Will CNN Ever Give a Black Night Time News Host a Chance to Shine Too?


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World 

The New York Post has revealed that CNN is once again considering bringing in a person of color to one of their night time anchor spots. The move is long overdue, since black and brown people have been subject to the “All-white, all-night” phenomenon, where none of the major cable news networks have granted any of their nightly branded news spots to an African American host. This is nothing short of insulting, given that black people are very good at showing loyalty to those who don’t feel compelled to return the favor.

As John King is being taken to the carpet for his disappointing ratings in the 7 p.m. slot, CNN’s leadership is considering Soledad O’Brien as his replacement. Sure, Soledad isn’t everyone’s first pick, but she’s professional, talented and quite intelligent. She deserves to have a shot. All the while, I’d be remiss not to mention my respected friend Roland Martin, and other talented CNN personalities, like Richelle Carey, Don Lemmon, TJ Holmes, and Tony Harris (who just left for Al Jazeera English).

What’s saddest is that rather than seeking out high quality black journalistic talent, CNN leadership is looking for (surprise!) black entertainers and comedians to fill the void. Reports are that celebrities like Chris Rock are being considered for the post, which might be a solid, but premature move by the network. I find it quite interesting that none of the nighttime slots have gone to white comedians (can you imagine Jerry Seinfeld on CNN?), but when it comes to black folks, our first job is to make other people laugh. Perhaps one day, a major network will realize that black people can be productive even when we are not singing, dancing or dribbling a basketball.


But we can’t give up hope just yet.

"They are desperately trying to put together a show with Soledad at 7 p.m.," according to a CNN insider. "So she is getting another chance and will be shooting another pilot today."

One can only pray that someone within CNN understands how critical it is to give a black journalist a chance to be on the air. I find it amazing that no one has concluded that there isn’t a black journalist on earth as talented as the less-than-flattering Nancy Grace or the overly-articulate Jane Valez Mitchell (whose exaggerated style of communication reminds me of The Jerry Springer Show).  Finally, we must openly question why defamed former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has a show, in spite of the fact that Rev. Jesse Jackson was fired from CNN for allegedly violating an ethics clause when it was uncovered that he had a child outside his marriage. So, Spitzer shows us that even white males with highly questionable ethics are preferable to the hard-working black folks (like Soledad, Martin and others) who’ve paid their dues within the organization and kept their noses entirely clean.

On a final note, there is another interesting racial dimension to CNN’s black on-air personalities: Is it me, or is every black person on the network light-skinned? I’m not out to accuse anyone of anything, but there are quiet grumblings in the black community about whether or not a Wesley-Snipes lookalike would get the same consideration as someone who looks like President Obama. All throughout our nation’s history, there has been a clear and undeniable bias in favor of light-skinned African Americans. That’s a simple fact. I wonder if CNN is also subject to the same bias that affects millions of other Americans across the country.

CNN’s effort to find the latest black man to make us all laugh takes me back to the DL Hughley debacle in 2008. In an ill-conceived effort to profit from the pending election of our nation’s first black president, CNN made comedian DL Hughley the first black man to host a night time show. The show was not only as dry as used toilet paper in the desert, but the jokes were incredibly insulting and stereotypical. The fact that a group of CNN executives got together and thought this show was a good idea is nothing short of shocking. So, perhaps much-needed diversity in front of the camera must be supplemented by additional diversity in the board room. Either way, CNN has some work to do, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was urgent.


Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition, with 55,000 members nation-wide.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 



Filed under African Americans

19 responses to “Will CNN Ever Give a Black Night Time News Host a Chance to Shine Too?

  1. Pingback: When Will CNN Give a Black Host a Chance at Night? « Black Gossip for Black America, Black Celebrities included

  2. Pingback: CNN, MSNBC, FOX Still Have No Black Hosts at Night – What Gives? « Black News in the black community

  3. Pingback: CNN, MSNBC, FOX Still Have No Black Hosts at Night – What Gives? « Scholarship In Action

  4. Pingback: CNN, MSNBC, FOX Still Have No Black Hosts at Night – What Gives? « Black Politics for Black Americans

  5. Pingback: CNN, MSNBC, FOX Still Have No Black Hosts at Night – What Gives? « Black Politics for Black America

  6. quest4me

    A good read with very interesting information. I asked a few times, why CNN has no black hosts of their own shows. I also wondered why the white hosts could have their own names, but none of the people of color do? I always thought Mr Martin should have been the next show host, but then I started seeing (richard lui). Soledad, good credentials, but after seeing her response relating to the professor, getting arrested in his own home, and the fact that she could not believe it, made me wonder if she believes her own reports. Once you uncover it and it is fact, I would think you should believe it. Don’t be taken back if you witness the wrong doing. Then, DL Hughley, that show, a slap in the face, a disgrace. Finally Spitzer, the nerve of CNN to think we would like to see this man and listen to his opinions on anything night after night is a joke. CNN definitely needs to step it up. Please stop insulting our intelligence

  7. Tewdros

    well personally I think BLACK people need to continue to work to get their network’s so you don’t have too cry to white company’s for opportunities or a chance to show case their network.It’s 2011 can we learn anything from ASIAN AMERICAN’S do you ever see them begging for an opportunity for anything.

  8. Pam

    Yes, it will be if they hired a African American but like you stated, do they have to be light skinned? Do CNN hire still blacks by the “Brown Bag Test”?

    They have bought into that theory that light skin ppl are nice looking. # FAIL.
    but I guess white folks are still only comfortable with lighter skin blacks. But I think CNN is a joke.

  9. quest4me

    Sounds like Tewdros would like to keep everything nice and seperate.

  10. Tewdros

    for the record everything is separate in practice and theory ,I don’t know how long you have lived in America ,but TEWDROS inherited a separate ,and even though I did I have found that BLACK people have no control over whose separate or not ,but at the same time balance would be good and so would Black autonomy.I guess QUEST4me stand’s in need of white direction for everything including his or her very existence ….

  11. quest4me

    I believe there has to be togetherness, I as well believe people on one accord can grow. I am pretty set on my direction, and my existence, is positive.

  12. Tewdros

    well if you believe in togetherness ,know that it has been the on going choice of the majority of white people to be separate not Black people (including myself) .the growth has to take place with white people and their (personal race problem’s) not anyone else.all other group’s have become negative and bitter especially Black’s, because of the ongoing behavior and institutionalized Racism practiced by most White Americans .It is so nice that you share such a “WE ARE THE WORLD ATTITUDE” after all that has been done and continues to be done systematically Quest4me your truly one of a kind,WOW!

  13. Shane

    I am a white woman who reads your column. There are so many great black speakers. I wonder why are your young black men and women not being groomed for these media spots? A degree in communications is not enough. They need to have the look, the voice, and a solid presence. I’m sure that out of all your good looking, talented, and ambitious young folks you can find several that have the heft that could be groomed for the job. Among all the news casters today there’s not a hill of beans difference between them. Black, white or yellow, close you eyes and they are all the same.

  14. quest4me

    When I speak of togetherness, and being on one accord, this is directed toward people of color for the many different causes and interests, please forgive me if I was not clear with that. and yes, I am one of a kind.

  15. Tewdros

    WOW,we thanks and bravo for such a politically correct response ,well in the future would you please say what you mean and mean what you say.I thought you were an accommodationist who lived in denial and was prepared to look the other way when it came to TRUTH and JUSTICE. oh yea you are truly one of a KIND ,but what kind has yet to be discovered.thanks for your clarity,.peace -n-hair grease!

  16. quest4me

    Shane, what is the look? Please describe.

  17. Tewdros

    read between the line’s you seem pretty intelligent when it comes to u.s.history .

  18. quest4me

    Tewdros, I can not say anything else. I find myself crackin up right now. I have honestly enjoyed you

  19. Tewdros

    the pleasure has been all mine ,feel free to email me at larome@juno.com sometimes I’m into the connection of Black folks building to control our own destiny.peace its been great….GOD BLESS YOU!

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