This may be just a personal thing. It may not translate to others, but I think Rachel Maddow is one of the best television news personalities in the last 20 years. Personally, I love smart women. I especially love smart women who don’t mind letting you know that they are smart. Rachel is a geek. She knows she’s a geek and she’ll happily tell you that she is a geek. She is extremely well-educated in political science. It was her major in college.
On Wednesday night, Rachel Maddow had an extremely thoughtful piece on the Shirley Sherrod ordeal. She connected the right wing propaganda machine to several phony stories, including the ACORN story, the new Black Panther story and the smear campaign on Van Jones. Bill O’Reilly, in his typically bombastic way, could not let some minor, inconsequential journalist point out that Fox News does not really deliver the news. So, he took the time to point out that his ratings are bigger.
(Watch the clip)
Rachel correctly points out that this fact, that Fox news gets bigger ratings, does not change the fact that Fox news has an agenda. The agenda is to make people afraid. This is why Rachel Maddow is great. She calmly and thoughtfully points out that Bill O’Reilly does in fact have bigger ratings. She also points out that he did not address her accusation. Instead of addressing the substance, that Fox news pushed the acorn story which destroyed an organization that did not have a shred of truth in it, Bill O’Reilly asks, “What planet are you from?” Anyone who’s taken a course in debate knows how to avoid a question or issue. By posing this rhetorical question Bill O’Reilly is telling his audience that the answer is obvious when in fact the answer to his Fox audience was not obvious.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that Rachel approaches the news from an intellectual standpoint. This does not mean that she doesn’t get some things wrong. She does. As far as I know, she is gone out of her way to correct her mistakes on the air. To me, this reinforces the fact that she is thoughtful and different than 99% of the TV personalities, journalists that are out there.
Congratulations Rachel. Keep up the great work.