• Opinion Writers Ask Whether Protest Isn’t Patriotic
  • Debra Lee Departs BET After Three Decades
  • Detained Mexican Journalist Wins New Hearing
  • Reporter’s Experience With Freeman Led to Exposé
  • What It’s Like to Win a Lawsuit Against Trump
  • Why We Still Need a Month for Asian Americans
  • Shaun King Says He Was Duped by Woman’s Story
  • Short Takes
Cover of Thursday, May 24, 2018, issue of the New York Daily News
Photo: New York Daily News

Opinion Writers Ask Whether Protest Isn’t Patriotic

The NFL’s new rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem or risk their team being fined was greeted with overwhelming opposition by media commentators, who were not hesitant to point out its racial overtones and inconsistencies with the First Amendment.

A “majority white group of overseers created and will enforce a policy restricting black players’ freedom of expression. The power is seemingly not with those who use their bodies to earn $7.8 billion for their teams and the league, but rather with whites who profit most from their labor,” Shaun R. Harper, a professor and executive director of the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California. wrote Thursday in the Washington Post.

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Patriotism manifests itself in myriad ways,” the Chicago Tribune editorialized. “Among the most genuine: demanding equal treatment for all, calling attention to social injustice — especially when someone pays a stiff price for protesting.” The Tribune went on to point out that, “On the same day the NFL announced its policy change on anthem protests, authorities in Milwaukee released a video of city officers using a taser on Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown after confronting him over a parking violation. In the video of the Jan. 26 arrest, Brown doesn’t appear to resist the officers.

“Milwaukee’s police chief has apologized for his officers’ actions. Still, police mistreatment of minorities is what moved former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel during the anthem at a preseason game two years ago. . . .”

The Tribune’s David Haugh called the new rule nonsensical. “If the owners truly want to ‘treat this moment in a respectful fashion’ by making players stand, then they also need to close concession stands, barricade bathrooms and shut off Wi-Fi during the anthem to hold the crowd’s full attention through the anthem’s last note,” Haugh wrote.

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Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports added news Thursday. “Four months into quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2017 free agency and heading into intensified criticism from President Donald Trump over player protests, the NFL used a Washington consulting firm to ask Americans whether Kaepernick should have been signed by a team, according to sources familiar with the league’s research. . . .”

Robinson also wrote, “The polling data harvested in the summer of 2017 — showing that white NFL fans supported discipline far more than African American NFL fans — provides a more nuanced backdrop for the memo [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell sent to NFL teams on Oct. 10, 2017. . . .” The memo said, “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. . . .”

Karen Attiah of the Washington Post connected more dots.

A sculpture at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture portrays the 1968 Olympic podium protest by Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right)

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Attiah pointed Thursday to Kirsten West Savali, an associate editor of TheRoot.com who was honored in 2016 by Morgan State University for “exemplary reporting on black life in America.” Savali noted May 10 on Twitter that the NFL’s stance has reverberated outside the playing field. “My 9-year-old son was put out of class for taking a knee during the pledge,” Savali wrote. His teacher told him that she boycotted teams that did this. Another teacher asked him was he ‘disrespecting the flag.’ I’m so furious my hands are shaking. . . .”

Attiah also wrote, “It’s perhaps fitting that the NFL’s policy is coming almost 50 years after the Mexico City 1968 Olympics, when Tommie Smith and John Carlos, winners respectively of gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter dash, raised their fists in a black power salute during the medal ceremony. The players were booed and heckled by the audience. The next day, the International Olympic Committee forced the pair to leave the Olympic Village and spread rumors that they had been stripped of their medals.

“The U.S. Olympic Committee said that the ‘untypical exhibitionism of these athletes violates the basic standards of good manners and sportsmanship which are so highly valued in the states’ and that ‘such immature behavior is a willful disregard of Olympic principles.’ Smith was kicked out of the Army. Media commentators compared the men to Nazis and ‘black-skinned stormtroopers.’ Both men received death threats.

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“Fast forward to today, and the image of Smith and Carlos is now iconic. There is now a statue of the two men at San Jose State University.

“My hopeful prediction is that 50 years from now, history will not be kind to Roger Goodell or the NFL for the actions they took this week.”

Kevin B. Blackistone, Washington Post: NFL players protested events such as Sterling Brown’s. Owners don’t want to see it.

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Jerry Brewer, Washington Post: The NFL would rather bury anthem protests than address the issues behind them

Editorial, Chicago Tribune: NFL’s anthem rule vs. the patriotism of protest

Editorial, Miami Herald: Trump pardons Jack Johnson, but tells football players not to protest

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Editorial, New York Times: The N.F.L. Kneels to Trump

Editorial, Washington Post: Sterling Brown’s arrest shows why NFL players have a reason to kneel

Leonard Greene, Daily News, New York: How does a private company like the NFL get away with deciding who a patriot is?

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Jemele Hill, the Undefeated: NFL shows who and what it values with new anthem policy

Michael Hobbs, New York Times: The Collateral Damage of a Petty N.F.L.

Chris Kluwe, NBC Think: The NFL’s new rule against kneeling during the anthem shows the owners’ willingness to grovel

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Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe: Dreaming of a world where the NFL stands up for players

Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Sterling Brown case: What we know about the arrest of the Milwaukee Bucks rookie

Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star: NFL new national anthem kneeling policy enslaves black players, fans

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E.J. Montini, Arizona Republic: NFL national anthem policy makes owners cowards, not patriots

Carron J. Phillips, Daily News, New York: NFL national anthem policy, Sterling Brown arrest are reasons why every black athlete should take a knee

Jason Reid, the Undefeated: What the NFL’s new anthem policy could mean for Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid

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Jason Reid, the Undefeated: NFL had a chance to make a statement with new anthem policy — and it fumbled

Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald: NFL rules against freedom on field, when there’s nothing more American than protest

Ray Suarez with Kevin Blackistone, “On Point,” WBUR-FM, Boston: NFL Requires Players To Stand For National Anthem (audio)

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Debra Lee Departs BET After Three Decades

After a career at BET spanning three decades, Debra L. Lee is stepping down as chairman and chief executive officer of BET Networks, effective Monday, Nellie Andreeva reported Thursday for Deadline Hollywood.

Debra L. Lee
Photo: BET

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“Lee, who began her career with the company as its first VP and General Counsel in 1986, was elevated to President and COO in 1996 and became Chairman and CEO in 2005. . . .

“Lee’s exit is not completely surprising. Viacom laid the groundwork for the move in December when Scott M. Mills was named BET president, a role in which he would oversee overall strategy and day-to-day operations of BET Networks including oversight of the brand’s programming, ad sales and digital teams.

“At the time, Lee was set to continue in her chairman and CEO role but was going to step back from running the network, and was to serve as an advisor to Mills. Most Viacom cable networks have undergone leadership changes as part of reorganizations implemented by Bob Bakish since he became Viacom CEO in early 2017. . . .”

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BET spokesman Luis DeFrank told Journal-isms that Lee would not be replaced as chairman and chief executive officer.

Lee oversaw the transition of BET from a network primarily known for booty-shaking music videos to one featuring scripted series and top-rated, buzz-generating awards shows. In addition, BET.com became a top-rated website.

At a 2009 reception when BET unveiled its upcoming programming, Lee told Journal-isms that the election of President Barack Obama helped prompt a belief that it was “time to sit back with my management team and say, ‘where are we going. What do I want my legacy to be? After 30 years, what do we want to stand for?’ “

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For a short time, BET did attempt to elevate news programming, with live coverage of presidential events, for example. It devoted four hours of coverage to the funeral of Whitney Houston in 2012, and aired documentaries on Martin Luther King Jr. as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha (video) and another on then-first lady Michelle Obama’s trip to South Africa. But BET’s news division often seemed like something management never knew quite what to do with.

Scott M. Mills
Photo: BET

BET and TV One, the major African American-oriented networks, provided a much-needed service on Election Day 2016 by providing a sympathetic outlet for their stunned viewers to process Donald Trump’s presidential victory. But on Inauguration Day, both took a pass.

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“Our viewers are far more emotionally moved by the exit of the Obamas and so we spent time celebrating them . . . on their last full day in Washington,” Jamie Owens, a spokesman for BET, told Journal-isms then.

Deadline Hollywood continued, “Some of BET’s biggest success stories with Lee at the helm include the 2014 series premiere of The Game, the most-watched sitcom premiere in cable TV history with 7.68 million viewers, and the 2017 hit mini-series The New Edition Story, which brought in 28.4 million viewers from the initial run through subsequent encores, making it the highest-rated TV biopic of all time.

“With her in charge, BET Networks has remained the #1 network among African-American viewers for the past 17 years.

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“Scripted series launched on Lee’s watch include Being Mary Jane, The Real Husbands of Hollywood, and In Contempt. She also oversaw the creation of “The BET Awards,” as well as the launch of the first festival weekend under the Viacom umbrella, The BET Experience.

“Lee also oversaw the launch of the network’s website, BET.com, developed BET Her, the first network for African-American women, and acquired television rights to Black Girls Rock! Lee also launched Leading Women Defined, an annual conference where notable African American women, including Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Venus Williams, Issa Rae and Erykah Badu, gathered each year for insightful debates and conversations on issues that impact their community and families. Additionally, she championed BET’s breast cancer campaign ‘BET Goes Pink,’ the education platform ‘BET Next Level,’ voting campaign ‘BET Vote Your Voice’ and several telethons for Florida, Haiti and Katrina under the ‘SOS: Saving OurSelves’ initiative.

“Per BET, following her departure from the company, Lee, a well-respected industry executive, plans to stay involved in the media industry and continue her role on corporate and non-profit boards. In addition, Lee also plans to continue her commitment to diversity and inclusion by advancing the rights of women and girls as well as people of color through her work with Times Up and The Recording Academy Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, to name a few. Lee’s annual gathering of prominent African American women, Leading Women Defined, will also continue under her leadership. . . .”

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Emilio Gutiérrez
Photo: Julián Aguilar

Detained Mexican Journalist Wins New Hearing

A Mexican reporter who has been in immigration detention on the border since late last year has been granted a new asylum hearing after he and his son were nearly deported last Christmas,” Julián Aguilar reported Monday for the Texas Tribune.

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Emilio Gutiérrez Soto and his son Oscar fled the border state of Chihuahua in 2008 when Emilio Gutiérrez’s reporting on cartel crime and corruption there led to death threats. Both had been living legally in the United States while waiting for a final decision from an immigration judge on the asylum claim, which they said was warranted because of Gutiérrez’s work chronicling one of the world’s most violent countries.

“After dragging on for nearly a decade, Gutiérrez’s claim was denied last year and his appeal was initially dismissed in December. But the Board of Immigration Appeals reinstated the appeal, and the board ruled last week that new evidence submitted in the case warranted another look at the claim.

“’ He was lucky. It could have gone the other way,’ said Gutiérrez’s attorney, Eduardo Beckett. ‘If he would have been denied, by the time I found out, he would have been in Mexico already.’

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“The board wrote that its decision was based in part on new evidence submitted during the appeal and that while it doesn’t usually ‘address evidence for the first time on appeal,’ it would return the case for consideration of ‘newly available’ evidence. The National Press Club, which joined Beckett and other journalism organizations in their efforts to secure the Gutiérrezes’ release, said that included more than 150 pages of Gutiérrez’s articles and recent reports on the dangers of reporting in Mexico. U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, and officials with the Catholic Diocese of El Paso also called for the Gutierrezes’ release.”Beckett said the next step is to get Emilio and Oscar Gutiérrez out of detention while their new case is handled. The reporter was recently awarded a Knight-Wallace Fellowship for the next academic year at the University of Michigan. The university has offered a $75,000 stipend but needs Gutiérrez in Ann Arbor by Aug. 27, according to a letter provided by Beckett’s office. He was also awarded the National Press Club’s John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award in October. . . .”

National Press Club: Award-Winner Emilio Gutiérrez Wins New Asylum Hearing

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Reporter’s Experience With Freeman Led to Exposé

Reporters generally try . . . not to become involved in the stories they cover,” Jon Levine wrote Thursday for the Wrap. “But CNN said reporter Chloe Melas’ experience with Morgan Freeman led directly to her investigation into his behavior with women.

Morgan Freeman

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“Melas said that during a junket for his 2017 film ‘Going in Style,’ when she was six months pregnant, Freeman shook and held onto her hand, looking her up and down and saying variations of the words ‘I wish I was there.’ (He was caught on camera saying ‘Boy, I wish I was there’ while sitting a few feet from her.) Melas said Freeman also told her, ‘You are ripe.’

“Melas and co-author An Phung broke the news Thursday that several woman have accused Freeman of harassment. He quickly apologized, saying it was ‘never my intent’ for anyone to feel uncomfortable or disrespected. . . .”

Phung and Melas wrote Thursday and updated Friday for CNN, “In all, 16 people spoke to CNN about Freeman as part of this investigation, eight of whom said they were victims of what some called harassment and others called inappropriate behavior by Freeman. Eight said they witnessed Freeman’s alleged conduct. These 16 people together described a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Freeman on set, while promoting his movies and at his production company Revelations Entertainment. . . .”

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They also wrote, “CNN reached out to dozens more people who worked for or with Freeman. Some praised Freeman, saying they never witnessed any questionable behavior or that he was a consummate professional on set and in the office. . . .”

Gil Kaufman, Billboard: Lifetime Developing Documentary, Series About R. Kelly Allegations (May 8)

Chloe Melas, CNNMoney: Visa suspends Morgan Freeman campaign after accusations of inappropriate behavior

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Benjamin Mueller and Alan Feuer, New York Times: Harvey Weinstein: Arrested and Arraigned

Jessica Schladebeck, Daily News, New York: Morgan Freeman ‘devastated’ by harassment allegations, says he ‘did not assault women’

Gerry Smith, Bloomberg: BuzzFeed Opens New Hollywood Chapter With R. Kelly Documentary

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What It’s Like to Win a Lawsuit Against Trump

Rebecca Pilar Buckwalter Poza

I wrote about what it’s like to sue the president after we went to court in early March. Now I get to write about what it’s like to win a lawsuit against him. (Spoiler alert: It’s beyond surreal.),” Rebecca Pilar Buckwalter Poza told Daily Kos readers on Wednesday.

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“The case began in July 2017. Seven of us so-called ‘blockees,’ represented by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, filed suit against President Donald J. Trump. We argued that he and his communications staffers were violating the First Amendment by blocking users from his Twitter feed solely on the basis of our viewpoints.

“Our ask of the court was simple: Please clarify for the White House that blocking us is unconstitutional, and get them to unblock us. a.k.a. Set Trump straight. . . .”

Poza also wrote, “Why is this ruling a big deal in the general sense?

“Public officials are relying on social media more and more to communicate to constituents. As that shift accelerates, it’s imperative that courts recognize that the First Amendment protects against viewpoint discrimination in digital public forums like the @realdonaldtrump account just as it does in more traditional town halls. An official’s Twitter account is often the central forum for direct political debate with and among constituents, a tenet of democracy. . . .”

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Why We Still Need a Month for Asian Americans

Frank Shyong

In this country, Asian Americans seem to face a paradox: We’re the ‘model minority,’ often held up as an example of a group that cannot claim discrimination because of our outsized performance on standardized tests and college attendance,” members of the governing board of the Asian American Journalists Association wrote Monday for USA Today, commemorating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

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“It’s an unfortunate stereotype sometimes used to oppress other racial groups, undermining solidarity with other minorities who struggle with representation issues, too. But it also erases the many Asian Americans living in poverty and struggling, and can fool some to thinking that Asian Americans have already made it in this country.

Diep Tran

“Asian Americans know otherwise — and this push for accurate representation is at the core of the mission of organizations such as the Asian American Journalists Association. Every May, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month as a way to highlight the growing number of Asian American faces that we see in the media. . . .”

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The board members — Yvonne Leow, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Ramy Inocencio, Pia Sarkar, Shawn Nicole Wong, Nicole Dungca, Julia B. Chan, Sameer Rao, Anh Do and Mihir Zaveri — also wrote, “For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we honored Diep Tran, an American Theatre senior editor whose pieces grapple with issues of race and representation within the theater industry, and Frank Shyong, a Los Angeles Times reporter whose work captures the diversity within the Asian-American communities of Southern California.

“It’s this kind of work that shows us there’s hope to shedding this invisibility that many Asian Americans feel when we turn on our televisions or read our news — and we’ll keep fighting until we finally feel seen and heard.”

Shaun King Says He Was Duped by Woman’s Story

Shaun King

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Sherita Dixon-Cole was pulled over early Sunday by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer who suspected her of driving while intoxicated,” Marwa Eltagouri wrote Thursday for the Washington Post.

“The story Dixon-Cole spun afterward was alarming: She claimed the trooper repeatedly told her he would let her go in exchange for sexual favors. When she said no, she claimed the trooper sexually assaulted her, according to a statement Monday from her attorney. The 37-year-old North Texas woman’s story was widely shared on social media, aided and amplified by social activist Shaun King . . .

“But on Tuesday, the Texas Department of Safety released nearly two hours’ of body camera footage that starkly conflicted with Dixon-Cole’s claims. . . .”

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King wrote Wednesday on medium.com, “Many good people fought for this person, a complete stranger to us, out of the goodness of our heart. We were right to fight — the system requires us to fight for every ounce of justice we ever get — but someone truly abused us in this circumstance. I’m still so genuinely baffled. . . .”

Short Takes

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Angelo Falcón

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Ashley Smart

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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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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.