The Swamp in Action the Tale of Claire McCaskill


Jakob Benedetti – Staff Writer

If you don’t know, Claire McCaskill was one of Missouri’s two U.S. senators, representing the state for two terms before being unseated by Josh Hawley in 2018. If you were paying attention to that campaign and to Sen. McCaskill’s record in general, then you were probably not so surprised to see MSNBC hire her as a political analyst after her reelection ended in defeat. Which raises the question: How, at a time when thousands of hardworking journalists who make middle-to-working-class wages are being laid off and quality, unbiased journalism is increasingly elusive, could MSNBC possibly justify hiring Claire McCaskill?

It’s not like she has anything particularly new to offer in terms of political analysis, being mostly in lockstep with “centrist,” pro-business dogma, and she clearly doesn’t have any popular support in Missouri even among her base. So why hire her and not put her compensation towards hiring actual journalists?

The answer may not surprise you, and it’s much the same reason we discovered last week for Beto O’Rourke’s sudden rise to the heights of mainstream media adoration: McCaskill, like O’Rourke, is a proud resident of the Swamp.

To be clear, I use the term “swamp” in a mostly sarcastic sense. I’m not a Trump supporter nor was I ever, and I voted for McCaskill. But the more I learn, the more disgusted I am with the political and economic establishment of this country, especially corrupt politicians like McCaskill.

The first major evidence of systemic corruption in McCaskill’s office came in 2011 when it was discovered that she used taxpayer money to fund 89 trips on private jets. This isn’t out of the ordinary; it often makes more sense to fly private if you have a whole campaign staff to transport. The problem was that McCaskill admitted only one of these flights was for an explicitly political purpose, and even worse, that the company which the taxpayer money had gone to was owned by herself and her husband, Joseph Shepard. She eventually refunded the Treasury after facing public pressure.

The starkest indication of the kind of politician McCaskill is, though, comes with an explanation of her relationship to nursing home owner Rick DeStefane, a longtime family friend and frequent donor to Republicans and Democrats alike—and to McCaskill in particular. For example, DeStefane donated $30,000 total to Chris Koster’s 2016 campaign for governor, quickly backtracking and sending checks to Greitens and other high-level Republicans after Koster lost. The interesting part is that DeStefane’s nursing home company has been notoriously negligent, and had to settle a lawsuit with the federal government in 2017 which uncovered widespread Medicare fraud.

Essentially DeStefane’s company overcharged the taxpayers for treatment they either didn’t give or forcefully gave to patients who didn’t need it. Despite taking on nursing home corruption and elder abuse a key tenet of McCaskill’s original Senate campaign, she appears to have done very little, if anything at all, in terms of legislation to prevent this or punish companies who conduct such abuse in a systematic manner for the sake of profit. Maybe it has something to do with the lake house her husband and DeStefane jointly own via an LLC that they also jointly own? In addition, although McCaskill has refunded donations from other sources for far less, she has never refunded a dime from DeStefane.

These are just a few examples, of course. Since she’s been in Washington, McCaskill has received millions from special interest groups, corporate lobbyists and rich executives. Who knows what other deals she’s made, promises she’s kept to people who’ve never even been to Missouri?

Which is why, when she claims that “It’s obvious from my record that I fight every day for Missourians, including Missouri seniors—and clearly there’s nothing other than what’s best for Missouri that has, or would ever, impact my work in the Senate….” I don’t believe her and neither should you.

But why the job at MSNBC? It’s not like she’s strapped for cash, being worth over $60 million if you take into account her husband’s wealth. No, the reason she got hired at MSNBC is because they play the exact same swamp games that enabled McCaskill to massively outspend her opponent, and still lose.

If you’ve read the Beto article, this is the part where politicians who’ve been funded by elites for so long actually begin to believe the narrative spun by the media companies funded or owned by those same elites—so much so that she is now ready and willing to become a part-time propagandist for the people who used to donate to her reelection campaigns.

Don’t believe me?

Then look at the very first thing she did after being hired: attack Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the first “big D” Democrat in years to actually take a stand against the elites and status quo that made McCaskill rich.

(Tweet @JakobBenedetti if you have suggestions for the next edition of “The Swamp in Action.”)