Burmese American journalist Alex Wagner is set to become the only Asian American to host a prime-time cable news channel program starting on Aug. 6.
Wagner will succeed Rachel Maddow during MSNBC’s prime-time slot at 9 p.m. for four days a week.
“Alex Wagner in the 9 p.m. hour was a clear choice. Her unique perspective – built on more than two decades in journalism – and tenacious reporting in the U.S. and abroad will help our audiences contextualize what matters,” Jones said in a statement. “I am looking forward to watching Alex thrive in MSNBC’s primetime lineup.”
Wagner, 44, will host her own show at 9 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday, succeeding Maddow, 49, who announced in April that she would be scaling back her duties at MSNBC after signing a deal with NBCUniversal. Maddow will still host “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Mondays at 9 p.m.
Speaking to The New York Times, Jones said Wagner’s experience reporting on politics will be significant for MSNBC, especially considering that the upcoming midterm elections will occur this fall.
“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.”
Jones also noted that Maddow was not consulted on her successor.
A graduate of Brown University in 1999, Wagner, who was initially an analyst for MSNBC, hosted “Now With Alex Wagner” at the network from 2011 until its cancellation in 2015 when MSNBC pivoted to breaking news coverage for its daytime lineup. Wagner joined “CBS This Morning Saturday” as a co-anchor in 2016.
During her interview with Variety, Jones said that Wagner has “got something to say,” adding that “She pulls in perspective. She brings in some of the context throughout her discussion.”
“She knows politics. She knows everything from foreign policy to culture,” Jones continued.
“I’m honored to be anchoring a key hour of television in such a critical time for American democracy,” Wagner told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
MSNBC stated that Wagner will be the only Asian American host of a prime-time cable news channel program. Previous prime-time Asian American news anchors and hosts include Joie Chen, who co-anchored the show “The World Today” in the late ‘90s to early 2000s, and Connie Chung, who hosted CNN’s “Connie Chung Tonight” in 2002 and 2003.