Thomas Roberts Named Host of MSNBC's 'Way Too Early'

Thomas Roberts MSNBC Screengrab - H 2013

Thomas Roberts MSNBC Screengrab - H 2013

Thomas Roberts will replace Brian Shactman on MSNBC's Way Too Early beginning on Jan. 13. He'll also become a regular contributor on Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski's Morning Joe. The announcement came on Friday from MSNBC president Phil Griffin.

In a statement, Roberts characterized the move as "a very exciting opportunity and right in line with my career goals and aspirations."

"I really admire what Joe, Mika, Willie [Geist] and Brian have built with Morning Joe and Way Too Early. I am flattered to join this morning family," he said. "I also appreciate Phil's faith in me and can't wait to get started."

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Added Griffin: “Thomas’ unique personality and point of view are just the right mix to lead-in to Morning Joe. Thomas has really found his voice in the past year and joining the Morning Joe table gives him the opportunity to further develop it. I'm proud of the excellent work Brian Shactman did on Way Too Early and thank him for a job well done."

Shactman had only been in the job since May, having come over from sister network CNBC where he'd been since 2007, to replace Geist, who co-hosts the 9 a.m. hour of NBC's Today. Shactman will leave the network.

“After several months of consideration and discussions with Phil Griffin about expanding my role at MSNBC, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t want politics to be my only focus,” he said. “I want to continue to branch out, making sure my career is not solely defined by that. I’m so appreciative of what Phil, Joe and Mika have done for me and I look forward to announcing my next venture in the very near future."

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Roberts, who is openly gay, has been ascending at MSNBC. But he received some criticism when he stepped in for Andy Cohen as co-host of the Miss Universe pageant in Russia earlier this year after Cohen bowed out, citing Russia's anti-gay laws. MSNBC has aggressively covered LGBT issues in Russia in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Games that begin in February.

This is the second anchor move in recent weeks at MSNBC. Alex Wagner was named to replace Martin Bashir in the 4 p.m. time slot after Bashir's resignation over comments he made on-air about Sarah Palin. Also, Ronan Farrow's show is expected to bow in the coming weeks.