MSNBC's Newest Leftist Face: 'Affable and Erudite'?

On Monday, The Boston Globe greeted the debut of hard-left Air America host Rachel Maddow’s new show on MSNBC with a bouquet of praise. She’s not only "a key face of the new, feisty, ratings-boosted [?] MSNBC," she’s "affable and erudite," she’s "cripplingly patriotic" and has a "yen for national-security issues." MSNBC brass added she "often isn’t expressing an opinion as much as laying out facts," and claimed MSNBC is a brand for "high-powered intellects...an appetite for really smart discussion of the news."

Reporter Sasha Issenberg’s puff piece was headlined "A liberal pundit soars to a prominent perch." She declared Maddow was the cream of Air America’s crop, the definition of an entertaining liberal talker:

Maddow was part of the original lineup on Air America, founded in 2004 to counter conservative dominance of talk radio under the market-friendly promise that liberals, too, could be entertaining. More than anyone else, Maddow fulfilled that pledge, with an affable and erudite approach to the day's news and the rhetorical combat that inevitably surrounds it.

It grew worse when Issenberg turns over the story to MSNBC executive Bill Wolff, who thought MSNBC wasn’t so much a liberal lecture hall as much as a seminar channel for superbrains:

While critics increasingly call the network a Fox News of the left, an MSNBC executive said the network had not made a conscious decision to hire liberal talent, but was not bothered if efforts to alter its style had left it ideologically imbalanced.

"I look at the MSNBC brand as high-powered intellects," said Bill Wolff, a vice president for prime-time programming. "I'm not saying we're NPR, but there is an appetite for really smart discussion of the news. That's more about what I'm trying to make Rachel's show about than her position on a particular issue. I don't think you have to agree with Rachel in your views to really enjoy Rachel."

From there, Issenberg moved on to allowing Maddow to claim she’s oh-so-patriotic and the daughter of a military man, as well as an expert on the military:

Although she happily holds up the liberal position in left-right debates, Maddow prides herself on being "cripplingly patriotic" - she signs radio-station bumper stickers "Your Country Needs You, xox" - and, the daughter of an Air Force captain, she has a yen for national-security issues.

The Globe sinks to an even more ridiculous level when they allow MSNBC to say this radical-left lesbian hostess isn’t so much laying out an opinion as the facts. When it comes to debating the facts, Maddow won’t be too eager for a debate, which makes her a natural follow-up to Keith Olbermann, who has a strict no-conservative-cooties policy.

One of the things that separates Rachel from many people is the amount of fresh information she brings to her storytelling," said Wolff. "She really often isn't expressing an opinion as much as laying out facts that lead to the conclusion."

As a host, Maddow says, she expects to continue debating on her show, but only as part of a broader repertoire of reported pieces, interviews, and commentaries. "I won't be Punch and Judy. I'm not into the fight for the sake of the fight. If it's not illuminating to present two sides of an issue, I don't want to," she said.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis