MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow rang in 2014 the same way she spent 2013: Accusing billionaire libertarian Charles Koch of being behind everything she doesn’t like.
And she may as well be unhappy. One of Koch’s favorite organizations, Americans for Prosperity, has “staggered Democrats” and their supporters, spending $20 million tying vulnerable politicians to their unpopular Obamacare law.
This time, however, Maddow accused Koch of supporting a welfare drug-testing campaign in Florida. And on this, she was wrong. And she’s been shown to be wrong. But a full two weeks on, it’s safe to say Maddow has no intention to correct the record. Instead, the night after she first made her charge, she doubled down.
But in the days that followed, The Washington Post, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida Justice Institute and Politico – hardly supporters of Koch-style libertarianism — cast more than a little doubt on Ms. Maddow’s charge. (RELATED: Fox News’ Roger Ailes is ‘thrilled’ CNN and MSNBC have ‘thrown in the towel’)
Maddow’s theory is that over the last decade, Koch has donated $40,000 to the State Policy Network, which counts as a member the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability, which at some point supported drug testing for welfare recipients. Therefore, Mr. Koch tried to have welfare recipients drug tested.
By Maddow’s standards, MSNBC co-founder Microsoft is a supporter of drug testing for welfare recipients. Oh, and so is Comcast, because both have also given to the State Policy Network. Yes, that’s the same Comcast that owns Ms. Maddow’s MSNBC through a “shadowy front” known as NBC Universal.
By Maddow’s standards, Washington’s Smithsonian, New York City’s Lincoln Center, Tuft University’s School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas’ Cancer Center and MIT’s Institute for Integrative Cancer Research are shady “Koch-affiliated” institutions.
Some folks were wise to Maddow’s games. One day after her show aired, Koch Industries General Counsel Mark Holden categorically denied the allegation and asked for a correction.
Six days after her show aired, The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote ”The Kochs’ extensive reach notwithstanding, they cannot be connected to everything.”
The day after that, the Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact column agreed, calling the charges “mostly false.”
Still, MSNBC remains silent.
The Post’s story concluded with, ”Attempts to get comment from MSNBC were unsuccessful.” Politico’s story concluded with, “MSNBC did not respond to a request for comment.” Holden’s email correspondence with one of Maddow’s producers concluded with the producer writing, “I don’t have any further updates right now.”
And as of Thursday, Jan. 16 — two weeks after she first made these seemingly false claims — Maddow has declined to apologize.
“It’s a two-way street,” Holden told The Daily Caller. “When you hold people accountable, you also need to be accountable.”
“All we tried to do with MSNBC from May 2012 [(when Holden went on then-host Martin Bashir's show and met with MSNBC President Phil Griffin)] to the present, is if they’re going to comment on us, and they’re going to report on us, to live up to the agreement that Phil Griffin and I agreed to in 2012, is live up to journalistic standards and fact check,” Holden continued. ”We just wanted a fair shake from them and that’s all we’re asking for, and we don’t think we’re going to get it. Maddow hasn’t apologized, and it doesn’t appear MSNBC management is going to require her to do it.”
Now, keep in mind that Ms. Maddow’s comments came two days before MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s weepy on-air apology for mocking Mitt Romney’s black grandchild; 29 days after MSNBC’s Martin Bashir resigned after saying someone should defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth; and 37 days after MSNBC’s Alec Baldwin was fired for calling a reporter a “cock-sucking faggot.”
As former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann asked MSNBC just two days before Maddow’s broadcast, “Any adults in charge over there?”
Someone must at least be collecting all those resignations, right?
Well, yes: According to the National Review’s Eliana Johnson, the folks calling the shots are “the new matriarchy running NBC News behind the scene,” including Maddow, “the highest-paid and highest-rated talent at MSNBC.”
“She is actually not that interested in reality; she is the most ideological person I’ve ever met,” one “former [Maddow] colleague” told the National Review, perhaps helping to explain Maddow’s logic on Koch.
“She really thinks she is changing America for the better,” the source continued. “You can’t have somebody like that in charge of your programming.”
Or, it seems, in charge of holding herself accountable.
Fortunately for Koch and Holden, firm believers in the free market, MSNBC will be held accountable eventually. It might just take a little time.
This author was an associate at the Charles G. Koch Foundation from 2010 to 2011.