Kam Williams | 11/28/2012, 7:09 a.m.
Soledad O’Brien is the anchor for the CNN morning show “Starting Point” and a special correspondent for CNN/U.S.
Since joining the network in 2003, O’Brien has reported breaking news from around the globe and has produced award-winning documentaries on the most important stories facing the world today.
In 2010, she wrote a critically acclaimed memoir “The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities,” which chronicles her biggest reporting moments and how her upbringing and background have influenced these experiences.
O’Brien’s documentaries include the “Black in America” and “Latino in America” series; “Don’t Fail Me: Education in America”; “The Women Who Would be Queen,” a portrayal of the royal marriage; “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door”; “Pictures Don’t Lie,” the story of the secret life of Civil Rights photographer Ernest Withers as a paid FBI informant; “Rescued,” a look at Haiti’s children before, during and after the devastating earthquake; and “Gary and Tony Have a Baby” chronicling the struggle of two gay men to have a child.
A graduate of Harvard University, O’Brien lives with her husband and four children in Manhattan.
Her upcoming Black in America special “Who Is Black in America?” is scheduled to premiere on CNN on Sunday, Dec. 9.
Did you ever worry about being pigeonholed as partisan during the presidential campaign? How do you maintain your image as impartial when you have Republicans taking potshots at you? For instance, Romney advisor John Sununu suggested that you put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead, and Fox News President Roger Ailes condescendingly referred to you as “That girl that’s named after a prison.”
It’s going to get crazy at times during any election year. That’s just what happens. The goal for me is to be focused and really well-read so I’m prepared to ask the tough questions of both sides. You’re always going to have those people who love you and those who hate you, but after four kids and a quarter-century in this business, I have a very thick skin. [Chuckles]
The only thing that bothers me is if I feel I haven’t done a tough interview. The people who come on regularly know they’re going to be challenged, and that they can challenge me. They also understand that I’m not a pushover and that I don’t crumble because I come armed with the facts.
Let’s talk about your upcoming special. Where did you come up with the idea for “Who Is Black in America?”
We were thinking about universal themes for Black in America that really touch people, that really matter to people, and one of the themes that we kept coming up with was colorism, discrimination based on skin tone.
It was fascinating to hear the conversations that were happening between people who were light-skinned, people who were dark-skinned and people somewhere in between. Just the hurt, the pain and anger on all sides was very interesting. So, we thought we would explore that because it seemed like a very interesting story to tell, especially since we were seeing a big change, generationally.