(The Daily Banter's Justin Rosario also covered the Maddow story here.)
The Intercept, the news and opinion site run in part by Glenn Greenwald, has been known from the very beginning as an outlet where investigative journalism was allowed flourish. Of course, this only applies to reporters who at least partly agree with Greenwald's persnickety, grade-school Hall Monitor worldview, as well as his obvious support for Edward Snowden, the former NSA analyst who stole thousands of national security documents then scurried off to Moscow with the help of Wikileaks and the asylum provided by a despotic autocrat named Vladimir Putin and his gracious hospitality.
Anything short of that score, your journalism sucks.
You might've noticed that The Intercept, along with Greenwald's orbiting legion of clones, has been actively shitting all over the reporting on RussiaGate. The latest scolding from Greenwald & Company comes to us from reporter Aaron Maté who published a ludicrous article on Wednesday titled, "MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Sees a 'Russia Connection' Lurking Around Every Corner."
In the process of shaming Maddow's reporting on RussiaGate, Maté chose to lead his article by attacking Maddow for something she didn't even say. Her colleague Lawrence O'Donnell initially hypothesized that Russia might've launched the chemical weapons attack in Syria to help Trump distance himself from allegations that he colluded with Moscow to subvert the 2016 election. Maté noted merely that Maddow replied to O'Donnell: "Maybe eventually we’ll get an answer to that from [FBI Director] Jim Comey."
Was Maddow's response out of bounds? Paranoid? Unhinged? No way.
The Intercept seems to be confusing actual reporting on a deeply important topic -- the undermining of our sovereignty and our electoral process -- with the marketing of a specious, fringe conspiracy theory. Anyone who actually watches Maddow's show knows that much of her reporting is gathered from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, ProPublica, BBC and so on, and compiled into narratives, giving each story much needed context. Basically, The Intercept is accusing Maddow of being paranoid even though most of what she's saying is pulled from legitimate A-list sources.
Maté goes on to calculate the total airtime Maddow has given to RussiaGate, as if devoting 50 percent of her airtime every night isn't her prerogative or standard operating procedure for any reporter who happens to be covering a particular beat. Again, it's not like this is something Maddow ferreted out herself from thin air -- dangling on a wire-thin limb -- it's perhaps the biggest political story since Watergate, and, indeed, the magnitude of RussiaGate dwarfs both Watergate and all other previous political scandals. (See if you can find a bigger or more impactful presidential scandal. I dare you.)
Maddow's time spent on this story is certainly in line with its importance. Come to think of it, why don't we calculate how much of Greenwald's reporting in 2013-2014 was all about Snowden and the NSA, since covering a beat is somehow considered a trespass against journalistic integrity now.
The chief counter-argument presented by The Intercept has been that RussiaGate lacks substantive evidence. Maté wrote:
While proof of collusion with Moscow could well emerge — and could well topple Trump’s presidency — the “above all else” focus on Russia lacks concrete supporting evidence, either of Russian hacking and cyber disinformation impacting the vote’s outcome or of the Trump campaign’s complicity with it.
Yeah, set aside the reality that we all observed a tsunami of disinformation infecting social media throughout the election. Set aside the myriad financial and political links between Trump's staff (former and current), Trump himself and Russia. Set aside the fact that Trump's Commerce Secretary just happens to be the former vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, a notorious money laundering front used by Russian oligarchs. Set aside the fact that Trump simultaneously denies any links to Russia whatsoever, as well as the very existence of RussiaGate while refusing to even vaguely criticize Putin's despotism. The list goes on and on.
All that aside, FBI director James Comey confirmed in his televised hearing before the House Intelligence Committee that the bureau is, in fact, investigating the Trump campaign's links to Russia and their collaboration on hijacking the election. While Comey didn't open his briefcase and dump photos of Trump and Putin lurking in John Podesta's coat closet, it's pretty obvious the FBI had enough information to launch an investigation. The same goes for the Republican-controlled congressional committees. It's doubtful that Trump's own party would launch multiple investigations into a potentially treasonous offense against their party's own president unless the evidence was thick.
Maté briefly hinted at the FBI's investigation in his article -- paragraph three, in fact, which makes the ongoing "where's the evidence?" musings seem ridiculous. However, it should be noted that Maté included it in the context of something Maddow was saying to O'Donnell. Coupled, though, with the massive volume of articles published in the roster of aforementioned publications, each one adding more journalistic evidence to the pile, we have an abundantly strong sense of what went down between the Trump campaign and Russia.
By the way, 99 percent of Maddow's reporting is gathered from the aforementioned news outlets -- The Washington Post and the rest. Again, it's not like Maddow has linked up with InfoWars to concoct a series of tall tales involving weather weapons and alien abductions. These are peer-reviewed, open source articles, and not a single fact-checking organization has debunked any of it. Not even The Intercept has debunked the reporting. And, rest assured, any mistake made by Maddow will be corrected by Maddow. This isn't Fox News, after all.
Did Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, along with their counterparts at The New York Times have hard, incontrovertible evidence showing President Nixon knew about the Plumbers and the Watergate break-in? No. In fact, the reporting on RussiaGate includes significantly more players, significantly more investigative bodies, including England's GCHQ, and significantly more fire to match the smoke than Watergate did at the same point in that investigation.
For some reason, The Intercept seems to have a vested interest in scolding and shaming Maddow's reporting. Why on earth would Greenwald's team be so skeptical about this story when it's previously been knee-deep in uncovering the capabilities of worldwide spying operations? Oh wait. The Intercept only appears interested in exposing the U.S. intelligence community. I suppose in the view of The Intercept, the Russian FSB and GRU can feel free to continue to worm its way into our elections.
We need to seriously ask why the Greenwald crowd is so concerned about Maddow's reporting. Why are Greenwald & Company trying to wave us off this one? Who are they protecting? Are they worried Putin will extradite Snowden back to America to face charges? There's something hinky about this, and it has little to do with the thinness of the story, since it's far from thin. Dost thou protest too much?
Hell, even if half of what's been reported is true, it should still rock our world. But the editors and writers working for a publication that's all about supporting a free press and investigative journalism have clearly decided that relentless, fearless reporting by Maddow and others is merely paranoid ranting, worthy of insufferable tsk-tsking.
Some day soon, The Intercept will owe Maddow a huge apology. But don't hold your breath waiting for it.