THE BLOG

Will Soledad O'Brien or Roland Martin Ever Get a Shot With CNN?

04/19/2011 06:50 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2011

The New York Post has revealed that CNN is once again considering adding a person of color to one of their nighttime 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. One has to argue that freezing out African-American journalists on all of the major networks is a bit insulting, given that there is a tremendous amount of talent waiting in the wings.

John King's 7 p.m. slot may be up for grabs soon, as he hasn't been able to get the kind of ratings that CNN execs would like to see. This opens the door, hopefully, for Soledad O'Brien to get the opportunity everyone knows that she deserves. The same might be true for Roland Martin and other CNN personalities who've gotten a tremendous amount of exposure on the network. The departure of Tony Harris to Al Jazeera is disappointing, for it's hurtful to see talented men like Harris in line behind less-capable anchors like Nancy Grace.

What I would NOT like to see is another black comedian being used to provide comic relief to an audience that is still learning to take black people seriously. The bold experiment by CNN in 2008 to place comedian DL Hughley on the air right before the election of President Obama was an ill-timed, poorly conceived effort that nearly took us back to the days of Stepin Fetchit. The jokes were of such poor taste that not only was the predominantly white audience left without as much as a chuckle, but African Americans found themselves deflated after hoping they'd risen above being stereotyped. I hope CNN at least shows the respect of bringing in a talented black professional to their nighttime lineup before trying another comedian.

CNN is not alone in its efforts to keep black journalists off their nightly slots, as MSNBC and Fox are also on-board. Most ironic is the fact that Fox News may engage in a political coup d'etat by selecting a black nighttime personality before CNN and MSNBC. Given their recent embrace of disgraced NPR personality Juan Williams, it is not entirely inconceivable that they could use Juan's skin color as a powerful social asset. This would be unfortunate, because Williams has positioned himself as a tremendous tool for the racially-stagnate agenda of the Fox News Network.

At the end of the day, people of color deserve a chance to succeed in the world of nightly cable news. If black people are not acknowledged by these networks, then perhaps we should not give them our patronage. The black consumer is a valuable commodity and loyal patron for nearly all cable news networks, and it's sad that the loyalty is not reciprocated.