Virtual Voices

MSNBC reports satire as news

Media

We all make mistakes. But Rachel Maddow made a whopper on her MSNBC show earlier this week. In a report dripping with disdain, Maddow announced that a post on the website Christwire.org called for Sarah Palin to lead the charge for an American-led invasion of Egypt.

Here's a portion of the Christwire.org piece:

"Governor Palin needs to speak out publicly and forcibly for an American-led invasion to protect our interests in North Africa. . . . Upon her direction, other Western nations are sure to join us. . . . With the recent ascent of the Tea Party in the House and Senate, this decision would certainly gain Congressional support. Do we truly need another 84 million enemies of Christianity? Sarah Palin can head off this possibility in Egypt if she moves swiftly."

And here's Rachel Maddow's report (which is no longer available on MSNBC's website):

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The trouble is that Christwire.org is a satirical website, and all its posts are spoofs.

Journalistically, it's certainly an embarrassment for MSNBC, and I'm sure some lowly producer is learning some hard lessons about fact-checking right now. But I think the real issue is how easily Maddow and her staff fell for such absurdity. In my opinion, it happened because the bogus Christwire.org piece fed into the liberal media's biases against some favorite targets: Christianity, the Tea Party, and probably most important, Sarah Palin. It was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It was just too much to resist-or check before reporting.

But perhaps even more pathetic was Maddow's subsequent "apology," which was little more than a rant against conservative media figures such as Glenn Beck (see video clip below). After all, her argument went, if he can report what she considers to be absurdities as news, how can anyone distinguish between truth and fiction anymore.

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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