Does the right need a Rachel Maddow?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Eliana Johnson’s National Review piece on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has provoked some buzz on Twitter today. Here’s an excerpt:

“Behind her back, colleagues call her ‘the queen,’ a not so subtle suggestion that Maddow gets what Maddow wants. And what she wants is a network filled with young wonks such as Chris Hayes, Ezra Klein, Alex Wagner, and Harris-Perry, whose highbrow intellectualism can, she hopes, push the Democratic party, and the country, to the left.”

Notice that (according to Johnson, at least) Maddow’s goal isn’t to win the ratings war, but rather, to “push the Democratic party, and the country, to the left.”

My guess is this is an unintentional observation, but one which is, perhaps, true.

If Maddow’s objective (the premise of the piece is that Maddow is calling the shots, behind-the-scenes) were to create a network that garnered high ratings today, then she might be considered a failure. But one could argue that long-term political goals and short-term business objectives for a cable news network are mutually exclusive — or, at least, they don’t necessarily correlate.

And, if nothing else, Maddow & Co. are populating the mainstream media with young wonky pundits — folks who will likely be around for decades, pushing their liberal agenda.

Now, these talking heads may not always be as attractive or charismatic as their counterparts on other networks (that’s often the tradeoff with wonks), but the point is to create tomorrow’s opinion leaders — to groom some smart, young  ideological folks — and grant them the imprimatur that comes with hosting a TV show (or being a regular guest).

Only time will tell if this pans out, but conservatives would do well to at least consider whether or not there might be something to learn from Team Maddow — whether they will some day lament not developing some of their own wonky young talent.

Consider this: Why does Chris Hayes have a show, but not Ben Domenech or Tim Carney? And why is Ezra Klein more often seen on TV than Philip Klein?

Is Hayes really that much smarter or better? And is Philip not better than Ezra?

I could go on, but you get the point…