MSNBC has chosen political news veteran Alex Wagner to follow Rachel Maddow as the daily host of its 9 p.m. hour four days a week. In doing so, the network is filling one of the most critical time slots on its schedule with someone with Wagner’s extensive experience.
Ms. Wagner, who is 44 years old, is well established in the Washington journalistic scene and has her beginnings in progressive news and opinion sources. She worked for MSNBC as a host of a daytime show for several years before returning to the channel in February as a senior political analyst and guest-anchor during prime time, filling in for Ms. Maddow and Chris Hayes. During her time at MSNBC, she covered a variety of topics, including politics, entertainment, and pop culture.
Rashida Jones, the president of the channel, said in an interview that Ms. Wagner’s expertise covering politics will be essential as the network prepared to cover the midterm elections this autumn.
According to MSNBC, Ms. Wagner is the first Asian American to anchor a prime-time news show on a cable television network.
A contract was negotiated with Ms. Maddow, MSNBC’s most popular anchor, last year that reduced the amount of time she spent presenting shows on the station. She will continue to present “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Monday nights at 9 p.m., when the show’s title will continue to be “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Beginning on the 16th of August, Ms. Wagner will begin hosting a programme that airs at that hour on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. There has been no decision made on the title of her programme.
A cornerstone of the prime-time roster, the 9 o’clock hour is now only one component of a more comprehensive programming plan that now includes television, streaming services, podcasts, and newsletters. In recent years, MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN have all established their own versions of video-streaming services in response to growing worry within the industry as a whole over the gradual decline in cable TV viewing.
In spite of the rising focus on developing formats, however, conventional television continues to dominate the field of cable news broadcasting. The movement of advertising expenditures away from conventional television has been sluggish, and prime-time viewing is still used as a measure of success in an industry that is obsessed with numbers. Television distribution partnerships struck with cable providers such as Comcast and Charter continue to be significant sources of revenue for cable news networks. The new owners of CNN terminated the network’s streaming service in April.
Ms. Jones stated that MSNBC would look to build the network’s overall brand on a variety of different distribution platforms rather than focusing on traditional TV. This strategy is one that has been echoed by Chris Licht, the new chairman of CNN, who has stated that CNN will also look to expand beyond traditional TV.
Ms. Jones said that “it is not a secret that the audiences who watch cable television are changing, and changing rapidly.” “It’s still a significant portion of the audience that watches MSNBC, but we’ve really been concentrating on the question of how we can take that profound connection and bring it to new locations,”
Ms. Jones said that MSNBC will investigate the possibility of Ms. Wagner appearing on one of the streaming services owned and operated by NBCUniversal, such as Peacock. Peacock already broadcasts many other MSNBC programmes, such as “Morning Joe” and “All In With Chris Hayes,” several hours after they first run on the MSNBC cable channel.
It was said by Ms. Jones that she did not discuss the matter of Ms. Maddow’s replacement with her. Ms. Jones said that Ms. Wagner had been on the short list to host the 9 p.m. hour on MSNBC for a number of months; however, she refused to provide information of the discussions.
In the course of her meandering journalistic career, Ms. Wagner has worked for print, internet, and television venues. Ms. Wagner, who was born and raised in Washington, District of Columbia, has held positions as a cultural reporter for the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, as a co-host for the political docuseries “The Circus” on Showtime, and at The Atlantic.
The history of Ms. Wagner’s association with MSNBC extends back more than ten years. Since its inception in 2011, she has presided over the daily talk programme “Now With Alex Wagner.” It was terminated in 2015 when the network shifted its daytime programming to focus more on providing straightforward news coverage and less on offering opinions.
Ms. Wagner is married to Sam Kass, a former chef in the White House who became good friends with Barack and Michelle Obama. Ms. Wagner graduated from Brown University in 1999. Sam Kass is a personal friend of the Obamas.