Principled decision-making means not only responsibility to the full circumstances at hand in the moment, it also means there's a responsibility to the Americans 80 years from now who will be contending anew with something like this mess that we're in today...
Rachel Maddow, host of the Emmy Award-winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, delivered the TruCon 2023 keynote address. Maddow was introduced by Monique Alcala, Truman National Security Project Class of ‘16, who also modera1ted the question-and-answer session after the speech.
Maddow’s address focused on investigations into high-ranking officials for treason and collaborating with foreign agents, as she recounted a historical example of collusion with Nazi Germany by sitting congressmen during World War II.
Maddow began by tracing the rise of Scribner's Commentator, a far-right, isolationist, and often antisemitic publication based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Until it was shut down in 1942, the glossy magazines would be sent for free across the country, including to military installations, with no clear source of funding. After the war, Nazi officials confessed to funding the magazine, and the magazine’s publisher, who had previously sworn under oath that the funding came from anonymous, generous benefactors, was prosecuted for perjury. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, the publisher was acquitted, as false rumors about Nazi officials being tortured to give testimony had been circulating in the media at the time. The prosecutor in the case was later fired on direct orders from President Truman.
Maddow recounted how Truman gave no rationale for firing the prosecutor, despite storms of media criticism of the move. That same prosecutor, however, was also involved in investigating sitting congressmen for collusion with Nazis, and it was later revealed that Senator Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, a close friend of President Truman, was one of the named collaborators.
Maddow ended the speech by lamenting that Truman never explained a decision that has special relevance to challenges faced today. “If we have learned nothing else in national security,” said Maddow, “let it be that there are no real one-offs, there are no black swan events, there was no one American fight against fascism.”