Amanpour Fails to Challenge Franklin Graham Assertions

ABC-TV's Christiane Amanpour gave a prominent Easter Sunday platform to the "birther" views of the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, failing to correct him when he claimed that President Obama had not produced his birth certificate.

Graham also questioned whether Obama was a Christian. "As it relates to Muslim, there are many people that do wonder where he really stands on that. Now, he has told me that he is a Christian. But the debate comes, what is a Christian?" he told Amanpour.


By contrast, the "birther" question was also broached on NBC's "Meet the Press," when host David Gregory mentioned prospective GOP nominee Donald Trump to Anita Dunn, Obama's former communications director. But Gregory quickly stated that Obama was born in the United States.

"He also has controversial views, Anita Dunn," Gregory said of Trump. "Just to name a couple, that he would go in in Libya and actually take oil wells away, take control of the oil. He's got a very — some facile answers for some of the more vexing problems on the international arena. Again, within the White House, they love to hear him talked about, they love to see him a force, but they get particularly angry when he gets more attention on this birther business, whether the president was born in the United States, which he was."

CNN, meanwhile, was engaging Trump's "birther" views with Trump himself and exposed them as bogus.


As Eric Deggans wrote Tuesday on his St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times blog, "By the end of a contentious interview with anchor Anderson Cooper, Trump was stuck insisting on supposed facts he couldn't prove: that President Obama's birth certificate is supposedly missing; that there are no details about his birth; that his grandmother initially said in an interview that he was born in Kenya and changed her story when the impact of her statement was known."

Graham's comments and Amanpour's indulgence of them quickly lit up the progressive blogosphere, and on Monday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about them.

"I would just say I think it's unfortunate that a religious leader would choose Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges. And I'll leave it at that," Carney said.


ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider did not respond to a request to comment on Amanpour's failure to challenge Graham or why Graham was chosen as the lead Christian spokesman for "This Week's" "God and Government" discussion.

Amanpour asked, "President Obama has come to you and your father, you've all prayed together. How would you say he's doing?

GRAHAM: "I think he's a very nice man. I think he's a very gracious person. But I think our country is in big trouble.


AMANPOUR: "Does it bother you that people — like Donald Trump for instance right now — are making another huge big deal about birth certificates and whether he's a Muslim or a Christian and where he was born?

GRAHAM: "Well, the president, I know, has some issues to deal with here. He can solve this whole birth certificate issue pretty quickly. I don't — I was born in a hospital in Ashville, North Carolina, and I know that my records are there. You can probably even go and find out what room my mother was in when I was born.

"I don't know why he can't produce that. So, I'm not — I don't know, but it's an issue that looks like he could answer pretty quickly."


In 2008, the Obama presidential campaign posted Obama's birth certificate on a site called "Fight the Smears," showing Obama to have been born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961.

Graham was introduced as one "who continues his father's crusades, preaching to millions of people around the world. He also serves as the president of Samaritan's Purse, an international aid organization that does relief work in the developing world with missionary zeal."

A New York Times/CBS News Poll released on Thursday found that 45 percent of Republicans think that Obama was born in another country, while 33 percent said he was born in America.


Last fall, ABC News invited Andrew Breitbart, the blogger who released the edited tape that made Agriculture Department manager Shirley Sherrod seem like a bigot, to be part of its election night coverage. After Breitbart challenged ABC's explanation that he was to be included only as an online participant in its election-night "digital town hall," ABC dropped him.


TV Crew Taken for Crime Suspects in 20-Minute Nightmare

A five-member television news crew that included an African American driver, a Latino cameraman and a photographer mistaken for Hispanic were surrounded by Los Angeles police, and four of them made to lie on the hot pavement. Their SUV was mistaken for a vehicle involved in an armed robbery, members of the crew told Journal-isms.

The incident took place Thursday in Hollywood, Jonathan Alcorn, 45, mistaken for Hispanic, told Journal-isms. "It was scary. I was doing this forever, but this was the scariest moment I ever had — including crazy wildfires and all kinds of stuff."


"Two male suspects took an ID, a gold watch and a ring from someone on the street. One of the suspects was carrying a semi-automatic handgun, police said," KTLA-TV reported.

"About an hour after the robbery, an LAPD air unit started following a vehicle that matched the description of the suspect vehicle — a dark-colored Yukon.

"Police said it turned out to be the wrong car." Only when the last one out of the SUV turned out to be a woman did the police realize they might have made a mistake, Alcorn said.


The crew's assignment was for Bloomberg News.

Alcorn blogged about it afterward. "Today started as another day of work, and as I sit here at home writing this down I realize how it could have easily been my last day," his account began. "The assignment was to go out with a TV crew to do a story on paparazzi and we were riding along with a seasoned pap who agreed to let us ride along with him for the day. All five of us pile in to his SUV."

"Pap" stands for paparazzi, and the seasoned pap was Giles Harrison, 49, founder of the London Entertainment Group, "a full service photo agency specializing in breaking news, events, celebrities and pop culture," according to its website.


Alcorn continued, " … I heard a police siren behind us in the parking lot, Giles says 'are they pulling me over' and I said, no way. That's when he said they had guns pulled and pointed at us. I'm thinking he's joking and I turned around and I see about ten LAPD cops with guns and rifles pointed right at me as I looked out the window at them. For a brief second I consider picking up my camera for a photo, followed immediately by my realization of the severity of a situation, that this was a life threatening situation, I had never had guns pointed at me before like this ever, holy shit! No way am I pointing a camera at them, I knew they would open fire. I yell out to them, 'we're are journalists working on a story' 'SHUT UP AND FACE FORWARD' I'm not sure if this is really happening, it really felt like a surreal dream. I definitely do not want to die. … "

After 20 minutes, Alcorn told Journal-isms, "They did apologize to us. They tried to explain it away. Not only did they make a mistake, but they made it with people who are going to talk about it."

He wrote in his blog, "The officer tells me I looked like one of the armed robber descriptions 'a Hispanic male with a black hat' and … they were 'driving a dark SUV' … Ok, I can tell he's sorry, but damn man, you guys almost killed me I'm thinking … "


Harrison said the incident "gave me an appreciation for why people get shot in these situations. Obviously, being black, it occurred to me" something like this could happen, "but until you experience it," he said. "you see that they shoot first and ask questions later, and don't give so much of a shit when they realize they're wrong."

Asked whether the police apologized, Harrison said, "I think I need something a little more substantial. I was made to lie down on the hot pavement. As soon as the camera got out of the car, they should have seen something was wrong."

However, he began the conversation by saying, "It's not that big a deal" when one realizes he could have been shot.


St. Louis Beacon Leads Community Talks on Diversity

"When the St. Louis Beacon launched three years ago, its staff made a conscious effort to get out into the community. They wanted to engage with readers not just online, but in person — at museums, coffee shops and hipster bars," Mallary Jean Tenore wrote Monday for the Poynter Institute.

"The nonprofit site, which covers a range of topics in the St. Louis region, frequently hosts meetups for community members who want to talk about diversity. And it has created local partnerships that have enabled it to reach new audiences in-person, online and on air.


"Recently, I talked with St. Louis Beacon Editor Margaret Freivogel and Associate Editor Robert Duffy to find out more about how the staff's engagement efforts have helped both the site and the community.

" … Every other Monday, Duffy heads to a local bar to lead a conversation about diversity. He's led the conversations at various places throughout the city — at the Royale, a hipster bar in South St. Louis; the Schlafly Tap Room near downtown; and most recently the Six Row Brew House in midtown.

"The conversations tend to attract a variety of community members, ranging from college students to an octogenarian college professor. Some weeks, two or three people show up. Other weeks, a dozen or more do. Participants have talked about tensions between African Americans and Jews, discrimination in housing, and 'the brown paper bag test,' which distinguishes light-skinned African Americans from dark-skinned ones.


"Duffy, who's sometimes joined by other Beacon staffers, said he's developed a connection with participants by sharing his own experiences.

" 'We talk freely about discriminations we have felt personally; I've made no secret of the fact that I am gay, and that raised some eyebrows at first,' Duffy said, noting that diversity coverage is integral to the site's mission. 'I think because we are all so frank about our situations, the participants feel it is safe to be frank.' "

U.S. Fascination With Royal Wedding Leaves Him Cold

" … There are some things about British life that bear translation to Americans," Gary Younge, New York correspondent for Britain's Guardian newspaper, wrote on Thursday.


"How the National Health Service works and (to right-wingers) why it is so popular; how a game like cricket can last five days and stop for tea; and the relationship of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom — these are no more obvious in the United States than the appeal of American football and the Second Amendment is to the British.

"But the one thing I thought I'd never have to explain is why the monarchy is a bad idea. That, after all, is the whole point of everything the United States claims to be about. The New World. The American Revolution. The end of inherited entitlement. The home of reinvention, class fluidity and social mobility. The myths that underpin this country's founding credo, for liberals and conservatives (albeit in different ways), are all informed by the overthrow of monarchy. That's why the president is called 'Mr. President' — for all the trappings of office and power, he's supposed to have the same title as everybody else.

"So when Americans fawn over the forthcoming royal wedding, paying it more attention and apparently regarding it with more reverence than they would the nuptials of a president's daughter, I'm compelled to do a double take. When liberals and leftists ask me what I think of Prince William marrying Kate Middleton, I assume they are asking about the huge sums of public money being spent at a time of swingeing cuts or the volumes of ink spilled about her dress and the guest list while revolutions upend regions and economies implode. If I discover that what they really mean is, what do I think of him marrying a commoner and do I think it will last, my eyes roll and my blood pressure rises."


Elvis Mitchell Dismissal No Reason to Distrust Film Critics

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"Elvis Mitchell, a former film critic for the New York Times, has reportedly been dismissed from his most recent job as chief critic for Movieline," Jen Chaney reported Monday for the Washington Post. "According to a Deadline report, Mitchell lost the gig, one he had held for three months, because of a dispute regarding his review of 'Source Code.'

"In his review, Mitchell makes reference to a pipe that Jeffrey Wright's character smokes — which caught the attention of 'Code' director Duncan Jones. 'Find it odd Movieline [chose] to complain about Jeffrey Wright smoking a pipe, something in an old draft of the script that's not in the film,' Jones subsequently tweeted. That raised questions about whether Mitchell actually saw the movie or simply wrote his review based on a version of the screenplay he had read. (Fellow critics have since confirmed that they saw him at a screening in New York.)

"Veteran film writer Anne Thompson suggests that Mitchell may have gotten the ax for reasons completely unrelated to the latest Jake Gyllenhaal thriller: namely, that Movieline is trying to cut costs, and the film expert, who once had his own series on Turner Classic Movies, has a reputation for being flaky.


"Whatever the explanation, this episode — which has already sparked spirited online conversation in the filmmaking and reviewing community — is one of those moments that some may be tempted to point to and say: 'See? Can't trust film critics.' But they shouldn't. … "

Comcast Not Ready to Carry Al Jazeera English

"For all the goodwill being shown to Al Jazeera English in both the government and the press these days, the channel is still having trouble making inroads with U.S. cable providers," Keach Hagey wrote Friday for Politico.


"Comcast is 'not currently in active talks' to carry the channel, according to a letter acquired by Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media, one of Al Jazeera's most vocal critics.

"Al Jazeera English Managing Director Al Anstey and two other AJE executives met with Comcast and several other cable providers in February, during a trip designed to capitalize on the channel's newfound popularity for its coverage of the Arab Spring."

Nominate a J-Educator Who Has Helped Diversity

The National Conference of Editorial Writers annually grants a Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship — actually an award — "in recognition of an educator's outstanding efforts to encourage minority students in the field of journalism." The educator should be at the college level.


Nominations, which are now being accepted for the 2011 award, should consist of a statement about why you believe your nominee is deserving.

The final selection will be made by the NCEW Foundation board and will be announced in time for the Sept. 15-17 NCEW convention in Indianapolis, when the presentation will be made.

Since 2000, an honorarium of $1,000 has been awarded the recipient, to be used to "further work in progress or begin a new project."


Past winners include James Hawkins, Florida A&M University (1990), Larry Kaggwa, Howard University (1992), Ben Holman, University of Maryland (1996); Linda Jones, Roosevelt University, Chicago (1998), Ramon Chavez, University of Colorado, Boulder (1999), Erna Smith of San Francisco State (2000), Joseph Selden of Penn State (2001), Cheryl Smith; Paul Quinn College (2002), Rose Richard, Marquette University (2003), Leara D. Rhodes, University of Georgia (2004), Denny McAuliffe, University of Montana (2005), Pearl Stewart, Black College Wire (2006), Valerie White, Florida A&M University (2007), Phillip Dixon, Howard University (2008), Bruce DePyssler, North Carolina Central University (2009) and Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University (2010).

Nominations may be emailed to Richard Prince, NCEW Diversity Committee chair, richardprince (at) The deadline is May 21.

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