After two debates in which domestic concerns of particular interest to people of color were barely mentioned, moderator Candy Crowley of CNN said Tuesday night that she made a deliberate effort to raise such issues as gun control, immigration and long-term unemployment in that evening's town hall presidential debate.
While the questions for President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came mostly from an audience of 82 undecided voters, Crowley chose the questioners and knew what they planned to ask.
The makeup of that audience didn't go unnoticed. The Rev. Al Sharpton observed in MSNBC's post-debate commentary, "I'm amazed that in Nassau County," N.Y., site of the Hofstra University debate, "only one African American could ask a question. . . . Two Latinos was not a diverse audience."
But Crowley said later on CNN that in selecting the questioners, she wanted "to make sure that we had some variety in; we didn't want all white guys or all white women. . .
"We wanted to cover subjects that maybe folks hadn't heard about but still were interested in and I think — ," Crowley said.
"Immigration, gun control, and women's issues," CNN's Soledad O'Brien interjected in the post-debate interview.
"Gun control and immigration and women's issues were the three big ones," Crowley continued.
"Climate change, I had that question. All you climate change people. We just ‹ you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing, so you knew you kind of wanted to go with the economy, maybe the gas prices again was something that hadn't come up. So that was part of it. Part of it was kind of a variety of questions that were important but had not yet been kind of fully aired at least in this large of a forum.
"The next question, you know, was to make sure that we had some variety in, we didn't want all white guys or all white women, or you know, we tried to get some kind of with what we were given, some kind of variety in the questions. And we also were, you know, thinking of where are they going to go with this that's new."
Instant polls by CNN and CBS News declared Obama the winner. According to Keli Goff of theRoot.com, Obama's success was in part due to a decision to come out swinging, despite fears by some that he would be viewed as an "angry black man."
"In his very first response in Tuesday's debate the president skipped trying to be Mr. Likable," Goff wrote. "He didn't thank the hosts, the moderator or Mitt Romney, or give a shoutout to his wife. He simply answered the question and immediately attacked his opponent for saying, 'We should let Detroit go bankrupt.' He used the same approach in response after response, and for the most part it worked. He didn't look confrontational, or even angry most of the time.
"And when he did look and sound angry, such as when he strongly rebuked Romney's characterization of his administration's handling of the diplomatic tragedy in Libya, he managed to do so while sounding presidential."
Tom Cohen reported for CNN, "A snap CNN/ORC International poll indicated that 46% of respondents thought Obama won, compared to 39% for Romney. The result was within the survey's margin of error, and responses to other questions showed the overall impression was generally positive for both candidates.
"After the first debate on October 3 in Denver, a similar poll showed Romney scored a solid victory in the eyes of more than 60% of respondents."
CBS News reported, ". . . Moments following the debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., 37 percent of voters polled said the president won, 30 percent awarded the victory to Romney, and 33 percent called it a tie."
The immigration question came from audience member Lorraine Osario. "What do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green card that are currently living here as productive members of society?" she asked.
Some noticed the semantics as well as the substance in the answer. Adrian Carrasquillo noted on NBCLatino.com, ". . . When delving into what he means by self-deportation, Romney used controversial language that many Latinos and Hispanic organizations take issue with.
" 'What I was saying is, we're not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented illegals, and take them out of the nation,' he said. 'Instead let people make their own choice. And if they ‹ if they find that ‹ that they can't get the benefits here that they want and they can't and they can't find the job they want, then they'll make a decision to go a place where where they have better opportunities.
"Obama used the term 'undocumented immigrants.'
"Many noticed Romney's use of 'undocumented illegals' and took issue with it on Twitter."
Jose Antonio Vargas, the journalist who has advocated for people in the country illegally, as he is, urged on Facebook that the debate answers be placed in perspective.
"I, for one, do not care about who won tonight's debate," Vargas wrote. "(Though President Obama, energized like a can of Red Bull, more than made up for his anemic performance in the first debate.) Still, this horserace, who's-up, who's-down coverage [does] not solve our complex problems ‹ like immigration.
"Finally, both candidates addressed the issue. Though the president has offered relief to DREAMers under age 30, Obama has not been perfect [on] immigration. (Two words: Secure Communities, which divides families.) But this equation, I think, sums up what happened tonight:
"Mitt Romney + 'self-deportation' x 'illegals' = losing the growing Latino & Asian immigrant vote, which is critical in swing states such as Colorado, Florida and North Carolina."
Nina Gonzalez, another audience member, raised the topic of guns. "President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?"
The question led both candidates to call attention to the cultural roots of violence.
". . . if there's a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically," Romney said. "The opportunities that the child will will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity, and bring them in the American system. . . ."
Obama slipped in a mention of the gun violence in his Chicago hometown, a tragedy his critics have long urged should claim more of his attention. ". . . what I'm trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally," Obama said.
"Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there's an awful lot of violence and they're not using AK-47s. They're using cheap handguns.
"And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have opportunity; that our schools are working; that if there's violence on the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can catch it before it gets out of control. . . ."
The sole African American questioner, Michael Jones, asked, "Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I'm not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive."
Jones wasn't getting much applause in social media. He was mocked on Facebook in a posting that showed him asking the question and the inscription, "I'm sorry bruh! They promised me ribs!"
Women's issues generated the most buzz, however, perhaps reinforcing arguments about the difference female moderators can make.
"The biggest winner during Tuesday night's town hall presidential debate may have been 'binders full of women,' " Timothy Stenovec wrote for the Huffington Post.
"In response to a question about what the candidates would do to address gender inequality in the workplace, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that when he was governor and looking to fill his cabinet, women's groups brought him 'whole binders full women.'
"Twitter users immediately latched onto the comment, with 'binders' and 'binders full of women' being mentioned at one point in the evening more than 40,000 times in one minute, according to data from Topsy, a social web analytics tool."
- Peter Baker, New York Times: For the President, Punch, Punch, Another Punch
- David Bauder, Associated Press: Crowley Approach Highlights Moderator Role
- Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: No contest, Obama won Hofstra debate
- Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Liveblogging the Second Presidential Debate
- Fox News Latino with Associated Press: Presidential Debate: Candidates Come Out Swinging, Discuss Immigration
- Patrick Gavin, Politico: Study: More slurs at Barack Obama than Mitt Romney
- Amber Genuske, Huffington Post: Obama Tramples Candy Crowley During Second Presidential Debate (VIDEO)
- Todd Graham, CNN.com: Debate coach: Why Obama was stellar this time
- Rick Horowitz, Huffington Post: So Many Mitts, So Little Time! (Video)
- Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post: A Modest Proposal for Debates That Actually Test How a Presidential Candidate Would Handle the Job
- Michael Kranish, Boston Globe: Audience questions underscore nation's wounds
- Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times: Poor go unheard in presidential race
- Jack Mirkinson and Rebecca Shapiro, Huffington Post: Candy Crowley Debate Moderating: CNN Host Spars With Romney Over Time (VIDEO)
- Joy-Ann Reid, theGrio.com: Romney menaces, but Obama emerges as the alpha male in 2nd presidential debate
- Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: A clear win for Obama
- Courtney Rubin, openforum.com: Poll: Small Business Owners Slowly Shifting to Obama (Oct. 9)
- Krissah Thompson, Washington Post: Romney and Obama clash on immigration
- Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Presidential debate: Did conservative media hurt Romney on Libya?
- Gary Younge, the Guardian, Britain: Self-assured Obama recovers with better balance of style and substance
"What if one day you looked in the mirror and saw the most powerful man in the world staring back at you?" Ryan Murdock asked Monday on the New York Times website. "In this Op-Doc video, we meet Louis Ortiz, an unemployed Puerto Rican man from the Bronx, whose life turned upside down when he discovered his uncanny resemblance to President Obama.
"The first time I talked to Mr. Ortiz on the phone he said, 'I'm so glad you called. I've been living in the Twilight Zone for the past three years.' That was the spring of 2011. In the week between that call and when we met in person, Osama bin Laden was killed. When I went to the Bronx to meet Mr. Ortiz, people were high-fiving and congratulating him. I knew instantly I had to drop everything else and follow him around.
"Mr. Ortiz is a walking, talking image of Barack Obama.
In April, Murdock announced he had raised $27,013 on the Kickstarter website in less than four weeks to film the documentary.
"Just when you thought radio had lost the power to provoke strong passions, Tavis Smiley is stepping up and taking on Chicago's public radio establishment," Robert Feder reported Tuesday on his Chicago Media blog for Time Out Chicago.
"In a blistering attack on WBEZ-FM (91.5) Monday, the PBS host and bestselling author disputed the reasons given for canceling the weekly radio talk show he co-hosts with Dr. Cornel West, the Princeton University professor. 'One could argue that it is easier for an African American to be president of the United States than it is to host a primetime radio program on Chicago Public Radio,' Smiley declared.
"It all started here last week with news that WBEZ had dropped Smiley & West from its lineup. The show, distributed by Public Radio International, had been airing at noon Sundays until late last month.
"Chicago Public Media officials explained the decision by citing audience erosion (noting a decline in weekly listenership from 37,900 to 13,200) and expressing concerns about the program’s fairness and balance. 'The show had developed much more of an "advocacy" identity, which is inconsistent with our approach on WBEZ,' a spokesman said. . . .
Black Agenda Report: Tavis Smiley Responds to Cancellation of "Smiley & West" in Chicago
"Dear members of AAJA, NAHJ, NAJA and NLGJA," begins the notice on the Unity: Journalists website, posted on Tuesday and referring to the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.
"The UNITY Journalists Board of Directors agreed last week to create a UNITY Name Task Force to find a name that both reflects our new mission statement and includes input from our alliance members.
"As part of this process, we invite you to submit your suggestions for UNITY's name to the email account UNITYname@gmail.com.
"We will accept nominations to this account through Sunday, November 11th.
"Janet Cho has been appointed to lead a task force that will gather all the suggestions and select five finalists.
"These will then be put up for a vote among the members of AAJA, NAHJ, NAJA and NLGJA."
Cho, a business reporter at the Plain Dealer of Cleveland and member of the Unity board, appealed to members of the National Association of Black Journalists, which pulled out of Unity last year citing financial and governance issues. Unity members say they want NABJ to return, but its name change from "Unity: Journalists of Color" to "Unity Journalists" has put off many NABJ members.
"We are listening, NABJ! Please consider sending us your ideas for what the UNITY alliance should be called, to UNITYname@gmail.com," Cho wrote on NABJ's Facebook page.
When was the last time an Asian American man graced the cover of GQ?"Jeremy Lin is getting ready to hit the courts!" Jason Brooks wrote Wednesday for Global Grind.
"With the new NBA season starting on October 30th, the 24-year-old NBA star has a little bit of time left on his hands before it really begins to get serious.
"After a personally successful season as a member of the New York Knicks, the 6ft 3 in point-guard has made the move to the Houston Rockets. While Lin knows what this may mean for his fanbase, he tried to explain his point of view during the latest interview with GQ.
"Jeremy looked sporty in a Calvin Klein suit with Nike Blazers for the cover, shot by Paola Kudacki."
Is Lin the first Asian American man in GQ's most coveted space?
GQ spokesman Corey Wilson told Journal-isms Wednesday that he did not know.
"Univision veteran Art Izquierdo, who worked for the network 28 years, is among about a dozen staffers quietly eliminated from the sports department," Veronica Villafañe reported Tuesday for Media Moves. "The layoffs took place Sept. 27, as part of a 'reorganization.' Univision officials would not comment, but just recently confirmed some of the layoffs.
". . . Insiders say the elimination of the long-running sports team is part of an effort to relegate more authority to the network's Televisa partners and that it's very possible a portion of Univision's sports production will be moved to Mexico."
Journalists in Tunisia, which ignited the Arab Spring when a frustrated fruit-seller set himself afire in 2010, staged their first nationwide strike on Wednesday "after months of rising tensions with the government, led by the Islamist party Ennahda, which is accused of restricting press freedom," Rabii Kalboussi wrote Wednesday for the Swedish-based yourmiddleeast.com.
" 'Freedom of press and expression is not only for journalists but for all the people of Tunisia,' said the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) in a statement.
"Hundreds of journalists demonstrated in Tunis in front of the SNJT headquarters, chanting slogans such as 'free press, independent journalists.'
"The 1,200-member journalists' union called for the protest; the first-ever general strike for media professionals to be staged in Tunisia."
Dahlia El Zein wrote last month for the Committee to Protect Journalists, ". . . Many journalists believed that media freedoms, which were virtually nonexistent under former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, would grow after his ouster. During the aftermath of the December 2010 uprising, an independent press blossomed and special commissions were set up to reform the media sector. But since the elected government took office nine months ago, the tide has slowly reversed."
Tunis Afrique Presse: Tunisian Journalists on Strike to Defend Freedom of Expression
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Speaking truth to fundamentalism
"Growing up on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, Kelly Holmes spent hours thumbing through the latest issues of Seventeen or Vogue," Kristi Eaton wrote from Sioux Falls, S.D., Tuesday for the Associated Press. "She noticed the models didn't look anything like her and the stories had little to do with her experiences in the vast, sparsely populated area hundreds of miles from any high-end retailer.
"So Holmes, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, set out to create her own fashion magazine geared toward Native American men and women and non-Native Americans who want to learn about the culture.
"Native Max focuses on indigenous people, places and cultures with the same sleek photography found in fashion magazines but without the stereotypical headdresses and tomahawks sometimes seen in the mainstream media. The premiere issue, which is online only, features interviews with Native American artists, musicians, designers and models, as well as sections on health, beauty and sports.
" 'There's really no magazine, a Native-owned and operated, Native-designed magazine. There's nothing like this magazine out there. The ones that do have stuff focused on younger people, they're really vulgar and very revealing,' said Holmes, 21, who now lives in Denver."
The Lens in New Orleans and KNAU radio in Flagstaff, Ariz., were among the winners Monday when the Radio Television Digital News Association presented its Edward R. Murrow Awards. Bob Butler, fellow at the G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism and a vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and Jessica Williams, staff writer for Lens, reported "One homeowner's travails: Even after more than six years, family can't move back into 'new' house," and Daniel Kraker of KNAU wrote "Census Shows Steady Growth for Native Americans."
"Ben Hart has been named news director at Hearst TV's WAPT Jackson (Miss.)," Michael Malone reported Wednesday for Broadcasting & Cable. "Hart succeeds Bruce Barkley, who has become news director at Hearst's WYFF Greenville (S.C.). Hart has been WAPT's assistant news director since 2010. He graduated from Mississippi State University and worked in radio and TV in the Columbus, MS, market before joining WAPT." Bob Butler of the National Association of Black Journalists, which recently reported on diversity at selected broadcast companies, told Journal-isms, "Of the 19 companies and 295 stations in the 2012 report there are 17 Black news directors: 10 men and 7 women. That translates to about 6% of the news directors in this report [who] are Black."
". . . a University of Missouri researcher has found that female Pulitzer Prize winners are more likely to have greater qualifications than their male counterparts in order to win the coveted award," the university announced on Wednesday. ". . . Yong Volz, an assistant professor of journalism studies in the MU School of Journalism, along with Francis Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, studied biographical data from all 814 historical winners of the Pulitzer Prize from 1917 to 2010."
"Two California-based public television businesses are merging," Elizabeth Jensen reported Wednesday for the New York Times. "Link Media, the San Francisco-based parent of the Link TV satellite-distributed network and online international news portal, and KCET, the independent Los Angeles public television station that quit PBS last year, said they would join forces in a new venture known as KCETLink." Paul S. Mason, the Link TV chief executive and president who stepped down in 2009 as ABC News senior vice president, is to be chief strategy officer of the new company.
"Navigating the often intimidating process of filing and appealing a federal Freedom of Information Act request is the focus of the next free webinar hosted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press," the organization announced. "The webinar will be held Thursday, Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. (Eastern), hosted by Reporters Committee FOI Director Mark Caramanica and Jack Nelson FOI Fellow Aaron Mackey."
"Melissa Harris-Perry is no journalist," Janelle Harris wrote Wednesday for MediaBistro in introducing a Q-and-A with the MSNBC weekend program host. "She respects them, she appreciates them, she depends at least partly on their handicraft, but she's pretty candid about not having a desire to be an on-the-ground reporter or investigative newshound. The role she's carved in the media pantheon, she clarifies, is offering perspective on the news stories that journalists produce."
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.