Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Refreshing News Model-Rachel Maddow

I don’t watch much TV…but while surfing around before the election, I stumbled upon the Rachel Maddow show, and was immediately enthralled. I have continued to watch her show regularly and remain quite impressed. While the presentation is, on occasion, a bit too light for my taste, I love her wry and perceptive take on the news. This past week had two outstanding shows you can view via podcasts, or by getting transcripts.

First, there was Mon 12/15’s clips on the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping and the first interview granted by whistleblower Thomas Tamm. Her subsequent commentary on Bush’s reign was insightful and right-on target. She continued the week with commentaries on absurd aspects of the financial bailouts, environmental and foreign policies, among others. Monday’s show brought us a scathing analysis of the application and oversight of the $700 billion TARP loans, the double standards in access to financial help, and the lack of transparency:

“That‘s it actually. That‘s the whole two pages. That is the full application process for a piece of the $700 billion worth of our money that the government is doling out.

Have you ever applied for a loan for anything? House, car, small business, anything? Have you ever applied for public assistance, unemployment, food stamps welfare? If you haven‘t, I can tell you this, the application asks for more of a commitment than name, address, how much do you want, anything else we should know, love, Bilbo Baggins.

For regular humans—that‘s not what getting a loan is like. It‘s certainly not what getting welfare is like, which is why I‘m going to try to turn myself into a bank holding company. Then maybe we all should.”

The final event prompting this post was her frank admission and obvious remorse on Monday, when she confessed to having made an error in making a background check on her guest, economist Laura Tyson. When David Sirota called her attention to an overlooked conflict-of-interest that might well have tainted Tyson’s comments, Dr. Maddow promptly issued an apology, castigating herself in the process.

I had been immediately impressed by Rachel Maddow’s credentials—she is certainly no bimbo, unlike many of the young “reporters” who uncritically read scripts on some of the major news streams. Her bio notes that she holds a degree in public policy from Stanford University. At graduation she was awarded the John Gardner Public Service and Leadership Development Fellowship. She was then awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1995, and used it to study at Oxford University, where she received her doctorate. She has a long-standing passion for social justice issues, having previously focused on prison reform, HIV/AIDS, and Health Care Reform.

It has been a joy to watch a bright, highly-educated young woman anchoring a prominent show. This week’s candid admission of error greatly raised my esteem for Dr. Maddow, as it reflected an unusual level of integrity and humility. Rachel has earned a loyal follower here.