MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow says she took broadcasting tips from the late Roger Ailes, the former Fox News chief who grew the channel into a ratings powerhouse and influential force in media and politics before resigning in disgrace.
Maddow, MSNBC’s top-rated prime-time host, made the remark as part of a wide-ranging interview with Vanity Fair published over the weekend. The left-leaning host is stepping back next week from her daily duties hosting a prime-time show on the network.
“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,” Maddow said.
The pundit’s comments are not the first she has made publicly about valuing the work and opinions of Ailes, who died in 2017 just months after resigning from Fox following a massive sexual harassment scandal that rocked the network.
Before his death, Maddow told The Hollywood Reporter she had “tried to reach out” to Ailes “just to reconnect and was not able to get in touch.”
“But Roger, if you’re reading this and you want to have a conversation, I’ll buy you breakfast,” Maddow said.
Maddow also had positive things to say about Tucker Carlson, Fox’s current top prime-time host, who has garnered widespread attention for his controversial segments and statements on topics ranging from race to the coronavirus pandemic to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The host compared her current relationship with Carlson, with whom she worked during her initial months at MSNBC, to that of rival athletes.
“If you think about baseball players,” Maddow said, “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. 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.”
Maddow will host her prime-time show only once a week starting next week, making way for new host Alex Wagner, whom MSNBC hired earlier this year, to occupy Maddow’s time slot the remaining four days.