MSNBC's Chris Hayes Plans Rigid Guest Quotas: 'We Already Have Too Many White Men'

Chris Hayes isn’t just trying to bring his “pretend the cameras aren’t there” chatter to prime time. He’s going to try his weekend guest-selection formula of “quotas. Hard quotas.” So reports the Columbia Journalism Review. It gives a "more inclusive" feel to his new show's title, "All In."

"We just would look at the board and say, ‘We already have too many white men. We can’t have more.’ Really, that was it,” Hayes said to Ann Friedman. “Always, constantly just counting, Monitoring the diversity of the guests along gender lines, and along race and ethnicity lines.”

He could always call the new show "Affirmative Hack-tion." (Rim shot.)

Out of four panelists on every show, he and his booking producers ensured that at least two were women. “A general rule is if there are four people sitting at table, only two of them can be white men,” he says. “Often it would be less than that.”

If they did end up booking a show that featured a majority of white men, they’d call it “taking a gender hit.” Hayes explains, “and then we’d be like, well, we have to make up for that either in the second half of the show or on the Sunday show.”

As he makes the transition to primetime, Hayes is going to try and keep his quota system.

“It’s going to be even harder to do at a daily level than it was at two shows a week,” he says. “But we’re a thousand percent committed to it.” After all, it’s part of what made his weekend show so successful. Hayes has heard from the audience that they appreciate the fresh faces and perspectives that this rule has forced him to cultivate.

“You talk to people that not everyone else talks to, have people writing for you who aren’t writing for everyone else,” he says. “I think it was a big part of the show’s success. It wasn’t just a kind of dutiful exercise in diversity. It created tangible editorial rewards.”

Hayes wasn’t seeking ideological balance at "Up with Chris Hayes," although there were some people outside the leftist box – like black moderate John McWhorter. (Check the quota box.) But Hayes told Gail Shister at TV Newser he's going to try and book conservatives on the  new show. We'll see if the audience can take it. Maddow originally promised to bring on Pat Buchanan, and that didn't last long.

Shister is thrilled, calling the new primetime lineup on MSNBC a "Murderers' Row of liberal brainacs." She added:

Hayes’ admiration of Maddow borders on hero worship. She gave Hayes his first shot as a guest anchor.

“I owe her my career in TV,” he says. “She showed that a certain kind of TV could work – rigorous, deep, passionate, smart and unapologetic about its perspective.”

He doesn’t wear neckties on the air...because he can’t tie one?? “I’m terrible at tying ties, so I try to create situations where I’m not forced to do it,” he admits. “I make do. I muddle through.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis