In his first public interview since officially being named permanent anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Lester Holt opened up to The Daily Beast about race, the importance of having diversity in the newsroom and his thoughts on President Obama’s use of the n-word.
Holt, who is television’s first African American solo anchor on a flagship evening newscast, admits that while he has never racially identified himself in the professional space, he understands the importance of having people who look like him on television.
“You know, I’ve never identified myself professionally through a racial lens, but I recognize it’s important,” said the 56-year-old journalist, whose mother is Jamaican and father African American. “It’s important that people turn on the TV and see people who look like themselves.”
Noting the diverse roster of correspondents at NBC, which include the likes of Tamron Hall, Al Roker and Craig Melvin, Holt also briefly touched on President Obama’s podcast that made headline news.
In an interview released Monday with comedian Marc Maron, the president opened up about his thoughts on racism, admitting that America still has a long way to go before being completely healed of its dark past.
“Racism, we are not cured of it,” POTUS said in the podcast. “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exist or not.”
Despite the president using the n-word to specifically make his point about the progress that still needs to take place in our country, his use of the ugly epithet sparked lots of controversy.
“I’d like to stay in my wheelhouse,” Holt said when asked about his thoughts in regards to the president’s interview. “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.”
Holt officially stepped into his role as permanent anchor following his four month stint in the position after his predecessor, Brian Williams, was taken off air for admitting to have exaggerated a 2003 story about the Iraq war.