In the fast-paced and fickle world of cable news, dramatic programming changes have come to be expected. Networks are willing to try new ideas and push the envelope, but are just as quick to abandon ship if they don’t achieve the desired results.
Add to this the improbable selection of a virtually unknown journalist as news anchor, with an innovative but untested show concept. And perhaps most perplexing… place the show at a time slot so early that viewers literally have to set their alarm clocks to see it. All of these ingredients could have spelled certain disaster for MSNBC, but as it turned out, the 8am (7am for us devoted Central Timers!) news program Up with Chris Hayes was one of the best decisions the network has ever made.
The show started on September 17th, 2011, and quickly set itself apart with a fresh new take on political talk. As a 2-hr panel discussion, Chris Hayes created a format that had the luxury of deciphering issues with more breadth and depth than the prime-time hourlies without getting caught in the whims of the breaking news cycle. Hayes had the ability to explore issues that were not only pushed aside, but to shine an important light on issues that were sometimes missed entirely. A particular topic that stands out was a thoughtful discussion about wage abuse in the American restaurant industry, and how workers continue to be underpaid thanks to our tradition of tipping. When discussion of the environment seemed all but missing during the 2012 Presidential race, and often glazed over by most of the national news media, Hayes and his brave show pursued climate change and kept it at the forefront of the national conversation. Up “went there” and often times gave a much needed voice to the voiceless.
And yes, on occasion Mr. Hayes and his staff would even break some major news. Take this example they uncovered of GOP Congressman Paul Ryan, a self-professed Conservative budget hawk arguing for why the government MUST spend money during a recession. It exposed Ryan as a sometime Keynesian… at least when politically convenient. This clip was brought to the national consciousness thanks to the hard-working team at Up.
Finally, who could forget one of the most epic analogies to date on political television, when Hayes commented on the disturbing trend of isolationism and falsification within Conservative news media polling. He accused them of breaking rapper Biggie Smalls’ fourth crack commandment… Never get high on your own supply.
As if all of this weren’t enough, Up with Chris Hayes even started a new tradition. With each airing of the show the popular hashtag #uppers would immediately trend worldwide on Twitter, and has now become a significant force within the Liberal lexicon. And all of these feats were achieved in a mere eighteen months.
Many MSNBC viewers are excited for what lies ahead… Steve Kornacki will take the reigns for Up’s next chapter, and many are excited to see Hayes forge a new prime time venture in the network’s coveted 8pm weekday prime time slot. Great things lie ahead for MSNBC. But in it’s short history, Up with Chris Hayes is a program that deserves reflection and appreciation.
So to thee Mr. Hayes, thanks for the fascinating chapter in political commentary, and we anxiously await the next one. Though ye may be no longer on UP, ye olde fans shouldst join thee to ‘Sup.
A new tradition? #suppers