Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher interviews MSNBC President Phil Griffin…
That diverse array of talent, including hosts like Tamron Hall, Touré, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Rev. Al Sharpton, and ubiquitous contributors like Joy Reid, Goldie Taylor, Karen Finney, Prof. Michael Erik Dyson, Chairman Michael Steele, Eugene Robinson, and Jonathan Capehart, is an organic result of the network’s editorial philosophy, rather than an end unto itself, says Griffin.
“It wasn’t like we said ‘Oh, we have to have a diverse person on here and there,’” he said. “We made a decision. We made a commitment in ideas, issues and everything – the audience followed, and that goes back to four or five years ago. As we grew, we recognized that it was the right thing to do. It’s giving a voice to people in these kinds of programs who don’t always get a voice. Our look is as diverse as any on mainstream TV. I’m incredibly proud of it. It’s not like we decided ‘We’re going to increase our African American viewership by 60%,’ but I’m thrilled that it happened, and it says a lot about what we’ve been doing over the last few years.”
2012 was also a year in which race played a central part in some huge news stories, and MSNBC was instrumental in putting them on the public’s radar. Thanks in large part to Rev. Al Sharpton, they were early to cover the Trayvon Martin story, and stayed on the Republican effort to depress minority turnout through voter I.D. laws.
Griffin isn’t patting himself on the back for covering voter I.D., though. “I think it’s outrageous more media outlets didn’t go to the story and do it,” he said. “Many people said they though it was the so-called ‘liberal issue. Voting in America is not a ‘liberal issue’ – it is an American issue. We took it head on, and I guarantee you, in 4 years if the same thing happens again, you’ll see many more media outlets doing it, because they’ll recognize how important it is.”