Rachel Maddow: From the Morning Zoo to the Political Zoo

Rachel Maddow, who has been signed for a multiyear contract at MSNBC, where ratings of her show us 23 percent, says she didn’t  grow up with much of an interest in electoral politics or in journalism.

“I grew up with an interest more in policy,” she said at an MSNBC panel at the TV Critics Press Tour Tuesday. “As a gay kid growing up in the ’80s in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was very, very, very much affected by both the AIDS crisis and the AIDS activist movement as in sort of my formative growing up years.

“For me, politics and politicians were a means by which really important policy decisions got made that either saved people’s lives or killed them, including people who I knew and loved,” she said.

Moving East, “I studied public policy in college specifically to become a better activist. And I studied philosophy in college in order to be able to make better arguments about public policy in order to get things changed and really saw politicians as a means to a policy end. And that’s where sort of I thought my life was going for a long time.”

Her life in media had been a fluke, “a complete departure from everything I had done.”

She was a contributor to the morning show on WRNX 100.9 FM in Amherst.

“I was a sidekick on a local radio station, “Morning Zoo.” I’d been doing landscaping. Turns out I was better at reading the news than doing landscaping.”

“So for me, it was something that I didn’t even think about once until I was past 25 and then just found that there was this other part of life that I really liked, and it was about explaining things.”

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