Rachel Maddow’s Chief Critiques of SOTU Are Improper Grammar, Syntax

February 6, 2019

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, one of cable news' ratings leaders, focused her criticism of the State of the Union Tuesday night on President Donald Trump’s grammar and syntax.

It was a notably narrow focus for a TV host who spends most nights on more elaborate and provocative criticism of Trump and his administration. She’s on the forefront of speculating about Russian actions in America, but Trump’s speech last night evidently did not give her a great deal of material.

Immediately following the speech, she quoted sentences from Trump’s speech verbatim and analyzed the grammatical structure.

"‘An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.’ Obviously the structure of the sentence is weird, but that’s the way it was written for the president; that is the way that he delivered it," Maddow said. "And then I think what they are hoping is a bumper sticker: ‘If there is going to be peace and legislation’—again, weird structure—’there cannot be war and investigation.’ It was tacked on like a little hat on a horse."

She also found it curious that the speech was structured to transition from talk of investigations to his promise to make good judicial appointments.

"And awkwardly, the thing it actually segued into in the speech was the part where he talked about wanting to confirm more judges and sentencing reform," she said.

After MSNBC’s coverage of Democrat Stacey Abrams’ response to the State of the Union, Maddow returned to her grammatical line of inquiry into Trump's address.

"One of the things that I find unusual about this portion of the speech is that it is written improperly in terms of its grammar and syntax in a way that was intended by the White House," Maddow said. "And actually, the remarks the we got from the White House include some phonetic pronunciations, telling him [how] to pronounce ‘chemo’ – it's spelled out for him K-E-E-M-O."

Later in the night, Maddow and her MSNBC colleagues admitted they have also used phonetic pronunciations in her Teleprompter.