Hearst Stations, A&E To Air ‘To Be An American’

The multiplatform “Matter of Fact Listening Tour,” exploring difficult issues surrounding race and equity and hosted by Soledad O’Brien, arrives at its next stop beginning July 2 with the inaugural television airings of To Be an American: Identity, Race and Justice.

The one-hour production, featuring a wide array of thought leaders from across the nation, is a special project from Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, the syndicated public affairs program produced by Hearst Television.

To Be an American: Identity, Race and Justice will air between July 2 and July 5 in primetime slots on Hearst Television stations in 26 markets reaching nearly 20% of U.S. television viewers.  It will then air on July 10 at noon on the A&E Network, and on July 11 at 10 a.m. and July 18 at 10:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) on A&E sister network fyi; the two networks are co-owned by Hearst Television’s parent company.

The “Matter of Fact Listening Tour”  will continue throughout 2021 with a series of forums employing the digital platforms of many of Hearst’s consumer media brands, including 33 television stationsnewspapers around the country; and many of the world’s most popular magazines — and on Matter of Fact’s websiteYouTube and Facebook Live channels.

To Be an American first streamed in March 2021; the Tour’s first episode, “The Hard Truth About Bias: Images and Reality,” initially streamed in October 2020 and received television airings in February 2021. The television airings have been edited for length; the original streams of “The Hard Truth About Bias” and “To Be an American” are available on matteroffact.tv.

“The continuing conversation in this country about what it means to be an American is at the heart of both what divides us and unites us,” O’Brien said.  “Our special provides a platform for a diversity of voices to explore how identity, race, and other points of connection or contention play into the narrative of who we are.”


“This leg of the Listening Tour expands on the original Hard Truth About Bias by focusing on the challenges of an American Identity and by asking what unites the United States,” said Emerson Coleman, Hearst Television senior vice president of programming, who also serves as executive in charge of production for Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien. “We take a look at the contributions and conflicts that both separate us and bring us together. Through these stories, first person accounts, performances and interviews, we’ve created moments that help us envision what it is that truly makes America exceptional.”

To Be an American features a diverse lineup of guests from academia, literature and entertainmen — including historians Eric Foner and Annette Gordon-Reed; comedian Gina Brillon; and 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones. These and other guests share personal stories, essays and insights in order to bring greater understanding to the complex topic of race, identity and belonging. Matter of Fact contributors Jessica Gomez and Joie Chen provide reports and interviews from around the country.

Viewers will be taken on a tour across the middle of the country from Denver to Kansas City on I-70 to meet and engage some of the diverse cross-section of Americans that help define the nation.  They will also be asked to consider the ways the U.S. interprets “belonging” and “allegiance.”

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