Vp Issue 9: "Rachel Maddow Before the Big Time"
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like [Sean] Hannity because he’s too self-righteous. Glenn Beck, Lars Larson, I listen to them.
Do you laugh out loud and yell at them like I do?
Oh yeah, I’m a total radio talk-backer. But it’s interesting. Republicans think things out at an academic level. They refine the talking points with political consultants like Karl Rove, then those talking points go straight to the media ie. talk show hosts, from there to the populace and from there to the candidates, who are the last in the chain.
Hmmm. Do you think those radio hosts are aware of their pivotal role in that chain?
Oh, yeah, definitely. There’s no confusion about peoples’ political roles on the Right. And the candidates are interchangeable. They don’t matter. We don’t have that kind of party structure on the Left. The Right is all about building up its base; they see the Religious Right base and say “Hey, why not?” Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is at sea because there is no movement. The Left has not been about electoral power.
Now, many of us performers get our fact fodder from places like Air America. What are your sources?
Truthout, Buzz/Flash, blogs, but mostly newspapers. You find your favorites — The Denver Post or other obscure newspapers. I’ve just learned how to filter, how to read through the mainstream media. I also read the Wall Street editorial page because it’s just so right wing!
So, do you have a team of assistants, like Michael Moore, or is it little Rachel burning the midnight oil at her desk?
Maybe that’s one of my quirks! Some people have staff, but I need to do all of my research, write all of my questions by myself! We do have a daily briefing by the network. It’s one guy’s job to do that. It comes out at about 3 am. Also, ABC’s The Note, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian—those are pretty much understood required reading for all of us on the staff. My rule of thumb is one hour of research for each hour on air. So, I start my research at five am. And then I do a few more hours after I‘m off the air. For my new show at 5 am, I‘m going to have to start a little earlier!
Alright, Rachel, finally, do you consider your work activism?
No. No. Activism is picking a goal and figuring out what you need to do to reach that goal—choosing allies, running campaigns, getting the Alabama prison to stop segregating HIV prisoners. Being on the radio is not activism, and I’m kind of torn up about it. Right now, I’m riding the radio thing. It feels like a different ‘to do’ list. Like, ‘Get self more exposed on the covers of magazines and on TV.‘ Or get Beverly Harris out of prison… That’s activism. Does that seem crazy?
No. It seems like you have a very black and white sense of what activism entails.
Yeah, I don’t know the best use of my time and talents.
Velvetpark Magazine, Issue 9 (Summer 2005), 23-25.