Rachel Maddow was panned for praising Tucker Carlson. Now she has a different take

“I think he’s always been exactly who he is,” Maddow says of the Fox News host

Bevan Hurley
Monday 17 October 2022 17:17 BST
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Rachel Maddow’s effusive praise of Tucker Carlson for a Vanity Fair article in August stunned many fans and observers of the longtime MSNBC cable host and heroine of liberal media.

When she was asked again last week by New York Times podcast host Ezra Klein about the Fox News host’s transformation from bowtie-wearing “party boy libertarian” to white nationalistconspiracy theorist, Ms Maddow offered a slightly different take.

“I don’t think he has shifted over the years,” she said.

“I mean, I think he’s gotten older and I think people change as they get older in terms of their inclinations,” she told The Ezra Klein Show.

“But that perception that Tucker has changed over time, I don’t think that’s right. I think he’s always been exactly who he is.”

Ms Maddow got her start on MSNBC on Mr Carlson’s late night talkshow Tucker in 2005.

She said early on in his career, Mr Carlson had cultivated an image of a “prep school kid who knows everybody but doesn’t respect them”.

She compared his public persona to that of Donald Trump: both promoted themselves as powerful people who have access to the “inner circle”, but do not belong to it.

Rachel Maddow says Tucker Carlson has ‘always been exactly who he is’ (Associated Press)
Tucker Carlson is now the highest prime-time host in cable news (Screengrab/Fox News )

“And so you, the rebel, should understand that he knows these people. He can tell us what’s going on with them. But he’s against them just like you are,” she told Ezra Klein.

She said that tactic wasn’t as effective once Mr Trump became president and Mr Carlson became the highest-rated prime-time host on cable news.

“And so then you become less fun. And your message becomes more dark. And the ‘them’ who you are inveighing against becomes shadier and more dangerous. And the whole enterprise has less of a grace note anywhere in it.”

Ms Maddow sparked a minor furore in August after she gave Mr Carlson a ringing endorsement in a Vanity Fair article.

“Tucker’s doing great right now,” Ms Maddow told the outlet.

“He was always kicking around the business and has always been talented. It just — this turned out to be his moment.”

The comments drew a backlash on social media, where some accused her of giving a “giant middle finger” to her fan base.

Earlier this year Ms Maddow stepped back from hosting her nightly top rated 9pm slot on MSNBC.

She is working on a podcast Ultra about the 1944 sedition trial of two dozen defendants charged with trying to overthrow the US government.

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