March 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Maddow discusses her show, stress and journalism

Despite thinking that she “won the job lottery,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow thinks her job is extremely stressful.

At the Yale Law School Monday Maddow explained that producing a television show daily is akin to “merging onto the freeway in the dark, in the rain, with no headlights, and no windshield wipers after you just spilled a cup of coffee in your lap.” She sees an upside to the stress, though. The difficult nature of the job, she said, distracts her from getting emotional about the things she covers.

Maddow came to campus for an early morning talk in the Law School Auditorium Monday. The 9 a.m. event was in the form of a question-and-answer session with Amy Kapczynski LAW ’03, an associate professor visiting from University of California, Berkeley Law School, and the two discussed Maddow’s career in the media, recent trends in American politics, the nature of the American left and popular views of the judicial system.

Maddow got her start in political commentary in 2004 as a host on Air America Radio, a now-defunct liberal radio station. Her show, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” premiered on MSNBC to positive reviews and rising ratings in August of 2008.

The event was not publicized widely — the Law School published information about the event on their website only a week and advance, and many undergraduates did not hear about Maddow’s visit until some emails circulated the panlists of student organizations Sunday evening. Despite the quiet publicity and early start time, the audience turnout was large. Because the crowd could not fit its original location, room 127 in the Law School building, the event was moved to the Auditorium at the last minute.

She came wearing Levi’s, sneakers, a black t-shirt, and black thick-rimmed glasses, a style much more casual than the blazers she is known for wearing on television.

She discussed the persona-driven nature of talk-radio and contrasted this with television news, the viewers of which want to see “authenticity,” as she put it. Maddow situated herself somewhere in the middle of these two poles, describing herself as a “cable news host” rather than a commentator or a reporter per se. Though she did add that she doesn’t “feel like a hybrid,” because she is a part of a generation that doesn’t think that combining reporting with opinion is particularly foreign.

She mentioned, however, how much she depends on journalists, and sympathized with the plight of downsizing newsrooms across the country. Many people can provide commentary, she said, “but editing and reporting should be a career.”

“The Rachel Maddow Show” appears on MSNBC every weeknight at 9 p.m. eastern time.