Rachel Maddow appears on Keith Olbermann’s show to analyze the news that Maddow will get her own show:
I actually think this deserves some serious analysis. Liberals joke about the “no liberals on teevee” rule, but it’s really true. Olbermann’s Countdown has become a pretty liberal show, but as The New Yorker‘s recent Olbermann profile this was genuinely an accident and not something that either MSNBC or Olbermann actually planned to have happen. One could say something similar, I think, about Paul Krugman’s role at The New York Times. And there really was something of a genuine “no liberals” rule. Phil Donahue got fired from his political talk show simply for being too liberal. But beyond that, the entire structure of television commentary was heavily shaped by the conservative “media bias” routine. Electoral victories by conservative politicians convinced a lot of people in journalism that the press was desperately out of touch with the nation and that, therefore, the point of view of journalists — not liberal pundits, but neutral reporters — needed to be “countered” by the point of view of conservative pundits. This left, of course, no room for liberal pundits and put a strong rightward drag on everything.
We’re now at a moment, however, where some of the assumptions that have governed American political discourse for decades are coming under questions. Things like “hey, maybe if we had a liberal on television, liberals would watch it”now seem to be under consideration.