After Donald Trump’s Defense of Putin, Media Committee Weighs In on Russian President’s Record on Journalists

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds his annual press conference in Moscow on Dec. 17, 2015.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds his annual press conference in Moscow on Dec. 17, 2015.

Trump Accepts Russian's Praise, Says Guilt Not Proved

"According to CPJ research, under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, Russia has consistently held the dishonorable record of being the worst country in the region of Europe and Central Asia at prosecuting journalists' killers," Nina Ognianova, Europe and Central Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told Journal-isms on Monday.


"Ninety percent of journalist murders in Russia, our research shows, have gone unpunished, while, according to Russia's top investigator, Aleksandr Bastrykin, the same percentage of all homicides in the country are solved. Eleven journalists have been slain with complete impunity in Russia over the past decade. As Russia's top leader, President Putin has a moral responsibility for that."

Ognianova was responding by email to an inquiry prompted by Republican front-runner Donald Trump's defense of Putin over the weekend despite assertions that Putin "kills journalists."


Judd Legum reported Friday for ThinkProgress, "Putin showered praise on Donald Trump on Thursday, calling him 'a bright and talented person,' 'outstanding,' and 'the absolute leader of 'the presidential race . . .'

"Friday morning on MSNBC, Trump returned the favor.

"Joe Scarborough pressed Trump on Putin's history as 'a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries.'

"Trump responded by defending Putin. 'He's running his country, and at least he's a leader. Unlike what he have in this country.'

"Scarborough pressed: 'But again: He kills journalists that don't agree with him.'


"Trump again brushed off the critique, telling Scarborough, 'our country does plenty of killing also, Joe.' "

The questioning continued on the Sunday talk shows.

Trip Gabriel reported for the New York Times, "The dominant Republican in the nominating race was pressed by ABC's host, George Stephanopoulos, about his seeming to draw a moral equivalence between the killings of journalists under Mr. Putin and the American government's killing of terrorists abroad . . . .


"Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee tweeted in response: 'Important distinction: thug Putin kills journalists and opponents; our presidents kill terrorists and enemy combatants.'

"Pressed by Mr. Stephanopoulos, Mr. Trump said there was no direct evidence of Mr. Putin's involvement. 'If he has killed reporters, I think that's terrible,' Mr. Trump said. 'But this isn't like somebody that's stood with a gun and he's, you know, taken the blame or he's admitted that he's killed. He's always denied it.' "


CPJ's Ognianova said Putin does not have to pull the trigger himself to bear responsibility.

She continued in her note to Journal-isms, "For years, he and his administration have consistently cracked down on independent, critical journalism in the country, creating a climate where probing reporters are marginalized, obstructed, and treated as undesirables. In such a climate, these reporters have found themselves isolated, unprotected, and vulnerable to retaliation; their enemies, in turn, have become emboldened to silence them by use of violence — the ultimate form of censorship.


"When Russia's top leader goes on the record, saying that his critics have done 'more damage to authorities' when they were murdered than through their work — as Putin said about award-winning journalist Anna Politkovskaya three days after her killing — he does not simply utter insensitive remarks. By failing to swiftly and unequivocally condemn such crimes, he passes the dangerous message to enemies of the independent press to continue their practice of silencing by the bullet, for they will surely get away with it.

"Yes, it has never been proven that President Putin has killed any journalists. But without a doubt he has made it easier for their killers to walk free."


Aaron Brown, Daily Express, Britain: Russia is COVERING UP the killing of Boris Nemtsov, claims former aide to Vladimir Putin (March 9)

Mary Dejevsky, the Independent, Britain: Who really did kill Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya? (June 13, 2014)


Owen Matthews, Newsweek: Who Really Killed Boris Nemtsov? (March 23)

Muzaffar Suleymanov, Committee to Protect Journalists: Murder of Boris Nemtsov highlights Russia's impunity record (March 5)


Rubio, Cruz Not the Latino Candidates Many Expected

"One candidate, Marco Rubio, nurtured by the sprawling Cuban-American community here, bounces effortlessly between two cultures — fritas and hamburgers, Spanish and English — in a city so comfortably bilingual that news conferences pivot between the languages," Lizette Alvarez and Manny Fernandez reported from Miami Wednesday for the New York Times.


"The other, Ted Cruz, is partial to cowboy boots, oversize belt buckles, hard-right politics and the fire-and-brimstone style of the Baptist church. Mr. Cruz, a rare Cuban-American outlier in a state where Hispanic usually means Mexican-American, attended overwhelmingly white Christian schools in Houston and prefers Spanglish to Spanish.

"Together, Senators Rubio and Cruz, of Florida and Texas, represent a watershed moment in American politics: two Hispanics running as top-tier candidates for president, and increasingly gunning for each other, in what one Latino conservative has dubbed 'the yuca primary,' referring to the popular Cuban staple and an acronym for young urban Cuban-American. Their collisions on defense, immigration and other issues formed one of the main story lines at Tuesday's Republican debate. The two have emerged as perhaps the leading alternatives to Donald J. Trump.


"But this year's campaign tale has not been the kind of Hispanic coming-of-age story many Latinos had expected, particularly given their growing numbers and influence in the polls.

"Three years after Republicans vowed to do a better job courting Latinos in the wake of their 2012 presidential defeat, the party has done the opposite as immigrants come under repeated assault by Mr. Trump.


"The harsh tone and the increasingly restrictive policies on immigration that have been floated have complicated the prospects of Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio who, as Latinos, had a head start with Hispanic voters. . . ."

Success Story: "Why I Stopped Talking Like Ben Carson"

"If Ben Carson's political career is built on anything, it's his inspirational story.


"For two decades he’s been selling books and drawing crowds with his 'you control your own destiny' message, convincing millions that hard work and determination can lead a black child out of poverty and on to professional notoriety and success," Issac J. Bailey wrote Dec. 13 for Politico Magazine.

"For years, that was me, too," Bailey continued.

Bailey, a longtime columnist at the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C., left the paper in September after 18 years to pursue other projects.


"Whenever I spoke in public I would talk about how I was born into destitution in rural South Carolina to a woman who married at 13 and to a man who beat her like clockwork every weekend for most of my young life. I would talk about how my oldest brother went to prison for murder when I was nine years old (and a few other brothers eventually followed him there) and how the ill-equipped high school my 10 siblings and I attended wasn't desegregated for more than four decades after Brown v. Board of Education.

"Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against me, I would tell my audience, through my hard work and perseverance, I graduated from one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, Davidson College, and went on to become a successful columnist and published author and was eventually invited to spend a year studying at Harvard. I've rubbed shoulders with governors and multi-millionaires, interviewed Barack Obama.


"And then I stopped telling that story.

"It felt great to narrate, but I started to notice that my audience members, far from becoming more sympathetic, began hurling my tale as an indictment of those still mired in the muck of the kind of struggle I experienced. 'You made it; why can't they?' people would say to me as they thanked me for my 'inspiring' words. 'You worked hard and have been rewarded. Why aren't they doing the same?' The story was doing precisely the opposite of what I wanted. It hardened, rather than softened hearts. . . ."


Nelson Balido, Fox News Latino: GOP Vegas debate reveals fault lines on security and immigration

Leah Donnella, NPR "Code Switch": 'Sometimes Progress Is A Little Uncomfortable': President Obama On Identity Politics


Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune: We are not Donald Trump

Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas Morning News: My holiday gifts for Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz


Jim Mitchell, Dallas Morning News: Guess what interviewer got Trump to concede he could be a "loser?"

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Cruz talks himself into a knot on immigration


Tod Robberson, Dallas Morning News: Latest reviews on Trump: 'Jerk,' 'pathological liar,' a guy only Putin could love

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The great fracturing of the Republican Party

Jay Rosen, "Influential news outlets have set aside traditional notions of balance…"


Julio Ricardo Varela, Latino USA: Are Cruz and Rubio 'Traitors' to Latinos or Do They Just Have Different Views? (Dec. 15)

"R. Kelly sat down with HuffPost Live for a bizarre 20-minute interview Monday, in which he asked host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani if she drank, asked whether she knew what a deposition was, questioned her intelligence, and threatened to leave and go to McDonald's before ultimately walking off set," Emily Tess Katz reported for HuffPost BlackVoices.R. Kelly Walks Off "HuffPost Live" Interview


"The 'Ignition' singer was angry after being asked how his sexual abuse allegations had impacted sales of his album, which is projected to sell 100,000 copies less than his 2013 album Black Panties.

"When asked how he would respond to fans who are hesitant to support the album due to his controversial history, Kelly's message was simple: "F**k that."


" 'You can't satisfy everybody,' he continued. 'I will continue to do my job until I get fired, and the only people who can fire me are my fans.' . . ."

Jamilah King, Here's What the Media Is Missing About Steve Harvey's Miss Universe Gaffe


Kevin O'Keeffe, What Will It Take for the World to Turn Against R. Kelly Like It Did Bill Cosby?

Tom Joyner Show Moving From FM to AM in D.C.

Less than three weeks after published an anonymously sourced story saying "Radio legend and first African-American nationally syndicated host Tom Joyner getting the boot timed to President's exit from White House," Radio One in the nation's capital said that in January, it is moving Joyner's show from its longtime FM perch to an AM station.


"The Tom Joyner Morning Show that has been on the air for over 20 years in DC will continue to empower listeners with information and entertainment," reported. "Broadcasting on nearly 100 stations nationally and reaching 7.4M listeners, Tom Joyner remains the top urban radio personality. The Tom Joyner Morning Show will continue to be the morning show DC listeners awaken to, but now on the heritage station WOL1450 AM in addition to a number of HD2 stations. . . . ."

Dubbed "the morning mayor" for many black listeners, Joyner features journalists Roland Martin and Don Lemon on his show along with its comedy and music and is on President Obama's list for a telephone call-in when he has a message targeted to Joyner's audience.


N.Y. Times Rethinks Anonymous Sources After Mistake

"The executive editor of The New York Times says his paper's erroneous report on the San Bernardino terrorists' social media use was 'a really big mistake,' and would cause the Times to reconsider its use of anonymous sources," Dylan Byers reported Friday for


" 'More than anything since I've become editor it does make me think we need to do something about how we handle anonymous sources,' Dean Baquet told Margaret Sullivan, the Times' public editor, on Friday. 'This was a system failure that we have to fix.'

"The report, which appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition, claimed that Tashfeen Malik had 'talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad,' and that these postings had gone 'uncovered' by American law enforcement authorities.


"The Times was forced to revise its report on Thursday after FBI Director James Comey told reporters that both Malik and her husband, Syed Farook, never posted publicly on social media about their views, but had instead communicated via 'direct, private messages.' Comey dismissed the Times report as inaccurate 'garble.'

"President Obama also appeared to address the report during a press conference on Friday. 'The issue of reviewing social media for those who are obtaining visas, I think may have gotten garbled a little bit,' Obama said. 'It's important to distinguish between posts that are public… versus private communications.' . . ."


Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post: When Muslims are the target, prominent religious freedom advocates largely go quiet (Dec. 10)



Stephen Franklin, Poynter Institute: Writing about Muslims: What journalists need to know

Barbara L. McQuade, Detroit Free Press: Threats against Muslim Americans jeopardize U.S. security


Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Racism, America's Original Terror

R.L. Nave, Jackson (Miss.) Free Press: 'What the Religion Teaches': Feeding the Homeless in Smith Park


Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Huffington Post: Media Has Symbiotic Ties With ISIS? Ignoring Other Terrorist Groups

Raul A. Reyes, NBC News Latino: Latino Muslims Live Their Lives At The Intersection Of Three Cultures


Samanth Subramanian, the New Yorker: The Hit List: The Islamist war on secular bloggers in Bangladesh.

Margaret Sullivan, New York Times: Systemic Change Needed After Faulty Times Article


Media Faulted in Coverage of World Refugee Crisis

"An international report on media and the global migration and refugee crisis, issued today to coincide with International Migrants Day (December 18), says journalists often fail to tell the full story and routinely fall into propaganda traps laid by politicians," the globally based Ethical Journalism Network reported on Thursday.


"The report, Moving Stories, is published by the Ethical Journalism Network and reviews media coverage of migration in the European Union and in 14 countries across the globe.

" 'Around the world media coverage is often politically led with journalists following an agenda dominated by loose language and talk of invasion and swarms,' said Aidan White, EJN Director. 'But at other moments the story is laced with humanity, empathy and a focus on the suffering of those involved.'


"The 100-page report highlights

"Missed Opportunities: How journalists and media in Europe failed to raise the alarm about an imminent influx of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, even though the story was there to be told a year before the crisis broke in 2015;

"Hate-Speech: How outrageous anti-migrant or anti-Muslim statements by politicians like Donald Trump in the United States and some European leaders fuelled increasing public concern and hijacked media coverage;

"Falling Standards: How media fail to provide detailed and reliable information about the refugee crisis because of a lack of editorial resources or the presence of well-informed journalists able to provide in-depth and sensitive reporting;

"Sensationalism: How much journalism is driven by hyperbole, intolerance and distortion with media in confusion over what are the correct terms to use to describe migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers. . . ."


Kevin Sieff, Washington Post: E.U. launches $2 billion plan to keep Africans from migrating

Univision, Televisa to Boost Training for Media, Tech Jobs

Univision Communications Inc. and Grupo Televisa, S.A.B., "two of the world’s leading media companies focused on serving Hispanics, today announced plans to expand upon their existing programs to provide more opportunities for Latinos in the U.S. media and technology sectors in 2016," the companies said on Monday.


"The new efforts will include a wide variety of education, mentorship and career development programs.

"As the economic, political and cultural impact of Hispanic Americans continues to grow, Univision and Televisa believe it is critically important for Latinos to play a leading role in participating in and shaping the media industry in the United States. Accordingly, the two companies have joined forces to accomplish two overarching goals: 1) Strengthen and expand their existing efforts to increase the pipeline of Latinos in media and technology; and 2) Develop and educate future media leaders and professionals.


"Commenting on the initiative, Alex Nogales the president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said: 'One of my lifelong goals has been to provide access to careers in media for future generations of U.S. Hispanics, and to create opportunities for Latinos both behind and in front of the camera. That is why we are supporting the joint initiative announced today by Univision and Televisa — because it will create opportunities for a new generation in our industry at this critical time when it's so important for diverse voices to be heard.' . . ."

Under the title "Strengthening the Pipeline of Latinos in Media & Technology," the companies listed:

"Production Projects . . .

"Writers Programs . . .

"Development Fellowships . . .

"Incubator Programs . . .

"Entrepreneurial Development Opportunities . . .

"STEM and Media . . .

"School Programs . . .

"Scholarships, Internships & Fellowships . . ."

Soni Sangha, Fox News Latino: Census: Latinos are making more money, but gap among ethnic groups still wide (Dec. 10)


Editorial: Removing Statues Embraces Future, Not Past

"The decision to remove four Confederate monuments from the heart of New Orleans came down to an essential question: What kind of city do we aspire to be?" the editorial board of | the Times-Picayune wrote on Friday under the headline, "With vote to remove Confederate monuments, City Council embraces New Orleans' future."


"Is New Orleans the inclusive, tolerant place we tell the world it is?" it continued. "Are we committed to healing racial divisions? Are we dedicated to fairness and equality?

"We must be.

"That was the essence of the City Council's vote Thursday (Dec. 17) to take down statues of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and a monument to a Confederate rebellion. . . ."


"The case for moving the statues was powerful. Not only do these monuments honor men who fought for slavery, they are symbols of the institutional oppression of African-Americans during the century after the Civil War.

"Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis eloquently described the damage done in a guest column for | The Times-Picayune: 'The pernicious effects of this legacy are clearly evidenced by gross inequalities in everything from education to housing, to employment and access. We are accustomed to these conditions and perhaps don't see them, but we are capable of being so much more. It's time to live up to our potential, not down to the flaws that we have inherited.' . . ."


Mike Cason, Rep. Alvin Holmes wants emblem with Confederate flag off Alabama troopers' uniforms

Cary Clack, San Antonio Express-News: Slavery's legacy is in our blood

Jarvis DeBerry, | the Times-Picayune: You can't love freedom and Confederate monuments 

Advertisement Confederate flag controversies heat up for the holidays 

Allyson Hobbs, the New Yorker: A Hundred Years Later, "The Birth of a Nation" Hasn't Gone Away (Dec. 13)


Errol Louis, Daily News, New York: The new attack on voting rights: It's Southern states against their black citizens (Dec. 8)

David A. Love, HuffPost BlackVoices: What Is in a Name? (Dec. 9)

Travis Williams, Roanoke (Va.) Times: Confederate flap leads to new course in Montgomery County


Short Takes

"Vogue magazine has always been deemed the ultimate purveyor of fashion, style and societal trends. And now it wants to be known as the destination for diversity," David Yi reported Friday for Mashable. "Come 2016, the high fashion publication, under the direction of Conde Nast's artistic director and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, will begin efforts to expand its reach to be more inclusive. It's one of the first times the fashion bible has outright declared diversity to be en vogue, and it's starting with the January 2016 issue.


The University of Michigan is seeking a successor to Charles R. Eisendrath, who is retiring July 1 after 40 years at the university, 35 running the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists and 30 directing the Knight-Wallace Fellowships. A detailed job description and information on how to apply is available here. Applications should be submitted by Jan. 10. Eisendrath turned 75 in October and discussed his retirement that month withSteve Friess of Columbia Journalism Review.

BuzzFeed has selected its first recipients of its Emerging Writers Fellowship, which has a "mission of diversifying the broader media landscape by investing in the next generation of necessary voices." The four-month fellowships "give writers of great promise the support, mentorship, and experience necessary to take a transformative step forward in their careers" and also include a $12,000 stipend. Selected from among 500 applications were Chaya Babu, Niela Orr, Esther Wang and Tomi Obaro, Saeed Jones, BuzzFeed executive editor, culture, announced on Friday.


Fusion announced on Thursday "that anchors Jorge Ramos (@JorgeRamosNews) and Alicia Menendez . . . will be joined by FUSION contributor Akilah Hughes . . . and New York Magazine Writer-at-Large Rembert Browne . . . as questioners during the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum for Democratic candidates on January 11. . . . "

"The nation's largest janitorial company has agreed to an outside review of rape claims made by its female janitors in California, adding a new layer of oversight for a company with a history of facing accusations that it failed to prevent sexual violence," Andrew Donohue reported Dec. 10 for "ABM Industries Inc. made the pledge as part of a settlement announced Wednesday night with Maria Bojorquez, a former employee who said she was raped by a supervisor while cleaning San Francisco's Ferry Building in 2004. ABM, and the Bojorquez case specifically, was featured prominently in Rape on the Night Shift, a recent investigation into sexual abuse in the janitorial industry by Reveal, the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program, KQED, Univision and FRONTLINE. . . ."


"Harry Porterfield, dean of Chicago television news anchors whose signature series was 'Someone You Should Know,' is stepping down [accessible via search engine] after a legendary career spanning more than 50 years, CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 announced Thursday," Robert Feder reported Thursday "Porterfield, 87, who most recently co-anchored the 11 a.m. weekday newscast with Roseanne Tellez, made his final appearance on the air last Friday. . . ." Scott Jones added for on Monday, "Porterfield says he didn't retire, he was fired. 'When they tell you that your contract is not being renewed, that means you’re fired. I can't think of any other interpretation to give to that: "We don’t want you working here. Your contract will not be renewed." That means you're fired.' . . .”

"Veteran anchors Eric Thomas and Kristen Sze are leaving the morning news after 13 years together, but they're not leaving ABC7!," KGO-TV in San Francisco announced on Thursday. It also said, "Both are moving to other roles at ABC7. Kristen will co-anchor our 5 p.m. newscast with Dan Ashley and Eric will anchor the weekend evening newscasts. . . ."


"With newspaper staffs shrinking and the business bleeding red ink amid tough financial times, you don’t expect anybody to launch a print-newspaper venture," R.L. Bynum reported Dec. 14 for Raleigh & Company in North Carolina. "But, by late February or early March, most North Carolina residents will be able to have a new morning statewide newspaper, the North State Journal, delivered five days a week (Tuesday-Friday and Sunday). . . ."

"In an effort to garner some needed goodwill, Volkswagen earlier this month placed advertisements in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and 28 other newspapers apologizing to what it called its 'trusted consumer' base for its misdeeds," Stacy M. Brown reported Wednesday for the Washington Informer. "Those ads were not placed in any of the more than 200 National Newspaper Publishers Association Black-owned newspapers that carry a combined weekly readership of more than 20 million people. Nor were they placed in any of the National Association of Hispanic Publications newspapers, which serve 41 markets in 39 states with a combined circulation of more than 23 million readers, according to the NAHP. . . ."


"NPR named Sara Kehaulani Goo deputy managing editor of digital news, she announced Friday on Twitter," Tracie Powell reported Friday for "Currently Goo is the editor of Fact Tank, Pew Research Center's real-time data storytelling platform. Before Pew, Goo spent 11 years at The Washington Post where her last assignment was as real estate editor. . . ."

"It was a tale of two Baltimores on Wednesday afternoon and evening, depending on whether you were watching local or national coverage of the city in the wake of a hung jury in the first trial in the Freddie Gray case," [accessible via search engine] David Zurawik wrote Wednesday for the Baltimore Sun. "Some network and cable journalists described a city on the edge, about to break out in violence — while local TV reporters and anchors repeatedly used the word 'peaceful' to accompany overhead helicopter shots of protesters downtown and in the Penn North neighborhood. . . ."


"Margarita Noriega has started a new job as Director of Social Media at Newsweek," Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for her Media Moves site. "She's based in New York and reports to Managing Editor Kira Bindrim. She arrives to Newsweek after a brief stint as an Editor for, working in Washington, D.C. . . ."

Maurice DuBois, an anchor at WCBS-TV in New York, was substitute host Monday on the "CBS Evening News," a task he has undertaken several times.


"We launched 'What was Fake' in May 2014 in response to what seemed, at the time, like an epidemic of urban legends and Internet pranks: light-hearted, silly things, for the most part, like new flavors of Oreos and babies with absurd names," Caitlin Dewey reported Friday for the Washington Post. "Since then, those sorts of rumors and pranks haven't slowed down, exactly, but the pace and tenor of fake news has changed. . . . there's Now8News, which runs outrageous crime stories next to the stolen mugshots of poor, often black, people; or World News Daily Report, which delights in inventing items about foreigners, often Muslims, having sex with or killing animals. . . .'What Was Fake' has had a good run, but the nature of Internet misinformation has changed — so as the year winds up, we're going to change, as well. . . .

In the Indianapolis Star on Monday, sports reporter Dana Hunsinger Benbow asked Jason Whitlock, "How did the ESPN website 'The Undefeated' go from being your brainchild to you being pulled from the project?" Whitlock replied, "Ha. Tough question to answer in a small space. A non-corporate, non-PC person trying to muster internal corporate support to do an ambitious, revolutionary project inside an establishment brand would make a great documentary. I just finished watching Netflix's outstanding doc 'Making a Murderer.' Mine would be called 'Making a Scapegoat.' LOL. Seriously, I was the wrong fit at ESPN. . . ."

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