The rise and rise of the anti-Fox – how Rachel Maddow rattles the right
Maddow is on a roll right now. Since her eponymous show opened on the MSNBC cable network in August 2008 she has led the charge – along with Keith Olbermann, Al Sharpton and most recently Lawrence O’Donnell – that has seen MSNBC transformed from, as the New York Times recently characterised it, a “CNN also-ran to the anti-Fox.”
MSNBC is a long way from toppling Fox in terms of absolute numbers – on most daily tallies this year Fox drew more than two million audience members than MSNBC. But drilling down into those numbers reveals MSNBC’s success in the key 25- to 54-year-old age group.
Maddow must be doing something very right because her numbers in this key demographic have been climbing steadily, particularly following President Obama’s re-election in early November. This should be no surprise, because, as PoliticsUSA noted in late November:
It isn’t a coincidence that as MSNBC’s ratings have increased in direct relationship to their positive coverage of Obama … The ageing of the population will continue to benefit Fox News in the short term, but the demographic shift that tilted the 2012 election to the Democrats is also impacting cable news.
Maddow goes head-to-head most nights against Sean Hannity (whose loose relationship to facts and truth I looked at in my previous post) and in the weeks before Christmas Maddow and O’Donnell’s The Last Word consistently won their timeslots.
Maddow is tough, smart-as-a-whip (she is a Rhodes scholar and has a PhD from Oxford University) and is no milquetoast liberal lightweight. And she can be very funny. Her presentations are dense, complex and – perhaps this is hardest of all in political commentary – often hilarious.
Maddow will slip a laugh-out-loud comment in the middle of a long exposition during which she barely pauses for breath. Her pitches are littered with charts, statistics, policy analyses and follow-me-I-know-where-I’m-going trawls through complex sets of facts and reasoning and yet she still manages to leave you smiling at the tag line. She turns political analysis into standup with style and sass.
Maddow characterises herself as a “national security liberal” and once said that “I have never and still don’t think of myself as an Obama supporter, either professionally or actually.”
She is widely considered as a defence policy wonk and earlier this year published her first book “Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power” (2012, Crown Publishers). More than a few – on both the right and left – were surprised to see Roger Ailes – Chairman, CEO and creator of the Fox Network – provide this blurb to Maddow’s book:
Rachel Maddow makes valid arguments that our country has been drifting towards questionable wars, draining our resources, without sufficient input and time. People who like Rachel will love the book. People who don’t will get angry, but aggressive debate is good for America. Drift is a book worth reading.”
Page 1 of 2 | Next page
You must be logged in to post a comment.