Alex Wagner takes over Rachel Maddow’s time slot on MSNBC

A woman sits at a desk on a TV news set.
Rachel Maddow on the set of her prime-time MSNBC show.

Political analyst Alex Wagner is back full-time on MSNBC and will take over the host chair for the progressive-leaning news channel’s biggest star, Rachel Maddow, four days a week.

The NBCUniversal-owned channel announced Monday that Maddow will continue to host on Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern as she has since a new contract went into effect that reduces her on-air work load.

Wagner will host from Tuesday through Friday starting Aug. 16.

Wagner, 44, served as an opinionated MSNBC daytime host from 2011 to 2015 after regularly appearing as a political analyst. Her program was dropped when the channel — then under former NBC News Chairman Andy Lack — moved to emphasize breaking news in the daytime.


Wagner rejoined MSNBC as a senior political analyst and guest anchor in February.

The naming of Wagner will give some consistency to the MSNBC prime-time lineup, which had been using several different guest hosts on the nights Maddow did not appear.

Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist, the longest-running morning team on network TV, will be waking up the West Coast by filling the 6 a.m. Pacific slot.

April 1, 2022

Maddow agreed to a new contract with NBCUniversal last year that keeps her at the company through 2024. The company has confirmed that the deal gives her the opportunity to pursue a variety of TV, film and podcast projects while reducing her time at MSNBC.

Earlier this year, Maddow took a two-month hiatus to work on a film adaptation of “Bag Man,” her podcast and book about Spiro Agnew, who served as vice president during the Nixon administration and resigned in 1973 when he faced bribery charges dating back to his time as governor of Maryland.

Alex Wagner, seen here in New York in 2013, will take over the 9 p.m. Eastern hour on MSNBC Tuesday thru Friday in August.
Alex Wagner, seen here in New York in 2013, will take over the 9 p.m. Eastern hour on MSNBC Tuesday thru Friday in August.
(Astrid Stawiarz)

The host returned in mid-April but moved to a once-a-week schedule the following month.


Not having Maddow on daily has hurt MSNBC’s prime-time ratings. The 9 p.m Eastern hour is averaging 1.8 million viewers in 2022, according to data from Nielsen, down 30% from the previous year. The decline among viewers ages 25 to 54, the demographic most important to advertisers who buy news programming, is down 40%.

In addition to her work at MSNBC, Wagner was co-host and executive producer of Showtime’s political docu-series “The Circus.” She also served as a special correspondent for CBS News and co-host of “CBS This Morning: Saturday.” Previously, she was a senior editor at the Atlantic.

Wagner also served as a reporter for HuffPost, where she covered the economy.