Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." Deggans serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ's summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.

Named in 2009, as one of Ebony magazine's "Power 150" – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.

His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

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Monkey See
12:05 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Social Media Meltdowns Highlight The Power Of The Audience

Anthony Cumia, at an April event commemorating 20 years of The Opie & Anthony Show, was fired after a series of racially charged tweets.
Cindy Ord Getty Images Entertainment

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:57 am

At first glance, Adam Richman and Anthony Cumia might not seem to have much in common.

True enough, they are media stars who took a hard fall thanks to untoward comments on social media. Richman, a host on the Travel Channel, saw the debut of his new show delayed indefinitely after an online spat led him to suggest one critic commit suicide.

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Television
1:36 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Questlove And The Roots: How A Hip-Hop Band Conquered Late Night

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson (center) appears with The Roots members Frank Knuckles (left) and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter during the first episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Lloyd Bishop NBC

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 8:47 pm

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Monkey See
3:53 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

'Working Stiff TV' — Hey, Meat And Potatoes Are Pretty Tasty

Mary McDonnell stars in Major Crimes, a good solid show that preserves the ensemble created in TNT's more successful drama The Closer.
TNT

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:13 am

Even the snobbiest entertainment fan has got to admit it: Television is pretty good these days.

So it's easy to get distracted by talk of big-ticket dramas like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead or Orange Is the New Black. But the fact is, there's a whole wide universe of TV shows out there that aren't trying to top critics' best-of lists, make the short list at the Emmys or get recapped on Vulture.com.

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NPR Story
1:05 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

A Farewell To Foremother Of TV Journalism: Barbara Walter Retires

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 5:18 pm

Barbara Walters retires from daily television work on the May 15 edition of The View. As NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans notes, Walters may just be the real parent of today's TV journalists, who often meld the worlds of entertainment and news.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Television
3:33 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Louis C.K. Takes On TV Hypocrisy, Aiming Scrutiny Back At Himself

Louis C.K. in the episode "So Did the Fat Lady," which also stars actress Sarah Baker.
Craig Blankenhorn FX

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 9:51 pm

He's known as an astute comic observer with an unerring ability to skewer the most hypocritical moments of modern life. But it turns out Louis C.K. can also be a surprising example of TV's double standard when it comes to men, women and weight. He complains about his tubby body in part of his standup act. But on his TV show, his love interests are often beautiful, thin actresses like Parker Posey and Yvonne Strahovski.

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Television
11:34 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Why 'Fargo' For TV Works With Cold Efficiency And 'Bad Teacher' Doesn't

Billy Bob Thornton in FX's Fargo, an adaptation that works by lifting the tone of the film, not the story.
Matthias Clamer FX

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 4:30 am

There is a moment, deep inside the first episode of FX's excellent re-imagination of the Coen brothers' masterful film Fargo, when a police officer gets a phone call.

He's sleeping next to his pregnant wife. It's early. And the well-meaning but sometimes complacent police chief is suddenly called to the scene of a bizarre crime.

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Monkey See
3:19 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Stephen Colbert: The End Of One Joke, The Start Of Many More

Stephen Colbert has made a name for himself, literally, as the host of his own show. Now, he will succeed David Letterman as the host of The Late Show.
Scott Gries Picturegroup

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 4:37 am

CBS just ended the longest-running joke in TV history by naming Stephen Colbert to succeed retiring late-night host David Letterman

That's because Colbert, who has won all kinds of acclaim playing fictional right-wing cable TV news host "Stephen Colbert" on The Colbert Report, will now play a new character when he takes over Letterman's Late Show:

Himself.

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The Two-Way
3:57 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Weather Channel Will Return To DirectTV

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore reporting from Manhattan's Battery Park during Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
Jonathan Saruk/The Weather Channel Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 3:20 pm

The Weather Channel will return to DIRECTV on Wednesday, ending a three month dispute which saw the cable channel yanked from the satellite television system reaching 20 million subscribers.

But the new agreement comes with a price: the Weather Channel has agreed to cut back its reality programming by half during weekdays, restore instant local weather and allow DIRECTV subscribers to watch the cable channel on a range of devices in and out of their homes.

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Code Switch
11:21 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

In #CancelColbert, A Firestorm And A Lost Opportunity

A joke Stephen Colbert made on his show last week was retweeted by Comedy Central. The joke — shorn of its context because, well, Twitter — sparked an online firestorm, and the hashtag #CancelColbert.
Comedy Central

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 3:27 pm

At first, the idea of canceling The Colbert Report over a wayward tweet sounded like handing out the death penalty for a speeding ticket.

And as much as I understand the notion of using a provocative hashtag to fuel an important conversation, the #CancelColbert controversy mostly shows the difficulty of deciding just how offensive a joke based in stereotypes really is.

And there's a more important question: Once you determine something awful happened, how does it get fixed?

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Media
1:00 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

In The Absence Of Answers, We Return Repeatedly To The Questions

Jean-Paul Troadec (center), special adviser to France's aviation accident investigation bureau, speaks to journalists on Tuesday.
Lai Seng Sin AP

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 3:45 pm

The view from inside a media circus is an odd one, indeed.

But I got a glimpse of the scenery a few days ago, when CNN asked me to weigh in on the similarities between the real-life missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the myriad of fictional TV shows or movies where similar events have unfolded.

Why are we so drawn to these stories? anchor Suzanne Malveaux asked me in a few different ways, perhaps wanting an emotional take on how the plane crash scene in the TV series Lost or the film Alive could have ended Flight 370's mysterious voyage.

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Code Switch
9:28 am
Tue March 4, 2014

A Colorful Night At The Oscars. More Of The Same To Come?

The Mexico-born, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o was one of several artists of color to collect awards during Sunday's Oscar ceremony. She won the accolade for best supporting actress.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 4:44 pm

It might have been the most diverse Academy Awards telecast in recent memory.

Sunday night's broadcast was capped by British director Steve McQueen accepting a best picture Oscar for his film 12 Years a Slave — the first film directed by a black man to earn that honor. His emotional acceptance speech was dedicated to "all of the people who endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today."

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Monkey See
8:54 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Desk, Set: Seth Meyers Lands In Late Night Very Safely

Actress Amy Poehler during an interview with host Seth Meyers on the premiere of Meyers' Late Night.
Peter Kramer NBC

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 8:52 am

The best thing about late-night TV can also be the trickiest.

On the fringes of TV's big stage, shows airing after midnight can be a home for invention; a place where quirky personalities and developing talent can try things with the potential for massive success or demoralizing failure with relatively low stakes.

That history — and its potential for greatness — may be one reason why Seth Meyers' funny, well-paced, completely professional debut Monday as the new host of NBC's 12:35 a.m. Late Night show nevertheless left me a little underwhelmed.

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Monkey See
12:34 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

On 'Tonight Show,' Jimmy Fallon Looks To Bridge Two Eras

Stephen Colbert visits The Tonight Show for Jimmy Fallon's debut --€” and pays up the $100 he bet that Fallon would never host it.
Theo Wargo Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 1:24 pm

When Jimmy Fallon first stepped up to lead a late-night talk show in 2009, he looked like a teenager trying to drive his dad's Ferrari: a good kid who was out of his depth.

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Television
3:05 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Antihero Or Villain? In 'House Of Cards,' It's Hard To Tell

Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey play Claire and Francis Underwood in Netflix's House of Cards. When the second season is released on Friday, audiences can expect to see more ruthless behavior from these power-hungry characters — but are they antiheroes, or plain old villains?
Nathaniel E. Bell Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 5:00 pm

[Editor's Note: This piece references plot points from the first season of House of Cards. If you've been waiting a year to binge-watch it, consider this your spoiler alert.]

When Netflix's groundbreaking online series House of Cards releases its second season to the world Friday — unleashing 13 new episodes about a wily congressman willing to kill to reach the vice presidency — fans will get more than another jolt of TV's most addictive political drama.

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Monkey See
10:02 am
Thu February 6, 2014

All Work, No Respect: Twice Pushed Out, Jay Leno Moves On From 'Tonight'

Jimmy Fallon appears with Jay Leno on one of the latter's final Tonight Shows.
Chris Haston NBC

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 12:45 pm

Not many people can say they got pushed out of a job twice while at the top of their game. But Jay Leno, the famously workaholic host of NBC's Tonight Show, is one who can.

By most measures, he should be one of the Peacock Network's most powerful stars; for 22 years – with one small break — he's hosted the highest-rated late-night show on television. Even as profits have sagged in recent years, the Tonight Show franchise pulls in $125 million in revenue, according to Kantar Media (that figure, however, is down from $255-million in 2007).

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