Rachel Maddow, the Nation, Daily Kos: Winners in AlterNet's Poll of Most Influential Progressives
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Rachel Maddow, host of the 9pm (EDT) evening news and opinion show on MSNBC, reigns supreme as the most influential progressive. Or, more accurately, the media personality progressives love most. Maddow pulled well ahead of Michael Moore, who just nipped Comedy Central's Jon Stewart for the second spot. (In the first AlterNet poll in December 2009, Bill Moyers was voted most influential, with Moore second and Maddow third.) Keith Olbermann, who recently left MSNBC, ranked fourth, and the veteran newscaster from Democracy Now! Amy Goodman, came in fifth, according to more than 8,000 AlterNet readers and others across the web who voted in our poll.
In the online magazine category, the Nation came out ahead of Mother Jones, with the Huffington Post finishing a strong third (despite selling itself to AOL for $315 million). TruthOut placed fourth, followed by Salon.com at fifth. (As host of the poll, AlterNet was not available as a choice.)
The blog category featured the closest race, with the Daily Kos just beating out Media Matters for the first spot. FireDogLake finished third, followed by Crooks and Liars. Ezra Klein's Washington Post blog got number five.
The survey shows that television shapes our notion of what constitutes influence. In addition to Maddow, Stewart, and Olbermann in the top five (and Goodman's Democracy Now! being a hybrid radio-TV at #5), Bill Maher was at seven, Stephen Colbert at nine, and Ed Schultz at 10. In fact, seven of the top 10 host their own TV shows (or in Olbermann's case, had in the past). Even the Nation's Chris Hayes, who subs for various shows on MSNBC, shot up to number 15, after not even being in the race at all in the last poll. Thom Hartmann at 14 has a new TV show on Russia Today, and is also a mainstay on talk radio's Sirius FM and via syndication.
Only the ever-popular Noam Chomsky at six, and NY Times economic columnist Paul Krugman at eight, made the top 10 despite not having a heavy TV presence (Michael Moore has his own special multimedia presence, of course).
While the Huffington Post scored as the third most popular web magazine, its media savvy leader, Arianna Huffington dropped down to 12, after getting to seven in the first poll at the end of 2009. However, comparisons between the first vote and this one are affected by the inclusion of TV personalities Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher, who all ended up in the top 10, but were not included in the first poll.
A number of readers wanted to vote for these TV hosts last time, while others wondered if they qualify as "progressives." We decided to let the voters decide and clearly the sense is that the trio are both progressive and popular. Also Bill Moyers was primarily a TV presence when he won the first poll. (Moyers has since mostly retired, at least from his perch on PBS, so we moved him to "emeritus" status.)
Since too much of American culture is saddled by the winner-take-all syndrome, we see this poll as taking the temperature of the progressive audience, with those scoring well being part of an A team of progressive media personalities and journalists. This group, together, represent a potent and charismatic progressive media team.
Key figures seem to get a lot of their influence via their presence on MSNBC. Unfortunately this may make progressives vulnerable going forward. Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Keith Olbermann's departure from MSNBC is a big loss for progressives (he will start his new gig at Current TV sometime late spring in the same 8pm time slot), and the same for Bob Herbert and Frank Rich leaving the NY Times, Moyers retiring and HuffPo going to AOL. There has been a good deal of speculation about the political attitude and commitment to MSNBC's mostly progressive lineup at Comcast, which took over controlling interest of NBC from General Electric. Some suspect that Olbermann's departure was done right ahead of the merger, so Comcast wouldn't have that publicity as it was taking over. Maddow, Schultz, Hayes, and Cenk Uygur (who ranked 21st) all have high visibility due to their cable perch.