Progressives expressed outrage on Monday over a CNN weekend segment on the so-called "leadership" of five centrist freshman congresswomen on the impeachment of President Donald Trump while ignoring the contributions of congresswomen of color who have been making the case for months.
The five white lawmakers backed impeachment proceedings following months of demands from ethics watchdogs and other critics, including the so-called "squad"—Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)—and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
In the report, CNN anchor Dana Bash said the five representatives she dubbed the "anti-squad"—Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Penn.), and Elaine Luria (D-Va.)—engaged in "risky political business" a week ago by joining more than 100 other Democrats in calling for impeachment proceedings. Some of their Democratic colleagues had demanded impeachment more than two years ago.
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) September 28, 2019
The congresswomen represent more conservative districts than some of their progressive colleagues, but critics slammed CNN for portraying their decisions to back impeachment this month as courageous while ignoring the earlier calls of Tlaib, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and that of Waters, who said Trump should be impeached shortly after he took office.
"The story gives these women credit for leading impeachment when in fact they were late in the game followers," Elie Mystal, executive editor of the blog Above the Law, tweeted. "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."
Others on social media joined Mystal in condemning the segment.
“Leaders on impeachment?”
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) September 29, 2019
Women of color seem to never be enough. Somewhere along the line, white women will always be given credit for the work & sacrifice of women of color. I see you Maxine Waters, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and AOC. https://t.co/0wmer5JqXk
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) September 29, 2019
— Mairav Zonszein (@MairavZ) September 29, 2019
I thought this was a parody.
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Ex military & CIA women- who are moderates- all white- are being given credit for impeachment of Trump when really, Tlaid, Omar, AOC & Ayanna led the effort.
This is gross..even for you CNN. https://t.co/9z88gRoIrC
— Tania Singh (@TwinklingTania) September 29, 2019
Tlaib was attacked by colleagues earlier this year for using an expletive in her call to impeach Trump just after she was sworn in to Congress. The congresswoman sponsored a bill in March to examine whether the House should begin impeachment proceedings, and Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and Pressley were among just 17 Democrats who signed on as co-sponsors the next month.
Along with Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who first spoke on the House floor in favor of impeachment in May 2017, just four months after Trump took office, Waters was one of the first lawmakers to call on Congress to bring charges against the president.
In October 2017, Waters told MSNBC that there was enough evidence of Trump's obstruction of justice in the Mueller probe for Congress to "be moving on impeachment."
In addition to criticizing CNN's "erasure" of the efforts of women in color in Congress, some slammed the segment for the mocking and dismissive tone it took towards first-term progressives in Congress like Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, who have embraced social media as a channel for sharing their bold and broadly popular proposals for reform and their work in Washington.
"None of us is ever going to get in a Twitter war with anyone else," said Slotkin. "We're not going to add unhelpful rhetoric to an already bad tone coming out of Washington."
Spanberger added that the five congresswomen don't "want to be the loudest voice in the room" after Bash suggested the progressive members are covered in the news more frequently.
"Not only are these women not at the forefront of impeachment, they actively shaded and condescended towards the black and brown women who have actually been fighting for the good of our nation," tweeted filmmaker Xavier Burgin.
This clip is terrible. Not only are these women not at the forefront of impeachment, they actively shaded and condescended towards the black and brown women who have actually been fighting for the good of our nation. This is a truly terrible clip.
— X (@XLNB) September 29, 2019
It’s not a good story. The women of color who led the impeachment push are ignored. The correspondent treats ‘the squad’ in a mocking way—I’m not sure why—it’s utterly unnecessary. There are a million walking shots, so it’s also boring. https://t.co/gurXFgfBZT
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) September 30, 2019