The Tamron Hall Show is one of the most sought-after platforms in television today because it can take a celebrity one step closer from a niche personality to a household name.
Entrepreneurs, authors, artists, and activists visit the show to promote their products, services, events, and professional expertise. In exchange for access to the show’s platform, hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Tamron Hall, they subject themselves to being interviewed by her in a public forum.
The Real Housewives of Miami star Larsa Pippen and former The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Guobadia, known more commonly as Porsha Williams, expressed displeasure with Hall’s lines of questioning recently.
Pippen, who appeared on an episode of the show that aired February 28, accused Hall of being “negative” by asking follow-up questions regarding her relationship with Marcus Jordan during a break.
Williams, who identified herself as a journalist in 2017, claimed she did “feel supported” during her 2021 appearance on the show during a stint as a guest host on The Breakfast Club. She also dubbed Hall’s show a “hidden mess” and said the former NBC reporter was “trying to look like a journalist.”
The reality stars and entrepreneurs did not take issue with being asked questions on the show. They took issue with being asked questions they disapproved of.
Guests on the Tamron Hall Show are frequently in the news before they get there. Sometimes they make headlines for things perceived negatively, but they still appear. Prominent figures claim to hate clickbait and provocative inquiries. Still, they never seem to hate them enough to miss an opportunity to push whatever they are selling to someone who might only know them as that person from that thing their friend made them watch that one time. They hate on the blogs from the iOS press releases in their Instagram stories, then gladly stop to kiki with TMZ in the airport.
Hall’s audience tunes in because they are curious about the guest. Hall and her producers must serve their audience by asking questions that indulge their curiosity. They are not required to support a guest or make them feel good.
Their questions might be messy, but so is reality television.
Hall asked about storylines from the show that these stars are on, as she pointed out during Pippen’s interview. The season finale of The Real Housewives of Miami featured footage of Pippen playing coy about her love life, and the tabloids picked up where that left off. People are interested in who she is dating and how the people from her past and future are reacting to her dating that person. Don’t believe me? Ask the journalists writing about her for PEOPLE and the New York Post.
Celebrities have the right to refuse to answer a journalist’s questions, but they know in doing so, it becomes news on its own. So rather than say “no comment” or “I would rather not answer that question,” some choose to deflect from their discomfort by attacking the journalist’s right to ask them. They do this even if the questions in dispute are directly attached to why they are in the news at the moment and at the top of the audience’s mind when they are on the show.
Some stars even ask for the questions in advance and balk at the refusal of a media outlet to provide them, especially when that media outlet is Black-owned or Black-fronted. Black celebs frequently withdraw access to Black media outlets when they publish something unflattering about them and then offer exclusives to mainstream outlets who mostly ignore them until tragedy strikes.
Social media has blurred the line between journalism and other forms of media, like branded content. With every hotep in his mom’s basement and the moderately popular person with a Yeti microphone screaming about what it means to be an alpha male, your timelines are saturated with things that look like interviews but are not.
Interviews are not advertisements. You do not pay to be interviewed (mixtape rappers, I’m looking at you).
Interviews are a conversation that usually explores what you are famous or notable for and an opportunity to sell yourself to someone less familiar with your current project than you would like them to be. They always inform and sometimes entertain the audience.
A celebrity can appear on a television show, talk to a magazine, or speak on a radio show to promote their latest project without answering questions from a journalist. All they have to do is purchase a commercial.
Cheerios and Geico do it all the time.
Hall conducts actual interviews. She is not a rando with a Best Buy charge account and strong opinions dissing Black women for a chance at going viral. She isn’t so desperate for guests that she will agree to meet any demand. She is a respected journalist engaging with pop culture by asking public figures for their takes on what the public says about them.
In recent years, celebrities have been increasing their efforts to access platforms like Hall’s without risking unflattering exposure. That’s fair, but making that choice means less engagement with those platforms and potentially losing access to select audiences who might not be as invested in their get-ready with-me vlogs as devoted fans are.
They can keep talking exclusively to one another and their die-hard fans if they like. The choice is theirs. But if they want to keep selling whatever they’re selling that week to the people outside of their fanbase we’re dedicated to serving; the questions will continue to be ours.
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