“I’ve talked to some folks who work there and it’s very difficult, especially when you have all the hit pieces that are done on Obama,” Butler told The Wrap while mentioning chats he’s had with other staffers, who voiced how they’ve themselves enduring the trials of their respective jobs, telling him “Look, this is a job, I have to do it, and sometimes you have to just hold your nose and do what you have to do to collect a paycheck.”
Regarding the staffers, Butler added that they are good producers who pride themselves on covering news.
The ex-NABJ president’s comments come amid criticism leveled at Fox News channel creator Rupert Murdoch for a tweet that surfaced Wednesday, which suggested that President Barack Obama isn’t “a real black president.” The media mogul ultimately apologized for the comment on Thursday (Oct. 8)
For Butler, who served as NABJ president from 2013-2015, Murdoch’s comments left him dumbfounded and wondering, “what does that even mean?” Considering no love lost between Murdoch and Obama with the editorial policies of Murdoch’s properties, Butler isn’t surprised at what Murdoch said. Still, he admits that this doesn’t give him a green light to label the businessman a racist.
“I always stop short of saying someone is being blatantly racist,” Butler said before saying it’s troubling for Murdoch, who isn’t black, to be deciding who is “black enough.”
Despite being criticized over the years for its coverage of African-American issues, voter suppression and the Black Panthers, not to mention comments from on-air personalities about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, TheWrap notes that Fox News and Fox Business have employed a number of African-Americans on-air and behind the scenes. Those workers include Harris Faulkner, Juan Williams, Charles Payne and David Webb and Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, Alveda King, who became a contributor with Fox News earlier this year.
In addition, the network has the Ailes Apprentice Program, which has existed for more than a decade and targets minorities in an effort to invite trainees to learn the ins and outs of TV News while earning a salary and benefits with job for some after the program ends.
The employment of African-Americans at major outlets is something Butler hasn’t limited to Fox News. Last year, he called out CNN for letting go of black staffers during a series of mass layoffs, saying the departure was “worrisome.”
“I know CNN is going through layoffs, but the departure of so many African-Americans is worrisome,” Butler said at the time, which was marked by the large number of African-Americans leaving the network since the NABJ honored CNN with its Best Practices award in 2007.