I typically avoid extremes on either side, such as Hannity, O’Reilly, Fox, Breitbart, and similar uber-liberal media types. That said, I am a fan of Bill Press (liberal) and George Will (conservative), both of whom are reasonable and capable of seeing reason on both ends of the spectrum. That said, I have never watched a full episode of Rachel Maddow, as I have always believed her to be on the extreme left, though I consider myself a liberal also. As I said, I attempt to avoid the more radical journalists, though I have a few faves on either side. Recently, however, Maddow has come onto my radar a few times, most recently because of an interview with the newly appointed Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. I was curious, so I did some research into Rachel Maddow and find that while yes, she is very liberal, she tends to be fair and well-spoken, unlike many of the more partisan television hosts.
Rachel Maddow earned a degree in public policy at Stanford in 1994. She was a Rhodes Scholarship recipient and began her postgraduate study in 1995 at Lincoln College, Oxford. In 2001, she earned a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in politics at the University of Oxford. A 2011 Hollywood Reporter profile of Maddow said that she was able to deliver news “with agenda, but not hysteria.” A Newsweek profile said, “At her best, Maddow debates ideological opponents with civility and persistence.” She earned an Emmy Award in the Outstanding News Discussion and Analysis category for “The Rachel Maddow Show” episode “Good Morning Landlocked Central Asia!” It would seem that I have done her an injustice by thinking she was just another “partisan screamer”.
On Wednesday, 24 August 2016, Rachel Maddow conducted an interview with newly-appointed Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. Now, initially I thought of Conway as just another bimbo, but it would seem that again, I have done an injustice, as she is a cut, at least, above the likes of Trump Spokesperson Katrina Pierson, or Ann Coulter. She is obviously not stupid, but … she is in a tight spot, and it comes across. She is in the position of having to support and defend a man who has spent the past 15 months laying a very uncomfortable nest. Here are a few excerpts (necessarily abbreviated) from that hour-long interview:
On talk of issues … actual issues …
Conway: I think, my own view as a voter and as an old hand politically, Rachel, is that so much of this campaign and the campaign coverage, but so much of the campaign has been content-free cacophony, like no substance being discussed.
As regards Trump’s faux ‘apology’ to whomever for whatever:
Conway: But I do hope, Rachel, that people who feel that they have been caused personal pain by Donald Trump, looked at his regrets last week in a very public form. And it’s very unusual for anybody who is running for political office to — frankly, to ever say that they regret causing personal pain. nd I hope that anybody who feels that way will at least see that contrition and take that and at least accept his regret. And …
Maddow: But there’s no apology. I mean …
Conway: Well, that would be done in private anyway.
Maddow: And you’re saying it may have been done and you don’t know, or you know that it hasn’t been done?
Conway: I don’t know either way.
Maddow: Okay. And with the Khan family — I mean, with Mrs. Khan, I mean, in terms of personal pain, he said about her that he didn’t — I can tell you exactly what he said. He said: “She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” Do you know if he’s apologized to the Khan family directly?
Conway: I don’t know. And I certainly hope that they heard him last Thursday in Charlotte when he said that. Rachel, let me just say how I feel, if it’s at all relevant. I think that the Khan’s son is a hero, and I’m glad he’s in Arlington National Cemetery, and I think he made the ultimate sacrifice, as did they, and they deserve our respect and our gratitude. But I also think people should look at the full measure of each of these candidates and not always judge that — well, not just judge him by one or two things that he has said here. I just feel like we with should look at … One or two things??? One or two things??? Let me count the ways …
Maddow: To be fair, though, I think those things that he’s getting consistently judged for, and people are not letting them go, is because they’re so unusual. I mean, for any presidential candidate, for any politician to get into a personal fight with a gold-star family is so strange, it’s so unusual.
On Immigration and ban on Muslims:
Maddow: But does that statement rescind the earlier statement? Does that mean that — I mean, it was very clear what he said in December, and he put it in writing, right? A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. It was very clear. Is that now no longer operable as the statement of the Trump campaign? Should we see this new statement about countries that have a history of exporting terrorism, should we see that supplanting that earlier statement?
Conway: Well, I don’t think it supplants it at all.
Maddow: So they both exist?
Conway: I think that — well, yes, they do, because I think it clarifies it, in terms of, well, what does this actually mean?
Maddow: So what about a Muslim who wants to emigrate here from Australia?
Conway: Well, it depends. Well, you look at his speech from last Monday and I think you find your answer, where he says, look, we are going to stop allowing countries that export terrorists, that we can’t get a good vetting system with them, and frankly …
Maddow: I’ve got the quote. He said he would suspend immigration from “regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.” So on 9/11, four airliners were hijacked. Three of the four were piloted by men who had most recently lived and operated their cell in Germany. Right? We all know this, right? Hamburg, Germany. So is Germany a country from which we will not allow immigration anymore?
Conway: I mean, who were the people teaching them how to fly a plane in Florida that they never had an interest in learning to land it? You know, we — after 9/11, it was see something, say something. But before that, we had them — you know, they could have been monitored in a way, if there was a reasonable suspicion that they had, that they were tied to terrorism. So in that particular instance, with the 9/11 terrorists, it’s very hard to believe it has been 15 years, Rachel.
Maddow: What he says is a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
Conway: That was — and now it’s …
Maddow: Before. But you are saying that’s no longer operable.
Conway: I’m saying that you should see what he said last Monday, where he is saying suspend it from regions or countries that are known exporters of terrorism.
Maddow: Like Germany, which makes no sense.
Conway: Well, no, no … But with that particular instance, I’d have to go back and review what we knew about each of them at the time before I answer your question completely. But the general policy is what he says it is, which is …
Annotator Blake: This is pretty brutal. Again, Conway simply won’t say that the full Muslim ban is no longer operable. But why? Because it would be labeled a flip-flop? Because Trump might want to go back to it? Because she simply doesn’t know?
Maddow: If that’s no longer the case, that would be a really big deal. But it can’t be that we’re not supposed to hold him accountable for that statement anymore, but he hasn’t rescinded it. In the same way that his statement of regret, if it’s meant to apply to the Khan family or the Curiel family, we can’t give him credit to that unless he actually tells us, and tells us that he has communicated that to the Curiel and the Khan family. The thread that ties these things together is this is all stuff of his own making. And if you want the campaign to not be about this stuff anymore, it seems to me like he’s the one who has to end all these controversies by telling us what he really means. You’re in a position of trying to defend what he said last week, and not refer to what he said in December, but only one of them can be true.
On campaign against Hillary Clinton
Conway: Well, Rachel, I have memorized the list of 22 flip-flops that Hillary Clinton has made on policy, and they have nothing to do even with the corrupt Clinton Foundation State Department pay-to-play connection, they have to do with policy. And I think Bernie Sanders was right on many of those things when he was calling her out for them. And we will call her out for them if others won’t. So we feel that it’s legitimate …
Maddow: But your own campaign is about your own candidate, right?
Conway: Well, no, no. There’s a choice in this country.
On “ideological screening”
Maddow: And what he said was, in the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. What is that about? What’s the Cold War precedent for this extreme vetting that he’s talking about?
Conway: He’s basically saying, this is not the first time the country has done this, or that it has been done. That we’ve done this before, but for some reason, we’ve become lax. We don’t do it.
Maddow: When did we do it before?
Conway: Well, he’s just saying, there’s a Cold War precedent. And …
Maddow: But what is the Cold War precedent?
Conway: For vetting. And he’s saying that in this case, it’s that we — past is not necessarily prologue, but that when you are talking about vetting, people shouldn’t comment like, oh, my God, that’s a new situation.
Maddow: The Cold War precedent for what he’s talking about was an ideological vetting. He’s saying we want ideological vetting of people. That did exist in the Cold War, in the early ’50s, it was called the McCarran Act, which I’m sure you know.
Maddow: And Truman vetoed it and then Congress was able to pass it some other way. But what survived very famously was thrown out by the United States Supreme Court because it was ruled to be unconstitutional. In that case, it was to stop communist front groups. But it didn’t pass constitutional muster, and we’ve never had anything like that since that ever has passed constitutional muster. So what he’s asking for is a new extreme vetting system, which has previously been tried and ruled unconstitutional and we abandoned it half a century ago.
Conway: Sixty-some years ago, right?
On … I am not quite sure what …
Conway: And the fact is, Hillary Clinton, from what we’re told, is going to give a speech tomorrow about none of that. Her speech is going to be about Donald Trump.
Maddow: She’s going to give a speech about you guys, that’s right.
Conway: Well, but that’s odd. And I watch — it’s odd for this reason. Again, it’s not — she’s running for president of the United States. And presidents have to have vision and show leadership in a way that you make the election about the future, not the past. And you make it about your own beliefs and your own values and vision, not just trying to make the other person look like he takes the wings off of butterflies. It’s an odd construct. I watched Robby Mook. I watched Robby Mook in your interview last week. I said, oh, I hope I get to do that, I watched him interviewed my first day on the job. And I really did want to come. Robby is such a smart guy. He’s very loyal to Hillary Clinton. He knows what he’s doing. He’s a great competitor. And yet most of his — much of his interview was about Donald Trump. And I keep looking at that and saying, when are we going to hear from you?
On the Clinton Foundation
Maddow: On that issue of the Clinton Foundation, the very strong statement from your campaign two days ago, saying the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. If it’s such a vehicle for corruption, why did Donald Trump donate so much money to it?
Conway: He donated $100,000, and certainly didn’t donate for the same reason these foreign donors did, apparently. He didn’t ask to get a meeting with the secretary of state to talk about donating to the Clinton Foundation, like apparently 85 other people did. But the Clinton Foundation does some good work. I mean, there’s no question about that. They do very important work.
Maddow: But they’re the most corrupt enterprise in political history, that’s your statement.
Conway: Apparently you can be both.
On Trump’s refusal to release income tax returns
Maddow: The IRS says if you’re under audit, you’re totally allowed to release your tax returns. And previous presidents and presidential candidates have. Donald Trump is running for president in part on the basis of his financial acumen and saying that the system is rigged. And there has been a lot of really troubling reporting about his business practices, as well, you know, I mean, a lot of stuff that may or may not been followed all the way to its conclusion. But talk about raising questions, there has been stuff. Why should this audit out only apply to him? I mean, everybody else has released their tax returns, why shouldn’t he?
Conway: Well, I do respect it only because I once thought, oh, transparency, release your tax returns. But the fact is now that I’m there, I hear what the advice that the lawyers and the accountants have given. But I don’t think that we need to see his tax returns to verify his financial acumen. I walk into the Trump Tower every day and I’m like, this guy did pretty well for himself before I got here.
Maddow: I want to know if he pays taxes.
Conway: And he — well, like you know what you want to know, Rachel, we all want to know what taxes we would pay under his tax plan. That’s a question …
Maddow: No, no, trust me, I really literally want to know if he pays taxes. I have two more things to ask you. Do you mind staying?
Conway No. Oh, another break.
And it continues. I have only posted a few highlights here, but for a full, annotated transcript from The Washington Post, click here It is an interesting conversation, and I must admit that I almost felt sorry for Ms. Conway at times. She came in at the middle of the 4th quarter, with little recourse but to try to reconcile the first 3 quarters with the final, and she floundered, yes, but she gave it her best shot. She was up against a pro, after all, and defending the #1 Bozo of the Century! A decidedly tough position.