Photo: CR: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Rachel Maddow entering the Fox Theatre October 13, 2019.
Photo: CR: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. Rachel Maddow entering the Fox Theatre October 13, 2019.

Rachel Maddow praises Shepard Smith and promotes her book ‘Blowout’ at Fox Theatre

Originally posted Monday, October 14, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Rachel Maddow - on stage at the Fox Theatre Sunday to promote her latest book - heaped praise on Shepard Smith as a bulwark of the Fox News division and was saddened to see him leave.

“Fox News is better off with him than without him,” she said. “I am sad he is off there. The fact remains at least one hour a day, there was good ol’ Shep doing real live journalism without fear or favor. He’s really good at it. He was the anchor of that news division.” 

She’d welcome him at MSNBC if he chose to go there. 

Maddow was in Atlanta briefly to promote her book “Blowout,” which is about how the oil and natural gas business corrupts governments. 

Still on crutches from tearing three ligaments in an ankle while fishing, the MSNBC host hobbled on the stage. After extended, enthusiastic applause, she said she felt the adulation “a little overwhelming” considering she normally just sits in front of a camera every evening. 

The New York Times, in a Sunday magazine profile earlier this month, said “her figure has ascended, in the liberal imagination, from beloved cable-news host to a kind of oracle for the age of Trump.”

Virgina Prescott, host of “On Second Thought” on Georgia Public Broadcasting, asked her about this type of praise heaped upon her. 

Maddow was humble:  “I don’t know any secret information. I get credit for that sometimes. Like, ‘Will the president hand over his tax returns?’ I don’t know! Let’s watch!” 

As she has said many times before, she feels her job is to “explain what’s going on. Every once in awhile I’ll give you a prediction. ‘Watch this! This one is going pear shaped!’ But I’m not always right in my predictions. I’m not a good pundit. I’m not a good predictor.” 

Her take on Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic nations: “Russia doesn’t have many ways to project power,” she said.  “So they get what they want through sabotage and cheating.”  The hope is they can show that other countries are just as bad as they are. 

She said the Russians are already spinning the whole Turkey/Syria/Kurds battle in their favor: “The West will let you down and is corrupt. They will use you,” she said. “When we bolster that behavior, they are delighted.” 

At one point during the Q&A, someone yelled out “Run for president!” 

Maddow demurred. “Rachel Maddow will not run for president,” she said. “I wouldn’t vote for me. That should be a threshold. If I ran for the president of ‘The Rachel Maddow Show,’ my staff wouldn’t vote for me. I can’t run my desk, let alone anything larger than that. It would be a disaster.”

Not surprisingly, she gave a full-throated defense of journalism when asked about the president’s regular attacks on the media. 

“There is propaganda masquerading as fake news,” she said. “But good, fact-based reporting is not fake news. It’s the special sauce that we need in order to make democratic decisions,” she said. 

There were some titters in the crowd when Maddow sincerely said she was friends with some of the journalists at Fox News. 

“We must resist efforts to get us to turn on each other,” she said. “I will stand up for my colleagues in journalism. Journalism is neutral in terms of its politics except for the fact we need it for democracy.” 

Maddow doesn’t find the constant flow of news from the administration enervating. Rather, talking about it on  nightly show is like “therapy” for her: “I have the greatest job on Earth. I am paid to read the news and think about it and decide what is important. I get paid to say what I think about it, to organize it and make sense of it.” 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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