Photo credit: Todd Bates

About Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR’s first full-time TV critic, serving as critic, media analyst and guest host. He came to NPR from the Tampa Bay Times newspaper in Florida, where he served as TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. He is an adjunct instructor at Duke University and Indiana University, also serving as a member of the National Advisory Board at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. A professional journalist since 1990, he is 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.

A native of Gary, Indiana, Eric was inducted in 2024 into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, established in 1966 to honor “Journalists of the highest distinction…who have deep ties to Indiana.” This group includes fellow NPR colleague Steve Inskeep and former 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft.

He has guest hosted CNN’s media analysis show Reliable Sources many times and served as a moderator for discussions organized by the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, The National Book Festival, the Chautauqua Institute and the South By Southwest conference. He has earned the Distinguished Alumni Service Award from Indiana University – the institution’s highest alumni honor. In 2019, Eric became the first African American to serve as chairman for the jurors who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media at the University of Georgia; his one-year tenure capped a total six years he served on the board of jurors.

PREVIOUSLY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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Eric Deggans at NPR
Eric Deggans at NPR15 hours ago
As St. Petersburg gears up for a big Pride festival today, I'm surfacing this moving edition of NPR's Up First newsletter w/stories of queer staffers talking on work and life. As homophobia and transphobia rises here, this was a welcome message: READ: https://loom.ly/bCkE3X8
Eric Deggans at NPR
Eric Deggans at NPR1 day ago
LOVE the creative way Only Murders in the Building works celebrities into its narrative. The new season finds the lead characters visiting the set of a movie made about them - so we see celebrities playing their characters. Check the photo; can't wait for the episodes!
Eric Deggans at NPR
Eric Deggans at NPR2 days ago
Gov. Ron DeSantis stoops lower than I believed possible, vetoing most of the state's support for the arts. It's only $32 million among $1 billion in cuts, but it's devastating for artists and arts organizations, while proving how little he values the arts. https://loom.ly/ShtvKEc
Eric Deggans at NPR
Eric Deggans at NPR2 days ago
The only time I met Donald Sutherland, in 2018, he was such a fan of public radio he insisted I record his testimonial supporting the network after our interview, even though I didn't think we could actually air it. #RIP to an amazing artist and nice man. https://loom.ly/raqFxJE

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Journalist

Eric is the first full-time TV critic and media analyst for National Public Radio. He served as TV/Media Critic for the Tampa Bay Times, guest host of CNN’s Reliable Sources and freelance contributor to Salon, Huffington Post, and CNN.com.

Pundit

Eric has appeared as a pundit and expert on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, PBS’ The NewsHour, the Tom Joyner Morning Show and many other outlets.

Author

In Race-Baiter, Eric dissects the powerful ways modern media feeds fears, prejudices, and hate, while also tracing the history of the word and its consequences, intended or otherwise.

Public Speaker

Eric is available as a keynote speaker, instructor and thought leader on a wide range of topics, including: race issues, media, pop culture, social media, brand identity, music, online technology and much more.

The Daily Show News Team at SXSW: Content From Their Couches

Black Stories. Black Truths. — Eric Deggans — NPR TV Critic

TEDx speech: How to Talk About Race Across Race Lines

Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation

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In Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, Eric describes how some media outlets have weaponized messages of fear, division and social conflict. They exacerbate old prejudices and deep-rooted fears about women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims and other marginalized groups, seeking a loyal audience, advertising dollars and political power.

Gone is the era of three-channel television, when every outlet fought to serve a wide spectrum of American viewers. Today, many pundits, bloggers, podcasters and cable news anchors aim instead for a passionate niche of fans. When that process illuminates a previously overlooked group, it is a wonderful exercise in equality. But when it segments viewers along race, class and gender lines, resisting America’s proud legacy of progress through diversity, then problems arise. Deggans experienced this phenomenon firsthand when he was called a “race-baiter” by then-Fox News Channel anchor Bill O’Reilly.

The term “Race-Baiter” — once applied to those who unfairly leveraged racism against minorities — has been recast by some to describe anyone who criticizes prejudice in modern media. The conflict at hand: a debate on whether systemic racism and prejudice still affects marginalized groups in America.

The book also features an interview with conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart conducted five months before his death and an interview with pundit Tucker Carlson years before he would become Fox News Channel’s biggest star.

Well ahead of the current drive to diversify fictional TV shows, Eric details how the nation’s four largest TV networks were nearly sued by the NAACP for their lack of onscreen diversity. Before CBS declared 50 percent of its contestants on unscripted “Reality TV” shows like Survivor and Big Brother would be non-white people, Race-Baiter dissected how racial politics made it much harder for contestants of color to succeed on those shows.

Race-Baiter sounds the alarm for a more civil discourse, showing that the more we talk past each other, the further we drift from solutions to our very real problems.

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