The recent addition of the Rachel Maddow Show to the MSNBC nightly lineup has added a highly effective voice to the liberal arsenal. Ms. Maddow has proven herself to be a witty, highly intelligent, and effective commentator. Her show has garnered rave reviews and wide viewership. I, for one, am grateful to MSNBC for giving her a platform.
A recent article in The American Prospect gives a full background on Rachel and the path she took to her present prominence in the political commentator world.
Maddow’s self-deprecating, wry wit comes across clearly in the article, just as it doesn on her radio and television shows.
“I think I have a fear in general about whether being a pundit is a worthwhile thing to be,” Rachel Maddow tells me over dinner at a Latin restaurant in lower Manhattan. It’s more than the ordinary self-deprecation of someone who just got her own cable commentary show. It’s an insecurity essential to the on-air style that’s powered the 35-year-old’s rapid rise from a wacky morning radio show in western Massachusetts to the liberal radio network Air America and now to her own prime-time show on MSNBC.
Alan Colmes of Fox News often makes liberals feel embarrassed to be liberals. Maddow, on the other hand, makes one proud to be a liberal. She is highly intelligent and it shows through clearly in her commentary.
Unlike so many progressive media figures who sought to replicate the on-air habits of the aggressive shock jocks of the right, she stumbled upon a workable style for the left. She is liberal without apology or embarrassment, bases her authority on a deep comprehension of policy rather than the culture warrior’s claim to authenticity, and does it all with a light, even slightly mocking, touch. She proves that liberals can attract viewers on television when they actually act like, well, liberals.
Maddow doesn’t only rely on her quick wit and natural intelligence. She works very hard to make sure she is ready to discuss the diverse topics that can come up during an hour-long political talk show. Her fellow employees at MSNBC call her the “hardest-working host” they’ve ever seen.
Bill Wolff, vice president of prime-time programming at MSNBC, says that, of all the hosts and guest hosts he’s worked with, Maddow is the hardest-working. When she guest-hosted for Countdown, she’d pre-record her radio show and arrive at MSNBC studios at 9 A.M. for a show that started at 6 P.M. She spent the time researching–even delving into topics that weren’t on the agenda. “I’ve been in the TV game a long time, and I’ve never seen anyone–anyone!–prepare like she prepares,” Wolff says.
A key quote from the article comes in the final paragraph.
If The Rachel Maddow Show is as successful as Countdown, then liberals will have a truly sustainable approach to establishing a presence on cable news: a large, proven audience, which has the potential to turn liberal commentary into a business strategy. That should allow for many more happy accidents in the future.
Read the full article and be sure to catch her show on MSNBC at 9PM Eastern for a welcome breath of fresh air in the political pundit field.
A clip from The Rachel Maddow Show about the Charles Gibson interview of Governor Sarah Palin.