LESLEY: You have doubled the ratings for MSNBC at nine o’clock. So my question is, how much fun are you having? I hope my bosses don’t see this, but the truth is, I love what I do in news so much, that I would pay them, and you look as though you’re having that kind of fun.
RACHEL: I am having that kind of fun, I can honestly say. I’ve had about 300 different jobs in my life and I sort of feel like I’ve been a chit in the job lottery and my ticket just came up. Like I won the best job in the world, and I don’t really have a total grasp of how I got it – and I don’t know how long it’ll last. But as long as I have it I’m going to play it for all it’s worth.
LESLEY: Well, you’re doing great. But I have some questions, first off, about demeanor, because one would have thought that the ticket to cable heaven or something like that is a temper tantrum: The anchor shouts and the audiences come. But you are congenial. I’ve never seen you get angry and yet you’re drawing a crowd. So we have Obama; we have Rachel Maddow, lowering the temperature, cooling the hostility. What’s going on? Do you think that there’s been a real change in the public’s appetite?
RACHEL: Well, I don’t know. I guess that will become evident if this becomes a bigger trend than the trend that you’ve just identified. But, the way that I see it strategically, is that those in talk radio – which is sort of where I come from – and television, you’re trying to get people to connect with you; you’re trying to draw people in. And one way to do that is to express anger and vituperation and indignation. That draws people in. It is something that is very compelling, just in human terms. But another way to draw people in and to have people feel like they’re invested in you and they care about what you’re going to say next, is if they relate to you. I think that’s more the direction that I’m going. I think I have the same amount of anger as everybody else. I just don’t think it’s my best side and so I don’t try to show it very much in public.
LESLEY: Do you explode?
LESLEY: When we’re not watching you? Or is this just your temperament, is this who you are?
RACHEL: I think it is my temperament. I do feel like I’m hosting, and so I ought to be a congenial host, even with people with whom I disagree. I’m asking people to be part of my program, not because I want to hurt them but because I believe that they have something to say. And so I feel like I ought to, just in terms of manners, ought to treat them that way.
LESLEY: Well, of course, other anchors don’t see it that way, as we well know.
RACHEL: No, but I am not a person who enjoys humiliating people.
LESLEY: I have to ask you something that is apropos of absolutely nothing. But I did hear that you do not own a television set. It’s true, right?
LESLEY: Yes. So before we get very far, I want to ask you if you have the foggiest idea who the hell I am.
RACHEL: I’ve Googled you extensively. Don’t worry.
LESLEY: Oh, OK. So you know me from Google. So what do you think?
RACHEL: I know. Your whole career is online, don’t worry.
LESLEY: What do you do Sunday night at seven o’clock? I have a great idea for you. What are you usually doing?