MSNBC plans to run a 90-minute special report Thursday at 10 p.m. eastern that examines the state of coronavirus testing and tracing in the United States, the latest example of TV-news outlets recalibrating their programming as the pandemic takes up the majority of the public conversation.
“MSNBC Speicial Report: Testing & The Road to Reopening.” will be anchored by MSNBC’s Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace. The special will feature an exclusive interview between Savannah Guthrie and philanthropist Bill Gates, as well as a panel of experts who will talk about the challenges to gaining broader testing and starting contact tracing efforts. NBC News correspondents Stephanie Gosk, Jacob Ward, Richard Engel and Steve Kornacki will also take part in the program, which will be executive produced by Rashida Jones, a senior vice president of NBC News and MSNBC.
“We hear time and time again that the key to re-opening the nation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is testing and contact tracing.However, Americans have not received clear answers as to what this looks like in their region or even in states that have already begun to open up,” says Jones. “That’s why this special is so critical and is designed to break through the uncertainty and provide viewers with the facts they need to make the best decisions for themselves, their families and our communities.”
Many of the nation’s major TV-news outlets have refashioned programming to give viewers more information on the pandemic. ABC has introduced an hour on the topic in place of a talk show featuring Michael Strahan. Fox News Channel has expanded late-night hours and utilized daytime anchor Harris Faulkner to talk to doctors in an early-afternoon slot; she held a town hall on distance learning Tuesday. CNN has been holding weekly town halls led by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
MSNBC has reworked some of its schedule to cover the pandemic more directly, with Wallace and Williams hosting a 3 p.m. hour devoted to the latest headlines and Lawrence O’Donnell’s Friday show now used to report on life during the contagion. NBC News has been running special reports on Tuesday nights for the past few weeks, and recently debuted a “kids’ edition” of “NBC Nightly News” in a bid to talk to young viewers about the disease and its effects.
A preview of Guthrie’s conversation with Gates will also air on “NBC Nightly News” Thursday, with more clips from the discussion airing Friday morning on “Today.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed extensive resources and funds to fighting the pandemic, which Gates himself has cautioned about for some time.