Rachel Maddow, Voice of America

By cutting across the grain of US cable news, the sober-minded liberal pundit has become the best talkshow host in America

The Rachel Maddow Show

The Rachel Maddow Show

guardian.co.uk/Amanda Marcotte—Rachel Maddow first came on my radar in the spring of 2004, when she, along with Lizz Winstead and Chuck D of Public Enemy hosted an early morning radio show called Unfiltered on the newly minted Air America, an attempt to counter rightwing talk radio with liberal programming.

Radio has this ability to make the listener feel like they share a secret with the hosts and the few, hard-to-know listeners out there. I hoped people tuned in to listen to the hosts trade jokes and talk about politics and music, and mostly I wanted other people to learn about this Maddow character, who brought to every episode a dynamic mix of sparkling good humour, intelligent analysis and a broad view of what issues should matter.

Unfiltered didn’t make the first round of reshuffling at Air America, but Maddow hung in, hosting her own eponymous radio show and eventually moving to television, first as a guest pundit and now as a host of her own night time political talkshow on MSNBC.

rachel maddowBefore it happened, most American liberals would have never imagined that Maddow could have her own programme on any cable network, much less the same network that had, just a few years before, tried to pull in a rightwing audience by giving hard right nut Michael Savage his own show (before pulling it after he told a gay caller to die from Aids).

It’s not just that Maddow is a liberal. After all, MSNBC had already given a spot to liberal commentator Keith Olbermann and his frequent, angry rants. It was mostly hard to imagine a cable news network rewarding a pundit for being sober-minded and nuanced in her analysis, as well as suspicion that homophobia would prevent it from promoting a lesbian who favours a more masculine way of dressing.

rachelMaddowAdvocateBut 2008 was a year for re-arranging American expectations about who gets to have a voice in public. The Democratic candidate was not only black, but also overtly professorial, and this didn’t diminish his popularity with the public. Hillary Clinton and, yes, even Sarah Palin normalised the idea of more female authority in politics. In a very short period of time, the unthinkable became the reality, and Maddow had her very own MSNBC programme.

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Filed under Culture, Democrats, Gay (LGBT) Rights, Humor, Media and Entertainment, Politics, Television, TV Shows, Women's Issues

7 responses to “Rachel Maddow, Voice of America

  1. Rachel Maddow is by far the best thing that has happened to cable TV news. I used to listen to her show on Air America Radio. I wish NBC would replace Meet the Press’s David Gregory with Rachel. Rachel rocks!

    • audiegrl

      I agree Libby. So far this year the best ratings numbers that Gregory has gotten, are the two times he had on Rachel and the one time with Obama.

      IMHO, Gregory has too much an investment with the Republican status quo in Washington. Who can forget him dancing and rapping with Karl ‘McRove‘ at the White House Correspondents Dinner. I also found it very telling that while he reported on the bailouts and housing crisis last year, he never once mentioned that his wife Beth Wilkinson was a Exec. VP of Fannie Mae.

      Rachel doesn’t have all that baggage and would bring her own bonafides to Meet the Press being a Rhodes Scholar of Political Science, and attract a much younger audience to tune in each Sunday. It would be a win-win for MSNBC. 🙂

      • LibbyShaw

        Thank you Audiegirl. I had no idea his wife is an Executive VP of Fannie Mae, though I will never, never in a day forget his dancing with Karl Rove at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

        A dinner at which, by the way, W. actually had the cold blooded audacity to make jokes about the non-existence of WMD in Iraq. Meanwhile, back at the Republican NeoCon Ranch, thousands of U.S. troops had been killed while tens of thousands had been maimed.


        W. made jokes. Rove and Gregory danced together.

        The mainstream media has a lot of explaining to do.

        • audiegrl

          Co-sign. They sure do. I don’t think that I’ll ever be comfortable with Gregory. He was on the Daily Show a couple of weeks ago, and even though he was laughing and joking with Stewart, he still seemed very insincere. The fact that they have him making the rounds on those type of shows (with a progressive and young audience) tells me that MSNBC is trying to bolster his ratings. Its a real shame he is dragging the MTP brand down the drain.

  2. I’m a huge fan of the Maddow – wicked smart, funny, and gives geek a whole new cool! But I am dismayed at the reports of her ratings dropping since the election. Everyone’s ratings have dropped since the election! It happens after every election cycle! Rachel still has the 3rd best ratings on her network, and is far ahead of CNN’s Anderson Cooper (I believe he’s 17th on his network). I believe that she will continue to have a strong following because she’s fair, polite even to those she disagrees with, and brings civil discourse back in vogue again. She’s a breath of fresh air in the dismal, highly partisan world of punditry.

    Great blog – would love to contribute. Keep up the good work, all!

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