Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rock on, Rachel

By Chloe Angyal

The NYT has a tepid review of "The Rachel Maddow Show", which new to MSNBC this month. As a huge fan of Ms. Maddow, I certainly agree with this:

"Her program adds a good-humored female face to a cable news channel whose prime time is dominated by unruly, often squabbling schoolboys; Ms. Maddow’s deep, modulated voice is reassuringly calm after so much shrill emotionalism and catfights among the channel’s aging, white male divas.

Her commentary is usually wry, sometimes righteously indignant and always unapologetically partisan. The approach seems to be working. Since she took over Dan Abrams’s slot on Sept. 8, Ms. Maddow has beaten her competition — "Larry King Live” on CNN and “Hannity & Colmes” on Fox — at least once. On some nights she has even drawn slightly ahead of Mr. Olbermann, whose program immediately precedes hers."

Smart, sassy and successful. Rock on, Rachel.

The Times' main criticism was that Maddow rarely interviews those who disagree with her, noting that she has "the character and political passion; what she doesn’t have is a worthy opponent." This is true, but as the review also noted:

"On the rare occasions when Ms. Maddow takes on an adversary — last Monday she sparred with the columnist Patrick Buchanan about conservatism and the Wall Street meltdown — she is smart and skillful; their brief exchange was bracing. Ms. Maddow has taken to showing viewers a list of McCain surrogates who have declined invitations, but she really seems intent on female headliners like Ms. Fiorina, now laying low on the campaign trail, or Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay."

It seems like Maddow does indeed lack worthy opponents, but not for want of trying. Rather, it would seem that people are afraid to get in the ring with her. And I can't say I blame them: she's sharp, she's scarily well-informed, she's got sparring skills to spare and she's a she. Intimidating? Sure. The way of the future? You bet your ass.

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