Tag Archives: MSNBC

LGBT Pride and History Month 2014: Rachel Maddow

18 Jun

RachelToday we honor and celebrate Dr. Rachel Maddow, a woman who is trying to bring real discussion back into television journalism.  While a freshman at Stanford University, she was outed in a campus paper interview before she was able to tell her parents.

I always love papers that out people just for the sake of outing them–my what code of ethics does that follow?  Where is the journalistic integrity in outing people for no reason, save that it makes money, or causes a scandal, which just colludes with the dominant discourse? It would be different if they were outing someone with power that was using that power to hurt the LGBT community, but such was not the case with our Maddow. Fortunately, her family were supportive, and she has been out and proud ever since.

After receiving her degree in public policy from Stanford, she was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, becoming the first openly LGBT Rhodes scholar. She received her Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University with her thesis entitled HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons.

These early events clearly hinted at her outspoken nature and her dedication to open discourse. She won a contest to become a radio announcer shortly after returning to the U.S., launching her broadcast career. She worked in radio for local Massachusetts stations and then joined Air America. Unabashedly liberal, she has observed the rightward drift of this country’s politics with the quip

I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.

While still on Air America, she began regular guest spots on MSNBC’s nightly programs. Soon she was offered her own show, a TV version of her radio program, The Rachel Maddow Show. This made her the first openly LGBT host of a major prime-time news show in the U.S. She also routinely has her network’s most highly rated show – in what still remains a “white hetero male dominated” industry.

Her program is a wonderful mixture of straight news, opinion, and interviews–all offered through a social justice lens. In fact, I’m not sure there are other national programs that stand in such solidarity with those that are marginalized and oppressed by those in power and charged with the task of representing all Americans.  I love that Maddow holds these hypocrites’ feet to the fire.

Maddow’s work has been consistently recognized for its quality and insight. She has been repeatedly nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Journalism, winning in 2010 for her expose on Uganda’s horrific anti-gay efforts. Both the Advocate and Out magazine regularly include her in their lists of the most influential out media personalities. Her coverage of health care netted her a Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood in 2010, the year she was also awarded the Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award. It’s nice to see that an outspoken media voice with an interest in social justice can be recognized for her important work.

I’m also grateful for her visibility as a lesbian, for the more visible we are individually and collectively, the more difficult it is to target and marginalize us! Brava, Ms. Maddow!

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Women’s History Month 2013: Melissa Harris-Perry

27 Mar

harris-perryToday we honor and celebrate another wonderful voice for equality. Many thanks to my friend and regular TSM commenter Christine for recommending Melissa Harris-Perry. Melissa is multi-racial, having  a black father and white mother.  She is originally from here in the Northwest, Seattle. The family moved to Virgina when she was young, with both parents involved in education.

Harris-Perry is an author, scholar, and professor as well as host of a successful, thought-provoking program on MSNBC. She received her B.A. in English from Wake Forest University and her PhD in political science from Duke. Due to her interest in the influence of the black church on political movements, she also received an honoris causa doctorate from Meadville Lombard Theological School and was a Master of Divinity student at Union Theological Seminary.

While at Wake Forest, she encountered her mentor, the wonderful Maya Angelou.

As her student I watched as she influenced public discourse, taught students, and shared ideas in a way that seemed to truly matter for people’s lives.

Harris-Perry taught political science at the University of Chicago, then moved to Princeton where she was an associate professor of politics and African-American studies. She is currently a professor of political science at Tulane, where she is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South.

She is the author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought on the methods African Americans use to develop political ideas through ordinary conversations in places like barbershops, churches, and popular culture–sounds like good social work to me. Her book won the 2005 W.E.B. DuBois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and the 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

After years as serving as a commentator, she was offered her own MSNBC weekend show a year ago. She looks at the program as a way to expand her education career, focusing on issues of politics and equality.

All I’ve ever wanted to be is a teacher. Phil Griffin and MSNBC are giving me the chance to have a much bigger classroom.

She is also an outspoken advocate for gay rights and marriage equality. Her work in this area won her an Ally for Equality award from the Human Rights campaign last month.

As a biracial woman with a passion for education and a fascination with religion, Harris-Perry has a firm understanding of the intersections of oppression. She has made it her mission to share that understanding with others with a firm commitment to social justice. Thank you Melissa Harris-Perry for being such a strong advocate and ally!

Women’s History Month 2013: Rachel Maddow

18 Mar

RachelMaddowToday we honor and celebrate Dr. Rachel Maddow, a woman who is trying to bring real discussion back into television journalism. Maddow was born in California in 1973. While a freshman at Stanford University, she was outed in a campus paper interview before she was able to tell her parents. I always love papers that out people just for the sake of outing them–my what code of ethics does that follow?  Fortunately, they were supportive, and she has been out and proud ever since. After receiving her degree in public policy from Stanford, she was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, becoming the first openly LGBT Rhodes scholar. She received her Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University with her thesis entitled HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons.

These early events clearly hinted at her outspoken nature and her dedication to open discourse. She won a contest to become a radio announcer shortly after returning to the U.S., launching her broadcast career. She worked in radio for local Massachusetts stations and then joined Air America. Unabashedly liberal, she has observed the rightward drift of this country’s politics with the quip

I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.

While still on Air America, she began regular guest spots on MSNBC’s nightly programs. Soon she was offered her own show, a TV version of her radio program, The Rachel Maddow Show. This made her the first openly LGBT host of a major prime-time news show in the U.S. She also routinely has her network’s most highly rated show–in what still remains a “white hetero male dominated” industry.

Her program is a wonderful mixture of straight news, opinion, and interviews–all offered through a social justice lens. In fact, I’m not sure there are other national programs that stand in such solidarity with those that are marginalized and oppressed by those in power and charged with the task of representing all Americans.  I love that Maddow holds these hypocrites’ feet to the fire. She has no tolerance for liars or people who put talking points above reality. Her no-holds-barred approach to discussing critical events is very refreshing. The media need more people who stand up and say “that’s not right!” Hooray for Rachel Maddow for showing that caring about the truth can still matter to the viewing public.

Hero of the Week Award: August 31, Chris Matthews

31 Aug

Hero of the Week

What a pleasant surprise to have another mainstream journalist receive this week’s HWA. Regular TSM readers know that I have little patience for the pablum and apologetics that most networks peddle as news, straining so hard to be “fair” that they invite lunatics and hatemongers to “balance” facts. Lately, however, the media seem to have realized their jobs again, from the many news outlets actually calling out Ryan and Romney for their outright falsehoods to Soledad O’Brien‘s recent refusals to let her interviewees get away with bending the truth.

This week it was MSNBC’s Chris Matthews who stood up to the Republican deception and obfuscation engine. In an on-air conversation with Prince of Darkness, oops! RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Matthews interrupted him to call out his party’s race baiting. Referring to Mitt Romney’s wink-and-nod birtherism during a speech in Michigan, Matthews said,

That cheap shot about “I don’t have a problem with my birth certificate” was awful. You are playing that little ethnic card there. You can play your games and giggle about it, but the fact is your side is playing that card.

Priebus quickly became defensive and tried to move on. When he accused the President of “European” policies — a standard GOP talking point to make Obama seem foreign — Matthews stopped him cold.

You mean the fact that every president we’ve had has tried to offset the economic cycle with stimulus going the other direction is somehow European? […] What does that have to do with Europe and this foreignization of the government? You’re doing it now. Saying that he’s influenced by foreign influences.

After a heated exchange, the interview ended. Priebus later accused Matthews of being an Obama mouthpiece and — ironically — of being “the biggest jerk in the room.” He’s tried hard to paint Matthews as a fool and a bully, not realizing that his rubber and glue game isn’t working. Matthews, in turn, stands by his words.

There come times when the passion should be reflective in the tone. There are a couple issues like peace and war, and race relations — this is, deeply, not something we should be revisiting in the 21st century. It isn’t even covert any more, its overt. Race is the San Andreas Fault in this country, and this is dividing this country along racial lines.

So true, Mr. Matthews. So sadly true. Thank you for calling it out and for refusing to apologize for simply doing your job.

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