The Maddow Iceberg

Rachel Maddow
Photo by Michael Brochstein/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
April 15, 2022

This week, NBC News published a bit of evergreen, service-y consumer trivia: nearly one-third of Americans wait til the last minute to file their taxes. The gist, of course, was that such procrastination is absurd. Tax day is inevitable, so why does anyone wait until the eleventh hour to deal with it?

The same question might reasonably be asked of NBC’s handling of Rachel Maddow’s long-anticipated departure from her nightly MSNBC show. Seven months ago, Maddow and her superagents at WME struck a $30 million-a-year deal with NBCUniversal C.E.O. Jeff Shell that gave Maddow the option to end her nightly show on April 30 and instead focus on other projects, like specials and documentaries and podcasts and other I.P. In short, she was being paid more to focus on higher-value projects, allowing her to ease off the still very profitable, but declining, and certainly less relevant world of cable news. The press heralded it at the time as Maddow being paid more to do less, simply to keep her in-house, and it’s hard to argue with this proclamation. 

It also posed a management double-whammy for Shell. Maddow has written multiple best-sellers and created a fantastic podcast, Bagman, which was developed into a book. But she hasn’t yet proven to be a walking Mandalorian or the Obamas (and, by the way, it’s not entirely clear if their various all-around deals are working out financially, either).