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Ex-CNN Anchor: Network Exec Told Her She Could Only Have the 'Right Kind' of Black Guests

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Racists at CNN? The mind recoils in horror.

In a tweet Saturday, former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien alleged an executive at the network told her she should only have the “right kind of Black” person on her show.

O’Brien, who was with the network from 2003 to 2013, was responding to a report by Yashar Ali in HuffPost regarding Barbara Fedida, a top ABC News exec.

In his piece, Ali alleged Fedida had a history of “insensitive,” “racist” and “abusive” behavior at the network, wallpapered over in part by confidential settlements.

“This is an interesting read,” O’Brien tweeted.

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“Reminds me of the cnn exec who told me: ‘Roland Martin isn’t the “right kind of’ Black person.” She didn’t want me to book him on my show.”

“Charles Blow, she told me, (also a frequent guest) was ‘the right kind of Black’.”

Martin is a former CNN contributor who was fired in 2013 during Jeff Zucker’s overhaul of the airport lounge network; Blow is a current CNN commentator.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Martin said at the time that the “new boss wants his own peeps.”

A former host on African-American-centric TV One, Martin currently hosts a digital show.

“If anyone wants to know why I never got a show at @CNN, despite having successful specials ratings wise, just look at this,” Martin said, retweeting O’Brien.

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Blow — a New York Times columnist — tweeted that “I don’t know how to take this ‘good negro’ talk…”

That’s not exactly a full-throated defense of the network he frequently appears on, mind you.

As for Martin, he responded: “Bruh, the s— said about me by certain people there behind closed doors…”

O’Brien has been critical of the network since her 2013 departure. Last year, she told BuzzFeed that having officials and pundits on-air “screaming about President Trump” when they “often don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about” doesn’t really add any sort of value or help serve the public.

“This is just bull. It’s a ratings grab, and it’s cheap,” she said.

“All those people are on the payroll. They make something like $100[,000] to $150,000 as a contributor for a year, so as you circle them through it’s inexpensive. And to have people yelling at each other as opposed to sending a crew into the field to tell a complex story, obviously one is much cheaper.”

Of course, that’s not calling her former employers racist. If the allegations were true, the unnamed executive she mentioned on Twitter would have fit right in with Fedida at ABC News. According to Ali’s report, the executive told black “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts during 2018 contract negotiations that it wasn’t like they were asking the anchor to “pick cotton.”

Do you believe Soledad O'Brien's allegations of racism at CNN?

“That remark is part of a long pattern of insensitive statements, including racist comments, made by Fedida to people who report to her, according to the sources who spoke to HuffPost,” Ali wrote.

“Fedida has been the subject of more than a dozen human resources complaints and was the subject of a human resources investigation in 2016 that led ABC News to hire an executive coach for her, sources said. Staffers at ABC News who knew about the investigation told HuffPost they were stunned that it did not end in her dismissal.”

If it had, maybe she could’ve found a place at CNN.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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