×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

CBS News Slammed for Lack of African-Americans on Political ‘Embed’ Team

CBS News has come under fire for a lack of African-Americans among its core team of on-the-ground reporters and producers set to cover the 2020 presidential campaign cycle.

Criticism of CBS News began to build during the weekend after associate producer Ben Mitchell tweeted a title card featuring images of CBS News’ “political embed unit,” composed of eight 2020 campaign reporters and four associate producers, including himself. The group does not include any African-Americans in either role. Among the eight reporters, four are persons of color: Musadiq Bidar, a native of Afghanistan, Alex Tin, Jack Turman and Stephanie Ramirez. CBS News is still in the process of assembling its on-air correspondent team for the election.

Christopher Isham, CBS News’ Washington bureau chief, called the group its “our boots on the ground for the 2019-2020 election cycle” in announcing on Friday an increase in politically-focused reporters and newsgathering resources for the upcoming presidential race. The unit is designed to deepen CBS News’ coverage of federal and local issues and personalities on the 2020 trail.

CBS News noted that the embed team represented only a portion of its broader election coverage plans. Lorna Jones, who is African-American, was promoted last month to the role of managing editor for Washington news coverage. And the division has long had other prominent African-American women in senior management roles.

“This group is the initial wave of what will be an outstanding and diverse group of journalists assigned  to cover the 2020 election for CBS News,” a CBS News spokesperson said Sunday night.

The scrutiny over diversity on the political team at CBS News comes as the division is in the midst of a leadership transition. Susan Zirinsky, the first woman to run the storied news operation, is taking over from David Rhodes at a time when CBS News has been buffeted by the #MeToo movement and reports about a culture that was frequently hostile to women. Specific allegations resulted in the ousters of former “CBS This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose and former “60 Minutes” exec producer Jeff Fager.

Among the prominent critics of CBS News was Democratic superstar Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, who called it “Unacceptable in 2019” in a message to her more than 2.3 million Twitter followers.

Kerry Washington, who played a Washington, D.C. fixer for seven seasons on ABC’s “Scandal.” acknowledged that CBS’ team did include persons of color, but she stressed that an African-American perspective was vital given the state of the country.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Live Results

    TV Ratings: 'America's Got Talent' Finale Draws 10 Million Viewers

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you have not seen the season 14 finale of “America’s Got Talent.” The finale of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which saw blind and autistic singer Kodi Lee crowned the winner, drew almost exactly 10 million viewers for the Peacock on Wednesday night. Bolstered by a robust, velvety Cher [...]

  • Ava-Mark-Split

    Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo Selected for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Honors

    Ava DuVernay and Mark Ruffalo have been selected by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for its fourth Annual Patron of the Artists Awards. The awards will be presented on Nov. 7 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show benefits the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is not televised. Previous SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the [...]

  • Programme Name: The Cry - TX:

    Brazil, U.K. Lead International Emmy Awards Nominations

    Brazil and the U.K. lead the pack in this year’s International Emmy Awards nominations, which span 21 countries across 11 categories. Titles and talent from Britain and Brazil will vie with other hopefuls for the trophy in five categories: drama, best performance by an actor, best performance by an actress, arts programming and documentary. Brazilian [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld photographed by Art Streiber

    Hailee Steinfeld Drops New Song, ‘Afterlife,’ From Apple TV Series ‘Dickinson’

    steinfOscar-nominated actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld today dropped a new song, “Afterlife (Dickinson)” from the upcoming Apple TV+ series “Dickinson,” in which she stars and serves as an executive producer. According to the announcement, lyrically, Steinfeld drew inspiration from her character, Emily Dickinson, and the themes and ideas in many of her literary works. The [...]

  • Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian out and

    Nielsen Now Tracks Celebs' Social-Media Touts of TV Shows

    Nielsen is providing a new lens into how celebrities and talent can boost the exposure of TV shows on social media. The measurement company announced that its Social Content Ratings solution now measures talent promotion of television programs across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. According to Nielsen, talent now drives nearly 60% of all social engagement [...]

  • Ree with Sticky Pork

    Food Network Strikes Three-Year Pact With Ree Drummond, 'The Pioneer Woman'

    Ree Drummond will be offering Food Network viewers more hearty family meals for the next three years. Drummond, who has hosted “The Pioneer Woman” on the Discovery-owned network since 2011, has signed a new deal with the outlet that calls for new episodes of her program. “Ree Drummond’s incredible following and popularity has led her [...]

  • David Zaslav

    Steven Spielberg's 'Why We Hate' Is More Timely Than Ever, David Zaslav Says

    The political state of the world today has made the upcoming docuseries “Why We Hate” relevant in a way that its producers, Steven Spielberg and Alex Gibney, hardly expected when they began developing the project five years ago, Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav said Thursday. “Things are much more of a challenge and hate [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content