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Rejection! Maddow and Kos Convince the New York Times, but Not Poor Benton Harbor (True Twit, Part 21)

Posted on May 9 2011 2:00 pm
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.
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After getting embarrassed in Wisconsin, Rachel Maddow and the organized Left has turned its attention on Michigan.  The focus of their new Chicken Little campaign is the decades-old Emergency Financial Manager statute, mostly used by outdoing Democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm and recently strengthened by new Republican Governor Rick Snyder—because, oh, right the old law wasn’t working very well.

“Tiny Benton Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan” is Rachel’s new victim célèbre.  This “mostly African-American” city is a financial shambles.  The True Twit and her echo chamber have acted as though Snyder’s actions are the new invasion of the Sudetenland, a co-opting by force of a “democratically elected local government.”

As though Snyder and the state legislators responsible were not elected?

One big problem for their narrative:  a new poll shows that by a margin of 2 to 1, residents of Benton Harbor want the Emergency Financial Manager to knock their elected officials heads together.

HEARALD-PALLADIUM NEWSPAPER: The survey results showed that 51.6 percent of Benton Harbor respondents support the nullification of Benton Harbor’s labor agreements if it would help decrease the city’s deficit, while 27.4 percent don’t support it.

The story also shows that every aspect of Maddow’s rant from the role of Whirlpool Corporation in the city, to the golf course conspiracy she “discovered” is rejected by people who live there by huge numbers.


Not only that, every bit of local reporting on the story from Crain’s Detroit Business to—of all places—the website Michigan Liberal have been tearing down Rachel’s narrative—and often not in very respectful disagreement.

You just can’t make this stuff up.  No, I mean it, Rachel, stop making this stuff up.

Maddow was first taken apart in the Kalamzoon Gazette, in a terrific column by Julie Mack.  It was devastating enough that Maddow had to acknowledge it—but ignored EVERY matter of fact that was raised an focused only on the democracy vs. “dictatorship” canard.

This was too much for “Eric B” on the very smart site, Michigan Liberal—which every Michigan Republican should bookmark, especially since it often runs polls and columns by the best political demographer in the state, Mark Grebner.  (bold emphasis mine)

ERIC B, MICHGIANLIBERAL>COM The Maddow show clip progresses as follows: She leads in by revisiting Benton Harbor, and then moving across the state to the Detroit Public Schools, which as we all know are currently under the emergency management of someone who really wants to run things like his own personal fiefdom (at least until he gets fired later this year). She highlights one of the schools that’s on the closure list … and then descends into hyperbole after declaring that the facts of both cases are not relevant. What is relevant, she says, is that benevolent overlord Rick Michigan has declared democracy irrelevant in Michigan. Face, meet palm.

Again, you can’t get the story correct if you get the facts wrong. Facts are important and stubborn things. For instance, turning a public school into a charter is not privatizing it. Most of the state’s charter schools are administered by universities and missing from the list of authorizers is any private company. The school in Detroit that Maddow focuses on could, in fact, be run as a public school academy by the Detroit Public Schools are even the Wayne County RESD (in fact, it sounds like that school in particular already functions as a de facto charter school). That is, while she reports that options have been taken away, they in fact exist (I make no qualatative judgment on those options, however).

What is happening here in Michigan defies a simple narrative, especially if you boil it down to a question of dysfunctional local government vs. a state-appointed dictator. The answer might appear to be easy for Rachel Maddow, who doesn’t live in the state of Michigan, but those of us who do expect a fire truck to show up when we call 911 and want to trust that the local school district is not only educating our kids but is keeping them safe.

Even the mostly staid Crain’s Detroit Business Weekly got into the act, with a column entitled, “Why Rachel Maddow (and Jesse Jackson) got it wrong” by Nancy Kaffer

NANCY CAFFER: CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS:  Jackson, whose comments come after Benton Harbor financial manager Joe Harris suspended the city’s elected officials, says Benton Harborites have been stripped of their voting rights and that collective bargaining should be reinstated. The new law broadens an emergency financial manager’s powers to include the ability to break union contracts and to effectively dismiss local elected officials. He made some comparisons to Rosa Parks, and said Detroit is on the same path as Benton Harbor.

Maddow has hatched a complicated theory-web that tie-bars Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his heavy-handed union busting efforts, part of a far-reaching Republican conspiracy to erode the social safety network and union power with the end result of placing power in the hands of corporations, not people. As evidence, she cites PA 4.

But the capper is the recent poll that shows the people of Benton Harbor by a 2 to 1 margin support the Emergency Financial Manager.  Apparently, they care more about whether a fire truck will show up at their house, or a cop will respond to an armed robbery than whether the city council’s feathers are ruffled—or whether the city’s garbage collectors will continue to make about 4 times the average income (plus benefits) of the people who pay their wages.

Recently AFL-CIO protests have involved marchers yelling “This is what Democracy looks like!”  I recently witnessed students with By Any Means Necessary drowning out the capitol tour guide while 3rd graders were supposed to be learning about the design of the capitol dome.   Actually, for people who like to throw Nazi allegations around, this seemed a bit brownshirt-ish…

No, THIS is what Democracy looks like…









And this is where Rachel and the other twits have been having their lunch handed to them.

Rachel loves to twitter that every dip in governors Scott Walker or Rick Snyder’s polls as they struggle to make tough decisions as “buyers’ remorse.” (An argument she never made about a certain president during the health care debate…)

But in the case of Benton Harbor, they never bought Rachel’s line in the first place.

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