20:57 GMT02 March 2021
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    MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has lost half-a-million viewers in just a week, following the failure of special counsel Robert Mueller to find any evidence of collusion between Donald Trump, his Presidential campaign team, and the Kremlin.

    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.

    "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.

    While the host is clearly keen to gloss over her epic journalistic failing — and has even attempted to keep ‘RussiaGate' alive by claiming the ‘grand jury' attached to Mueller's investigation is continuing its work "robustly", hinting evidence of collusion could eventually be unearthed — the American public evidently aren't as nonchalant, tuning out in droves. On Monday March 25th, the day after Barr's letter was published, Maddow's show was 500,000 viewers down from the previous Monday, to 2.5 million. Viewing figures for MSNBC's second top-rated primetime program, The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, fell by roughly the same number.

    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.

    No Surrender

    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.

    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.


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    baseless allegations, Russiagate, fake news, propaganda, Russiagate, MI6, Barron Trump, Rachel Maddow, US, United Kingdom
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