…is how New York Times TV ctitic Alessandra Stanley, in her mostly-positive review today of The Rachel Maddow Show, describes Maddow’s peers at the cable network. Writes Stanley:

Her program adds a good-humored female face to a cable news channel whose prime time is dominated by unruly, often squabbling schoolboys; Ms. Maddow’s deep, modulated voice is reassuringly calm after so much shrill emotionalism and catfights among the channel’s aging, white male divas.

“Good debate,” Stanley contends,” isn’t just dueling talking points, it’s a clash of personalities and ideology in the same room.” (“Good debate” on cable news?) Stanley points to a “bracing” exchange recently between (“aging diva”) Pat Buchanan and Maddow (“one of the rare occasions when Ms. Maddow takes on an adversary”). I’ve often enjoyed the Buchanan v. Maddow moments during MSNBC’s campaign coverage this year. They have been, sometimes, educational and entertaining and, yes, “bracing.”

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.