Viewers of The Circus, whose eighth season premiered in late February 2023, have noted that Alex Wagner, a staple of the show since its third season, is missing from the documentary series. Wagner left the show in the middle of the seventh season, last appearing in the eighth episode. This piece explores what Alex Wagner is up to. 

Alex Wagner is determined to make Alex Wagner Tonight on MSNBC successful

Alex Wagner left Showtime’s The Circus to host Alex Wagner Tonight on MSNBC at 9 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday. Wagner’s co-hosts on The Circus said they weren’t surprised she had received and accepted an offer to host a prime-time segment. 

“She [Wagner] is very good at making television,” Jennifer Palmieri told The Cut in August 2022. “She knows how to use that medium to tell a compelling story.”

Wagner, who isn’t as famous as her predecessor Rachel Maddow, has done well in attracting viewers to her show. She told Forbes that her show’s in-depth analysis of news keeps viewers interested:

“What was established at 9 p.m. was that you can do something that’s really meaningful, that might seem wonky or too academic, and people will love it. They will respond. I think that has taught us a great lesson about the tastes of our viewers.”

The top brass at MSNBC gave Alex Wagner the license to build her own show. She’s performed admirably since taking over from Rachel Maddow and feels the best is yet to come. Wagner told Forbes:

“The news doesn’t stop for someone to sort of figure out how to do the best cable news hour they can. And in the environment that we’ve been working, which has been extraordinary, to say the least, I’m really proud of what we’ve done in the last six months, and I feel great about the road that lies ahead.”

Wagner’s future at MSNBC seemed uncertain following a drop in viewership numbers

Everyone knew that viewership numbers would drop after Alex Wagner replaced Rachel Maddow. However, few predicted that the ratings would drop as sharply as they did. According to CNN Business, Wagner’s show lost 50% of Maddow’s audience in the key 25-54 advertising demographic. 

“A 50 percent drop in the key 25-54 demo is 50 percent drop in your billable viewer,” a former TV executive said. “Imagine running a store or restaurant and losing 50 percent of your billable customers. Not your looky-loos. Your paying customers.”

Per Deadline, Wagner said she wouldn’t try to ape Maddow’s personality; she would remain loyal to her style and hope that audiences would respond. “There is no one else like Rachel Maddow. Woe be to those who try to mimic her style, and I am certainly not going to be one of them,” Wagner said. 

MSNBC president Rashida Jones expressed confidence in Wagner, telling Vanity Fair: “Rachel has been doing this for a long time, and it takes time to build an audience in that way. Our metric isn’t Rachel’s numbers or bust. It’s more about: How do we continue to add to the conversation?”

The network’s decision to show faith in Wagner paid off – her show ranks second at 9 p.m., bested by Fox’s Hannity and beating CNN’s show. “I think MSNBC gave me an extraordinarily beautiful amount of room to make the show my own and to figure out what it was all about,” Wagner told Forbes

Wagner turned around her fortunes while raising two young children. She talked to Glamour about advice she received that helped her balance family and work: 

“Try and set aside mom guilt as much and as often as you can. Because what you’re doing for your family as a working mother – not just financially, but in terms of role modeling for your kids – is equally as important.”