It’s the birthday of liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow (books by this author), born in Castro Valley, California (1973). She showed an early interest in journalism and started reading the newspaper regularly when she was only seven years old. She studied public policy at Stanford and went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, where she earned a doctorate in political science. She was the first openly gay American to be chosen a Rhodes scholar, and she went on to become the first openly gay American news anchor. She’s hosted The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC since 2008; it was the network’s most successful launch ever. She told the Boston Globe: “When Pat [Buchanan] is saying something outrageous, you know when you yell at the TV? I get to yell at him in person. I get to yell at the TV and it hears me.”
Maddow met her partner, Susan Mikula, in 1999. Maddow was working on her doctoral dissertation and doing odd jobs to pay the bills. Mikula hired her to do some yard work. “It was very Desperate Housewives,” Maddow said later. Their first date was at an event for the National Rifle Association. The two have so far chosen not to marry. Maddow supports gay marriage, but has said: “I feel that gay people not being able to get married for generations, forever, meant that we came up with alternative ways of recognizing relationships. And I worry that if everybody has access to the same institutions that we lose the creativity of subcultures having to make it on their own. And I like gay culture.”
Maddow is the author of Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power (2012), which debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-sellers list.
-THE WRITER’S ALMANAC, APRIL 1, 2016