Maddow was perhaps the mainstream media's most passionate ‘RussiaGate' advocate, and her nightly broadcasts had been rife with wild speculation and grave warnings of Russian ‘influence' over the President ever since the November 2016 Presidential election. Analysis of the topics covered by Maddow's show conducted by The Intercept showed from 20th February — 31st March 2017 alone, the host spent 640 minutes talking about 15 Russia-related issues, and 551 minutes covering 43 issues unrelated to Russia.
By January 2018, Maddow had speculated Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for the appointment of Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had forced Trump to "weaken" the State Department and FBI, would blackmail Trump into withdrawing US and NATO forces from Russia's border, and White House press briefings were written by the Russian embassy. In perhaps her most irresponsible bout of scaremongering, in January 2019 the host warned the Kremlin may have dastardly designs on US power grids, with catastrophic implications for millions of Americans.
I'm not even joking. I have so much work to do and I can't stop watching this. MSNBC often removes its most embarrassing debacles from the internet. Someone please do that here so I can get to work pic.twitter.com/sdNn20XBv4— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 31, 2019
"It's like minus 50 degrees in the Dakotas right now. What would happen if Russia killed the power in Fargo today? What would happen if all the natural gas lines that service Sioux Falls just poofed on the coldest day in recent memory and it wasn't in our power whether or not to turn them back on? What would you do if you lost heat indefinitely as the act of a foreign power on the same day the temperature in your front yard matched the temperature in Antarctica? What would you and your family do?" Maddow despaired.
Such hysterical coverage was nonetheless very, very good for business from MSNBC's perspective, the viewing figures of many of its programmes leaping unprecedentedly — since the launch of Mueller's probe, Maddow's show was consistently the first or second top-rated cable news programme.
Given this track-record, one might think the conclusion of Mueller's probe would oblige the MSNBC host — if not the network itself — to issue a major mea culpa to its viewers, for having so comprehensively and consistently misled them for so long. Instead, Maddow merely offhandedly quoted an excerpt from Attorney General William Barr's short letter, stating "the Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia", in a segment lasting around half a minute.
Conversely, her head-to-head competitor, Fox News veteran and ardent Trump supporter Sean Hannity, enjoyed a 32 percent ratings boost, his audience rising to 4 million viewers the same evening.
The conclusion of Mueller's probe, and his failure to unearth a single link, financial, material, technical, or otherwise, between the Russian government and the President or any individual connected to him has been immensely embarrassing for the liberal US media, which has almost universally and relentlessly promoted baseless and often bizarre conspiracy theories relating to ‘Trump-Russia' for over two years — and smeared any journalist or analyst critical or sceptical of the narrative as a ‘tool of the Kremlin'.
However, it's clear some ‘RussiaGate' advocates are attempting to sustain the fantasy — prominent conspiracy peddler Malcolm Nance, a former navy intelligence officer, said in the hours before the release of Barr's letter that Mueller had uncovered "the single most serious scandal in the history of the United States".
"This could technically eclipse Benedict Arnold. We're talking a president here in control of the country under the sway of a foreign power," he fulminated.
.@MalcolmNance urges us to disregard Mueller: "[Congress] should be saying right now: ‘I don’t care what’s in that report… we’re going to go to town, and we’re going to find out what the facts are." MSNBC has gone to town on a conspiracy theory, & now the facts are in the way: pic.twitter.com/hUTjKmG924— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) March 23, 2019
Once the letter was published, Nance then urged MSNBC viewers to ignore Mueller, suggesting instead a Congressional investigation into ‘Trump-Russia' would uncover what the Special Counsel ‘failed' to.