Commentary

'The New Yorker,' CBS News Stir Racial Controversy

The New Yorker and CBS News this week misidentified prominent people of color in their reporting, fueling criticism that the news media insufficiently represents a more multi-ethnic America. The mistakes threaten to undermine their authority on racial issues that merit serious news coverage.

The New Yorker mixed up two of the most visible Indian women in the world in an Instagram post that it later deleted without comment.

>The post showed a picture of Padma Lakshmi, the model and "Top Chef" host who has been on the cover of countless magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Newsweek, Town & Country and Redbook.

Unfortunately, the magazine tagged the photo with the Instagram handle for Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the Indian actress who starred in ABC's "Quantico" for three seasons and has almost 48 million Instagram followers.

Lakshmi appeared to find humor in the gaffe, posting a screen grab of the magazine's offending photo while intentionally misidentifying The New Yorker as the New York Daily News.

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If that mistake wasn't enough, CBS Evening News on Monday misidentified Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in a report about his recent cancer diagnosis. The news outlet showed a picture of Congressman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, who died in October.

It was the second time in the past year that a broadcaster mixed up the two African American lawmakers. Fox News last summer apologized after showing a clip of Lewis in a story on Cummings.

The news media generally likes to congratulate itself as being on top of social issues, including racial disparities, but these incidents indicate more work needs to be done.

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