The 2008 Presidential election brought us some amazing firsts. Hillary Clinton was the first female candidate to almost win the Democratic nomination. Barack Obama was the first Black man to be elected president. Sarah Palin was the first female Vice Presidential candidate to shoot a moose from a helicopter (unless there’s something about Geraldine Ferrara I don’t know). But in this flurry of historic firsts, one was hidden in plain sight: Rachel Maddow became the first out lesbian news anchor to rock the ratings.
Since The Rachel Maddow Show made its television debut on September 8th of this year, Maddow has won quite the viewer base. MSNBC’s ratings for the 9pm time slot immediately doubled when her show began, exceeding expectations by half a million viewers. After just 10, weeks The Rachel Maddow Show is already neck and neck with Larry King Live, which has dominated that time slot on CNN for the past ten years.
What makes Rachel Maddow so extraordinarily appealing? For starters, she’s one of the few TV pundits who can editorialize with a wink and a smile rather than a sermon and a tirade. As The Advocate put it in their recent feature on her, “She’s now the go-to gal for people too embarrassed to admit they were getting much of their news from Jon Stewart.” And when it comes to actual reporting, Maddow’s copy is as crisp as a well-tailored blazer. She’s got a knack for making the news accessible, entertaining, and thought provoking. Plus, she makes it look easy. Hell, she makes it look fun!
As for Rachel Maddow’s sexual orientation, it’s hardly news. She’s been out since college, and a well-known radio personality since she joined Air America in 2004 (before that she had worked at smaller stations). The only extraordinary thing about Maddow being a lesbian is that no one seems to care. When people report on Maddow’s success, her phenomenal approach to the news is at the forefront, and her personal life is a side note like any other.
The Rachel Maddow Show debuted at a time when we desperately needed news that cut through the hype of the election, that was critical without being overly biased, and that was honest without being depressing. The fact that Maddow isn’t afraid to report on gay and feminist issues has yet to put off viewers. In fact, it’s probably part of what’s attracting them. As Oprah would say, Rachel Maddow is the one we’ve been waiting for.
And just in case you still doubt her crushability, check out the mini-bio from her humble homepage:
Rachel has a doctorate in political science (she was a Rhodes Scholar) and a background in HIV/AIDS activism and prison reform. She shakes a mean cocktail, drives a bright red pickup, hates Coldplay, loves arguing with conservatives, spends a lot of money on AMTRAK tickets, and dresses like a first-grader.
C’mon, admit it, you’re just dying to snuggle up with her and a mean cocktail and discuss politics! Gay or straight, boy or girl, no one can resist Rachel Maddow’s newsy magnetism. So set that Tivo for Season Pass and get ready to fall in love with current events all over again.