Rachel Maddow Does It Her Way
Rachel Maddow isn’t going to cater to anyone - not even the LGBT community.
"I don’t perceive myself as having any special responsibilities to cover anything above and beyond what any other broadcaster would do," Maddow wrote in a March 30 e-mail to the Bay Area Reporter.
Maddow is MSNBC’s overnight political pundit sensation, and the first out lesbian to host her own show, The Rachel Maddow Show, which airs weeknights. Since her debut last September 8, the show has had runaway ratings, challenging CNN’s Larry King, although the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Maddow’s ratings slipped a bit behind King in February.
But Maddow has seen some criticism from gays because of her apparent reluctance to tackle gay issues on her show, at least in the beginning. They argue that she should use her platform to take on anti-gay stalwarts and press them on their views.
Maddow, 35, a Castro Valley native and former San Franciscan, was recently called out on her silence on LGBT issues, in particular California’s Proposition 8, by her friend and colleague, Michelangelo Signorile, in a recent Advocate column.
Signorile wasn’t the only one to notice Maddow’s dropping of the g-word and the hottest LGBT political issues of the day. He had picked up on the critical rumblings from Pam Spaulding, who took Maddow to task on her blog, http://www.pamshouseblend.com. Spaulding cited criticism of Maddow that appeared on the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s ThinkProgress.org blog.
But Maddow takes the brickbats in stride.
"I get criticized from all quarters ... the gay community is certainly part of that, but not much different," Maddow said in an interview after she spoke at a sold-out San Francisco benefit for Mother Jones magazine March 28.
Maddow took the stage at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in a wide-ranging discussion with Mother Jones editors that hit upon the necessity of full-time journalists to produce good news, her newfound fame, Twitter, and dreaming of putting former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney "on trial."
In an interview, Maddow said she didn’t believe Signorile was being fair in his criticism of her. She pointed out that in the wake of Prop 8’s passage, she increasingly has devoted shows to LGBT issues, including same-sex marriage, the military’s anti-gay "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy, and hate crimes legislation.
Following the November 4 election that saw many people elated with the election of Barack Obama and dismayed with the passage of Prop 8, Maddow began including LGBT topics on her show.
On December 18, she devoted a majority of her hourlong show to Prop 8, interviewing San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. A month later Maddow invited out lesbian comedian Kate Clinton onto her show discussing LGBT issues. March 3 saw Maddow devote a major portion of her show to LGBT individuals in the military with a discussion of DADT. Then on March 5, Maddow had San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera on to discuss that day’s oral arguments before the California Supreme Court.