Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

04 December 2008

Meet the Press...with another white dude

Word is out that NBC is ready to sign David Gregory for Meet the Press. *sigh*

OK, so I pretty much knew that NBC wasn't going to take my suggestion of Carol Marin seriously. But I was hoping that a person of color or a woman (of color) would the pick. Margot Friedman says it eloquently:

As the Women’s Media Center documented in "Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It," NBC/MSNBC was one of the networks that allowed sexist language and behavior during the 2008 campaign. Picking a qualified woman and/or person of color to host "Meet the Press" would have helped repair some of the damage to the network's brand. There was no shortage of talented individuals who could have done the job, including PBS’ Gwen Ifill, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and CBS’ Katie Couric—to mention only those looked at for the post, according to reports.

And it is not just about making amends, but rather broadening who the news & news makers look like. As POTUSe Obama goes about bringing a rainbow of people into his Cabinet and administration, TV media is trying to keep things as bland as ever.

My main reason for wanting Carol Marin is to see someone who is bit more removed. She works in Chicago so we know she's not lunching with the DC elite...well now that most of them are here in Chicago, she might be. But let's not forget how the Sunday morning shows were a driving force for the Iraq War.

The media has a responsibility to ask questions of our leaders. In a way, they are our protectors. What did they do during the drumbeat of war? They amplified it and kept women away from the microphone. Laura Flanders on the Sundays one year after the war began:

Call me crazy, but it still gets my goat that the entire Iraq debate takes place without the input of the female majority. The Sunday TV talk shows are wall-to-wall male. Tim Russert seems his most relaxed, when–as again on March 18–he’s surrounded by white men. Russert’s not the only one, on the day before the anniversary of the invasion, three out of five Sunday TV news shows featured no women at all. The sole female on ABC was Senator Dianne Feinstein. Fox News Sunday included one woman on their panel of five, and she was representing Barack Obama.

I don't know Marin personally, we've met once at a fund raiser, but I've read and watched her enough that I do have faith that she would be one of the few journalists who would ask the tough questions. She takes her job pretty seriously here in Chicago questioning our ruling families and what is left of The Machine. That's why I started the Facebook group to draft her for the job. Because she does her job. Unfortunately NBC doesn't think that women can do the job.

Flanders reminds us that the format for the Sundays, specifically Meet the Press came from a woman:

I was thinking about that this weekend as I watched NBC celebrate Meet the Press. MTP is the longest, continuously-running program on US television. At the end of this Sunday’s show, a list of past hosts sped by. The first was Martha Rountree, the show’s first host, and needless to say, last female anchor.

Curious, I dug around a little. Rountree, it turns out, not only anchored the first broadcasts (starting in 1947) but came up with the format in the very early days of TV. The format — a panel of people asking questions of a guest — was her idea.

If we were good enough to start this ball of public debate rolling, why aren't we good enough to lead it?


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