An Afternoon with Rachel Maddow

KidScoop Media Correspondent had an opportunity to meet MSNBC journalist Rachel Maddow. (Photo by Michelle Mayans)

By Lotte Ennis, 12 years old,

KidScoop Media Correspondent

On October 22, 2023, Rachel Maddow, a well-known MSNBC journalist and political commentator, came to Los Angeles to speak at the Robert Frost Auditorium  about her new book, Prequel. And I got to interview her.

I arrived a few hours before her talk began. Once I got there, the lines were already around the block! It was obvious that everyone was very excited to see her. We bypassed the line and met with KidScoop Media’s executive director Michelle Mayans and Ella, my fellow kid reporter on this assignment. We prepared ourselves, reviewing our questions aloud and stealing our nerves (of which I had many). Eventually, Maddow’s publicist came out and waved us in. My heart almost jumped into my throat as we walked behind the stage. We turned a corner and saw a doorway leading into her dressing room. Sitting at the edge of a long wooden table was Rachel Maddow. 

We introduced ourselves and sat down, then jumped right into the questions about Prequel, which covers America’s battle against fascism. I asked her how she learned about this chapter of American history, and why she thinks it hasn’t been more known. It turns out that while she was researching antisemitism, she came across the sedition trial and went from there. She also explained to us how it’s a very uncomfortable part of history and that Americans probably don’t like to think or talk about it as much. The more comfortable idea is that Nazis are bad, then America banded together and defeated the Nazis. However, as Maddow explains, “The idea that instead we have to fight Americans who are on that side, too, just feels less comfortable for us as Americans.” 

We asked about guidance in confronting climate change, she pointed out how this story is a great example. The most influential people were siding with Hitler as he took control of Europe. Over 80% of the U.S. didn’t want to fight in the war. And yet, “People stood up and did the right thing and turned it back.”

After 20 minutes, we wrapped up and thanked her for her time. We walked to our seats, and at around 4:30, the talk began. She started with a message about Henry Ford. Not many people know he was antisemitic. Even fewer know that he actively bought newspapers to write solely about the “problems “they” were causing. He blamed everything on the Jews. 

There was a copy of one in every new Ford car sold. Eventually, he expanded to writing the newspapers into books. Four huge volumes were made and distributed throughout the world, one of which landed in Germany. Adolph Hitler once said that one of his inspirations was Henry Ford, a man whose painting hung in Hitler’s office. 

After Maddow’s Introduction, journalist Jacob Soboroff went on stage to ask her questions. They went over all sorts of things, not just her book. When talking about her personal life, she described her office with lots of news clippings as “a little shop of horrors.” She also explained how she titled her book Prequel not because there was a previous threat to democracy, but because regular people were standing up and these are ways we should learn from them.

Later on in the talk, audience members were able to submit questions on paper for the organizer of the event to ask Maddow. We were able to submit one of the questions that we weren’t able to ask privately. It was about which generation would have the most impact in the coming election. She answered that the younger generation’s movement against climate change would model future democracy, but that the older generations, in their 60s and 70s, would be the best to talk to about problems like fascism. They’re wiser because they know how bad things can get. But we can stay hopeful that we won’t need much of that wisdom.