Meet MSNBC's Next New Host, Christopher Hayes
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It's the more common longing for surety, Hayes suggests, that has the public clamoring for opinionated commentary in the place of hard-news reporting. Opinionators express certainty in their views; a good news report displays the messy moral ambiguity inherent in the human condition. "Look at The New York Times," he says. "Look at the most-emailed, the most read -- they're all columns. They're all talk. It's not like Jeffrey Gettleman basically risking life and limb to sit down with a Somalian pirate."
To Thine Own Self Be True
As a player in "this information age," Hayes sees himself, he says, as sort of "an information DJ."
"I honestly can't remember the last time I had an original thought," he says, laughing. "It's just like total pastiche. It's like if you steal from enough different sources, you can look original."
It's a charming bit of self-deprecation for a guy who is an info vacuum, and who takes the info into the little Warhol Factory of his mind, and synthesizes it into a form that is at once accessible and artful.
"Look, the hardest thing to do, the thing that I struggle with every day, that everybody I think has to, is to be principled and committed without being dogmatic and closed-minded. Right? Those two things are in constant tension.
"So you can't be a blank slate," he continues. "Because you're a sucker if you are, right? You have to approach everything with a set of philosophical, moral, ideological commitments about the kind of world you want to see. But then, with that commitment, then you also have to make sure that you're not just being hermetically sealed and, you know, a confrontation bias machine that goes out and hears what you want to hear."
That's a tall order in an opinion-driven media environment -- especially in cable news -- where opinion is king, and context is too often optional. But Hayes is undaunted.
"It's an amazing platform," he says, "and the reach of it is unlike any other medium I've ever worked in. I think I've been on a learning curve in how to operate within it and feel more and more like I'm at the point where it's something I'd want to explore in more depth."