What’s wrong with Rachel Maddow? A little ditty about paranoia

Want to know how paranoid I am not? Sure you do:

A week or so ago, Rachel Maddow apologized on her show because she was really sick and felt she was delivering her in-depth reporting in a fuzzy way–her head was cloudy from whatever ameliorating meds she’d taken.

She didn’t sound at all fuzzy. But the next night she was not at her desk. Ari Melber took over for her and explained she was sick and home recuperating.

Rachel was off for more than a week. I worried about her, because I don’t know of any illness–flu?–that’d lay somebody out for that long. She wasn’t coughing so not lung cancer, I figured.

I worried.

Then, reading one of the endless web news things I absorb to keep up with the minute-by-minute Horror unfolding around us, I saw a link to something like “What is really wrong with Rachel Maddow?”

Now, I happen to be one of those few people inoculated against clicking on things like “Remember Naomi Fein from the 1970s? Well, what she looks like now is CRAZY.” I don’t click on suggestive plugs about how to reduce bags under my eyes (I don’t have bags, I have dark circles), or how to insert my own penile implants.

Nothing but nothing reaches its tentacles around my mouse-hand and yanks me in to the abyss.

But. I was worried about Rachel and maybe whoever posted the item about her knew something. So I clicked on it.

It was a short, anxious musing from a woman who seemed respectable and she, too, was worried about Rachel because...if Putin could kill or poison opponents like Vladimir Kara-Murza, who had appeared on Rachel’s show, why would he not stoop to having someone poison Rachel whose really stunning coverage of the Russian Connection has been spell-binding and damning?

OMFG. I hadn’t thought of this. So the first thing I reckoned with was: wow does this demonstrate how non-paranoid I am.

Yet, I can’t attribute that woman’s concern entirely to paranoia. I want to, I desperately want to. But crazier things have happened in our world, crazier and dumber. (Did you read Masha Gessen’s terrific NYT essay on how we attribute brilliance to oversized figures who are not brilliant, and are not actually oversized? One striking note in Gessen’s piece was that she had actually interviewed Putin. Her take on him is withering.)

No, I don’t believe it, I believe it’s a bad flu.


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