Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night gave a long and familiar speech on the occasion of his convincing victory over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary. In addition to hitting his usual themes about a rigged campaign finance system and other social issues, Sanders noted that the people of New Hampshire had sent a message not only to the political establishment, but also to the “media establishment.”

Sanders’ rebuke of various establishments — and the rousing cheers from his supporters gathered in New Hampshire — stirred a bit of off-the-cuff commentary from MSNBC host Rachel Maddow during the network’s coverage of the primaries. After Sanders completed his windbagging, primary-night co-host Brian Williams chimed in with some shallow anchor-talk, and Maddow butted in with some commentary “as a self-proclaimed liberal”:

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People talk about the liberal media and they say the whole media is liberal and the whole establishment is liberal. It’s not true. If you really are a liberal, it’s been a long time in this country when you felt like mainstream politics had nothing to say to you, and that mainstream politics just was not about you. And I look at all these young people in particular out at this Bernie Sanders event: I was 19 in 1992 when Bill Clinton was running on the Democratic side, and at the 1992 Republican convention Pat Buchanan got up there and gave his ‘culture wars’ speech where he basically declared a crusade against minorities and particularly against gay people. And as a gay person watching that in 1992, I didn’t feel like Bill Clinton had my back, right? I didn’t feel like the Democratic Party had my back. He was talking about agreeing with Ronald Reagan that government was the problem and all that stuff.
If you are a liberal, you are not a majority in this country and you know it and it always feels that way. But this Democratic race with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigning this way against each other — that happened because Bernie Sanders got into this race. And all these kids who are enthused about this race — whether or not they’re supporting Bernie Sanders directly — are never going to feel like mainstream politics isn’t about them.

Those were some thoughts — perhaps too many thoughts for Williams. Luckily for him, there was a transition to execute: “And because so much of life is about timing, let’s go to Trump headquarters and his acceptance speech,” said the veteran anchor.

That was fun, and even interesting. On primary days, cable news — MSNBC very much included — tends toward the repetitive, the banal, the insufferable. Who’s up, who lost-won, who won-lost, who’s whatever. So for one host to whip up an extemporaneous synthesis of personal experience, history and politics — we’ll take it. Maddow’s role as a debate moderator last week drew some dissent, especially after she hugged the Democratic contenders after the questions were done. The industry’s orthodoxy dictates that those with opinions shouldn’t be running such straight-news events. Count me out of that strain of hollow thought. We’ll take Maddow over some “objective” drone every time; and on the other side of the cable spectrum, at Fox News, we’d cheer the more vigorous deployment of a strong voice like Sean Hannity, as well.

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