ABC has been flooded with complaints since inviting the conservative blogger behind the Shirley Sherrod scandal to participate in election night coverage.
Andrew Breitbart, the blogger who released the edited tape that made Agriculture Department manager Shirley Sherrod seem like a bigot, is causing grief for ABC News, which invited him to be part of its election night coverage.
Even as Color of Change and other media monitoring groups object to legitimizing Breitbart by including him in the coverage, Breitbart has challenged ABC's explanation that he was to be included only as an online participant in its election-night "digital town hall."
"I can state with absolute certainty that the verbal pitch to me to participate was punctuated by the opportunity to appear as part of ABC News’ broadcast television for the night. I was also aware that the majority of my participation — seven long hours — would be online," Breitbart wrote Sunday night on his Big Journalism blog.
Jeffrey W. Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News, told Journal-isms on Monday, "That was an exaggeration and not true. Any confusion about his role is of his own making. He exaggerated when he blogged that he would be on ABC News."
Asked why Breitbart was invited to appear on any ABC platform, Schneider said, "We went through a broad range of people to participate in this digital town hall with opinions and thoughts across the spectrum, and he was one of those people."
As the Associated Press reported in August, Sherrod was forced to resign "after conservative activist Andrew Breitbart posted a video clip of Sherrod's speech at an NAACP dinner on his website BigGovernment.com in which she appeared to say that she had once discriminated against a white farmer. The edited clip did not include the portion of the speech in which Sherrod said the episode had taught her the importance of overcoming personal prejudices."
An embarrassed President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized when it was discovered that Breitbart had selectively edited the speech. Sherrod announced that she planned to sue Breitbart. She is one of those protesting his appearance on ABC. Her lawyer, Rose Sanders, compared the invitation to rewarding a Klan member for burning a cross, according to the progressive monitoring group Media Matters.
The Sherrod incident was not the first time Breitbart was found to have shaded the truth. Media Matters listed "Other highlights of Andrew Breitbart's recent career of authoring and promoting falsehood-laden journalism" at the end of another story on Breitbart on Friday.
Breitbart first came to the attention of many for his role in discrediting the community-organizing group ACORN.
The progressive media group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting said, "In September 2009, Breitbart's website BigGovernment.com posted videos, made by conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, supposedly showing ACORN employees counseling the pair — ostensibly pretending to be a prostitute and a pimp — on how to avoid paying taxes and other illegal activities. The videos were later found to be completely misleading. Among other things, it was revealed that O'Keefe never dressed as a pimp in ACORN's offices, and in many cases he pretended to be Giles concerned boyfriend protecting her from abuse."
Clark Hoyt, then the public editor at the New York Times, wrote, "The videos were heavily edited. The sequence of some conversations was changed. Some workers seemed concerned for Giles, one advising her to get legal help. In two cities, Acorn workers called the police." However, Hoyt added, "But the most damning words match the transcripts and the audio, and do not seem out of context."
On Saturday, Andrew Morse, executive producer of ABC News Digital, reacted to the furor over Breitbart's election-night participation with an explanation that noted Breitbart was not being paid and that "he is not, in any way, affiliated with ABC News.
"He has been invited as one of several guests, from a variety of different political persuasions, to engage with a live, studio audience that will be closely following the election results and participating in an online-only discussion and debate to be moderated by David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg on ABCNews.com and Facebook. We will have other guests, as well as a live studio audience and a large audience on ABCNews.com and Facebook, who can question the guests and the audience’s opinions."
Eric Boehlert, Media Matters: Because Andrew Breitbart can’t handle the truth
At a Sept. 1 forum, an animated community member, Aaron Jackson, asks Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan whether the newspaper explored the criminal backgrounds of suburban victims. (Video)
The Buffalo News, which so angered members of the city's black community over the summer that some burned copies of the newspaper, announced steps Sunday to attempt to repair the damage.
About 700 people "shared their grievances" with Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan at a Sept. 1 community meeting after the News followed up on the shootings of eight people at a downtown restaurant with a front-page story about the criminal records of the victims. Four died in what the News called "one of the bloodiest shooting attacks in the region in recent decades."
"I feel that we were victimized twice," said Cheryl Stevens, mother-in-law of Danyelle Mackin, one of the four killed in the shooting, the News reported.
In a column Sunday, Sullivan wrote, "I can say, without exaggeration, that I left that meeting both shaken and changed. I still believe The News was right to publish the story because it exposed an important piece of the puzzle about that tragic shooting. But its timing and placement should have been handled more sensitively and more respectfully. (Those decisions were essentially mine.)"
Sullivan announced "just a few of the things that we plan to do:
"Form a diversity advisory council to give us feedback on our coverage of minorities. The group will be made up of community members — some prominent people and some 'ordinary citizens.' Editors and reporters will meet with the group quarterly. (If you’d like to be considered for a role on the council, please write to me or to Rod Watson at The News.)" Watson, the urban affairs editor, is a black journalist who writes a weekly column.
"Start a speakers’ bureau to get our reporters and editors out to meet people in the community. (If a group would like a speaker, it can request one through Watson.)
"Conduct diversity training in the newsroom. Our newsroom is reasonably diverse, with about 12 percent minorities, which reflects the racial makeup of Western New York as a whole. Black journalists work as editorial writers, assigning editors, photographers and beat reporters. Despite that, I’m sure we can learn from some professional training.
"Conduct a public opinion poll to gauge perceptions of The News among members of the black community. (This was a particular request of the East Side ministers and activists.)
"Begin a regular, every other week feature in the City&Region section that highlights positive or constructive news from the East Side, or simply describes neighborhoods and community activities."
Some greeted Sullivan's statement with skepticism.
"She still did not apologize to the community, nor to the families," George K. Arthur, retired chairman of the Buffalo Common Council, told Journal-isms on Monday. "She just softened her position somewhat." Sullivan had invited Arthur to speak at the Sept. 1 forum specifically to offer a historical perspective on grievances about the News' coverage of the black community.
Arthur also questioned the selection of Watson, who also heads the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists, as the point person.
"He's never been a member of the NAACP, never been active in the community," and the black journalists group had "never uttered one word" about the now-infamous Sunday story, Arthur said. "In fact, he was kind of defending the News."
Chris Stevenson, a Buffalo-based syndicated columnist, told Journal-isms via e-mail, "I wrote a couple pieces on how the News is years ago when I was doing a column for the Buffalo Criterion," a black community newspaper. "I said back then that the Buffalo News biggest problem is that they are always 'out to get someone.' It runs across the board here, the News and most of our white politicians are technically democrats, but when it comes to the East side, they act like republicans. As for the article, time will tell (and it won't take long)."
Rod Watson, asked to expand on Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan's comments in her column on the News' black-community outreach and to respond to comments by George K. Arthur, told Journal-isms, in part:
"Though she didn't mention it Sunday, we also plan to have News editors hold periodic meetings out in the community so that we can explain how and why we do what we do and get feedback from those we cover.
"The overall aim is to break down the wall that has long existed between The News and the African-American community. My goal is to have the black community develop the same sense of 'ownership' in The News that other communities have, so that blacks feel like they can impact The News and, by extension, public policy. The reality is that, for the most part, we don't write letters to the editor, we don't write 'my view' columns, and our organizations don't meet with the editorial board. All of those actions help shape the public agenda, mold public perception and help focus the newspaper's coverage and its editorial policies — yet the black community has been MIA. I've been preaching that message for the past 20 years every time I address a community group, but to no avail.
"I certainly understand the historical reasons for this sense of alienation, and the reasons blacks regard the paper as just another alien institution. But the reality is that this estrangement has been bad for the community and bad for the paper. Now, thanks to the recent controversy, we finally have a window of opportunity to get the African-American community engaged with the paper and vice versa, for the betterment of both.
"As for George Arthur's comments: As a journalist, I obviously don't join the NAACP or any other organizations that deal with the issues I write about. When it comes to my involvement in the community, I'll let my columns and recognition from African-American organizations speak for themselves.
"As for the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists, we've held forums and workshops to address some of these very issues and turnout has been disappointing, to put it mildly. I can recall one 'accessing the media' workshop in which we literally had more people on the panel than in the audience. A few years ago, we held a forum with news managers from the newspaper, the three TV stations and local conservative talk radio station. There were so many empty seats that I'd be hesitant to do it again because it sent entirely the wrong message: Looking out at the empty seats, the news managers probably thought they were doing a great job.
"Again, I understand the reasons for the sense of alienation, but we have to reach out to change that lack of engagement. This is the opportunity to do that. I understand George's skepticism, and no words from me will change that. So I will say only: Judge us by what we do as this effort unfolds."
GOP Favors Defunding NPR
"Most Democrats and a plurality of independents want the U.S. government to continue its financial contributions to embattled National Public Radio, while most Republicans oppose continued U.S. funding for NPR," according to a national poll of 1,074 registered voters taken Monday.
A plurality of blacks and Hispanics, and a strong majority of people 18 to 29, opposed a cutoff of funding.
The survey was conducted by Poll Position, whose founding partners include Eason Jordan, longtime CNN news executive, and Jeff Shusterman, co-founder and president of Majority Opinion Research.
Asked, "Should the U.S. government stop helping fund National Public Radio?" 38.9 percent said yes, 44.7 said no and 16.5 percent had no opinion. Among blacks, the figures were 31.4 percent yes, 48.8 percent no and 19.8 percent no opinion. Among Hispanics, they were 38.7 percent yes, 48.2 percent no and 13.1 percent no opinion.
"It’s important to keep in mind, when writing about this issue, that NPR actually receives a lot less money than people might think it does (a fact drummed into listeners’ heads every time a membership drive comes along)," Lauren Kirchner wrote Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. "NPR actually does not receive any government funding for its operations costs.
"For NPR’s individual member stations: see that direct funding from Federal, State & Local governments made up only 5.8 percent of the stations’ revenue in FY 2008. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) contributed another 10.1 percent, but even if you add those up, that’s still only about 16 percent of the stations’ funding coming directly or indirectly from government sources."
Nevertheless, "NPR’s controversial firing last week of news analyst Juan Williams re-ignited a long-time debate over whether U.S. government funds should be channeled to the non-profit radio service," Ted Iliff of Poll Position wrote.
"In partisan terms, Republicans favored ending U.S. funding 54-28 percent, while Democrats wanted the funding to continue 58-25 percent. NPR funding was favored by independents 49-38 percent.
"Broken down by ages, the 18-29 group supported continued taxpayer subsidies 62-30 percent. The 30-44 group narrowly sided with halting the funding 42-39 percent, and older groups were almost evenly split on the idea."
While such Republicans as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former House speaker Newt Gingrich have raised the issue of "defunding" NPR, Williams has concerned himself more with expressing anger at the organization.
"I think that NPR should have money. I think that people at NPR have to be held accountable for their words and actions," he said Tuesday on "The Diane Rehm Show" on Washington's WAMU-FM, an NPR affiliate. "I'm — to repeat, Diane, I'm a big fan of radio and I think especially the whole notion of public radio and good reporting, so this is not an attempt to wipe out anybody."
NPR affiliates "were flooded with complaints when the news broke, but not all suffered financially," she continued.
"Stations in St. Louis, Cleveland, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, Amherst, MA and other areas broke records. And in some areas, stations actually benefited from a backlash against the backlash; listeners said they wanted to support NPR against what they perceived as a Fox-News generated attack.
"NPR should salvage a bad situation by turning the underlying points Williams raised, about the widespread concerns, suspicions, and prejudices about Muslims in America into a national conversation," she wrote.
Williams had said on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" that he gets nervous when he sees passengers in "Muslim garb" on an airplane.
"What if NPR in the next few months started a thoughtful, probing conversation airing and addressing our fears, rational or not, about Muslims?" Shepard asked. "What if NPR skillfully explored areas many of us are uncomfortable talking about?
"What if it were done throughout the network with local public radio stations exploring the issue locally with interviews and stories?"
NPR spokeswomen were not responding to questions.
Adam Powell, USC Annenberg: NPR, Juan Williams and the Clash of News and Talk
Frances Cerra Whittelsey, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Juan Williams' Ethical Duties — and NPR's
Sharon Prill, general manager of JSOnline.com, website of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has been named publisher of the Yakima (Wash.) Herald-Republic, the Seattle Times, the Yakima paper's parent company, announced on Wednesday.
Prill, a former secretary and treasurer of the Asian American Journalists Association, becomes the third Asian American woman to lead a daily newspaper in the United States, AAJA President Sharon Pian Chanwrote on her blog. The others are Mei-Mei Chan, publisher of the News Press at Fort Myers, Fla., and Mi-Ai Parrish, publisher of the Idaho Statesman.
"A native of Hawaii and graduate of the University of Washington, Prill cut her management teeth at The Seattle Times in the 1990s before leaving the company in 2002," Chris Bristol wrote in the Yakima paper.
" 'Digital has to be a big piece of every news media strategy,' she said in a phone interview from her office at the Journal Sentinel, adding, 'I'm hoping to bring the best practices I’ve learned here and infuse some of that in Yakima.'
"Part Filipino, she said her first language was [Tagalog] and that she can sympathize with immigrant children who come from families where English may not be the native tongue."
The Seattle Times has withdrawn an endorsement for the first time in memory because a judge's comments about African Americans and crime "were so off base, so uninformed, that we could no longer stand by him," Editorial Page Editor Ryan Blethen wrote on Friday.
Steve Miletich reported on the Times front page on Oct. 22, "State Supreme Court justices Richard Sanders and James Johnson stunned some participants at a recent court meeting when they said African Americans are overrepresented in the prison population because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes.
"Both justices disputed the view held by some that racial discrimination plays a significant role in the disparity.
"Johnson also used the term 'poverty pimp,' an apparent reference to people who purportedly exploit the poor in the legal system, say those who attended the meeting.
"Sanders later confirmed his remarks about imprisoned African Americans, saying 'certain minority groups' are 'disproportionally represented in prison because they have a crime problem.'
" 'That's right,' he told The Seattle Times this week. 'I think that's obvious.'
"Blacks make up about 4 percent of Washington's population but 17 percent of people under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. Similar disparities nationwide have been attributed by some researchers in part to sentencing practices, inadequate legal representation and drug-enforcement policies that unfairly affect blacks."
Blethen responded to criticism of Monday's editorial withdrawing its endorsement by saying, "To believe we changed our minds about Sanders because of some notion of political correctness is also wrong. This goes beyond being politically correct.
"What Sanders and Johnson said seriously brings into question their ability to hear cases that involve people of color. That assertion has nothing to do with being politically correct and everything to do with having a Supreme Court that can act in the best interest of all Washington residents, including African Americans."
He said he could not remember when the Times had ever rescinded an endorsement. The paper did not discuss Johnson, the second judge, in its general-election endorsements because he "received more than 50 percent of the primary vote, which in judicial races is enough to win the race."
Nicole A. Gaines, Seattle Times: Discrimination is the well-documented cause of race disparity in prison
Lem Howell, Seattle Times: Justice Sanders got a bum rap over comments about incarcerated African Americans
Jerry Large, Seattle Times: No justice in justices' comments on black criminality
Steve Miletich, Seattle Times: Supreme Court candidates spar over editorial withdrawing support for Sanders
Lynne Varner and Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times: Civil Disagreement: Race and Crime
"About 2.8 million people tuned in for President Obama’s interview on 'The Daily Show' Wednesday night," Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times.
"It was the first visit by a sitting president to the news satire show, and it was worth almost an extra million viewers for the program, which normally averages about 1.9 million viewers for its 11 p.m. airing.
"Comedy Central said the interview ranked as the third-highest-rated edition of 'The Daily Show' ever, behind then-candidate Obama’s appearance in October 2008 and Michelle Obama’s appearance that same month."
On his St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times blog, Eric Deggans wrote, "the President's stop by the Daily Show tonight . . . was a substantive, spirited debate on some of the central questions which have most troubled liberals and progressives about his administration."
On theLoop21.com, Devona Walker agreed.
"After watching the cable outlets go ballistic over President Obama’s appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I have one slightly sardonic question to ask. If it’s disrespectful to call the President 'Dude' then how would you categorize labeling him a welfare thug, Kenyan Witch Doctor, Nazi or racist?
"The whole thing seems like another stupid, made-up media narrative when in actuality they should be embarrassed because Stewart’s (who is a satirist not a real journalist) interview was far more interesting and engaging than any I’ve seen in the least two years.
Betty Winston Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Efforts to discourage voting should not be heeded
Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Are We Better Off Than in 2008?
Eric Deggans blog, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: Why Jon Stewart's rally won't kill his image: It's the fans who are making it political
Cord Jefferson, theRoot.com: How Obama's Civil Rights Policies Are Benefiting Blacks
Errol Louis, New York Daily News: In midterm elections, Democrats may surprise everyone — by activating the black and Latino base
David A. Love, theGrio.com: Is nothing sacred? Tea Party campaigns against Muslim faith
Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Democrats Make a Mess of Florida Senate Race
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Yes, you can restore sanity (on Tuesday)
Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, Los Angeles Times: A Latino surprise
Heather Wright, Medill News Project, Politics Daily: Latino Voters Discouraged Going Into Midterm Elections (video)
Latinos Say Illegal Immigration Heightens Bias Concerns"The national political backlash against illegal immigration has created new divisions among Latinos and heightened their concerns about discrimination against members of their ethnic group —including those who were born in the United States or who immigrated legally," Mark Hugo Lopez, Rich Morin andPaul Taylor reported Thursday for the Pew Hispanic Center.
"About four-in-five of the nation's estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants are of Hispanic origin. A new national survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, finds that Latinos are divided over what to do with these immigrants. A small majority (53%) says they should pay a fine but not be deported. A small minority (13%) says they should be deported, and a larger minority (28%) says they should not be punished.
"Hispanics are also divided about the impact of illegal immigration on Hispanics already living in the U.S. Roughly equal shares say the impact has been positive (29%), negative (31%) or made no difference (30%). This mixed judgment stands in sharp contrast to views that Latinos expressed on this subject in 2007. Back then, fully half (50%) of Latinos said the impact was positive, while just 20% said it was negative.
"Today, more than six-in-ten (61%) Latinos say that discrimination against Hispanics is a 'major problem,' up from 54% who said that in 2007.
Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times: 'I am not king': Obama tells Latino voters he can't conjure immigration reform alone
Laura Sullivan, NPR: Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law
Mimi Valdés, the former editor of Vibe and Latina magazines, is leaving her post as head of BET.com after only three months. What went wrong?
Mimi Valdés, former editor of Vibe and Latina magazines, is leaving Black Entertainment Television after only three months, a BET spokeswoman confirmed for Journal-isms on Wednesday.
Valdés is BET's vice president for content, supervising BET.com, the most widely viewed Internet site catering to African Americans.
"Mimi Valdés will be leaving BET Networks and we wish her the best in her future endeavors," spokeswoman Jeanine Liburd said.
Valdés is leaving next week, she said. Liburd said "the decision was mutually agreed upon" and added, "We respect the privacy of all our employees and have no additional details to provide."
Valdés did not respond to messages. Probationary periods often last three months.
Valdés was hired in May after BET laid off six people from its Web operation, including Executive Editor Tanu Henry.
She had spent two years in the top editorial job at Latina, the nation's largest English-language magazine targeting Hispanics, before leaving that publication in May. An announcement then said she was leaving "to pursue new opportunities."
In January, Valdés had become co-founder of K!dult, a teen-targeted website from Pharrell Williams, the hip-hop recording artist, producer and musician.
Juan Williams continued his attack on NPR over his firing last week by the network, and even Jesse Jackson, whom Williams has disparaged, came to his defense.
"They’ve martyred Juan," Jackson said, according to James Hohmann, writing Wednesday in Politico, "taking him to another level both with his resources and his authority as a journalist."
During an extended interview on the "Newstalk" program of Washington all-news cable station TBD, Jackson suggested that NPR used Williams' comments about Muslims as "a pretext" that was primarily motivated by ideology, Hohmann wrote.
"I think that some of this predisposition towards Fox was the reason for the gotcha," Jackson said. "If they did not want his point of view, they should have said, 'When your contract is over, you do not fit into our scheme of things.' And then (he’d) go gracefully and with dignity. But to fire him in that way, and then to suggest he should see a psychiatrist, it was beneath the character and reputation of NPR.'
"NPR CEO Vivian Schiller apologized for saying Williams should keep his views about Muslims between himself and 'his psychiatrist or his publicist,' but her remarks fed into the narrative that NPR is liberal, smug and condescending," Hohmann wrote.
Jackson's defense of Williams is noteworthy because Williams has accused Jackson and other civil rights leaders of still fighting the battles of the 1960s, doing little for blacks and concerned about enriching their organizations' bank accounts.
"Under Jackson and Sharpton," Williams wrote in his 2006 book "Enough," "the high moral standing of civil rights has eroded, slid downhill, and now rests precariously on the rationale of 'it's the way we survive.' "
Williams was referring to the Rev. Al Sharpton and to a Jackson statement — "it's the way we survive" — in which he reportedly defended accepting money from one broadcasting company to put "racial pressure" on another. Williams also wrote, "When offered the chance to hold a real political post with the power to put into action new policies for helping black people, the poor and the oppressed, Jackson said no." Yet "he did enrich his family."
Williams kept up his attack on NPR this week.
" 'Over the weekend, people would say to me, "Oh, you just got a new deal from Fox? Congratulations, that it all worked out so well," ' Williams said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun following an address at the University of Maryland School of Law that earned him a standing ovation," the Sun's David Zurawik reported Wednesday. After Williams' firing, Fox News stepped forward with a reported three-year deal worth nearly $2 million.
" 'But there's an emotional disconnect, because the way it feels to me is like I just got fired and I'm not even sure what I did wrong.' "
He also said, "At NPR . . . they don't know this: A third of the audience for Bill O'Reilly's show is made up of people of color," Zurawik reported.
Spokeswomen for Fox did not return messages seeking confirmation of Williams' characterization of the O'Reilly audience demographics. None of the shows on the cable news networks, including "The O'Reilly Factor," has made the Nielsen Co.'s weekly list of the top 25 cable shows watched by African Americans.
Meanwhile, in one of the first public comments by an NPR board member on the situation, Dave Edwards, general manager of Milwaukee's WUWM-FM and vice chairman of the NPR board, defended Schiller's decision to dismiss Williams, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Sunday.
Edwards told Journal-isms on Thursday that he had spoken to seven or eight of the board's 16 members and that they felt "the right decision was made but there are a lot of ancillary issues" that need discussion. The board meets Nov. 11 in Washington. "We should not prejudge what the board thinks until they come together and have the pertinent facts," he said.
"He said NPR board members have expressed support for Schiller. Still, 'there are station managers who are concerned and upset. They want an explanation,' he said," Annysa Johnson reported.
"This was not at all a free-speech issue," Edwards said in the story. "It was a matter of violating a code of ethics that Juan knew about and agreed to when he took the position." Williams was a "news analyst" on NPR but a commentator on Fox. Schiller maintained that news analysts should not express opinions.
In an hour-long discussion Tuesday on "The Diane Rehm Show" on WAMU-FM, the Washington NPR affiliate, Williams disclosed that he received a registered letter from Schiller the previous night asking him to contact her.
"So you did not want to talk with Vivian Schiller face-to-face?" Rehm asked.
"No," Williams replied. "At this point — well, I was just going to say to you and now this comment about me and the psychiatrist or the publicist, I think, is condescending and insulting. And again, I think it's a personal attack and so the question I had in my mind last night when I saw this note from Ms. Schiller was, exactly what am I to talk about? I mean, all I would be doing then — I really wouldn't have much to say to someone who thinks that I am unstable."
The noted Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Alvin Poussaint told Journal-isms Wednesday that he agreed with Williams that Schiller's comment was "a low blow. I thought she was also stigmatizing psychiatrists," he said. "It was said to demean him." Such comments "further the notion of the stigma" of seeking mental help, Poussaint said. People "go into denial that they have mental problems . . . This is a big problem" among African Americans, he said.
Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Juan Williams, Cont.
Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: The 'High-Tech Lynching' of Juan Williams
Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News: After Juan Williams fired by NPR, Fox News proves its partisan agenda
Paul Delaney, theRoot.com: Juan Williams and the Slippery Slope of New-Media Values
Dave Hughes dcrtv.com: Rant: Should NPR's Bomb Threat Have Been Reported?
Paul Farhi, Washington Post: NPR receives bomb threat; timing suggests link to Juan Williams firing
Michael Getler, PBS: The Mailbag: No, Virginia, PBS Is Not NPR
Eugene Kane blog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: What Juan Williams has wrought
Clarence Lusane, Counterpunch: The Bizarro World of Juan Williams and Clarence Thomas
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazettte: Juan Williams, the $2 million martyr
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Firing scandal: National Public Radio's mistaken rush to judgment
Bob Ray Sanders, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: NPR's very public and poorly handled affair
Wayne Slater, Texas Faith blog, Dallas Morning News: Does firing Juan Williams improve our understanding of religious diversity?
This story comes a week after Juan Williams famously said on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," "when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
The account, by Jody Callahan in Wednesday's Memphis Commercial Appeal, continued:
"The incident began on a Toronto-bound regional jet operated by Comair while the plane was on the ground in Memphis, airport vice president Scott Brockman said.
"The man, who wasn’t feeling well, went into the bathroom for what the flight crew thought was an excessive amount of time.
"When he left, an attendant inspected the bathroom and saw that part of the toilet hood was dislodged. At that point, the crew had the man, his wife and child — also in traditional clothing — exit the plane, Brockman said.
"The man told authorities he’d dislodged the seat when trying to turn around. The regional jet has a smaller bathroom than larger planes, Brockman said."
In this space on Friday, reporter Sunni Khalid, a Muslim for 32 years, asked, "What the hell is 'Muslim garb?' . . . Again, it should be pointed out that the 9-11 skyjackers were not dressed in so-called 'Muslim garb,' but Western clothes, in order to fit in. In fact, I’d be more comfortable to see someone dressed in traditional garb, because I could be assured that they had already passed through the same security measures that I had."
Another blogger posted "pictures of Muslims wearing all sorts of things in an attempt to refute that there is such a thing as 'Muslim garb' or a Muslim look.
"In the final days before the midterm elections, President Obama and Democrats are intensifying their pitch to black voters, hoping to defy predictions of lower turnout and rescue embattled Democrats in a handful of key states," George E. Condon Jr. wrote Tuesday in the National Journal.
"Only weeks after the White House deflected pointed questions suggesting the president was intentionally bypassing inner cities and only campaigning in suburbs, the president’s closing schedule definitively gives the answer. The nation’s first African-American president is coming home. And he’s doing it with a determination that Democrats hope can alter the dynamics of several close races."
Among the outreach efforts was another telephone visit on Tuesday to radio's syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show." The same day, the president granted a telephone interview to April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks.
"You mentioned the Pigford settlement that we have tried to broker to make sure that African American farmers who were discriminated against in the past in agricultural programs get a settlement," he told Ryan. "It’s a fair settlement, but it’s got to be funded by Congress. And frankly, it’s going to be tougher for us to be able to get that done if, in fact, we don’t have strong support from Congress.
"Historically black colleges and universities — we’ve put $850 million into those. But that money is not locked in. It could be taken away," he said.
Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News: The battle Bam refuses to wage: He's a slow learner at a time when his cause demands a fighter
Corey Dade, NPR: Bid For Black Vote Spurs Racially Charged Tactics
Merlene Davis, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: Rand Paul, Jack Conway need to grow up
Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star: How to dress up as the president: be superman
Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: Follow the campaign money
Gene Lyons, Salon.com: You've heard the lies, now believe the facts
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Angle's Twisted 'Outreach'
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Playing the Foreign Card
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: O'Donnell was right
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Credit Obama shoulda embraced
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Voters deserve better than Christine O’Donnell, the Delaware dolt — or do they?
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: For President Obama, a progressive blitz was not an option
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: If GOP wins, expect more obstruction
Sheryl Salomon, theRoot.com: DNC Targets Black Voters With John Legend Radio Ad
Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Joke's on women until we ditch dingbat candidates
Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: 'Gotcha' not as hot as Democrats had hoped
The Trotter Group: President Obama Tells Trotter Members Why Democrats Deserve Midterm Votes (collection of columns, transcript)
Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Do tea partiers care about the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments?
Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: NAACP should have left the tea party alone
Democratic Party strategist Donna Brazile, who doubles as a television pundit, repeated her belief Wednesday that "the one thing I would get rid of in the world would be hyper-partisan political pundits because I think they add more heat than light to the political debate.
"They don't provide critical analysis for issues like healthcare, where it's important to inform the public about what's at stake and how it impacts their lives — and not just disagree basically because your party doesn't like it."
In an interview with Janelle Harris of mediabistro.com, Brazile was also asked, "In this midterm election season, the media have taken [flak] for focusing too heavily on fringe groups, i.e., the Koran burning or anything the Tea Party does. What's your take on those stories and the political coverage this year in general? Is there a story you feel is not being told?"
Brazile replied: "If you rely on the media for your information, to educate yourself about the candidates and what issues are facing the country, then you get just part of the equation. I think it's important that we as citizens of this democracy take the responsibility to get as much information as possible before we go into the voting booth. I think it's important in a democracy such as ours that we have multiple sources to get news and information and utilize the media only if we want to get a different opinion."
"The Maynard Institute's Media Center on Structural Racism today launched America's Wire, an innovative news service that will provide enterprising content for wire services, metropolitan newspapers, ethnic/community papers, magazines and websites," the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education announced on Wednesday.
"In an effort to help the media better cover communities of color and the impact that structural racism has on the families who reside there, America's Wire will provide subscribers with professionally reported, written and edited stories that will help readers better understand the obstacles and challenges that people of color continue to face in America today.
" 'The news media in the United States has historically been a guardian of the public's interest,' said Michael K. Frisby, president of America's Wire. 'But there has to be a realization that the media have not accurately communicated the continued impact of structural racism in America. Public opinion polls repeatedly show that a majority of whites believe that racism and discrimination no longer exist. But those residing in communities of color know the reality. Their communities are devastated by high unemployment, poor schools, environmental dangers, inadequate housing and many other conditions that are caused by structural racism rooted in American society.'
"America's Wire will report on the people impacted by structural racism and their communities, hoping to improve awareness of the true conditions in communities of color.
"As part of our introductory offer, all media outlets and the public can visit our website at http://www.americaswire.org/ and sign up for a free, 30-day subscription. During that period, subscribers can download and publish our stories free of charge in their media outlets. After the trial period, media outlets must obtain a paid subscription to access our stories. The rates, which vary according to outlet type and size, can be viewed at http://americaswire.org/catalog/5."
America's Wire is made possible through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Errol Louis, columnist and member of the New York Daily News editorial board, is leaving the paper to become anchor of the political show "Inside City Hall" on Time Warner Cable’s local news channel NY1, the channel announced on Tuesday.
Louis succeeds Dominic Carter, who was convicted a year ago of attacking his wife, Marilyn, during an October 2008 argument at their home. Carter was removed from his NY1 job when the channel learned of the incident. He served 19 days of a 30-day sentence, is now unemployed and is preparing an appeal, according to news reports.
Spokeswoman Nikia Redhead told Journal-isms that political reporters had been rotating in the seat.
"I’m excited to be joining the team at NY1 and honored to be named anchor of one of the premier political news programs in America," Louis said in a statement. "It’s an amazing opportunity."
Louis was a New York Daily News columnist who wrote pieces on a range of political and social affairs and served on the paper’s editorial board.
"As a leading commentator, he hosted 'The Morning Show,' one of the city’s liveliest political talk shows for New York’s political, cultural and business leaders, every weekday on WWRL," a news release said.
Louis came to national attention during the 2008 presidential campaign. He wondered aloud in his column whether veteran journalist the Rev. Barbara Reynolds, then a supporter of Hillary Clinton, had arranged for the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to speak at the National Press Club in order to damage the campaign of Wright's then-parishioner, Barack Obama, Clinton's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"Wright should have known — and his friend and ally Reynolds, a media professional, surely knew — that bickering with the press can only harm Wright and, by extension, Obama," Louis wrote. Reynolds vigorously denied such motives, but the allegation quickly became a sensation.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' former girlfriend, Lillian McEwen, said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that Washington Post reporter Michael A. Fletcher had "tricked" her into commenting on the recent phone call by Thomas' activist wife, Virginia Thomas, to law professor Anita Hill, who had accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
However, Fletcher told Journal-isms, the comment on the King show was McEwen's attempt at wry humor. She subsequently e-mailed him to explain, he said.
In an Oct. 22 story, Fletcher wrote that "When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his explosive 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Thomas vehemently denied the allegations and his handlers cited his steady relationship with another woman in an effort to deflect Hill's allegations.
"Lillian McEwen was that woman. . . . Now, she says that Thomas often said inappropriate things about women he met at work — and that she could have added her voice to the others, but didn't."
Three days later on "Larry King Live," King asked McEwen, "What do you make of his wife calling Anita Hill last week?
McEwen replied "When I first heard it, I was half asleep. And it was brought to my attention by Michael Fletcher, a reporter that I knew on The Washington Post who I had never allowed to interview me, and never given a statement to. And he tricked me into giving him my impression of what that meant. And it was a genuine response that I gave him half asleep. And it was that it doesn't surprise me at all."
Fletcher told Journal-isms by e-mail, "Without any protest from me, she sent an email saying that she meant it as wry humor. Only later did she realize that it did not come across as intended."
Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Ginny Thomas' call to Anita Hill: Why now, after all these years?
Betty Winston Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: After 20 years, a phone call — but the wrong one
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: The House Is Duty-Bound to Bring Articles of Impeachment Against Clarence Thomas
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Believe me, Anita, this is no prank call ...
Nina Totenberg, NPR: Clarence Thomas' Wife In Spotlight After Phone Call
The ousted leader of Unity, an coalition of minority journalists, feels there was a campaign to keep an NABJ members out of the top spot.
In a contested election that is rare for the board of Unity: Journalists of Color, Joanna Hernandez, a Washington Post multiplatform editor who represents the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, was elected president of Unity on Sunday.
She defeated Barbara Ciara of the National Association of Black Journalists, the current Unity president who was seeking a full term. Ciara told Journal-isms she felt a "gentleman's agreement" was violated: that she would win the seat unopposed.
"Obviously, there were other agendas," said Ciara, an anchor and managing editor at WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va. She said she was told "there were those who felt that NABJ shouldn't have a second bite at the apple." The vote was 11-6.
Unity, a coalition of the national associations of black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American journalists, has rotated its leadership among the four groups. Since Unity's first convention in 1994, it has worked hard to overcome the cultural differences among the associations.
Still, it has been a challenge to ensure that each group feels fairly represented despite the varying sizes of their memberships. Within NABJ, the largest of the groups, there have been consistent grumblings that it was not receiving its due, considering its size.
The back story on Sunday's vote began a year ago, when Rafael Olmeda, former president of NAHJ, stepped down as Unity president, citing personal reasons. Ciara, who had been NABJ president, was chosen to complete Olmeda's term, which ends Dec. 31, and Hernandez was picked as Unity vice president. John Yearwood, world editor of the Miami Herald and chair of the Unity nominating committee, and Michaela Saunders, a reporter at the Omaha (Neb.) World Herald and board secretary, confirmed that Ciara said at the time that she did not want to give up the chance to run for a full term as president.
Traditionally, according to Ciara, the heads of the various associations would consult and agree on someone to run for each of the offices.
This year, when the board put out its call for candidates, Hernandez said, "I just took it at face value." She said she knew nothing of a "gentleman's agreement." As one who had been laid off by the New York Times in 2007, she said she believed that Unity needed to "get back to basics" — jobs, increasing diversity in newsrooms and "focusing on communities of color," she said.
"I'd like to go out to the mainstream media and get them recommitted to diversity," she said. "I'll reach out to the online world." She noted that there were contested elections in all the journalist of color elections this year and that this was a healthy development.
Ciara said she was given a heads-up a few weeks ago about a whispering campaign to deny NABJ the presidency.
"I am happy to serve in any capacity" that puts to use what she's been told are her leadership skills, Ciara said, especially as Unity prepares for its 2012 convention in Las Vegas. The convention was one reason that she sought the Unity presidency, Ciara said. No NABJ representative has presided over a Unity conference.
Ciara remains on the Unity board as a director. She said she would consult with NABJ President Kathy Times to find out how she can best serve.
Also elected to the Unity board were Leisa Richardson of NABJ, assistant metro editor of the Indianapolis Star, secretary; Sharon Chan of the Seattle Times, outgoing president of the Asian American Journalists Association, vice president; and Saunders, of the Native American Journalists Association, treasurer.
Fox news analyst Brit Hume said of Juan Williams, above, on "Fox News Sunday," "The standard that was applied to Juan Williams is [manifestly] not being applied to other NPR people."
Fox News Channel Sunday accused NPR of hypocrisy in firing news analyst Juan Williams for expressing opinions, showing tapes of other NPR news employees expressing their views.
In a celebratory exchange on "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace told Williams, who has signed a three-year contract with Fox reportedly worth $2 million:
"In March, Cokie Roberts wrote a column about Glenn Beck in which she said this: 'Beck is worse than a clown. He's more like a terrorist who believes he has discovered the one true faith and condemns everyone else as a heretic. And that makes him something else as well — a traitor to the American values he professes so loudly to defend.'
"That's Cokie Roberts in a column. And then there's Cokie reaction on 'This Week,' the ABC show, to a Supreme Court ruling on partial-birth abortion."
In a video clip, Roberts says, "I'm just saying that, you know, women would be protected from regret later in life. There are a lots of moral decisions people make all through their lives where they regret them. And the idea that the court is going to stop that for women is something that I think is just offensive."
Continued Wallace, "Somehow NPR didn't seem to think those opinions were objectionable. . . . "
He went on, "Brit, we also have the case of Nina Totenberg, who's not an analyst, but NPR's legal affairs correspondent. Besides a few years ago wishing that the late Sen. Jesse Helms would get AIDS for —
"BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Or his grandchildren.
"WALLACE: Or his grandchild for opposing AIDS government research. We also have just in the last month her reaction — remember, she covers the court — to the court's ruling on Citizens United, a decision that said that corporations could get more involved in political campaigns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"NINA TOTENBERG, NPR COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, really, this is the next scandal. It's the scandal in the making. They don't have to disclose anything. And eventually, this is the kind of thing that led to Watergate."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
"WALLACE: And again, this is a reporter who covers the court."
An NPR spokeswoman did not respond when asked for comment. However, Alicia Shepard, the NPR ombudsman, said on the public radio show "On Point" Monday that she had begun to receive complaints about Totenberg and that having NPR newspeople in the role of news analysts "just doesn't seem to work. I hope they phase out the role," she said.
NPR has not responded to questions about whether Williams will be replaced.
Meanwhile, Vivian Schiller, NPR's chief executive, said she was sorry for how Williams' dismissal was handled — but not for firing him, David Bauder reported Monday for the Associated Press.
"Schiller sent an apology to National Public Radio staff members on Sunday night and wrote to managers at NPR stations. Her dismissal of Williams for saying on Fox News Channel that he gets nervous when he sees people on a plane with clothing that identifies them as Muslim became a 'public relations disaster,' NPR's ombudsman said."
The National Association of Black Journalists addressed the diversity issue.
"Whether you side with Williams' right to speak his opinion or National Public Radio's decision to part ways with the veteran, his firing creates a void at the network. Williams' was one of the few African American male voices heard on NPR," it said in a statement.
"That is the area that remains a key concern for the National Association of Black Journalists. Our leadership met with NPR executives in 2009 after releasing an open letter criticizing the network's lack of diversity in management. We took this opportunity to call NPR for a progress report.
"The network has made some progress since last fall's meeting. At the time, the network had one African American vice president. Today, there are three.
"Since our meeting, NPR has hired an NABJ member — an African American male. He is a national correspondent for NPR's digital platform. An NPR spokesman says another black male hire is in the works, but it is too soon to disclose details.
"Should NPR get a passing grade for this progress report? NABJ truly believes diversity is good for business, and we won't rest until NPR's on-air and management reflects the diversity of America."
Asked what role Keith Woods, vice president of diversity in news and operations, played in the Williams situation and the questions about diversity that followed, spokeswoman Anna Christopher said, "Keith is a member of the executive committee, and so of course is engaged in all major issues at NPR."
Melissa Bell, washingtonpost.com: Blog surfaces to counter Juan Williams's notions of 'Muslim garb'
Carl Chancellor, change.org: He's Juan and There Are Millions More
Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Juan Williams Tossed From NPR
Eric Deggans blog, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: NPR's mistake with Juan Williams: Not being clear on why they really fired him
Editorial, Los Angeles Times: NPR's overreaction
Bonnie Erbé, Politics Daily: NPR Shouldn't Have Hired Juan Williams in the First Place
Paul Farhi, Washington Post: Amid anger, regret over Williams's firing, NPR staffers fear financial backlash
Iesa Galloway, Muslimmatters.org: Juan Williams: O’Reilly’s Colin Powell? A teachable moment or a civil rights ‘slam dunk’?
Allen Johnson, Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record: Juan Williams talks himself out of a job
Eric Hananoki, Media Matters: Wishing for Obama's assassination won't get you fired from Fox News
Leslie Harris blog, technorati.com:Hey Juan Williams, "You Are Black, I am Afraid"
Eugene Kane blog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: So Juan Williams is a victim now?
Ronald Kessler, newsmax.com: The Juan Williams I Know
Michael Moore, Huffington Post: Juan Williams Is Right: Political Correctness About Terrorists Must End!
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Punished for being too honest
Elmer Smith, Philadelphia Daily News: Dismissal of Juan Williams will reverberate for NPR
Michele Weldon blog from Journalists & Women's Symposium: Fired Up Over Firing
David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun: Juan Williams, Fox News, NPR and the culture wars
"Over the weekend, word spread that an outbreak of cholera has sprung up on Haiti, the island nation that was devastated by an earthquake nine months ago," Alex Weprin wrote Monday for TVNewser.
"While the pictures may not be as dramatic as the ones viewers saw during the earthquake, the disease has the potential to kill or seriously affect thousands of people.
"CNN has chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Haiti (he left the U.S. on his birthday) joined by his senior producer Danielle Dellorto.
"CBS News has its medical correspondent, Dr. Jon LaPook on the island, where he will give his first report on the 'CBS Evening News' tonight.
"ABC News medical editor Dr. Richard Besser is in the country covering the outbreak, and filed a report for 'Good Morning America' this morning. Video of that report, after the jump.
"NBC News’ chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman was in St. Marc, which Snyderman calls 'the epicenter of the cholera epidemic.' "
Juan Williams lashed back at NPR Thursday and Friday over his firing as the network's CEO acknowledged that it bungled Williams' dismissal, and black NPR employees tied Williams' departure to their diversity concerns.
Juan Williams lashed back at NPR Thursday and Friday over his Wednesday night firing, as the network's CEO acknowledged it bungled Williams' dismissal and black NPR employees tied Williams' departure to their diversity concerns. The story was proving to be bigger than anyone imagined.
Some American Muslims, meanwhile, wondered whether the episode would make matters worse for them.
" 'The greater American public remains unsure about Islam and very often hostile about Islam,' saidAkbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University, who examines the divide in his new film and book, 'Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam,' " Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times reported Friday for the Tribune Washington bureau.
"Ahmed said he was disappointed by Williams' comments. But he added that NPR's abrupt firing 'does not bring the temperature down against Muslims…. Now the debate is, are we being oversensitive to Muslims?' "
NPR fired Williams from his news analyst job after he told Bill O'Reilly on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" that Muslims dressed in Muslim garb on planes made him nervous.
"Mr. Williams tempered his remarks, though, by reminding Mr. O’Reilly that all Muslims should not be branded as extremists," as Brian Stelter wrote in the New York Times. " 'We don’t want, in America, people to have their rights violated, to be attacked because they hear rhetoric from Bill O’Reilly and they act crazy,' Mr. Williams said, and Mr. O’Reilly agreed."
Williams, a senior news analyst on NPR but a commentator on Fox News Channel, was told by NPR late Wednesday via telephone that it was terminating his contract. "His remarks on The O'Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR," NPR said in a statement. The remarks also came in a week when NPR affiliates, which depend heavily on donations, were conducting a pledge drive.
In a FoxNews.com column and an appearance on O'Reilly on Thursday, and in an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday, Williams struck back.
"Now that I no longer work for NPR let me give you my opinion," he wrote. "This is an outrageous violation of journalistic standards and ethics by management that has no use for a diversity of opinion, ideas or a diversity of staff (I was the only black male on the air). This is evidence of one-party rule and one-sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought."
On "Good Morning America," Williams said of NPR, "This current crew was really getting vicious. I’ve always thought the right wing were ones that were inflexible and intolerant And now I'm coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, if it's representing the left, it's just unbelievable that, you know — and especially I think for me as a black man to somehow, you know, say something that's out of the box, they find it very difficult.
"And I think that's right, George. I think they were looking for a reason to get rid of me, that they were uncomfortable with the idea that I was talking to the likes of Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity."
It was an unusual public denunciation of his former employers in an industry where burning bridges carries a risk: A boss at one network today might easily become a supervisor at your news organization tomorrow.
Vivian Schiller, the NPR CEO, framed Williams' firing as the last straw in a series of incidents, not simply over the comments on O'Reilly. Asked about firing Williams in a late-night phone call, she conceded in a staff meeting on Friday, "Was it a smart idea? No."
Black journalists who watched events play out declared Williams the winner after he emerged with a $2 million, three-year contract with Fox News Channel. But many did not buy Williams' arguments, although they did agree that there were racial implications to the developments.
"OK, so he worked for an organization whose leadership he supposedly found 'self-righteous, ideological, left-wing' and that treated him worse than 'Tricky Dick' treated his enemies," freelance writer Marjorie Valbrun wrote for Slate.com. "Yet he stayed with them for 10 years. I wonder when exactly he began to notice he was the only black male on air at NPR and why he did not publicly complain about this lack of diversity before?
"Now that Williams is feeling victimized, maybe he can imagine how Muslims must feel about his comments."
Williams was NPR's sole on-air black male voice for most of his career at NPR. The National Association of Black Journalists questioned NPR's commitment to diversity a year ago after Greg Peppers, one of two black men in NPR's newsroom management, was fired less than 24 hours after the network hosted NABJ at its Washington headquarters.
Schiller responded that "we are examining our overall diversity status critically," released NPR's own set of figures about the staff makeup and in December hired Keith Woods, one of the foremost trainers and educators in journalism diversity and then the No. 2 administrator at the Poynter Institute, the school for professional journalists, for the new position of vice president of diversity in news and operations. In August, NPR hired another black journalist, Wall Street Journal reporter Corey Dade, as a Washington-based digital news correspondent.
At staff meetings on Thursday and Friday, African American employees questioned whether blacks were being singled out for dismissal and wondered whether a white employee would have been fired in the manner Williams was.
Spokeswoman Anna Christopher did not respond to a message asking whether NPR planned to replace Williams, who had become a contract worker.
In the Williams-connected conversations about NPR's diversity, little was said about the on-air homogeneity of Fox News, which attracts the fewest black viewers of the cable news networks.
Joe Strupp noted additionally for Media Matters for America, "Whether or not Juan Williams deserved to be fired from NPR, it's clear that Fox News regularly airs far worse anti-Muslim commentary."
Williams maintained on "Good Morning America" that one reason he was so angry about his dismissal was that his remarks were taken out of context. After all, he said, he had a track record as a historian on civil rights issues.
Even so, Williams' statement that he felt nervous around Muslims dressed in "Muslim garb" on planes became a lightning rod, despite his additional comment that Muslims should not be stereotyped.
"I’ve been a Muslim for 32 years. I’ve been all over the world, especially the Middle East," Sunni Khalid, senior reporter at WYPR-FM in Baltimore, told Journal-isms.
"What the hell is 'Muslim garb?' I bet Juan and Bill O’Reilly couldn’t distinguish Sikh or Hindu traditional garb from Saudi or Kuwaiti clothing. What about people from Indonesia, who wear the black, oval-shaped songbok on their heads? I wear it when I travel. Should people from those countries, where the bulk of extremist attacks occur, be 'nervous,' too? What about Obama, when he hosts Karzai or King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia? I remember there was a time, not too long ago, when white women crossed the street when I was walking IN A SUIT! And, of course, it’s still tough to catch a cab in DC if you’re a black man," said Khalid, a former NPR foreign correspondent who settled a discrimination lawsuit against the network in 2003.
"Again, it should be pointed out that the 9-11 skyjackers were not dressed in so-called 'Muslim garb,' but Western clothes, in order to fit in. In fact, I’d be more comfortable to see someone dressed in traditional garb, because I could be assured that they had already passed through the same security measures that I had."
However, Asra Nomani, a scholar in the practice of journalism at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies, said Friday on NPR's "Tell Me More," "What Juan Williams expressed, I believe, is the sentiment of many people and including Muslims. Muslims profile each other all the time. When you walk into a mosque and you see other Muslims, you say, oh, look, he looks like a Jihadi. Or, that's a niqab, a woman who wears a full-face veil. It doesn't mean, you know, that we need to go to the point of civil liberties, you know, offensive or anything like that. . . . I believe, unfortunately, that NPR short-circuited a conversation that we really need to be having."
NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard reported that "NPR’s initial story garnered more than 6,800 comments, many supporting Williams and others asking why it took so long to fire him. At noon, the deluge of email crashed NPR’s 'Contact Us' form on the web site."
According to one national survey of 1,017 Americans Thursday evening, 46 percent of those polled said NPR was wrong to fire Williams, 19 percent said NPR was right to fire him and 35 percent said they had no opinion on the issue, according to Ted Iliff of the organization Poll Position.
The controversy went far beyond the journalism realm when former governors Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who also are paid Fox News contributors, jumped to Williams' defense and called for a "defunding" of NPR by the federal government.
But as Andrew Phelps of public station WBUR in Boston noted, "NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government for operations," although individual stations benefit from grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
"NPR does receive grants from CPB for special projects, but that funding is not included as part of the network’s operations budget," he wrote.
"So while federal dollars do flow to NPR, the connection is indirect. It may be a fine point, but it’s an important distinction. The federal government can’t 'defund' NPR. What Congress can do is cut CPB funding — which has diminished over the years and has, at times, been threatened."
The Williams affair at heart was a debate over the proper role of journalists, however.
"After dismissing Mr. Williams, who was one of its senior news analysts, NPR argued that he had violated the organization’s belief in impartiality, a core tenet of modern American journalism," Stelter wrote in the New York Times. "By renewing Mr. Williams’s contract, Fox News showed its preference for point-of-view — rather than the view-from-nowhere — polemics.
"Kelly McBride, the ethics group leader for the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, called the Williams case an 'object lesson in how different news organizations have different values.' She said the ethics guidelines at many news organizations matched those at NPR.
" 'If you make some outlandish statement on your Facebook page or at a public event somewhere, you are still representing your newsroom,' she said. 'So there are consequences to that.' "
This columnist was pleased to have participated Friday in a smart, hour-long discussion of the case withMark Jurkowitz of the Pew Research Center, host Kerri Miller and listeners of Minnesota Public Radio, among other conversations.
Akbar Ahmed, washingtonpost.com: A Muslim response to Juan Williams
Farai Chideya, Huffington Post: What Everyone Is Missing About NPR's WilliamsGate [Oct. 23]
Juan Cole blog: End Federal Tax Subsidies to Fox!
Javier E. David, theGrio.com: NPR tunes out First Amendment with Williams firing
Editorial, Washington Post: NPR's hasty decision to fire pundit Juan Williams
David Folkenflik, NPR: Fox News Gives Juan Williams $2 Million Contract
Matea Gold, Tribune Washington Bureau: Prominent Muslims fear NPR analyst's firing may fan hostility
Keach Hagey, Politico: Sarah Palin joins calls for defunding NPR
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Gone Juan: A Faux Liberal NPR Should Have Canned Long Ago
Arsalan Iftikhar, CNN.com: NPR right to fire Juan Williams
Jimi Izrael blog, "Tell Me More," NPR: Here Today, Juan Tomorrow?
Wil LaVeist, UrbanFaith.com: NPR Firing of Williams Disappointing
Michael Meyers, New York Daily News: NPR's firing of Juan Williams wrong, but not excuse to take away funding from public radio
Richard Prince and Mark Jurkowitz with Kerri Miller on "Midmorning," Minnesota Public Radio: When news commentary crosses the line
Richard Prince with Latoya Peterson on "The Michael Eric Dyson Show," WEAA, Baltimore: Juan Williams’ Firing
Richard Prince, Asra Nomani and John Watson with Michel Martin on "Tell Me More," NPR: NPR Fires Juan Williams, Journalists React
Rem Rieder, AJR:;Moving too Fast: NPR’s mishandling of the Juan Williams imbroglio
Kevin Roderick, LAObserved: NPR memo to stations: why we fired Juan Williams
Betsy Rothstein, Fishbowl DC: QUOTES of the DAY
Betsy Rothstein, Fishbowl DC: Ambivalence
Alicia Shepard, NPR: NPR's Firing of Juan Williams Was Poorly Handled
Brian Stelter, New York Times: Williams Episode Shows 2 Versions of Journalism
William M. Welch, USA Today: Williams' firing from NPR [renews] debate over Muslims
Some African American columnists from the Trotter Group who were not selected to attend the group's White House meeting with Barack Obama were "disappointed, embarrassed and inconvenienced."
An attempt by the White House to reach out to the nation's organization of African American columnists has resulted in anger and resentment on the part of those in the group who were ignored or, worse, disinvited. Some lost money when they made travel arrangements to Washington and then were forced to cancel.
The role of the White House in selecting the interviewers, and whether group representatives were complicit in granting the White House such a role, has been called into question.
President Obama met Friday in the Roosevelt Room with 10 members of the Trotter Group as part of his effort to shore up his African American base for the midterm elections next month.
The meeting was fraught with symbolism. The Trotter Group was named after activist Boston editor William Monroe Trotter, a militant figure of the early 20th century. Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson explains on the Trotter Group site:
"On November 12, 1914, William Monroe Trotter, editor of the Guardian newspaper, went to the White House to confront President Woodrow Wilson. Trotter had supported Wilson's election, but lynching was flaring up, and segregation was more rigid than ever. Trotter asked Wilson where he stood.
"Wilson replied: 'Segregation is not humiliating, but a benefit. ... Your manner offends me.' A 45-minute argument ensued during which Trotter said: 'Two years ago, you were regarded as a second Abraham Lincoln. ... Now we colored leaders [who supported Wilson] are denounced in the colored churches as traitors to our race.
"The argument made the front page of The New York Times."
On Oct. 8, Trotter Group co-founder DeWayne Wickham, a columnist for USA Today and Gannett News Service, told Trotter members that Obama wanted to meet with the group on Oct. 15.
The group has 40 members, and Wickham, who negotiated the meeting with the White House, told members later in the day, "The White House has just asked me to limit the number of Trotter members taking part in the meeting with President Obama to 16. So I sent to the White House the names of the first 16 Trotter members who responded."
The Journal-isms author, who is in Washington, was among those on the list of 16 and had planned to invite readers to suggest questions. Other columnists on the list made preparations for a trip. On Monday afternoon, however, Wickham messaged, "Unfortunately, the White House has asked us to reduce the number of Trotter members who will attend Friday's meeting with President Obama from 18 to 10 — and to limit it to the founders and newspaper columnists." There was no explanation of how the number had risen to 18.
Wickham and another co-founder, retired Newsday columnist and editor Les Payne, pared the list, Wickham said.
It was unclear how much the White House participated in vetoing or approving certain members. Kevin S. Lewis, who started as White House director of African American media only a week ago, did not respond Monday to questions from Journal-isms.
What was clear, however, was that not all members were involved in the decision and that those who were suddenly cut were disappointed, embarrassed and inconvenienced.
An e-mail from George E. Curry, a veteran journalist who opines for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, which serves black newspapers, and for the Philadelphia Inquirer, indicated that the White House did play a role in shaping which members were invited.
In an electronic discussion among those who were not invited, Curry said:
"I am also deeply dismayed over how an announced selection process was abandoned in mid-stream, evidently because the names of certain people were not included on the list.
"When DeWayne initially announced that participation would be limited to 18 people and they were selected in the order in which they replied to the invite, I thought it would be unfortunate if all of us could not attend, but that was a fair way of deciding who should attend.
"However, fairness was quickly thrown out of the window when DeWayne said he and Les decided on a list of names that he sent to the White House before even letting us know of their decision. As one of the first to reply, I was pleased that I was on the first list. However, it was no fun learning that I had been deleted from the list because, according to DeWayne, he and Les wanted to make sure the founders were included in the group.
"Like Richard, I did not know there [were] two separate but unequal membership levels in the Trotter Group," Curry continued, referring to this columnist.
"DeWayne first told me I was being eliminated because the White House asked him to 'limit it to the founders and newspaper columnists.' I doubly qualify as a newspaper columnist: 1) As a regular columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and 2) As a columnist for the NNPA, a federation of more than 100 Black newspapers. When I questioned the decision, I received a different explanation: The White House 'expressed a lack of interest in having an NNPA person in our reconstituted group since the president is planning to meet soon with the NNPA and other units of the black press.' It stretches the imagination that a White House that is finally reaching out the Black community would specifically ask that the person whose column is syndicated to more Black newspapers than anyone else in the country should be specifically excluded from participation.
"Furthermore, I do not work for the NNPA and therefore will not be included in any meeting Obama has with the publishers. If in fact that were the case, I still would qualify by virtue of my writing a column for the Inquirer and being among the first to respond."
Others weighed in who agreed to put their e-mailed comments on the record:
Monroe Anderson, another veteran journalist who blogs from Chicago, said:
"I was surprised to discover that the meeting had taken place after the fact since I've known Michelle and Barack longer than any other member of the Trotter [Group] and I would think my long term perspective could have contributed to the meeting. . . . I've known Axelrod since he was an intern at the Tribune in the 70s and Valerie's first TV appearance was on my show, Common Ground, in the early 90s." Anderson referred to White House advisers David Alexrod and Valerie Jarrett, and to the first couple.
David Squires, a columnist at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., wrote:
"I and my editors were certainly disappointed in the process and the result, after gearing up for me to represent all of Tribune newspapers in the meeting. I am certainly a newspaper columnist. The final list included no Tribune rep but at least four from Gannett. It was also particularly disappointing to me because of my trying for several years to join this group and having been tripped up by not getting invited to the Washington meetings — the only way to join, as I was told. I was pleased to finally join the group prior to the Louisville meeting [this year]. I would hope that in future high-end meetings, more of us will get the opportunity to participate. . . . none of us want to be relegated to the second-rung wing of the Trotter Group. (I also had to eat the cost of my accommodations for Thursday night, which could not be canceled.)"
Robin Washington, editor of the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:
"I too would have represented my entire chain, as well as distribution through one of the many syndicates and news services that court me all the time. (Before the final cut, I emailed DeWayne offering similar assistance to any other Trotter.)
"And like at David's paper, we started discussing coverage, only with me it was with my publisher and vice president. Imagine the thrill of having to say 'never mind.' "
Cary Clack, columnist for the San Antonio Express-News:
"My newspaper thought the trip was important enough to send me and I didn't find out I wouldn't be going until after I made my travel arrangements. Frankly, it was embarrassing to have to tell them the trip was off. And as for the meeting being open only to founders and newspaper columnists well, my newspaper pays me to write three columns a week so that should put me in the latter group."
Issac Bailey, Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News:
"I think we have to find a better way to handle these situations. One of the hardest things to do now is to get your editors to see the importance of speaking about national events in your column — even though most of our readers are conservative and boisterous about President Obama and national politics. They were readying to make room for this trip, though.
"I understand that in any such process that there will be difficult choices to be made, and that disappointment simply can not be avoided in such situations. I'm a grown up. All I'm saying is that moving forward, we need to figure out a process we can all agree upon so one day we don't tell our editors we are heading to the White House, then two days later have egg on our faces."
The Trotter Group decided at its 1992 inception that it would have no formal officers or bylaws — a mistake, according to Barbara A. Robinson, a retired columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I remember when I tried to get the organization to function like any responsible organization, bylaws etc, and my ideas were opposed by the founders. The organization has grown tremendously since then," she said. "Without elected officers you will continue to have arbitrary decisions made by the founders who really didn't expect this organization to grow this large."
Wickham has functioned as the group's leader.
Asked a series of questions about who made what decision when, and how much the White House was involved, Wickham asked Journal-isms which members were dissatisfied.
Told that not all were speaking on the record, he replied:
"I'm not going to respond to complaints and charges from unnamed journalists.
"I don't see any point in engaging in a discussion about questions that are being raised by people whose own role in this matter cannot be examined."
The final list of 10 selected columnists included:
Wickham, USA Today; Payne, theRoot.com; Dwight Lewis, Nashville Tennessean; Tonyaa Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union; Rhonda Graham, Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal; Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer; Askia Muhammad, the Washington Informer; Lynne Varner, Seattle Times; Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press and Joe Davidson, Washington Post.
Monroe Anderson blog: White House blackout peeves some black columnists
Mary C. Curtis, Politics Daily: Obama Aide Valerie Jarrett's Advice to Boss: 'Stay the Course and Know It Will Get Better'
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Obama: Dems can win if voters can tune out attacks
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: We should judge Barack Obama as the president, not as the black president
DeWayne Wickham blog: Obama rises above the racial swamp