- “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were among Twitter users who criticized CBS for seemingly not including any Black journalists on its newly announced 2020 Election team.
- Washington and Ocasio-Cortez reacted to a tweet from CBS’ Ben Mitchell that had headshots of the 12 producers and reporters assigned to cover the 2020 Presidential Election.
- The tweet provoked hundreds of replies, including several members of the media who questioned how the team’s seeming lack of Black journalists would compromise coverage for African-American voters.
“Scandal” actress Kerry Washington and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were among Twitter users who criticized CBS for announcing their new 2020 election team without seemingly including any Black journalists.
Quoting the same tweet from CBS Associate Producer Ben Mitchell, Ocasio-Cortez and Washington tweeted a day apart, both taking issue that none of the 12 reporters or producers appeared to be Black.
Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “This WH admin has made having a functional understanding of race in America one of the most important core competencies for a political journalist to have, yet @CBSNews hasn’t assigned a *single* black journalist to cover the 2020 election.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added: “Unacceptable in 2019. Try again.”
This WH admin has made having a functional understanding of race in America one of the most important core competencies for a political journalist to have, yet @CBSNews hasn’t assigned a *single* black journalist to cover the 2020 election.
Unacceptable in 2019. Try again. https://t.co/h7tmiBr9Fi
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 13, 2019
The next day, Washington quoted the same tweet and wrote “Dear @CBSNews, I am encouraged by the diversity you DID include. But when it comes time to discuss the inevitable role that race and racism will play in the election, who will you turn to for a perspective with nuanced & personal understanding of the African American experience?”
Dear @CBSNews, I am encouraged by the diversity you DID include. But when it comes time to discuss the inevitable role that race and racism will play in the election, who will you turn to for a perspective with nuanced & personal understanding of the African American experience? https://t.co/yqViF535oY
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) January 13, 2019
The NAACP released a statement days later that said the team’s lack of any Black journalists will potentially compromise its ability “to speak to and address the issues and concerns directly impacting the Black community.”
“CBS News’ decision to not include Black reporters on their 2020 Election news team further proves the voting power and voices of Black America continue to be undervalued,” the statement said. “As the voting bloc which will most certainly heavily determine the direction of this country in the upcoming election, it is vital any and all media outlets have a diverse newsroom, including individuals of color in decision making positions to speak to and address the issues and concerns directly impacting the Black community.”
The statement finished: “Representation matters and the media needs our coverage on the issues to drive the discussion.”
Though they garnered significant attention, Ocasio-Cortez’s and Washington’s reactions were just two among hundreds of tweets criticizing the team’s seeming lack of diversity.
California Rep. Maxine Waters addressed CBS in a Monday morning tweet to demand an explanation.
Many members of the media tweeted to criticize the announcement.
Journalist Erin Biba wrote that it was “remarkable” that CBS would “make an error this glaringly stupid and wrong” by not crafting a more diverse team.
It's actually *remarkable* that you could make an error this glaringly stupid and wrong. You'd almost have to have done this intentionally it's so obvious.
— Erin Biba (@erinbiba) January 13, 2019
Rolling Stone Senior Writer Jamil Smith tweeted “there will be more black candidates for president” than were included on the team. He added, “in this day and age, you have to try to screw up this badly.”
There will be more black candidates for president than there are reporters and producers on this team. In this day and age, you have to try to screw up this badly. https://t.co/sDkMOUsKdL
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) January 13, 2019
New Yorker Staff Writer Jelani Cobb pointed out that the team would be covering an election that is expected to be dominated by key issues including voter suppression and racial relations.
So… what you’re saying is that in a campaign in which voter suppression and racial attitudes are expected to play a huge role you will have zero black journalists covering it? https://t.co/6Sh2LQl2Xs
— jelani cobb (@jelani9) January 13, 2019
Tiffany Cross, co-founder and managing editor of The Beat DC, a site that calls itself “DC’s inclusive political pulse,” tweeted to encourage readers to look elsewhere for 2020 coverage.
Not a single Black journalist covering the 2020 campaign for @CBSNews @CBSPolitics. Not. A. Single. One. ????????♀️ Seriously, y’all, subscribe to The Beat. https://t.co/3kcYXiMbfn Politics. Policy. People of color. It’s a thing. Political News for the rising majority of the country.
— Tiffany Cross (@TiffanyDCross) January 13, 2019
Business Insider did not receive a response from CBS on the matter.