CNN Layoffs, Diversity Prompt Concern From Congressional Black Caucus Leader

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, chairwoman of the CBC, calls the situation at the cable news net “troubling”

The Congressional Black Caucus has expressed concerns over how CNN’s ongoing layoffs may be affecting diversity at the cable news network.

In a statement issued to TheWrap, CBC chairwoman Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) described the job cuts at CNN and parent company Time Warner Inc., particularly the dismissals of African Americans in executive positions, as “troubling.”

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“News that Time Warner Inc. recently began large scale staff reductions is troubling,” the statement said. “Particularly concerning are reports that these layoffs have significantly reduced the number of African Americans in senior and executive roles in the company’s flagship news organization, CNN.”

A spokesperson for CNN has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

As theWrap previously reported, CNN and sister network HLN are in the midst of restructuring.

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But the CBC is concerned that the changes could negatively affect diversity at CNN. “In a nation growing increasingly more diverse, it is imperative that the organizations tasked with keeping us informed reflect the same diversity. Ethnic sensitivity both on-camera and behind it demonstrates a corporate understanding of the benefits of diversity, and a genuine respect for the audiences’ needs,” Fudge said.

“Any staffing changes that disproportionately cut the number of African Americans at CNN — intentionally or otherwise — are an affront to the African American journalism community and to the African American community as a whole.  It is my sincere hope that these reports are not true, and that Time Warner works to ensure that the diversity of its viewers across the country, and the world, is reflected and protected in all areas of its organization,” she added.

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Fudge represents Ohio’s 11th Congressional District and is currently up for re-election. Her statement follows a tense battle between CNN and the National Association of Black Journalists.

On Oct. 8, the group posted a statement on its website criticizing the cable news network. “The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is concerned about the atmosphere for African Americans at CNN,” the statement said.

“Several African Americans anchors have left the anchor desk or CNN altogether in the past few years including Soledad O’Brien, TJ Holmes and Suzanne Malveaux.” The statement also mentioned a $5 million discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit against CNN, filed by Stanley Wilson, who spent 17 years at CNN as a field producer and writer of news and documentaries.

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CNN responded by withdrawing its financial support of the group’s 2015 Convention and Career Fair. NABJ president Bob Butler made the announcement Friday at the organization’s Board of Directors meeting.

In 2007, NABJ awarded CNN its “Best Practices” award to recognize the network for its efforts to increase diversity on air and behind the scenes.