Erin Burnett: Calling Sorority Sisters 'Gang Members' Was an Accident


On Thursday night, Erin Burnett apologized for the wrong thing. Earlier this week, the CNN anchor appeared to call members of Zeta Phi Beta sorority “gang members” as footage of a Baltimore Town Hall meeting on Tuesday rolled.

Burnett says she’d interviewed local Maryland Reverend Jamal Bryant, the host of the Town Hall, who said the Bloods, Crips and BGF would be at the meeting. The organizations, as my colleague Jia Tolentino wrote, were also part of the protests against local police. But when Burnett was relaying that information, the images flashing across CNN’s screen were of a group of ZPB women who’ve been volunteering in the community.

Here’s Erin’s transcribed apology, via Mediaite:

A brief note on a segment from earlier this week: We talked with Baltimore Reverend Jamal Bryant about a community town hall he was hosting on Tuesday. He stressed the importance of gang members attending. Immediately after that interview, we showed a live picture of the town hall. I noted the reverend said gang members were attending, along with other members of the community, members of the sorority Zeta Phi Beta were shown in that live picture. We’re sorry if anyone got the impression we were calling that sorority gang members; that wasn’t our intention. Zeta Phi Beta, by the way, is a 95-year old organization which right now is distributing supplies to seniors in Baltimore, cleaning up the city, and getting ready to host a meeting on youth and law enforcement.


What I would have loved for Erin, and her co-worker Ashleigh Banfield frankly, to apologize for however was using the coded word “thug” in describing protestors who were black, angry and tired of being brutalized by cops with “rough rides,” killed and then described as dying “mysteriously.” So Erin, Ashleigh, et al: if you really want to say you’re sorry, own up to your actual mistakes.

Image via AP.

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