Early in Trump’s presidency, Maddow ran into Carlson at a gala for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which helps out of doors recreation. Maddow and Carlson are about the identical age — she’s 46, he’s 50 — they usually every go fly-fishing to wipe the information from their brains. “It turned out we had both thrown our backs out within one week of each other, with neither of us having ever had a back problem ever before in our entire lives,” she mentioned. “I had the gift of a very human-to-human, eye-contact moment with him, like: ‘We’re both doing this thing that’s killing us, and killing us at the same pace.’ ”
But additionally, I mentioned, it’s virtually as if she and Carlson are parallel-universe variations of one another, in order that if he strains his again, her’s hurts, too. She laughed and mentioned, “Exactly.”
Cable information in 2019 feels a little bit like the Hieronymus Bosch portray “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” On one channel, Trump presides over a panorama of harmonious abundance. On the different, he’s main American democracy right into a depressing hellscape. (Betwixt them is a scene of sordid copulation: No matter the place you stand in the cable-news wars, Trump is a profitable story.)
Even as Maddow was unspooling the Ukraine story on her present, Hannity was only a distant click on away, weaving his personal narrative about “sleepy, creepy, crazy Uncle Joe” and his son Hunter Biden. “We are going to go chapter and verse very slowly,” Hannity mentioned. “You will understand it. It gets a little complicated, but we’ve got the timeline down perfectly. The story they won’t tell you in the media.” As Maddow’s rankings rose, his did too.
The worlds of Fox News and MSNBC don’t function underneath the identical logic, and even converse the identical language. Hannity has mounted the president’s podium at a rally, and he has the president’s ear. Last week, Trump tweeted out a Hannity clip as self-defense that featured a scrolling record of “PRESIDENT TRUMP’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS.” But Maddow is tired of cultivating such energy relationships. She doesn’t see herself as a frontrunner of the left or an adversary of Trump in any method.
If Fox News anchors fashion themselves as generals in the tradition wars, Maddow views herself as an observer peering in on the motion. And whereas Fox News enlists its viewers to hitch the struggle, she strikes her viewers to see themselves as storytellers, too. “I hope that if you watch my show,” she informed me, you’ll purchase a set of “good, true stories about what’s going on and why it matters.”
After Rebecca Kee purchased her Maddow cardboard cutout, she received a Robert Mueller one, too. For a time she would sit him in her entrance window, posing him close to speech bubbles that she wrote herself. But after the actual Mueller filed his report and didn’t step into the position she had imagined for him, she tucked him away in the closet with Maddow. Now her automobile is embellished with Elizabeth Warren bumper stickers.
This summer time, in the calm earlier than the storm, I sat with Maddow in her workplace, and we mentioned the notion, from each her followers and her critics, that she is a participant in all this drama. “If anyone’s counting on me to make anything happen in the world,” she informed me, “I am a bad thing to count on.”