MSNBC Announces New Black Host, Karen Finney; Ignorant Statement From Media Director Of Right-Wing Group Follows

April 3, 2013  |  


MSNBC has announced a new weekend show host: Karen Finney, the first African-American spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee and a political analyst who has been appearing on the network since 2009, will be the new face of the network’s weekend programming between 4pm and 5pm. The move is a latest in a number of changes that have taken place at the network. Chris Hayes has given up his weekend morning hosting gig and is now hosting a primetime weekday show, All In, which debuted strongly this week, for example. Details about Finney’s program are TBA.

But certainly, the addition of Finney adds to the diversity at the network. Already, MSNBC has seen its viewership grow, particularly among African Americans. But more than that, Finney is a highly qualified pundit and commentator. According to the MSNBC statement (via NewsOne):

“Karen’s rich background in both education policy and politics will add a unique point of view to our expanding live weekend programming,” said MSNBC President Phil Griffin in a statement.

Prior to her time at the DNC, when she led the party’s media strategy during the 2006 midterm elections and the 2008 presidential elections, Finney served as the deputy press secretary to then-first lady Hillary Clinton and deputy director of presidential scheduling for President Bill Clinton.

NewsOne adds, “Because with the addition of Finney, weekend coverage is dominated by two African-American women, a level of diversity unheard of in cable news but in keeping with the network’s commitment to avoid the White, male trap. Melissa Harris-Perry‘s show airs Saturday and Sunday mornings.”

But here we go with the crazy talk. Tim Graham, the media analysis director for the Media Research Center, a right-wing group, chimed in with his 140 characters, tweeting:

This amid the RNC’s efforts to reach out to African Americans with a nationwide “listening tour.” When the Republicans lose another election, they can add this to the long list of reasons. Of course, Graham got a number of responses to this ignorant statement.

But who cares what he thinks right? Congratulations Karen Finney! We’ll keep watching MSNBC.


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  • Terry DeCarlo

    Is she so usuless she could get a job without affirmative action? Or getting into college or her kid into a prestigious nursery school. She really is making a fool out of herself shouting “I’m BLACK!” and taking the easy way to success. Please forgive me I’ve had two small glass of white wine. P.S. I’D GIFE JUST ABOUT ANYTHING FOR AN OUNCE OF BLACK BLOOD. Blood transfusion, will that work? Brilliant!!!!! Oh yeah!

  • Terry DeCarlo

    Did she go to a “black” highschool? Haha she’d have gotten her azz wupped every day and gone home crying praying to go to some white HS, but no, she’s a powerful Black woman fighting for civil rights for African Americans. Ok, sure. FAKE. She’s some white girl. sorry.

  • Terry DeCarlo

    Looks extremely black Irish to me. She’s using her 2% blackness to promote herself and be accepted as such an important BLACK!!! woman. If she was white? Zero.

  • lee crowell

    To must nergros shes black or a halfer

  • Wilma

    Does she look Black? I don’t think so. We can’t qualify every thing statement from the Right as racist.

  • Marilee

    She looks like a young Lena Horne what this man said was racist because he expects all black people to look the same. Karen looks like my aunt same color features and age. Black people can come in all forms and representations there is no one way to look black that is preposterous. All blacks look the same yeah right only to people who want to typecast the black community based on color! By the way, his friend Boehner tans to get his color.

  • rainydaze80

    I have to agree with Tim Graham here. Let’s be real, tv is about the visual effect and visually she looks caucasian to me. I wouldn’t even say hispanic, but probably Italian or middle eastern. I know I’m not the only one that has noticed that when it comes to putting black females in anchor chairs or host chairs, they often choose somebody who is fair-skinned (damn near white) with straight hair. I often think, well why can’t they put a brown-skinned sister up there (someone who doesn’t look racially mixed)?

  • Matt

    It seems like a huge leap to me to assume that he was trying to undermine her accomplishments, like some of the comments here seem to believe. Pretty sure he was just saying MSNBC is trying to have it both ways by hiring someone who doesn’t appear outwardly “black” while also promoting that they have hired an African-American. It still wasn’t a very tactful way to say it, but I think his intent was different than what it’s being interpreted as.

    I used to coach a basketball team with a biracial player. He took more crap from the black kids on the team than the white kids. They would ask him if he’d been to the beach, because he had a nice tan. I would say both “sides” need to stop making skin color such a major part of racial identity. None of us are 100% anything at this point. We’re just different points on the same spectrum.

  • Envy

    Well, WHAT ABOUT BARACK OBAMA he half black but ain’t nobody checking his complextion!!

    • Lia

      Right! They both have white moms and black fathers…

  • This is crazy. We will yell at the top of our lungs that blacks come in all shades from light bright pretty much white to black as a brand new tire. You get 1 white person questioning her blackness by her complexion and black folks are jumping on board to agree with him?!! Look at rashida jones, lolo jones, wentworth miller, h3ll half of my mothers side of my family they all could “pass”. So whats really the issue now? And since when do any black people know ANYYYYYYY white people who will claim to be black?

    • They are screaming diversity but steady hiring the whitest “black” people they can find. That doesn’t strike you as peculiar?

    • Na Na

      You have to remember that “us” (Black folk, African Americans, Africans h*ll Negroes or whatever you will call us) do not even make the classifications of what’s White, what’s Black etc. So we are basically trying to define ourselves under someone else’s variations of definitions. Nothing will never work, nothing will ever fit to define us under “their” classification systems, its not meant to.

    • Jefferson

      All of the celebrities you mentioned are Multiracial, so they are not exactly the best examples of Black diversity.

  • Has anyone ever seen her outside of television? I say that because, we know that makeup and lighting can make people look lighter than they really are. She may be a little darker than we all think because of the lighting making her look lighter…?

  • JaneDoe


  • guest

    Who cares what color she is? They should hire Soledad!

    Keep on digging that ditch GOP! I love it. Those people seriously think the election was some type of numbers fluke. At this rate the GOP will be disbanned and a new party or parties will evole from the GOP.

  • Lia

    I’m trying to figure out what his point would be…How many shades darker does she have to be to “look black” to the average (aka white) viewer? How is he complaining that she’s not black enough when the other stations have NO African American women as hosts? I’m not stupid, Karen is a biracial woman who looks like a biracial woman. But her lack of pigment does not take away from the reality of the situation.

    • He’s pointing out the fact that they are claiming “diversity” by getting the whitest looking black women they can find. Do you not see that?

      • ksmall

        and that’s what everyone is missing cheekee baby! he probably shoulda had someone black tweet that one tho cuz ppl are missing his point BECAUSE he’s white.

        • Exactly! He pointed out a truth and because he’s a white Republican he has to be racist.

          • ksmall

            and he may very well be a racist. but i don’t think his comment makes him one. bottom line is that the network knows that someone who is undeniably black, e.g. darker skin tone and even perhaps more “ethnic” hair like a natural style or braids, might alienate their non-black viewers. so they are clearly trying to walk the line. And I’m not mad at them for it but let’s just call it what it is lol. they very clearly picked the “whitest black woman” they could find. and i’m not taking anything away from her, but given our culture’s obsession with skin tone I’d like for my daughter to be able to point to a woman in her position and see someone who looks more like her and less like her best friend whose mom is white and dad is black. kudos to girlfriend, i guess progress can’t come all at once right.

            • You nailed it directly head on. For whatever reason many black people want to live in a la-la fantasy land and act as though colorism isn’t still heavily practiced especially in the media.

      • Lia

        Oh I see what he’s saying alright. What he’s saying is this isn’t really diversity because Melissa Harris-Perry and Karen Finny don’t really count as black women because they happen to be light skinned African American women. Somehow I gather that these two women have a different opinion on the matter. He completely attempts to discredit this accomplishment for them and disgusts me. This is one of the many reasons why the GOP stays losing when it comes to black people.

        • False! He isn’t saying they don’t count. He’s just pointing out the fact that they are VERY fair and most definitely mixed with other races besides black. Take it as you will but he raises a very GOOD point!

  • sabrina

    I’ll be 100% honest…I did not think she was black when I saw that picture. As I scroll up and look at it again, I still don’t see it.

    However, if she actually identifies herself as black and embraces it, then it’s all good to me. Yes, she may be mistaken for another ethnicity at first glance (or third), but we cannot discredit her blackness. If she went through life and experienced and understands the black struggle, she is just as black as the rest of us — regardless of her skin complexion.

    • I assure you that she is mixed with large percentage of white or some other ethnicity so why celebrate her as the first black such and such when she isn’t she’s only part black? My great great great grandfather was part black foot, yet they don’t say I’m the first black foot Indian Botanist to graduate from UCLA.

      Brown paper bag test in full affect here and its a glaring oversight.

      • My grandmother was full blood Blackfoot Indian..On my moms side!
        And CONGRATULATIONS on graduating college! Botany has always been interesting to me! 🙂

    • *Applause* thank you.

  • Chassie

    physically, i can’t disagree

  • rita

    They must be listening to us because that IS something blk people would say these days. Reneging on the old one drop rule because this is now the better way to divide and conquer. My mom’s family is lightskinned and they don’t think of themselves as being less blk than anyone else — I don’t love how suddenly there’s this whole big intense standard for being physically “black enough.” What’s next, are we going to start cutting people like Alicia Keys and the late Lena Horne from the blk community? This is kind of messed up.

  • He’s absolutely right. This keeps in-line with hiring the Soledad O’briens. Sure she has African American lineage but if I had to guess at first glance she looks Latino.

    • rita

      Who exactly “keeps on hiring Soledad O’Briens”? MSNBC’s other black anchors (Tamryn Hall, Melissa Harris Perry, Al Sharpton, the darkerskinned black woman who often subs for MHP and others, etc) are clearly black. CNN global has at least one black, African anchorwoman (unfortunately, they don’t show her much in the US, but she was on on the generic global CNN that I saw when I lived in an Asian country). This isn’t a pattern–unfortunately there just aren’t that many black anchor people, but I wouldn’t say most of them are borderline white. If you don’t think very fair black people are black enough to represent us, just say so. For the record, I think she looks black, or maybe east Indian (or both, like a Trinidadian or Guyanese person).

      • Ms_Sunshine9898

        I’m pretty sure Trinidad and Guyana are considered West Indian lol . . .

      • I never said “keeps on hiring Soledad O’Briens” what I says is this keeps inline with hiring the Soledad O’briens. I’m going you to next time read my post more carefully before writing a dissertation. This doesn’t have anything with her being “black enough” she isn’t fully black furthermore. There is a color bias in media. Most of the black population in commercials, TV shows, ads etc. are actually in fact mixed race. What makes them more black than they are __________?

        • Rodriguez

          Take a look at Telemundo and Univision all of the Latinos there have to be white they have a paper bag test because to them Latino means white. You would never catch a Lala or Evelyn news host on Spanish language TV.

  • Na Na

    I agree. Who would look at her and say she’s Black. Remember Black is a physical characteristic not a classification based on blood line or heritage.

    • ieshapatterson

      True,but I’m guessing she’s also there for the white viewers as well.

    • Cultural Beauty

      Oh okay, so then you’ll “claim” an East Indian person who is of dark complexion as a Black person but not a fair skinned African American?
      Come on, really!! Let’s be intelligent here!
      If one is African American, one is African American, no matter how dark or light, no matter what texture hair, features, etc. The continent of Africa alone is varied by geographical necessity!

      • Na Na

        See Cultural Beauty being an African American and being Black is two different categories so before you call some one ignorant you might actually want to learn something. Being African or being American is in regards to the line of blood that runs through your familial heritage.

        Being White or being Black is purely in reference to how you look i.e. Black people have big noses or White people long slender noses, those are all physical traits. It just saddens me that someone so pompous and arrogant as yourself is actually the dummy calling people ignorant. So you tell me, would you consider a Middle Eastern person White? probably not. #next

      • Marilee

        Being a black person in America is more than just skin tone otherwise we would all look the same: Black means CULTURE, HERITAGE, HISTORY, RACE, CONSCIOUSNESS. Dark skinned East Indians are of an entirely different culture, heritage and consciousness.

      • Wilma

        She’s not just a fair skinned person. She appears to be very mixed. So why not just say a mixed woman landed the job as….. Are they using her heritage as points for placing her in this high visibility position & meeting their quotas?

      • Jefferson

        Karen Finney is half White, so she is not exactly the best example of African diversity.