At KPU event, CNN correspondent Abby Phillip talks journalism, politics and media diversity

The event was moderated by SOC professor Sherri Williams

At KPU event, CNN correspondent Abby Phillip talks journalism, politics and media diversity

Abby Phillip (left) and SOC professor Sherri Williams at the Kennedy Political Union webinar on Feb. 16

At a virtual event hosted by the Kennedy Political Union on Tuesday, CNN Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip spoke about the importance of representation in media and her experience covering politics. 

School of Communication professor Sherri Williams moderated the discussion, which was co-sponsored by The Blackprint, SOC and the Black Caucus Committee as part of KPU’s Black History Month programming. Students also submitted their own questions as part of the event. 

“In particular, in terms of political journalism, I look around and I still see not enough faces of color,” Phillip said. “It is still too hard to find journalists of color covering national politics. And that should not be the case.” 

Phillip recently became the anchor of “Inside Politics Sunday” on CNN. She previously covered former President Donald Trump’s administration as a White House correspondent for CNN. Before working at CNN, Phillip worked at The Washington Post, ABC News and Politico. 

In an interview with student media before the event, Phillip said that journalists need to be more adamant about calling out racism for what it is, rather than trying to treat it as a “valid opinion.”

“If we continue to treat racist statements and views and beliefs as just valid opinions in the public sphere, we’re going to perpetuate those things existing in our society,” she said. “You become part of the problem and not somebody that is actually informing and improving people’s understanding of public events and what’s going on in the world.”

Phillip strongly encouraged conversations around diversity and representation in journalism, arguing that such changes increase the richness of the stories that can be told. That holds doubly true considering that journalism is a profession largely dominated by white men, she said. 

“We all bring what we come from to the table and so diversity makes those conversations richer and more informative to people who are watching and want to feel like they’re being heard and they’re being understood,” Phillip said. 

During her coverage of the 2020 election, Phillip credited Black women for President Joe Biden’s success during the Democratic primaries, saying “Black women did that.”

“What this cycle proved was that you saw Black political power showing up all over the political spectrum, and Democrats realized that they needed to rely on that constituency,” Phillip said during the event. 

Phillip is currently working on a book about activist and minister Jesse Jackson’s presidential runs, their impact on the Democratic Party and Black political power. 

“Fast forward even more to 2020, and you don’t have Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee without Black voters in South Carolina and in other parts of the country,” Phillip said. “Not just in South Carolina, but in all these other states voting, with a sense of clarity and focus, about what was in their political interest to elevate, a candidate that they felt was going to meet their political needs at that moment.”

nheller@theeagleonline.com

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