Why Rachel Maddow Isn't on MSNBC Tonight

Journalist Alex Wagner's new MSNBC show debuts Tuesday night, replacing Rachel Maddow at 9 p.m. ET. Wagner, who rejoined NBC News in February following a four-season stint at CBS News and Showtime's The Circus, will host Alex Wagner Tonight four times a week. The Rachel Maddow Show will now only air on Mondays.

Maddow, 49, took a long break from hosting her show from February to April. When she returned, she told her viewers her new contract with NBCUniversal lets her host only once a week while she focuses on other projects, like podcasts and movies. "I do still have all these other irons in the fire, all these other things I'm working on that I want to bring to fruition, none of them are fast, all of them take a long time, and I'm still working on all of them," Maddow told viewers.

MSNBC named Wagner Maddow's successor in late June, picking Aug. 16 as the premiere date for her show. Wagner, 44, hosted Now with Alex Wagner from 2011 to 2015, and she left MSNBC in 2016, months before joining CBS News. She appeared on CBS This Morning Saturday and co-hosted The Circus for Showtime. Wagner returned to the NBC News fold in February, filling in for Maddow and Chris Hayes before she was named Maddow's full-time successor four times a week.

Maddow has built a large audience in the 14 years she hosted her show, and Wagner hopes many of them tune in for her broadcast. "A lot of people watch Rachel Maddow... and hopefully many of those same people will come out and watch the rest of the week," she told the Associated Press. Wagner is also working with members of Maddow's staff and hopes to have Maddow on as a guest.

Although Wagner is inspired by Maddow's passion for exhaustive investigative pieces, she isn't going to replicate Maddow's long opening monologues. "Rachel is incomparable and woe to anybody who tries to duplicate what she does," she told the AP. "Because that's an impossibility. I would never try."

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Wagner also hopes to bring in some of her other interests outside of politics. Long before she worked at NBC News, Wagner was the editor-in-chief of The Fader music and culture magazine. "We're always going to make sure our audience understands what's happening in the world and our country that day, but I hope that we can widen the lens a little bit in terms of voices and, to some degree, stories that we cover," she said.

In her Deadline interview, Wagner said her show will be different from Maddow's since it would just be impossible to replicate her. "We are trying to figure out the ways we can carry through some of the incredible intellectual rigor and informative analysis that Rachel has established in the 9 p.m. hour, and how we can make a through-line with what we do Tuesday through Friday, and also add in some new elements that are reflective of my experience," she explained. "It's been a lot of brainstorming, a lot of meetings. We're not throwing spaghetti against the wall. It's a more deliberative process than that."