I'm always tuned in to either my local news stations, MSNBC or CNN and as dedicated news junkie, one of the things that is glaringly obvious to me is that in the prime time hours from 5 to 11 PM ET all the shows are hosted by white anchors.
And that's irritating to me as a person of color who loves politics, loves talking about it and likes diverse ways and opinions of looking at issues in order to formulate my own informed opinion concerning my political stances.
But before some of y'all start rolling your eyes and hollering 'there she goes again', I'm not the only one complaining about this situation. The NAACP, the National Association of Black Journalists and African American oriented blogs and bloggers have noticed the cable blackout as well..
With CNN announcing its new melanin-free fall evening lineup in the wake of the cancellation of Eliot Spitzer's In The Arena show, the simmering discontent over talented African American journalists such as Roland S. Martin, CNN's Don Lemon, Radio One syndicated talk show host Joe Madison, and BET's Ed Gordon just to name a few continuing to be passed over for those prime time anchor desks boiled over.
"The NAACP is deeply concerned with the lack of African-American journalists in prime-time news, both on cable and national network news shows."
"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."
NABJ President Times had written a 2010 open letter to network execs in the wake of Spitzer being hired to replace Campbell Brown's failed show in that same problematic 8 PM ET timeslot, and in the wake of the CNN fall lineup announcement that snubbed African journalists once again, wrote this in a letter to NABJ members.
"Exacerbating the issue is the fact that CNN has several times passed over its own qualified African-American journalists for prime-time posts in favor of whites who possess celebrity (Piers Morgan) or infamy (Spitzer).”
The CNN and industry blackout is sure to be a hot discussion topic at the upcoming August 3-7 NABJ convention in Philadelphia.
Yes, there are African American anchors on cable news shows such as MSNBC's Tamron Hall and CNN's Don Lemon, T.J. Holmes and Fredricka Whitfield. But all of them are either weekend anchors or in Hall's case on from 2-3 PM ET.Monday-Friday.
The reason I and others are griping about the prime time cable blackout is because the prime time slots are the most influential ones in the 24 hour news cycle, the most watched and in many cases the ones outside of the Sunday gabfests (which are also melanin-free) that drive the news narrative.
And all white people talking the vast majority of the time means that other points of view don't get considered, discussed, are ignored or get short shrift because let's be real, they do have that vanilla flavored cultural blind spot..
For example, I loved Rick Sanchez's show when it was on CNN. It not only had a different feel from the other CNN shows because he added elements from his cultural background into it for example with the Fotos Los Dia segment, as a Cuban American he has a different perspective on the issues of the day that needed to be heard.
But Rick's show also came on before 5 PM ET Who followed him on the air? Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room.
And since I'm talking about CNN, as much as I love my Houston homeboy Roland S. Martin and believe he should have been hosting his own primetime CNN show ages ago especially considering CNN's repeated failures in that 8 PM timeslot, he is not the only African American who can discuss national politics and has the chops to anchor a show as he proves every Sunday he can do on TVOne .
By the way CNN, the last thing y'all need is more ex-Fox Noise peeps like E.D. Hill joining the network.
There may be some hope for changing the stagnant status quo. Current TV, which is the new cable network home for Keith Olbermann's rebooted Countdown show is looking to start a new program to follow his. Maybe they'll give an African-American or Latino journalist a chance to change the current programming paradigm and anchor that proposed show.
If cable outlets can give open and closeted gay and lesbian peeps 5 to 11 PM slots, it's past time to open it up to African-American and other POC's as well. And that old bull feces excuse of we can't find a qualified African descended journalist to do so won't wash.