The NAACP is “deeply concerned” about the absence of African Americans among the hosts or anchors in the Cable News Network’s (CNN) just-released prime time schedule.

“As CNN announced their new schedule, a glaring omission was present–-no African Americans were hosts or anchors in their prime time lineup,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement. “The NAACP is deeply concerned with the lack of African American journalists in prime time news, both on cable and national network news shows.”

Apparently, this is not just a CNN problem. According to the NAACP, there are currently no African Americans hosting or anchoring any national or cable news shows during peak viewing hours.

The NAACP noted that prime time cable network news programs are influential and that the anchors are generally viewed as the most reliable and significant in the news industry. According to the NAACP, most Americans receive world, financial and political news from prime-time broadcasts and it is troubling that African Americans lead no such broadcast.

“We have come to expect this from the likes of Fox News, but not other networks,” Jealous said.

Although there are several African-American hosts during morning and daytime programming, such as Al Roker and Roland Martin, the anchor chairs during the prime time hours are devoid of African Americans.

While it is true that networks like MSNBC, NBC, and even CNN, often have African-American guest and weekend hosts, including the Rev. Al Shaprton, Don Lemon and Lester Holt, many remain baffled as to why these networks do not include African Americans as hosts during prime time slots when coverage is what the NAACP calls “the most influential in daily news.”

“With all the respected, major talent that is available, we find it perplexing that these talented journalists are not elevated to prime time,” said NAACP Hollywood Bureau Executive Director Vic Bullock.

In the past, CNN has dedicated coverage to African-American issues with shows like “Black in America,” featuring African-American host Soledad O’Brien.

NAACP leaders plan to set up meetings with the heads of major networks to discuss the matter and stress the importance of having African Americans lead prime time news programs.

Jealous added, “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.”

CNN did not comment on the NAACP statement. 

 

Ashley Crawford

Special to the AFRO