Rachel Maddow takes home John Steinbeck

When I say “Rachel Maddow,” who’s the first person you think of? (Hint: It’s not yourself naked in her bed.)

How about John Steinbeck? I know, me neither. At least not until I heard that Rachel received the prestigious Steinbeck Award earlier this week.

The John Steinbeck Award: “In the souls of the people” (a phrase from Grapes of Wrath) goes to writers, artists, thinkers and activists whose work “captures the spirit of Steinbeck’s empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of people who by circumstances are pushed to the fringes.”

That certainly describes Rachel. John’s son Tom thinks that his dad would view her in much the same way he did Walter Cronkite, as a man who could “inevitably winnow the kernels of empirical truth from the chaff of private political ambition, misdirection and cultural manipulation and do so with such good humor and honest concern for his fellow Americans that he never made enemies, even among those of different political persuasions. With full knowledge of my father’s unique instincts, tastes and preferences in such matters, I believe John Steinbeck would, if he were still among us, personally present Rachel Maddow with any award he could lay his hands on just for the opportunity to meet and talk with her.”

Presentation of the award came at the end of a lengthy interview of Rachel by KGO Radio host Pat Thurstonand MSNBC has made the whole thing available to us to share with you. This is one of the best hours I’ve spent all week; my crush on Rachel Maddow is bigger than ever. Enjoy.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Rachel is the third female to receive the Steinbeck Award (Joan Baez and Dolores Huerta were Nos. 1 and 2) and the first recipient under 40. Join us in congratulating Dr. Maddow.