Thursday, April 08, 2010

Is the right really too afraid to debate Rachel Maddow?

Glenn Greenwald takes apart Ross Douthat's claim that Rachel Maddow only invites on conservatives who "have something nasty to say about the Republicans":

In his New York Times column today, Ross Douthat laments the lack of real political debates on cable news shows, and writes this:

What might work, instead, is a cable news network devoted to actual debate. For all the red-faced shouting, debate isn’t really what you get on Fox and MSNBC. Hannity has ditched Colmes, and conservatives are only invited on Rachel Maddow’s show when they have something nasty to say about Republicans.

Here we find two of the most common pundit afflictions: (1) a compulsion to assert equivalencies even when they don't exist, and (2) a willingness to spout anything without doing the slightest work to find out if it's true. Douthat's claim about Maddow -- that "conservatives are only invited on [her] show when they have something nasty to say about Republicans" -- is completely false.

The real problem is not that Maddow fails to invite conservatives on her show; she does exactly that relentlessly. The problem is that most leading conservatives refuse to be interviewed by anyone -- such as Maddow -- who will conduct adversarial interviews. They thus restrict themselves to the friendly confines of Fox News or to television interview shows where the hosts refuse to question them aggressively due to a fear of being perceived as something other than "neutral."
If Maddow is telling the truth, and I have no reason to doubt her, she constantly asks Republicans to appear on her show and they always refuse. Liz Cheney has been asked several times to appear on Maddow's show and she never responds.
As I've said many, many times before, our booking producers have repeatedly called Liz Cheney and invited her to be a guest on this show. To, as they say, debate the issues. We called her again today and, as usual, got no response. Why doesn't Liz Cheney want to debate the issues?
It really shouldn't surprise anyone that the Republicans don't want to go on to Maddow's show, as much of the scaremongering the Republicans are engaging in is based on blatant untruths.

Only on Fox - in front of an O'Reilly, Hannity or Beck - could anyone seriously argue about "death panels" and the other nonsense which the Republicans came out with to oppose the healthcare bill.

Because Fox are literally creating an alternate reality. A place where facts do not matter so much as opinion. A place where supporters of Ronald Reagan can condemn Obama as "inviting attack" on American soil when he implements policies which Reagan supported.

And, so successful are they at this, that Fox viewers are more inclined than others to believe things which are demonstrably untrue:

On Health Care Reform, Those Who Believe That It Will… MSNBC/CNN Viewers Fox News Viewers
Give Coverage To Illegal Immigrants: 41% 72%
Lead To A Government Takeover: 39% 79%
Pay For Abortions: 40% 69%
Stop Care To The Elderly: 30% 75%

To search for an equivalence between Fox and other news channels strikes me as ludicrous. There was a reason why Dick Cheney did so many interviews with them, just as there is a reason that his daughter avoids Rachel Maddow like the plague.

It's easier to spread Republican lies on that channel than it is to spread them anywhere else. Indeed, on that channel they are mostly welcomed and embraced.

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