The Corner

Politics & Policy

Rachel Maddow’s Window Into the Conspiracy Theory Left

In response to Pinker On Summers

With all due respect to my esteemed colleague Jim Geraghty, I must mildly dissent from his assessment that Rachel Maddow wasted our time. While the actual big reveal practically defined the word underwhelming (here’s the scoop — in 2005 Donald Trump made a pile of money and paid a pile of money in taxes), the show itself was a interesting window into all the ways in which some on the Left imagine that Trump may be compromised by Russians, mobsters, Arabs, or all of the above. 

Maddow began her show excoriating Trump for not releasing his tax returns (on that point, we agree; he should release his returns) but then departed from that basic point to launch into a series of truly wild speculations of foreign influence that included (I’m not making this up) conspiratorial references to private plane parking and yacht docking. Honestly, the musings came so fast and furious that I gave up jotting down notes and just soaked it all in. It made me wonder if Maddow and company truly believe that Trump is a full-blown criminal, and media review of the tax returns is somehow the key to bringing down his entire empire. 

There’s a line between genuine, concerned inquiry and using the administration’s improper departure from precedent as a pretext to indulge in irresponsible innuendo. Maddow didn’t just cross that line, she leapt over it with both feet. It was oddly fascinating and slightly disturbing to watch. 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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