MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow draws huge crowd to Free State Brewery in downtown Lawrence

All eyes on restaurant for show's filming

Rachel Maddow hosted her MSNBC show at Free State Brewery on Wednesday, discussing current national and state issues, such as union rights and abortion rights. Maddow said she has been following the ethics hearings of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline.

Nothing’s the matter with Kansas.

That was one message MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow told the standing-room-only audience at Free State Brewery Wednesday night, when the political commentary show broadcast the hour-long program, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” live from the downtown business.

Maddow addressed several national and state issues, including union rights, gay rights and the state of abortion practice in Kansas following the murder of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.

“There’s a very interesting question about how we handle this issue as Americans that’s about not just what social movements do, but how governments react,” Maddow said. “And when people are victimized by radical social movements, does government protect those victims or does government take the side of the people who are victimizing them?”

Maddow, who has been following the ethics hearings of former anti-abortion Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline in Topeka, said she thought Kline’s was an interesting case study of government not siding with victims, but rather victimizing them further.

Kaitie Pestock, who works at Free State Brewery, 636 Mass., said it had been interesting to watch the crew set up during the day. While the airing of the show coincided with the 22nd birthday of the downtown restaurant, Pestock said the choice of location was logical.

“They’re the show, we’re the venue,” she said. “We’ve got the space to do this.”

Maddow said the decision to air the show live from Lawrence was even simpler than that.

“Honestly the reason we ended up in Lawrence is because our Kansas producers love Lawrence,” she said.

And the crowd loved the show back, applauding and cheering when they felt it appropriate. Maddow, who told the crowd after the show she’d likely be back, said the local experience was one she enjoyed.

“The people could not be cooler,” Maddow said. “I feel like I’m among friends, and it’s been a joy.”