OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
MSNBC has selected Alex Wagner to succeed Rachel Maddow as host of its nightly program.
The network announced that Maddow would continue hosting her show on Mondays, but that Wagner would be the permanent host of the 9 PM ET show on Tuesday through Friday nights.
Many might recognize Wagner, a former MSNBC anchor, given she returned to the network earlier this year as a political analyst and guest anchor. She has also been co-host of Showtime’s “The Circus.”
“I’m honored to be anchoring a key hour of television in such a critical time for American democracy,” Wagner said. “In many ways, the stakes have never been higher, and there’s no better place to explore this moment than MSNBC. I’m thrilled to be coming home.”
Rachel Maddow gets a backfill —
Alex Wagner, 44, the ex-MSNBC daytime host who returned this year, steps in for the network's primetime star
Alex Wagner to take over Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC timeslot
Alex Wagner, a former MSNBC daytime host who returned to the network earlier t… pic.twitter.com/FzBiT0ZT6L
— Jennifer Brady (@Jennife69808887) July 7, 2022
Wagner was previously canceled after she failed to attract an audience and “never moved the needle on television.”
Industry insiders are questioning why executives would attempt to replace the network’s biggest star with Wagner.
A former high-level NBC News staffer said, “Clearly there’s no institutional memory at NBC.”
“Alex Wagner’s 4 p.m. show there was a disaster both in ratings and behind the scenes where it was known for chaotic management,” the former staffer continued. “The show was canceled, and she left and ended up at The Atlantic. That doesn’t happen if you’re a success in cable news.”
During a segment on her show last month, Maddow announced that she would only host her show on the network once a week while she continues to work on “other projects.”
Essentially, Maddow is being paid $30 million per year and is only hosting her program once a week. And her show is tanking in the ratings, which is costing the network even more money.
Media critic Jeffrey McCall believes MSNBC executives are very worried about Maddow only hosting the show once a week and how the ratings have fallen off a cliff.
“MSNBC execs have to be concerned by this weak primetime showing. Maddow’s show has for a long time been a tent pole for MSNBC’s entire evening, delivering audiences for the 9 p.m. hour, but also boosting viewership in the hours before and after,” McCall said.
“With Trump out of office for almost a year and a half now, it is hard to generate ratings by raging about Trump. Further, with the multiple policy problems of the Biden administration, it is difficult to generate a left-leaning audience to watch the daily parade of bad news about inflation, crime, international turmoil, and so on, even when there is a left-of-center spin on those topics,” McCall said. “Those left-leaning viewers are choosing to just avoid news programming these days, even in venues that are sympathetic to the Biden administration.”
“Sensible viewers see more practical problems right in front of them every day in gas prices, inflation, sinking retirement accounts, baby formula shortages, and the list goes on,” McCall added.
Maddow announced back in February that she would be taking a hiatus.
“I’m going to take a little bit of time off from this show to go help with the movie. And also to work on a few other things that I have cooking with NBC right now, including a new podcast,” Maddow said.
“So just like late-night hosts sometimes go on hiatus in their shows, I’m going to go on hiatus for a little bit here from this show so I can work on some of those other projects,” she added. “In addition to the movie, the Bag-Man movie, and the podcast that I’m working on, the paperback of the Bag Man book is also coming out in just a few weeks, it’s coming out in April, and there’s an adaptation of a different book that I want to try to make for TV as well that I’ve just started working on. There’s all this stuff I’ve been working on that I want to… work some more on.”
Interestingly enough, MSNBC just hired former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, adding fuel to rumors that she could one day replace Maddow.