With the final live episode of NewsOne Now with Roland Martin in the history books, black America now wakes up to a noticeable void precisely in the most dangerous political moment we’ve faced in the modern era. I’ve had the honor of appearing on this ground-breaking show as a regular contributor and occasional guest host for most of its four-year run. Even making my initial appearance during its weekly predecessor, Washington Watch.
All that time, l’ve had a front-row seat to the journalistic brillance of Roland Martin. From his passionate and spot-on political commentary—all delivered straight from the heart by the way, rather than by aid of teleprompter—to his unwavering commitment to delivering news on a daily basis that centers the black experience in a way that is unparalleled on television. Quite literally, it is NewsOne Now, or it is nothing else.
But as much respect as I have for Roland Martin, at the end of the day, losing this show is not about him. And it certainly isn’t about me or the dozens of other black subject-matter experts that Martin introduced to the world.
It’s about you.
It’s about your need to have a consistent, substantive space at the other end of your remote that prioritizes news, politics, policy and information specifically for and about black people at this dangerous time.
We all know what a reckless, racist, and relentlessly radical right-wing administration the Trump White House has proven itself to be. After only one year in office, we’ve witnessed communities of color be specifically targeted and demonized while simultaneously, those in the White House continue to run roughshod over the rule of law, demoralize the press on a daily basis and spread lies at a dizzying rate. In fact, according to the Washington Post, Trump lied over 1,300 times in his first 263 days, boiling down to literally an average five lies daily. In other words, if his mouth is open, odds are, a lie is coming out. And as we often said on the show, #TrumpLiesMatter. Clearly, this is a White House that has no pretense of truth and therefore, targets and seeks to delegitimize truth-tellers at every opportunity.
This is also a White House that has no qualms with praising white supremacists and encouraging police brutality, while simultaneously endorsing the myth of Black Identity Extremists. And now that the tax bill has gone through, the next thing that will be in its crosshairs will be the very programs that many in the black community need to survive. Everything from social security to food and heating assistance will be under attack. Not to mention the continued resistance to funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the stuck on stupid all-out assault against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Who on television will cover these issues and more as NewsOne Now had—from a discernibly black perspective with our needs and our interests centered and on full display at all times? The answer is, no one will.
Even more disturbing, while NewsOne Now, our ONLY source of black nationally televised news and information vanishes, right-wing proliferation of the airwaves is rising. On the very week that TV One announced the demise of the show, Sirius XM Radio announced Former White House Chief Policy Adviser and Alt-Right/White Supremacist Political Guru, Steve Bannon would be getting a show of his own.
Simultaneously, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a television conglomerate which currently touches 35 million American households nationwide through local early morning and evening news programming, is mandating that its local stations run pro-Trump segments not as fact-based news coverage, but something more akin to Faux News style pro-Trump propaganda. And while this entity not only remains, it now stands on the verge of getting even larger.
In November, Trump’s Federal Communications Commission voted to eliminate a series of regulations for local media ownership, while simultaneously approving a new TV broadcast standard specifically developed by Sinclair. This action gives the green light for the Sinclair Broadcast Group to expand by way of a $3.9 billion merger with its current competitor, Tribune. The result will be the acquisition of an additional 42 local stations, making Sinclair by far the largest media conglomerate in the nation, ultimately reaching 72 percent of the nation’s households.
Coupled with the FCC’s attack on Net Neutrality, this is the worst time imaginable to silence black voices that are critical for informing, supporting, and organizing black progress—political and otherwise, especially with the 2018 and 2020 elections right around the corner.
Now to be clear, TV One has recently suggested that Roland and NewsOne Now will be back in some form in 2018. And while there is no proof to confirm these statements, certainly the thousands that have signed petitions, called the network and have even threatened to boycott hope the suggestion is true. But what I know for sure is that no matter what the future holds, as a community we have to make the commitment to support those institutions that support us. That means actually watching shows that uplift us rather than degrades us. That means not just reactionary approaches like boycotting sponsors, but proactive ones like encouraging sponsorship of those shows we know we need.
Just as much as the responsibility is now on TV One to either correct course with this ill-conceived decision or remain firmly out of the way so another platform can ensure that this institution (or one like it) survives, it is each of our responsibilities to make sure that shows like this are unquestionably successful in the first place.
We know, for example, that if voting wasn’t important, our political foes wouldn’t spend so much time, effort and money trying to take it away from us. Likewise, if news wasn’t important, this administration wouldn’t be so fixated on shaping it, shaming it into submission, or getting rid of critical truth-tellers altogether.
We can not let them win. Not now. Not ever.
NewsOne Now and Forever.
Dr.Avis Jones-DeWeever is a Media Commentator, Award-Winning Author, International Speaker and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Solutionist. Find out more by logging on to avisjonesdeweever.com