The Rachel Maddow Show Isn’t the Hyperpartisan News Program You Think It Is | Teen Ink

The Rachel Maddow Show Isn’t the Hyperpartisan News Program You Think It Is

January 18, 2019
By RaniaMichaela PLATINUM, Abu Dhabi, Other
RaniaMichaela PLATINUM, Abu Dhabi, Other
21 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't watch what they say, watch what they do." ~ Rachel Maddow

Media credibility is always being questioned in this day and age. News networks are all walking on a tightrope, trying to strike a balance between expressing opinions and reporting factual news. If a network is accused of being biased, it is branded as fake. Ever since the 2016 presidential campaign, ratings for The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC have skyrocketed. For President Trump’s supporters, she is just another hyper partisan liberal on the news. That conclusion is false. Is Rachel Maddow a liberal? Yes, she said it herself to The Valley Advocate, but she isn’t hyper partisan. First of all, she always corrects herself if she ever gets information correct and constantly asks if she explained the story correctly. Secondly, the content of her show contains of highly complex analysis and fact reporting compared to the programs critics compare her credibility to. Lastly, she was the first major cable news host to report on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. As you watch her show, agree or disagree, you will know that she is telling the truth.

Whenever Rachel Maddow reports breaking news from another source and brings the journalist who broke the story on the air to discuss it, she typically asks the journalist to confirm whether or not she reported the story correctly to her viewers. It’s a small gesture, but it shows that she always wants to get the facts straight before voicing any thoughts or drawing any conclusions on what the new reporting means. In the unlikely scenario that she gets facts wrong, she uses her Department of Corrections segment on her show to correct it so that her viewers aren't mislead. Integrity and credibility are very important to Rachel Maddow personally, she said to Pete Williams that she believes that journalists have a responsibility to convey important information. When she controversially hyped up having President Trump’s tax returns, people were sceptical and her reputation took a hit. Using journalist David Cay Johnston's help to get her hands on it, she immediately went to check whether or not the tax returns were legitimate. To her credit, she did broadcast Donald Trump’s tax returns but they weren’t what viewers thought. MSNBC is known to be a liberal leaning network, Rachel Maddow fits that, but at least she reports the facts. If she messes up, she will be the first to say so, even if it’s a small difference that viewers probably forgot about by the time she corrects it.

Contrary to popular belief among her harshest critics, The Rachel Maddow Show contains highly complex analysis and fact reporting. She uses historical tidbits to illustrate a greater point and/or pattern, explaining to her colleague Chris Hayes in the podcast ‘Why Is This Happening?’ that she’s ‘in love’ with using history to tell a story about today’s political climate. This is further notes in her own personal podcast Bagman. She retells the little known story of Spiro Agnew, the disgraced Vice President to former President Richard Nixon. She highlights Agnew’s attacks on the media, the demagogic racism and misogyny and the blatant corruption while also talking about the IRS agents that took him to the cleaners. This style of fact filled yet engaging storytelling is what keeps viewers hooked. A classic example of this is when introducing former FBI agent Peter Strzok in the midst of his scandal regarding politically charged text messages, she used the fascinating story of Tracey Leigh-Anne Foley and Donald Heathfield, two deep cover former KGB agents trying to infiltrate the United States political system. She detailed every part of the story, including the use of steganography (using pixels in images to convey messages) to communicate with the Kremlin. The spies eventually got caught, and they were caught by Peter Strzok. That’s how she lead into the story. Delving in and breaking down the news in a way that young people like me can understand is no easy feat, but the complexity and detail of her broadcasts are an integral part of what makes her show as beloved as it is.

A story that Democrats, Republicans and Independents immediately were shocked by was the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Local officials wanted to implement a plan to get their water supply from Lake Huron but since the water pipes were under construction, they had to use the Flint River. Immediately, alarm bells started going off for the people in Flint. It turned out that the levels of lead were way above safe consumption and that health effects were almost guaranteed. Since an anti-corrosive agent wasn't used, the water was physically brown due to the iron pipes the water went through. Besides the dangerous lead levels, other harmful bacteria such as E.coli and fecal coliform bacteria caused a lot of other problems. Rachel Maddow was the first major prime time news anchor to catch the story and delivered a passionate monologue about it. "The kids of Flint are being poisoned by a policy decision!” She spelled out and essentially, that was what happened. The story progressed and started getting more and more national attention. Eventually, The Rachel Maddow Show won the Emmy for Outstanding News Discussion and Analysis because of her dedication to covering the crisis in Flint. Even though the majority of what Rachel Maddow talks about is political, there are some very important stories that she reports that anyone could get behind. If she really was this hyperpartisan left wing host that her critics paint her to be, wouldn't she have just talked about politics and trashed the Republicans to no end?

In conclusion, I believe that Rachel Maddow isn't the hyperpartisan crazy that her critics make her out to be. Firstly, she takes great pride and responsibility making sure that what she reports is factual. Even if it’s a small insignificant detail that she gets wrong, like confusing barrels with gallons when reporting about an oil spill, she will make the correction. Neutral media bias website Adfontesmedia rated the MSNBC programs using bias and quality of reporting, and the Rachel Maddow Show was among the top rated programs on the network. Her use of storytelling and historical nuggets grip the viewers and also give a more complete picture of what she is reporting. Lastly, she was one of the earliest and leading voices in prime time media trying to raise more awareness of the water crisis in Flint. If she was this partisan puppet, then she would brush it off and slam the Republicans for every reason she can find. She wouldn't have dedicated all of her time (both on and off the air) to this important story. She did it because she believes she has an important job to do. In this political climate, journalism is one of the most important, and dangerous jobs. Rather than slam the credible anchors and journalists for reporting a story you don't want to believe, look at what exactly is happening and take action. If you don't like something, you're the only one who can do something about it. Don't shoot the messenger just because you don't like the message.

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