Where Rachel Maddow Dares Not Tread

From the Archive: On domestic politics, MSNBC has provided some balance to the hard-right bent of Fox News, but the liberal-oriented network won’t diverge much from Washington’s hawkish foreign policy orthodoxy, especially on the Middle East, a reality that Marquette professor Daniel C. Maguire observed in 2011.

By Daniel C. Maguire

To MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: On your show of July 14, 2011, you spoke of your complete freedom to say what you want on your show and Bill Moyers gently demurred, speaking of restricting forces that hover over journalists.

Bill Moyers was correct. I cannot believe you don’t care, but you are not free to address on your show the political influence of the Israeli lobby (which is far broader than AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee).

You are not free to invite John Mearsheimer or Stephen Walt, authors of The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. You are not free to talk of how their first article that preceded this book could not be published by The Atlantic even after the magazine commissioned it. The authors had to go to England to get it published.

AIPAC’s announced goal is to have “no daylight” between Israel’s needs and U.S. policy. You cannot address their ongoing success.

You are not free to invite Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who was on the Gaza flotilla on “The Audacity of Hope,” to hear her side of the Israeli illegal occupation and continuing expansion in Palestine and in Jerusalem.

You’re not free to invite Ray McGovern, former CIA policy analyst who used to report in person to George H.W. Bush and other senior White House officials. McGovern was also on that ship. Nor could you invite the captain of “The Audacity of Hope” who was imprisoned by Greece presumably at the command of the U.S. and Israeli governments. You can’t go there.

You’re not free to invite members of the family of Rachel Corrie who was murdered by Israelis driving a Caterpillar bulldozer as it was destroying water wells and homes in Gaza. You are not free to mention the book the Corrie family put out, Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie, or to invite members of the Corrie family to discuss their ongoing search for justice.

You are not free to invite some of the surviving member of the USS Liberty whom I could make available to you to describe the intentional attack on our spy ship which Israeli pilots had identified as American and were ordered to attack anyhow. The date was June 8, 1967.

Sailors on the deck had waved to Israeli planes flying over them all morning. Then the naval and air force attack struck the Liberty in the afternoon. Israel, which was tripling its land size in six days of war, wanted no witnesses to its takeover of territories such as the Golan Heights until it was a fait accompli.

You could not invite James Scott author of The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship. His father was on board as 34 American sailors were killed and 171 wounded.

You could not invite Professor Geoffrey Wawro, author of the comprehensive book Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East. Much in that study is unmentionable elsewhere, including on your show.

You cannot invite the Israeli Uri Avnery, former member of the Knesset, who criticized the U.S. Congress for “jumping up and down like yo-yos” as Netanyahu mocked President Barack Obama’s timid efforts in the Middle East and lectured Obama as if he were a schoolboy at what was to be a White House photo-op.

The congressional report on 9/11 cited Khalid Sheikh Mohammad’s statement that a principal motive behind the attack was U.S. total support of Israeli expansionism. We pay a great price for our obedience to Israeli demands. You cannot go there.

Bill Moyers was right. There are limiting influences affecting journalism and that also holds true for your otherwise outstanding show, one my wife and I rarely miss.

Daniel C. Maguire is a Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University, a Catholic, Jesuit institution in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is author of A Moral Creed for All Christians. He can be reached at daniel.maguire@marquette.edu.