Did MSNBC Adjust Website in Response to Diversity Criticism?

July 20th, 2010 5:52 PM
Is MSNBC concerned about charges of a lack of racial diversity among its on-air staff? Perhaps the cable network is realizing that its glass house is increasingly at risk of shattering from all the stones it keeps hurling at the allegedly-racist Tea Party movement.

The folks at Inside Cable News noticed a slight change in the header at the MSNBC TV homepage. See if you can spot it in the picture at right. It shouldn't be that hard; the folks at the cable network put Tamron Hall front and center in a bright pink shirt (click here for a larger image of the new header).

Did MSNBC add Hall in an effort to satiate critics who have pointed out the lack of racial diversity on the cable network? Though ICN notes the comical video produced by the Dallas Tea Party, the Congressional Black Caucus has also chided MSNBC for its lily-white staff.

Many such critiques were directly aimed at Keith Olbermann, who suggested that Tea Party protesters were racist because only white people attended their rallies. "Where are they?" asked an overdramatic Olbermann.

The Dallas Tea Party countered with its own video inviting Olbermann to one of their events.

Other conservative commentators, such as blogger Broliath, created their own videos to a similar effect, noting that MSNBC's staff and even the guests on "Countdown" were overwhelmingly white.

And as mentioned above, even the Congressional Black Caucus weighed in. According to Main Justice, CBC member Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, asked NBC president Jeff Zucker why there wasn't "any black programming on NBC." She added: "Is there some assumption that black programming is not profitable?"

But is Hall's conspicuous presence in the new website header -- which was not present as late as April --  a response to MSNBC's critics? Well, Zucker did tell Jackson Lee that "diversity was one of his strategic goals and that the company was trying to do better."

Furthermore, as ICN notes:
…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 subdued 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)?
This is, after all, the same cable network whose on-air staff confused Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.