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NAACP blasts CNN for creating new primetime lineup which doesn't feature any anchors of color

parkerspiter.jpgOver the past 14 months, CNN has shuffled its lineup a myriad of times: from losing ex-NBC anchor Campbell Brown to hiring disgraced ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and newspaper columnist Kathleen Parker, retiring longtime talker Larry King, replacing him with reality TV star Piers Morgan, hiring ex-CNBC anchor Erin Burnett and firing both Parker then Spitzer.

All of these moves have one thing in common. None of the anchors involved are people of color.

That has prompted the NAACP to issue a statement today criticizing the channel for failing to include any African Americans in its most recent fall lineup announced Wednesday. Indeed, the anchor moves don't include any non-white anchors, excluding the faces of Hispanics and Asian Americans as well from CNN's most important daypart, primetime.

naacp.gif“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.”

This is an ongoing problem for all the big cable TV newschannels; CNN is not alone. Because the audience is assumed to be older and white, it is often difficult for anchors of colro to get out of the so-called "weekend ghetto" of hosting shows on weekends and general newscasts in midday. Though CNN currently features African American anchors Suzanne Malveaux, T.J. Holmes and Don Lemon at various times during the week and weekend, none of them hosts a show in primetime, despite sizable tenures at the channel.

I wrote about this last year when news of Spitzer's and Morgan's hiring first broke and when Lawrence O'Donnell began developing a 10 p.m. show for MSNBC. It's the issue which won't go away until CNN (and MSNBC and Fox News, which also have no people of color anchoring in primetime) do something. Haven't yet seen a response from CNN; NAACP's press release is below:

(WASHINGTON, DC) The NAACP expressed its profound disappointment today in CNN for their newly announced prime time news lineup, which continues a multi-network trend, excluding African Americans from prime time slots as anchors and hosts.
 
“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.”
 
Currently, there are no African American hosts or anchors on any national news show, cable or broadcast network, from the hours of 5PM-11PM.  The NAACP is especially troubled because these prime time slots are among the most influential in daily news.  Prime time hosts in cable often have the most latitude to express their opinions, and evening news anchors are traditionally seen as the most credible voices in weekday news broadcasts. CNN, Bloomberg News, CNBC, FOX News and MSNBC have shows scheduled every hour to discuss world news, financial news and political news, and occasionally have African American commentators, but not one show in prime time is headlined or anchored by an African American.
 
“The NAACP Hollywood Bureau will be setting up meetings with the presidents of the news divisions to address this issue,” stated NAACP Hollywood Bureau Executive Director Vic Bulluck.  “Throughout the morning hours and during daytime programming, African American journalists such as Robin Roberts, Al Roker, Roland Martin and Tamron Hall have anchor and commentator chairs; however, no African American occupies that space in the prime time evening news cycle. With all of the respected, major talent that is available, we find it perplexing that these talented journalists are not elevated to prime time and we intend to raise that concern in our meetings.”
 
Jealous added, “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.”
 
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

 

[Last modified: Thursday, July 7, 2011 11:56am]

    

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