“It’s All Politics” For MSNBC TV Host Rachel Maddow At Rutgers
Thursday, April 14, 2011 • 1:05am
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - MSNBC TV Personality Rachel Maddow received round after round of applause as she entertained and informed at the Nicholas Music Center on Wednesday, April 13.
The event was hosted by Rutgers' Eagleton Institute for Politics as part of the “It’s ALL Politics” series this spring.
Over 500 Rutgers University students, many faculty and staff as well as visitors from far away came in early and waited on a lengthy line with adequate security for a foreign dignitary.
Stephanie Gilcrest, a second-year anthropology student, arrived at 7:30 a.m. with her two friends. The trio sat in the first row as the venue was abuzz before the event began at 9:30 a.m.
Bob little and his wife, Beth, woke up extra early to drive all the way up from Philadelphia. Little is a graduate of Rutgers-Camden who said he and his wife “are big fans” of Maddow.
“Smart cookie. I like her politics. Plus I knew she’d like it,” he said, nodding towards his wife.
Mrs. Little would spend the morning applauding and smiling as Maddow dissected the production values of her show, defying stereotypes of female journalists and the catch-22 involved with her being a homosexual and covering LGBT issues more consistently than her counterparts.
Maddow said that Tuesday night’s episode “Happy Birthday Civil War” was decided on during the last two minutes of their 2 p.m. news meeting as it was the anniversary of Civil War.
The concept came from her producer, who hails from Mississippi, speaking as “the southern voice” for all meetings. “I’m obsessed with that photo of John C. Calhoun that we aired last night,” she said.
Each show is put together after extensive research from her staff, Maddow explained, which includes a former Eagleton fellow and 2010 Rutgers graduate Julia Nutter, who first worked as a intern at MSNBC and later became Maddow’s full-time assistant. Nutter was thanked at the onset by Ruth Madel, event moderator and Eagleton’s director.
Of her nightly program, Maddow said the producers “advance plan absolutely nothing,” but the creativity to bringing topics to light is akin to having two front burners and thousands of backburners - not everything is newsworthy and likely to win audience interest.
Maddow reads, researches and fact-checks much, and although she quoted Stephen Colbert at one point, she says she does not watch any TV at all except for British cop shows.
“I lived in England for a long time, and I didn’t like it there, but I came back with an affinity for English TV.”
She is more than happy that her show doesn’t rely on a guest each night to make or break it as its eccentric host is actively engaging the audience. She said MSNBC was comfortable in knowing they were getting an openly liberal and lesbian when she signed on and as an employee of the network she is bound by their news standards.
Maddow said she thinks of her show as explaining rather than pushing an agenda. She told of how Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feinman would say the hardest thing for him to do was explain why he won the Nobel to his friend’s wife as a metaphor for easily communicating with audiences, adding she thinks sometimes the messages get through better with laughter.
For Maddow, communicating political thoughts does not equal preaching or protesting in any way, but informing makes her happy. “Something about teaching, it makes you know it more deeply. That’s how I feel about American politics,” she said.
The host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show” took a serious turn for questions on fiscal policy and the biggest threat to our world: Pakistan.
“The war in Pakistan is secret, its 180 million people strong and we’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and they’ve turned it, almost directly, into nuclear weapons. They will launch a war with India in a nuclear arms race with them. It’s a disaster that’s been unfolding over the last 10 years. It’s also where Osama Bin Laden lives,” she said.
Saying that the biggest story yet to come this year is the new face of the Republican Party, post-Bush and post-McCain, Maddow invited interest in the political landscape from the audience. She said she’s convinced while doing her show of her interest in a career in advocacy.
“There’s a dearth of interest from the media in the tension between the conservative movement and the Republican party in that conservatism has different wings, where the business world part of it, the financial side, makes such an interesting contrast.”
Maddow earned a Ph.D in political science for Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, preceded by a bachelor’s in public policy from Stanford.
The northern California native got her start in media at radio stations in western Massachusetts before joining the left-wing Air America Radio (now defunct) upon its inception in 2004.
Maddow debuted on MSNBC in 2008 and won immediate praise for her innovative reporting, comedic moments and prominent political persona.