It’s a new day for journalist Tamron Hall.
Last week, news broke that the ever-bubbly co-anchor was suddenly leaving NBC and the Today show just days after learning she’d be losing her 9 a.m. time slot because of the incoming former Fox News star Megyn Kelly, joining the show in September.
The fallout from the news left many shocked and disappointed, including top brass at the network. “We are disappointed that she has chosen to leave but we wish her all of the best,” NBC said in a joint statement with Hall, who added she was “excited about the next chapter.”
But in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, sources reveal what really went wrong, and why Hall, 46, an accomplished journalist who for a decade had worked her way up through the ranks at NBC, felt compelled to walk away from her dream job.
Only a couple weeks ago, things seemed to be going extremely well for Hall. On top of anchoring gigs at MSNBC Live and Dateline, she’d recently been enjoying added exposure at Today, filling in early mornings during host Savannah Guthrie’s maternity leave and hosting the 9 a.m. hour alongside Al Roker following Billy Bush’s abrupt departure in October amid the election scandal.
“Just a few days before all of this happened, she received an email congratulating the team for being number one,” a source close to Hall tells PEOPLE, noting that the pair had managed to beat ABC’s long-running Live with Kelly in the ratings for several weeks. “Then all of a sudden, it was like it vanished: Megyn Kelly is coming onboard, and who’s going to have to move? Tamron. That’s who.”
But a source close to the situation insists Hall had long been made aware that her current time slot was not set in stone. “The idea that she could have been at all surprised rings totally false. In the brief period of time in which she has been part of the 9 a.m. hour ensemble, the ratings have only shrunk (the recent wins over Kelly Ripa were only because that show has tanked in the last several weeks. And no network is in the business of being the slowest sinking ship).”
The source continues, “Tamron was told many months ago, a long-term commitment could not be made to her regarding the 9 a.m. hour, but she was offered many millions of dollars to remain at Today and the network.” When it comes to her colleagues, the source contends that “The staff is hurt and bewildered, and thinks once again Tamron has put herself above the team.”
Multiple sources tell PEOPLE that Hall was equal parts furious, hurt and offended that she was essentially losing her highest profile role to Kelly, with nothing being offered in its place. Hall saw the move as a “demotion” and she wasn’t alone. The National Association of Black Journalists decried NBC’s decision to trade Hall and Roker’s show for the staunch conservative stylings of a high-profile Fox News alum as “whitewashing.” (A rep for the network countered: “NBC News has a long and proven history as an industry leader in newsroom diversity.” The network later agreed to meet with representatives of NABJ to discuss the matter.)
Source: People | Janine Rubenstein