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Joy Reid, Al Sharpton, and Impeachment Mania: What to Watch on MSNBC During the Weekends

Weekend programming a different beast than the hectic nature of weekday cable news. It can be sparser, but it’s no less fascinating for the cable news junkie. Mediaite is here to offer a primer on what to expect from weekend offerings on cable news — kicking off with MSNBC.

This writer, it should be noted, is well immersed in the goings on of cable news on the weekend by virtue of being one of Mediaite’s weekend editors.

MSNBC’s weekend programming differs from the programming on CNN and Fox News, in that it relies heavily on block programming where major personalities on the network host two-hour shows throughout the day.

The named programs skew toward panel discussions or interviews with newsmakers, but some feature opinionated hosts.

The major shows to watch include:

Up with David Gura, which airs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST on both days

Up has gone through multiple incarnations at MSNBC, having debuted originally in 2011 with Chris Hayes as the host. After Hayes became a primetime host for weekday MSNBC in 2013, Steve Kornacki stepped in to host Up until the program went on hiatus in 2016. Kornacki can now be seen throughout various MSNBC shows filling the same role John King does on CNN when election coverage heats up.

Up was revived in 2018 with David Gura hosting. The show is guilty (like others on MSNBC) of making use of a stomach-churning quirk of the camera spinning around the table while the panel discusses the news of the day.

AM Joy, which airs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST on both days

Joy Reid has moderated this two-hour block since 2016, taking over shortly after the contentious exit of Melissa Harris-Perry and the cancellation of her eponymous show Melissa Harris-Perry, which debuted in 2012. Harris-Perry walked off the show due to frustrations that it would be frequently pre-empted for coverage of the 2016 election.

In recent weeks, NBC personalities like Ayman Mohyeldin and Jonathan Capehart have filled in for Reid when she has not been on the show.

Reid’s show is a big draw for weekend audiences, averaging nearly 1 million weekly viewers as recently as last year, according to The New York Times. At times, the show has done what I think should be done more with weekend programming: exploring the fringe of what kind of segments can be on cable news, like when Capehart hosted a “fireside chat” to read off Trump’s call with Ukraine.

Weekends with Alex Witt, which airs from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST on both days

Alex Witt has arguably been the most consistent part of MSNBC’s weekend lineup, although her show that debuted in 2011 has been moved around various time slots on Saturday and Sunday throughout the past decade. Weekends is similar in format to most other versions of MSNBC Live that air throughout the week and during weekends on MSNBC.

PoliticsNation, hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton, which airs from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on both days

Although PoliticsNation has existed in some form on MSNBC since 2011, the program moved to weekend nights in late 2018. It was airing weekend mornings until it was replaced by the David Gura incarnation of Up.

Sharpton’s show contains the most overt opinionated content of MSNBC’s weekend programming, and straddles an awkward line – with Sharpton being both the host on a news network and a political activist who frequently participates in newsworthy events.

Notably, he’s also the only former presidential candidate currently hosting a show on one of the big three networks – at least until Fox News decides to bring back Heartland with John Kasich.

Kasie DC hosted by Kasie Hunt, which airs on Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

This is another fairly new program for MSNBC weekends, and is distinct in that it only airs on Sunday nights (Saturday nights don’t have a Kasie DC and instead opts for reruns of shows covering now day-old news). The show began in 2017 with Hunt as the host, recently celebrating the anniversary of it’s first air date and frequently boasting an impressive guest list of presidential candidates and politicians every week – on par with weekday MSNBC programming.

The show has a Washington D.C. focus — featuring heavy hitter reporters like Jonathan Swan of Axios — that makes it a must watch for political junkies looking to get a head start on the week.

It is also unfortunately guilty of the spinning camera thing that gives me nausea from time to time, but alas.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, MSNBC also airs various blocks of MSNBC Live anchored by Kendis Gibson and Richard Lui when not airing named programs. Lui and Gibson are also on hand to anchor breaking news that merits interruptions of scheduled programming, like when New York City plunged into a blackout over the summer – which, to be fair, caused all of the major networks to suspend their regular programming for hours to talk about a few dozen blocks of Manhattan losing electricity.

There were also a number of shows that ended for some reason or another and were not replaced, with Donny Deutsch’s Saturday Night Politics being the most recent example. Deutsch’s show was replaced by a re-run of Friday’s episode of All In with Chris Hayes, with an extra hour of MSNBC Live added on earlier in the evening to supplement.

The network has also set aside a three-hour Sunday night block for documentaries and special programming like special coverage on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The impeachment-focused special hosted by Ari Melber has been a hit in the ratings – showing there is a big audience for weekend programming, which is what I continually tell myself while writing articles about weekend programming.

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