It’s About Time: Rachel Maddow gets her own TV show

I rarely watch cable television news in its original format. I catch the best-of and worst-of clips on Crooks and Liars and other liberal blogs, occasionally checking out who Keith Olbermann’s has dubbed the Worst Person in the World. I can’t say I’m really drawn in by the standard format, relying as it does on sound-bite punditry and quasi-snarling exchanges between moderate-to-conservative coworkers. Chris Matthews? Joe Scarborough? Sean Hannity? Tucker Carlson? I probably don’t need to remind Feministe readers of why the talking heads of cable news have caused permanent palm-prints in the foreheads of many progressive viewers.

Last night, however, I was pleased to come home and read that Rachel Maddow is getting her own prime-time show! (Hat tip also to C&L and Shakesville.) She’s had a meteoric rise from her debut as a TV news host, back in April of this year when she filled in for Olbermann on Countdown. Maddow will continue to host her Air America radio show, but is replacing Dan Abrams in the 9 PM slot, right after Keith Olbermann.

Why am I a fan of Rachel Maddow’s? Well, it could be her background as an activist connecting prisoners’ rights to the AIDS movement. It could be because she won a Rhodes scholarship back in 1994, then celebrated by cutting all her hair off and dying it blue. It could be because she was the first out lesbian to win that scholarship, one of the few television personalities who openly identifies as a butch dyke and won’t give in to pressure to look more feminine on camera:

At first, I said no make-up, but then I saw myself on TV and it was like Nixon debating Kennedy. Now I say, Okay, do me up like you’d do a dude.” And they’re like “But you’re so pretty, why would you want to look like a man? How about a little lip gloss?” And I’m like “Hey, look. I look this way on purpose!”

Nah. It’s not any of those rather endearing facts, to tell you the truth. I didn’t even know that stuff until I did some research this morning. Maddow originally seized my attention because she’s good at her job, and doesn’t take any crap from the blowhard dudes she has to spar with. Maddow is quick with the facts, sharp as a razor, and won’t let herself be talked over. Just watch her smack down Joe Scarborough’s spin on McCain’s right-wing pandering:

“Awwww, Rachel! Rachel, good Lord! Waaah!” More of her greatest hits after the cut, and many congratulations to Rachel. Plus, kudos to MSNBC, who will surely take disproportionate flack for putting honest-to-gosh liberals (progressives, even?) on the air where they can actually go toe-to-toe with the existing hordes of moderate and conservative commentators.

On another occasion, Scarborough apparently stormed off the set because he couldn’t deal with Maddow’s refusal to let him talk over her. Look at his posture in both of these clips; he has no idea what to do with someone he can’t just threaten to reach over and backhand. (I am not real fond of the “beer vs. white wine” sissy joke that Harwood makes about 2/3 of the way through, on the other hand.)

Here she hammers Pat Buchanan into an incoherent state where all he can do is sputter about socialism. Then she laughs at him. I almost felt bad for him; then I remembered that he’s a misognyist, homophobic theocrat who called Martin Luther King, Jr. a divisive fraud.

She actually seems to have a more amicable working relationship with bowtie boy Tucker Carlson, but in this clip she lets him know how pissed off she is:

And finally, like anyone who can distinguish arguments grounded in reality from attention-seeking wastes of time, she thinks Ann Coulter is a total joke. My jaw dropped in disgust when Carlson asked for video of Maddow and Coulter in bed, but she just laughs it off. If she couldn’t do that, she’d probably have burst a blood vessel in her forehead by now.

Rachel Maddow is clearly tough enough to survive in this environment. It’s far from an ideal world — an arena where you’ve gotta drink beer not wine, go along with dim-witted but “lighthearted” jokes, and be willing to talk over your opponents in order to fit in and be heard. But I’m definitely glad that she’s doing it.

UPDATE: Yet another clip from last night, of Olbermann and Maddow announcing the news and celebrating. Maddow promises increased coverage of the Iraqi national soccer team and domestic crimes committed by naked men, and hopes for live punk bands and mariachi-backed segues.



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53 Responses to It’s About Time: Rachel Maddow gets her own TV show

  1. FashionablyEvil says:

    Yay, Rachel Maddow! Let’s see…how long are these clips…I don’t need to work this morning…

  2. Jill says:

    I was so excited about this news I couldn’t sleep. This is long overdue, Rachel is the smartest woman on television, and she could very well singlehandledly signal an end to the era of the bimbo female news-bot. And kudos to KO for pushing for this.

  3. Nicole says:

    Have not really heard of her before but she sounds quite awesome! The videos it looks like she does what I always want people to do when dealing with people like that. Plus she is quite hot. <3

  4. Linnaeus says:

    This is great news; I haven’t been following Maddow as along as some here, but in the years I have observed her, I’ve been very impressed. She’s always really well-informed and holds her own so well in this cross-talk format we see so much on cable political shows.

    I probably don’t need to say this, but Scarborough is such an ass. He and Sean Hannity in particular use the same tactic over and over: just repeat your points loudly and often, talk over your guests and colleagues, and then just dismiss them.

  5. Thomas says:

    <3 <3 <3 Maddow, since I first heard her an Air America.

    That is all.

  6. randomliberal says:

    I just want to punch Scarborough in his smarmy-ass face. How the fuck does he have a show still?

    I will say, I wish Maddow had taken over the Morning Joe spot, but it is wonderful news that she’s gotten her own show. May she ever be blessed with good ratings and stuff from people who, unlike me, have cable.

  7. PhysioProf says:

    Yeah, this is fucking awesome. What I love about her is that she is so much smarter and quicker on her feet than all the pathetic right-wing douchemonkeys on teevee.

  8. Sarah J says:

    YES!

    I will now officially be watching TV news.

  9. Cora says:

    I am so psyched about this – congrats to Rachel and kudos to MSNBC for making it so!

    And thanks, Holly, for rounding up those clips.

  10. That Scarborough guy is just a hoot. It’s like having arguments with my father. I expect him to suddenly burst out with “Fine, talk to your mother then!” and storm off.

    I want some of Rachel’s awesomeness – I have no idea how she manages to keep her cool.

  11. Esra says:

    He “whatever”ed her! Talk about a sign you are doing something right.

  12. Isabel says:

    It could be because she won a Rhodes scholarship back in 1994, then celebrated by cutting all her hair off and dying it blue.

    The fact that I currently have short blue hair is only a weensy bit of a the reason I find this super awesome. Also, I’ve been fond of Rachel Maddow for a while now (she has a rare gift for being a talking head that doesn’t make me feel like I am being yelled at by my TV, and also is totally brilliant and waaaay more eloquent and quick on her feet than I could ever hope to be), but that thing about the make-up was the final nail in my straight-girl-crush coffin.

  13. RyanRutley says:

    I loved Rachel Maddow back when I was listening to (free streaming) Air America in the spring leading up to the 2006 mid-terms, but I had no idea she’d migrated to TV. This is great news. 8 years of Olbermann, Cooper, and Maddow keeping Obama honest will be beyond refreshing after 8 years of Scarborough, Hannity, and O’Reilly defending everything the administration does.

  14. Jim_NH says:

    So, she’s following Olberman? Wow, there’s a powerhouse lineup. Can’t wait!

  15. preying mantis says:

    I have a massive lady-crush on her. I have never seen her anything less than 110% prepared whenever she’s on a show to talk about something, and she comes across as completely brilliant. She also somehow manages to stay pretty chipper and upbeat no matter what outrageous crap she’s breaking down for the outrageous crap it is.

  16. norbizness says:

    Scarborough still has a show because as Grand Potentate of Scarborough Country, he has refused to leave the studio and the police cannot evict him due to DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY.

  17. wiggles says:

    I haven’t watched anything on MSNBC in years, but you bet your ass I’m tuning in for Ms. Rachel’s show – and nothing but her show. It’s cool of KO to have pushed for this, but I still can’t stand that bloviating hypocrite.

  18. Poetry says:

    Rachel Maddow is my new TV personality crush! She’s articulate, feisty, and stunning.

  19. PhysioProf says:

    8 years of Olbermann, Cooper, and Maddow keeping Obama honest will be beyond refreshing after 8 years of Scarborough, Hannity, and O’Reilly defending everything the administration does.

    Where do you get the idea that Olbermann would keep Obama honest? He carried water for Obama on his FISA cave.

  20. Travis says:

    Yay for Rachel Maddow! I wonder what they’re going to call her show? I hope it’s more interesting than “The Rachel Maddow Show”. It should have an awesome name like “Hardball”, or “Crossfire”. No matter what though, I intend to watch it.

  21. RyanRutley says:

    PhysioProf: I’m not saying Olbermann doesn’t need to be kept honest himself. I’m also not saying Olbermann is entirely intellectually honest (I haven’t watched enough of him to pass judgement) in his analysis. But I trust him to give far more honest coverage of the Obama adminstration that I’ve seen out of Sarborough, Hannity, or O’Reilly on just about anything, least of which the Bush Administration.

  22. Anne says:

    Yawn… big shock MSNBC hires on another Obama worshipper. And in the process boots the one anchor that at least occasionally pretended to be objective. She is just like Olberman, a fake leftist.

  23. Charity says:

    I would add that no, we can’t trust Olbermann to keep Obama honest, but we can perhaps trust Glenn Greenwald to keep Olbermann in check, as he has done in the past.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/06/26/olbermann/

    Yay for Rachel!

  24. I love Rachael Maddow, and I’m so happy that she’s getting her own show. I don’t get MSNBC anymore, but I’ll watch it on the website the next day. The video quality is very good.

    And Anne, perhaps if Fox News didn’t paint MSNBC as a partisan, left-wing news station, Scarborough would still have his prime-time show, and Tucker Carlson would still have a show. Remember when their evening line-up went Tucker Carlson at 6, Chris Matthews at 7, Keith Olbermann at 8, and Joe Scarbourough at 9 (all EST)? That was a fair and balanced line-up. Face it. Fox News all but told liberals to tune into MSNBC, and that resulted in conservatives on the network losing viewership and, therefore, their shows. MSNBC is just giving their viewers what they want.

  25. Anne says:

    She is not replacing Scarborough. He is on in the morning. She is replacing Abrams. You could have at least read the article before posting.

  26. Anne says:

    Reality is most of the anchors on MSNBC are jerks. She is just another jerk in the bunch

  27. Peter says:

    This is awesome.

    She’s so much better than the other hacks on MSNBC: Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough, Dan Abrams…are you freaking kidding me? Those guys are jokes!

  28. She is not replacing Scarborough. He is on in the morning. She is replacing Abrams. You could have at least read the article before posting.

    And you could have read my post before posting. Nowhere did I say she was replacing anybody, let alone Scarborough. I’m making the point that MSNBC is simply making their programming reflect their viewership and that maybe there would be fewer “Obama worshippers” if MSNBC’s conservative pundits got more ratings. You were just resistant to understand what I said because you’re too busy being angry and name-calling without backing up your opinions.

  29. CScarlet says:

    Wow, I’ve heard her on Air America but I never watch cable news- she’s amazing! That smile, delivered while she’s busy totally smashing their arguments, is making me all weak-kneed!

    I might have to start watching!

  30. Anne says:

    Reality is that I’m right. She is just another fake leftist. Just like Olberman. Claims to be a leftist, yet all he does is bash Senator Clinton, instead of taking on actual issues. Too busy making fun of Hollywood starlets to do anything worth while. Maddow took part in the extreme Senator Clinton bashing that went on instead of attempting to be her own person she joined the boys club. She is just as worthless as Matthews, Olberman, Carlton and Scarborough.

  31. RyanRutley says:

    Anne, have you listened to her radio show? (I mean that as an honest question, not rhetorically.)

  32. Peter says:

    Reality is that I’m right. She is just another fake leftist. Just like Olberman. Claims to be a leftist, yet all he does is bash Senator Clinton, instead of taking on actual issues. Too busy making fun of Hollywood starlets to do anything worth while. Maddow took part in the extreme Senator Clinton bashing that went on instead of attempting to be her own person she joined the boys club.

    No way do you listen to Maddox’s show.

    I’ve been listening to her show for two years, and I’ve never heard a bunch of Hillary bashing. In fact, what I’ve heard is some of the most astute and intelligent political commentary I’ve ever heard on radio.

  33. Doing a simple search of things that Rachael Maddow has said shows that she has been critical of both Obama and Hillary Clinton in the past, saying that she sees a little bit of W. Bush in Obama and criticizing Clinton for voting for the war in Iraq. I haven’t listened to her in a while, but I’m sure she only fully supports Obama now because he’s the Democratic nominee. If Clinton were the nominee, she’d support Clinton for president. That’s how it works.

  34. Noticed says:

    Wow. She talks circles around the usual suspects and she stays classy.

    I love it.

    When all Joe S can do is say “Whatever.” “Good Lord, Rachel…” I’d say you’re doing something write. Ha!

    She beats them at their own game, but she plays it so much better. Make us proud, Rachel!

  35. Natalia says:

    That woman is SO badass, I am quaking in my boots just watching these clips. Thanks for such a great collection.

  36. fauzia says:

    She is astoundingly well spoken in her arguments. Props to her. *sigh* I can only dream of being as badass as she is. Go, Rachel Maddow.

  37. Anne says:

    I’ve seen her comments on MSNBC and that was enough. She is worthless.

  38. norbizness says:

    Sounds like one particular repetitive commenter is getting a headstart to unseat Silky Johnson as the winner at the Playa Hata’s Ball.

  39. bushfire says:

    Holly wrote that she identifies as a “butch dyke” and refuses to become more feminine for tv. Has anyone else noticed that she is, in fact, wearing makeup? She can do whatever she wants, but I’m a bit concerned that the Feministe community seems to consider a woman with makeup on “butch”.

  40. Sundown says:

    Anne,

    How much is the RNC paying you off?

  41. Holly says:

    1. Did you read the quote from her about makeup?
    2. I know more than one butch who wears makeup.

  42. Pingback: MaddowTV

  43. wiggles says:

    I did like Dan Abrams though, what I saw of him. I wish Maddow was replacing Chris Matthews instead.

  44. Chameleonpixie says:

    As a theatre person who does not wear make up in my every day life, it is understandable why she wears make up for the show. It is because on tv, without make up people tend to look sick because of the camera and lights. Even men wear make up on tv.

    I am very excited she has her own show.

  45. norbizness says:

    I wish a small portal to an alternate dimension was engulfing Chris Matthews.

  46. Holly says:

    Norbizness, it’s not nice to get rid of our trash by dumping it on other dimensions.

  47. preying mantis says:

    “She can do whatever she wants, but I’m a bit concerned that the Feministe community seems to consider a woman with makeup on “butch”.”

    Is the Feministe community in the habit of yanking people’s butch cards for wearing make-up? I thought that was more a gender-police thing.

  48. Natalia says:

    Oh Christ. It’s the make-up thing. Again.

  49. Holly says:

    Yeah, you know… I was hesitant to even mention it for fear of ludicrous misinterpretation. But I was not expecting something silly like “she’s wearing makeup! On TV! She can’t be butch! Even though everyone on TV with her is wearing makeup, even Pat Buchanan!”

    But I do think that it’s cool that she’s butch, she makes it clear to her coworkers that she looks the way she does on purpose, and she’s figured out how to be butch and wear makeup on TV. (In other words, wearing the same makeup as all her male cohorts… not the most unexpected discovery ever, but as any woman who’s tried to get a butch haircut from an average hair salon knows, it can be an uphill battle.)

  50. Mona says:

    Fantastic news — literally! *g*

  51. Griot says:

    I’ve only seen her recently (talking-head news analysis shows just bug me), but WOW is she great!

  52. Devon says:

    Congratulations to Rachel! She really deserves it. And good on Olbermann for recognizing a good thing (a BRILLIANT thing) when he sees it.

    Also, she’s hot. “Good Lord, Rachel,” indeed.

  53. Paul says:

    Yeah, it’s really important that Rachel is HOT. Go on about Sarah Palin being HOT but she’s white trash because you just don’t happen to agree with most, if any of her values. What ever happened to non objective journalism?!! Rachel, just report the facts and leave your OBVIOUS lean to a certain candidate(s) to yourself, but, unfortunately it’s too late for that. You’ve sat at the seat of your master Keith Olbermann and learned an unfortunate habit, namely BIAS. Responsible journalists let the public decide, based on unbiased research of the facts, but it’s very apparent that there are few of them left anymore. I am SO TIRED of journalists “wearing their opinions on their sleeve” and just going on the attack, forcing their own values on the American people. You’re “in the tank” for a certain Presidential candidate….mmmmm let’s see if we can figure out who that might be.

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