CNN’s Brooke Baldwin would “love to see a woman” run network after network president Jeff Zucker steps down. (Photo: Getty Images for CNN)
This week, Baldwin released her first book Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power, just days before she will host CNN Newsroom for the last time. The journalist tells Yahoo Entertainment covering Trump’s inauguration followed by the Women’s March in 2017 left her feeling like she needed to do more.
“I literally got assigned to be embedded in the Trump motorcade on Inauguration Day. And so it was this wild, emotional whiplash of 48 hours where I’m in the middle of this whole Trump inauguration. And as a woman, you know, we all saw where he liked to grab women,” Baldwin says, referencing Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape.
“As a woman covering him, I stood there on the back of the flatbed truck troubled. And then the very next day I am in the middle of the Women’s March and surrounded by half a million women,” she continues. “I covered it as a journalist and it was magical watching all of these prominent women pass me by.”
People gather for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
Baldwin examines “huddling” in her new book, which is when women lean on one another — whether it’s in in politics, sports or everyday friendships — to provide each other support, inspiration or enact meaningful change. For the the Peabody-nominated journalist, those two back-to-back days four years ago set her on a new path.
“It altered me,” she explains. “I had all of this in me brewing, I think, just in who I am and where my priorities are and where my passions lie. But those two days, little did I know, really kind of altered the course of what would become my future.”
When Baldwin returned, she pitched an idea — “to my all male CNN executives” — that would eventually become the digital series American Woman. While she would have liked to spend more time highlighting empowering female stories around the country, it wasn’t possible.
“The Trump White House machine was just starting to get going. Even though I hosted two hours [on CNN], I had to cover the news,” she explains. “Once I started interviewing these women, it just all clicked. So while I was doing my day job and covering the politics of America, on the side and in my free time, I was running around the country, interviewing women. And that was almost the precursor then to this book.”
About those all male executives in what’s typically been a male dominated industry. Baldwin says she’s seen growth at CNN, her home network of more than a decade, but believes “we still have major strides to go.”
Video: Brooke Baldwin leaves CNN, says ‘there is just more I need to do’
“Somebody asked me about this the other day, they were like, if you were only sort of starting at CNN around this time, how would you feel about it all? And it is different,” she explains. “When I came to CNN — I started in 2008 as a freelancer — it is different now. I mean, I look at recent hires. They have a lot more women anchoring and women being allowed to be in executive producer roles, but we still have major strides to go.”
Baldwin sees an opening as CNN President Jeff Zucker previously said he will leave the cable news network at the end of 2021.
“The truth is, back in November and December, I had basically decided that it was time to move on now,” Zucker told employees on a call in February. “But since then, I’ve had a change of heart. And I want to stay. Not forever, but for another year.”
“I want to see a woman — you know, if my boss says he leaving — I’d love to see a woman run this network,” Baldwin states. “I would like to see more women in those major, major roles. You know, those are the people who shape how we cover, what we cover, who we interview, who we hire — it all filters down from the top. That’s what I want to see more of.”
As for what’s next for her, Baldwin believes Huddle is just the start of her next chapter.
“It’s going to be hard to walk away. I have to walk away,” she explains of her decision to leave CNN. “And the main reason is — listen, it’s been a total privilege… but I, in spending all this time with all these trailblazing women and these huddles, I cannot hold space with them and not be the bravest version of myself.”
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