09/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rachel Maddow Wrestles The Pundit Class

Rachel Maddow can no more restore reason to the Mainstream media pundit class than Barack Obama can remake Washington politics. They might push some and pull some, tug at the corners and give us a hint of the shape it could take if we all grabbed an end. Maddows does a little of that every day.

An article on Maddow posted at Alternet today by Salon writer Rebecca Traister is well worth a read. It begins:

In a year bursting with memorable moments in televised political punditry, the first may have come on January 8, when MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow explained one of the quick-spreading theories behind Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire, a surprise win that had knocked many of Maddow's on-air colleagues on their asses.

"You want to know who they're blaming for women voters breaking for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama?" a delighted Maddow asked co-panelist Pat Buchanan and host Chris Matthews, her eyes flashing. "They're blaming Chris Matthews! People are citing specifically Chris ... not only for his own views but also as a symbol of what the mainstream media has done to Hillary Clinton."

Matthews sputtered dismissively, but Maddow wasn't done yet. "People feel the media is piling on Hillary Clinton," she said, "and they're coming to her defense with their votes." For Matthews, who'd been enjoying near rapturous pleasure over the presumptive early-season thumping of his personal hobgoblin, there could not have been worse news than that his own commentary might have paved the way for Clinton's triumph. Yet here was just this headline, delivered by Maddow, looking like Sylvester the Cat, practically licking yellow feathers from the corners of her mouth.

"I didn't mean it in a mean way at all," says Maddow over breakfast on a summer day many months and many MSNBC promotions away from that indelible January night. "But I knew that it was just going to blow his mind."