Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow in 2008
Born Rachel Anne Maddow
(1973-04-01) April 1, 1973
Castro Valley, California, U.S.
Alma mater Stanford University (B.A.)
University of Oxford (D.Phil.)
Occupation News anchor
Political commentator
Television host
Notable credit(s) The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC)
The Rachel Maddow Show (Air America Radio)
Religion Roman Catholicism[1][2]
Partner(s) Susan Mikula[3]
Website www.rachelmaddow.com

Rachel Anne Maddow (i/ˈmæd/,[4] born April 1, 1973) is an American television host, political commentator, and author.[5][6] She hosts a nightly television show, The Rachel Maddow Show, on MSNBC.[7] Her syndicated talk radio program of the same name aired on Air America Radio. Maddow is the first openly gay anchor to host a major prime-time news program in the United States.[8][9][10][11] She holds a doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford.

Asked about her political views by the Valley Advocate, Maddow replied, "I'm undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I'm in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform."[12]

Early life and education

Maddow was born in Castro Valley, California. Her father, Robert B. "Bob" Maddow, is a former United States Air Force captain who resigned his commission the year before her birth and then worked as a lawyer for the East Bay Municipal Utility District. Her mother, Elaine Maddow (née Gosse), was a school program administrator.[13][14][15] She has one older brother, David. Her paternal grandfather was from an Eastern European Jewish family (the original family surname being "Medwedof"), while her paternal grandmother was of Dutch (Protestant) background; her mother, originally from Newfoundland, Canada, is of English and Irish ancestry.[16] Maddow has stated that her family is "very, very Catholic," and she grew up in a community that her mother has described as "very conservative."[17][18][19] Maddow was a competitive athlete and participated in three sports in high school: volleyball, basketball, and swimming.[20] Referencing John Hughes films, she has described herself as being "a cross between the jock and the antisocial girl" in high school.[19]

A graduate of Castro Valley High School,[21] she attended Stanford University. While a freshman, she was outed by the college newspaper when an interview with her was published before she could tell her parents.[17] Maddow earned a degree in public policy at Stanford in 1994.[22] At graduation, she was awarded the John Gardner Fellowship.[23] She was also the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and began her postgraduate study in 1995 at Lincoln College, Oxford. This made her the first openly gay or lesbian American to win an international Rhodes Scholarship.[24] In 2001, she earned a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in politics at the University of Oxford.[25] Her thesis is titled HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons, and her supervisor was Lucia Zedner.

Radio career

Maddow's first radio hosting job was in 1999 WRNX (100.9 FM) in Holyoke, Massachusetts, then home to "The Dave in the Morning Show". She entered and won a contest the station held to find a new sidekick for the show's host, Dave Brinnel.[26] She went on to host Big Breakfast on WRSI in Northampton, Massachusetts, for two years. She left the show in 2004 to join the new Air America.[25] There she hosted Unfiltered along with Chuck D (of the hip hop group Public Enemy) and Lizz Winstead (co-creator of The Daily Show) until its cancellation in March 2005.[27] Two weeks after the cancellation of Unfiltered in April 2005, Maddow's weekday two-hour radio program, The Rachel Maddow Show, began airing; in March 2008 it gained an hour, broadcasting from 6 to 9 p.m. EST, with David Bender filling in the third hour for the call-in section, when Maddow was on TV assignment. In 2008, the show's length returned to two hours when Maddow began a nightly MSNBC television program. In 2009, after renewing her contract with Air America, Maddow returned to the 5 a.m. hour-long slot.[28] Her last Air America show was on January 21, 2010, two weeks before its owners filed for bankruptcy.[29]

Television career

In June 2005, Maddow became a regular panelist on the MSNBC show Tucker.[30] During and after the November 2006 election, she was a guest on CNN's Paula Zahn Now; she was also a correspondent for The Advocate Newsmagazine, an LGBT-oriented short-form newsmagazine for Logo deriving from news items published by The Advocate. In January 2008, Maddow became an MSNBC political analyst and was a regular panelist on MSNBC's Race for the White House with David Gregory and MSNBC's election coverage[31] as well as a frequent contributor on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.[25]

In 2008, Maddow was the substitute host for Countdown with Keith Olbermann, her first time hosting a program on MSNBC. Maddow described herself on air as "nervous." Keith Olbermann complimented her work, and she was brought back to host Countdown the next month. The show she hosted was the highest-rated news program among people aged 25 to 54.[32] For her success, Olbermann ranked Maddow third in his show's segment "World's Best Persons."[33] In July 2008, Maddow filled in again for several broadcasts.[34] Maddow also filled in for David Gregory as host of Race for the White House.[25]

Olbermann began to push for Maddow to get her own show at MSNBC, and he was eventually able to persuade Phil Griffin to give her Dan Abrams's time slot.[35]

The Rachel Maddow Show

In August 2008, MSNBC announced The Rachel Maddow Show would replace Verdict with Dan Abrams in the network's 9 p.m. slot the following month.[36][37] Following its debut, the show topped Countdown as the highest-rated show on MSNBC on several occasions.[38][39] After being on air for more than a month, Maddow's program doubled the audience that hour.[40] This show made Maddow the first openly gay or lesbian host of a prime-time news program in the United States.[41]

Early reviews for the show were positive. Los Angeles Times journalist Matea Gold wrote that Maddow "finds the right formula on MSNBC,"[42] and The Guardian wrote that Maddow had become the "star of America's cable news."[43] Associated Press columnist David Bauder opined that she was "[Keith] Olbermann's political soul mate," and he described the Olbermann-Maddow shows as a "liberal two-hour block."[44]

Public image and publicity

A 2011 Hollywood Reporter profile of Maddow said that she was able to deliver news "with agenda, but not hysteria."[45] A Newsweek profile said, "At her best, Maddow debates ideological opponents with civility and persistence... But for all her eloquence, she can get so wound up ripping Republicans that she sounds like another smug cable partisan." The Baltimore Sun critic David Zurawik accused Maddow of acting like "a lockstep party member."[46] The editors of The New Republic similarly criticized her – naming her among the "most over-rated thinkers" of 2011, they called her program "a textbook example of the intellectual limitations of a perfectly settled perspective."[47] On awarding the Interfaith Alliance's Faith and Freedom Award named for Walter Cronkite, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy remarked that "Rachel's passionate coverage of the intersection of religion and politics exhibits a strong personal intellect coupled with constitutional sensitivity to the proper boundaries between religion and government.”[48]

A Time profile called her a "whip-smart, button-cute leftie." It said she radiates an essential decency and suggested that her career rise might signify that "nice is the new nasty."[49]

Distinguishing herself from others on the left, Maddow has said she's a "national security liberal" and, in a different interview, that she is not "a partisan."[50][51] The New York Times called her a "defense policy wonk".[42][50]

Political views

Maddow has written Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power (2012), about the role of the military in postwar American politics. During the 2008 presidential election, Maddow did not formally support any candidate. Concerning Barack Obama's candidacy, Maddow said "I have never and still don't think of myself as an Obama supporter, either professionally or actually."[52]

In 2010, Republican Senator Scott Brown speculated that Maddow was going to run against him in the 2012 Senate election. His campaign used this premise for a fundraising email, while Maddow repeatedly stated that Brown's speculation was false. Brown continued his claims in Boston media, so Maddow ran a full-page advertisement in The Boston Globe confirming that she was not running and separately demanded Brown's apology. She added that, despite repeated invitations over the months, Brown had refused to appear on her TV program.[53][54][55][56] Ultimately, it was Elizabeth Warren who ran in 2012, defeating Brown.[57]

In December 2013, The Washington Post announced that Maddow would write a monthly opinion column for the paper, contributing one article per month for a period of six months.[58]

Personal life

Maddow lives in Manhattan and western Massachusetts with her partner, artist Susan Mikula.[59][60] They met in 1999, when Maddow was working on her doctoral dissertation.[59] Maddow has dealt with cyclical depression since puberty. In a 2012 interview, she stated, "It doesn't take away from my joy or my work or my energy, but coping with depression is something that is part of the everyday way that I live and have lived for as long as I can remember."[61]

Honors and awards



  1. Rachel Maddow (November 11, 2014). "Pope rebukes conservative activist cardinal with demotion". MSNBC.
  2. Rachel Maddow Show (October 20, 2016). "Something that got no laugh in the room at all but made me laugh was that she's up against a stained-glass ceiling, in terms of eligibility for sainthood. You didn't laugh at that either; I did. .. I think maybe people missed it in the room. Either that or you have to be Catholic in order to think that's funny, which is possible that is why it moved me."
  3. West Cummington (February 24, 2005). "Weekday Bantering is Balanced by Quiet New England Weekends". Eric-Goldscheider.com.
  4. Maddow pronounces her name, rhyming with "shadow" here
  5. Adler, Margot (October 23, 2008). "Rachel Maddow: Sassy, Acerbic And — Yes — Liberal". NPR. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  6. Caroll, Jon (August 11, 2009). "Rachel Maddow is my sweetie". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  7. Weisbert, Julie (August 23, 2007). "Talking things up". Bay Windows. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
  8. "Maddow the first out News Anchor of a prime-time news program". Lesbiatopia.com. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  9. Johnson, Ted (March 6, 2009). "Maddow's unique style spikes ratings". Variety.
  10. "Olbermann welcomes Rachel Maddow to MSNBC". lgbtQnews. August 19, 2008. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012.
  11. Whitehill, Simcha (December 18, 2008). "The Greatest & Gayest Headlines of 2008". The Frisky.
  12. Sturm, Tom (May 6, 2010). "Wonk and Circumstance". The Valley Advocate. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  13. "November 6, 2008: Rachel Maddow". The Colbert Report. Comedy Central. November 6, 2008.
  14. France, Louise (February 8, 2009). "Interview: 'I'm not a TV anchor babe. I'm a big lesbian who looks like a man'". The Observer. London.
  15. LaBerge, Germaine (February 3, 1997). "Interview with robert maddow". University of California Berkeley. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
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  21. Rachel Maddow High School Graduation Speech. Retrieved June 29, 2012
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  23. John Gardner Fellowship Program
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  25. 1 2 3 4 Barnhart, Aaron (June 15, 2008). "MSNBC's Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow are young, geeky and hot". Kansas City Star. p. G1. Archived from the original on June 19, 2008.
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  28. "Rachel Maddow Renews With Air America Media". Air America.com. February 2, 2009. Archived from the original on February 9, 2009.
  29. Kary, Tiffany (February 4, 2010). "Air America Files for Chapter 7 Liquidation After Sales Drop". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  30. Parnass, Larry (June 15, 2005). "Maddow joins new program on MSNBC". Daily Hampshire Gazette.
  31. "Rachel Maddow – Host, 'The Rachel Maddow Show'". MSNBC. August 20, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  32. "The Scoreboard: Friday, May 16". TV Newser. May 16, 2008. Archived from the original on May 28, 2009.
  33. Olbermann, Keith (May 19, 2008). "Countdown with Keith Olbermann May 19, 2008". MSNBC.
  34. Steinberg, Jacques (July 17, 2008). "Now in Living Rooms, the Host Apparent". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2008.
  35. "The Dr. Maddow Show". New York. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  36. "Political commentator Maddow gets own show". Associated Press. August 20, 2008.
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  39. Stanley, Alessandra (September 25, 2008). "A Fresh Female Face Amid Cable Schoolboys". The New York Times.
  40. Stelter, Brian (October 21, 2008). "Fresh Face on Cable, Sharp Rise in Ratings". The New York Times. p. C1.
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