Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Rachel maddow: come on in, the timing's great..."

Michael Hood (BlatherWatch):
  • Rachel Maddow has expanded her Air America radio show to three hours.
  • MSNBC suits has hired her to join David Gregory as a permanent panelist on the network's new show, A Race for the White House.
  • In a groundbreaking move, MSNBC announced last week they'll simulcast the show on Air America.
Things are definitely looking up for The Doctor (she's not that kind of doctor...).

AlterNet's Rory O'Connor sat down to lunch with Maddow the other day, then wrote Rachel Maddow: Progressive Media's Next Mainstream Star, a glowing interview on something other than her forte: policy and politics. This time it was about her, and the future of talk media.

"Cable news and talk radio are now in the same boat," Maddow said. "I noticed when I first started doing cable that there'd be this real exuberance among the news producers, particularly younger cable news producers, about talk radio hosts. [...] I think in cable news -- whether they intended this or not -- they really think that what talk radio has is what they ought to be. Which is, ... entertaining hosts to whom viewers and listeners have loyalty, in whom they trust to provide information, who supplant other sources of news."

Maddow is breaking into cable news at this precise moment after a short, but impressive few years as a radio talker. (Hardly anyone mentions that Rachel is the first lesbian who looks like a lesbian to be prominent on national cable television. Hell, that's pretty historic for in this historic year, too).

"I don't think that mixture of information, analysis and entertainment is itself corrupt or dishonest." [...] , "...being funny and entertaining, ... there is a way to do all that with integrity. The way to do it is by being very clear about what it is that you are doing. The commentary can include parody songs and making fun of people, or, you know, ranting in my dungeon. It can involve a very wide range of stylistic and communicative techniques. You just have to be clear about the distinctions."

Those distinctions are also the cheese and chilis in the enchiladas of blogging, and other new media.
Mark Leibovich's amazing cover piece on the dundering Chris Matthews, 62, in the New York Times Chrismatthews2Sunday Magazine was very revealing of the infuriating, fulminating, insecure, tow-headed, blabbermouth. Turns out everything we ever believed or wanted to believe about him and his self-doubting bellicosity turns out to have the added advantage of being true. Sounds like the adults over at MSNBC feel pretty much the same way about him as does everyone else. It must have been very embarrassing to him. (our only question to the Times is "why?")

It sounds like his race is winding down; Matthews'contract expires next year.

The long, historic, election season has created a boom market for the hard scrabble trash that cable teevee calls news and it's an employees' market as the cable networks expand to fill the seasonal newshole. When it's done, there'll be some very rough scrambles between these new hires like Rachel, and Gregory, and old talent like Matthews, all positioning for the reduced spots on the cables.

Liebovich writes: "There is a view within the TV industry that MSNBC is positioning itself as the younger, edgier, left-tilting cable network, and no one there embodies this ideal better than Olbermann." Emerging talent like Gregory and Rachel will definitely be contenders in the reformatting next year.

With the success of Olbermann, the ascension of Rachel, plus the groundbreaking simulcast with Air America, MSNBC seems to be becoming the liberals' Fox News.

And that's good for liberals and Democrats.

"I think the more power the Democrats gain, the better off progressive radio and progressive media is," Rachel told O'Connor "I felt like I was outside banging on a locked door when Republicans were in power seemingly everywhere. But the closer we get to retaking the country, the closer we get to overtaking the traditional media in terms of content and influence."

No comments: