After Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Bill O’Reilly, NBC has a chance to lead on respecting women.
NBC has made me sick to my stomach for the past few years. In the 90s, I loved Matt Lauer and Katie Couric. They were a vibrant pair that felt as natural as buddies chatting in my college class. Katie had a bubbly effervescence that reminded us of our student body president. And let’s be honest, Matt was the cute, personable boy next door. They fed off of one another like yin and yang.
But as NBC has tried to continue that magic since Katie left, they wind up mistreating women for the sake of ratings.
The way NBC treated its female anchors was the worst kept secret on television for years.
Ann Curry in 2013. Let’s start there. Never mind the fact that it was her turn to run the news desk after Katie left in 2006; but they skipped over her for the more personable Meredith Vieira. Although Vieira held her own with Matt, her family came first, and the morning schedule was too grueling. In 2011, Curry finally got her turn. If you don’t know the story behind Curry’s termination just two years later, (and I was shocked at how many of my Facebook friends didn’t), go look up “Operation Bambi“. Ann’s colleagues mistreated and picked on her, while Matt Lauer isolated her and offered her no support whatsoever. In fact, many people said he’s the one that set up her ouster.
Tamron Hall in 2017. Then, earlier this year around the time Trump became president, NBC snagged Megyn Kelly from Fox (presumably to attract conservative whites who supported the new president). By doing so, the network bumped Tamron Hall from her slot to make room for Kelly. This was in spite of Hall being extremely popular among women and non-whites.
Melissa Harris-Perry got axed from MSNBC in 2016. Even though that network is separate, it’s an affiliate of NBC. Same issue – isolation and marginalization of a woman for the sake of ratings. As President Barack Obama’s tenure ended, and whiteness became “in” again, MSNBC took over Harris-Perry’s show from her and rendered her irrelevant.
Now we watch in pain as Megyn Kelly struggles to connect with viewers. While she doesn’t fill Matt’s morning hour slot, her very addition to the morning lineup is a perfect example of what’s wrong with NBC. The network is more concerned with branding than authenticity.
Rather than actually creating a thoughtful morning news presentation that’s relevant, they don’t want to risk ratings or ad revenue. So they insult our intelligence with pretentious, canned content, such as trying to pass off a hard-ass news anchor as suddenly wholesome and fluffy. As if audiences don’t have enough sense to recall Megyn’s confrontational persona just a year ago on Fox News (which some of us secretly envied).
NBC should stop faking warm and wholesome, and start being it. Why not hire diverse anchors with wide-ranging perspectives to report the news?
Rather than faking inclusion and social awareness, why not demonstrate it in the faces we see at the news desk?
And don’t just report on stories involving minorities; make diversity and inclusion a part of NBC’s brand. Social and cultural awareness don’t just happen when there’s a big controversy. It’s a struggle everyday – in classrooms, neighborhoods, grocery stores, courthouses, at the mall, in the workplace! Inequality is still very much alive and thriving (I can’t believe I have to write that!), and America hurts for more news outlets brave enough to lead on eliminating it.
NBC can finally stop cherry-picking stories and start telling Americans the hard truth, even if it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable. My friends and I often complain that news stations play the same major stories over and over for days; meanwhile, many other underreported events are happening in neglected communities and we’ll never know, because they’re not “hot” enough. NBC can change this.
Today the Wall Street Journal laments that NBC may be in a crisis, and $500 million dollars of revenue is at stake with Lauer gone.
I beg to differ. NBC has an opportunity to finally become the show it’s pretending to be. Latinos spend money. Blacks spend money. Middle Easterners spend money. Women spend money. So bring on the new voices and faces of morning news. Where’s the next Oprah Winfrey, Connie Chung, Soledad OBrien, or Trevor Noah?
The perfect antidote for a tyrant president and centuries of pampered men, is actual cultural revolution. That’s your ratings, right there.