MSNBC will promote Chris Hayes from his “Up With Chris” weekend show, moving him into the critical 8 PM weeknight slot to face Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Ed Schultz is being moved to weekends from 5-7 PM. No news yet on who will replace Hayes on the weekends, although Ezra Klein’s name is always among the first floated in these intuitions. Hayes, who is an editor-at-large at The Nation, is a protege of Rachel Maddow.
Hopefully, Hayes will spend most of his day preparing for his show like Rachel Maddow does. Schultz focused on his radio show during the day to the detriment of his MSNBC show, which was obvious when he, like Al Sharpton, stumble on words and ideas.
“The change is predicated on the belief that MSNBC can win a wider audience with Mr. Hayes than it did with Mr. Schultz, a champion of the working class whose bluster didn’t always pair well with Ms. Maddow and the channel’s other prime-time program, ‘The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,’” the New York Times‘ Brian Stelter reports:
Mr. Hayes, on the other hand, is just as wonky as Ms. Maddow and Mr. O’Donnell, and is a regular contributor to both of their programs.
Mr. Hayes’s promotion was described by people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it had not been officially announced by the channel yet. Once it takes effect, Mr. Hayes, 34, will be the youngest host of a prime-time show on any of the country’s major cable news channels, all of which seek out youthful viewers but tend to have middle-aged hosts and a core audience made up of senior citizens. Of Mr. Schultz’s one million viewers last year, for example, only 249,000 were between the ages of 25 and 54.
Mr. Hayes is described to be as eager as anyone at MSNBC to beat Fox, even if the two channels don’t actually fight for the same viewers. His metamorphosis from a writer at The Nation magazine to a broadcaster began several years ago when he was signed up to be a part-time paid contributor to MSNBC. He impressed executives at the channel when he filled in for Ms. Maddow in 2011, and in September of that year he was given his weekend morning show, called “Up with Chris Hayes.”
“Up” doesn’t have a huge audience — it had about 139,000 viewers ages 25 to 54 last month — but it consistently beats CNN on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and it has been praised by media critics for allowing long, thoughtful conversations about politics and public policy, the kind rarely seen elsewhere on television.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.