MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wrongly excoriates Fox News, but she can explain . . .

maddowMSNBC’s Rachel Maddow loathes Fox News so much that she won’t allow the truth to get in the way of her rants.

Thursday night, she railed about Fox News Channel’s televised Republican presidential debate, scheduled for next month, and let herself get carried away.

First she said Fox News had changed the criteria for candidates to participate in the Aug. 6 debate.

“Today Fox News apparently changed their debate rules,” Maddow told her viewers.

“Fox News today said that all the Republican presidential hopefuls that want to qualify to be in their debate need to submit their personal financial disclosure paperwork to the Federal Election Commission within 30 days of declaring their bid to run.”

But as Fox had already explained, the announcement was a reiteration of rules that had already been announced.

When the network announced its debate two months ago in a news release, it listed among the criteria that candidates “must file all necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).”

Perhaps Maddow should have consulted The Washington Post before air time, because it included a statement from Michael Clemente, Fox News’ executive vice president of news.

“As we have said from the beginning, part of that criteria involves filing ‘all necessary paperwork with the FEC,'” Clemente said. “The FEC, as is well known, requires that presidential candidates file a financial disclosure statement as part of that paperwork. During routine pre-debate discussions with all of the campaigns, we have reiterated all components of the criteria, from poll standing to filing the proper paperwork, to ensure that all candidates fully understood the entry criteria. We have no intention of changing any aspect of the criteria nor have we deliberated doing so.”

Maddow then said the reason for the “new” rule was to keep Donald Trump from participating in the debate, suggesting that the real estate tycoon would rather not have his financial statements published for all the world to see.

“This new rule, announced by Fox, is an effort by the Republican Party to try to keep Donald Trump off the debate stage,” she said.

Maddow is dead wrong to equate Fox News with the GOP. She’s obviously never seen Fox’s Chris Wallace, Bill O’Reilly, Greta Van Susteren or Megyn Kelly take politicians of both parties to task whenever appropriate.

Just as bad is her Trump assertion.

Maddow went on to say that Trump will “never turn in his financial disclosure forms.”

The Post suggests otherwise, reporting that “Trump told The Washington Post in an interview Thursday that he will file his financial disclosure ahead of schedule, perhaps next week.”

Fox News would gain nothing and lose much by excluding Trump from the stage. Whether you love him or discount him as a less-than-serious candidate, his brash, flamboyant style makes for a huge audience draw — something Maddow, and indeed the entire MSNBC network, has little experience in.

With that in mind, Trump was a guest on “The Hannity Show” on Fox News on Thursday night after going “On The Record” with Van Susteren on Wednesday.

Maddow must have had her own network’s last-minute shenanigans in mind, which resulted in Dennis Kucinich being left high and dry from participating in a 2008 Democratic debate.

TVNewser reported Wednesday:

In that case, the original criteria for being one of the four candidates in the debate was standing in national polling. When Bill Richardson dropped out, Kucinich moved up to fourth in the polls, and qualified. Then the debate format was changed by the network, cutting the debate to just three candidates. The network? MSNBC.

Facts are such pesky little things. Maddow’s fact-checker must have skipped work Thursday. Maybe she was looking for a new position with a more financiually stable company — someplace like Fox News Channel.

Maddow has since released a statement that she’s sticking to her guns. The statement reads, according to Mediaite:

I didn’t get my facts wrong. Fox News asserts that they haven’t changed their criteria, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the real world. Fox’s initial announcement about their debate criteria only stated that candidates “Must file all necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission”. Before this new word from Fox yesterday, though, candidates seem to have been under the impression that filing “all necessary paperwork” could mean filing a request for an extension. With the exception of Marco Rubio and Ben Carson, that’s what they all did. Now, with this announced change (er, “clarification”) candidates are scrambling to get their financial disclosures submitted earlier than they had expected, because Fox News now says that “all necessary paperwork” isn’t really what they meant. Donald Trump says that he will get his financial disclosure in on time: we’ll see if he does. If this was an effort to squeeze him out of the Fox debate, it will be fun to see him try to deflect that effort. We are now hearing some worries on the right that Jeb Bush will be the one that will not be able to get his financial disclosure in on time, now that Fox says it has to be in before August 6th. If the Bush campaign knew all along that Fox expected their candidate’s financial disclosure form to be filed before the first debate, there would be no question about whether that would happen, and no late scramble to try to make the deadline.

Here’s the segment from “The Rachel Maddow Show,” via MSNBC. The fun starts at about the five-minute mark.

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