Insiders say Comedy Central's top creative executives tokenized employees of colour and fostered an environment rife with microaggressions

Comedy Central; Samantha Lee/Insider

On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash. The next day, a Black assistant for Comedy Central’s in-house creative team was still reeling from the news.

“I could barely get on the subway,” she said. “I was crying and honestly really shouldn’t have gone in to work that day.”

She managed to make it to the network’s headquarters in New York City. When she arrived, she was immediately called into a daily meeting.

Chris McCarthy, the president of ViacomCBS’s MTV Entertainment Studios, had emailed the team that morning, instructing them to publish content memorializing the Los Angeles Lakers legend.

“Why the f— would we do that? Isn’t that BET’s job?” the former assistant said she recalled the VP who was leading the meeting saying, referring to the Black Entertainment Television channel.

The VP denied saying this.

The assistant discussed the VP’s comment with two colleagues, both of whom confirmed the conversations to Insider. The assistant said she didn’t formally report the incident because she was worried it would jeopardize her career and put her at odds with executives at the company.

“I didn’t think anyone would care to listen,” the assistant said.

For the past three decades, Comedy Central has been lauded for pushing comedic boundaries with shows including “South Park,” “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “Broad City” and “Inside Amy Schumer.”

Despite the network’s progressive content, current and former employees for Comedy Central’s creative team told Insider that the company culture was not without discriminatory behaviour. The insiders said that top creative executives at the New York headquarters sometimes tokenized employees of colour and fostered a culture rampant with microaggressions. Of the 17 past and current employees Insider spoke to, 15 said they either witnessed or experienced inappropriate behaviour they believe was influenced by colleagues’ race.

You can read the full investigation on Business Insider: Black Comedy Central employees felt tokenized and used as a ‘taste tester for racism’ by the network, while it showcased diversity on TV

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.