Michael Burke and Joe Concha, The Hill, March 5, 2019
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) said Tuesday that it would place CNN on a “special media monitoring list,” citing a lack of black representation among the network’s leadership ranks.
NABJ said in a statement that its preliminary research showed that CNN has no black employees reporting to CNN President Jeff Zucker. It also showed that the news organization has no black executive producers as well as no black vice presidents or senior vice presidents on the news side.
CNN disputed the group’s finding that there are no black vice presidents on the news side, according to NABJ. But the news network did not provide the name or position of the vice president or vice presidents, NABJ said.
The NABJ said a four-person delegation sought to meet with Zucker but that the CNN president refused to do so because of “a personal issue between CNN and NABJ’s Vice President-Digital Roland Martin” stemming from Martin’s participation in a 2016 town hall with then-Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
NABJ said its next step will include further research and analysis on CNN’s “diversity, inclusion and equity practices.” The group also said it is calling for a “civil rights audit” to examine CNN’s “hiring, promotion and compensation practices involving black employees.”
Last year, former CNN morning anchor Soledad O’Brien slammed the network and the cable news industry at large for what she said is a lack of diversity on the senior level.
The criticism came after O’Brien reacted to a CNN report stating that President Trump did not have any African-Americans on his senior staff following the dismissal of former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman last year.
The former “Apprentice” reality show contestant was the most senior black person in the administration, serving as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison until her firing in 2018.