The former star of ABC’s “Scandal” took to Twitter on Jan. 13 to add her name to the chorus of those expressing dismay with the lack of Black reporters the network hired to cover the upcoming election season after high-profile freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted out the network’s omission the previous day.
“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?” she tweeted Sunday.
Washington quote tweeted an update from CBS News political unit associate producer Ben Mitchell who shared a photo of the 2020 campaign reporters and the accompanying associate producers. And while some Middle Eastern, Asian and Latina reporters were among them, Black journalists were nowhere to be found.
“With 2020 poised to be the most historic election of our lifetime, we were thrilled to see unprecedented interest in joining the political unit this cycle,” said Caitlin Conant, CBS News political director in a news release about the political team. “Our stellar team of political embeds and associate producers is second to none and will be at every event — in every state — giving our viewers an up-close look at the campaign trail along the way to the White House.”
But despite the news director’s enthusiasm, Washington and others are not nearly as pleased about the lack of representation of Black journalists.
“Sorry lost this viewer. Not one black reporter? Shameful in 2019!”
“We do exist, we do vote, and we do need OUR PERSPECTIVE shared. Damn @CBS yall joined the #MAGA movement🤷🏾♂️🤷🏾♂️🤷🏾♂️”
“Which evidently all of you had at @CBS @CBSNews WTH? once again media has shown the Black community how much they are cool and diverse. In 2019 this ish….”
“this is what happens when you lack true diversity and inclusion in your news room and senior management.”
Two days after her initial tweet, Washington believed she was still awaiting an answer.
“No but wait… @CBSNews, I’m not trying to have a moment on twitter. This is a genuine question,” the “American Son” Broadway play star said Jan. 15.
The network had in fact issued a statement Sunday —the same day as Washington’s initial tweet — saying that announced political team was the “initial wave of what will be an outstanding and diverse wave of journalists” that will cover the 2020 election cycle.
This is only the latest time Washington has called out the news organization for its lack of representation. During a speaking engagement for The Wing, Washington called out CBS News for not having a non-white woman with a show on the network.
“Come along for the ride, CBS,” she said in December in an effort to encourage the network to make a change.
Washington’s call isn’t for naught. The network has faced repeated criticism for it’s predominantly white and male executives and reporters. After allegations of sexual harassment emerged against former “CBS This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose in 2017 and CEO Les Moonves last year, the two lost their jobs. Recently, CBS hired its first woman leader of CBS News in the form of veteran employee Susan Zirinsky.