Earlier today, The Mirror reported that the National Association of Black Journalists issued a statement condemning the practices of management toward black employees at the network. As previously reported, Stanley Wilson, a black producer, recently filed a $5 million lawsuit against CNN for race and age discrimination.
Today, Tenisha Taylor Bell, a black, Atlanta-based producer, quit. This is her goodbye note to staff. She sent the email Tuesday. It was directed to staff Friday morning. Nothing in it reflects any specific reason, racial or otherwise, as to why she resigned.
Hi Team Fred,
As you know I’ve been on vacation for a few days. While away, I’ve been doing some soul searching and I’ve decided that at this time that I would like to go in a different direction with my career. This is a very hard decision for me. You ALL are like family to me. But of course, I have to make the best decision for Aidan and myself at this time. So I have decided to resign from CNN. You have been a great team to work with. I thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. I wish everyone the very best. You can reach me at @pitch2media or my cell, which will remain the same: [REMOVED].
Here’s what we know about her: Two years ago she was named executive producer of Suzanne Malveaux‘s daily show. When they gave Wolf Blitzer Malveaux’s hour, they moved her back to weekend to executive producer for Fredricka Whitfield‘s show. CNN canceled Malveaux’s show, Around the World, in 2014. Based in Atlanta, the black anchor soon returned to Washington to care for her mother who has ALS. Bell seemed to get along quite well with Whitfeld, also a black anchor. A recent tweet remarks, “Look who just surprised me with BDAY cupcakes. Thanks @FWhitfield!!!!”
Bell’s new company, Perfect Pitch Media, The Mirror is told, was long planned. It’s description on Twitter: “Award winning broadcast journalists with more than 20 years experience. Trying to get noticed? We create your prefect media pitch.” Bell is President of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists.
As for why she really left CNN, that’s a bigger question and for now, Tenisha isn’t talking.
But others are.
“Back story: hostile workplace for Black staffers,” said a media professional who has steered black talent to CNN in the past. “The higher you go up, forget any kind of advancement. As evidenced by Stanley Wilson’s lawsuit, CNN has shown no desire to elevate talented Black staffers, either in front of or behind the camera. Are there any senior Black producers or EPs on any primetime or DC-based shows? No. Walk through CNN in New York and you will be hard-pressed to bump into a black staffer in a position of authority.
“Others wanted to follow Stanley and sue, but they were afraid of not being able to get other jobs. Forget another black in America. How about a black in CNN?” the individual said, referring to Soledad O’Brien‘s documentary. “It’s sad because many thought CNN was a place that would hire, grow and cultivate black talent. Even NABJ recognized them in 2007, but that was all smoke and mirrors. Black talent hits a wall and is forced to endure the lack of promotion or leave.”
The source warned: “The exodus is not over.”
The Mirror requested comment from a CNN publicist.