One evening again in July, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow paused for a second as she started her 9 p.m. E.T. hour, The Rachel Maddow Show. “All right, first,” she mentioned, inhaling. “Deep breath.”
Maddow was about to do one thing that few in cable information would dare try: devoting the following 27 minutes—-an eternity in tv information—-to slowly and methodically tying collectively thread after thread within the messy, complicated and complex story of Donald Trump and Russia.
This was Maddow in her ingredient, at her greatest. She was pulling issues collectively, making sense of one thing that wasn’t simple to know, however was exceptionally essential. “Things are at a boil,” Maddow advised her viewers that evening, taking her time. “Things are going fast now. Everybody needs to pay attention.”
Maddow’s viewers have been paying consideration, coming again evening after evening for lengthy, meaty segments full of nuance—and pushing The Rachel Maddow Show to one of the best rankings within the present’s ten yr historical past, and in latest weeks, turning into the highest-rated prime-time present in all of cable information.
“She has this incredible way of bringing disparate stories together, and understanding what links them together and how you have to look at so many pieces of a puzzle in order to see how it all fits together,” Cory Gnazzo, Maddow’s government producer, advised me. “She is able to process all the information and put it together in a way that makes people focus on what’s really important.”
.@maddow opening phase exemplifies why her present ought to be your must-watch on the whole lot Russia-Trump. Her storytelling capability is indispensible within the Age of Trump. #brava
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) November 15, 2017
Maddow’s viewers aren’t doing what tv executives have lengthy feared they’d do: dashing for the exits on the first signal of tales that require dedication. Instead, they’re coming again evening after evening to look at “A block” segments on such seemingly ratings-toxic matters because the transactions of an obscure Russian financial institution, the nuances of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, and on an evening in early December, Maddow’s 16 minute block studying lengthy sections of the protection sentencing memorandum for former Trump nationwide safety adviser Mike Flynn.
“We have covered the Russia angle on the candidacy and the administration of the current president probably more than anybody else in the national press, I will admit that,” Maddow mentioned final summer time. “I have been teased for that. I have been criticized for it.”
As 2018 ready to present method to 2019, Maddow’s crew has completely no regrets. They consider they’re enjoying a key half in writing the story of this distinctive second in American historical past, masking the essential story–and taking the time to clarify each what’s taking place and why it issues. The present avoids the jazzy graphics and whiz-bang gimmickry usually used to make sophisticated tales extra palatable to audiences, and when Maddow has a visitor, it is nearly at all times one-on-one. That’s a break from different cable information exhibits that drive hosts evening after evening to referee shouting matches between panels of hyper-partisan political regulars. Maddow simply takes her time and walks her viewers by means of the story. She takes a lot time, in reality, producers typically should suppose laborious about how and when to squeeze in commercials.
“It’s unlike anywhere else I’ve ever worked in cable news,” Gnazzo advised me. “We’re doing something very different from everybody else and it’s exciting people respond to it, that they stick around for that long as we go deep into a topic…It’s Rachel’s amazing way of telling a story and delivering it, I think, which is what keeps people around longer than they might—longer than one might think they would stick around to hear just one person talk.”
As 2018 slips away, Fox News Channel will toast one more yr on high—-the community’s on observe to complete 2018 with its highest rankings in prime-time ever. But MSNBC additionally had a network-best yr, and in December, Maddow moved from #2 to #1, leaping forward of FNC’s star host Sean Hannity. MSNBC beat Fox for 4 consecutive weeks, whereas Maddow, with a median complete viewers of three.2 million viewers, pushed Fox News to an ultra-rare third place end at 9 p.m. within the news-heavy week main as much as the federal government shutdown. (Fox News notes that the weekly win didn’t embrace Saturday, and that Hannity was away for the week, with substitute hosts sometimes delivering decrease rankings)
But a battle is shaping up, and Maddow’s crew believes they’ve the momentum heading into what will definitely be one other intense yr for cable information. The Russia story isn’t going away, however the 2020 marketing campaign will start heating up as early as Spring. That means these lengthy A block segments received’t be getting any shorter. “I anticipate we’ll be working as hard if not harder,” mentioned Gnazzo, who took one ultimate second to credit score his crew for working every day to convey Maddow’s A blocks to life.
“Rachel works incredibly hard, but it takes a village every night to get it on the air.”
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