The Corner

When She Gets Serious

I take it these MSNBC Rachel Maddow ads have been on for a few months now, but they’ve been ubiquitous on the radio lately. I don’t understand them: They present Maddow as though she were a Jon Stewart-style comedian.

“Meet Rachel,” they begin—her show as been on the air since 2008; we’ve met Rachel, thanks!—and then talk about her “big personality,” insist that she’s “funny,” and then show her talking to a duck.

“But we’re about to find out what happens when she gets serious,” the ad concludes.

Really?

Rachel Maddow is not a damsel in distress and does not need me coming to her assistance, but isn’t that sort of insulting? As though for nearly seven years now she’s been less than serious? Not that I take her seriously—not that any sensible person does!—but surely the show is presented that way?

My guess here is that with Jon Stewart going into a long overdue retirement, MSNBC calculates that his viewers are up for grabs and further calculates that they are not too smart, that their attention spans are limited, that they need to have their progressive-ish tendencies flattered, and that they want their news from people who talk to ducks.

Which is to say, I suspect that this is an invitation to upgrade to a real(*) news show from a comedy program, while simultaneously making that real(*) news show something more like a comedy program.

It’s hard to imagine Fox News promising its viewers that Bill O’Reilly or Megyn Kelly is on the verge of becoming serious, though I would pay fifty bucks to see Sean Hannity interview a duck.

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