"I'm about to do something which is a little controversial for cable news," Maddow began, before warning viewers, "I'm about to praise a rival news network."
Her comments came during a segment in which she criticized the CIA's track record on letting American policymakers know what other countries are doing. Just one example, Maddow said, was "when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed [and] the CIA really did learn about it on CNN."
At the beginning of the show, she replayed former Congressman James Traficant's 1997 speech in which he urged Congress to fire the CIA and hire CNN instead. "Maybe we will learn what is happening in the world," Traficant had said, explaining that Americans found out about "the collapse of the Soviet Union, the "fall of the Berlin Wall" and "Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait on CNN."
Maddow, recalling these glory days, said: "CNN today is not what it used to be, but once upon a time CNN really was the only cable news network and they really did have a singular role in keeping people informed about what was going on not only around the country but around the world."