Rachel Maddow accused Fox News on Tuesday of inventing a scandal out of whole cloth to help Mitt Romney's campaign.
In a segment that took up nearly half of her show, Maddow dissected the burgeoning furor on the rival network over what Bill O'Reilly described as the "political terrorism" of the Obama campaign against Frank Vandersloot, the national finance co-chair of the Romney campaign who has donated at least $1 million to his Super PAC. Vandersloot's name appeared on a blog post by the Obama campaign. The post featured a list of wealthy Romney donors, with information about their views and background.
Vandersloot, who owns an Idaho health services company, has appeared on Fox News multiple times to say that he was targeted and that his business had been affected by his placement on the list.
On her show, Maddow called it a "new, Fox News-hyped, alternative reality scandal." She said that, since Vandersloot has been given a prominent place on Romney's campaign, his past is up for public scrutiny. She also noted that, in at least one case, a Fox News anchor had identified a Wall Street Journal columnist writing about Vandersloot as the actual Obama target.
"Fox News is so excited it seems like in some cases they have just rushed to get on the air before even they totally understand it," she said.
She then attacked O'Reilly, who had Vandersloot on his show Monday and said that he had been "slimed" by the post, which had said he has a history of opposition to gay rights. Maddow pointed out that O'Reilly had interviewed Vandersloot in 1999 about his efforts to fight "the homosexual lifestyle" being taught in classrooms as if it is "normal."
"Dude, you have interviewed the guy before about what he thinks is so bad about being gay," she said. "it can't be a smear if it is a factual part of the record, which you put on the record!"
Maddow also said that Vandersloot had made the same complaint -- that he was being targeted and losing money -- to her own show after she reported on him in March.
She then brought on blogger Glenn Greenwald, who has also written about Vandersloot, to talk about the controversy.
"It's really hard to believe that even people who sit around watching Fox News all day could be moved by this story," he said.
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