As the New York Times reported today, Chris Hayes, the Nation editor-turned-MSNBC-weekend-host, will be moving from his Saturday and Sunday morning show to take over the 8 PM primetime slot on the network, replacing Ed Schultz, who will shift to the weekends. It’s a great development for people who like their news wonky rather than driven by a culture of gaffes and win-the-cycle mentality. And it’s also good news for another group of people: Hayes’ roster of guests, who will get exposed to a much bigger audience in primetime.
As Rob Savillo reports at Media Matters, Hayes’ show has booked strikingly more diverse guests than any of its competitors on Sunday morning. From January 6 of this year to March 10, the breakdown looks like this:
Up With Chris Hayes is close to booking white men in proportion to their actual presence in the U.S. population, 41 percent to 39 percent. All the other morning weekend shows on other networks are booking mixes of guests that are more than 60 percent white and male.
What’s important about this isn’t just that Hayes’ show could compete with other primetime news coverage by drawing in audiences eager for a different tone in news coverage, and eager to see experts who look like themselves on screen. It’s that the show demonstrates the lie that other shows aren’t diverse just because the pools of people available to pontificate on cable news are largely white and male. Even if they are, Hayes and his bookers have been able to find engaging guests with good insights who are capable of performing well on camera who aren’t primarily white guys. And if they can, the question is why everyone else seems to be having so much trouble? It’s one thing to go along with the accepted status quo in your industry without interrogating it. It’s another one entirely to be caught out as lazier than your competition, which has beaten you at something like representing a wider spectrum of opinions, experiences, and backgrounds, just by trying.