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MSNBC changing Rachel Maddow with beforehand canceled Alex Wagner puzzles insiders: ‘No institutional reminiscence’

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MSNBC named Alex Wagner as Rachel Maddow’s timeslot substitute for the 4 days per week the community’s biggest star isn’t on the air, however insiders have questioned why execs would try to exchange Maddow with a beforehand canceled host who “by no means moved the needle on tv.” 

MSNBC completed the second quarter of 2022 with its smallest viewers among the many advertiser-coveted demographic of adults aged 25-54 since 2003. MSNBC’s almost two-decade low within the essential class got here throughout a jam-packed stretch of reports that included Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the Uvalde, Texas college capturing, and the start of the January 6 committee hearings. 

The second quarter additionally featured Maddow scaling back her workload to as soon as per week, as she started internet hosting “The Rachel Maddow Present” solely on Monday nights final month. NBC has chosen Wagner, a former MSNBC host, to exchange Maddow with a brand new program’s 9 p.m. ET time slot Tuesdays by means of Fridays starting in August. 

“Clearly there’s no institutional reminiscence at NBC,” a former high-level NBC Information staffer whose tenure overlapped with Wagner’s first MSNBC stint informed Fox Information Digital. 

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MSNBC named Alex Wagner as Rachel Maddow’s substitute 4 nights per week. 

MSNBC TAPS ALEX WAGNER TO FILL RACHEL MADDOW VOID DESPITE NETWORK’S HISTORY OF SCRAPPING HER PROGRAMS

“Alex Wagner’s 4 p.m. present there was a catastrophe each in rankings and behind the scenes the place it was recognized for chaotic administration,” the previous staffer continued. “The present was canceled, and she or he left and ended up at The Atlantic. That doesn’t occur for those who’re successful in cable information.” 

In 2015, MSNBC canceled her dayside program “Now” after a four-year run. On the time, MSNBC claimed Wagner’s present was amongst these lower as a part of a programming reshuffling with a view to shift daytime in the direction of straight information – however this system’s rankings weren’t precisely fascinating. Beforehand a panel-style present airing at 12 midday ET, its set-up was modified and moved to 4 p.m. in 2014, following the resignation of host Martin Bashir for his vitriolic remarks about Sarah Palin. 

“Now” averaged solely 384,000 whole viewers and a mere 55,000 among the many demo in its ultimate month to path Fox Information at 4 p.m.  ET by 218% in each classes. The 152 episodes of “Now” that aired in 2015 earlier than it was canceled averaged solely 328,000 whole viewers and 49,000 among the many demo to path Fox Information by over 280% in every measurable. 

Then in 2016, MSNBC scrapped a weekend present Wagner was set to launch after the community beforehand introduced this system. She joined The Atlantic as a senior editor that very same 12 months. 

MSNBC, CNN FACE GAPING HOLES IN PRIMETIME AFTER RACHEL MADDOW, CHRIS CUOMO SAGAS LEAVE 9 PM TIME SLOT UNSTABLE

Wagner can be recognized for her position on Showtime’s political documentary collection, “The Circus,” however that hasn’t been a rankings draw, both. The seventh season of “The Circus” averaged solely 183,000 whole viewers and 52,000 among the many demo to complete properly behind different Showtime packages akin to “Billions” and “First Woman.” The staunchly liberal Wagner has additionally labored at CBS Information. 

In the meantime, MSNBC’s primetime lineup shed 23% of its whole viewers and 40% among the many key demo in comparison with 2021 when Maddow was truly on 5 nights per week. 

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow only hosts the network’s 9 p.m.  ET program on Monday evenings after scaling back her workload. 

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow solely hosts the community’s 9 p.m.  ET program on Monday evenings after scaling again her workload. 
(Getty Photos)

Fourth Watch editor Steve Krakauer, a former CNN producer who now covers the media trade, feels the “weird association” isn’t going to resolve the network’s ratings issues.   

“I am positive Alex Wagner is a nice everlasting host for the 4 days Rachel Maddow will not be within the chair, however that is kind of the issue – the weird association the place Rachel Maddow hosts a weekly present that additionally occurs to be a weekday primetime hour appears completely untenable,” Krakauer informed Fox Information Digital. 

“By structuring the hour this manner, MSNBC is not giving its viewers the host it craves for greater than 20% of the week, whereas hampering Wagner or whoever received the job from having the ability to absolutely set up the hour for themselves,” he continued. 

Krakauer understands why MSNBC would try such a weird state of affairs, as Maddow stays the “undisputed rankings draw for the community, and in the event that they lose her completely they should primarily construct primetime from sq. one,” however he doesn’t suppose will probably be a profitable association. 

“Someday of Maddow is best than zero,” Krakauer stated. “However on this present set-up, I am unable to think about how anybody outdoors of a big-name rent will be capable of set up themselves sufficient to make a rankings affect. Exterior of Trump starting his 2024 marketing campaign this weekend, I do not see a means for MSNBC to regain its primetime rankings until Maddow decides to re-engage with the community, or leaves completely and permits them to rebuild from the bottom up.”

MSNBC FLOPS IN MAY: NETWORK HAD SMALLEST MONTHLY AUDIENCE SINCE 1999 AMONG VIEWERS COVETED BY ADVERTISERS 

Puck’s Dylan Byers, a former NBC reporter himself, lately penned a scathing examination of the scenario, noting that MSNBC brass has been cautious to “handle expectations” for Wagner. Byers wrote that Wagner being chosen to exchange Maddow “seems to replicate the restricted playing cards at MSNBC’s disposal” and criticized Jones for saying the community had an “unbelievable bench” in a latest interview. 

“That’s an odd factor to say when discussing a task that went to somebody who earlier present was canceled in 2015 and wasn’t even on the bench till a couple of months in the past,” Byers wrote. “The widespread standard knowledge amongst 30 Rock insiders and TV information veterans is that, on the subject of Maddow, MSNBC by no means had a bench.”

Rachel Maddow, who makes roughly $30 million per year, announced earlier this year that she would only host "The Rachel Maddow Show" once a week, on Monday evenings, so that she could focus on other projects. 

Rachel Maddow, who makes roughly $30 million per 12 months, introduced earlier this 12 months that she would solely host “The Rachel Maddow Present” as soon as per week, on Monday evenings, in order that she might give attention to different initiatives. 

Byers feels one clarification is that MSNBC “received complacent with [Maddow’s] success and her means to hold the primetime lineup and didn’t hassle to do the exhausting, years-long work of cultivating her substitute.”

He added that Wagner is “arguably the very best accessible choice” at this level, however that doesn’t imply she is going to draw viewers. The Puck Information senior correspondent stated many trade specialists have concurrently praised Wagner “whereas criticizing the transfer to anoint her” as Maddow’s substitute. 

“Wagner has by no means moved the needle on tv,” Byers wrote. “Maybe she finds a option to break by means of the noise; maybe MSNBC drifts into irrelevance whereas being managed for profitability.”

It is unclear why MSNBC brass expects Wagner to have higher luck attracting viewers than she did when her program was scrapped in 2015, however the former high-level worker who questioned the community’s “institutional reminiscence” snarked that NBCUniversal Information Group chairman Cesar Conde could be aiming to make pals in excessive locations. 

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In 2014 when Wagner was nonetheless internet hosting a daytime present on MSNBC, she married then-White Home chef Sam Kass in an elaborate ceremony attended by President Obama, first woman Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia. 

“Conde have to be hoping it will give him some social cache with Michelle Obama as a result of in any other case this rent is nonsensical,” the previous NBC Information staffer stated. 

All rankings information courtesy of Nielsen Media Analysis. 

Fox Information’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.  



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