The Secret to Rachel Maddow's Success -- New York Magazine
from New York Magazine
“Put a lot of information out there. People can handle it. It’s okay to use big words. You don’t need to dumb stuff down! You don’t need to make stuff simple and repetitive for people. If you assume that your audience is as interested in what you are talking about as you are, you’re going to connect with your audience in a much better way.” She might not be saving the world, but she is intent on making it a little smarter.
Maddow first came on MSNBC’s radar in 2005, when she auditioned as a foil for the conservative Tucker Carlson’s show. Bill Wolff, Carlson’s producer at the time, was immediately smitten. “She was unbelievably prepared,” he said. “And she just killed him.” She bobbed around as a guest commentator for three years, appearing as a regular guest on Carlson’s show, but also on Paula Zahn’s and Larry King’s. At one point, she filmed a pilot for a weekend political show with CNN. “She seemed really constrained there,” says a person involved in the program. “It was like they didn’t know what to do with her.” The pilot never went anywhere. CNN president Jon Klein says it was because having an “obviously liberal” host didn’t fit with the mission of the network: “It’s like, you wouldn’t put The Sopranos on Comedy Central.”
article on Rachel Maddow
“I do worry if being a pundit is a worthwhile thing to be,” she says. “Yeah, I’m the unlikely cable news host. But before that I was the unlikely Rhodes scholar. And before that I was the unlikely kid who got into Stanford. And then I was the unlikely lifeguard. You can always cast yourself as unlikely when you’re fundamentally alienated in your worldview. It’s a healthy approach for a commentator.”
The secret to the success of a wonky lesbian pundit with no TV experience? A Ph.D. from Oxford, a dry sense of humor, and the ability to be nice to Pat Buchanan.