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Is this gay journalist—and Mole fan—its new host?

Is this gay journalist—and Mole fan—its new host?
Players Joi and Greg in Netflix's first season of The Mole, which was hosted by Alex Wagner (Photo by James Gourley/Netflix)

Netflix’s The Mole filmed its second season this summer, and a new report suggests Netflix has returned to the show’s roots at least in one way: not by bringing Anderson Cooper back as host, but by casting a gay broadcast journalist as the American version’s fifth host.

Alex Wagner, host of Netflix's The Mole, in its first episode
Alex Wagner, host of Netflix’s The Mole, in its first episode.

Alex Wagner, who hosted Netflix’s first season, began hosting her own evening show on MSNBC last August, after filming but before the season premiered. Her new job even preceded Netflix announcing that Alex was hosting its revival of The Mole, which I’d first reported the day before.

She’s been on MSNBC all summer, when The Mole filmed, effectively confirming that she was not returning. Ironically, it was a cable news job that took Anderson Cooper away from The Mole, too.

That’s a loss because Alex Wagner was such a great choice. Then again, The Mole did not include much of Alex at all, something I asked Mole executive producer Chris Culvenor about last fall.

Will The Mole season seven—Netflix’s second season—use its host more?

Will we see more of the dinners with the cast, the casual interaction, and the legendary challenge that defined early seasons of The Mole and helped make the show iconic? It seems possible, considering the new host is a long-time fan of the series.

Netflix’s new Mole host (?)

A portrait of a man in a suit, with a blurry image of Washington DC in the distant background
Ari Shapiro photographed in 2015. (Photo by Stephen Voss/NPR)

The Mole’s new host is All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro, who Out magazine noted was “the first out gay host in the show’s 45-year history.” Earlier this year, he published The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening, which became a bestseller.

This news comes from the social media account @Realitytv__fan, who also posted the rumored Mole players.

While there is no other information or evidence, I have found corroborating (perhaps circumstantial!) details.

In July, the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists’ Excellence in Journalism Awards named Shapiro journalist of the year.

When that award was announced, Shapiro wrote on Instagram that it “reminds me how lucky I am that I’ve never had to weigh the potential costs of being out at work. That’s a credit not only to my colleagues at @npr but also to generations of people before me who fought to make journalism a more inclusive business.”

He posted that message on July 19, which is notable because it’s the only time he posted on Instagram during July and the first half of August. Shapiro posted about interviewing Bob the Drag Queen on June 30, and then posted “we back” on Aug. 13.

He did host All Things Considered on July 3, and while an interview of his aired July 6, he has not hosted or contributed since, according to NPR’s archive of his work.

That’s the exact six-week period when The Mole was filming in Malaysia.

Besides the fact that Ari Shapiro is a talented journalist and a great presence on radio, it turns out he’s also a fan of the original ABC version of The Mole—and just this year, expressed his desire to host such a reality TV competition.

Anderson Cooper laughs after failing to pour red wine without spilling it on The Mole 2, episode 9.
Anderson Cooper laughs after failing to pour red wine without spilling it on The Mole 2, episode 9.

In March, Ari appeared on the podcast Las Culturistas with Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers, and revealed that he’s a fan of the original seasons of The Mole. According to this transcript, he said,

As a child, I wanted so badly to be on The Mole back when Anderson Cooper hosted it. There’s such a journey with the Mole for people our age. I think like The Mole hit at a very specific important time.

I hope I’m not divulging any secrets here, but I actually had a conversation with Alex Wagner when she was considering whether or not to take the Mole and it would have meant going to Australia and quarantining and being away from her kids. kids. … I was like, this is the dream.

Talking about The Mole and, later, Alan Cumming’s experience hosting The Traitors, Matt Rogers says, “Alex Wagner, energetically, is so perfect for that job. But then another person I could see being good at something like that is you,” referring to Ari, who replies:

“I would, in a heartbeat—in a heartbeat—anyone who is making a glam reality show set in some castle. I don’t want to be eating worms, I’m not interested in having cockroaches spill on my head. But put me in some fancy James Bond-ish getup, and telling 20 desperate people what to do? Yes, sign me up.”

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Happy discussing!


Thursday 24th of August 2023

I don't give a flying fig about someone's sexual orientation, age, race, creed, religious affiliation, etc. If we are striving for equality then there should be no need to add prefixes in front of names and titles. All I care about is someone doing their job well.

Hopefully Ari will be utilized better than Alex. She was my least favorite host of all the US seasons but I blame producers for that more than her.

The rumored contestants appear to look more "real" than last season's, which is already a step in the right direction. I only hope they don't give us hammed up performances like last season's crew.

Malaysia sounds like a great location!


Tuesday 29th of August 2023

@Andy Dehnart

thanks for your reply.

i work as a nurse in er and was a frontline worker in a hospital during the pandemic. the first documents we received directly from the cdc explicitly stated the vaccines do not stop transmission of the virus.

what some mainstream media outlets and their puppet journalists did (including the ones i mentioned which you seem to be defending) were blatant lies and gross negligence. period.

you see how easy so-called facts can differ? i will always trust first hand accounts more than anything else. dismissing that as a talking point for a rival news outlet is silly and shows how successful the powers that be have been in politicizing this virus (and eveything else).

they have all been guilty of it.

i'd actually find it interesting to see a mole season where all the contestants are hack journalists. it would be a season full of moles!


Sunday 27th of August 2023


agree 100%.

not sure why they keep hiring journalists for the hosting gig when hatred and distrust towards journalists are at an all time high in north america.

i had to google ari because i had no clue who he is and found out he works for msnbc. this is the same news outlet that employs rachel maddow who flat-out lied to her viewers stating those who got the covid vaccines would not be able to transmit the virus ro others. not only a lie but one with dangerous consequences for those who believed her. she never lost her job or even apologized.

i say avoid all these hack journalists no matter which outlet they work for be it msnbc, fox news, cnn, etc.

would have been better to get a former winner to host the game instead. anyone except for kesi.

Greg Vallance

Friday 18th of August 2023

It needs to be set in Croatia or somewhere European, not a jungle type setting.

Andy Dehnart

Friday 18th of August 2023

Malaysia is quite a diverse country, with gorgeous locations and cities. Watch this for some highlights.


Friday 18th of August 2023

This would be fantastic - I love, love, love Ari Shapiro!