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grilled by Congress on lack of blacks in programming and news
By Richard Prince
(February 26, 2010) A day after a scolding from black members of
Congress about NBC's insufficient diversity, the network Friday declared
that "from interviews with political newsmakers to our roundtable
discussions, 'Meet the Press' is committed to having a more diverse
group of voices on the show whose opinions and expertise reflect, not
just the news of the day, but the cultural, economical and political
landscape of our country."
This Sunday's guests are to include Marc Morial, the president of the
National Urban League who also testified at the congressional hearing,
although no journalists of color.
The others are Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of
the White House Office of Health Reform; Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the
Republican whip; Katty Kay, Washington correspondent, BBC World News
America and Ron Brownstein, political director of Atlantic Media and
columnist, National Journal.
The response to Journal-isms from NBC spokeswoman Jenny Tartikoff came
after NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker said Thursday that "Meet the
Press" had not done a good enough job of presenting diverse voices over
the past decade, but is working to change that, as John Eggerton
reported for Broadcasting & Cable. "He also said that while the network
has no African-American-targeted show currently on the air, it has
increased its investment in casting and script diversity
"Zucker's comments came during tough questioning from Rep. Maxine Waters
(D-Calif.) at Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing," Eggerton's
"Waters asked how NBC could not have a single African-American-targeted
show currently on the air. Zucker said the network was looking for good
shows, wherever they came from, but that 'we have not found that
[African-American] show.' When pressed by Waters, he said that NBC is
looking for that program, but would give no timeline."
Zucker's comments about "Meet the Press" touched upon an issue that has
been a sore point with journalists and newsmakers of color.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, like Waters a member of the
Congressional Black Caucus, told Zucker, "There is no diversity on the
Sunday morning talk shows," Paul Harris reported for Variety.
After the National Urban League released a 2005 report, "Sunday Morning
Apartheid," its author, Stephanie Jones, met with the show's late host,
Tim Russert, and its executive producer, Betsy Fischer. "He was very
open and very interested in the study," Jones told Journal-isms. "He had
read it. He said they wanted to do better," she said of Russert.
After David Gregory succeeded Russert on Dec. 14, 2008, African
Americans appeared on four of the first five shows. Lately, however, the
number of blacks on the show as guests has fallen off.
Mark Whitaker, a black journalist, is senior vice president at NBC News
and succeeded Russert as chief of the network's Washington bureau.
The occasion for the discussion of NBC's diversity was a hearing on the
proposed $30 billion merger of cable giant Comcast and NBC Universal, in
which Comcast would have a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal. NBC’s
current owner, General Electric Co., would hold the remaining 49
At one point, Waters asked Jean Prewitt, president of the Independent
Film & Television Alliance, who was testifying against the deal, whether
her group could help Zucker out so "they are not sitting here in 2010
with no black programs," Joe Flint reported for the Los Angeles Times.
Waters wasn't the only panelist with pointed questions on diversity.
She and Jackson Lee were "armed with lists of board members for both
companies," Aruna Viswanatha reported for mainjustice.com, and Waters
asked Comcast Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts why his
corporation had only one woman and one black man on its board.
"When you are judged about your sincerity about diversity, it really
starts at the top," Waters said.
Annual Edition 'Buying Power of Black America' report
breaks down billions in expenditures (January
19, 2010) Black consumers are responding to tighter economic
condition by focusing more of their spending on items and services
that improve their homes and lifestyle. That's one of the trends
revealed in the 15th annual report, "The Buying Power of Black
America," published by Target Market News. The report analyzes
spending for black households in 2008 and finds that