Tucker Carlson is not the hated rival that you might think he is, Rachel Maddow has revealed, despite the fact that the top-rated Fox host is the central villain among the progressive crowd at MSNBC.
In a new Vanity Fair profile of Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC host spoke positively of her competitors over at Fox News, pointing particularly to Carlson, who is widely criticized for what the New York Times recently said “may be the most racist show in the history of cable news.”.
While there couldn’t be a harder ideological line between the two cable news hosts, Maddow said she focuses on tactics rather than politics from others in the field, including Carlson. Her relationship with him is, surprisingly, amiable, and she even noted that “it was really nice to see him” at a recent event.
“Tucker’s doing great right now,” Maddow said before nodding to their shared history in the newsroom. (Carlson was the first to give her a paid TV position while working on his MSNBC late-night show “Tucker” 17 years ago.) “But look at Tucker’s career. The first show I worked on was his 11 o’clock show on MSNBC that nobody remembers. But he was always kicking around the business and has always been talented. It just — this turned out to be his moment.”
Respecting and even in some cases admiring facets of her competitors on the right isn’t anything new for Maddow. As the profile notes, she’s historically been friendly with the likes of Pat Buchanan and Roger Ailes, the latter of whom blurbed one of her books. She has “a lot of respect” for Sean Hannity, per a 2019 interview with Stephen Colbert. And Carlson, as previously noted, has a pivotal role in her own early career.
She brings it back to what she can take from others. Even when they’re on the opposing side, if they’re the best at what they do, why not take some notes?
“If you think about baseball players, who are extremely competitive and who are fighting to win and who have rivalries, and some of those rivalries are bitter rivalries, that doesn’t mean you don’t study the pitching technique of their star pitcher,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate whatever they’re doing in terms of, you know, where they put their shortstop in order to give them a better defense. There’s a sort of, like, respecting the game, in terms of people who are doing well and people who are good at it. I mean that was the basis of my professional friendship with Roger Ailes. I wanted tips from him about how to be better on TV. And he was willing to talk to me about what I was doing well, and doing poorly, to help me get better.”