Gay Journos Visible ‘All Over the Airwaves’

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and CNN's Don Lemon were in good company to share the news of the Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality.

“The remarkable shift in how the United States views gay rights and gay people could be easily understood just by following the way the media covered the Supreme Court’s historic rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 on Wednesday,” Jack Mirkinson reported Thursday for Huffington Post.

“Just as LGBT people have become ever more visible in American society, so too were they all over the airwaves throughout the day.

“If viewers turned to ABC in the morning, they could see Sam Champion, the openly gay – and married – ‘Good Morning America’ host, talk about how good the ruling felt, and be embraced by his fellow anchors.

“In the evening, they could find Diane Sawyer giving a hero’s welcome to Edith Windsor, the 84-year-old who won the actual case at stake in the DOMA decision. Sawyer called her ‘remarkable.’

“On MSNBC, they would find Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts discussing the political and personal implications of the Court’s decision along with another openly gay guest, New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.

” ‘Three openly gay people discussing this on national television is itself a moment,’ Maddow said.

“If they switched to CNN, they might have seen Don Lemon, who came out in 2011, gleefully bring his cameras into the iconic Stonewall bar in New York to get some regular peoples’ reaction. ‘If you haven’t been to a gay bar, I’m about to take you to one,’ Lemon said. . . .”

However, there were missteps. “The most common errors I saw in the first day of stories about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decisions were these,” Jennifer Vanasco wrote Thursday in Columbia Journalism Review.

“1. Outlets saying that the Defense of Marriage Act had been struck down.

“2. Outlets saying (or implying) that gay marriage was now legal in California . . . .”

In the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, Paul Taylor and Mark Hugo Lopez of the Pew Research Center noted it would not be as easy as some think to describe the group most affected by the same-sex marriage ruling.

Are they gays? Are they gays and lesbians? Or are they LGBT, an acronym that’s gone mainstream in the last few decades even though – as is often the case with group labels – it’s not fully embraced by everyone it purports to identify . . .,” they wrote.

Rachel Jeantel Personifies Race, Class, Culture Clash

When Rachel Jeantel testified in her friend Trayvon Martin’s murder trial yesterday she was called fat, ignorant, sassy, ugly and manly,” journalist Sherri Williams wrote Thursday.

“Jeantel was called everything except what she is, a witness in one of the most significant criminal trials in recent history – a young woman who heard her friend fight for his life.

“Social media users called Jeantel a thug, an embarrassment to humanity and to black America. Some joked that she is worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit, a living stereotype, an example of America’s failing education system.” Williams compiled some of the tweets on Storify.

“Those tweets reveal some of the things that some Americans believe is wrong with this country, but more deeply, what’s wrong with young black women,” she continued. “Attacks on Jeantel’s hair, body, speech, grammar and attitude all seemed to be proof for social media users that young black women are fools.

Jason Johnson, a political science and communication professor at Hiram College and frequent commentator on politics, elaborated on the HLN website: “Some people see a surly, unreliable witness who’s been caught telling several whoppers over the last year. Others see your average working class teenage girl, trying her best to stay composed while re-telling the story of the death of her close friend under the most grueling of circumstances.

“Which one did you see? It probably has a lot to do with what demographic boxes you check to identify yourself. . . .”

Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, wrote in the same vein:

“What so much of this really revealed was the gulf between middle-aged, middle class, mainstream codes of behavior and life among youth from poorer, non-white neighborhoods,” Deggans wrote.

He added, “This is a question that’s hovered over the Trayvon Martin shooting since the story burst onto the national stage more than a year ago.

“As each side on this murder trial tries to prove the other person had tendencies toward prejudice and violence which may have sparked the fight, how will jurors judge the difference between edgy culture and outright dysfunction?

Writing for the Nation Thursday, Mychal Denzel Smith introduced readers to the drama:

“Rachel Jeantel was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin before George Zimmerman killed him on the night of February 26, 2012. On the third day of Zimmerman’s murder trial, after opening statements that featured the words ‘fucking punks’ and [a] knock-knock joke, and testimony from a number of witnesses, Rachel took the stand.

“Visibly shaken, Rachel recounted the details of her phone conversation with Trayvon the night he was killed. She says he told her that a ‘creepy-ass cracker’ was watching him. He attempted to lose him, but the man kept following, at which point Rachel suggested that Trayvon run. The phone was disconnected shortly after, and when the two were reconnected, Trayvon told Rachel, ‘The nigga is behind me.’ Rachel then heard a bump, the sounds of ‘wet grass,’ and what she thought to be Trayvon saying, ‘Get off.’

“The court took a recess after the state was finished questioning Rachel, as she was too broken up to continue at that moment. When they returned, Don West, a lawyer on Zimmerman’s defense team, resumed the questioning. Rachel’s demeanor noticeably shifted. She became agitated, answering West’s questions with quick ‘yes’es and exasperated ‘no’s. The more tedious the questions, the more frustrated she became.

“She was looking at a man trying to get someone off for killing her friend. West was doing what a defense lawyer does, of course, by trying to catch Rachel in a lie, poke holes in her story and cast doubt on her credibility. And the way she responded reflected the fact she knew exactly what was going on and she was determined not to let him rattle her. She may have frustrated him just as much as he did her.

“Rachel’s testimony is an emotional reminder of just what happened. A teenage boy was killed. His family and friends were left to mourn. For some of them, the pain is still fresh. The man responsible walked free for more than a month. There’s a possibility he could be found not guilty. . . .”

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: “They won’t understand her”

Denise Clay blog: For The Children Of The Corn…

Jelani Cobb, New Yorker: Rachel Jeantel on Trial

Brittney Cooper, Salon: Dark-skinned and plus-sized: The real Rachel Jeantel story

Javier E. David, the Grio: Paula Deen controversy, Trayvon Martin testimony re-open messy n-word debate

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: George Zimmerman’s lawyer jokes, the Supreme Court giveth and taketh away

Gregory Kane, BlackAmericaWeb.com: ‘The Look’: A Black Man’s Theory on the Zimmerman Jurors

John McWhorter, Time: Rachel Jeantel Explained, Linguistically 

Vickie Newton, Soul of the South network trial coverage (Day 4) (video) 

Prison Culture (Mariame Kaba): Rachel Jeantel: Through A Glass Darkly.

Jason Silverstein, Slate: I Don’t Feel Your Pain

Jermaine Spradley, Huffington Post: Rachel Jeantel Twitter Commentary: Olympian Lolo Jones Stirs Controversy With Criticism Of Teen

Angela Tuck blog: Really dude?

Paula Deen Story Should Really Be About the Workplace

“So I read the Paula Deen deposition – all 149 pages,” columnist Fannie Flono wrote Thursday in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.

“I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about. Surely, it had to be about more than her long ago use of the N-word.

“It was.

“Deen does not come off looking good in this deposition. But it’s not because of her too cavalier admission that she once – maybe more than once – used a racial slur.

“That can be forgiven.

“No, the deposition offers a more plausible reason why companies are running from her like she’s doused with toxic chemicals. Her big problem may not be the N-word; and not the R-word – racist – either, a characterization which she and her fans, blacks and whites, deny. The deposition homes in on the D-word and the H-word: Discrimination and harassment.

“Media attention has almost exclusively focused on Deen’s potty-mouth and racially insensitive utterances, from the past and more recently. That’s delicious fun for some to read about and use to skewer Deen. But she tearfully and rightly points out that we all have said things that were unseemly or that we should not have. Who among us should cast the first stone at her for being human in that regard?

“Yet the lawsuit for which she was being deposed last month was about present-day workplace activities for which Deen bears some responsibility. . . .”

Meanwhile, Andrew Kirell reported for Mediaite Friday that “Deen has lost sponsors and a Food Network career as a result of controversy over her past use of a racial epithet, but her cookbook empire has not suffered the same fate. In the wake of last week’s hubbub, Deen’s book sales and pre-sales have surged, sending her atop an Amazon.com best-seller list. . . . “

CNN plans a special on the N-word Monday hosted by Don Lemon, to air at 7 p.m., 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Eastern time.

Mary C. Curtis, the Grio: Is Paula Deen’s n-word use a Southern thing?

Merlene Davis, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: There are many issues more important than Paula Deen’s words

Jerry Large, Seattle Times: A lot about race in the news; we’ve still got some work to do

Frederick Lowe, NorthStar News & Analysis: Paula Deen Hires Crisis Expert Who Inspired “Scandal”

John McWhorter, Time: Viewpoint: The Food Network Should Give Paula Deen Back Her Job

Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: The n-word shouldn’t be used by anyone

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Tarred and feathered by a word

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Joining Together in Justice

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: From the Stonewall Riots to the right to gay marriage

Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: The Fearsome Power of Family Equality

Michael Crawford, the Grio: Reflections on DOMA: A coming out story that ends with the dream of equality nearly fufilled

Joe Davidson, Washington Post: Gay federal employees praise DOMA decision

National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association: NLGJA Members Respond to the U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on DOMA and Prop 8

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The work is not yet done

James Williams, the Grio: Gay rights or civil rights, the struggle is American

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