Of course Temple’s own Tamron Hall is out at NBC, replaced by former conservative Fox News personality Megyn Kelly.
This is what passes for a commitment to diversity in the age of Trump.
Forget adding, retaining, or promoting people of color. (Or in Hall’s case, the first black female Today cohost.)
Suddenly, newsrooms that showed little interest in making racial and ethnic diversity a priority — and even the few that were doing better than most — have discovered the intrinsic value of diversity, but only of political views, specifically the political views of the current ruling class.
The National Association of Black Journalists released a statement expressing its disappointment and described the move as “whitewashing.”
I’d take that one step further and call it what it is: Trumpwashing.
For every news organization that’s pushing back against an administration and readers who increasingly view the press as the enemy, there are others quaking in their boots, and caving in to populist anger by opening their pages and airwaves to voices willing to replace facts with "alternative facts."
That’s not journalism.
That’s an epic failure of a core function of democracy.
Hall left after the network disclosed plans to cancel her hour of Today to make room for Kelly, who comes with some serious baggage.
Kelly might have become a target of Donald Trump's when she called him out on his derogatory remarks about women, but she has a well-documented history of spreading alternative facts from her platform at Fox News:
Dismissing racist emails disclosed in a Department of Justice report that found racial bias and stereotyping in the Ferguson, Mo., police department because, hey, racist emails are everywhere!
Insisting that Jesus and Santa are white, because, of course they are!
Throwing shade at Michelle Obama’s commencement speech at Tuskegee University by saying she was pandering to a “culture of victimization.”
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, President Trump has completely disregarded even the appearance of diversity that was becoming the norm in the Obama age.
On the very day that Hall was ousted for Kelly, Trump brought in not one but two white men as finalists for the Supreme Court. The reported third finalist was more of the same. And that’s after picking the whitest and most male cabinet since President Ronald Reagan.
Never, ever forget the photograph of Trump signing the “Global Gag Rule,” which bans international groups from receiving U.S. funding for providing or even discussing abortions, while a group of seven men looked smugly on.
None of this is to say that we’re not long overdue for a balance of political and religious and cultural views across the nation’s newsrooms. But decades after the civil rights movement highlighted the nation’s lack of racial inclusion, newspapers still fail to make diversity a priority.
And yet, after one scary election, newsrooms scrambling for audiences are worried about appearing too opinionated, even in the face of fake news, of appearing unfair, even in the face of propaganda and bold-faced lies.
Often, at the expense of the most vulnerable and marginalized who now more than ever need brave, relentless watchdogs on their side. At the expense of newsrooms that will only become less vital by bending to bullies.
In a statement released by NBC, Hall said:
"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.”
Make part of that chapter a visit to Philly, because this Latina columnist, one of too few in the field, has your back.
And come back to journalism, because as unpredictable and unstable as the industry is these days, there is much to fight for.
I fear that under our current leadership, those who cannot remember or don’t care about our past are condemned to repeat it. And journalism, I fear, is setting itself up to do the very same thing.