Cliff Kincaid
Some guarded praise for MSNBC's Rachel Maddow
By Cliff Kincaid
August 12, 2014

It's rare when MSNBC gets favorable reviews from Accuracy in Media, but Rachel Maddow's report, "Consider the Source," is worth watching. She was very effective in exposing how Russia Today (RT) television tried to obscure the truth about Russian terrorists bringing down the Malaysian Airlines plane. She also laid out the facts implicating the Russian terrorists in eastern Ukraine in the mass murder of nearly 300 people.

This is becoming increasingly important because former Republican Rep. Ron Paul is appearing on Newsmax TV, a new conservative channel, and casting doubt on the Russian role.

On the Steve Malzberg Show on NewsmaxTV, Ron Paul was said to be appearing to amplify "accusations made on his new online platform, Voices of Liberty, that the U.S. government is hiding evidence implicating Kiev in the downing of Malaysian Airlines 17." Kiev is the capital of Ukraine.

In an August 3rd column, the former Texas Congressman says the U.S is guilty of waging "war" against Russia while Putin is only guilty of unspecified "involvement" in Ukraine.

These claims not only damage Ron Paul's credibility but undermine a possible presidential run by his son, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, in 2016.

In fact, citing Ron Paul's pro-Russian views, MSNBC's Nick Ramsey has followed up with a column, "Will Ron Paul be a problem for Rand Paul in 2016?," noting that "some political observers see a strong connection between the political views of the Pauls." He asked, "But how much will voters link them to one another? And how will that affect the younger Paul's chances in 2016?"

These are legitimate questions. But what is of particular importance is that the elder Paul has ignored "a pile of mounting evidence linking Moscow to MH17," the Malaysian plane that was shot down on July 17th. Michael Weiss, editor in chief of The Interpreter, is quoted by MSNBC as saying that Ron Paul is taking "Russian disinformation as true while casting doubt on 'the mainstream media.'"

Of course, the mainstream media get things wrong, and it's possible that the coverage of the crash of the Malaysian plane has been inaccurate or misleading. To her credit, Maddow examined that controversy in detail.

After making fun of state-run media channels such as RT and Iranian Press TV, she pointed out that the American media have publicized evidence released by the government of Ukraine that includes videos of Russian anti-aircraft missiles in Eastern Ukraine, recordings of intercepted conversations implicating the Russian terrorists in the shoot-down of the Malaysian plane, and other information. Maddow noted that these reports were still in dispute and she was careful not to take anything for granted.

But even if you don't want to believe that evidence, she noted, consider what we do know and what U.S. officials were saying about the capabilities of the terrorists before the tragedy occurred.

She pointed out that on June 30, about two-and-a-half weeks before the downing of the Malaysian plane, U.S. commander of NATO Forces in Europe, Air Force General Phillip Breedlove, gave a press briefing at the Pentagon and said, "NATO had observed that surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft missile systems, not just the shoulder-fired ones, but the big vehicle-borne surface-to-air missiles designed to shoot down airplanes...had been observed in eastern Ukraine and just across the border in western Russia."

Maddow played excerpts from that briefing and commented, "He said it was NATO's observation that Russian forces had started training the separatists in Ukraine on how to use those complex anti-aircraft weapon systems that can shoot down planes that are 30,000 feet in the sky."

Here are relevant parts of the transcript from the Breedlove event:

Q: ...If I might follow up on the Russian posture, when he was at NATO last week, Secretary Kerry said that the Ukrainian helicopter had been shot down with a Russian weapon and there'd been a number of aircraft lost in Ukraine. What is the latest information on Russian supplies of arms to the separatists? And do they include anti-air weapons?

Breedlove: To your last specific question, yes, they do include that. What we see in training on the east side of the border is big equipment, tanks, APCs [armored personnel carriers], anti-aircraft capability, and now we see those capabilities being used on the west side of the border.

Q: So the [Ukranian] aircraft that were shot down recently you think were likely shot down with Russian-supplied weapons to the separatists?

Breedlove: I think we need to allow the facts to be sorted out before I report it. And so I would say now it's a
it's a goodit's a very good likelihood, but we haven't tied the string directly together yet.

Q: The level of training you're seeing on the eastern side, does that involve MANPADS? Or is that vehicle-borne?

Breedlove: We have not seen training of MANPADS, but we have seen vehicle-borne capability being trained.

The "vehicle-born capability" is the Russian Buk surface-to-air missile system.

So before the Malaysian plane went down, the Russian terrorists brought down a Ukrainian military transport plane while it was flying at over 20,000 feet.

Maddow's logical conclusion: "Either the Russians or Russian-backed separatists or some combination thereof in that border region...proved that they had advanced anti-aircraft capability and they successfully used that capability to take down a Ukrainian plane flying higher than they're supposed to be able to shoot down." That was followed by the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet.

Maddow went on, "You don't have to believe any froggy voiced Ukrainian government alleged intercepts or 1 1/2-second-long snippets of tape that could have been shot anywhere, or unsourced self-serving claims by advisers to ministers in order to see that, because what we know is all available in open-source information and it is checkable and it's not anonymous sources, it's all out there in the open."

Breedlove, in other words, had warned of what was going to take place. The evidence is overwhelming and points to the Russian terrorists as the villains.

The logical conclusion, she noted on her July 18th show, is that "The Russians have been training the separatists on how to do it." After they shot down one plane at over 20,000 feet, it happened again. It "thus became implausible to deny responsibility for that shoot-down by saying it couldn't have been them," she added.

This is the kind of matter-of-fact analysis that will improve MSNBC's ratings and even get some conservative viewers.

As Maddow noted, Russian propaganda channels were anxious to get out alternative versions of what happened, such as that the Ukrainian Army brought down the Malaysian plane while trying to assassinate Vladimir Putin on his presidential jet.

The latter claim is one of the Russian disinformation themes we exposed in our piece Russian Disinformation for a Conservative Audience.

We don't usually say nice things about MSNBC, but the Maddow approach to the disinformation practices of foreign propaganda channels should be followed by other commentators.

It turns out that Maddow is not your typical leftist on the matter of Russian aggression. She is not willing to overlook or excuse it and seems to be troubled by the inability of the CIA to predict threats to America and our allies from the Russian regime.

Among other intelligence failures, she noted on her March 4, 2014, show, "When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, the CIA and therefore the U.S. government, had no idea it was coming. And now in 2014, the CIA, once again, has done the exact same thing, or rather not done the exact same thing. They're surprised again. Crimea – huh?"

She's right: there is a blind spot on Russia. Now, let's find out why the CIA has been so ineffective.

President George W. Bush certainly deserves blame for failing to anticipate and counter the Russian invasion of Georgia. But President Obama is the President now. It's time for MSNBC to hold him responsible, and not just spend time ridiculing the absurd pro-Russian views of a former Texas congressman whose son may or may not run for president in two years.

Maddow should get to the bottom of what is really a scandal – Russia's Vladimir Putin seems to be able to outsmart the U.S on a regular basis. Why?

© Cliff Kincaid


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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