In case you missed it, which you probably did unless you watch MSNBC, host Rachel Maddow recently made such an asinine argument that even the liberal Huffington Post had to call her out.
“Maddow’s theory was so flimsy that it could be debunked by a quick glance at a map, let alone a phone call with an expert,” a writer for the HuffPo noted.
So, here’s what happened: Maddow tried to tie the ambush of four Green Berets in Niger to President Trump’s latest proposed travel ban because of its inclusion of Chad, which is a neighboring country.
Given that Chad is a partner to the U.S. in counterterrorism efforts in Africa, the MSNBC host argued that the country’s recent decision to remove its troops from Niger was related to the travel ban.
Maddow’s segment was designed to strongly suggest, without outright stating, that Trump’s addition of Chad in his latest travel ban prompted the country to remove its troops from Niger, leading to an increase in extremist attacks and ultimately claiming the lives of four U.S. soldiers.
Chad’s pullout from Niger “had an immediate effect in emboldening ISIS attacks,” Maddow said.
That appears to be false. According to the Council on Foreign Relations and accounts from local residents, the attacks that have increased can be traced back to militant group Boko Haram, which is based just across the border in Nigeria. A group of Boko Haram militants broke away and formed the Islamic State West Africa, Laura Seay, an assistant professor in Colby College’s Department of Government, told HuffPost. But they are separate from the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, the group that reportedly carried out the ambush (although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack).
Chadian troops were present in Niger specifically to ward off the Boko Haram threat ? they had nothing to do with Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. They were also based almost 800 miles away, in an area called Diffa that’s long been battling the group, Seay said.
Any expert asked about Chadian troops battling ISIS in Niger would have said “No, that’s crazy,” Seay added. ”Everybody that I know is appalled by this. I would like to think that Maddow’s researchers are more responsible.” (HuffPo)
Maddow was unfazed by the criticism, however.
“Over the course of the day today lots of people have been very upset with me for reporting that last night, which is fine. I didn’t know you cared,” the host said in her segment the next day.
“But the upset over my reporting doesn’t mean that anything I reported wasn’t true. Everything I reported was true.”
Except of course her entire theory on the ambush.
“These things are not linked, they have to do with areas on literal opposite ends of the country,” said Andrew Lebovich, a PhD candidate in African History at Columbia University and a visiting fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations.
As The New Yorker's Janet Malcolm recently noted, Maddow's show is "TV entertainment at its finest. ... a piece of sleight of hand presented as a cable news show."
"It permits liberals to enjoy themselves during what may be the most thoroughly unenjoyable time of their political lives," she added.