In his first public interview since officially taking over Brian Williams’ anchor position, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt spoke with The Daily Beast on the importance of diverse reporting, the president’s use of the n-word, and his own racial makeup.
Speaking only a day after his inaugural broadcast as the program’s full-time anchor (he had filled in for six months already after Williams’ suspension for lying), he concisely navigated questions about ”Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd’s own racial representation controversy, as well as his own racial background:
“You know, I’ve never identified myself professionally through a racial lens, but I recognize it’s important,” said Holt, whose mother is Jamaican and whose father, a retired Air Force non-commissioned officer, is African-American—which is also how Holt identifies himself. “It’s important that people turn on the TV and see people who look like themselves,” he said. “We’ve got a very diverse roster of correspondents at NBC.”
The Daily Beast did address the inaugural broadcast’s focus on racial justice, which featured segments on Charleston and President Obama’s use of the n-word on Marc Maron’s podcast, with Holt speaking on the latter:
As for Obama’s use of the ugly epithet, “I’d like to stay in my wheelhouse,” Holt demurred. “I wouldn’t want to make a comment specifically on what the president said, but it was significant. It’s a word you don’t hear from presidents, and he said it to make a specific point. It was newsworthy, of course. It was near the top of our broadcast.”