CNN’s decision this week to reshuffle its prime time lineup prompted the NAACP to announce its disappointment that the network didn’t take the opportunity to add black voices to its news shows:
“As CNN announced their new schedule, a glaring omission was present – no African Americans were hosts or anchors in their prime time lineup,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “The NAACP is deeply concerned with the lack of African American journalists in prime time news, both on cable and national network news shows. In the spirit of award-winning African American journalists, from W.E.B. Dubois to Ed Bradley, the NAACP feels it is critical to bring this disparity, and the broader trend reflected in the overall lack of people of color as prime time news anchors, to the attention of the top officials at all of the major broadcast and cable news stations.”
The NAACP went on to say that they were troubled by the fact that there are no African American hosts or anchors on any national news show, cable or broadcast network, from the hours of 5PM-11PM because the prime time slots are among the most influential in daily news, and that while there are occasional black guests on the network shows, not one of them is headlined or anchored by a black.
Jealous also took the opportunity to criticize Fox News while giving some credit to MSNBC and CNN for their diversity on the weekends:
“We have come to expect this from the likes of Fox News, but not other networks. While we understand that news is now a 24-hour cycle, most Americans get their news from the morning and evening prime time broadcasts. We recognize and appreciate that MSNBC often has guest hosts like the Reverend Al Sharpton, and CNN, CBS and NBC have weekend anchors like TJ Holmes, Don Lemon, Russ Mitchell and Lester Holt. Nonetheless, we encourage all networks to acknowledge the talent that exists and to increase the diversity among their prime time anchors and hosts.”
While none of the three networks have any black hosts or anchors of shows during those prime time broadcasts, they all have blacks as reporters and substitute hosts. Fox often has substitute hosts like Juan Williams and Harris Faulkner, they have Geraldo Rivera (that should count for something), and reporters like Wendell Goler. I look forward to the day when
news reporters are judged, not on the color of their skin, but rather on the quality of their reporting.