All Articles Tagged "soledad o’brien"

Soledad O’Brien Calls Out Cable News For Normalizing “White Supremacy”

September 6th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Derrick Salters/

Derrick Salters/

Now that Soledad O’Brien is no longer employed by the good people over at CNN, she can say and do what she pleases. And these days, doing what she wants means calling out CNN for normalizing White supremacy in their coverage of Donald Trump and his candidacy for president. In a recent interview with CNN, O’Brien was not shy about sharing her thoughts.

She said the media is going through contortions trying to make it seem like the coverage between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is fair.

“If you look at Hillary Clinton’s speech where she basically pointed out that what Donald Trump has done—actually quite well—has normalized White supremacy. I think she made a very good argument, almost like a lawyer. Here are ways in which he has actually worked to normalize conversations that many people find hateful.”

O’Brien continued, “I’ve seen on-air, White supremacists being interviewed because they are Trump delegates. And they do a five-minute segment, the first minute or so talking about what they believe as white supremacists. So you have normalized that.

O’Brein said we should be asking ourselves is Donald Trump “softening the ground for people—who are white supremacists, who are White nationalists, who would self-identify that way— to feel comfortable with their views being brought into the national discourse to the point where they can do a five minute interview happily on national television?”

The question wasn’t rhetorical, she said the answer is yes.

She said that cable news networks are profiting from all of this hate-speech. In their coverage of Trump’s candidacy and in their provision of a platform for those who support him, they’re being rewarded for bad behavior because this hate speech appeals to an interested and angry audience.

O’Brien said, sarcastically. “We should do this more often. What shall we do when this election is over? We’re going to have to think about ways to really rile people up, make them angry and divide them. Because that is something that cable news, frankly, and everybody can cover really well. So I find it frustrating. I believe he was over-covered at the beginning. Now, it is ‘he said-she said’ all the time. We have lost context. We actually don’t even cover the details of something. We just cover the back and forth of it. It’s funny to watch if it weren’t our own country and our own government actually operating.

What do you think about Soledad’s comments and critique? Have you noticed this in the recent presidential election coverage?

Soledad O’Brien Presents The ‘Black in America 2015 Tour’: An Exploration Of Police Brutality

February 3rd, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Soledad O’Brien is hitting the road to visit college campuses — from Houston to Boston — to delve into one of the most explosive issues gripping our nation today: police brutality. Say hello to the Black in America Tour 2015!

“White people would say to me, ‘Well, I tell my children to be respectful to police.’ And Black people would say, ‘I teach my son how to survive an interaction with police,'” O’Brien said in the Black in America Tour 2015 trailer. And the question is — why?

The award-winning journalist, questioning the unsettling stark differences between Black and White rapport with police, is inviting unheard voices to join in on the conversation.

“This is a forum for the conversation America is ready to have — why do so many black Americans fear the very people that are supposed to protect them?” O’Brien said in a press statement.

Seeking answers and anecdotes, O’Brien is poised to make stops, from Feb. 3 to Feb. 25, at eight college campuses: Bucknell University, University of Massachusetts Boston, Purdue University, Pennsylvania State University, Bloomburg University, University of Georgia, University of Houston, and Florida International University.

“Black in America is about Americans talking about the uncomfortable issue of race, about opening the floor to new perspectives, problems and the powerful experiences of regular people,” O’Brien added.

The Black in America 2015 Tour will pick the brains of experts, academics, students, and community residents — of all races and political backgrounds — to discuss their personal views of how the police affects their lives. Political leader Dr. Julianne Maleaux, former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous, Public Enemy rapper Chuck D, and comedian W. Kamau Bell will also be in attendance. The goal is to “[present] a detailed examination of the facts behind community policing, racial profiling, controversial crime reduction tactics, and arrest quotas,” a press statement said.

The Black in America Tour 2015 spins off from Black & Blue, O’Brien’s latest installment of her documentary series, which aired in November.

O’Brien will kick off her tour with in Lewisburg, Penn. at Bucknell University this Tuesday. For more information, click here.

The Next Installment Of “Black In America” Will Premiere On Tuesday

November 14th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Soledad O’Brien has announced that the next installment of her popular documentary series Black in America will debut Tuesday, November 18 at 9pm ET on CNN. This piece, BLACK in America: BLACK & BLUE – Soledad O’Brien Reports, will focus on the impact of “aggressive policing” (like the “stop and frisk” policy) on Black men.

The documentary, which was produced by O’Brien’s own Starfish Media, will include interviews with men who have been stopped and have had their incidents caught on video, police officers who say the stops have more to do with fulfilling quotas than catching actual criminals, and an interview with New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton who was appointed to his position by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio had promised during his campaign to change the police department. Commissioner Bratton instituted the “stop and frisk” policy during his previous tenure as commissioner.

“Stop and frisk” is used in other cities besides New York.

“It’s shocking that the city where this was popularized was stopping so many innocent people,” O’Brien said in a press statement.

BLACK in America: BLACK & BLUE – Soledad O’Brien Reports will re-broadcast that same evening at midnight and on Sunday the 23rd at 7pm ET. You can also catch it online using the CNN iPad app or CNNgo.

‘I Feel Lucky That My Life Is A Little Chaotic:’ Soledad O’Brien Says Women Can Definitely Have It All

July 28th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Source: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Last week, Soledad O’Brien hosted the Starfish Foundation’s fourth  New Orleans to New York City Gala. The foundation, which seeks “to provide promising young women a bridge between obstacles and opportunities,” holds the annual event to honor scholars and fund scholarships for the women awarded by the Starfish Foundation.

“It is always a great gathering as we honor our scholars and the commitment they’ve shown to pursuing their education. I look forward to celebrating with them and our supporters in a festive evening,” the Award-winning journalist said of the event.

We were recently able to catch up with the philanthropist and mom of four, who dished on everything from diversity in media to whether or not she believes it’s possible for women to have it all.

On why the Starfish Foundation’s mentoring component is so crucial: 

“We realized pretty early on that tuition was critical, but it was not enough. You could actually give people money and they wouldn’t finish school because what you need to finish school is support, cheerleading and sometimes pushing and shoving, sometimes bailing out of stupid mistakes. That’s the kind of thing that helped me get through school. We realized that our scholars needed mentors pretty early on, now we assign two mentors to each young woman so that they have a life mentor and then an academic mentor. What should I be studying? When should I take this? What should my major be? Someone who can really help them navigate the school system that they’re in. And then, we also started backing them up with getting internships because obviously, it’s hard to get a career because you haven’t had a lot of internships.”

On what the Starfish Foundation is doing to help scholars get to the next level:

“There’s so many things that are not available for you if you don’t have a college degree and there are lot of ways in which you can get derailed. You can run out of money. You can have a baby. You can have a death in the family. It can just be hard. So really, what we decided to do is to make sure we’re supporting people.”


On having personal principles for balancing work and family:

“Haha, no, there’s no balance. You know, I don’t really know that I’m a person who has balance, I tend to run around maniacally. It’s hard to run a foundation. It’s hard to have four kids. It hard to have a career. It’s hard to be a CEO of a company that’s super busy. In addition working on a documentary on veterans coping with posttraumatic stress, we’re in the middle of shooting five other documentaries. We also have other projects for Cover Girl, which is a partner of ours. We have a lot going on. We’re excited, it’s fantastic, but we’re busy. So I’m not really in a space where I’m going to get balance and I don’t know if I’ll ever be the girl who’s succinctly balanced. I try to get things well when they’re in front of me. I try to take breaks so that I don’t lose my mind. And I try to remember how lucky I am that have healthy kids—thank God—and a great husband and a career that I like even though it’s frustrating at times; and that I get to run the show for myself. It’s stressful, but I’m doing what I wanted. ”

On the idea that having it all is a myth:

“I would just say, ‘What’s having it all to you?’ You’re having it all and my having it all might be very different. I don’t do much. I run a foundation. I have four kids. I’m married and I run a company. I do nothing other than that. I really don’t. For other people, they may say, ‘Well, Soledad doesn’t have it all. She doesn’t always go to fabulous parties.’ So yeah, they’d be right. By my definition, I have it all and more. I’m very content in my life because I feel like I’m doing things that are worthy of my time and are worthwhile for the greater good. I feel really good about that. To me, having it all is doing things that make me feel good about my contribution to the world. But if your definition of having it all is cooking, you know my mother is a fabulous cook. My having it all doesn’t involve cooking. I put it on my to-do list and eventually gave up. I don’t do it. I’m never going to do it. I’m done [laughs]! I’m out! You know, I think when people do that, ‘Oh, you can’t have it all,’ I think as a journalist, you have to define the terms first. What does having it all mean? My guess is that you’re going to have it all. You’re going to find a life where you feel fulfilled. Some days it’s out of whack, of course it is out of whack some days. I feel lucky that my life is a little chaotic and unbalanced. To me, I feel that’s having it all.”

Soledad O’Brien’s Year-Old Starfish Media Provides Much Needed Media Diversity

May 29th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Image Source:

Image Source:

Soledad O’Brien’s company Starfish Media Group is a year old this month, and it’s got much to celebrate. She’s said to be working on “several documentaries that will air on cable news,” among them, one on veterans with PTSD, another about New York’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy and another on the Washington Corrections Center for Women. Three of the documentaries she’s got in the pipeline will air on CNN, her old employer, says TVNewser.

Really, the reason why we wanted to talk about this (besides, of course, offering our congrats to Soledad) is to note this bit from the New York Daily News“The best part? She owns almost everything viewers will see her on — or produce — going forward. She describes her company’s approach as ranging from long-form documentaries to news segments and things that may exist purely in a digital space.” It’s very important to own some piece of your work, even if it’s the intellectual property. Take what you know and build a brand.

The growing strength of Starfish Media also comes at a time when diversity in the media is a big issue. NPR just announced that it is ending its last remaining show addressing issues targeting African Americans, “Tell Me More.” Moreover, Pew Research finds black newspapers struggle for circulation numbers and advertising dollars, while on television, programming geared towards black news and black news topics is scarce. Station ownership is virtually non-existent.

O’Brien’s voice and perspective are clearly sorely needed in the media today. What more would you like to see?


2014 Commencement Speakers & Honorees Give Graduates A Glimpse Into What’s Possible

May 22nd, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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It’s that time of year again. Hardworking students, sporting the dazed look of achievement as they face the Big Bad World outside of the gates of their college campus. But before they head off on their own, there are a slew of entrepreneurs, artists, activists, teachers, and visionaries who are pushing the 2014 graduating classes to spread their wings and fly. These commencement speakers and honorees are giving graduates a little glimpse into what is possible.

Never Say ‘I Can’t!’ Soledad O’Brien Jumps On Board CoverGirl’s ‘I Can’ Campaign

March 2nd, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Ivan Nikolov/

Ivan Nikolov/

The easy, breezy, beautiful Soledad O’Brien, along with her production company Starfish Media, is teaming up with CoverGirl’s “Girls Can” campaign to release a new web series that will seek to uplift, empower, and boost underserved women pursuing a higher education.

The webseries, according to O’Brien, will follow “…the lives of several young women who have been helped through O’Brien’s foundation, the Soledad O’Brien and Brad Raymond Starfish Foundation,” according to Women’s Wear Daily. [h/t The Gloss]

The award-winning journalist said that she decided to jump on board CoverGirl’s “Girls Can” movement because it mirrors her passion to elevate women who feel weighed down by the “Girls Can’t” societal prejudice.

“There are thousands of inspirational stories waiting to be told about young women who yearn for a great education. They are stories of struggle and stories of success, and they will inspire others to take action and work to change lives,” O’Brien told Women’s Wear Daily.

The video series will explore the obstacles that young women encounter while pursuing their career goals.  The main purpose is to show women that achieving your dreams may be an uphill battle, but “can’t” should always be turned into a “can.” This content will be launched within the next couple of months.

O’Brien isn’t the only spokeswoman for CoverGirl’s campaign. Katy Perry, Pink, Queen Latifah, Ellen DeGeneres, Sophia Vergara, Becky G, and Janelle Monae have all appeared on CoverGirl’s first “Girl’s Can” ad which premiered during the Olympics Closing Ceremony.

“I heard that girls couldn’t rap. I rap!” Queen Latifah said, “[I heard] girl’s couldn’t own businesses. I own my own business!” Oh snap. Clip below. Can’t wait to see what Soledad has in mind.

Soledad O’Brien Partners With Google For Speaking Tour

February 14th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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 Ivan Nikolov/

Ivan Nikolov/

Call her Ms. Dealmaker. Since leaving Soledad O’Brien has been busy inking deal after deal. Her latest: Her production company, Starfish Media Group, will partner with Google for her first speaking tour,  O’Brien told the Huffington Post.

By using Google+ Hangouts, Google Apps for Business and her YouTube channel, Google Starfish will try to reach the broadest audience possible. And Google will also sponsor the “Soledad O’Brien Presents Black in America” speaking tour beginning February 17th. On the tour, O’Brien will speak at college campuses and art centers in five cities to encourage conversations about social change.

According to O’Brien, the partnership is “non-exclusive” and is part of her push to make Starfish Media a “multi-platform” firm.

O’Brien also said the speaking tour will bring her to a new audience.

“The speaking tour is very different than doing a show where you can have momentary jitters about nailing a break, getting to commercial on time, or finishing the interview in four minutes,” she said. “I’m not nervous about anything…. I’m looking forward to things getting challenging.”

She also has several television commitments. O’Brien, who still has ties to her old network, is continuing her In America series for CNN. She is also a contributor to Al Jazeera America.

“Growing an audience takes time– I think what they’re doing has been to put high quality pieces on, and that’s the best strategy,” O’Brien said of the recently launched Al Jazeera America. “Some networks talk about a commitment to good journalism and just do entertainment. But the quality of their reporting has been tremendous.”

O’Brien also told HuffPost Media she working on various documentaries to air on CNN and Al Jazeera America as well as a piece for HBO’s Real Sports. The next segment of the Black in America documentary series will air on CNN during summer.

Live From Black Girls Rock! “If Your Life Was A Love Song, What Would It Be…”

November 4th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Two weeks ago, the biggest and brightest names in Black Hollywood gathered together for a celebration we love: Black Girls Rock! The 2013 awards show was once again hosted by our favorite funny gals, Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, and honored everyone from Misty Copeland to the Patti LaBelle.

We were on site on the red carpet to chat with a few of this year’s honorees and attendees, and to switch things up a bit we asked the ladies one interesting question: “If your life was a love song, what would it be?” Check out what Sanya Richards Ross, Soledad O’Brien, Ledisi, and more said in the video above. Do you like their choices?

Melissa Harris-Perry Seems To Be The Only Sunday Morning News Host Who Can Bring A Diverse Panel

October 16th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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MHP looking fabulous for her 40th birthday. via Twitter

MHP looking fabulous for her 40th birthday. via Twitter

Media Matters has conducted a survey on diversity on the Sunday morning talk shows and, once again, the results show that for the most part, the panels that are brought together to discuss the pressing issues of the day are overwhelmingly white males.

“Six of the seven shows analyzed — This WeekFace the NationFox News SundayMeet the PressState of the Union, and Up — have hosted white men at a significantly higher rate than their 31 percent portion of the population,” the site writes. In fact, “75 percent of Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday solo interview subjects were white men,” the article continues. Gender diversity is also an issue.

On both fronts — gender and ethnic diversity — the networks are improving, with MSNBC the clear front runner in these areas. In fact, it’s one MSNBC show in particular, The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, that tops all others.

“Melissa Harris-Perry provided the greatest diversity among guests, providing a much higher rate of white women and African-American guests than the other programs,” the results find.

When we talk about this topic, it’s not just about diversity for diversity’s sake. If the point of these shows, and of media in general, is to present the news and then provide context and analysis, varying perspectives bring the texture necessary to achieve that.

“The dearth of diverse perspectives in media discussions is very telling of how America continues to deal with, or not, issues of race and ethnicity,” Tia T. Gordon, founder and CEO of TTG+Partners told us in an email. “…It’s a thoughtless (and lazy) approach to having real conversations about real issues that affect real Americans.  If the bookers of these Sunday talk shows would look beyond their ‘usual suspects’ of guests—and work with PR folks like me who often pitch without success a long roster of qualified, well articulate African-American experts who could speak on a myriad of issues—they will begin to understand that broader discussions could happen.”

In other words, finding even a few more guests with diverse backgrounds to speak on the topics of the day shouldn’t be so difficult for the media. Soledad O’Brien, speaking to FishbowlNY at a recent media event, says it’s “disheartening” that she’s been talking about this topic for the past 26 years.

“It’s actually not that hard. All you need to do is tell the stories of diverse people and hire diverse people. You can make sure that you’re promoting and supporting your diverse candidates who you want to be in leadership positions, because that’s really how the tone in an organization is set,” the site says.

To keep this conversation going , MadameNoire Business will be talking with TTG+Partners and Colorlines publisher Rinku Sen will be participating in a Twitter chat tomorrow at noon ET, “Covering Race in the Media.” Join us on Twitter (#ttgpchat) and bring your questions and thoughts on this topic. Check out the details here.