The National Association of Black Journalists has requested a meeting with NBC News to discuss the exit of Tamron Hall and what it called the “whitewashing” of the network’s “Today” morning show with plans to replace Hall and Al Roker as co-hosts of the 9 a.m. hour with former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
In a statement to TheWrap, the network refuted the charge but did not indicate whether execs would meet with the NABJ. “NBC News has a long and proven history as an industry leader in newsroom diversity,” the statement read. “We will continue to engage in the running dialogue we’ve had for many years with the National Association of Black Journalists and other advocacy groups to advance those goals.”
In its own statement, the NABJ noted that “NBC has been a leader for diversity in broadcasting” but expressed concerns that the optics of replacing two African American broadcast veterans with a white woman “are being seen by industry professionals as whitewashing.”
Hall decided to leave NBC on Wednesday after her 9 a.m. hour of the “Today” show was canceled and she failed to come to an agreement on a new multi-year, multi-million dollar contract. The offer included a role in the flagship 7-9 a.m. timeslot of “Today” as well as a show on MSNBC, according to network reps.
Roker will continue to host the 9 a.m. hour until the fall when Kelly’s new show is expected to debut. Hall’s last day on air was Tuesday.
“Roker tweeted last week that the show leads the ratings in its time slot and consistently beats its competition,” the NABJ said. “This achievement deserves praise, not punishment, as replacing talent often is associated with low ratings performance.”
In addition, the NABJ expressed concern about some of Kelly’s more provocative statements on race issues. “Kelly has a well-documented history of offensive remarks regarding people of color,” the group’s statement said. “On ‘The Kelly File,’ her Fox News show, the host said then-First Lady Michelle Obama’s commencement address at Tuskegee University pandered to a ‘culture of victimization.'”
It should be noted that NBC “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who is also black, was NABJ’s “Journalist of the Year” last year.
The statement continued: “While NABJ wishes Hall well on her next move, NABJ requests a meeting with NBC leadership on the top-rated show’s dismantling. We look forward to dialogue and resolve regarding black journalists and their continuing roles at NBC both in front and behind the camera.”
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