Maddow's Debut Show Launches on MSNBC: She Fights Lies Uttered by Politicians, Repeated by Media

Monday, September 8

Rachel Maddow, Air America's homegrown star and the hottest new face on TV, is launching her very own new show tonight -- Monday, Sept. 8 at 9 p.m. on MSNBC -- and the Masher couldn't be happier. There are thousands of people -- Facebookers and all -- who are planning parties to watch the debut. Let's all watch it by the millions and blow those ratings through the roof and show the MSM turkeys that smart, provocative, truth-telling journalism and commentary has a potential massive audience.

It goes without saying that Maddow has myriad fans from every walk of life. (Feel free to visit the "unofficial" Rachel Maddow fan site.) Still, the Masher finds it rather astounding how much goodwill and admiration is being beamed to Maddow -- and how many unabashed sexual crushes. She must be feeling a super glow. When AlterNet posted The Nation's article about Maddow by Rebecca Traister, the staff was astounded. AlterNet commenters are a very critical and cranky bunch -- and many a writer has freaked out, run away and decided not to engage with the sharp-tongued denizens of the AlterNet underground. But not for Maddow. It was a near-unanimous lovefest. There were hundreds of glowing love letters (hopefully we'll get a chance to share some of them with you soon).

The corporate media hasn't quite known what to make of Maddow, since her rise seems to have no historical parallels. The best way they have been able describe it is as the second coming of Keith Olbermann, for whom she has substituted on his signature show Countdown. According to New York Times TV writer Bill Carter, the emergence of Maddow, along with Olbermann, has "led to an unofficial rebranding of MSNBC as the liberal alternative to Fox News, which is dominated by conservative hosts like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity."

Of course Maddow is very different from Olbermann in style, temperament and approach. No doubt her show will strike a different chord than the sometimes bombastic approach that has made Olbermann Bill O'Reilly's bete noir and a very popular TV dude, but he hasn't exactly brought subtle analysis to cable TV. The Masher guesses that Maddow will be more unpredictable. In a telephone interview with Carter, Maddow discussed her new role:
"This is great; getting a regular cable show is something I've wanted," Ms. Maddow said. She acknowledged that the intensity of the presidential race meant that will remain the focus through the election and probably for the first 100 days of a new administration. But she said she would likely reshape the show as more of a general news program after "this political Christmas" has come to an end. That is the kind of show she does on Air America, and she will continue that show after she joins MSNBC, she said. As for being branded another partisan voice from the left, Ms. Maddow said she was no more partisan than any other host in cable. "I am who I am," she said. She dismissed the expected criticism from the right, saying, "Everybody likes to work the refs to make their own kind of political hay."
Probably the most important task that Maddow will tackle is to be the media's best lie detector. You can tell from this great clip of Rachel doing "Countdown" after McCain's speech that Maddow is going to aim her guns, not just at the McCain-Palin lies being spewed like the oil gushers they lust for -- and they have integrated all of them into their stump speeches -- but at the whole of corporate media, for accepting the words of these liars at face value. The lies perpetuated in the McCain and Palin speeches about Barack Obama bordered on the absurd, like Obama writing two memoirs but never sponsoring and passing any legislation, which is ludicrous; or his never working across the aisle with political opponents, when that is actually what he is known for; or his planning to raise taxes on all Americans rather than on only the tiny slice of the richest among us, which is his plan.

Needless to say, it is a tough job fighting lies. But if anyone can counterattack in this street fight of dirty politics and stick the dagger in deeply with charm, calm and super smarts, it is our Rachel Maddow.

Monday, August 25 -- Jumping Jack Rachel Maddow

It was a cute scene, Rachel Maddow jumping up and down on the stage, her exuberant, comfortable self coming out amidst her progressive stalwarts and Air America cohorts at the Big Tent. "How freaking awesome it is to be here at the Democratic Convention and with all you progressives," she yelled.

She reminded the audience at the Air America Radio/Progressive Book Club super author panel: "The right wing still has this massive infrastructure that funds think tanks and pays writers and buys up tons of books, too often dominating the public dialogue. What we have is great authors, and a small, but kick-ass progressive media, but we've got to keep working until we have an omni media."

Maddow offered a semi-insider publishing coup by announcing that Mark Green, President of Air America Radio and John Podesta, head honcho at the Center for American Progress, are publishing a book called the "Progressive Blueprint," by Basic Books in preparation for the hoped for incoming Obama administration. This is important stuff to be thinking ahead about, but it makes The Masher a little nervous, since the CAP hasn't always been the font of progressive wisdom, especially on foreign policy. But let's hope for the best.

Then Maddow bolted off the stage headed for her night job, providing prime-time coverage for MSNBC on the opening night of the convention. These days, her night job takes precedent, but she is totally committed to her slot on Air America Radio, giving the network their first truly home-grown super star.

Sunday, August 24 -- Blog City at Early Salon Party; Massages with the Huffingtons

The social whirl started early in Denver when a gaggle of A list bloggers, along with a batch of media movers and shakers, descended on Salon's pre-convention party at a smartly renovated townhouse with a beautiful lawn, in a half-gentrified Denver neighborhood. Salon rented the spot months ago on Craig's list in anticipation of just this moment. Word was that somehow eight Saloners were sleeping over at the pad.

The Masher got a ride to the party with Arianna Huffington, and her alter ego sister Agape, after getting a tour of the beautiful Huffington Oasis, where yoga, massage, facials, and refreshments are on tap for harried convention goers on the third floor of 1536 Wynkoop, the impressive headquarters of many of the Denver non -profits, right next to the Big Tent. Arianna's message to the many thousands of Type A's converging on the Mile High City -- UnPlug and Recharge. (more on the Oasis in another AlterNet article.)

The Salon party started slowly, but got a critical mass somewhere after 10 PM. Editor Joan Walsh was the gracious host ably abetted by managing editor Jeanne Carstensen, multi media maven Caitlin Shamberg, and the very jet-lagged political writer Alex Koppelman, fresh from a vacation in Japan, via New York.

One of the tension questions of the convention is how the old media versus new media will cover the Dems, and who will do it better. At the Salon party, the new media was energetic and out in force. Gracing the event where Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, John Amato of Crooks and Liars, Las Vegas denizen Taylor Marsh. Talk Left's spark plug Jeralyn Merritt, who is also a drug lawyer in Denver, was holding court, talking about how bad Joe Biden was on the Drug War. For sure Barack was not getting her vote. Close by was her pal Anita Thompson, wife of the legendary and now deceased Hunter S. Thompson, who also was dipping her toe into the blogging pool. Glenn Greenwald, one of super stars of blogdom, was at the center of the blogger pack, having made his way to Denver from Brazil.

The crankier old media had some of its players including Michael Tomasky, now of the Brit's Guardian empire, and Time Mag's heavy hitter Joe Klein who poked into the Masher's jacket pocket to fish out Bangkok Haunts, the third of John Burdett's wild and crazy novels about sex, drugs, corruption, trannies, and meditative bliss in Thailand.

Tom Schaller was partying and talking up his book Whistling Dixie and his theory about how the Dems aren't going to make any headway in the South in this election. Meanwhile, the up and coming Keli Goff, who authored Crashing the Gate:How the Hip-Hop Generation Declared Political Independence," made her rounds.

The Masher was very happy to see The Nation's eminence gris Victor Navasky, who is attending his umpteenth Democratic convention, and was what else, blogging at this convention. While we were chatting, a bubbly Clinton delegate from Arizona introduced herself; But alas, she had no working knowledge of either The Nation or AlterNet. Just at that moment, Dan Perkins, the mastermind creator of the Tom Tomorrow strip walked buy. The Masher thought, surely she might know Tom. No such luck.

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