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SmartLess / – “Rachel Maddow”

SmartLess – “Rachel Maddow”

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In this episode of the SmartLess podcast, the hosts have a fascinating conversation with Rachel Maddow, a highly accomplished individual known for her work as a political commentator and host. They discuss her background, career, and the importance of being well-informed in journalism. Maddow shares insights on various topics, including her approach to interviews, the role of journalism in society, and her latest book. The hosts are in awe of Maddow’s intelligence and ability to articulate complex issues.

Main Takeaways

Liverpool Connection

  • Billy Hogan, who runs the Liverpool team, is a big fan of the SmartLess podcast and listens to every episode.
  • The hosts of SmartLess are the official podcast of Liverpool Football Club.
  • The hosts of SmartLess appear in a Verizon commercial for the iPhone during Monday Night Football.
  • The reason why Will Arnett is not in the Verizon commercial is because he has a prior commitment with a phone company.

Rachel Maddow’s Accomplishments

  • Today’s guest is a Grammy winner with a degree from Stanford and a diverse background.
  • Rachel Maddow is a highly accomplished individual with multiple Emmys, a degree from Stanford, and a doctorate from Oxford.
  • She has written four books, had a crossword puzzle in the New York Times, and has her own radio show, podcasts, and TV show.
  • Rachel is known for being a hero to those who are inconvenient to others.

Journalism and Politics

  • In the past, well-informed and smart individuals would turn to the public sector to serve the government, but now entertainment and celebrity have become the highest calling in society.
  • Being a journalist allows for serving the public by helping people understand what’s going on while also being entertaining.
  • The job of a journalist is to understand things and explain them in a way that makes sense, which can be therapeutic during overwhelming or devastating news cycles.
  • The impact of journalism is bigger than advocacy work, but it requires less ego because there is no follow-up to ensure results.

Rachel Maddow’s Approach to Interviews

  • Chris Hayes prepares differently for interviews depending on the format.
  • Hayes reads the book before interviewing an author.
  • Rachel Maddow is well-read and able to talk on many different subjects.
  • Maddow feels an obligation to be prepared and have something to say on camera.

America’s Fight Against Fascism

  • Rachel’s latest book, Prequel, uncovers a cautionary tale about America’s fight against fascism in the lead up to World War II.
  • The US had a fascist movement that worked with Nazi Germany to set up a similar form of government in the US.
  • Lessons learned from this movement can be applied to prevent similar situations in the future.
  • The criminal justice system has a role in prosecuting crimes and protecting from intimidation.
  • Activism, good journalism, military intervention, and policing by institutions like the Catholic Church can also help prevent similar movements from gaining power.

The Importance of Democracy

  • The Justice Department formalized the idea that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted due to Nixon and Agnew’s situation.
  • People back then had a sense of shame that prevented them from doing certain things, unlike today’s society.
  • People go into politics for power and ego, but government can still do good things.
  • Re-imagining the American political system using instant runoff voting and other things that are now being tried in some states can eliminate the spoiler effect of independent candidates.
  • The electoral college and other counter-majoritarian systems are being overexploited by those who want minority rule.


Liverpool Connection and Rachel Maddow’s Accomplishments

The hosts kick off the episode by discussing their connection to Liverpool Football Club and their involvement in a Verizon commercial. They introduce their guest, Rachel Maddow, highlighting her impressive accomplishments as a political commentator, author, and media personality. Maddow’s diverse background and extensive achievements make her a highly respected figure in the industry.

The Role of Journalism and Politics

The conversation delves into the significance of journalism and its evolving role in society. The hosts and Maddow discuss how being well-informed and able to explain complex issues is crucial in today’s media landscape. They also explore the intersection of politics and entertainment, noting the shift in societal priorities over time.

Rachel Maddow’s Approach to Interviews

Maddow’s approach to interviews is examined, with a focus on her preparation and ability to discuss a wide range of topics. Chris Hayes’ interview style is also mentioned, highlighting the importance of reading and being knowledgeable about the subject matter before conducting an interview.

America’s Fight Against Fascism

Maddow’s latest book, Prequel, becomes a central topic of discussion. The book uncovers a cautionary tale about America’s fight against fascism, drawing parallels to the present day. The hosts and Maddow explore the lessons that can be learned from history and the various ways to prevent similar movements from gaining power.

The Importance of Democracy

The conversation shifts to the importance of democracy and the challenges it faces. The hosts and Maddow discuss the implications of the Justice Department’s stance on prosecuting a sitting president and reflect on the changing societal norms and values. They also explore potential solutions, such as re-imagining the American political system and addressing counter-majoritarian systems.


In this episode, the hosts have a captivating conversation with Rachel Maddow, a highly accomplished and respected political commentator. They explore various topics, including Maddow’s background, her approach to interviews, the role of journalism, and the importance of democracy. Maddow’s intelligence and ability to articulate complex issues leave the hosts in awe. Listeners gain valuable insights into Maddow’s work and the broader context of today’s media and political landscape.

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