When you read something like this from Conor Clarke (h/t Andrew Sullivan) — it’s tough not to be just a little cynical about the so-called “arguments” from the so-called “conservative” camp.

Of course, the so-called “liberal” camp also distorts reality. Case in point, Rachel Maddow’s report last night re: the alleged criminal past of Dr. Tiller’s suspected killer, Scott Roeder.

Confession: I like Maddow and generally find her reports (and her show, overall) to be — while slanted — more even-keeled than many of the openly slanted media on either side of the political equation. At the very least, she’s far easier to watch than, say, her raving colleague, Mr. Olbermann.

Even then, in this particular report last night:

* Maddow offers a hypothesis, which goes something like this: The Bush administration’s eight-year failure to adequately pursue and prosecute Roeder — as a suspect in alleged, non-murder crimes — left him free to kill Dr. Tiller.

* She interviews a source who (at multiple points) undermines or (at best) raises serious questions about her hypothesis

* She finally recaps, positioning the interview as substantive support for her opening hypothesis, ignoring the points that Roeder’s most recent alleged offense (i) occured with Obama in office, days before Tiller’s murder; and (ii) was backed up by potentially more robust evidence than the FBI had against Roeder when Bush was in office.

Now — to be perfectly clear — I am not suggesting that the Bush administration adequately enforced relevant law; they probably did not, based on other points Maddow shared, prior to the aforementioned interview. I am also not suggesting that the Obama administration failed to adequately enforce relevant law; they barely had time to react when Roeder resurfaced. I’m only suggesting this: Maddow — though she is clearly baffled in this segment by the failure of her interviewee to support her hypothesis — glosses over that inconvenience and sticks to her hypothesis. In similar fashion, her colleagues on the right gloss over the inconvience of Conor Clarke’s pie chart, not to mention the inconvenience of the mounting evidence debunking the Cheney torture regime … and so on.


Here’s the Maddow segment mentioned above. I trust you’ll let me know if you disagree with my assessment of it.

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  • $199537

    Never let facts get in the way of a good theory I guess.

  • tidbits


  • tidbits


  • Rambie

    I agree Pete, both sides put on blinders about “inconvenient facts”. I too saw Madow’s show last night and thought it was a little weak. It’s the old, “Let the little crimes go unpunished and they’ll commit larger crimes”.

  • kathykattenburg

    I agree with you on this one, Pete. Rachel is usually better than this.

  • EEllis

    There is also a bit of shell game in describing the violations of the FACE act. In Texas what she is describing would be a class B misdemeanor (as far as jail time) Vandalism is a state crime (criminal mischief) , a class A miss, with state time up to a year. If the State is willing to prosecute there is reason to allow them to do so. There is really no deeper check to see if there is a problem just cherry picked stats without meaning because lack of context. The only real time that Roeder could of been prosecuted was well after Bush. She says the could of arrested him but that contradicts what her guest says. She ignores what she doesn’t want to hear. Excellent reporting here.

  • baystater

    I’m confident enough in Rachel Maddow’s ability to do thorough research that she had every reason to stand by her position. How can you think that she distorted the reality of Roeder’s criminal past? I don’t know how you came to the conclusion that the guest raised serious questions about her hypothesis. I think the guest dropped the ball himself. He was all over the place with his story. I honestly believe Maddow is the only commentater on tv that actually does research to back up her opinion as opposed to many, many others who just give their opinions as loud as possible. Lastly, I commend her for staying with this story since it appears most of the media just reported it and moved on.

  • EEllis

    ” How can you think that she distorted the reality of Roeder’s criminal past?”

    Who said that?

    ” I don’t know how you came to the conclusion that the guest raised serious questions about her hypothesis. ”

    Well she said that Roeder vandalized the clinic 4 times and floated the idea that Bush not enforcing the FACE law contributed, or at the least left him free, to do the murder of Tillar. We found out in the interview that one time there was no evidence who did it, the second a picture the FBI didn’t think was good enough to go to court, third, 6 years later no evidence, fourth a short time after the third, and one day before the murder, turns out to be the only time there was solid proof of his activity. She states he did it 4 times but it seems clear that it would of been impossible prove that in court. Not to mention that the last time was clearly after Bush so blaming him is a bit weak. But she had her talking points so she kept going even though the statements from her guest did nothing to advance her conclusion.