NBC News and MSNBC plan to be among the first and last news outlets focused on the New Hampshire primary, starting live coverage this evening on Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” and Chris Hayes’ “All In” and then continuing through Wednesday morning.
“We always expect the unexpected, and we are prepared for it,” says Rashida Jones, senior vice president of specials for NBC News and MSNBC, in an interview.
ABC News is likely to gain attention for its coverage of New Hampshire this weekend as well. On Friday, it will televise a three-hour debate among Democratic candidates moderated by George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Linsey Davis. And others will be on the ground as well, making for a crowded and competitive field. But the NBCUniversal news operations have an array of special programming that executives hope will lend their efforts some distinction.
On Saturday, NBC News’ Stephanie Ruhle will moderate “Our Rights, Our Courts” from Concord, N.H. The forum is co-hosted by a committee of New Hampshire civic leaders, Demand Justice Initiative, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and All*Above All Action Fund. Ruhle will be joined by Jennfer Bendery, senior politics reporter for HuffPost. The forum, being held at the New Hampshire Technical Institute, will feature 2020 hopefuls Senator Michael Bennet, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang. Candidates will be interviewed for about 30 minutes.
“Meet the Press” will broadcast from New Hampshire on Sunday, led by moderate Chuck Todd. On February 11, primary day, Savannah Guthrie will anchor live from New Hampshire for “Today” while Lester Holt will anchor “NBC Nightly News” from the state. Holt and Todd will lead special reports in primetime as results come in. NBC News and MSNBC will rely on reports from correspondents stationed at voting locations and campaign headquarters across the state.
MSNBC will provide special coverage from New Hampshire this weekend, with programs lead by Joy Reid, Alicia Menendez and Kasie Hunt, Next week, MSNBC programs will broadcast from New Hampshire Monday and Tuesday, including “Morning Joe” and “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams, joined by Nicolle Wallace, will anchor MSNBC’s special New Hampshire primary coverage starting at 6 p.m. eastern.
NBC News’ Jones expects the sheer weight of big events in 2020 to continue to require more hours of special coverage. She says NBC News broadcast 92 hours of special reports last year across various outlets. In the first two months of 2020, she says, the unit has already delivered 60 hours of similar coverage.
The news unit also has a third outlet to program – the live-streaming NBC News Now. Todd is expected to anchor a special report from New Hampshire on the new service, and will be joined by Kasie Hunt. And NBC News Digital reporters will be stationed throughout New Hampshire, and will deliver updates via NBCNews.com and the NBC News mobile app.
Jones says NBC News reporters and anchors will appear across the news division’s venues, whether it be NBC, MSNBC or NBC News Now. “Whenever it’s a big story, you will see our top talent,” she says. Todd is likely to appear on “at least two of our three” outlets, she adds, ” and I would not be surprised if you see him at some point on MSNBC. He’s our political director, You’ve got to get him on as many places as possible.”