TIFFANY CROSS AND MSNBC
Tiffany Cross was ready to “Say It Louder.”
And she did.
And she will continue to do so.
That’s just who she is.
And it’s a good thing, even when it can sometimes cost you.
Has she made a practice of crossing the line?
(Forgive me; no pun intended).
But it depends on whom you ask.
Cross has spent over 20 years working with media and politics.
She has covered elections, administrations, Congress and Capitol Hill.
She has constructed her own News Platform and has covered local, federal, and state campaigns.
She has been published on many occasions.
Following her first journalism job as a reporter at an Atlanta radio station, she embarked on an upward flight.
The trajectory was good.
BET–Washington Bureau Chief.
Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics–Resident Fellow.
She made regular appearances on MSNBC, most notably on AM Joy with then-host Joy Reid.
Cross also served as the managing editor of The Beat DC.
The path continued to follow a northern plan.
In July 2020, her book, “Say It Louder: Black Voters, Our Voices, and The Shaping of American Democracy” was published.
That same month, Reid’s new weekday show, The ReidOut, started and Cross became one of a handful of rotating guest hosts of AM Joy.
As of August, Cross, Jonathan Capehart and Zerlina Maxwell were in the running for the MSNBC weekend slot.
By December, she had been named host of a new MSNBC two-hour show, The Cross Connection, (often stylized as Crosstalk) — replacing Reid’s AM Joy Saturday gig–with Capehart assuming the Sunday space and Maxwell hosting her own show on NBC Peacock.
Her appointment made her the first Black woman to host a cable news prime-time show.
Fast forward to October 2022 when storm clouds loomed, hovered ominously and opened with a vengeance.
Seemingly minor controversies erupted which resulted in her ultimate non-renewal.
First, during an October 8 broadcast, she touched on Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s recent concussions, remarking that his treatment in their wake, demonstrated that White NFL coaches failed to protect “Black bodies.”
In fact, Tagovailoa is of Samoan descent, and Dolphins’ head coach, Mike McDaniel, is biracial.
On November 4, the hammer came down.
MSNBC informed Cross–and her staff–that her contract would not be renewed.
It was something of a surprise, but both Variety and Black Enterprise offered their respective takes.
Variety reported that “executives at the network [were] growing concerned about the anchor’s willingness to address statements made by cable-news hosts on other networks and indulging in commentary [executives] felt did not meet the standards of MSNBC or NBC News.”
Black Enterprise linked the decision to her remarks just hours earlier on Comedy Central when she opined that “Florida literally looks like the dick of the country, so let’s get rid of Florida…Let’s castrate Florida.”
In response to her ouster, Cross said, “I am disheartened to learn of MSNBC’s decision to cancel my show, The Cross Connection, at such a crucial time–four days before the midterm elections…
With a rapidly changing media landscape, I look forward to maintaining a platform that continues to reflect the changing demographics of the country.”
The Daily Beast spoke to several MSNBC staffers who speculated that Fox host Tucker Carlson may have contributed to her firing.
In fairness, as mentioned, MSNBC executives had become increasingly frustrated with Cross’ penchant for attacking news hosts at rival cable networks, including the reprehensible Carlson.
Public feuds with Carlson, Sirius XM’s Megyn Kelly, whom she dubbed “a black face expert,” and Bill Maher of HBO, whom she called “an angry, white old man,” greased the skids for her unceremonious departure.
Elsewhere, Cross characterized CNN’s Van Jones, ESPN’s Sage Steele and former MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson as Black journalists who “are not necessarily black voices.”
“I see my colleagues dilute themselves, water down their points, go out of their way to make white folks comfortable because they think somehow that it is going to win them some prize.”
Warned to refrain from “name calling” and use of “vulgar, lewd” language by the network’s ‘standards team,’ the problem was never her message, but the way she chose to deliver it.
The straw that broke Cross’ back may have resulted from her October 15 on-air remark about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom she called “Justice Pubic Hair on My Coke Can.”
Here’s my deal:
I like Tiffany Cross.
I like Bill Maher.
I don’t care for Tucker Carlson.
We are all entitled to our opinions.
We are not always right.
Nor is any one person bigger than the team.
Or the business.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in November 2022.]