MSNBC announced Monday that it is giving the network's coveted 9 p.m. ET daily slot, formerly held by Rachel Maddow, to Showtime's docu-series "The Circus" co-host Alex Wagner.
"I am absolutely thrilled and honored and generally upside down with excitement to come back home to MSNBC to host the 9 p.m. hour, beginning Aug. 16," she said in a post on Twitter. "Let's do this."
The New York Times reported Monday that MSNBC President Rashida Jones said that Wagner's experience covering politics would be "crucial" for that network's midterm election coverage.
"This is not a show where our hair is on fire and we're yelling past each other, and we're creating these manufactured moments of tension," Jones told the Times. "I really want the takeaway from this show to be a better understanding of what's happening in the world."
Maddow, whose signature show led the network's ratings during the last several years, negotiated for more time to do independent projects, and left the broadcast for a period earlier this year.
Her absence caused a 28% loss in prime-time viewers between 2020 and 2021, dropping from 2.13 million to 1.53 million, and a loss in the "key" demographic of adults aged 25-54 of 39%, dropping from 356,000 to 216,000, according to Adweek.
Maddow's departure from the show left the network with extremely big shoes to fill, leading to speculation who it might put up to bring the audience back.
Wagner, 44, had a prior daytime show on the network that debuted in 2011 and was canceled in 2015 when the network changed its daytime lineup to make room for Brian Williams return to broadcasting following a suspension from NBC for lying about stories.
She went on to work from 2016-18 as an anchor at CBS News and then became the co-host of Showtime's "The Circus."
While Jones told the Times that she wants the new show, which is scheduled to air Tuesday-Friday at 9 p.m. starting August 16, will be part of reshaping the network and include streaming, podcasts, and newsletters.
"It's no secret that the audiences on cable are changing, and changing quickly," Jones said in the Times article. "It's still a big part of the audience that consumes MSNBC, but we've really been focused on, how do we take that deep connection and bring it to new places?"
Like her predecessor, Wagner's political leanings are to the left, with recent tweets criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week to reverse Roe v. Wade.
"Abortion has been co-opted by groups of American men -- doctors, politicians and activists -- to gain leverage, win power and otherwise subjugate women for literally 200 years," she said in a May 4 post on Twitter after a leaked draft of the court's decision became public.
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