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MSNBC Stares Down the Maddow-pocalypse

Rachel Maddow Speaks At Harvard
Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
September 22, 2021

Earlier this summer, Rachel Maddow went fishing—and learned how to tie new knots. During her absence, nearly one-third of her audience stopped watching her program, The Rachel Maddow Show, the cornerstone of MSNBC’s prime-time lineup. Ratings fell to 1.6 million on average, which is what her colleagues hope to get on a good night, but lousy when compared to her peerless performance over the years. Twice, her show even ceded the coveted 25-to-54 year-old demo to CNN’s Chris Cuomo

When Maddow finally came back, after what she described as the “first two-week vacation I have ever had in my whole life,” the audience came back with her. The dog days of MSNBC’s summer were over—or so it seemed. In retrospect, they may have been a harbinger of the challenge to come.