What’s So Great About Rachel Maddow?

MSNBC has always been my news network of choice (sorry CNN, Fox News, and C-SPAN!) — I loved Tim Russert and was always an avid “Meet The Press” watcher, plus I generally just enjoyed the rapport between the network’s anchors, especially during election years. But after Russert’s passing my loyalty was kind of up for grabs again. Rachel Maddow has kept me a MSNBC loyalist — a frequent panelist on shows like “Hardball” and Keith Olbermann’s show, she recently scored her own show on the network at 9pm and has had HUGE ratings since practically the first episode. In fact, the number of viewers for that hour of television on the network has DOUBLED. Why? Personally, I watch her show religiously for the following reasons: I admire her forthrightness, humble intelligence, and “real woman” appeal. Maddow is authentic; unlike many other pundits, she doesn’t try to be “neutral”, but she also isn’t a loudmouthed blowhard either. If you disagree with her politics, she’s always respectful. In fact she frequently has her “Uncle” Pat Buchanan on her show to debate the issues — very few of which she and the conservative actually agree on — and I always come away with an enhanced perspective on BOTH side, which is what the news should do for its viewers.

The New York Times profiled the journalist/anchor in the Sunday Magazine this past weekend and revealed some interesting facts. Some of my favorites:

Always on her: “A handkerchief. One of my liabilities as a broadcaster is that I am little teary. Having a handkerchief is handy. My partner, Susan Mikula, buys me cute ones.”
Prized possession: I have a file of letters and bits of ephemera from friends who have died. I have had lots of friends who died of AIDS.
Concession to vanity: “I’ve had to get contact lenses. I only put them in while I’m on TV. They are a miracle device that allows me to be on TV without glasses, which everyone tells me I can’t wear on TV.” [Note: But, but, but Olbermann wears them!]
Always in fridge: “Champagne. I always keep a bottle, because you might need to celebrate at any moment, and a bunch of mustard, because I am a mustard person.”
Clothing item a talk-show host needs: “For me, it is sneakers, which I can wear 80 percent of the time, secretly behind the desk. That reminds me who I am, even though I am dressed up like an assistant principal in order to meet the minimum dress code for being on television.”
Hobby: “I am a hobbyist bartender. I have a liquor cabinet. I research classic drinks from the golden age of American cocktails and I make them for me and Susan.”

[The New York Times]
[Feministing’s “Friday Feminist F**k Yeah: Rachel Maddow”]