This is really more of an aside to a couple of previous pieces that ran down NBC’s woes in terms of its roll-out of the shiny new toy it’s obsessing over, Megyn Kelly. But it’s information that, while not surprising in the least, deserves to be seen far and wide so people can understand just how badly NBC screwed itself when it didn’t have to.
People magazine is reporting that Tamron Hall, who up until very recently was the popular-as-hell third-hour anchor of the Today show, made the choice to stop being that — and leave NBC entirely — because she wasn’t willing to be sidelined by Kelly. By now pretty much everyone knows that Hall was going to be pushed out, along with her co-host Al Roker, to make room for Kelly’s new hour-long weekday show. No one’s sure yet whether Kelly will replace the third or fourth hour of Today, but either way the anchors who were being given the bum rush were going to be the same.
Right off the bat this was a PR disaster waiting to happen — and happen it certainly did — because Hall and Roker were two black hosts holding the reins of a network morning show and they were being shoved aside to make space for a conservative white woman. That was always a staggeringly arrogant, stupid, and shortsighted move on NBC’s part. But it became worse when, late last week, Hall decided she wasn’t going to accept NBC’s offer of millions to stay put and would be leaving effective just about immediately. She was predictably gracious about her departure from what she now calls her “dream job,” but it was always a given that NBC’s slight of her and Roker — a duo who’d recently taken their hour of Today to number one in the ratings — was the impetus for her quick exit. As a friend of hers now says, Hall “wasn’t going to settle for sitting on the sidelines” for anybody.
This is starting to sound like a broken record, sure, but it’s almost comical how inept and flat-out negligent NBC is when it comes to handling its high-profile talent. Consider for a minute the number of times completely unnecessary psychodrama has accompanied one of 30 Rock’s big transitions from one marquee star to another. The number of times NBC has just mishandled the hell out of a delicate change-over, a hiring or firing, and has wounded egos and found the whole miasma spilling over onto the gossip pages.
Introducing Megyn Kelly should’ve been a piece of cake. Yeah, room would have to be made in the schedule, but the very least you could do is make it as seamless as possible so that that new host you paid a ton of money for, your network as a whole, and those who’ve worked tirelessly for you for years were all treated fairly and got what they deserved. This shit isn’t brain surgery. It’s television. But damn if NBC can’t figure out a way to lose a patient on the table — if not more than one — every time it tries to do something like this.