The Vogue issue featuring Rachel Maddow (alongside Katie Couric and Campbell Brown) is not the make-over disaster we feared, as you can see. It's also chock full of interesting bits — and we've got more.
A well-placed source at 30 Rock (the building, not the television show) tells us that when Maddow arrived for her fitting, she was shown to the Vogue closet — and a row of Louboutins that our source was dying to pet. As you can see, however, Maddow insisted on sticking to her standard Converse, wearing a Jil Sander suit that wouldn't seem out of place behind her desk and keeping on her sexy librarian glasses. (Our source also confirms Maddow's claim that Page Six made up the story about MSNBC trying to de-dyke her.) So much for the worries about Andre Leon Talley — who our source says is such a huge fan of Maddow's (and Olberman's) that he chatted with her about the last three days' worth of shows.
Fashion aside, Maddow's not planning on turning into a loyal Democratic sycophant when Obama takes office. She told Vogue:
"I guess I'm interested in making fun of bad ideas, regardless of who has them," she says. "Obviously you don't want to randomly scour the world for bad ideas. You want to respond to influential bad ideas. So if you end up in a situation where there isn't a loyal opposition, where the Republican Party is in disarray and isn't really surfacing in the discussion, then they won't be the people I'm making fun of. I will be making fun of the Democrats or the supposed experts."
And although Maddow isn't the type to get girly in order to get ahead in broadcast news, she's not totally immune to reactions to how she looks, either.
Tonight, Maddow is feeling exhausted, having spent the last month inventing The Rachel Maddow Show, and is concerned about last night's show, given some chatter about her tiredness. She turns to Mikula.
"It was all over the Twitter feed, man!" she says.
"It was obvious. I'm sorry," says [her partner Susan] Mikula.
"In the way that I looked, or the way that I was behaving?"
"You had visible black under your eyes."
"How was I tonight?" Maddow asks.
"You looked fresh as a daisy."
The rest of the piece concern Katie Couric and Campbell Brown, the other break-out anchors of the campaign. Couric, who's been in the spotlight the longest, has also had more than her share of ups and downs in the anchor's chair, from being criticized (by Nora Ephron) for her makeup to being lambasted for having the audacity to try to change the crappy format of the dying evening news program.
"I've had some pretty down days," Couric admits. "One thing I didn't realize when I talked about getting out of your comfort zone is that sometimes you're uncomfortable." Pat Mitchell, a friend and former anchor who now runs the Paley Center for Media, remembers, "At one point she said to me, 'I haven't changed. What changed here?' "
Katie Couric, in effect, went to being everyone's sweetheart on Today to being thought unqualified for her job and her salary despite her decades of media experience.
Campbell Brown, too, recognizes sexism when she sees it (or, more likely, experiences it). She went from NBC to CNN, rising quickly due to commentary that managed to be insightful without being too politically biased — and, god knows, we all liked seeing her rip Tucker Bounds a new one and asking the McCainiacs to free Sarah Palin. Although Vogue doesn't ask her whether her marriage to Republican strategist Dan Senor insulates her, to a degree, from the rapid right-wing attacks faced by other media types when they criticize Republicans, the magazine does ask her about what it's like to be the one in the middle, politically speaking.
The other cable news shows on Fox and MSNBC are clearly defined outlets of the left and the right. "My competition have an automatic punching bag," Brown says, "and an audience that wants their opinions validated each night. We finally learned to articulate things; I found a freedom because I am able to do commentary at the beginning." She does not attack, but she challenges. To Elizabeth Dole, on the occasion of her "Godless" ads against her opponent: "We're fighting two wars, our economy is a disaster.…Cut it out, reclaim your dignity. Please, please, just tell us what you think you can do to help get this country back on track."
Shaping the News [Vogue]
Related: Way to Skirt The Issue [Page 6]
Rachel Maddow: ‘It's Hilarious That ‘Page Six' Just Runs Stuff That They Make Up' [Daily Intel]