In a press release today, the NAACP expressed its profound disappointment in CNN’s newly announced prime-time news lineup, which features no African Americans in slots as anchors or hosts.
“The NAACP is deeply concerned with the lack of African-American journalists in prime-time news, both on cable and national network news shows,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said. “In the spirit of award-winning African-American journalists, from W.E.B. Du Bois 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 organization says that this reflects a national trend. Currently, there are no African-American hosts or anchors on any national news show, cable or broadcast network, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. The NAACP’s view is that this is especially troubling because these prime-time slots are among the most influential in daily news, with prime-time hosts in cable often enjoying latitude to express their opinions, and evening news anchors traditionally seen as the most credible voices in weekday news broadcasts.
In the age of Herman Cain, we should all know that a token black host wouldn’t necessarily mean anything good or bad for the black community in terms of the substance of opinions expressed. On that issue, we’d be much more concerned with ensuring a variety of black commentators.
That said, there is something psychologically powerful about having an African American in the authoritative role of host or anchor. Black and white Americans alike are still starved for such images (yes, even with a black president). So while we’d probably save our “deep” concern for things like the overall dismal unemployment rate among African Americans, we do agree that the networks have a lot to answer for as to why their lineups fail to draw from the full range of talented people who are available.
In other news: Oprah to Teach ‘Life 101’ Class at Leadership Academy.