Rachel Maddow is not known for her cautiousness on the topic of Russia, preferring to head straight for the wackiest conspiracy theories as a matter of priority, but on Wednesday she posed a theory that seems crazy, even for her.
The MSNBC host and Russiagate aficionado used the spate of treacherous winter weather conditions across the US to fear-monger about what might happen if Russia decided to “kill the power” for seemingly no reason other than pure maliciousness.
During a segment about the US intelligence community’s new ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment’ report, Maddow zeroed in on a section which concluded that Russia and China possess the ability to shut off heat and electricity across the US whenever they want.
Anyone familiar with Maddow’s show will know this kind of speculation is like catnip to the panicky host, who proceeded to sternly warn Americans that foreign adversaries had been “laying the groundwork to one day flip the ‘off’ switch” on their gas or electricity.
There have already been “rumblings” Maddow said, of foreign hackers accessing US power grids.
Conspiracy hypothesis: They had to pull Alex Jones off major platforms to clear space for Maddow. Conspiracists don’t like competition https://t.co/yadTrawyCe
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) January 31, 2019
It’s possible that Maddow was partly referring to a botched 2016 Washington Post story which claimed that Russia had infiltrated Vermont’s power grid. The paper was forced to correct that story after getting it completely wrong (spoiler: Russia did not hack the grid).
Maddow warned Americans that as they shivered in the freezing cold temperatures this winter, they were actually “relying on [Russia and China’s] good graces” to keep the heating on.
What would happen if Russia killed the power in Fargo today? What would happen if all the natural gas lines that serve Sioux Falls just ‘poofed’ on the coldest day in recent memory and it wasn’t within our power whether or not to turn them back on?
Maddow pleaded: “What would you do if you lost heat, indefinitely, as the act of a foreign power? …What would you and your family DO?”
She then introduced Wall Street Journal writer Rebecca Smith, who has reported on the vulnerabilities of the US power grid and who echoed Maddow’s fears, claiming that Russia and China “might work together to do us harm.”
“What would you and your family do?”. This isn’t even 2009 Glenn Beck it’s circa 2002 George Bush fear-mongering. Utterly shameless, speculative panic stoking horseshit.
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) January 31, 2019
Back in the real world, there is no reason to assume that Russia or China, even if they do possess the power to do it, would switch off Americans’ heat and electricity in order to watch them freeze to death for pure amusement.
Oleg Deripaska used a drone to enter our house last night and change the air conditioner to the heater in the middle of summer and we all woke up sweating and confused. https://t.co/2Tw4ZIJu9Y
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 31, 2019
That’s the kind of thing you might expect to see happen in a Hollywood disaster movie or hear about in the middle of a nuclear armageddon, not speculated about on the evening news.
Maddow has been criticized in the past for spending an inordinate amount of time discussing Russia on her primetime show. An analysis conducted by the Intercept last year found that she spent at least 53 percent of her airtime, over a six-week period, discussing Russia.
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