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. NBC News 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! 

Jeff Zucker
President & CEO
NBC Universal
Steve Capus
President NBC News 

*** 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. 

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Unknown said...

I agree wholeheartedly.

these are the things we need to keep putting pressure on.

while i don't watch the major news networks (except the BBC)you are correct in your assessment

to be honest, it is starting to feel more like 1959 then 2008.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

OMi: Hope you and yours had a nice Gobble Day. I usually don't watch them as well (because of all the propaganda) but I also realized it's because I get mad at seeing a sea of whiteness every night and how this is accepted as normal! I really liked Connie Chung and felt CBS did her sooo wrong! So I do tend to watch Gwen Ifill at least 2 nights a week and Rachel Maddow now. I want the contributors like Michelle Bernard to get their own desks.

dkan71 said...

I agree with you re: the DL Hughley thing. He's terrible, but NBC's Brian Williams is quite capable, not to mention #1 and Charlie Gibson is right behind him at #2. If anyone's going to lose their job in that slot it's Katie Couric. Who would you suggest replace her?

I also think it's reactionary and unproductive to dismiss Chuck Todd as being in the running over at MTP just because he's white. Come on. That's a crap argument. I agree David Gregory is a lightweight, but Chuck Todd, though he hasn't demonstrated the interview skills for the job, has proved himself a political analyst worth listening to.

And lastly, why isn't the address to BET on the list? Surely we could make a stink about the fact that they don't have a credible nightly news program training and developing the black anchors to compete for the major network jobs.

It seems that would be a better approach rather than arguing with Jeff Zucker to hire a black anchor for the sake of some false sense of parity, when the guy he's got now is #1.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Welcome dkan71:

I'm not the biggest fan of Couric's who has struggled a bit. CBS won't make the same mistake in mishandling her the way they did Connie Chung. Perhaps you should ask yourself the question why do white men automatically get solo desks for the news and why you think it's a right?

This has nothing to do with BET. Bob Johnson was not interested in putting a serious investment into making BET a real contender. They don't need to train anyone, they needed to make it a priority. Instead Bob focused on second-hand programming and denigrating Black women for profit. Go back to the title of my post. MAJOR NETWORK.

And if Jeff Zucker considers it a bother, the shareholders of NBC will not. Expecting PARITY is exactly what I'm talking about as there are plenty of outstanding non-white journalists/reporters already on staff who could be elevated. I stand by my assessment.

YOU are not required to agree, but do not come here on my blog telling me what I should and should not expect.

We should not be relegated to the back of the bus and it's high time to step up to the plate. If Obama had listened to people with your attitude he would've never run for President, let alone have won the election. It's time to lose the inferiority complex and side dish mentality.


Hwey there!

I just wanted to stop by and thank you for all of the ways that you enhance the convo over at my blog!

I also wanted to say "Happy Thanksgiving" eventhough that was yesterday....I figured that you are still eating turkey and dressing over there! *giggles*

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Hey Lisa,

Thanks for the well wishes. I'll be back for a visit soon!

dkan71 said...

Wow! I didn't realize I had an inferiority complex and a "side dish mentality." cute phrase, btw. Thanks for the psychiatric evaluation.

I'm not sure how you diagnosed me from a blog post, but since your blog is apparently a dissent-free zone, I won't even attempt to argue.

However, for the record, of the four names on the MTP shortlist, I think Gwen Ifill is the most qualified for the job and that's why I think she should get it, not because she's black and it's about time.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

dkan 71: Well if you thought Ifill was the most qualified person why did you attempt to derail the subject of my post by asking about BET as if that was a viable alternative or complaining about my assessment of the other candidates being considered for MTP? Your entire argument is one of obfuscation. I am not looking for group think but I will definitely call people out when I spot BS and a condescending attitude.