- ‘The Media-Political Complex Bowed Down’
- Trump Suggests Ending Daily Briefings
- Trump Voting Panel to Push ‘Myth of Fraud’
- Readers Imagine Successors to Confederates
- ‘Cultural Anxiety’ Drove Many to Trump
- Too Many U.S. Moms Dying in Childbirth
- NABJ Names Four More Award Winners
- Honoring Mom Amid ‘Incarceration Epidemic’
- Short Takes
‘The Media-Political Complex Bowed Down’
“Lester Holt conquered the news on Thursday, and the media-political complex bowed down and acknowledged his sovereignty,” Lloyd Grove wrote that evening for the Daily Beast.”
“The NBC Nightly News anchor’s calm and businesslike grilling of President Donald Trump about his sudden and savage sacking of FBI Director James Comey, among other inconvenient subjects that are plaguing Trump’s 113-day-old presidency, led not only Holt’s broadcast, but also the evening newscasts on CBS and ABC, as well as coverage throughout the day on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. . . .”
Unsurprisingly, Grove’s verdict was not unanimous. Cristina López G. wrote Friday for Media Matters for America, “Right-wing and fringe media attacked NBC anchor Lester Holt . . .
“They claimed Holt was ‘disrespectful’ and a ‘rude Negro’ who ‘interrupted’ and ‘spoke over’ Trump, calling the interview ‘an interrogation’ during which the president was treated ‘like a damn criminal.’ . . .”
The “rude Negro” reference, one of few mentioning Holt’s race, came from infostormer.com, whose motto is “Destroying Jewish Tyranny.”
The website was correct to take the interview seriously, however. In its wake were questions about obstruction of justice, reports that Trump had sought a loyalty oath from Comey and even speculation about impeachment.
As Grove reported, “The biggest headline from the White House tête-à-tête — blazoned in an exclusive video clip that was judiciously released by NBC in a special report that preempted an afternoon soap opera (as opposed to the ongoing Trump soap opera) — was the president’s claim to have decided on his own to fire Comey after hosting him at a White House dinner (in which Comey, according to Trump, asked to keep his job).
“The president said that he repeatedly, if improperly, sought the director’s reassurance that he isn’t the target of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in last year’s election and the Kremlin’s possible collusion with Trump campaign operatives.
“Those revelations provoked bipartisan expressions of outrage and amply demonstrated what many in Washington and beyond have suspected: that Trump’s hapless communications team — notably Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, to say nothing of Vice President Mike Pence — have either been incompetently out of the loop or lying their asses off when they’ve insisted for the past three days that Comey was fired only because of a face to face meeting followed by a meticulous review and thoughtful recommendation from the freshly minted deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, and his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. . . .”
Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times captured the reaction of many.
“That the White House couldn’t get its story (or stories) straight about something as important as the firing of the F.B.I. director, during an investigation into ties between the president’s campaign and a foreign power reportedly trying to sway a United States presidential election, once again breaks the mold of what’s ‘normal’ in United States governance,” Rutenberg wrote Friday.
On social media, some criticized Holt for failure to follow up on some questions, but others noted that the anchor had to be strategic in the use of his time.
Grove wrote, “The anchor directed the president to a straight-back chair opposite his own. While Holt leaned back and crossed his legs in an attitude of alpha male sangfroid throughout their 31-minute encounter . . . Trump sat edgily forward on his chair, legs spread wide — looking for all the world like some giant, yellow-haired badger bracing for an attack.
“In a way, Trump was right to do so, as Holt relentlessly pressed him for a reason for sacking Comey that made even a little bit of sense, wondering repeatedly if the president was angry at the FBI director, as multiple news outlets have reported, because his agency was pursuing what he’d called the ‘hoax’ of the Russia investigation. . . .”
Conservative media watchers, such as Tim Graham of NewsBusters, tried to paint Holt, reported to be a registered Republican, as pro-Hillary Clinton.
“Holt was the designated hit man in Thursday’s interview, expected to create and underline a ‘credibility crisis’ for the White House,” Graham wrote Friday. “But don’t they remember how Holt ‘winced’ to Hillary Clinton in January of 2016 at anyone [who] suggested she might be seen by someone as (gasp) dishonest...why that must hurt her feelings! . . .”
The interview did not touch on race-specific concerns such as historically black colleges and universities or immigration, but Trump did discuss Clinton’s emails, North Korea and health care.
President Donald Trump told Jeanine Pirro that he thinks it is a ‘good idea’ to not have press conferences, unless he does them himself every two weeks,” Ted Johnson reported Friday for Variety.”Two days after firing FBI director James Comey and creating a full-blown constitutional crisis, Donald Trump signed an executive order today creating a presidential commission on ‘election integrity,’ based on his debunked claims that millions voted illegally in 2016,” Ari Berman wrote Thursday for the Nation.
Trump Suggests Ending Daily Briefings
“President Donald Trump told Jeanine Pirro that he thinks it is a ‘good idea’ to not have press conferences, unless he does them himself every two weeks,” Ted Johnson reported Friday for Variety.
“His comments came after he tweeted early Friday morning that perhaps the White House should do away with the daily press briefings, a long-time tradition in which the press secretary faces the gamut of reporters every day.
“Trump was frustrated over media reports that what he has said about the reasons for firing FBI Director James Comey contradicts what his communications staff said earlier in the week. . . .”
Trump Voting Panel to Push ‘Myth of Fraud’
“Two days after firing FBI director James Comey and creating a full-blown constitutional crisis, Donald Trump signed an executive order today creating a presidential commission on ‘election integrity,’ based on his debunked claims that millions voted illegally in 2016,” Ari Berman wrote Thursday for the Nation.
“Vice President Mike Pence will be the chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be the vice chair — two men with very long histories of making it harder to vote, especially Kobach. Given the lack of evidence of voter fraud, the commission seems designed for one purpose: to perpetuate the myth of fraud in order to lay the groundwork for enacting policies that suppress the vote.
“If you want to know what such voter intimidation looks like, take a look at Pence’s home state of Indiana, where state police in October 2016 raided the offices of a group working to register African-American and low-income voters. They seized thousands of voter-registration applications, even though only 10 were suspected to be fraudulent and no one has been charged.
“In Kansas, Kobach has been the driving force within the GOP behind policies that erect new barriers to the ballot box and the most fervent evangelist of unproven voter-fraud claims. . . .”
The Kansas City Star said in an editorial on Thursday, “Since the non-problem of in-person voter fraud — Kobach has convicted all of nine Kansans of this crime — is inflated to push through laws that disenfranchise, this whole commission isn’t just unnecessary but wrong. . . .”
On Friday, the NAACP said in a statement, “This Commission poses a very real and direct threat to our electoral system and democracy. Clearly designed to bar millions from exercising their democratic birthright, through a gumbo of alt-facts, stereotypes and dog whistle politics, the NAACP as this nation’s first-responder on civil rights will fight back with every resource at our disposal against any assault on the vote. . . .”
- Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: “Trump fatigue” has already set in.
- Lauren Victoria Burke, National Newspaper Publishers Association: President Trump Wages War on Obama’s Legacy in First 100 Days
- Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Trump couldn’t care less about the Comey mess he created. He cares about only himself.
- Editorial, Dallas Morning News: Donald Trump needs to get out more
- Editorial, Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee: Dismissal of FBI Director James Comey reinforces need for independent investigation
- Editorial, Kansas City Star: In search of Republican profiles in courage on Comey’s firing
- Editorial, Miami Herald: Appoint special counsel in Russia probe
- Editorial, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Bring on a special prosecutor
- Editorial, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: Burr must press on
- Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Russian meddling? Move along. There’s no meddling here.
- Editorial board roundtable, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Was President Trump trying to shut down FBI’s Russia probe in firing James Comey?
- Jill Geisler, Columbia Journalism Review: The lesson news managers can learn from Comey’s firing
- thegrio.com: Trump calls Don Lemon ‘the dumbest person in broadcasting’
- Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times: Comey Firing Provides Bright Dividing Line for Media Coverage
- Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: After firing Comey, Trump emerges the New Nixon
- Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, Michael S. Schmidt and Peter Baker, New York Times: ‘Enough Was Enough’: How Festering Anger at Comey Ended in His Firing
- Chris Keller and Priya Krishnakumar, Los Angeles Times: The Comey firing has people concerned. Here’s where U.S. senators stand
- Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Boston Globe: Trump can’t script his own ending
- Benjamin Mullin, Poynter Institute: Mother Jones is raising $500,000 to go after the Trump-Russia story
- Franco Ordoñez and William Douglas, McClatchyDC: April Ryan invites Donald Trump to dinner
- Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Let’s just call him ‘Crooked Donald’
- Charles P. Pierce, Esquire: This Feels Like a Turning Point
- Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: If you’re not appalled by Comey’s firing, you’re not paying attention
- Radio Television Digital News Association: RTDNA opposes President’s threat to end press briefings
- Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: No good lawyer would have let Trump give Lester Holt this interview
- Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald: They voted for disastrous Trumpcare over your health. Will they pay at the ballot box?
Readers Imagine Successors to Confederates
The Jefferson Davis statue in Mid-City was taken down early Thursday (May 11),” the Times-Picayune reported on Friday from New Orleans on its website. “It’s one of four monuments the New Orleans City Council declared nuisances in December 2015 and the second Mayor Mitch Landrieu has removed. . . .”
Amid final challenges to the statues’ relocations, the Times-Picayune editorial board wrote on March 26, “With the city of New Orleans preparing to move the statue of Robert E. Lee from its perch, we asked readers to reimagine Lee Circle. Dozens of you responded with thoughtful, creative ideas. We’ll run more as we get them. Keep them coming to NewCircle@nola.com. . . .”
The site had more than 230 comments as of Friday, including:
“PATRICIA GALMICHE: A circle of people of all races, genders and ages holding hands with one another, continued by another circle of the same inside of that circle and another inside of that circle and so on. The circle of people would symbolize unity and strength and its repetition inside of itself, and so on, would represent an eternal continuation of unity, strength and love, repeated within the community.
“ROB FLORENCE: Lee Circle to become Piano Professor Circle. Put a piano at the top of the column and around the base put markers for Louis Moreau Gottchalk, Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, James Booker, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and others. . . .
“UNNAMED TEACHER: A statue of four people standing in a circle facing out: two men and two women (alternating), back-to-back, arms linked. Neither person is clearly of any particular race, sexuality, religion, etc., and the interlinking of those arms is platonic, peaceful and hopeful. Perhaps each person could face one of our main directions: lake, river, downtown, Uptown.
“The area could be renamed ‘We’ Circle.”
A dissenter identified as “Gulf92" wrote, “I’m sorry, but these ideas are dull and uninspiring, especially for a city that overflows with imagination and art. It would be better to just put up a giant bronze crawfish or gator in Jackson Square instead of any one of these.”
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Fighting the removal of Confederate monuments is the real ‘Lost Cause’ (April 27)
Jelani Cobb, New Yorker: The Battle Over Confederate Monuments in New Orleans
Jarvis DeBerry: NOLA.com | Times-Picayune: Confederate monument debate shifts from New Orleans to Shreveport
Editorial, Washington Post: New Orleans needs help moving Confederate statues — and stopping extremists in the way (May 9)
Andrew Kerr, westernjournalism.com: Shepard Smith: Get The Confederate Flag Out Of My State (May 5)
Mitch Landrieu, Washington Post: New Orleans mayor: Why I’m taking down my city’s Confederate monuments
James Loewen, Washington Post: ‘Why was there the Civil War?’ Here’s your answer. (May 2)
Manisha Sinha, Daily News, New York: Civil War revisionism still shames America (May 4)
Michael Tisserand, New York Times: In New Orleans, Racism’s History Is Harder Than Stone (May 8)
(Credit: The Atlantic)
‘Cultural Anxiety’ Drove Many to Trump
“White Americans carried Donald Trump to the White House. He won college-educated white voters by a four-point margin over Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls,” Emma Green wrote Tuesday for the Atlantic.
“But his real victory was among members of the white working class: Twice as many of these voters cast their ballots for the president as for Clinton.
“In the wake of Trump’s surprise win, some journalists, scholars, and political strategists argued that economic anxiety drove these Americans to Trump.
“But new analysis of post-election survey data conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found something different: Evidence suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump.
“Besides partisan affiliation, it was cultural anxiety — feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment — that best predicted support for Trump. . . .”
Too Many U.S. Moms Dying in Childbirth
“The ability to protect the health of mothers and babies in childbirth is a basic measure of a society’s development,” Nina Martin of ProPublica and Renee Montagne of NPR reported Friday.
“Yet every year in the U.S., 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and some 65,000 nearly die — by many measures, the worst record in the developed world.
“American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination), six times as likely to die as Scandinavians.
“In every other wealthy country, and many less affluent ones, maternal mortality rates have been falling; in Great Britain, the journal Lancet recently noted, the rate has declined so dramatically that ‘a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.’ But in the U.S., maternal deaths increased from 2000 to 2014. In a recent analysis by the CDC Foundation, nearly 60 percent of such deaths were preventable.
“While maternal mortality is significantly more common among African Americans, low-income women and in rural areas, pregnancy and childbirth complications kill women of every race and ethnicity, education and income level, in every part of the U.S. ProPublica and NPR spent the last several months scouring social media and other sources, ultimately identifying more than 450 expectant and new mothers who have died since 2011. . . .”
Martin and Montagne also wrote, “In recent decades, under the assumption that it had conquered maternal mortality, the American medical system has focused more on fetal and infant safety and survival than on the mother’s health and well-being. . . .”
NABJ Names Four More Award Winners
The National Association of Black Journalists announced awards this week for Leoneda Inge, Ernest Owens, Candace Smith and Jocelyn K. Allen.
In November, Smith filed a “reporter’s notebook” for ABC News, “What It Was Like as the Black Journalist Who Covered Donald Trump.”
Inge is a longtime reporter at WUNC North Carolina Public Radio in Durham.
Also on Thursday, NABJ announced the selection of Owens, editor of G Philly, an LGBTQ section of Philadelphia magazine, and Smith, segment producer for ABC News, as the Michael J. Feeney Emerging Journalists for 2017.
On Friday, NABJ said Jocelyn K. Allen would receive the 2017 Patricia L. Tobin Media Professional Award.
“In May 2015, Allen embarked on what she calls ‘Jocelyn 3.0,’ partnering with friend and colleague Chandra S. Lewis to launch The Allen Lewis Agency (TALA), a full-service marketing and communications firm.
“As CEO, Allen puts her creative thinking skills and passion for connecting individuals, brands and businesses to use daily for clients big and small,” the organization said. “Allen is a marketing and communications maestro skilled at finding and telling her clients’ stories to diverse audiences. . . .”
Honoring Mom Amid ‘Incarceration Epidemic’
“Mother’s Day is a celebration of motherhood and the influence that mothers have on society,” Elizabeth Lo wrote Thursday for the New York Times.
“But for too many American children — including those I filmed for this project — the holiday serves as a bitter reminder that their mothers are locked behind bars.
“This film follows an overnight bus program that takes some of those children to visit their parents in California prisons during the weekends around Mother’s Day (they coordinate similar trips for Father’s Day). Journeys can be as long as ten hours one-way — at the end of which children get to spend a few precious hours with their mothers. . . .”
Lo also wrote, “While completing a fellowship with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, I decided to make a documentary about this experience by focusing on the long bus journeys that children have to endure simply to be with their mothers on Mother’s Day.
“My co-director, R. J. Lozada, and I shot this project last year over many overnight bus rides to two California prisons, the Folsom Women’s Facility in Folsom and the California Institution for Women in Corona.
“We made ‘Mother’s Day’ to remind us of the steep price an entire generation of youth — and by extension, our nation — has to pay because of systems that remain broken across America. The incarceration epidemic is not just today’s problem; it’s a structural disaster that stretches across generations, and will be with us for many years to come.”
Keith W.Jenkins “will be joining NPR in a newly-created role: Director of Visual Journalism,” Sara Goo, interim managing editor, digital news, wrote to staffers this week. Jenkins will “lead not only the newsroom’s visual efforts, but visuals across all of NPR’s content initiatives, with an eye towards leveraging opportunities across our network. . . . After a long career at the Washington Post and AOL, Keith created NPR’s first multimedia team and led it to industry and audience acclaim. He joins us after four years serving in a variety of major leadership roles at National Geographic, including General Manager of Digital and Social.. . .”
“New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. is making a personal appeal to subscribers who canceled because the paper hired Bret Stephens, a conservative columnist who has questioned some of the science behind the theory of climate change and the dangers it poses,” Hadas Gold reported Friday for Politico.
Rachael Malonson, vice president of the University of Texas chapter of National Association of Black Journalists, has been crowned Miss Black University of Texas, Malonson wrote Friday for the internet newspaper the Daily Dot. “Growing up, I’ve constantly [been] questioned as to if I was black enough or even black — I have fairly straight hair and an olive skin tone that people don’t usually think fits the ‘look’ of a black or biracial woman,” Malonson told cosmopolitan.com on Wednesday.
Winners of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Awards, highlighting the best journalism of 2016 throughout 10 states in the southeast, were announced Thursday. Included are Al Diaz of the Miami Herald, sports photography, newspapers; Mary C. Curtis, serious commentary: online; for articles in Roll Call, the Undefeated, TheRoot.com and NPR; Lauren Carroll and Linda Qiu of the Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact, for public service in online journalism; Alexandra Clinton, Adeel Ahmed, Ashwin Gandbhir and Asad Faruqi of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, for videography: online or television; and Omar Mateen and the staff of Treasure Coast Newspapers/TCPalm.com, for deadline reporting: large dailies.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the departing president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and an African American, said on Friday that she would also leave the organization’s board, where she has served a cumulative 24 years, Brooks Barnes reported Friday for the New York Times.
“The suicide of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley last month has put a harsh spotlight on the suicide risk for inmates in state prison,” Jenifer McKim and Shaz Sajadi reported May 6 for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. However, “at least 42 men and women have died by suicide in Massachusetts’ county jails since 2012 . . . But almost no one is focusing on the county jail death toll . . . .”
Folio:, the magazine about magazines, has named its “Top Women in Media Honorees,” to be honored in New York on June 7. Included are “corporate visionaries,” “director-level doers,” entrepreneurs, industry leaders, mentors and “rising stars”.
“Sports Illustrated is laying off five staffers today, a source with knowledge of the situation tells The Big Lead,” Ryan Glasspiegel reported Thursday for the Big Lead. “Seth Davis confirmed to The Big Lead that he was one of the staffers laid off,” Glasspiegel wrote in an update.
“A dedication ceremony for the Kentucky Historical Society marker honoring Ted Poston, the Dean of Black Journalists in America, will be at 3:30 p.m. May 20 at Founders Square in downtown Hopkinsville,” the Kentucky New Era reported on Thursday. Opinion editor Jennifer P. Brown delivered a talk about Poston in March 2015.
“As sports and music fans statewide await the opening of the Little Caesars Arena and the ensuing demolition of Joe Louis Arena, city officials must decide how to continue to honor Louis,” Rochelle Riley wrote Tuesday for the Detroit Free Press. “Here’s how: The city should rename our convention center for Louis, thus removing the name of three-term Detroit Mayor Albert Cobo. . . .”
“As part of its ‘Detroit ‘67: Looking Back to Move Forward’ programming, the Detroit Historical Museum will host two panel discussions on the role of the media in the 1967 disorders, organized by the WGPR-TV Historical Society and the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists,” Michael H. Hodges reported Thursday for the Detroit News. “The first discussion will be 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Detroit Historical Museum. Panelists will discuss whether the recommendations of the Kerner Commission on media coverage have been implemented. . . .”
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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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.