Rachel Maddow Ties GOP Rep. to OK City Bombing

This article is from the archive of our partner .

While expressing concerns about the upcoming midterm elections, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow may have gone a bit too far. Warning viewers that voters could usher in "the most extreme" conservative candidates "in a lifetime" she harkened back to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, associating the catastrophe with a Republican candidate elected in 1994:

We are on the precipice of elevating the federal office the most extreme—and in some cases strange—set of conservative candidates in a lifetime. Yes, this has happened to a smaller degree before. In 1994, in the first mid-term election after the last Democratic president was elected, we got a slate of candidates that included Helen Chenoweth of Idaho and Steve Stockman of Texas. These two were so close to the militia movement in this country that Mr. Stockman actually received advance notice that the Oklahoma City bombing was going to happen... We're just about to elect a bunch of extremists.

Maddow was referring to a cryptic fax sent to Rep. Stockman, which gained some attention in the aftermath of the bombing. Unfortunately for Maddow, the FBI later confirmed that "Telephone toll records indicate that the fax was sent about 10:50 a.m. EDT, about 50 minutes after the bombing" debunking suspicions that he knew about the bombing ahead of time. Today, conservative bloggers are troubled by the allegation:

  • Strikingly Irresponsible writes Dodd Harris at Outside the Beltway:
This pabulum has debunked on the public record for 15 years...It’s pretty reckless to make such a claim on national television when a few minutes with Google would prove it false... [It's] hard for a public figure to win a defamation case since, under New York Times v. Sullivan, he must prove actual malice. However, having watched both videos to confirm that these two transcriptions are correct, Ms. Maddow may want to familiarize herself with the phrase “reckless disregard for the truth.”*
  • We Expect Better from a News Network, writes Jammie Wearing Fool: "Is this what Lean Forward means? Accusing Republicans of knowing about an upcoming mass murder yet doing nothing to prevent it? It's bad enough when you have simpletons like Rosie O'Donnell spew her idiocy about 9/11 on The View, but MSNBC is supposedly a news network. Are they going to let this nonsense stand?"
Setting aside the obvious inhumanity it takes for someone to use the deaths of fellow Americans for political gain, Rachel Maddow’s invocation of the Oklahoma City bombing once again shows the desperation of the left. It appears in these last few weeks leading up to the election, there really is nothing sacred. If MSNBC and Maddow are using the deaths of the men, women, and children of Oklahoma City this close to election day for a scare tactic, it makes one wonder how low they will actually go before November 2nd... The great news is that we the people will have our say on who are the “extremists” in November.
  • Maddow Needs to Make a Correction, writes libertarian blogger Megan McArdle at The Atlantic: "Whether this was poor fact checking, or sloppy wording, with Maddow meaning to say that he got notice of militia involvement before the media, the implication of what she actually said is that he knew about the attacks before they happened.  I hope Maddow will correct this implication quickly."

Update: Following these objections in the blogosphere, Maddow has since acknowledged the error and issued a correction in a full segment on her show:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.