NBC “Nightly News” Sunday anchor and national correspondent Kate Snow thinks we are in a watershed moment when it comes to sexual harassment. “That said, I think we’ve had quite a few watershed moments.”
As an example, Snow pointed to her reporting on the accusations against Bill Cosby.
“I think that was a moment. I think this is a moment. I think Anita Hill was a moment,” she told WWD media editor Alexandra Steigrad, who interviewed her onstage at WWD’s CEO Summit on Tuesday afternoon. “There were a lot of moments when we thought that everything was going to change. I am hopeful that this is the moment where women who have true stories to tell are able to feel empowered to come forward.”
Asked if she had ever experienced sexual harassment in her career, Snow said, “At the age of 48, I have had a pretty good run, in terms of being treated as an equal and I certainly don’t have stories like some of the women have who are accusing Bill O’Reilly and others.
“But I think every woman in this room has experienced some level of, maybe not harassment, but discrimination, sexism, misogyny,” she added.
Asked what is enabling this moment, Snow attributed it to the rise of social media and recounted a recent segment on NBC “Nightly News” where women accusing the director James Toback of sexual harassment said they found each other on Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter and its use by President Trump, who was in a tweeting battle all day Tuesday with Sen. Bob Corker, Snow said of the media’s coverage of the White House: “We are still doing the same job that we have always done. We cover the White House the way we always cover the White House. But we have never had a president who tweets [like this].”
This, she explained, presents new challenges. Not only has the sheer volume of news increased, but having a direct social media feed from the president has amped up daily access in a way that was unheard in past administrations.
“Then you have the other thing, which is that he obviously doesn’t like us very much,” she said of his distaste for the mainstream media. “He calls us fake news all the time.”
Snow differentiated NBC’s news coverage — and that of other mainstream outlets — from the completely made up stories, which many say influenced the election, that the term “fake news” was originally meant to describe.
“Equating all of us, at NBC and The New York Times and all the networks, with the fake news is really dangerous for the country. Because there is a difference, and hopefully most Americans appreciate that there is a difference between journalism and made up stories,” she said.
Snow spoke of the other changes to the way people consume news, such as the rise of social media, digital and nontraditional platforms.
“A lot of my work now goes out not just on TV but also on digital,” she said. “And it has to, because we are busy people. How many people are home at 6:30 to sit down in the old-fashioned way and watch the way my parents watched Walter Cronkite? I mean, we know that doesn’t happen anymore.”
The hope, Snow said, is that people use DVR and find shows on digital platforms. She in fact has started an online-only program for NBC called “The Drink,” in which she interviews a famous person over a drink about how they got their start. The most recent one was with Jane Goodall.
But just because people watch TV differently doesn’t mean that sartorial challenges for female news anchors have changed.
“There is clearly a double standard in life, and certainly on television,” she said. “In life, we are judged on our dress when we go to a wedding and your husband is wearing the same boring black suit he wears to every wedding. On TV, that’s accentuated.”
As a strategy, Snow said she tries to rotate so that she doesn’t repeat outfits too often. “I don’t know if I should admit this to this crowd,” she said, “but I’ve started doing Rent the Runway.”
In the end, though, Snow’s focus is on trekking the news and interviewing people. She admitted her toughest interview was with former President Bill Clinton when she was the first journalist to interview him after Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 presidential nomination to Barack Obama and she asked Bill Clinton about claims that he had played the “race card” during the primaries.
”It got very heated,” she said. “By the end of it he was standing on my foot.”
The most difficult story she ever had to report on, though, was the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Snow recalled arriving on the scene as state troopers were still escorting parents from the school after they had been told their child had been killed and then having to report the story over the next four days. Growing emotional, she said, “That was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do.”