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From Steele dossier to Navy ships, Rachel Maddow's recent predictions get roasted

MSNBC host questioned speedy arrival of Navy hospital ships in NYC and LA, then they pulled into port.

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Rachel Maddow in March 2017
Rachel Maddow in March 2017
(Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
Updated: March 30, 2020 - 9:59pm

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on March 20 cast doubt on the notion that two Navy hospital ships would soon reach ports on the East and West coasts to relieve hospitals combatting the coronavirus pandemic as President Trump had promised.

The ships have since arrived at their respective destination ports in California and New York where they will serve non-COVID-19 patients in an effort to decrease pressure on the hospitals ashore.  

"In terms of the happy talk we've had on this front from the federal government, there is no sign that the Navy hospital ships that the president made such a big deal of, the Comfort and the Mercy, there's no sign that they'll be anywhere on site helping out anywhere in the country for weeks yet," Maddow said on her television show. 

"The president said when he announced that those ships would be put into action against the COVID-19 epidemic, he said one of those ships would be operational in New York harbor by next week. That's nonsense, it will not be there next week," Maddow asserted.

The USNS Comfort arrived in New York harbor on Monday March 30, while the USNS Mercy arrived in the Port of Los Angeles on Friday March 27 and began accepting patients on Sunday March 29. 

Republicans on Monday highlighted the Maddow clip.

It isn't the first time the popular liberal host has faced criticism -- both on the left and the right -- for her prognostication or promotion.

Maddow was criticized in March 2017 when she over-hyped a story about Donald Trump's 2005 tax returns, underwhelming many viewers once she finally divulged the information she had been teasing. 

"In positioning it as a grand revelation, a vital step in comprehending Trump’s corruption, MSNBC created an exceedingly cynical spectacle," Willa Paskin wrote on Slate.com. 

"By playing into the network’s loyal liberal audience’s fantasy that there exists a Trump silver bullet, it instead delivered Trump a positive news cycle—the guy pays taxes! Who knew!—amidst the debacle of the American Health Care Act, along with more evidence that the media is aligned against him. The lesson? Don’t tell us you have news, just tell us the news," Paskin wrote.

Last December Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple targeted Maddow for her coverage of the Steele dossier. 

"She seemed to be rooting for the document," Wemple said of Maddow.

He noted that she focused her attention on issues that seemed to bolster the dossier, which has since been discredited, including by the Justice Department's independent watchdog.

"And when large bits of news arose against the dossier, Maddow found other topics more compelling," Wemple wrote. "She was there for the bunkings, absent for the debunkings — a pattern of misleading and dishonest asymmetry."

While Wemple concluded that "The case against Maddow is far stronger," he also presented some arguments in her favor.

"The case for Maddow is that her dossier coverage stemmed from public documents, congressional proceedings and published reports from outlets with solid investigative histories," Wemple wrote. "She included warnings about the unverified assertions and didn’t use the dossier as a source for wild claims."

The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald in March 2019 drew a parallel between Maddow and Judith Miller, a journalist who came under heavy criticism for her reporting about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq during the Bush administration.

Greenwald asserted that Maddow is too much of a hot commodity to suffer repercussions for her coverage of the Trump/Russia story, even though he said Maddow's coverage was extremely egregious.

"In sum, Rachel Maddow is the Judy Miller of the Trump/Russia story, except that unlike Miller – who was scapegoated for behavior that many of her male colleagues also engaged in to the point where her career and reputation was destroyed – Maddow, who makes $10 million a year from NBC, is too valuable a corporate brand and too much of a liberal celebrity for any consequences or accountability to be permitted," Greenwald wrote

"Another difference is that Maddow was so far more frequently off the deep end – way off the deep end, in another universe totally devoid of basically rationality – than Miller ever was," Greenwald added.