CNN faces backlash for video highlighting white congresswomen as impeachment leaders

CNN faces backlash for video highlighting white congresswomen as impeachment leaders
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A CNN story that highlighted a group of white congresswomen as “leaders on impeachment” is facing backlash, with critics quick to point out many members of Congress of color were among the first to push for impeachment. 

The story, published Saturday, concerned a group of what CNN calls “moderate” freshman House Democrats that switched their anti-impeachment views to back the House inquiry last week after the new allegations over the Ukrainian scandal. 

The five Democrats, Reps. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinMixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner MORE (Mich.), Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerHouse Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts House passes bills to gain upper hand in race to 5G The biggest political upsets of the decade MORE (Va.), Chrissy Houlahan (Pa.), Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillOvernight Defense: Dems raise pressure on Esper to block border wall funds | Trump impeachment trial begins in Senate | Day one dominated by fight over rules House Dems express 'deepening concern' over plans to take .2B from Pentagon for border wall How the 31 Democrats in Trump districts voted on impeachment MORE (N.J.) and Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaMixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates Lawmakers warn Pentagon against reduction of US forces in Africa Tenth Congressional Black Caucus member backs Biden MORE (Va.), call themselves the “badasses” because they either served in the military or CIA, according to CNN.

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CNN credits the women as having “changed history by becoming unlikely leaders on impeachment.” 

The report directly compares them with “the squad,” the group of freshmen Democrats, all women of color, who have been among the most outspoken members of congress pushing for an impeachment inquiry. 

"None of us is ever going to get in a Twitter war with anyone else," Slotkin told CNN, in the interview with Dana BashDana BashEvelyn Yang shares that she was sexually assaulted by doctor Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' Republicans attack Pelosi for impeachment stalemate MORE. "If we have a concern with someone, we're going to go right up and talk to them about it and we're not going to add unhelpful rhetoric to an already bad tone coming out of Washington.

Spanberger said “I don't think any of us want to be the loudest voice in the room. I just want to be one of the most effective”

Brittany Packnett, an activist and co-host of the “Pod Save the People” podcast, called the comparison with the fellow freshmen Democrats “coded racist rhetoric about women of color.” 

“Also the end of this video is some of the worst coded racist rhetoric about women of color. The (incorrect) juxtaposition of being ‘loud’ v ‘effective’... intimations of them being angry and rageful. But I’m sure plenty of their ‘moderate’ constituents loved it,” she tweeted.

Packnett also said the “scales” that CNN said the so-called “bad asses” tipped “wouldn’t have EXISTED without women of color doing the hard work and taking the hits.”

“Y’all coming in at the 11th hour to barely break a sweat and take credit is the most white feminist thing EVER,” Packnett tweeted. 

Eli Mystal, the executive editor of Above the Law, said the story gives the women credit for work other members have been doing. 

“This story is trash,” Mystal tweeted. “The story gives these women credit for leading impeachment when in fact they were late in the game followers. If not for the work of women of color, there would have been no impeachment movement for them to glom onto, a fact this story seems to forget

Members of “the squad,” Democratic Reps. Illhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters Moore defends Sanders's reputation: 'We don't want the fake, and the phony and the fraudulent' MORE (N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibSanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Democrats press Trump administration to stop DNA collection from detained migrants Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Donald Trump' if the US doesn't elect a progressive MORE (Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThe Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power Pressley says she 'would welcome the opportunity' to educate DeVos after abortion, slavery comparison Massachusetts governor apologizes after calling Pressley speech a 'rant' MORE (Mass.) have been backing an impeachment inquiry long before Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (N.Y.) officially announced one last week. 

As was Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the first member of Congress to call for impeachment, and Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenThe Memo: Will Iran crisis sideline impeachment process? Green says House shouldn't hold impeachment articles indefinitely GOP set to make life difficult for Democrats on impeachment MORE (D-Texas), who has called for articles of impeachment several times. 

The women profiled in the CNN story called for impeachment last week in a Washington Post op-ed just ahead of Pelosi’s announcement, as most House Democrats started to come behind the inquiry. 

On Twitter, critics hit the story over ignoring the work congress members of color did and accused CNN of trying to “whitewash” history. Some, simply retweeted the story with the names of members who have been backing impeachment long before the women CNN highlighted as leaders.  

A spokesperson for CNN was not immediately available for comment.