Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Rachel Maddow Paradigm | Lefsetz Letter

She could be the biggest rock star in America today.

Bigger than Beyonce?

You bet.

Bigger than Taylor Swift?

Yup. But what Taylor does right, when she’s in marketing mode, is to constantly stay in the public eye. But it’s all promotion with very little content. It’s about spreading the word about the records she’s broken.

Whereas Rachel Maddow just keeps doing the work.

That’s right, MSNBC takes full page ads in the print media now and again, trumpeting Rachel’s ratings, the best in cable news, but Rachel herself never takes a victory lap, for her it’s all about the work. Sure, she’ll subject herself to a feature now and again, but she keeps asking is a tall lesbian in a committed relationship who loves to fish that interesting?

You bet.

Because for far too long we’ve been inundated with the ravings of imbeciles. You see them all over TMZ and the gossip pages. But there’s nothing to say about Rachel Maddow, unless you hate her politics, and that’s fine, that’s not my point, we live in a world where no one is ubiquitously loved, but we’re looking for silos…

Used to be it was Bill O’Reilly. But he was a bully, never mind a sex _______. But Rachel was beating him too before he was gone. But they did a different act. Bill kept telling you he was right, Rachel keeps giving you information, history, and lets you decide.

So first and foremost Rachel’s asset is she’s on five days a week. If you’re not, you get lost in today’s world. Which is why it’s not overkill for Bieber to jump from single to single, you never go away today, otherwise you’re forgotten.

And secondly, she’s persevered. Not only on MSNBC, but for years before. And unlike too many wannabe musicians, Rachel was resonating. That’s when you know you’re on the right track, when you’re getting a reaction, when people want you.

But that just creates the opportunity, what do you do with it?

Once again, television news is not about investigation. It’s about reciting the facts, oftentimes revealed in the NYT and WaPo, and arguing. And that gets very old. Never forget, Tucker Carlson was on “Crossfire,” which Jon Stewart killed with one comment. Turns out we don’t like wrestling, unless it’s scripted as entertainment. We want a winner, and there are no winners, not in these battles.

You’ve already made your decision, you’re either a Fox or MSNBC person.

But on MSNBC, with Rachel Maddow, you get something more.

You get history, you get context, you learn.

Instead of starting tonight’s program by ranting that the end of the DACA was deplorable, she went back a century, put it context, pulled a Sessions quote from Breitbart. That’s the era we live in, where everything you’ve ever said or done is on record. It’s hard to deny quotes, but there they are.

And instead of forcing a commercial, because business is bigger than content, Rachel tells a story for over fifteen minutes before they break, because that’s just how important what she’s saying is. You feel that she’s on your team, that MSNBC is playing to you.

So Rachel’s got a team of millions.

They watch her every night. I hear more about Rachel Maddow than I do about any musician. She’s tapped into today’s zeitgeist, it’s her moment, when recording stars have abdicated, not realizing that you’ve got to take a stand and forget about the haters. Hell, I can list right now the e-mails I’m gonna get from the usual suspects, the right wingers who e-mail me every time I don’t take their side. But that’s not the point, the point is I should not be cowed. Because it’s the people who agree who are on my team, and no one agrees with everything anyway.

Rachel Maddow is not only smart, but educated.

As was Walter Becker.

But today’s musical stars are high school dropouts. They can’t sing about truth because they can’t analyze the concepts.

So Trump utilized this same paradigm to become President. Believe me, if he didn’t host “The Apprentice,” he wouldn’t be, President that is.

But Rachel Maddow is on even more.

And she appeals to women, who decide who’s President. That’s right, the men sit in smoky rooms and think they control things, but it’s the women who truly do.

And now they have their hero.

Not a gussied up glamour girl like Diane Sawyer, who worked for the right but was on the left or was she?

Or the bubble-headed bleached blondes who come on at five. That’s why Don Henley ruled the chart, he spoke the truth. I laugh when I come across local news, if I do at all. Non-news for nitwits.

But Rachel Maddow is not selling image, in an image-dominant culture.

Shouldn’t it be one of the blondes on Fox?

But they all look the same, and they all appear to be robots who imbibed the Kool-Aid.

But not Rachel Maddow.

And some shows are better than others.

But she keeps doing it, night after night. Like a band on tour. Only to a larger audience. And when she hits one over the fence, you want to stand up and cheer.

And there’s a sports metaphor for you.

But Title IX has women playing sports. As did Maddow herself. And she’s not trying to be one of the boys, she’s not yelling, no, she’s just being herself.

And that’s refreshing.


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