I didn’t think I could love and admire Rachel Maddow any more than I already did. That is, until last Thursday night.
At the top of her cable-news hour, the MSNBC star anchor took the highly unusual step of getting extremely personal with her viewers as she revealed the hell that she had been living through these past weeks when her partner, Susan Mikula, became so ill from COVID-19 that the couple initially feared for her life.
While Maddow was exposed to the virus, she did not test positive on the day her partner did, and she continues to be disease-free. Maddow, who took a two-week break from her nightly broadcast, remains quarantined at home and doesn’t plan to return to the NBC studio until it is safe to do so. Maddow assured her viewers that though her partner was still sick, she was now headed toward a full recovery.
I applaud Maddow for being so bold and vulnerable in disclosing her personal struggles as a way to implore the public to be extra vigilant when protecting themselves and their loved ones against this dreadful virus.
If ever there was a more crucial public service case made by a media personality, it was Maddow’s. And the timing was significant coming in the run-up to the Thanksgiving holiday, when health experts are urging people not to gather in large groups, as they customarily do, to prevent the spread of the disease.
I also found it particularly touching how Maddow pronounced her unconditional love for her partner of 21 years — calling Mikula the “center of my universe” — as a way to drive home her message.
“Whatever you think of your own life,” she said, “and however much risk you are willing to take on for yourself, that’s not how this works. What you need to know is that whoever is the most important person in your life, whoever you most love and most care for and most cherish in the world, that’s the person who you may lose. Or who you may spend weeks up all night freaking out about and calling doctors all over the place.”
It’s heartening to know that highly influential figures like Maddow are willing to occasionally enlist the power of their public platforms in profound, positive ways that actually transcend the news of the day.
Now that’s good news.