MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow once took to the streets to ask strangers if she was a girl or a boy. It was a bit early on in her career. “I would play it up,” she said. “We totally modeled it on ‘It’s Pat’ from Saturday Night Live.”
The short-haired newswoman revealed as much on “The Howard Stern Show” Wednesday when, as usual, Stern used his sharp interrogation skills to get the juices flowing.
“The number one cable news person I’m going to be talking to, look at that!” Stern exclaimed to sidekick Robin Quivers at the top of the interview.
Obviously Stern broached the supposedly secret “banging” going on between her colleagues, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, and got a big goose egg. “Now, not scandalous,” Maddow said. Besides that, she opened up about all kinds of weird, intriguing stuff.
Stern laid it on thick, ultimately calling her the “queen” of the network.
“Rachel, first of all, you have your doctorate,” he said. “Why do you not go as Doctor Rachel Maddow because that would be very cool on TV? Dr. Phil barely has a doctorate and he’s Dr. Phil.”
Maddow said she wouldn’t be comfortable being called Dr. Rachel Maddow.
“Once you get a doctorate you get to make your own decision,” she said. Maddow thinks calling herself “doctor” would be a little “over the top” unless you make your living touching people in a healing way.
Stern assessed her new perch as the highest rated cable news host in the era of President Trump.
“The show is terrific and I’ve always said that,” the shock jock said as he continued to source grease her. “Like I was a viewer, but not a consistent viewer. And then I became a consistent viewer when Trump won. As soon as he won, I said I needed someone to explain. My wife who is is so not into politics, we get into bed at night and she says ‘Put on Rachel Maddow.’ It kind of sucks that they fired Bill O’Reilly because you would’ve shut his fucking ass up. Like you’re now number one in cable news and he’s not even there so you can’t say ‘Hey asshole, I beat you.'”
He lavished her with compliments: “Your show is on fire from Trump.”
Stern says he needs someone like Maddow to interpret what’s happening.
“I’m the kind of asshole who never credits you,” he told her, explaining that he parrots what she says to his kids.
Maddow talked about what a “grind” the job can be and how she feels like she “can’t breathe” without some of her loyal, longtime employees.
“Do you ever think Trump ever does stuff at 8:59 at night just to fuck with you?” he asked.
“The Washington Post it’s like, 7:50 or 8:50 every night [when something breaks],” she said.
Maddow refused to discuss her contract with MSNBC. “I don’t even talk about it with my parents,” she said.
Stern urged her to suck “Bill O’Reilly money” out of MSNBC execs.
He pressed her to name a guest she always likes. She said she has no “regular guests,” but named her colleague, MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, as someone she’d invite on every night if she could.
Maddow said her reading diet is boring: she opens 40 tabs and reads all afternoon.
“I picture you just reading all day like crazy,” Stern said.
When the topic of the late Fox News President Roger Ailes came up, Maddow praised him. “He was really, really kind about it,” she said, noting that she considered Ailes to be a mentor. “…He was gracious and constructive and gave me some interesting stuff to think about. …He was generous to me. …He was a friend.”
She said the sexual harassment allegations against him were “serious.”
She added, “I didn’t knew about any of that and was not in touch with Roger after that broke.”
Maddow reached out to him just before all that broke and was puzzled when he didn’t respond.
Eerily, they never spoke again.
“I believe that we are all more than the worst thing we have ever done in our lives,” she said. “At the same time I think we are accountable for everything we do in our lives. That means the good stuff and the bad stuff.”
Would she have worked for Fox News if he asked?
Actually, he did. Sort of.
“He once told me that he wants to hire me at Fox — and actually this is not that long ago — and then he told me he’d never put me on the air,” she recalled. “He’d put me on ice.”
Stern asked about her relationship with MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack. “Do they give you a lot of notes or do they shut the fuck up?” he asked.
She called them “good guys” but explained how she’s managed them. “When I got my first contract with them I made an editorial freedom deal with them: ‘You can’t tell me what not to cover or what to cover or how to cover it.”
There’s a catch. If Griffin leaves, so does she.
He hired her. She says she won’t stay without him.