To: Jeff Zucker, President and CEO, CNN,
CC: Jason Kilar, CEO, WarnerMedia, John T. Stankey, CEO, AT&T, Josh Silverman, CEO, ETSY, Saeju Jeong, CEO & Co-Founder, NOOM
We, as Native peoples and allies of Native Americans, are very involved in regards to the continued employment of senior political commentator Rick Santorum and the failure of CNN management to deal with and take proactive steps to appropriate a number of situations of erasure, bias, and racism towards Native peoples on the community.
By ignoring the outcry of the Native group and failing to carry Rick Santorum accountable for his hateful and ignorant feedback shared on April 23, you might have failed in your mission to be a trusted information supply. Allowing Santorum to unfold racist and white supremacist views to the American public is reckless and an insult to the devoted journalists who’re tarnished by Santorum’s presence on the community. Instead of eradicating Santorum, he was given a nationwide platform on Cuomo Primetime the place, when requested about his speech, he refused to apologize. Moreover, no Native peoples had been invited onto the present or community to elucidate how Native peoples have been harmed and why Santorum ought to be eliminated. In doing this, CNN doubled down on the erasure of Native peoples. Your continued endorsement of Santorum as a voice validates his ignorant, racist, and homophobic views.
This state of affairs has occurred within the context of different regarding incidents. On April twentieth, CNN Anchor Poppy Harlow incorrectly recognized Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, a citizen of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and the highest-ranking Native lady elected to government workplace in US historical past, as a white lady. There has been no motion by CNN management or by Poppy Harlow to publicly apologize and proper the difficulty on air. The erasure of Lt. Governor Flanagan’s identification is rooted in a darkish historical past of white supremacy and failing to apologize and acknowledge this motion is regarding.
During the 2020 election, CNN got here beneath hearth for releasing a ballot with “Something Else” as a catch-all class together with Native peoples. This concern was by no means addressed publicly, nor was there clear motion on how CNN would change coverage and course of to incorporate Native peoples. The ignorance and bias that fueled these situations will proceed to happen except CNN actively commits to altering conduct. Change begins with accepting accountability and holding your self accountable to the communities you might have harmed. Thus far, CNN has failed.
Ignoring, silencing, and evading accountability to Native peoples are ways of erasure. These ways are usually not new. CNN has constantly proven that they’re a keen participant within the erasure of Native peoples. This erasure is a type of racism that whitewashes historical past to uphold concepts of American exceptionalism and reinforces white supremacy. It is a risk to all communities of shade. We stand collectively as Native peoples and allies and name on CNN to appropriate their dangerous and egregious errors and institutional practices within the following methods:
1. CNN should take away Rick Santorum from its platforms and decide to creating requirements and insurance policies for his or her on-air expertise and contributors that guarantee respect for Native peoples and Indigenous cultures.
2. CNN should diversify on-air expertise and contributors and guarantee Native and Indigenous peoples are common commentators.
3. CNN should set up an Indigenous Affairs desk and crew.
4. CNN should endure anti-bias coaching and co-create processes with the Native group on tips on how to respectfully have interaction with Native peoples.
Further, these occasions are grossly misaligned with the range and fairness assertion put forth by WarnerMedia, the father or mother firm for CNN, which states that content material ought to mirror the “diversity of our society and the world around us” and that the corporate is dedicated to “preserving a culture of opportunity, inclusion, and respect.” CNN’s actions as to Native peoples have failed to satisfy these requirements by any measure.
We have included CNN’s main advertisers on this letter to make them conscious that their monetary help of CNN as a public, for-profit information media platform has vital detrimental impacts on Native peoples. Advertisers’ fame as firms dedicated to variety and fairness shall be negatively affected by a continued hyperlink to CNN, ought to there be no rapid change inside CNN itself. We urge all advertisers to make use of their relationship with CNN and WarnerMedia to finish the erasure of Native peoples in media and, in the event that they fail to take action, to terminate the enterprise relationship.
Media performs an necessary position in society and for too lengthy the issues of Native peoples have been sidelined in service of politicking, rankings, and revenue. That CNN has three egregious mischaracterizations of Native peoples in simply six months demonstrates a profound lack of dedication to their very own variety and fairness requirements, a lot much less the correct communication of the contributions of Native and Indigenous peoples to the media and to our world.
CNN should do higher.