Rachel Maddow Is Not Over-Rated

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Liberals are thrashing The New Republic for suggesting that the cable news doyenne is anything but marvelous. In its latest issue, the center-left magazine dings a handful of the left-left's sacred cows, including MSNBC's Rachel Maddow who is portrayed as blindly partisan and similar in style to Fox News, meriting her inclusion to "D.C.'s Most Over-Rated Thinkers":

Maddow is a textbook example of the intellectual limitations of a perfectly settled perspective. She knows the answers even before she has the questions. The truth about everything is completely obvious to her. She seems utterly incapable of doubt or complication. Her show is a great tribute to Fox, because it copies the Fox style exactly.

TNR has always prided itself in publishing views that drift from liberal orthodoxy (cough, neoconservatism, cough) but this insult to Maddow has been deemed beyond the pale by the blogging left.

TNR doesn't understand television Think Progress blogger Matt Yglesias attacks the "wrongheadedness" of TNR's listicle by pointing out that Maddow's contributions to liberalism need to be considered in the context of cable television. "Different media have different advantages and disadvantages and it’s simply quite difficult as a logistical matter to do really in-depth thinking on television," he writes. "Beyond the logistical difficulties there are the economic ones. Maddow isn’t backed by a non-profit, and doesn’t have the luxury of producing a television show that survives as a money-losing vanity project of some hedge fund managers. You have to compare people to other people doing comparable things. Is Maddow’s show the worst thing on prime time cable news? Absolutely not. It’s the best."

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TNR doesn't get the difference between Fox News and Maddow  Pema Levy at The American Prospect argues that Maddow reports the news with an opinion while Fox News shapes the news to match its opinion. "Is Maddow polemical? Often. Does she have opinions? Obviously. Is she anything like Fox News, where making up facts and promoting a partisan agenda is all in a day’s work? Anything but. She carefully uses her pulpit to push important issues that the rest of us often leave behind." Among those issues she highlights Maddows coverage of anti-gay policies in Uganda and reproductive rights.

I apologize for TNR Embarrassed for his periodical, TNR's Jonathan Cohn wrote a spirited defense of the cable host. "The brief – er, our brief – against Maddow is that she’s simplistic and predictable. Um, no. Maddow’s segments may not constitute doctoral level philosophical treatises. But it’s television, for heaven’s sake. Have you ever tried to convey nuance in a four-minute segment?" He emphasizes that Maddow's transparently partisan outlook on politics is a reflection of reality, not ideology. "Now, it's true Maddow doesn’t see much complication in today's political debates. But perhaps that’s because today's political debates don't have much complication. One side believes in mainstream economic theory. One side does not. One side wants to give everybody health insurance. One side does not. One side wants to stop climate change. One side does not. Should Maddow pretend to see ambiguity where it does not exist?"

Ouch! How's TNR going to piss off liberals next? Decry the Occupy Wall Street Protesters? Oh yeah, that was last week.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.