CBS Touts Claims of Racism at Airbnb, 'Micro-Aggression'

On Friday, CBS This Morning featured a segment by CBSN reporter Vladimir Duthiers on the apparent racial bias of Airbnb. After citing one documented case, he portrayed a culture of racism across the international apartment renting service.

Duthiers first exposed the racial bias against one customer, a Northwestern University student, experienced from an Airbnb host in North Carolina.  After the host repeatedly sent the student racially charged messages littered with racial slurs, Airbnb responded swiftly by banning him for life, insisting they have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to these matters.

CHRIS LEHANE: I was absolutely appalled. It was just outrageous.

DUTHIERS: Chris Lehane is the global head of policy for Airbnb, which tells the more than 80 million people who have used its service they belong anywhere.

LEHANE: It's why we took immediate action and why we have a zero tolerance policy on any type of activity like this.

But Duthiers didn't stop there. To really drive his point home he brought on another alleged victim of Airbnb's racial bias, Quirtina Crittenden.

QUIRTINA CRITTENDEN: It makes me feel..terrible. Um. But, it, I think it’s part of the micro-aggressions of just being a black American.

DUTHIERS: Chicago resident Quirtina Crittenden says she experienced racial bias on Airbnb. She started the hash tag #airbnbwhileblack.

CRITTENDEN: It took me about seven to eight times when I was using Airbnb. And each time I would get like a random excuse from the host like, oh, it's booked, I decided to stay at my place this week.

DUTHIERS: You got suspicious. Then what did you do?

CRITTENDEN: That's when I changed my profile. Um. I changed my photo to a city scape in Chicago. Then I shortened my name from Quirtina to just Tina.

DUTHIERS: Aaahhh.

CRITTENDEN: Um, and then after that, I never had any issues.

Crittenden told ABC News Nightline that "every single message she got had the worst excuse in the world as to why they weren't accepting me." The supposed racially charged excuses were "it's booked" and "I decided to stay at my place this week.”  Despite no concrete facts alluding to racial bias, Duthiers promoted her accusations anyway.

When the story broke, Airbnb's competitors also jumped at the opportunity to condemn the "racial bias."

DUTHIERS: Airbnb's opponents and competitors have even seized on the issue, releasing this commercial last month.

[Anti-Airbnb Commercial]

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I am a black woman. I get declined all the time on Airbnb.

It’s not clear what grand conclusions can be drawn from this commercial. There were no tangible data or statistics, no name attached to this person, and "declined all the time" is vague at best.  Duthiers turned to a study from the Harvard Business School in an effort to legitimize his and Crittenden's suspicions.

DUTHIER: A Harvard business school study confirmed what Crittenden suspected -- Airbnb guests with distinctly African-American names were about 16% less likely to be accepted than those with white names.

[Report with Harvard Business School Asst. Professor Michael Luca]

MICHAEL LUCA: The extent of discrimination is pretty persistent. So, it holds whether there's an African-American host or a white host.

And it doesn't stop there. Ring the alarms, former ACLU Official Laura Murphy is conducting a comprehensive review to make sure guests and hosts are being treated fairly. We can expect those results this September.

Despite starting the online movement #airbnbwhileblack, Crittenden said she would continue to use Airbnb along with 80 Million other people around the world.

DUTHIERS: Do you still want to use Airbnb, or has it turned you off?

CRITTENDEN: I have no problem with Airbnb as a company, as a service. But I do think they need to put a little action behind their words.

Action such as permanently banning the racist host from North Carolina for life?

This is not the first instance the mainstream media had made unwarranted attacks on small businesses, another one being the ride-sharing company Uber.  Liberal Late Show host Stephen Colbert questioned the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on his response to the claims that "Uber kills professional, good-paying jobs and it's unfair to the drivers and it's destroying the cab industry." Kalanick graciously explained the concept of supply and demand to Colbert, who, as per usual, hid behind comedy as a defense mechanism and changed the subject.

Perhaps this is what we are left with after eight years of Obama. An economy that preys on thriving small businesses and CBS anchors who perpetuate racial biases.

View Full Transcript Here:

06-03-16 CBS This Morning

7:42:54 - 7:46:14 AM

NORAH O’DONNELL: An Airbnb host in North Carolina is accused of sending vile messages to a business student. Vladimir Duthiers of our streaming network CBSN talked to another customer who claims she faced raci--racism on the site several times. Vlad, Good morning.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: Good morning. The latest incident involves a Northwestern University student only identified as Jane who needed a temporary place to stay in Charlotte. She received messages apparently from the Airbnb host that were so offensive, the company decided to ban him for life.

[REPORT]

DUTHIERS: Proclaiming: this is the south, darling. A user identifying himself as Todd Warner, allegedly wrote, "Find another place to rest your n-word head."

DUTHIERS: The messages were published on a blog by one of Jane's friends. Warner repeatedly cursed and used racist language, despite Jane telling him to stop.

CHRIS LEHANE: I was absolutely appalled. It was just outrageous.

DUTHIERS: Chris Lahane is the global head of policy for Airbnb, which tells the more than 80 million people who have used its service they belong anywhere.

LEHANE: It's why we took immediate action and why we have a zero tolerance policy on any type of activity like this.

[Report of Interview with Duthiers and Chicago Resident Quirtina Crittenden]

QUIRTINA CRITTENDEN: It makes me feel..terrible. Um. But, it, I think it’s part of the micro-aggressions of just being a black American.

DUTHIERS: Chicago resident Quirtina Crittenden says she experienced racial bias on Airbnb. She started the hash tag #airbnbwhileblack.

CRITTENDEN: It took me about seven to eight times when I was using Airbnb. And each time I would get like a random excuse from the host like, oh, it's booked, I decided to stay at my place this week.

DUTHIERS: You got suspicious. Then what did you do?

CRITTENDEN: That's when I changed my profile. Um. I changed my photo to a city scape in Chicago. Then I shortened my name from Quirtina to just Tina.

DUTHIERS: Aaahhh.

CRITTENDEN: Um, and then after that, I never had any issues.

DUTHIERS: A Harvard business school study confirmed what Crittenden suspected -- Airbnb guests with distinctly African-American names were about 16% less likely to be accepted than those with white names.

[Report with Harvard Business School Asst. Professor Michael Luca]

MICHAEL LUCA: The extent of discrimination is pretty persistent. So, it holds whether there's an African-American host or a white host.

[End of HBS report]

DUTHIERS: Airbnb's opponents and competitors have even seized on the issue, releasing this commercial last month.

[Anti-Airbnb Commercial]

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I am a black woman. I get declined all the time on Airbnb.

[End of Commercial]

DUTHIERS: The company says it has begun offering training to employees and hosts. Laura Murphy, a former top ACLU Official, will conduct a comprehensive review to make sure guests and hosts are being treated fairly.

LEHANE: And a really, really big challenge that everyone in society is dealing with, but we want to do our part.

DUTHIERS: Do you still want to use Airbnb, or has it turned you off?

CRITTENDEN: I have no problem with Airbnb as a company, as a service. But I do think they need to put a little action behind their words.

DUTHIERS: Airbnb hopes to complete their review by September. CBS This Morning reached out to Jane, the user in North Carolina, but did not get a response. We also tried to contact the host, Todd Warner, but were unsuccessful.

GAYLE KING: I would imagine Todd Warner isn't interested in talking.

DUTHIERS: Yes. I think he's probably in hiding.

KING: In 2016. Yeah.

DUTHIERS: Yes. In this day and age.

KING: But I like what she said, it's not Airbnb the company.

DUTHIERS: No.

O’DONNELL: Right, it's not. It’s the--

KING: And they’re trying to do something about that.

CHARLIE ROSE: Some things make you sad, some things make you angry.

KING: Angry, yeah. This one makes me sad and angry.

DUTHIERS: Yeah.

O’DONNELL: Yeah. Glad it’s being exposed.

KING: Me too. Thank you, Vlad.

7:46:14 AM

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