The Mirror

Black Journo Group Says CNN Was Crystal Clear: ‘Consider Your Request Denied’

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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In the weeks following communication between Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and CNN, it seems like something was lost in translation. Or else CNN was lying.

The news emerged on Friday that CNN had yanked funding for NABJ’s 2015 convention. Except then things got murky. Maybe they didn’t pull funding after all — and maybe Butler was confused when he announced the news to his Board of Directors on Friday? At least that’s how a CNN publicist portrayed it to Politico, telling the publication’s media writer Hadas Gold that CNN hadn’t reached any conclusions. They were simply “reconsidering” the group’s proposal.

Huh? Come again?

Some facts: The timing of that “reconsidering” coincided with NABJ releasing a statement condemning CNN’s treatment of black employees. A call between Butler and CNN concerning NABJ’s financial request transpired on Oct. 10. “The quote was ‘Consider your request denied,'” Butler told The Mirror by phone Monday afternoon. [They were] specifically talking about the proposal we had sent them for 2015. There were specific things they wanted to do at our convention.”

Butler continued, “It was a tough [phone] call.”

Asked who he spoke with at CNN, he declined to say. Was it CNN Worldwide’s VP of Diversity and Inclusion Geraldine Moriba? Again, Butler refused to say. Instead, he said, “I know who that is. We have talked several times.”

Asked if he was surprised how CNN portrayed that phone call, that they made Butler seem sort of crazy saying that they pulled funding when they really hadn’t reached a final conclusion, Butler remarked, “Not only surprised, I was really insulted. They were implying by saying that I lied. That doesn’t sit well with me. I never said what was said on the call. I just said they pulled their support for 2015. There was no equivocation.”

Butler said CNN has been at NABJ’s career fair every year. “They hire our members,” he said. “That is not the issue. It’s not about hiring our members. It’s about promoting our members. I’m concerned about the atmosphere and why African Americans are leaving.”

Asked if he plans to extend any sort of olive branch to CNN, he replied, “It has to come from CNN. I have a desire to repair the relationship. But I did not break this. I was told that we are denying your request for support. It’s like, okay, if that’s that they want do to do, so be it. I was very surprised.”

The Mirror requested a comment from a CNN publicist.