It was just three weeks ago that the New York Times was vilified over a story calling the slain 18-year-old Michael Brown "no angel," a mistake partly attributed to insensitive editing. On Friday, critics paid and unpaid leaped on a Times story in which the error was not just about one phrase, but about a mindset that had many wondering why it was still being given a forum.
The offender was Alessandra Stanley, the Times' television critic, whose premise in a feature on Shonda Rhimes, producer of ABC's "Scandal," "Grey's Anatomy" and the new "How to Get Away with Murder," was that Rhimes was an "angry black woman."
As Todd Leopold reported for CNN, " 'When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called "How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman," ' Stanley wrote. "The story later observed, 'Ms. Rhimes has embraced the trite but persistent caricature of the Angry Black Woman, recast it in her own image and made it enviable.'
"Immediately, the Internet reacted, led by a bemused Rhimes, who observed that she didn't create 'How to Get Away with Murder.'
" 'Confused why @nytimes critic doesn't know identity of CREATOR of show she's reviewing,' she tweeted in response to a tweet from Pete Nowalk, who did create the series. (Incidentally, Nowalk — a former 'Grey's' staffer — is a white male.)
"Rhimes was just getting started.
" 'Apparently we can be "angry black women" together, because I didn't know I was one either! @petenowa #LearnSomethingNewEveryday,' she continued.
"And, noting that Stanley had highlighted a rant from 'Scandal's' Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) as illustrative of Rhimes' own perceived anger, she wondered why other rants by white characters don't get the same attention.
" 'Final thing: (then I am gonna do some yoga): how come I am not "an angry black woman" the many times Meredith (or Addison!) rants? @nytimes,' " she tweeted.
" 'Grey's' star Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith Grey on 'Grey's Anatomy,' agreed.
" 'Didn't Meredith Grey (Medusa) and Christina Yang also terrify and intimidate medical students?' she tweeted. . . ."
Asked whether the Times had any comment on the firestorm, Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy passed along a quote from Stanley: "The whole point of the piece — once you read past the first 140 characters — is to praise Shonda Rhimes for pushing back so successfully on a tiresome but insidious stereotype."
Murphy did not respond when asked whether that was also the response of Times management.
Critics asked why it was necessary to define Rhimes as an "angry black woman" in the first place, regardless of the objective. "When a TV critic watching black actresses emote on screen sees 'angry black women,' that's an example of unwitting prejudice that is so innate that it isn't easily recognized — not by the critic, anyway," Sonali Kohli wrote in Quartz. "Does the same critic have a similar reaction when white women from different shows get angry? Do these characters become 'angry white women?. . .' "
Others wondered whether they were watching the same shows. Lauren Williams of vox.com was struck by Stanley's description of the Clair Huxtable character on "The Cosby Show" as "benign and reassuring."
"This made me wonder if Stanley had ever even seen The Cosby Show, let alone Scandal," Williams wrote. "Clair Huxtable was not benign and reassuring. She was a badass partner in a law firm! And she taught a million young women (admittedly, through the unrealistic lens of a network sitcom) that pursuing such a demanding career and having a family were not mutually exclusive.
"She taught me about feminism before I knew what it was. . . ."
Under the headline "There Are Just So Many Things Wrong With the New York Times' Shonda Rhimes Article," Margaret Lyons of vulture.com deconstructed Stanley's article paragraph by paragraph and concluded it was "inaccurate, tone-deaf, muddled, and racist." The activist group colorofchange.org started a petition demanding an apology and a retraction.
On Facebook, Sabrina Miller, a Chicago communications professional and cultural critic, quoted this passage from Stanley's story: "'As Annalise, Ms. [Viola] Davis, 49, is sexual and even sexy, in a slightly menacing way, but the actress doesn't look at all like the typical star of a network drama. Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Ms.[Kerry] Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series 'Extant.' ?!?!?! A white woman calling a dark-skinned black actress 'less classically beautiful' than two lighter skinned black actresses…I can't."
The piece by Stanley, as the Times' television critic, is to appear in Sunday's print edition but was posted online Friday. In journalism circles, Stanley is known by many for the number of errors she has committed.
In 2009, Clark Hoyt, then the Times' public editor, wrote, "For all her skills as a critic, Stanley was the cause of so many corrections in 2005 that she was assigned a single copy editor responsible for checking her facts. Her error rate dropped precipitously and stayed down after the editor was promoted and the arrangement was discontinued. . . . She was not even in the top 20 among reporters and editors most responsible for corrections this year. Now, she has jumped to No. 4 and will again get special editing attention. . . ."
As Michelle Dean wrote Friday for Gawker.com. "Why, you might be wondering, does a television critic who screws up this much (and so often) continue to occupy so high a post as 'television critic at the New York Times'? As an empirical matter of why her bosses continue to employ her, it is a mysterious question. At this point it is obvious to everyone paying attention to the byline how many errors she makes. . . ."
Writing in the Daily Beast last year, Lloyd Grove listed Stanley among the "close friends" of then-top editor Jill Abramson.
Abramson was ousted this year after a highly publicized clash with Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. and replaced by managing editor Dean Baquet, who became the first African American in the top job.
Grove wrote of the new top editor this week, "Baquet, who left Columbia University without a degree to take a job as a reporter (though he boasts a couple of honorary doctorates if not a B.A.), hasn't avoided the unpleasant encounters with law enforcement authorities, the frustrations of trying to flag down a vacant taxi and other indignities inflicted by white folks, especially in the South, that are common to black males of a certain age.
" 'I’m sure that's why I became an investigative reporter,' he says. 'I’m sure that not growing up as part of the power structure makes me want to question the power structure. Sure, it influences the way I look at the world. It's one of a lot of things that influence the way I look at the world. It’s part of who I am.' "
Many will be watching to see what Baquet will do about a power structure in his own newsroom that sometimes puts inaccuracy born of racial tone deafness on open display.
Kara Brown, Jezebel: The New York Times, Shonda Rhimes & How to Get Away With Being Racist
colorofchange.org: Demand the New York Times retract "angry Black women" rant on Shonda Rhimes
Michelle Dean, Gawker: Calling Shonda Rhimes an "Angry Black Woman" Is a Bad Idea
Elahe Izadi, Washington Post: Shonda Rhimes has thoughts about that 'angry black woman' column
Zach Johnson, eonline.com: Shonda Rhimes Brilliantly Takes Down New York Times Critic Who Called Her an "Angry Black Woman"
Kelly Lawler, USA Today: The 'New York Times' called Shonda Rhimes an 'angry black woman,' and she's NOT pleased
Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post: Shonda Rhimes Takes Down NY Times Critic Who Called Her An 'Angry Black Woman'
The International Press Institute said Friday it was "saddened by news of the death of three journalists in the West African nation of Guinea. According to the BBC, the journalists' bodies were found in a septic tank along with five other bodies believed to be health workers.
"The journalists had disappeared last Tuesday, along with three doctors, after being attacked with stones by locals in the small town of Wome, located near to where the Ebola outbreak was first spotted earliest this year, the BBC reported today.
"A spokesman for the Guinean government, Albert Damantang Camara, told the BBC that the victims had been 'killed in cold blood by the villagers.' "
Boubacar Diallo added for the Associated Press from Conakry, the capital, "The team of health officials accompanied by journalists came to the village to educate people about how to avoid contracting Ebola. Instead, a group of local residents turned on their would-be benefactors, attacking them with knives and rocks and killing eight of them, witnesses say. . . . Guinea's government said in a statement Friday that six people have been arrested in connection with the attack . . .
"The horrific violence in the village . . . underscores the mistrust and fear that remains in the area nearly nine months after the first person here died from what was later discovered to be Ebola. The disease that can cause bleeding from the eyes, mouth and ears had never before sickened people in this forested corner of Africa. And when it did, villagers immediately feared that outsiders had brought it here. . . ."
Alison Bethel McKenzie, executive director of the International Press Institute, said, "Our sympathies go out to the families of the slain journalists as well as the health and government workers. The violent deaths of these three brave reporters represent the danger journalists face everyday across the world, particularly when covering delicate issues such as a health outbreak of this magnitude.
"We count on the media to provide information — sometimes lifesaving information — to citizens in times of crisis, and we call on residents to respect reporters and photojournalists and allow them to do their work unharmed."
Al Jazeera: Deadly attack in Guinea on Ebola team
Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times: Eight reported dead in attack on Ebola workers in Guinea
Caro Rolando, International Freedom of Expression Exchange Clearing House, Toronto: West Africa: Access to Timely, Accurate Information Is Critical to Ebola Response in Liberia, Sierra Leone
"NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell laid out his most sweeping response yet to a wave of domestic violence scandals on Friday, promising to punish players who commit domestic abuse and touting a new partnership with two leading advocacy groups for abuse victims," Justin Worland reported Friday for Time.
" 'At our best the NFL sets an example that makes a positive difference,' Goodell told reporters in New York City. 'Unfortunately over the past several weeks we've seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong. That starts with me.'
"Goodell's remarks followed weeks of controversy surrounding the NFL's handling of domestic violence that has placed the commissioner in the national spotlight and led some to call for his resignation. . . ."
The NFL controversy has put the spotlight on domestic violence and, to many, has cast African American men in a negative light.
Meanwhile, Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported on their investigation of the February incident in which Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancée with a left hook at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J.
" 'Outside the Lines' interviewed more than 20 sources over the past 11 days — team officials, current and former league officials, NFL Players Association representatives and associates, advisers and friends of Rice — and found a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL since that February night," they wrote.
Charles M. Blow, New York Times: On Spanking and Abuse
Doug Chapman and Robert Littal, campusinsiders.com: Brashtag: Did Adrian Peterson cross the line? (video)
Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: The NFL Gets It Wrong Again With All-White Advisory Board
George E. Curry, National Newspaper Publishers Association: NFL Domestic Abusers Get Tap on Wrist
Tanika Davis, Baltimore Sun: Ray Rice, my sons — and my daughter
Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times: Punishment or Child Abuse?
Paul Greeley, TVNewsCheck: KNWA Anchor Breaks Silence About Domestic Abuse
Ryan Grenoble, HuffPost BlackVoices: Brandon Marshall Opens Up About The NFL's Domestic Violence Issues And His Own
Kaili Joy Gray, wonkette.com: CNN's Don Lemon: We Should Beat Our Kids Because It Worked For Slave Masters
Richard Horgan, FishbowlNY: NYT Readers React to Adrian Peterson Op-Ed
Andrew Kirell, Mediaite.com: MSNBC Panel Erupts When Roland Martin Asks: Double Standard on Female Abuse Charges?
Don Lemon, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Don Lemon Says Look For More Football Wives To Come Out Of The Closet About Domestic Abuse
Rich Lowry, Politico: The Media's Absurd NFL Hysteria
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: When spanking leaves a mark, it's abuse
"Like a progressive public school from the ’70s, the National Latino Media Council this year dropped A-F grades it has been giving broadcast networks for Latino inclusion efforts in front of and behind the camera, opting instead for a grading scale of Good, Mediocre or Bad," Lisa de Moraes wrote Thursday for Deadline Hollywood.
"Today's report rated the diversity performances of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in the 2013-14 TV season in primetime (the CW is not included). The four networks were graded based on employment of Latino actors, writers, producers, directors and entertainment executives; program development; procurement; and commitment to diversity and 'transparency.'
ABC, CBS and Fox were "mediocre," but "NBC wins the gold star, with a pack-leading Mediocre/Good grade, because it 'showed great improvement with Latino actors in scripted roles and cast members in unscripted roles.' NBC also went to the head of the class because of its number of Latino writers and producers has increased slightly, though the network had fewer Latino directors. NBC got points for its 'commitment to diversity in the programs it supports and for Latino execs it employed at its cable networks — and because NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke keynoted NLMC member organization National Hispanic Media Coalition’s MediaCon. . . ."
"Many political analysts and media pundits argue that the Republican Party has a 'race problem' when it comes to national elections," Spencer Piston, an assistant professor of political science at Syracuse University, wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post.
"The logic is that Latinos and Asian Americans constitute the two fastest growing segments of the population, and they tend to vote Democratic, most notably in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Projections suggest that the proportion of the electorate that is Latino and Asian American will continue to increase; therefore, the proportion of Republican votes will decline.
"But two considerations should make us pause before ringing a death knell for the GOP.
"First, research shows that Latinos and Asian Americans have weaker partisan attachments than blacks and whites. The battle for the allegiance of these largely uncommitted groups isn’t over yet.
"Which Latinos and Asian Americans might be most susceptible to Republican appeals? Recent research suggests that social exclusion can lead Asian Americans to identify as Democrats. The idea is that upon experiencing discrimination, Asian Americans decide to ally themselves with minority constituencies that also experience discrimination, as well as the party thought to represent those constituencies — the Democratic Party. By this logic, those ethnic minorities most likely to lean Republican should be those least likely to suffer discrimination: those with light skin.
"Consistent with this line of thinking, the relationship between skin color and partisan preferences among Latinos and Asian Americans is illustrated below. . . ."
"The Islamic State released a sick new video Thursday in which they unveiled an unwilling new spokesman — a British journalist who was kidnapped two years ago in Syria," Meg Wagner and Corky Siemaszko reported Thursday for the Daily News in New York.
"Unlike the gruesome ISIS videos that showed the desert decapitations of two American reporters and an English aid worker, this three-minute, 21-second clip shows John Cantlie seated alone at a desk in a darkened room.
"Dressed like the other victims in an orange jumpsuit but with no black-clad man menacing him with a knife, Cantlie says this is the first of several videos that will show the 'truth behind what happened' in other kidnapping cases. . . ."
"New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan is right to side with news consumers who are concerned about journalists from the paper meeting for off-the-record sessions with President Obama," Erik Wemple wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post. "One such session occurred last Wednesday, just before the president gave his speech on the response to the Islamic State. As the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone reported, well-known figures from the New Yorker, The Post and the Times were among those in attendance.
"One reader, Tom English, complained to Sullivan: 'To me, it really looks like the meeting was held to run talking/propaganda points by the media to see how best to sell the war.' . . .”
Wemple also wrote, "The perfect antidote to these shadowy gatherings comes from the Times's own Peter Baker. He wrote the story last weekend that exposed the off-the-record meeting with journalists (as well as another meeting earlier in the week). Since he didn't participate in the meeting, he wasn’t bound by any off-the-record compact. Via reportorial legwork, Baker squeezed from participants various thoughts expressed by the president, including mockery of his critics. He got good stuff, though nothing particularly scandalous. The lesson: When you sit down with a group of people in Washington, especially journalists, nothing is going to stay off the record for long. Might as well just let the tape recorders run."
Nelson Balido, Fox News Latino: Are We Prepared For An ISIS Threat At The U.S.-Mexico Border?
Michael Calderone and Emily Swanson, Huffington Post: More Americans Think Media Underplaying ISIS Threat Than Overplaying It (Sept. 13)
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: Senate Puts $10 Million Bounty on Journalist Murderers
Colbert I. King, Washington Post: Get ready for Congress's hypocrisy on the Islamic State, Mr. Obama (Sept. 12)
Robert Mahoney, Committee to Protect Journalists: Journalist beheadings in Syria reignite debate over risk and safety for freelancers
Christopher Massie, Columbia Journalism Review: Is ISIS a faith-based terrorist group?
Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: The ISIS 'Threat' Stamped 'Made in USA'
Pew Research Center: Bipartisan Support for Obama's Military Campaign Against ISIS
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Will Obama's Islamic State plan creep into ground war?
Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: American media should not aid Islamic State with its propaganda
Catherine Taibi, Huffington Post: AFP Says It Will No Longer Accept Work From Journalists Who Travel To Syria
Erin Madigan White, Associated Press: 8 ways the Obama administration is blocking information
Former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker, author of "Cosby: His Life and Times," a new biography of Bill Cosby, did not ask his subject about allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted women in 2004, television critic Eric Deggans reported for NPR on Friday.
In his report, Deggans said he interviewed Cosby critic Michael Eric Dyson, the academic and social critic. "Dyson says Whitaker's been seduced by Cosby. He notes the biography doesn't mention a jarring accusation from 2004. When several women claim the comic drugged and sexually [assaulted] them."
The transcript continues:
"DYSON: So, how is it that accusations of immorality that have been levied against Mr. Cosby don't make it into a book where the author defends Mr. Cosby in terms of his own attacks on young people?
"DEGGANS: Whitaker, who did write about times when Cosby cheated on his wife said he never asked his subject directly about the assault allegations or interviewed the accusers. As a journalist Whitaker says he wasn't [comfortable] including complex accusations in the book that he couldn't prove.
"WHITAKER: And I just did not want to be in a position of printing allegations and denials and then be in a position as a journalist writing the most thorough biography that's ever been done. If people said to me, well what do you think really happened? And I would say, you know, I don't know. . . ."
Erin E. Evans, The Root: 12 Life Lessons We Learned From Cliff Huxtable
"Can an innovative college-professional news collaborative, with a $35,000 grant in hand, 'change the pipeline for investigative journalism in Georgia?' " Susannah Nesmith asked Thursday in Columbia Journalism Review. "The Georgia News Lab — a partnership between The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta's ABC affiliate WSB-TV, and four local universities — won support in April from the Online News Association's Challenge Fund to give that goal a go starting this semester. The Lab, the brainchild of Georgia State University's David Armstrong, is designed not only to supplement the investigative reporting being done in Atlanta, but also to bring needed diversity to the ranks of investigative journalists. Armstrong recruited two historically black universities, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, to participate. . . ."
"Most area drivers have sped down Philadelphia's 'Broadcast Row' on City Avenue, near Monument Road that is home to at least two television and radio stations," Manny Smith, editor-in-chief of the PABJ Prism publication of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, wrote on Tuesday. "Very soon, Pennsylvania's State Legislature will consider a bill to co-name the busy section of Route 1 between Presidential Boulevard and Monument Road as 'Ed Bradley Way.' . . . " The late CBS News "60 Minutes" correspondent, a native Philadelphian, died in 2006 at age 65.
"Fernando del Rincón has ended his run with CNN en Español," Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for her Media Moves site. "The anchor, who joined the Atlanta-based network in October of 2010, was unable to renegotiate his contract. According to a source, Del Rincón, host of the Spanish-language network's 10 pm 'Conclusiones,' stormed out of the newsroom yesterday before his show went on the air, despite promoting it on his Twitter account. . . "
"Though whites, blacks and Hispanics generally agree on the importance of teaching most values, there are some differences, most notably on the importance placed on instilling religious faith," the Pew Research Center reported on Thursday. "About seven-in-ten (69%) African Americans say it is especially important to teach children religious faith, with 41% ranking faith as one of the three most important values to teach. By contrast, about half of whites (51%) and Hispanics (54%) say teaching children religious faith is important, and just 30% of whites and 26% of Hispanics say it is among the most important values to teach children. . . "
"The Telemundo Station Group is expanding its local news programming, unveiling plans today to launch a new 30-minute newscast weekdays at 5:30 p.m. ET beginning Monday, Nov. 3 at 14 of its stations," TVNewsCheck reported on Thursday. "To support this initiative, the Telemundo Station Group expects to immediately hire nearly 30 additional employees to boost the local newsrooms. . . ."
In Chicago, "Robert Jordan, the veteran news anchor and reporter at WGN-Channel 9, has been named the first journalist-in-residence at the University of Chicago's Careers in Journalism, Arts, and Media program," Robert Feder reported Thursday on his blog. "While continuing his full-time anchoring and reporting duties for the Tribune Media station, Jordan will spend much of the fall quarter on campus, where he'll conduct a series of workshops, lead panels with other Chicago producers, editors and news directors, and meet with students who hope to pursue journalism and media careers. He also plans to work with staffers on the Chicago Maroon, the university's student newspaper. . . ."
"Wendi C. Thomas said she will launch a not-for-profit digital media startup focused on economic and racial inequality," Tracie Powell reported Thursday for her alldigitocracy.org site. Thomas, who resigned from the Commercial Appeal in Memphis not long after being transferred from her position as metro columnist, "said she will need at least $150,000 to launch the startup, and has already started talking with funders. The money will go toward hiring journalists with data visualization expertise, writers and editors, she said," Powell reported.
"For more than a generation, Joe Bragg was a tireless journalist whose words and voice constantly kept us abreast of local and world happenings," Herb Boyd reported Thursday for the New York Amsterdam News. "Then, as the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lee Bragg, he chose to comfort our souls and lift our spirits with his sermons. The omnipresent journalist and pacifying minister is no longer with us. He joined the ancestors Sept. 1 at age 75."
"The Ailes Apprentice Program begins its third annual Hispanic Heritage series tomorrow morning on 'Fox & Friends,' " Jordan Chariton reported Thursday for TVNewser. "The weekly series will run through October 10, hosted by Fox News correspondent Alicia Acuna. She will spotlight Latinos doing inspirational things, including Mayorga Coffee founder Martin Mayorga, Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez, guitarist Jose Feliciano and Director of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City Francisco Nunez. . . ."
"Keith Jenkins has been named general manager, National Geographic Digital," Declan Moore, National Geographic Society's chief media officer, to whom Jenkins will report, announced on Tuesday. "Jenkins was previously National Geographic's director of digital photography and executive editor for digital content. In his new role, Jenkins will help further develop and execute National Geographic's digital strategy. He will oversee design, production, multimedia and product as well as core digital content and commercial initiatives, including sponsorship and advertising. . . ."
"The Center for Public Integrity is launching a nationwide investigation into indicators of statehouse corruption, and it’s looking for 50 freelancers to help get it done," Benjamin Mullin reported Thursday for the Poynter Institute. "The State Integrity Investigation, conducted first in 2011, is a deep-dive look at factors that cause corruption in each of America's 50 capitols, Nicholas Kusnetz, the initiative’s project manager, told Poynter in an email. . . ."
"Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro threatened legal action against news outlets, accusing the Atlanta-based broadcaster CNN en Español and the Miami Herald of spreading what he said were false health rumors," Anatoly Kurmanaev and Nathan Crooks reported Friday for Bloomberg News. "Maduro said he ordered a criminal investigation into the past week's media coverage of a possible outbreak of a tropical disease in the central city of Maracay, which the government has denied. . . ."
"Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s proposed merger is putting a chill on the growth plans of Sean 'Diddy' Combs' Revolt TV, The Post has learned," Claire Atkinson reported Thursday for the New York Post. "The music channel, which will celebrate its first year in operation next month, is having trouble expanding its reach beyond its original 25 million household base because the consolidation in the cable industry has made it a lot harder to convince other cable companies to pick the channel up. . . ."
Edgar Tsimane, editor of the Sunday Standard in Botswana, "has been granted asylum by the South African government after he fled Botswana in fear of his safety," the Media Institute of Southern Africa reported Sept. 12 from Windhoek, Namibia. "Tsimane fled to South Africa fearing for his life after security agents reportedly harassed him for writing a series stories about the Executive arm of Government. . . ."
"Two Tunisian journalists who were reporting on the situation in Libya were abducted by a rebel group on 3 September, released four days later, and were immediately captured by another group," Roy Greenslade reported Friday for Britain's Guardian. "Now the foreign ministry in Tunis is trying to persuade that group to free reporter Sofiene Chourabi and photographer Nédhir Ktari. . . ."