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Friday, November 28, 2008
It's Way Past Time for a Major News Network Black Anchor
Update: It looks like David Gregory is getting the job. Affirmative Action for the least qualified of the bunch in the form of white male privilege. We'll see how long it takes before it tanks!
I have to remind myself that we're going into the year 2009, not 1959. Yet time seems to be going backwards with the erosion of some of the gains that were made during the 70's and 80's. Remember Max Robinson? There hasn't been a non-white evening news anchor for a national news program since he left ABC ***. They did briefly flirt with Elizabeth Vargas (who's bi-racial) in a co-anchorship at World News Now but quickly shuttled that and stuck us with Charles Gibson. Do I need to remind people about Cable News Network choosing a comedian (D.L. Hughley) over journalist Roland Martin (or somebody else who isn't an idiot) to show how serious an issue this is?
After Civil Rights and Affirmative Action caused momentary shame network heads decided to throw a few bones. There was a group of journalists and reporters that moved up the ranks only to hit the Black glass ceiling. Like any benefit issued at will it can also be taken away at whim. Furthermore a lot from that group have either passed away or retired. In my local market there is one permanent evening co-anchor on the CBS affiliate, Dana King.
Max Robinson fought with management all the time about the way Blacks were portrayed by the media/in the news and may have had his own internal struggles but he was an excellent journalist. Oprah might be the Queen of All Media but it's with a talk-show format. The fact that she owns her show is as vital to her success as her skill. We need to get control of our media narrative and be able to set the tone. Or at least be able to mount a powerful counterpoint to the foolishness that gets distributed.
So with the election of a Black President it's time for us to let them know the jig is up and we want equal representation (for real this time). This isn't going to happen based on benevolence. We must DEMAND it, plan for it and keep it this time. NBC execs are still deliberating about who to elevate to fill the Meet the Press slot. Gwen Ifill is supposedly being considered and is by far the most qualified person for the job, especially in comparison to the other contenders on the short list. David Gregory, Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell are being considered as well.
Mitchell should be eliminated immediately because she is a blatant and obvious suck up the Clintons with zero objectivity. How do you think the Hillary as Secretary of State rumors were promulgated? Gregory and Todd are in the running because they're white men. Sorry, but that ship has sailed. NBCNews hired Tim Russert's son after he passed away in what has to be the most blatant display of nepotism or reaffirmation of white male patriarchy we've seen perhaps since Bush Sr. helped Shrub get "elected". In other words, their integrity is on shaky ground right now.
Hiring Gwen Ifill should not be about making 'history' but it is way past it's time for a Black female solo anchor/moderator at a major network. Someone who looks likes an 'average' Black woman, not a racially ambiguous fashion model. No offense. It was Tim Russert who suggested she sub for him on numerous occasions. There is no reason she can't step into that position and make it her own. She's already worked for NBC but left for more amenable opportunities at PBS. She is the Moderator and Managing Editor of Washington Week and Senior Correspondent at News Hour with Jim Lehrer. The fact that she's been writing a book on the rise of Black politicians seems to indicate her staying on top of current events and offering a unique perspective given her lengthy career.
This doesn't address the nightly news situation but it's a start. Meet the Press is the most watched Sunday morning political program and with the obvious bias and lack of boundaries creeping in (okay it's totally saturated) there needs to be an appearance of objectivity.
Now we need to let Upper Management know what we want. Bring da noize and bring da funk. Perhaps a little chat with the NAACP is in order as well - what good are these organizations if we don't demand more from them!
President & CEO
-------------------------------- Steve Capus President NBC News email@example.com
*** I haven't forgotten about Connie Chung's sharing the desk with Dan Rather, nor about the way she was mistreated by him and CBS execs. Max Robinson shared segments but sat at his desk alone. Katie Couric is the first woman at a major network to have a solo desk from the beginning.