• Critics of Color Assess Comic’s Use of N-Word
  • New Ebony Owners Blame Johnson Publishing
  • Investigation Confirms Worst Fears About Prisons
  • Mug Shots Both Public Service, Tools for Extortion
  • ‘Don’t Put Your Hands on Me’
  • FCC Expected to Permit Still More Consolidation
  • Chicago Sun-Times Advocates for Undocumented
  • Qatar Crisis Threatens Crown Jewel: Al Jazeera
  • NABJ Launches Black Male Initiative
  • A Bob Marley Son Invests in High Times
  • Short Takes

Bill Maher has apologized: “The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.” (Elyse Samuels/Washington Post)

Critics of Color Assess Comic’s Use of N-Word

On Friday night on live television, viewers will find out the consequences of comedian Bill Maher’s use of the N-word, an utterance on last week’s show that ignited social media, earned a denunciation from his network and caused others to spring to his defense, citing his apology and his progressive political outlook.

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Will HBO change its mind and fire him? How contrite will Maher be? And what posture will his African American guests — academic Michael Eric Dyson and rapper-actor Ice Cube — take?

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

Asked on Wednesday, an HBO spokeswoman did not go beyond the network’s Saturday statement that “Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless. We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”

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TMZ reported Wednesday, “Sources familiar with the situation tell us, HBO will not yank Bill from the air or fire him for the comment he made to Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse on last Friday’s show.

“Maher apologized quickly and the fallout from the comment got quickly lost after the London terrorist attack. . . .”

Maher issued this statement on Saturday: “Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show. Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.”

Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times provided this recap on Saturday: “Shortly after 10 p.m. on Friday, Mr. Maher, the comedian and host of HBO’s ‘Real Time,’ was talking to Mr. Sasse on his program about the boundaries between adolescence and maturity, and how adults in California still dress up for Halloween.

“When Mr. Sasse said this did not happen in his state, Mr. Maher said, ‘I’ve got to get to Nebraska more.’

“Mr. Sasse replied: ‘You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.’

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“Mr. Maher said: ‘Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house nigger. No, it’s a joke.’ . . .”

Three black journalists familiar with the television business have given readers their thoughts.

Wesley Morris, a Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism in 2012 while at the Boston Globe, now at the New York Times, wrote Sunday, “Should Mr. Maher lose his job? That would be too easy. ‘Real Time’ is the sort of laboratory where just this sort of problem is talked — or shouted — out.

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“It would be fascinating to see him in the next episode, if there is one, surrounded by a cast of characters who have castigated him for Friday’s scandalette. He may not learn a lesson. But there would be a lesson in that, too. We’ve been not learning that one for centuries.”

Melanie McFarland, television critic at Salon, wrote Tuesday, “Maher will get away with casually blurting out an epithet because he’s spent decades telling us that this is who he is. His identity was in the name of his ABC show [’Politically Incorrect’] and is on display every week on HBO. He has never implied that he was anything other than who he is.

“But make no mistake: Maher will also get away with it because he is a male celebrity with a potent, wealthy media apparatus invested in helping him help his audience to move on. Never mind that Maher violated one of the basic laws of comedy by using his privilege as a famous, wealthy white guy to punch down . . .

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“He’ll take his beatings with that trademark smug grin of his, maybe turn it into one of his ‘New Rules,’ and his mouth will continue to run. . . .”

Eric Deggans, TV critic at NPR, wrote a blog post Monday headlined, “Why I Think Bill Maher Should Lose His Job at HBO.”

This slip of the tongue . . . is no mere mistake or ham handed attempt at cultural appropriation. It’s evidence of a pattern – one that HBO now needs to decide whether it wants to continue to be associated with, especially for a channel where 22 percent of its viewership comes from black people.

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“And, to answer all of the oddballs who came out of the woodwork to engage me in this debate on social media, this controversy — and others like it — is not about avoiding hurt feelings or insult. Images, archetypes and attitudes about people of color that are transmitted through media can affect how America’s white-dominated society handles a myriad of issues affecting people of color — from drug sentencing to policing issues to education funding and much more.

“So it is very serious business when it comes to the question of who ‘gets’ to use the most incendiary racial slur in America’s history on television or elsewhere in mass media. And it certainly shouldn’t be someone who isn’t black who views the issue so cavalierly, he would toss it in an offhand joke that also references slavery. . . .”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hollywood Reporter: No, Bill Maher Shouldn’t Be Fired For Using the N-Word

Gregory Clay, InsideSources.com: The n-word and Bill Maher: A double standard?

Eric Deggans, ericdeggans.tumblr.com: Why I Think Bill Maher Should Lose His Job at HBO

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Ernest Cleo Grant II, Star-Ledger, Newark: N.J. pastor: Bill Maher’s apology for using the N-word isn’t enough

Susan Grettenberger, Detroit Free Press: It wasn’t just Bill Maher’s use of the N-word that was offensive

Ricardo A. Hazell, Shadow League: Bill Maher And His Poisonous Brand Of White Liberalism

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Jarrett Hill, NBCBLK: Dear Bill Maher, You Dropped the N-Word. I’m Breaking Up With You.

Dave Itzkoff, New York Times: Bill Maher Apologizes for Use of Racial Slur on ‘Real Time’

Monique Judge, TheRoot.com: #NeverForget: Bill Maher Once Questioned A Black Woman’s Blackness Over the N-Word

Wesley Morris, New York Times: What Was Bill Maher’s Big Mistake?

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: HBO should fire left-leaning Bill Maher

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Bill Maher’s delusions of being ‘real’

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Did Bill Maher forget that he’s white?

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Bill Maher gets a pass for racial slur. But should he?

Stephen Rodrick, Esquire: Bill Maher Knows Exactly What He’s Doing

T. Shawn Taylor, Chicago Defender: The ‘N’ word: When to be offended

TMZ: Bill Maher Back on the Air, HBO Has No Plan to Fire Him

TMZ: Jay Mohr Drops N-Bombs In Bizarre Boosie Badazz Twitter Rant

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Bill Maher discovers the wonders of apology

Stereo Williams, Daily Beast: Bill Maher, Jason Whitlock, and America’s Toxic Cult of Personality

Michael Gibson, left, and Willard Jackson of Clear View Group. (Clear View Group)

New Ebony Owners Blame Johnson Publishing

The co-founder of the company that bought Ebony magazine from Johnson Publishing Co. last year is blaming the magazine’s “deep problems” on Johnson, which owned Ebony since its founding in 1945, Adeshina Emmanuel wrote Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review.

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“In an exclusive interview Saturday, and via a series of text messages Monday,” Clear View Group LLC co-founder Willard Jackson “blamed the magazine’s deep problems on prior ownership. (Johnson Publishing, the family company that owned the title from the beginning, said it wanted out of the publishing business.) Jackson added that Ebony had been slow to shift its focus online and still lacks what he calls ‘a robust digital platform,’ “ Emmanuel wrote.

He also reported, “In the Saturday interview, Jackson insisted delays in payments had nothing to do with the company’s finances. But a company statement released over the weekend said that its freelance budget would be raised to prevent future mishaps.

“On Monday, when CJR reached out again, Jackson responded via text message: ‘Prioritizing of the cash flow from the business to cover all the overhead and expenses is what we’ve had to address. That’s why payments have been delayed and that’s also what prompted the layoffs and downsizing.’ He declined to discuss his privately held company’s financials in detail. . . .”

The National Writers Union is representing 14 writers who are owed $30,000.

Last month, Ebony laid off nearly all of its masthead — as many as a dozen key members of its editorial team, and said it was consolidating editorial operations with sister publication Jet in Los Angeles.

Wesley Turner, a former inmate at Lanesboro Correctional Institution in Polkton, N.C., was stabbed to death in a 2012 prison fight. Investigators and lawyers said they believe a prison manager knew the attack was coming and did nothing to stop it. (Chuck Liddy/Charlotte Observer)

Investigation Confirms Worst Fears About Prisons

A Charlotte Observer investigation found that a hidden world of drugs, sex and gang violence thrives inside North Carolina’s prisons — and that officers who are paid to prevent such corruption are instead fueling it,” Ames Alexander and Gavin Off reported Friday for the Observer.

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“Prison officers frequently team up with inmates on crimes that endanger staff members, inmates and the public.

“The newspaper’s five-part investigation found that some officers run lucrative contraband rings inside prisons. Others have sex with inmates. Still others beat shackled prisoners, or team up with gang members to allow brutal attacks.

“State leaders, meanwhile, have created the very conditions that allow corruption to flourish. . . .”

Editorial, Charlotte Observer: Broken N.C. prisons demand stout response

The Daily News showed Tiger Woods’ mug shot on its cover.

Mug Shots Both Public Service, Tools for Extortion

The police mug shot, which shows those arrested looking their worst and now can appear not just in newspapers but bounce around the internet, was the subject of a story Saturday by the Marshall Project, published in cooperation with the New York Times Sunday Review.

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“Mugged!” by Tim Stelloh is subtitled, “How your ugly booking photos (and Tiger’s) became a commodity for cops, hustlers and journalists,” a reference to Tiger Woods, arrested last week on suspicion of driving under the influence.

“Mugshots now present an acute problem in the digital age,” wrote the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ Chief Judge, R. Guy Cole Jr. “These images preserve the indignity of a deprivation of liberty, often at the (literal) expense of the most vulnerable among us.”

Stelloh also writes, “Now, the images are available from an expansive roster of mug shot purveyors — everyone from crime fighting social media groups to privately-run, online databases that, in some cases, have been described as extortion operations: They post booking photographs online, then charge exorbitant fees to remove them. . . .”

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However, Stelloh also reports, “. . . . In 2013, the Detroit Free Press sued the Justice Department after it refused to release mug shots of four police officers accused of corruption. Federal authorities consider the release of the booking photograph an invasion of privacy, and in its ruling last year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

“Still, dozens of news organizations and press advocacy groups backed the newspaper up in court, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. A lawyer there, Adam Marshall, described. . . the mug shot as a memorialization of one of the most important processes of the criminal justice system — the arrest.

“ ‘There are a whole bunch of details the photo can give us,’ he said. What if the police arrested the wrong person? What if the officer assaulted that person? ‘The public expects information from the government about what they’re doing,’ Marshall said. ‘The photo provides the public with that information in a way that a name doesn’t.’ . . . ”

‘Don’t Put Your Hands on Me’

Chauncy Glover, a reporter for KTRK-TV in Houston, was interviewing residents of nearby Texas City after Ku Klux Klan fliers were tossed into 16 front yards when one woman wanted Glover to leave the neighborhood. As she came toward Glover, the reporter repeatedly warned, “Don’t put your hands on me.”

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Police said the fliers were weighed down with fishing weights and candy, Dana Guthrie and Brooke A. Lewis reported May 31 for the Houston Chronicle and chron.com. A detective said Wednesday that police had not yet found the perpetrators.

FCC Expected to Permit Still More Consolidation

The FCC is expected to clear the way as soon as this summer for broadcasters to own up to two or more TV stations in most if not all markets — even if two of the stations are Big Four network affiliates, broadcast industry sources say,” Doug Halonen reported Wednesday for TVNewsCheck.

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Ajit Pai, the Trump administration’s FCC chairman, and his fellow GOP commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who now constitute the FCC’s majority, have already made clear their support for deregulation. . . .”

Chicago Sun-Times Advocates for Undocumented

A man approaches a bank teller in Calumet City and demands, ‘Give me $10,000,’ ” the Chicago Sun-Times said in an editorial Monday. In case she balks, he adds, ‘I’ll kill everybody you know.’

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“The teller hands over all the cash she can grab, begging, ‘Don’t do this.’ Then, as soon as she is safely out of danger, she calls 911. She tells the cops everything.

“Would you call this woman, 26-year-old Cynthia Salazar, a crime victim? Of course. And did she cooperate with the police? Obviously.

“But the Calumet City Police are treating Salazar like she’s part of the problem, not the solution, and other police departments across Illinois are treating people like her in the same shabby way. In doing so, they are ignoring federal law and making it harder for cops to solve crimes.

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“Six months after the June 2016 robbery, Salazar, who is an undocumented immigrant, applied for permanent legal residency under a federal rule that gives special consideration to people who have been victims of crime. The idea is to reward undocumented people who report a crime — because you can bet most of them won’t come forward otherwise for fear of being deported.

“But as Dan Mihalopoulos and Mick Dumke of the Sun-Times reported Sunday, police departments often ignore their obligation to assist such people as required by law. That’s a good argument for a civil liberties suit. We also encourage passage of a state law, pending in the House, that would make the intent of the federal law more pointed. . . .”

Qatar Crisis Threatens Crown Jewel: Al Jazeera

The diplomatic crisis that broadsided Qatar on Monday could spell trouble for one of its crown jewels: Al Jazeera,” Charles Riley reported Monday for CNN.

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“The state-backed media network has become a global brand but is also a polarizing force. It made enemies from Riyadh to Cairo with its criticism of Arab governments and coverage of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy.

“Five Arab states have now broken off diplomatic relations with Qatar, a dramatic move that reveals just how strained the tiny Gulf state’s relationship with its neighbors has become. They have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, accusations the country says are ‘unjustified’ and ‘baseless.’ . . .”

On Tuesday, Jordan’s Ministry of Information revoked the license for Al Jazeera and said it will close the broadcaster’s Jordanian office, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.

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The organization also reported, “The Saudi government on June 5 revoked the broadcaster’s license to operate in Saudi Arabia and ordered its office to close, according to Al-Jazeera and the official Saudi Press Agency SPA. . . .”

Max Greenwood, the Hill: Al Jazeera network reports being under cyberattack

David Hearst, middleeasteye.net: Why the campaign against Qatar is doomed

NABJ Launches Black Male Initiative

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is launching its Black Male Media Project, an initiative to help change the narrative around the lives and images of black men in the news and in society, with a series of workshops nationwide on Saturday, June 10, 2017,” the group announced on Wednesday.

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“The NABJ Black Male Media Project will launch with 19 NABJ affiliate chapters hosting events in various cities across the United States, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, all on the same day. The initiative is designed to inspire, support and develop training and mentorship opportunities for black men working in or aspire to work in journalism and media. . . . “

Damian Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley and a new investor in High Times, was the cover subject for its June issue.

A Bob Marley Son Invests in High Times

High Times, the 44-year-old magazine that has long advocated for the legalization of pot, has been sold to a group of investors for $42 million, Keith J. Kelly reported June 2 for the New York Post.

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The new group of 20 investors [includes] Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, the youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley,” Kelly wrote.

“ ‘When I was in high school I used to grow some herb,’ Marley said. ‘I learned to differentiate the male from the female plant by reading High Times magazine.’ . . . ” Marley is a reggae performer in his own right.

Lead investor Adam Levin “is the founder of the Los Angeles investment firm Oreva Capital and, as of last week, chief executive of High Times Holding Company, or HTHC,Aaron Smith reported Tuesday for CNN. “(Get it? If you don’t, then you’ve never read High Times.) . . .”

Short Takes

Duane Beyal

It’s a homecoming of sorts as Duane Beyal, former reporter and editor of the Navajo Times, has been appointed to be the Navajo Times’ editor again,” Bill Donovan reported April 6 for the Times. Based in Window Rock, Ariz., and with a circulation of 17,220, the weekly calls itself the largest Native American-owned newspaper in the world.

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Did the Associated Press, the venerable American agency that is one of the world’s biggest news providers, collaborate with the Nazis during World War II?” Matti Friedman asked Monday for Tablet. “A report and new counter-report on this subject offer a few striking lessons — not just for students of history but for anyone concerned with the way news coverage shapes our perception right now. . . .”

“Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using the first comprehensive national estimates of lifetime risk of H.I.V. for several key populations, predicted that if current rates continue, one in two African-American gay and bisexual men will be infected with the virus,” Linda Villarosa wrote Tuesday for the New York Times Magazine. “That compares with a lifetime risk of one in 99 for all Americans and one in 11 for white gay and bisexual men. . . .”

The Indianapolis 500 hasn’t seen a full-time black driver since George Mack in 2002, Jim Ayello reported for the Indianapolis Star on May 25. Willy T. Ribbs, who became the first African American to drive in the 500 in 1991, said, “There’s a reason it does not look like the makeup of this country at all. The sport doesn’t care. The sponsors that support the sport don’t care. The sanctioning bodies don’t care.” Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., parent company of IndyCar, the sanctioning body, said IndyCar simply isn’t in the financial position to start a program with the specific intent of attracting and recruiting young black drivers. . . .”

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Jennifer Kho, managing editor at the Guardian US, is one of four new hires by Lydia Polgreen, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. Kho will be managing editor, overseeing all newsroom operations, Richard Horgan reported Monday for adweek.com.

Six months ago, Breitbart was riding the wave of the election, plotting an international expansion to provide a platform to spread far-right, populist views in Europe,” Lucia Moses reported Tuesday for digiday.com. “But today, Breitbart is facing traffic declines, advertiser blacklists, campaigns for marketers to steer clear and even a petition within Amazon for it to stop providing ad services. . . .”

Lawyers for Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians team and Rogers Communications have struck out in their attempt to have a discrimination claim thrown out on jurisdictional grounds,” Peter Edwards reported Monday for the Toronto Star. “The claim, lodged by activist Douglas Cardinal, alleges that Cleveland’s team name and mascot are offensive and discriminatory. . . .”

Vanessa Ruiz

Vanessa Ruiz, a lead anchor on 12 News in Phoenix and an award-winning bilingual correspondent for national and regional TV news outlets in Miami and Los Angeles, is joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,” Arizona State University announced Monday. She “will direct the borderlands coverage team at Cronkite News, the student-produced, faculty-led news division of Arizona PBS, and help lead the new Spanish-language newscast, Cronkite Noticias. . . .”

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If you live in New York, you might have spotted artist Alexandra Bell’s new public artworks in the streets recently,” Terence Trouillot reported June 1 for for artnet.com. “Her work, large-scale printouts of news articles redacted and edited by the artist, has hit a nerve, garnering attention both through social media and word of mouth. Attention in the press has gathered more slowly, which makes sense: Her posters deal forcefully with how journalism in the United States has propounded racial discrimination. . . .”

TJ Acena

Theatre Communications Group has announced the participants selected for the second round of Rising Leaders of Color, a yearlong diversity-oriented theater program in Portland, Ore. The New York-based group also wrote, “This year marks the inaugural theatre criticism and journalism track for the RLC program, designed to deepen the pool of voices documenting, reflecting, and challenging the field.” TJ Acena, a freelance writer living in Portland, Ore, will be program’s first RLC journalist.

Richard G. Jones

Richard G. Jones, an associate editor at The New York Times and a veteran journalism educator, is joining the University of Notre Dame this fall as the Annenberg Director of the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy in the Department of American Studies,” the university announced on Tuesday. “Jones leads the Times’ newsroom summer internship program and The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, a two-week professional development program for collegiate members of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. . . .”

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Fox Business has re-signed Charles Payne to a multi-year contract, the network announced Wednesday morning,” Joe Concha reported for the Hill. “Payne, 56, is the host of ‘Making Money’ on Fox Business, which airs at 6 p.m. ET. . . .”

John Dickerson, host of CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation,” made a reference Sunday to “countries like Africa,” a continent with 54 nations.

It’s been a long time since I last attended the Puerto Rican Day Parade, but I intend to be there Sunday on Fifth Ave., marching at the front of the parade with Oscar Lopez Rivera, the 74-year-old former FALN leader who some condemn as a terrorist yet others praise as a patriot for Puerto Rico’s independence,” Juan Gonzalez wrote Sunday for the Daily News in New York.

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In North Carolina, “State Sen. Trudy Wade, a Guilford County Republican, is mad at newspapers,” the News & Observer in Raleigh editorialized on Friday. “. . . Wade is now sponsoring a bill, passed by the Senate, to allow municipalities to publish legal notices on their own websites. That means local governments wouldn’t be required to pay to put legal ads in newspapers. . . .”

India’s main investigative agency on Monday raided residences and offices connected to the founders of NDTV, an influential cable TV station that has had run-ins with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over its news coverage,” Ellen Barry reported Monday for the New York Times.

In India, “the thing” about the Asian College of Journalism “and every other private English-medium premier journalism institute in the country is that students from the so-called upper-castes form a crushing majority in the classroom and, as a consequence, in the influential alumni network,” Sudipto Mondal wrote Friday for Al Jazeera.


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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.

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