Kelly Wright | Media Matters for America

Kelly Wright

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  • Fox Anchor Kelly Wright Joins Racial Discrimination Suit Against The Network

    Wright: Being The Only Black Male Anchor “Speaks Volumes Of The Disregard For Equality At Fox News”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Reports of lawsuits against Fox News continue to shed light on the toxic work environment within the network. Kelly Wright, co-anchor on Fox’s Saturday edition of America’s News Headquarters, has joined the racial discrimination lawsuit a group of employees recently filed against the network.

    As reported by New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, nine black employees have already sued Fox News for racial harassment. The racial discrimination lawsuit follows several other sexual harassment reports and lawsuits against the network’s leadership that have revealed a toxic work environment in which offenders -- in many instances -- have been reportedly aided and abetted by current co-President Bill Shine. Fox isn’t the only major cable news network battling reports of racial discrimination. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “CNN and other Time Warner units” were sued by a former employee, Celeslie Henley, who was “allegedly fired after emailing human resources about discriminatory treatment.”

    On April 26, Wright announced during a press conference that he was joining his colleagues in their lawsuit against Fox. He bemoaned the way Fox leaders “seem to overlook the value of diversity or inclusion in the workplace,” and called the network out for their “disregard to equality.” From Wright’s April 26 press conference:

    KELLY WRIGHT (FOX NEWS ANCHOR): I’m here because leadership, while focused on making sure the brand of Fox News could dominate in the ratings -- flourish financially to benefit each and everyone of us who work there and develop a powerful organization, somewhere along the way, they have lost their way and they’ve failed to include equality for all. The greatness failed to be fair and balanced to all of our employees regardless of race, gender, faith, creed, or color. Our leaders simply seem to overlook the value of diversity or inclusion in the workplace. And yes, we have contributors who appear on our shows to express their opinions and they’re people of color but we literally have a handful of black and Hispanic-Latino reporters or anchors. As you may know by now that I am the only black male anchor, which in 2017 should not be the case, and it speaks volumes of the disregard to equality at Fox News.

    It is indefensible and inexcusable when there are so many talented black men and women who are more than capable to fulfill that role. We have a culture of systemic and institutional racial bias and so, when my colleagues from other departments began to publicly reveal their encounters with blatant acts of discrimination in their department, I watched it, I prayed about it, I cried over it. I can no longer sit in silence, collect my paycheck and act like I didn’t experience racial bias on my own level as an on-air personality. Behind closed doors I found myself confronted with race albeit in a more subtle but in a demeaning way and marginalizing my own growth and my development that would not only benefit me but benefit others. In my case, for many years I consistently and often emphatically asked leaders at Fox News to grow as a company and open the door wide to more opportunities and possibilities to hire and develop men and women of color. I knew that Fox had a weak image in terms of race. I encountered it on the job and in the public with comments from people like, “You’ll never excell there because you’re not the right color.” Or “You’re not blonde enough.” Or “They’ll only allow you to go, but so far.” Some people have even asked me, “How can a black man [inaudible] work at Fox News?” Some have even referred to me being an “acceptable black” who is tolerated but never celebrated. I’ve heard all the arguments about why I should not work at Fox News, but few people understand why I do work at Fox News and why I have every right to be there and still be there to deliver news. I have the right to work there or anywhere in this country not because of the color of my skin but certainly because of the content of my character and I stand before you -- sit before you as a human being, perfectly flawed, but perfectly loved, by my wife who is here with me today, by my children, who are not here but in support of me, and certainly by people, viewers, many viewers who like the work that I do. And even by my haters and detractors, who say I shouldn’t even be here. But I do have a right to stand up for justice. Not just for me but for the people you see behind me. I’m more than qualified, and there are other people who are more than qualified to do greater work than I do. When Doug asked me about this, he said, “What do you want?” I said, “I want to make it possible for whoever fills my shoes -- that next generation -- to never go through this.” That also means I should not have some sort of glass ceiling placed over me. It also means that management should not place an umbrella or a lid over my career or the career of anyone, to marginalize us and our development, and not extend to us the opportunity to grow simply based on the color of our skin and what they deem is acceptable to their viewers.

    Some people have said, “You’re in a good position. Forget about it. Fox will never get rid of you because they need more black men to defend themselves against the critics who accuse Fox of racial bias.” Well, I’m not here to be a token either. I’m here to be a valued employee who, like all of my fellow workers you see with me, are privileged and honored to be their voice today to do my job in the best possible environment for growth. And when I see something that needs to be addressed, I should point it out and offer ideas to help improve our company. And that’s exactly what I did. I’ve had direct talks with leaders over the past 10 years explaining and even pleading with them to allow all of us and me in particular to show the accomplishments, contributions and brilliance within America’s communities, particularly communities of color. To never overlook the negative situations that do exist within black or Latino communities but also to show the positive and inspiring people within those communities who proactively strive to right the wrongs and pave the way out of downtrodden and impoverished conditions through education, through faith, through fortitude, and forgiveness.  

  • Fox Scrapes Conspiracy Barrel In Cliven Bundy Defense

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News revived the smear that President Obama planned to build a "domestic militia" during a segment defending Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his armed militia supporters.

    In a July 2, 2008 campaign speech in Colorado, Obama called for the expansion of service organizations such as AmeriCorp and the Peace Corps, along with America's Foreign Service. During his speech, Obama said:

    OBAMA: We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.

    Obama's call for more involvement in civic service organizations was distorted by Fox and the right-wing media, who employed inflammatory rhetoric such as claiming Obama wanted to build a "civilian army" that would be part of the president's "thugocracy" and is "what Hitler did with the SS." Even Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was reportedly concerned that Obama's comments meant he "wanted to create a national police force."

    On the April 20 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, co-host Kelly Wright dredged up the smear while discussing Bundy and his armed standoff with members of the federal government, claiming Obama was "telling Americans that the U.S. needs to beef up its domestic police force. And with the recent raid of Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch, well, his push for a stronger domestic militia could be fulfilled."

  • Fox Papers Over GOP-Obama Agreement On Debt Stability With Misleading Quote

    Blog ››› ››› ALAN PYKE

    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)Fox News reporter Kelly Wright used a partial quote from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to paper over Ryan's acknowledgment that debt levels are stable for the near term, misrepresenting the debt conflict between President Obama and House Republicans.

    On the March 17 edition of CBS News' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer asked Ryan about an interview Obama had previously given to ABC News, in which he observed that "we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt." Ryan conceded to Schieffer that "we don't have a debt crisis right now," going on to explain that Republicans differ with the president on how to handle the prospective crisis. From the March 17 edition of Face the Nation:

    RYAN: To borrow a phrase from my friend Erskine Bowles and the fiscal commission, we're the healthiest looking horse in the glue factory. That means America is still a step ahead of the European nations who are confronting a debt crisis of Japan that's in its second lost decade. It's partly because of our resilient economy, our world currency status. So we do not have a debt crisis right now, but we see it coming, we know it's irrefutably happening. And the point we're trying to make in our budget is let's get ahead of this problem. Look we know that in a debt crisis you pull the rug out from under people living on the safety net, you cut seniors in retirement. This is what we're trying to avoid. The purpose of having a reasonable balanced budget like we're proposing is let's prevent a debt crisis from happening in the first place. If we keep kicking the can down the road, if we follow the president's lead or if we pass the Senate budget, then we will have a debt crisis. Then everybody gets hurt. You know who gets hurt first and the worst in a debt crisis? The poor and the elderly. That's what we're trying to prevent from happening. Pro-growth economic policies to get people working, to bring in more revenue, and get the entitlement system under control so it doesn't go bankrupt so people can seriously plan for the promises that government has made for them in retirement. That's what we're saying, is, let's prevent a debt crisis from happening, we know it's coming, this budget does that.

    In the lead segment of the March 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, however, Wright excised Ryan's agreement with the president. After stating that despite Obama's "charm offensive," Republicans "remain skeptical about the president's sincerity," Wright offered a misleading paraphrase of Ryan's comments that implied that Obama's 'no immediate crisis' observation was a stumbling block in negotiations, rather than a point of common ground.

    WRIGHT: But some Republicans remain skeptical about the president's sincerity. Congressman Paul Ryan, who we just heard from, expressed doubts after the president's recent comment that America is not in an immediate debt crisis. Ryan contends that America is teetering on the edge of a crisis, and that it will have serious repercussions.

    [RYAN CLIP:] You know who gets hurt first and the worst in a debt crisis? The poor and the elderly. That's what we're trying to prevent from happening. Pro-growth economic policies to get people working, to bring in more revenue, and get the entitlement system under control so it doesn't go bankrupt so people can seriously plan for the promises that government has made for them in retirement. That's what we're saying, is, let's prevent a debt crisis from happening, we know it's coming, this budget does that.

    This heavy truncation of Ryan's quote suggests disagreement where there is none: Both Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) agreed with the president's assessment that any crisis is not immediate. That's because debt levels are stable in the near term, a fact straight from the Congressional Budget Office. The White House and the congressional GOP dispute the proper policy response to these non-immediate, middle-distance fiscal issues, but the president's "immediate crisis" comments are not controversial.

    President Obama and congressional Republicans agree about the importance of debt reduction, but dispute the timeline and architecture of that reduction. Ryan's belief that America is merely "the healthiest horse in the glue factory" may be misguided, but it is much more informative for fiscal debate watchers than Fox's focus on a ginned-up disagreement that Ryan and Boehner have already rejected.

  • Fox & Friends crew ignored Cheney, Bush unpopularity as reasons they're not appearing with candidates

    ››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

    On Fox & Friends First, Kelly Wright suggested that Vice President Dick Cheney's decision to spend Election Day "in Wyoming," rather than on the campaign trail, could be a "sign" that Cheney "isn't worried or nervous at all about the outcome of tomorrow's election." Other anchors also uncritically stated that the reason Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is not appearing with President Bush at a campaign rally is "so he can hit other cities." None of the anchors mentioned the fact that both have low approval ratings -- Cheney nationally and Bush in Florida.