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23 Aug, 2021 16:55

Conspiracies pay: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow signs deal to start own production company

Conspiracies pay: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow signs deal to start own production company

MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow has signed a multiyear deal with the network to create a media empire of books, series, documentaries and podcasts. Peddling conspiracy theories, it seems, pays off.

News of Maddow’s deal was broken by Axios on Monday. On top of ‘The Rachel Maddow Show,’ the liberal host will run a production company pumping out “books, documentaries, movies, TV series and podcasts.” According to Axios’ report, WarnerMedia (including Warner Bros. and CNN), Disney (including ABC and ESPN), Netflix and Spotify were all looking to sign Maddow, but her own network won out in the bidding war.

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Axios’ source described Maddow as "a purveyor of great storytelling,” and Maddow certainly liked to weave elaborate yarns during the tumultuous years of Donald Trump’s presidency. It just didn’t matter that many of them were outright lies.

Maddow was a diehard proponent of the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory, and saw Moscow’s meddling behind every one of America’s ills. She’s falsely accused RT of colluding with WikiLeaks to publish damaging information on Hillary Clinton, claimed that Russia could “flip the switch” and shut down the US power grid, called Trump’s short-lived Secretary of State Rex Tillerson a puppet of Vladimir Putin, suggested that the Russian president could hypothetically “give orders” to Trump, and accused the latter of literally setting aside campaign funds to pay for the services of “Russian hackers.”

None of this was true, and when right-wing news outlet OAN sued Maddow for calling them “literally paid Russian propaganda,” a US judge recognized this, ruling that no “reasonable viewer” could interpret Maddow’s Russiagate hysteria as “objective fact.” Her statement about OAN, the court ruled, was “opinion and rhetorical hyperbole.”

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The release of the Mueller Report didn’t stop her peddling tall tales of collusion, even as normally sympathetically liberal news outlets called her “delusional” and commented that her reporting had “no sense of proportion or, honestly, responsibility.” Nor did Trump’s departure from office stem her breathless tales of Russian hacking and other Kremlin skulduggery plucked from thin air.

Despite peddling conspiracy theories that would make Alex Jones take a pause, Maddow is MSNBC’s top-rated host, and the number two host in her 9pm time slot, behind Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Yet Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories have seen him banned from every major social media platform, while Maddow’s earned her a lucrative deal to start a media empire. In the words of CNN’s Brian Stelter, “Maddow defines the MSNBC brand more than any single host on CNN or, I'd even argue, Fox News.” What that says about MSNBC depends on just how much you buy into the conspiracy theories.

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