So transfixed have I been by the Henry Fordian brilliance of GlennCo’s innovations in heat vampirism, it has been absolute eons since I indulged the guiltless pleasure of cathartically loathing/being fascinated by the Queen of The Damned, Rachel Maddow, no slouch in heat vampirism herself. In an extraordinary recent segment, Maddow proved why the bigwigs pay her seven million dollars a year, by deftly merging indignation over the FBI’s unaccountability with detailed instructions in how to keep such institutionalized unaccountability unmolested. Yes readers, as fictional instructor Mavis Beacon teaches typing, fictional journalist Rachel Maddow teaches redacting.
In the simplest terms, heat vampirism is propaganda in resistance drag. It is a directive to comply in the guise of defiance. Maddow’s rubes are surely far less risibly invested than Greenwald’s in feeling rebellious. Nevertheless, there may be a gaggle that would find a straight up, unscented lesson in how to redact vaguely weird if not downright creepy, especially given Maddow’s context — the recent accidental disclosure of the FBI agent who shot Ibrahim Todashev, a friend of suspected Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. So with vocal fry a-sizzlin’, Maddow begins with a minor fuss over the fact that “the FBI only investigates itself when FBI agents shoot people.”
They only ever investigate themselves and they ALWAYS, always exonerate themselves. In the last 151 times that an FBI agent has shot someone and the FBI has investigated that shooting, the FBI has. . . exonerated its own agents 151 times out of 151 times.
Maddow goes on to report that the Boston Globe got the FBI agent’s name by way of a Florida state prosecutor who released a document in which the agent’s name was unredactable. This disclosure, Maddow says, has raised “some new and important questions about why that shooting was judged to be ok.”
Having glamoured her fans into thinking she’s on the side of accountability and accordingly considers the faulty redaction a happy accident, Maddow begins shifting gears:
All of this has happened by the technological FRREEEAK show of the fact that they were able to get his name out of that document where the author of that document thought the name in the document was redacted and it wasn’t in there anymore… It’s also part of a trend, a bigger STUPID trend about redactions.
Heat vampires flourish on the vanity of their victims. They know that the best way to wean a left-liberal rube from dissidence to obedience is to recast it in terms of dumb vs. smart. So the above passage, in which she puts unauthorized disclosure emphatically on the side of DUMB, is her segue to the obvious point of the segment.
This is where things get innovative. It occurred to someone in a high place, clearly, that Maddow’s base no doubt includes a lot of people who might be tasked with redactions, such as government workers, lawyers and journalists. So what follows is no mere overview of how redactions go wrong. Rather, it’s a detailed training in how to make them go right that lasts over nine minutes in a thirteen minute segment. I won’t belabor the details, but Maddow really runs the gamut, ultimately concluding that the only entirely risk-free way of redacting a document is to physically cut out the secret bits, shred them and photocopy what remains.
Now from one angle, you could perhaps see Maddow’s helpful lesson as being as much a lesson to aspiring unredactors as redactors, which from a propaganda standpoint comes out a wash. But there are a couple problems with this, besides the mere fact that Maddow is an accomplished servant of power: one, the kind of people inclined to unredact are motivated enough to seek this information themselves. They don’t need help from Maddow. Two, at no point in the entire segment does Maddow reveal the name of the FBI agent, Aaron McFarlane, despite how public it now is. In a section where Maddow demonstrates unredacting on the prosecutor’s document itself, McFarlane’s name is helpfully blurred out — a detail Maddow explicitly notes — along with Todashev’s alleged “confession”. But she really tips her hand near the end, after instructing interested viewers to “invest in an X-Acto knife”:
It may seem time-consuming and weirdly backward to do it this way, but imagine how good you will feel when you never accidentally reveal the name of an FBI agent who shot someone…
Yes, just imagine…