Hayes Goes Prime Time as O’Brien, Martin Exit

Changes are afoot at MSNBC and CNN, where two black news faces are departing.

Chris Hayes (MSNBC); Soledad O'Brien (MSNBC); Roland Martin (CNN)
Chris Hayes (MSNBC); Soledad O'Brien (MSNBC); Roland Martin (CNN)

In an era in which “quotas” is regarded as a dirty word, Chris Hayes, whose new MSNBC show, “All In with Chris Hayes,” debuts Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern, has no problem with the concept.

“Earlier this month, after MSNBC announced it was giving Chris Hayes his own daily primetime news show, Media Matters published a chart that showed how his weekend show, Up with Chris Hayes, differed from its cable-news competitors: It wasn’t all white dudes,” Ann Friedman wrote Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review.

“Specifically, 57 percent of the show’s guests were not white men. (Full disclosure: I have, in the past, been one of the non-dudes featured on said program.) To hear lots of journalists tell it, this is an impossible feat. So I called up Hayes to ask how he and his team created a shining oasis of diversity in a cable-news desert of sameness.

‘We just would look at the board and say, “We already have too many white men. We can’t have more.” Really, that was it,’ Hayes says. ‘Always, constantly just counting. Monitoring the diversity of the guests along gender lines, and along race and ethnicity lines.’ Out of four panelists on every show, he and his booking producers ensured that at least two were women. ‘A general rule is if there are four people sitting at table, only two of them can be white men,’ he says. ‘Often it would be less than that.’ “

Hayes told Gail Shister of TVNewser, “I can’t control my gender, race or sexual orientation. I can control who we have on and what voices we introduce to viewers.

Meanwhile, “Outgoing CNN pundit Roland Martin said on Thursday that executives who were uncomfortable with hiring black people as hosts had held back his rise at the network,” Jack Mirkinson reported for the Huffington Post.

He continued, “Speaking on HuffPostLive, Martin — who was recently let go by CNN — said that he had come to the network with every intention of getting his own show. He added that it was never made clear to him why that wasn’t happening, but that he suspected race had something to do with it.

” ‘You have largely white male executives who are not necessarily enamored with the idea of having strong, confident minorities who say, “I can do this,” ‘ he said. ‘We deliver, but we never get the big piece, the larger salary, to be able to get from here to there.’

“Martin said that he hosted highly-rated specials for CNN, so he didn’t understand why he wasn’t rewarded.