Maddow to Moderate First Democratic Primary Debate

Rachel Maddow / Getty Images
June 11, 2019

Liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow will serve as one of the moderators for the Democratic primary debates later this month.

She will join NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt, Today host Savannah Guthrie, Meet The Press host Chuck Todd, and José Díaz-Balart of Telemundo in co-moderating the two nights of debates June 26 and 27. They will air on NBC stations across the country, as well as MSNBC and Telemundo.

Maddow is the only clear partisan on the list, delivering left-wing commentary nightly on The Rachel Maddow Show, consistently the most popular show on MSNBC. She closely covered the Russia investigation throughout its developments and occasionally veered into conspiracy theories, at one point saying the Russians were still in the middle of a covert influence operation after President Donald Trump took office.

She nodded along when fellow host Lawrence O'Donnell suggested Russian president Vladimir Putin planned a Syrian chemical attack in 2017 to boost Trump, and she also suggested former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was installed in the Trump administration as a Putin puppet.

Her influence in liberal media is unmistakeable. Multiple 2020 Democratic candidates have stopped by her show for in-depth interviews this year shortly after announcing their candidacies, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Cory Booker (D. N.J.), and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg (D.). MSNBC frequently broadcasts a commercial of Maddow asking them questions.

Due to the large Democratic primary field, there will be 10 different candidates appearing each night. The Democratic National Committee will determine the 20 who make it on the stage based on who meets its polling and donation thresholds.

Maddow co-moderated a Democratic debate with Todd in New Hampshire in 2016, drawing attention for hugging Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) afterward. She defended herself from conservative criticism afterward, saying she would hug the Republican candidates if she ever moderated a GOP debate.

The second set of debates will be held on CNN July 30 and 31, followed by the third debates Sept. 12 and 13 on ABC News.