Lester Holt answered any doubt about how prominent a role race would play in the first presidential debate of the 2016 homestretch.
More than 80 million people watched, setting a record in the 60-year history of televised presidential debates, Brian Stelter reported Tuesday for CNN Money.
Holt lobbed a series of questions that helped most commentators conclude that a calm and measured Hillary Clinton bested an unprepared Donald J. Trump. And when Holt did not receive a satisfactory answer on Trump's role in the "birther" controversy or on the police practice of "stop and frisk," he followed up.
The anchor of "NBC Nightly News," the first African American to moderate a presidential debate since 1992, was simultaneously criticized for being too invisible and praised for letting the candidates themselves face off.
But there was no doubt that the portion of the contest devoted to race relations, which yielded a characterization by Trump of those in black and Latino communities as "living in hell," contributed to conclusions that the Democrat was the more grounded and prepared.
"The thud you heard backstage was the sound of my knees buckling,” Holt joked to the Hofstra University audience (and millions of other viewers), before the debate began, Margaret Sullivan wrote Tuesday in the Washington Post.
"We move into our next segment talking about America’s direction," Holt said as he began the third of six segments in the 90-minute session. "And let’s start by talking about race.
"The share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it’s been in decades, much of it amplified by shootings of African Americans by police, as we’ve seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap.
"So how do you heal the divide? . . ."
Holt also asked, "Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation’s first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years: The president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?"
Trump replied, "Well, nobody was pressing it, nobody was caring much about it. I figured you’d ask the question tonight, of course. But nobody was caring much about it. But I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate. And I think I did a good job. . . ."
Citing dubious evidence, Trump also insisted that Clinton first raised the birther issue.
Also, as Jacob Pramuk reported for CNBC: "Donald Trump praised the highly criticized stop-and-frisk policy Monday night while describing how he would improve race relations in inner cities, which he called 'dangerous.'
" 'We have a situation where we have inner cities, African-Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it's so dangerous,' Trump said at the presidential debate at Hofstra University.
"When asked about racial tensions in the United States, Trump gave a rambling answer about promoting 'law and order' while painting a picture of inner cities as places where people cannot 'walk down the street' without getting shot.
"The Republican presidential nominee again touted the effectiveness of stop-and-frisk, which has been ruled unconstitutional, saying it would help to take guns away from criminals.
"Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and others have bashed his description as an out-of-touch view of urban communities. She said Monday it is 'really unfortunate that he paints such a dire, negative picture of black communities in our country.'
"Clinton said stop-and-frisk was 'demonstrated to not work,' adding that she aims to restore trust between police and citizens and 'remedy some of the problems we have in the criminal justice system.'
"She said she supports community policing."
Trump was rebuked when he maintained that Holt was wrong to say that "stop and frisk" was ruled unconstitutional. Trump was challenged again when he said that "stop and frisk" was responsible for a reduction in killings.
Last month, in fact, the Daily News in New York acknowledged it erred when "we predicted a rising body count from an increase in murders," after "Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled unconstitutional the NYPD’s program of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people suspected of criminality.
Bankole Thompson, a Detroit columnist and radio host, messaged Journal-isms Tuesday that the difference between media coverage of the primary debates and of Monday night's was that this time journalists "dissected the substance of the issues the candidates debated. . . . Virtually the post debate coverage and analyses showed how Trump hasn't offered any coherent policy for why he's running for the White House."
Most of that dissection took place immediately after the debate.
African-American commentators Van Jones and Nia-Malika Henderson were part of the post-debate analysis on CNN, and Eugene Robinson was on MSNBC. But not until Tuesday morning on TV One's "NewsOne Now" could television viewers find concentrated African American reaction to the debate.
There, Roland S. Martin, host and managing editor and panelists Rashad Robinson, co-founder of ColorofChange.org; political editor Lauren Victoria Burke; Spencer A. Overton, George Washington University law professor and president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and Zerlina Maxwell, director of progressive media for the Hillary Clinton campaign, were critical of Trump on criminal justice reform, his failure to release his tax returns, the importance of tackling housing issues and Trump’s newfound admission that President Obama is a naturally born U.S. citizen.
“Donald Trump has had an opportunity over and over again to apologize for this,” Robinson said. ". . . It is dangerous to have someone in charge of our military, in charge of our government that can’t say that they were wrong.”
The others agreed. Brandon Cooper of the Urban Conservative Project, an African American Trump surrogate, was reduced to repeating weak Trump talking points.
Although Trump mentioned Latinos along with African Americans as "living in hell," Hispanics were invisible at the debate, according to Maria Hinojosa, who appeared on Univision with Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas. Hinojosa, anchor and executive producer of public radio's "Latino USA," "said that even though Latinos are interested in the election, very few topics that interest Latino voters were discussed," Julio Ricardo Varela, digital director for Hinojosa's Futuro Media Group, reported for latinousa.org.
In print and online, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press, Shaun King of the Daily News in New York and Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune were among black journalists reacting to the debate quickly. Roxane Gay, Viet Thanh Nguyen and Wajahat Ali were among 18 participating in a real-time discussion for the New York Times of "What We Saw During the Debate."
"Each time we, or Islam, is mentioned I want to take a shot of mango lassi; I’ll be in a diabetic coma by 11 p.m.," Ali wrote. "Now we get Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump trying to prove who is more hawkish on national security. However, only one of these candidates has said he might bar me from entering my own country. Not all attention is good."
The Los Angeles Times had political commentators Cathleen Decker, David Lauter and Doyle McManus doing "round-by-round" analysis. None is a person of color.
What was not said by journalists of color in those outlets was mentioned online:
Brian Stelter summarized reaction to Holt's performance as moderator Tuesday morning in his "Reliable Sources" email:
"Lester Holt is feeling good this morning, and so are NBC News execs. Holt will be back on 'NBC Nightly News' at 6:30 tonight.
"But conservative media outlets are challenging Holt's moderating, saying he tilted the stage in Clinton's favor. 'Holt clearly heard the cries of his colleagues in the liberal media to be tough on Trump and ease up on Hillary loud and clear,' MRC president Brent Bozell said in a statement.
"All night and into the morning, Drudge linked to Heat Street's headline calling Holt 'the third debater' and the Washington Times' story calling his fact-checking 'opinion journalism.'
"Dylan Byers points out what those stories ignored: Yes, 'Holt interrupted Trump more often than Clinton and fact-checked Trump more often than Clinton,' but 'Trump went over his allotted time more often and said more statements that were factually inaccurate.'
"This morning, Fox News viewers are not hearing about Trump's whoppers. 'Fox & Friends' is in full media-blame-game mode — it is really something to behold. The banner on screen: 'DOUBLE STANDARD FOR DEM?' One of the main complaints is that Holt didn't ask about Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation or Clinton's email practices. To which I would say, true, and Trump himself could have brought these subject up. There are lots of other subjects Holt also didn't ask about… "
David Bauder, Associated Press: Moderator Lester Holt worked to keep control of debate
Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: Lester Holt Proved Debate Moderators Can Fact-Check
Leigh Ann Caldwell, NBC News: Trump, Clinton Present Vastly Different Visions on Race
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Donald Trump bombs on the ultimate reality TV show
Chris Cillizza, Washington Post: Winners and losers from the 1st presidential debate
Cathleen Decker, David Lauter, Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times: Round-by-round, our analysts say Clinton outpunched Trump
Editorial, Daily News, New York: President vs. pretender as Hillary Clinton puts away Donald Trump
Thomas B. Edsall, Ross Douthat, Carol Giacomo, Gail Collins, Andrew Rosenthal, Mark Schmitt, Mike Lofgren, Arthur C. Brooks, Roxane Gay, Viet Thanh Nguyen, J.D. Vance, Peter Wehner, Roger Cohen, Wajahat Ali, Kevin Baker, Anna North, Paul Krugman, John Sasso, New York Times: What We Saw During the Debate
Stefano Esposito, Chicago Sun-Times: Trump injects Chicago crime into debate: ‘A war-torn country?’
Paul Farhi, Washington Post: Holt strikes a moderate tone as debate moderator
Chris Fuchs, NBC Asian America: First Presidential Debate Leaves Some Asian-American Voters Wanting
Hadas Gold, Politico: Lester Holt stays out of the way
Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times: Lester Holt, Given a Choice Assignment, Opted for Restraint
Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press: Clinton-Trump debate: The lies, and the candidates who tell them
Adam Johnson, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Lester Holt Asks Zero Questions About Poverty, Abortion, Climate Change
Shaun King, Daily News, New York: Donald Trump’s bigotry is hard to hide
Sandra Lilley and Corky Siemaszko, NBC News Latino: Who's Alicia Machado, the Woman Trump Allegedly Called 'Miss Piggy'?
New York Times: Transcript of the First Debate
Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: In the debate over race, two white candidates say what a black president couldn’t
Stephen A. Nuño, NBC News: How Did Clinton and Trump Do in the Debate? Our Latino Panel Weighs In
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: In first debate, Donald Trump loses the battle against himself
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: In N.C., Clinton's presidential debate skills win over a crowd
Ben Smith, BuzzFeed: How Hillary Clinton Took Charge In The First Presidential Debate
Brian Stelter, CNN Money: Monday night ranks as the 'most tweeted debate ever'
Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post: Lester Holt passed the test of moderating the debate — but he sure didn’t ace it
Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Caught in Iraq War lie, Donald Trump cries ‘Hannity’
"Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president," Arizona's largest newspaper editorialized on Tuesday. "Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.
"This year is different.
"The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.
"That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president. . . ." It endorsed Hillary Clinton.
The Republic joins the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle as newspapers with conservative editorial boards that have spurned Donald Trump and backed his Democratic rival instead.
Al Johnson, an editor at Knight-Ridder newspapers in the 1990s who later became an editor and publisher of business journals and was active in the National Association of Black Journalists and the American Society of News Editors, died Friday in Summerfield, N.C., his wife, Barbara, told Journal-isms.
Johnson turned 70 on Aug. 22. He suffered from complications from dialysis for many years, she said, having undergone a heart transplant in 2001.
Johnson was editor of the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer and the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune in the 1980s and 1990s when they were owned by the defunct Knight-Ridder Inc.
In 1987, the Chicago Tribune named him one of "87 people to watch in 1987."
"Taking a newspaper that traditionally has focused on local news and turning its focus to the surrounding region is the task of the new executive managing editor of the Knight-Ridder-owned Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune," the Tribune wrote. "One of few black newspaper executives in the country at a non-black-owned newspaper, Johnson believes the Post-Tribune 'could pull this entire region together.' A total redesign of the newspaper is planned in 1987 to accommodate the new focus."
Born and raised in High Point, N.C., Johnson attended North Carolina A&T State and Virginia Commonwealth universities.
He arrived at the Post-Tribune in 1986 after having worked as a reporter at the Richmond (Va.) News-Leader from 1969 to 1977 and regional editor, assistant state editor and assistant to the editor at the Knight-Ridder's Charlotte Observer. As regional editor, he was editor of the Observer's first regional tabloid newspaper, according to his resume. He planned and introduced a web of six local news tabloids in six counties surrounding the Observer's home county of Mecklenburg.
Johnson worked at the Post-Tribune from 1986 to 1991 before being tapped as vice president and executive editor of the Ledger-Enquirer, where he served from 1991 to 1997. There, the staff won nearly 100 Georgia Press Association awards between 1991 and 1996.
Active in journalism organizations, Johnson was president of the Indiana unit of the Associated Press Managing Editors from 1986 to 1989, was an NABJ board member from 1981 to 1999 and an ASNE board member from 1988 to 1997. He was also a member of the old National Association of Minority Media Executives.
The late Sidmel Estes, an NABJ president, once described Johnson, the late Mike McQueen and herself as "the three musketeers of the dynamic then-Region V…as regional directors during the organization's transition."
Carmen Fields, who served with Johnson on the NABJ board, added that he had easygoing temperament, was thoughtful at meetings and "could play a good game of bid whist."
Johnson became associate publisher of the Houston Business Journal in 1997 and publisher of the Business Journal in Greensboro, N.C., both weeklies owned by American Cities Business Journals, and editor of Business East in New Bern, N.C., from 2002 to 2003, the latter a monthly distributed by Freedom Communications in a nine-county area of Eastern North Carolina.
His most recent job was as a reporter for the Richmond (Va.) Free Press in 2004-05, his wife said. While she plans no funeral, a memorial service may take place in about four weeks, she said. Condolences may be sent to 7500 William Bailey Road, Summerfield, N.C. 27358.
Bill Nunn as Radio Raheem in 1989's Do the Right Thing.
"Bill Nunn , the actor known for playing Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s film 'Do The Right Thing' and Robbie Robertson in Sam Raimi’s 'Spider-Man' trilogy," died on Saturday at 62, as Seth Kelley reported for Variety. Less well known is that Nunn was the scion of a journalism family.
Mark Whitaker, the author and former news executive, alerted his Facebook friends on Monday: "It is ironic that Bill Nunn will be best remembered for playing Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s 'Do the Right Thing' — a seemingly rootless young black man killed by police in the streets of a decaying Bedford-Stuyvesant.
"In real life, William Goldwyn Nunn III was the scion of one of the most influential families in what was once one of the most vibrant black neighborhoods in America, Pittsburgh’s Hill District. His grandfather, William Nunn Sr., was the Managing Editor of the Pittsburgh Courier when it was the most widely read black newspaper in the country.
"His father, Bill Nunn Jr., was a Courier sportswriter who became a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers and, by expanding the team's recruitment to the historically black colleges that he had been covering for years, helped it win four Super Bowls" from 1975 to 1980.
"That a world that produced writers such as August Wilson and John Edgar Wideman, musicians such as Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal and Mary Lou Williams, and gave a platform to journalists such as Joel Augustus Rogers, Wendell Smith, Evelyn Cunningham and Hazel Garland nurtured an artist as versatile and socially conscious as Bill Nunn is no surprise.
"Condolences to Bill’s wife and daughters, his mother Frances Nunn and his sister Lynell, who I was honored to interview on my last trip to Pittsburgh to report for the book I’m writing on the remarkable legacy of that city’s African-American community."
Bryan Pollard, former editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, the first Indian newspaper, discusses its creation in Georgia in 1828. (Credit KOSU-FM, Tulsa)
"Bryan Pollard, Director of Tribal Relations for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law, became president of the Native American Journalists Association on Sept. 21 after a unanimous decision by the NAJA board of directors," NAJA announced on Monday.
"Tristan Ahtone, a freelance reporter based in New Mexico, is now vice president, Darren Brown, of Cheyenne and Arapaho Television, will act as secretary, and newly elected board member Jennifer Bell, director of public information for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, will serve as treasurer.
"New board members Bell, Dr. Victoria LaPoe, Ramona Marozas and Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton were elected by NAJA membership at the 2016 Excellence in Journalism Conference in New Orleans filling the seats vacated by Jason Begay, Dalton Walker, Eugene Tapahe and Rob Capriccioso. Krehbiel-Burton will serve a two-year team to complete Capriccioso’s term. . . ."
Pollard said his goals would be to implement a strategic fundraising plan to increase the organization's overall budget and capacity to serve its members, "to develop and publish a series of reporting guides to help mainstream journalists accurately report on issues in Indian Country."
Ahtone said another goal will be to make NAJA a resource for ethical reporting in Indian Country and newsroom diversity.
Pollard resigned as editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, the first newspaper created by Indians, in December.
"Neither the board nor Pollard wished to disclose specific allegations, but Pollard said shortly after the Nov. 20 meeting that they 'related to good-faith editorial decisions I have made during the course of my duties,' " Sean Rowley reported Dec. 9 for the Tahlequah (Okla.) Daily Press.
Associated Press: Arizona Republic, Navajo Times earn top newspaper honors
Mark Fogarty, Indian Country Today Media Network: Young Native Journalists Are Drawn to Cover Historic Protest
"These shots are from my week-long trip to FARC guerrilla territory — the last time I or any other journalist will ever spend with that half-century old insurgency," Juan Forero wrote to his Facebook friends on Friday.
"In my trusty, 20-year-old 4X4, we traveled hours in mud-bath roads, finally reaching a swath of Amazonian plains I’d never seen before. Fields of tall grass, dotted with jungle outcroppings, traversed by narrow rivers.
"I saw eagles, and the fresh footprints of wild boar and other big mammals. We were met with banners celebrating dead guerrilla commanders (Cano Lives!). And then we came upon what a colleague of mine, Nick Miroff, called a Marxist Burning Man.
"The FARC didn’t do so well in recent years as a fighting force. But boy, can they ever put on a party. Guerrillas quickly built, in a matter of days, a virtual hamlet, complete with meeting halls, houses for FARC chieftains, press rooms and an elaborate stage. The rank and file opened up in improvised discussions.
"Rock and reggae bands played, giving some of the rebels the first taste they’d ever had of a concert. The beer and whisky flowed. And then, after days of closed-door meetings at what the FARC called its X Conference, the guerrilla commanders who once vowed to topple the state voted themselves out of existence as an insurgency."
Forero, writing from Bogotá, Colombia, and José Córboda, writing from Havana, reported Friday for the Wall Street Journal, "President Juan Manuel Santos and the top leader of Colombia’s biggest Marxist rebel group on Wednesday announced a breakthrough in peace negotiations that they say brings their country closer to ending a half-century of conflict.
". . . The announcement by the two men marks a major step toward ending the hemisphere’s last guerrilla conflict, which has claimed some 220,000 lives and led many rural Colombians to uproot and move to urban slums. . . ."
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at firstname.lastname@example.org
To be notified of new columns, contact email@example.com and tell us who you are.