By Sentinel News Service
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement on her meeting with CBS Vice President of News and Executive Director of Staff Development and Diversity, Kim Goodwin, and CBS Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, Christopher Isham.
The meeting followed CBS’ announcement of its 2020 presidential election coverage team, which was made up of eight reporters and four associate producers – none of whom were African American. The CBS staffing announcement was met with widespread criticism from journalists, civil rights leaders, and members of Congress – including Congresswoman Waters.
“Within 24 hours of my Twitter request for an explanation as to why CBS Corporation has, to date, failed to hire a single African American reporter or producer to cover the 2020 presidential election, CBS Vice President of News and Executive Director of Staff Development and Diversity, Kim Goodwin, and CBS Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, Christopher Isham, requested a meeting and spoke with me in my office on Capitol Hill.
“The CBS representatives accepted full responsibility and understood the troubling optics– and subsequent public backlash — that occurred as a result of the rollout of their 2020 presidential election team. CBS admitted that the initial 2020 campaign team did not reflect the diversity that the company had committed to; assured me that it will not happen again; and revealed that in the coming months they will unveil a more diverse and inclusive slate of African American journalists and journalists from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. They also identified key individuals in Washington, D.C. and New York City, NY whom they have brought onto their team to fulfill this mission and ensure their news organization reflects the diversity of the country and the communities who will most certainly be engaged in the 2020 elections.
“I will hold CBS accountable to their diversity and inclusion commitments. In addition, I will work with my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus for continued engagement and follow up on diversity and inclusion at CBS and all that they have agreed to.”
Throughout her career in public service, Congresswoman Waters has been a leading advocate for diversity and inclusion in the media. Her years-long efforts during the Comcast-NBC Universal merger review — which included holding congressional hearings, urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to extend the public comment period, filing comments on behalf of independent minority producers, directors, and writers, and leading the congressional efforts to ensure that the terms of the merger included voluntary commitments and proposals for media diversity – led to the creation of four independently minority-owned channels: Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Revolt, Magic Johnson’s Aspire, Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey, and Constantino “Said” Schwarz’s BabyFirst Americas television networks.
As a result of her legislative efforts and commitment to media diversity and inclusion, Congresswoman Waters has been recognized by many of the nation’s leading media organizations and coalitions for journalists and communities of color, including the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC).
This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel.