Kasie Hunt admits that MSNBC president Phil Griffin was taking a chance when he gave her a two-hour time slot on his network’s Sunday night lineup one year ago.
“He’s really given me all the chance in the world to kind of learn and grow, and so far it feels like our viewers have really responded,” said Hunt, who worked early on as a wire reporter for the Associated Press before going behind the camera at NBC News and ultimately in front of it.
“I never imagined I would have the opportunities that I’ve had at NBC,” she said. “For me, the opportunities have been endless, which I really appreciate.”
While it’s still early days, Hunt’s show, Kasie DC (get it?), has increased the network’s ratings 16 percent in the time slot from the same quarter last year, beating out CNN (809,000 total viewers vs. 611,000) but losing to Fox News, which attracts 1.13 million viewers. In the same time slot, CNN airs one hour of live news programming and one hour of Anthony Bourdain’s show, while Fox News begins the 7 p.m. hour with a rerun of the network’s Sunday morning show. (Asked how much she cares about ratings, she said, “I pay a little bit of attention, but I try to ignore it because, quite frankly, I just want to do a show that I’m proud of.”)
“From her early days on the 2016 campaign trail to anchoring a two-hour program, Kasie continues to impress us all,” Griffin told The Hollywood Reporter through a spokesperson. “She’s a perfect mix of sharp reporting and analysis. Her show sets the tone for the week ahead and takes viewers inside the halls of Capitol Hill as only she can.”
Hunt said she’s getting more comfortable showing her personality, something she avoided during her print days.
“For me, the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to be myself and the fact that viewers actually want to feel like they’re getting to know you as a person,” she said. “They value you because you’re a reporter and you’re bringing them new information, but they also want to feel like they get a sense of your sense of humor and what things you’re interested in.”
As a host of a show that airs during a relatively sleepy portion of the news cycle, she’s able to go beyond President Trump’s latest tweet or inappropriate comment and cover stories that don’t involve him, which she said feels “luxurious.”
But, since nearly every story now intersects with the president in some regard, she spends most of her time reporting on and thinking about him.
“It seems to me that this is really the cable news presidency because that’s how the president consumes his news, primarily,” Hunt said. “I think we’ve learned that he pays careful attention to what’s on the screen, and a lot of the time he watches on mute, so he reads the chyrons. From that perspective, it’s a really influential place to be right now.”