Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

I Love Rachel Maddow, But…

Rachel Maddow is an immensely talented, entertaining, informative and intelligent voice on television, something sorely needed. I am thrilled her show is so successful and look forward to watching her for a long time.

But having said that, I’ve noticed that she can be somewhat of a (and I mean this with love) concern troll when it comes to Barack Obama, and has been for some time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any media figure should roll over for this guy. But the problem is, her analysis has been wrong repeatedly.

She was the lone voice saying over and over during the last couple weeks of the election that Obama didn’t have it in the bag or anywhere close to it, and that all early voting stats were BAD news for Obama (turned out to be just the opposite).

Yesterday, she expressed concern about how “un-changey” Obama’s administration-in-waiting has been, what with all the appointments of previous Clinton officials. Unfortunately, her analysis failed to separate “Clintonites” from highly qualified Democrats with experience who happen to have served the Clinton administration in some capacity. For example, she grouped in Eric Holder into the “un-changey” group of former Clintonites, but as Al Giordano has explained so well, he is anything but a Clintonite.

Look, I love me some Rachel Maddow. She should be skeptical and critical of Obama. But someone with her level of intelligence and analytical skills should also be able to be a little more…well…analytical with her “concern.” Segments like yesterday were a bit too simplistic and reactive for my taste.

I know, I know, many of you will say I should expect media figures to bow down before Obama and I’m just part of the cult, yada yada. Not at all. But when showing worry and concern continues to be different from the facts, that’s where problems arise.


November 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized |


  1. I have to agree with you on this. It’s funny because I think there are a ton of other things going on that she’s not tackling – like for some reason, she’s bowed down to the corporate pressure not to rock the boat too much. If you’re going to mention the US-Iraq pact, why not make it into a bigger thing than just a blurb?

    In a side note, does anyone miss investigative reporting?!?! I think CBS does it a little better than most, but it’s not nearly enough.

    Comment by Suzie Q (not the blogger) | November 21, 2008 | Reply

  2. It’s very worrying what the decline in newspaper and other media revenues mean for investigative reporting.

    Yes, it would be great for blogs to fill those voids, but it takes a lot of time to cultivate the kind of relationships necessary for good investigative reporting. In the meantime, we need traditional media to do it.

    Comment by dansac | November 21, 2008 | Reply

  3. I agree with you. My take is that she did not have enough time to do research and analysis for every item. She opted for regurgitating the more vocal opinions presented in most msm outlets. Her Clintonite assessment of the Obama nominees is definitely not her best analysis. But I’ll watch Rachel any day over msm.

    Comment by ImariQueen | November 21, 2008 | Reply

  4. Absolutely agree. My level of excitement since the start of her show has exponentially declined as I watched her progress from Obama concern-troll during the primaries, to snarky, post-election contrarian. I think she has a fundamental difficulty in understanding how Obama thinks, especially with regard to decisions with which she might disagree. Without a doubt, Maddow is a superb political analyst, able to hone in on small details and facts which often escape others. However, her difficulty in understanding Obama stems from the fact that he is not merely an analyzer of facts, but an exceptional ‘synthesizer’ of data as well. This combined with an exceptionally high emotional quotient allows him to see patterns and relationships where others do not. It is not enough to see differences, one must also see potential similarities and opportunities for bridge-building. She and other like-minded, left-brained pundits on both the right and left will continue to be puzzled by his actions until they make a real effort to understand his brain.

    Bill Maher recently said that henceforth he will give Obama the benefit of the doubt, because he has repeatedly second-guessed Obama and been proven wrong. Of course Obama will make mistakes, and major policy errors should be evenhandedly criticized, but others would do well to follow Maher’s example.

    Comment by Michael | November 22, 2008 | Reply

  5. Rachel Maddow is not supposed to be a Barack Obama cheerleader. Her job is to question his picks and judgment. Many have issues with Hillary Clinton for SoS and rightfully so. I know Clinton by her history and record and many need to pause. In the end it is Obama’s choice and it will either be a genius of a pick or a disaster. She took Obama head on with Lieberman and she should have. He is an embarrassment to every single Democrat standing. Many senators wanted to oust him, but Obama pulled them all to his side, not point of view, but gave Lieberman a pass. Obama from this point on deserves a benefit of a doubt, even if we don’t like the choices, because we don’t have any history of an Obama Administration to argue a point, but if things don’t work out each and everyone of us have a right to disagree with him. We are not kool-aid drinkers. See what drinking kool-aid brought us this past 8 years. A disaster, that is what the kool-aid brought.

    Comment by icebergslim | November 23, 2008 | Reply

  6. Iceberg, I have to say I find the “Kool-Aid” argument a bit of a straw-man. My point was NOT that Rachel Maddow shouldn’t criticize Obama. But it was to do so when that argument made sense. When you reflexively criticize or express worry over every step of the way even when there is no evidence of analytical reason for doing so, at a certain point your questioning starts to lose its power.

    In this case, openly worrying that this was the Clinton admin redux and naming people who happened to serve in that administration, but who have built very different careers for themselves uniquely UN-tied to the Clinton, was just an oversight of analysis on her part.

    She didn’t even say she didn’t like the choice of Holder, et al, just immediately attacked it for being “un-changey.” Again, I’m putting this as part of a pattern in which her “analysis” has just been flat out wrong but seems designed solely to be contrarian for the sake of it.

    Again, let me repeat, I disagree with Obama on Lieberman and I understand the issues with SoS and most importantly Rachel Maddow or anyone should absolutely NOT be Kool-Aid drinkers and should question him.

    But not just for the sake of it when the analysis doesn’t hold up to the light, which is why I have criticized her in this instance.

    Comment by dansac | November 24, 2008 | Reply

  7. But this is Rachel Maddow’s show, dan, and she has every reason to question as she sees fit. She is not beholded to any of us in any way.

    Our job is to question here, fair point as you are doing so.

    And Barack Obama won the Democratic Nod for Change. Let’s not forget that. Re-hashing the same old people, 16 years later does not say much. Yes, they have experience but where is the youth, the difference, the distinction. It is the same old crowd who have hung around D.C. until a Democrat won, again.

    The kool-aid argument is one we all should weigh. Why? Because we had 8 years of kool-aid drinkers in this country, who did not question this administration hard enough, that got caught up, who was scared to oblivion by the 9/11 argument, and look where we are at.

    Bailing out every major financial industry out there, Big 3 Automakers with their hands out, and it will not stop there. We need accountability and credibility in the White House. This country needs it badly. So, yes, if we are dipping into that kool-aid world, let’s look at both sides to make sure our argument is correct.

    Just because Obama is now President-Elect does not mean he won’t make mistakes. He will make many, but it is the type of mistakes that will brand him after January 20th.

    Comment by icebergslim | November 25, 2008 | Reply

  8. I completely agree. No matter how charming she is, and how apparently intelligent, sometimes her commentary is just mindless. Last night (November 24) was an example. Her concern troll was out in force with questions that seemed unenlightened and simplistic. The chair of Google tried to answer her questions, but we needed someone with more of an ability to get to the point. Rachel just didn’t seem to “get” the kind of moves that Obama is making toward intelligent economic decisions. And that “culture” guy needs to go. His commentary is just dumb.

    Comment by JMackin | November 25, 2008 | Reply

  9. No offense intended, but I bet you are kinda regretting these words now, huh? I mean, I think that few things sum up obama’s first 9 months quite like that, “un-changey”.

    Sorry dude, i hate it as much as you do, but she was right.

    Comment by Daniel | September 12, 2009 | Reply

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