, and were attacked and kicked out by people who were unwanted everwhere in the world. no body want them.
Go read a book and learn something. or kill yourself if you dont like what you hear or read.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I was watching RM last night and she was horrible on the situation in Gaza. I expected more from her. I was shocked that she barely mentioned the bombing of the 2 UN schools which killed over 40 refugee's. I think it's a total joke the way the US media is covering the siege on Gaza. Bombing of UN schools, killing young children and no little or no outrage? I guess RM and Mayor Bloomberg are good friends. I look forward to NOT watching her show anymore.

Anonymous said...

I am in the process of putting a more thorough critique of
Rachel on American Hummus. There is other media analysis there as well.

Thanks for also noticing this. I'm an so tired of the hypocrisy. So many Americans just turn off their brains when it comes to Israel, it's depressing. They do it in ways that they would never do on issues concerning their own government.

Anonymous said...

It could also be that the owner of MSNBC has only allowed her to say certain things; she could be under restrictions that we do not know about. Its the same thing with the nytimes. The only negative portrayal of Israel i've seen so far is in cnn and bbc news and the guardian and of course al jazeera etc.

Anonymous said...

I also am extremely disappointed w/ Rachel Maddow. The liberal left is showing to be just as dishonest about Palestine as the Right. Makes me wonder about that control of the media issue. To my knowledge, no one (yet) owns the blogosphere. Shame on Rachel! I won't be watching her faithfully, only looking to see if she redeems herself.

Anonymous said...

Rachel Maddow, just like all other
MSM will say and do only what Isreal
wants and even condone genocide of
the Palestenians

Anonymous said...

OMG...Never thought I would agree with that leftist lezbo! Will miracles never stop! This blog sounds like a bunch of sand monkey arabs jumping on Sweedenburg's (can you say nazi surname) band wagon. I'm sure herr Sweedenburg's halocost denial fits right in with your claims that Israel started the 67 war! I hope Israel wipes Gaza off the map.

Anonymous said...

Face it, the liberals are all bought off by the Zionists as well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for bring this up...

Yes indeed, a big fat idiot on Gaza she is, the same is true of most the talking heads on network TV because they have been instructed to be so by their pay masters. Even more insulting to our collective intelligence, and symbolic of the dumbing down of people in the US and Europe, is the new genre of Barking Dog Talking Heads(BDTH) where logic no longer matters, and repeating the same talking points again, and again is the dish of the day.
Amongst these BDTHs are Oreilly, Hanity, etc, etc... I heard that Hanity allocated a whole hour one day accusing Obama of being a socialist. Rupert M. must proud of his BDTH babies.
We would all be in better shape if the big cable/satellite TV companies, have allowed alternative views to be available to the American/European audience. Somehting like AL-Jazeera/English cable network, English version of the French public TV, or even Canadian Public broadcasting, but then again, the paymaster won't allow it. Alternative voices and views may inform the public that there is always two sides to every story. Total conformance to Rupert's, GE's, Disneys(Eisner's), and Viacom's point of view is a must.
You will all be assimilated...

James said...

Rachel Maddow just lost me as a fan... What a terrible reporting, shes too busy trying to cover her own ass rather than report real news. Sorry lady you are now apart of the Israeli supporters club.

Bangose Goldin said...

This is a mistake in the understanding of the role of state Terrorism(as per Noam Chomsky), and especially in military technology. Rachel, as much as I can't stand her, has some ground.

First off, If Hamas wanted to do more structural damage to Israel they could. The Katyusha rockets that are fired by those groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah from a 20 mile radius can equal the power of larger missiles and have similar effect. But, Hamas fires less in order to accomplish two things: Keeping people in fear, while hiding behind Palestine as a supposed shield.

My second point is that Palestinians are still responsible for Hamas. The majority of Americans were initially against the Iraq "war"(a clear terrorist act) more than any war in United States history, but we're equally accountable for it. Whether we like it or not, that shame is ours for letting our country be run by terrorists such as George Bush, and we will likely be retaliated against.

Finally, I want to make one last point about the continued harassment from the Iranian government, calling for the destruction of Israel and eradication of its people by the new president elect, who said this just last year.

How can Israel not overreact with this kind of hatred staring them in the face, especially with the nuclear capability of Iran arising.

Anonymous said...

LOL... whoever said that Al-Jazeerza was less of a puppet-network, is incredibly naive, since that network is driven by an incredible bias that doesn't exist at the same level in this country because of a level of agnosticism that exists here that is absent from the middle-east in any appreciable way.

Not to say that NPR or BBC is good, for that matter. NPRs limited use of economists, and "anthropological" studies on people who aren't educated, are completely unethical. It's what Sartre calls "mauvaise-foi"(bad faith) or complete-self knowledge. So, when you judge someone else as if you are better, like liberals. It's a self-destructive prophecy where you are performing ego-wharehousing. This coming from an extremely-liberal-existentialist.

Get over it.

Unknown said...

Well said. These anti israel Leftists are the ones who have drank the kool-aid. That israel wants peace is proved by the fact it returned all of the sinai they captured in 1973 because Sadat was sincere in offering Israel peace, unlike Hamas

Unknown said...

Nonsense. Palestinians did not live in it first. Study your history.