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Hearst TV Stations to Air Soledad O’Brien Pandemic Special in Prime

The Hearst Television stations will air the Soledad O’Brien special Outbreak: The First Response in primetime June 19. O’Brien hosts syndicated show Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien. All 33 Hearst TV stations will air the hour-long special, which focuses on the first wave of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O'Brien (Image credit: Hearst TV)

Tegna’s KONG Seattle will air it June 28. 

Soledad O’Brien Productions is producing the special and O’Brien will host.   

Most Hearst stations will air the special in the first hour of primetime. The 13 that are ABC affiliates will run ABC News’ Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming special and will slot Outbreak after their late newscasts June 19 and again on June 24 in the first hour of prime. 

Hearst TV said the special “chronicles the personal stories of social workers, nurses, public health officials and patients as they came to grips with the earliest days of novel coronavirus in America. Outbreak: The First Response addresses the impact of the first decisions that were made and the significance of the lessons that have been learned in order to prevent future waves of infection.”

"Public health has been underfunded and ignored in this country for decades. Yet during a crisis like this, it is public health workers who are on the front lines educating the public about how to stay safe," said O'Brien. "We were able to follow their response to this crisis in real-time as they struggled to safeguard vulnerable communities."

Rita Aleman, Hearst Television director of special projects, is overseeing the special. 

“How do we react when fear dominates our lives?  This hour of television takes us back to first moments as we collectively came to realize that we were confronting a deadly threat,” Aleman said. “In a deeply moving approach to storytelling, Soledad introduces us to a family living in their car, a daughter whose father is quarantined inside a nursing home, and a public health director whose decisions about how to protect a community would become a blueprint for the nation. With respect and humanity, Soledad explores the decisions each person makes, the ripple effects, and the impact on their lives and ours.” 

Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien airs weekly, primarily on Sunday mornings. Hearst Television produces the show and Sony Pictures Television distributes it. 

Outbreak marks the second primetime special for Matter of Fact. O’Brien addressed the opioid crisis in 2017. 

The Hearst TV stations include WCVB Boston, KCRA Sacramento and WBAL Baltimore. 

Michael Malone
Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.