New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter's Friday story -- adapted from a longer post on his "Media Decoder" blog -- relayed the changing of the prime time guard at the nation's most liberal news channel: "Weekend Host Chris Hayes to Take Over 8 P.M. Slot on MSNBC." Stelter praised Hayes for his "well-regarded morning program," crediting it for "long, thoughtful conversations about politics and public policy," though conservatives would question how deep that surface sheen of sophistication truly is.
Chris Hayes will take over the 8 p.m. time slot on MSNBC in the next month, the Comcast owned channel announced on Thursday, the day after the current host of that hour, Ed Schultz, said he was moving from the weekdays to the weekends.
Mr. Hayes, a liberal intellectual who has hosted a well-regarded weekend morning program on MSNBC for the past 18 months, is a protégé of Rachel Maddow, the highest-rated host on the channel. On April 1 he will become the lead-in for her 9 p.m. program, “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
The photo caption of Hayes confirmed that he is indeed a "liberal intellectual" (though not smart enough to avoid announcing over the 2012 Memorial Day weekend that he didn't like using the "hero" terminology for U.S. veterans -- Hayes later apologized).
The change is based 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.” Mr. Hayes, on the other hand, is just as policy-oriented as Ms. Maddow and Mr. O’Donnell, and is a regular contributor to both of their programs.
“Up” doesn’t have a huge audience -- it had about 139,000 viewers ages 25 to 54 last month -- but it consistently beats CNN, 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.
Left out of the print edition was this paragraph:
These conversations usually project a liberal worldview, in line with MSNBC as a whole. But Mr. Hayes and his producers also try to book guests who don’t often get on television, including conservatives; a recent discussion with Mr. Hayes and four conservatives lit up the blogosphere. “Add this segment to the list of reasons Chris Hayes’ Up has become the most interesting weekend political show in America,” wrote BuzzFeed at the time.
NB's Tim Graham mocked the Times' Alex Williams for her "precious" profile of Hayes in June 2012: "In less than a year on television (and with a chirpy voice, a weakness for gesticulation and a tendency to drop honors-thesis words like ‘signifier’ into casual conversation), Mr. Hayes has established himself as Generation Y’s wonk prince of the morning political talk-show circuit."
In February 2012, Stelter praised both Hayes and fellow liberal host Rachel Maddow as intellectual elites:
At MSNBC, “Morning Joe” with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski has become must-see television for politicians and journalists, while Ms. Maddow, a Rhodes scholar, has been lauded for her long, carefully argued essays. Recently, the channel has added several shows with similarities to those two, including “Now With Alex Wagner” at noon on weekdays and “Up w/ Chris Hayes” on the weekends.