Friday, March 15, 2013
MSNBC host Alex Wagner: Fear of anti-Semitism charge inhibits 'robust discussion' about Israel
Wagner, an up-and-coming star of the left-leaning news network and the host of the daily “NOW with Alex Wagner” program, said Israel is a “very important and potent subject that people are genuinely curious about, but are perhaps not educated enough about it or are trepidatious about tackling it.”
“I think it’s incredibly tricky to talk about this unless you are incredibly fluent on the issue and you have a nuanced and comprehensive grasp of what’s going on,” she said.
And the domestic agenda, she adds, “informs foreign policy, because there is a sense that because of our economic situation we don’t have the resources and to some degree we don’t have the interest in foreign policy that perhaps we should.” In any case, she said, “We are talking about ideology, and I think that has a resonance and importance to any community, whether they are Israeli, or French, or Egyptian or Mexican.”
The 35-year-old Wagner, who has been editor in chief of Fader, a music magazine, and executive editor of Not on our Watch, George Clooney’s anti-genocide advocacy group, came to MSNBC in 2010 as a political analyst and has anchored the noontime NOW show since 2011. The show, which features guest journalists and experts on political issues of the day, is known for its genial style and “youthful energy” attracting a significant audience among the most coveted of demographics – 25-54 years old.
“As host, she sees herself as the moderator, and there is a near unanimous feeling among guests that her ability to facilitate – rather than dominate – the conversation is what makes it feel genuine and organic,” Byers wrote.
One Republican strategist told Politico, however, that “the thrust of Wagner’s show is snide Democratic elites speaking condescendingly to viewers,” but Wagner rejects the hyper-partisan label that people try to affix to her and to her network as well as the parallel lines that people draw between MSNBC and Fox.
Now that MSNBC is broadcast in over 30 countries worldwide, I asked Wagner if she has foreign audiences in mind in her programs. “Sure,” Wagner replies, “I am a first-general American on my mother’s side. She lives in Europe, and she loves MSNBC (and not just my show).”