Following news that African-American anchor Tamron Hall is exiting “Today” — with rumours that she was pushed aside in order to make way for NBC’s new $12-million-a-year-acquisition Megyn Kelly, who is Caucasian — the National Association of Black Journalists is accusing the Peacock Network of “whitewashing.”
As People reports, the association released a statement on Wednesday, expressing its “disappointment” in NBC for letting such a high-profile African-American anchor exit the network’s flagship morning show.
According to reports, NBC decided to ditch the “Today” hour co-anchored by Hall and longtime weather guy Al Roker in order to provide a time slot for Kelly, expecting Hall to accept the network’s offer to take on other roles at NBC and MSNBC. However, executives were reportedly shocked when Hall decided to refuse the offer and bolted.
“The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is saddened by Tamron Hall’s departure from NBC. She broke ground as the first black female ‘Today’ show co-host and was enjoying ratings success alongside Al Roker during the show’s third hour of programming,” the association’s statement reads.
“NBC has been a leader for diversity in broadcasting, but recent reports that Hall and Roker will be replaced by former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly are being seen by industry professionals as whitewashing,” notes the statement.
“Published reports suggest Kelly will be replacing ‘Today’s Takes’, the hour of programming led by Hall and Roker. Roker tweeted last week that the show leads the ratings in its time slot and consistently beats its competition. This achievement deserves praise, not punishment, as replacing talent often is associated with low ratings performance,” the statement continues, taking the former Fox News personality to task.
“Kelly has a well-documented history of offensive remarks regarding people of colour,” the statement points out. “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.’”
The NABJ concludes its statement: “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.”
Following the NABJ’s statement, on Thursday an NBC spokesperson issued the following statement response: “NBC News has a long and proven history as an industry leader in newsroom diversity. 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.”
Hall expressed her gratitude in a statement of her own, which was released via NBC: “The last 10 years have been beyond anything I could have imagined, and I’m grateful. I’m also very excited about the next chapter. To all my great colleagues, I will miss you and I will be rooting for you.”