Rachel Maddow is reluctantly ready for her close-up. Really.
That's the impression left by this gushy profile of Maddow in the most recent issue of the Hollywood Reporter. First flag that goes up: the title of the story on the magazine cover -- "The Wonk Who Won Primetime."
This will certainly come as news to Sean Hannity, whose Fox News show that runs opposite Maddow's on MSNBC draws three times as many viewers, both overall and in the coveted 25-54 demo.
Hollywood Reporter scribe Marisa Guthrie sprinkles her fawning tribute to Maddow with these tidbits --
If she is still worried about reaching lots of people, her upcoming cameo in George Clooney's Oscar-contending "The Ides of March" shows that her profile is expanding well beyond wonky news circles. ...
Her not speaking to onetime mentor Olbermann since he left MSNBC is not out of enmity. "I'm not purposely avoiding him," she insists. "I think we've both been pretty busy." ...
But Maddow still manages to mingle convivially with those on the other side of the aisle and even had a brush with conservative kingmaker Sarah Palin at the White House Correspondents' Dinner afterparty in April. Maddow, who is an amateur mixologist, was tending bar at the Italian Embassy fete when Fox News host Greta Van Susteren introduced her to the former Alaska governor. Palin complimented an MSNBC ad that has Maddow sitting on the floor in her office surrounded by piles of paper. "She thought it reflected well on us that we had chosen to highlight the work ethic behind the show," recalls Maddow. "And I thought that was insightful analysis and a really nice thing to say."
Many of us here at NewsBusters found the ad more than amusing after it was released last winter, proclaiming the Maddow's show's "devotion to facts that borders on obsessive." It was akin to seeing Ted Kennedy in a public service ad touting the virtues of sobriety and safe driving.
In a sidebar to the story, pro-gay marriage advocate Maddow reveals her ambivalence toward, how about that, gay marriage --
Maddow and girlfriend Susan Mikula have been together since 1999, but they have no immediate wedding plans. "We know a lot of people who have gotten married but I don't think we feel any urgency about it." Later she admits she's actually ambivalent about the cultural impact of gay marriage. "I feel that gay people not being able to get married for generations, forever, meant that we came up with alternative ways of recognizing relationships," she explains. "And I worry that if everybody has access to the same institutions that we lose the creativity of subcultures having to make it on their own. And I like gay culture."
Seeing how someone as vocally in favor of gay marriage as Maddow can express misgivings about it, can those of us on the other side of the aisle also do so without being vilified as homophobes?
The story includes this illuminating quote on Maddow's misgivings about the death of radical al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awliki --
"It's hard to have due process with a drone. And Jesus Christ, who is Obama not going to kill? I feel like we could do the whole show on al-Awlaki," says Maddow. "I don't know if we should."
Yes -- Maddow actually saying this about Obama, though she may have been paraphrasing Olbermann on Bush.
Guthrie also suggests that Maddow -- "a poster girl for civilized give-and-take in an increasingly unpleasant and contentious political climate" -- is the reason behind Fox News moving toward the political center --
It's no coincidence that Maddow's kill-them-with-kindness brand-defining dominance at MSNBC comes at this moment. Fox News chairman Roger Ailes admitted recently that the network has embarked on a "course correction" and that departed host Glenn Beck "had become a bit of a branding issue" by doing things like calling President Obama a racist.
The story comes as close as I've seen to revealing a detail curiously absent from news accounts of MSNBC extending Maddow's contract last July --
Her new deal certainly came with a nice raise from the $2 million she was reportedly making -- and it's a far cry from the $6,000 per month she used to make at Air America.
In other words, Maddow wouldn't say what she's now making at MSNBC, just as the network itself has been reluctant to disclose this, what with the cognitive dissonance of yet another well-heeled left-winger demonizing all those other ne'er-do-well "millionaires and billionaires" for bringing down America.
What is absent from Guthrie's profile is anything resembling criticism -- for example, of Maddow's penchant for deceit, half-truths and lies of omission, as abundantly documented here at NewsBusters. Then again, you wouldn't expect to find this in a valentine.