A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…
I was jumping around MSNBC.com this afternoon when I came upon the MSNBC TV page and noticed something different on the main banner. At first I thought it was Tamron Hall’s picture being included with MSNBC’s “Heavy Hitters” (more on that in a moment) but then I came to the conclusion that all those pictures were newly added. My confusion arose from the fact that the old MSNBC TV page would show all the “Heavy Hitters” at the top but when the page was revamped, these photos came down. Originally after the revamp the banner ad was just a changing set of images that showed what was either on the air at the moment or highlighted a particular show to air later. But now the heads are back and they’re interactive. Click a head – or pair of heads in the cases of Joe and Mika or Chuck and Savannah – and the background image changes to a show specific image.
Correction: My memory was incorrect. The heads have been there since the page got revamped. But Hall’s image is definitely a new addition as evidenced from this older screengrab
But back to Tamron Hall’s picture. As I said Hall’s inclusion with the “Heavy Hitters” of MSNBC is a bit strange. MSNBC has never before bothered to put any of its M-FR dayside news talent in with the ones that get all the attention. It’s not like Hall’s two hours are fundamentally different in either format or subject matter from what airs at 10, 12, or 3pm ET aside from the fact that they still have segments from inside the control room. So the question arises: Why put Hall up front and center, literally center in this case, with a picture that is fundamentally different from the subued wardrobe theme that everyone else is sporting (which just about guarantees that Hall is the one you’re going to notice first because her picture sticks out so)?
Well the possible explanations could be endless but let me float the one that I find the most interesting. NBC, and other TV news organizations has been weathering periodic charges of lack of diversity in the newsroom. I’ve never been a big believer in this argument, especially in NBC’s case, because I have repeatedly heard that NBC News President Steve Capus is a huge proponent of diversity in the newsroom. But the charges are still being thrown about out there. The Tea Party Movement directly criticized the very group picture on the old MSNBC TV site, that I mentioned above, as not having a single minority there.
Well it does now. I would hope that Hall’s placement there isn’t just to shut up some pesky activists because I would hope that we’ve grown up enough as a nation to not have to resort to cheap symbolism to counter absurd hysteria. Yes, racism still exists and, yes, people use the race card all the time to futher their own agendas. But I would rather have a company under fire for some charge that is patently inaccurate come out and defiantly and vigorously defend itself publicly when it has nothing to hide or prove, than to see some quiet behind the scenes response that suggests the company is more interested in staying out of controversy rather than dealing with the situation on the merits…and in this case the merits are zilch; the PC response if you will.
I hope I’m wrong here and that there’s really nothing to Hall’s picture being added to MSNBC’s “all star lineup”. But the above commentary is a logical conclusion one could leap to based on the scant evidence currently available. Part of me didn’t even want to write this story. Talking race is a third rail to be avoided no matter how delicately you phrase your argument. I guess this is where I put the “unvarnished” in the “unvarnished news & opinion”…
Update: As a commenter noted, MSNBC is now also running a pro-mo for Hall on their air. I haven’t seen it yet so I don’t know the content. Still the question hangs, “Why now?” Hall’s been with MSNBC for a few years now so why the sudden push? This is atypical promo behavior unless it’s part of a dayside wide series of promos which MSNBC has run occasionally in years past.