Rachel Maddow issued a warning to some of her viewers on her Tuesday show, telling them that, just by watching her, they could wind up the target of conservative groups.
Maddow was reacting to a statement by the Mackinac Center, a right-wing think tank in Michigan which has been in the press recently for, among other things, filing a Freedom of Information request to gain access to the emails of any labor professors at three public universities in Michigan who have used the word "Maddow" in an email. Maddow covered the controversy after a report in Talking Points Memo about it appeared last week. On Monday, though, the center published a statement on its website, explaining why it was targeting Maddow:
We asked for these emails first because Ms. Maddow had recently criticized at length Michigan's governor and his labor-related legislation in a TV segment virally circulated on the Web, and second because...by including emails referring to Ms. Maddow, we were aiming to generate a more narrowly targeted set of emails.
More broadly, the center said, it was seeking to find whether the professors had used tax dollars improperly or even acted illegally. Unsurprisingly, Maddow reacted with some concern to this statement. She wondered why, if the center was seeking to "narrow its search" through her name because she had done stories about Michigan's governor, it did not also target the welter of other outlets, writers and websites that had also covered the governor.
Her answer seemed to be that she was being targeted for political reasons. The search, she said, "only applies specifically to professors...who saw something on this TV show hosted by this liberal." Maddow thanked her viewers for "watching this show in this year in this era of big intrusive government conservatism." And she warned that, in certain cases, if they mentioned her name, they could be targeted by conservatives who would try to "embarrass" them.
"Watching this TV show...should not be an act of bravery," she said. "The conservative movement is making sure that you know it is. You are on their list and they are coming after you. If it feels cold all of a sudden, if that gives you a shiver, it is supposed to. That's how they roll."