MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on fake news, Trump’s taxes, Russian probe

Highlights from Rolling Stone interview with the reigning queen of cable news.

June 14, 2017 10:05 am
Rachel Maddow
Political commentator Rachel Maddow during an interview. (Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Rachel Maddow is ready to report on herself.

The MSNBC anchor, who hosts the 10-year-old Rachel Maddow show, sat down to speak to Rolling Stone about politics, fake news, and Trump’s tax returns.

Lauded by liberals and derided by conservatives, the openly gay Rhodes scholar who is both Stanford- and Oxford-educated has the number one prime-time news program on cable TV.

Here are some of the highlights from the interview:

On how the show covers the Trump administration

“We have a mantra when it comes to this administration: ‘Don’t pay attention to what they say, focus on what they do.; And that is very helpful, because it’s easier to cover a fast-moving story when you’re not distracted by whatever the White House denials are. It’s fascinating that H.R. McMaster and Dina Powell and Rex Tillerson, these very impressive people, all came out and denied that the president gave the Russians secret intelligence in the Oval Office. But, then, the next morning the president was like, ‘Yeah, I did tell the Russians!’ So that’s a sign to not get too hung up on what the White House is saying at any moment, because even their most credible people are being put forward to lie, bluntly, regularly . . . and it’s OK!”

On whether or not she felt she oversold the Trump tax return reveal

“I felt like I did exactly what I wanted to do. You can’t really do any worthwhile work if you’re hoping for a specific response from people. This is what I do and some people like it and some people don’t, and some days you’re up and some days you’re down in terms of whether people think you’re a good person or a bad person.”

On whether or not it’s possible that the Trump campaign had no knowledge of the Russia hacking

“I absolutely believe it’s possible. I mean, Russia clearly did this attack, and there’s lots of circumstantial evidence that points at lots of unexplained and surreptitious contact between Trump people and Russian people at the time that was happening. But circumstantial evidence is circumstantial evidence. This is a serious thing that needs to be chased down to the end.”

On whether or not ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ is a distraction

“I mean, who cares? It’s like sticks and stones. I am interested in the president denigrating the press – and the judiciary and the intelligence community and law enforcement – because that is important in terms of his behavior as an increasingly authoritarian-style leader, the type of which we have never had before at this level of American politics, period. I am not interested in it because it offends me. When speech becomes behavior, then it is relevant. I don’t watch the press briefing. I don’t read the president’s tweets. In general, “The president has tweeted X” is an overblown story.”

On what the media could do better

“I think the media needs to be protective in terms of its business model. There needs to be a remunerative vocation, which is called reporter, which is called editor, which is called publisher…. We need to do what we can to make sure that we defend people that are attacked for doing that work, and [also] that there are journalism jobs that pay above minimum wage so we get good people doing this work.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.