In interviews, NBC's new permanent anchor Lester Holt talks news, race and Brian Williams — but what about his faith?

What makes Lester Holt tick?

The new permanent anchor of NBC's "Nightly News" has been making the interview rounds, discussing his high-profile gig with media ranging from The Daily Beast to USA Today:

In the interviews, Holt has talked about the news business:

When Lester Holt was a young broadcast journalist, he dreamed of one day sitting in the chair of the renowned news anchor Walter Cronkite.
That grand ambition faded over the next three decades, even as Mr. Holt’s career took off. He worked a string of local jobs across the country — in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago — before landing at MSNBC, and then, in 2003, at NBC.
By that time, Mr. Holt said in an interview on Monday, the anchor’s chair was “something that I hadn’t thought about for many, many years. It was part of a young guy’s dream.”
On Monday evening Mr. Holt, 56, ascended to the position he had all but given up on, delivering the NBC “Nightly News” broadcast for the first time as its permanent anchor.
Mr. Holt had been serving as “Nightly News” anchor on a temporary basis since February, when Brian Williams was suspended for fabricating a story about his experience during a helicopter attack in Iraq.

He's talked about his race:

He's the first African-American to be the sole anchor of a network evening newscast; Max Robinson was part of a team on ABC more than three decades ago. Holt takes pride in the achievement as he downplays it, saying he looks forward to a day when it isn't an issue.
"I'm very mindful of the significance," he said. "There's a lot of pressure that comes with a job like this and that's one of them. That's one of the responsibilities. I'm gratified by those who have taken pride in that. I've never made race a big part of who I am."

And he's talked about his predecessor:

His media interviews Monday were something of a victory lap; Holt's ascension is as dramatic as it is awkward. Since Williams' fate at NBC was announced Thursday, the deposed anchor has come back to the offices at 30 Rock in New York. But Holt has yet to speak to the man he's replacing in person. They did chat over the phone, he said.
"I can tell you that it was a conversation we both have been craving, recognizing what an awkward situation this was," Holt said. "We're friends. Nothing that transpired gets between that. And I thanked him for the supportive words he said in public."

But what's missing from the interviews?

Since this is GetReligion, you know what I'm going to say. In fact, we've covered this subject before:

Holt is a longtime member of the Manhattan Church of Christ. In 2009, in my work with The Christian Chronicle, I interviewed him about his faith:

From a Chronicle column I wrote:

During our conversation, Holt noted that he’s often asked whether it’s hard to be a person of faith in his profession. Whenever that question is posed, he said, the implication seems to be that “this business is not for people of faith.” 

“I think there’s a connotation that we’re the liberal, atheist media,” Holt said. “And I know a lot of people in this business who are people of faith — maybe not this specific faith that I share, but people who believe in God and follow their faith. So I don’t find it hard. 

“In fact, I find in many ways that this job is a blessing, in that as a journalist, I really get to see life in all its permutations. ... I see death. I see people going through the depth of tragedy, and I see people going through the highest of things. It just reminds you of how short life is ... and I think it’s the kind of thing that in many ways is faith-affirming.”

Am I suggesting the media are dropping the ball by not referencing Holt's faith? Not entirely.

In a short interview with a news anchor, I can understand why the question "What role does your Christian faith play in your life and profession?" might not come up. And I can understand why the anchor might not volunteer the information.

But for an enterprising journalist, wouldn't delving into Holt's faith be an excellent way to explore his personal background, his worldview and, yes, what makes him tick?

Just asking.

Inset image of Lester Holt and his wife, Carol, via

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