Alex Wagner is succeeding Rachel Maddow as the weekday host of MSNBC’s 9 p.m. hour, four days a week.
A veteran political media journalist and personality, Wagner rejoined MSNBC this past February as a political analyst and guest-host in primetime, primarily filling in for Maddow and on occasion, Chris Hayes. The decision to name Wagner the 9 p.m. host, Tuesday-Friday, is significant, but not exactly surprising given she garnered some of the highest Nielsen ratings of any 9 p.m. guest host.
“I’m honored to be anchoring a key hour of television in such a critical time for American democracy,” Wagner said in a statement. “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.”
Wagner’s show debuts Aug. 16, and its name has not been announced.
Longtime MSNBC anchor/reporter Ali Velshi was also on the short list for the 9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday gig.
Concerning the format of Wagner’s new show, MSNBC president Rashida Jones told the New York Times, “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. I really want the takeaway from this show to be a better understanding of what’s happening in the world.”
Jones also told the Times that MSNBC would explore opportunities with Wagner to appear on NBCUniversal News Group streaming platforms, such as Peacock and NBC News Now.
CNN becomes the only one of the major three cable news networks without a permanent host of the weekday 9 p.m. hour, long considered the most hotly-contested timeslot in cable news.
As for Wagner, this is not her first stint at the network. She previously hosted Now with Alex Wagner, which debuted in 2011 and was canceled in July 2015. Wagner left MSNBC not long after the show’s cancelation and jumped to The Atlantic as a senior editor. Wagner then joined CBS News in Nov. 2016, where she served as a special correspondent at the network and co-host of CBS This Morning: Saturday. Wagner announced she would be leaving CTM: Saturday a year and a half later to co-host and executive produce the Showtime weekly political docuseries, The Circus. Wagner replaced Mark Halperin who was dropped from the show due to sexual harassment allegations.
Ahead of Wagner’s August debut, a rotation of MSNBC anchors will continue to host MSNBC Prime airing Tuesdays through Fridays at 9 p.m. ET. Rachel Maddow will continue to host The Rachel Maddow Show Mondays at 9 p.m. ET and join MSNBC for special coverage, breaking news events and specials on MSNBC and streaming.
Maddow, MSNBC’s most popular personality, announced earlier this year that she would be winding down the daily version of her show, which debuted in Sept. 2008. As part of the reported-$30 million per year contract extension she signed with NBCUniversal last summer, Maddow now has “the freedom to pursue a range of formats including film and TV series.” For instance, she served as executive producer on a Focus Features movie based on her book and award-winning podcast Bag Man, about a political bribery scandal involving former vp Spiro Agnew. She is also developing a new podcast and working on the launch of a production shop with former MSNBC president Phil Griffin—and has more projects in store.