Obama Chides Media for Birther Story

President Releases Birth Certificate

"There comes a moment in almost every American presidency when the commander in chief turns media critic in chief," David Folkenflik reported Wednesday for NPR.

"For President Obama, that moment occurred Wednesday morning. He released his birth certificate to quell persistent rumors that he was somehow not born in this country — and his remarks were carried live by the nation's leading cable news channels.

". . . Today, Obama said that during the budget battle two weeks ago, 'the dominant news story wasn't about these huge, monumental choices that were we're going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate!'


"That would appear to be a flat-out exaggeration. That week the economy got nearly two-fifths of all coverage, much more than any other topic, according to a regular survey of news coverage by Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism." This point was also made by Julie Moos of the Poynter Institute under the headline, "Factchecking Obama: Birther controversy was 4% of newshole, not ‘dominant’ story."

"But Obama appeared to be directing his rhetoric most directly at the cable news networks," Folkenflik continued.

". . . And a review by Pew's journalism project found that cable news did devote a lot of time to the matter. It's hard to pin down precisely how much coverage each cable network dedicated to the 'birther issue' because many of those stories are incorporated within larger categories such as the 2012 presidential campaign and the Obama administration."

". . . The liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America says that since early March, guests made false claims in 52 segments about Obama's birth certificate, but that Fox News hosts or anchors disputed those claims in just eight instances.


". . . In recent days, CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman traveled to Hawaii and conducted on camera an interview of the Republican former Hawaiian secretary of health who had examined Obama's actual birth certificate. Tuchman also interviewed another person born on the same hospital wing at the same time.

" 'We've spent a lot more time, to the degree that we've covered this story . . . focused again on what the real facts are, with reporters on the ground, as opposed to just what Trump was saying,' Mark Whitaker, CNN's new managing editor for global newsgathering, tells NPR." He was referring to New York real estate developer Donald Trump, who has made the "birther" issue his own as he contemplates seeking the Republican nomination for president. 


"Whitaker has brought a renewed emphasis on in-depth reporting to CNN," Folkenflik continued, "with recent extended looks at BP's role in the Gulf of Mexico and on safety questions in the air-traffic control system. In this case, Whitaker says, CNN helped to discredit Trump."


Obama Interviewed by Four Local Anchors, Oprah Too

"President Obama didn’t offer any etiquette advice to the four reporters invited to the White House on Tuesday for the latest round of local one-on-one interviews," Andrew Gauthier of MediaBistro reported.


"While WSB’s Justin Farmer [Atlanta], WXYZ’s Stephen Clark [Detroit], WTKR’s Barbara Ciara [Norfolk, Va.], and WKYC’s Romona Robinson [Cleveland] . . . pressed Obama on hot-button issues, including rising gas prices and the weak economy, they didn’t goad the president into the type of reaction that WFAA’s Brad Watson received earlier this month."

WKYC in Cleveland reported, "Obama says he strongly disapproves of new laws restricting public employee unions in Ohio and Wisconsin and that states should not use the financial crisis as an excuse to erode bargaining rights.


"He tells Romona that public employees should not be blamed for a financial crisis that they had nothing to do with and that sacrifices should be shared in tough economic times.

"Under Ohio's new law known as Senate Bill 5, 350,000 public workers can negotiate wages and certain work conditions but not health care, sick time or pension benefits."


WTKR in Norfolk, Va., reported, "Barbara Ciara asked, 'Why should the people of Hampton Roads believe that you will get their jobs back'.

"President Obama said, 'Not every job will come back. I am painfully aware of how tough it is.'


"Barbara Ciara also asked about those painful prices at the pump. When will consumers catch a break?

" 'We're talking to oil producers around the world and letting them know [it's] in their interest high oil prices don't end up hurting the world economy,' said President Obama."


On Wednesday, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama flew to Chicago to tape an appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show, where Winfrey asked about Obama's decision to release his long-form birth certificate. "The interview with the Obamas will be featured in one of Winfrey's last shows. The program is scheduled to air Monday. The show is ending May 25 after a quarter-century," the Chicago Tribune reported.

New Sentencing Hearing Ordered for Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal
This image was lost some time after publication.

"After speaking with the widow of slain police officer Daniel Faulkner, District Attorney Seth Williams said he would appeal a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals here yesterday awarding convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing," Michael Hinkelman reported Wednesday in the Philadelphia Daily News.

"Williams will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court's decision and reinstate Abu-Jamal's death sentence. The D.A. said Maureen Faulkner was "devastated" by the ruling.


"Abu-Jamal, 57, was convicted in 1982 of first-degree murder in Faulkner's slaying and was sentenced to death.

"Yesterday's ruling was the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that ordered the appeals court to review its 2008 ruling that ordered a new sentencing hearing for the former Black Panther. Both yesterday and in 2008, the appeals court ruled that Abu-Jamal's murder conviction should stand but called for a new sentencing hearing because death-penalty jury instructions were misleading.


". . . Yesterday's ruling was the latest in a 29-year legal drama that is likely to continue for years. Abu-Jamal has become a cause célèbre among foes of capital punishment and remains in a state prison outside Pittsburgh."

Abu-Jamal, a former radio reporter, was president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists when he was arrested in 1981.


Justice Dept. Considers Reopening Malcolm X Investigation

"The U.S. Department of Justice is studying whether to reexamine the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X," Jerry Mitchell reported Monday for the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.


"Department spokesman Xochitl Hinojosa said Monday the department is reviewing 'the request to open the Malcolm X murder. We decline further comment at this time.'

"Alvin Sykes of Kansas City — architect of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act who in an April 6 letter asked the Justice Department to review Malcolm X’s assassination — praised the department’s consideration.


"He said he is hoping Attorney General Eric Holder will bring 'more investigative resources and prosecutorial jurisdiction to credibly address the guilt or innocence of a broader net of past, present and potentially future suspects in this case.'

"A new biography by the late Manning Marable raises questions about who was involved in Malcolm X’s killing at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on Feb. 21, 1965 — less than a year after he had left the Nation of Islam.


"In 'Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,' Marable claims William Bradley (now known as Al-Mustafa Shabazz) of New Jersey was involved in the assassination, but he has vehemently denied the claim through his lawyer.

"Sykes said the Justice Department should examine the assassination to see whether anyone has evaded prosecution, he said. It’s just as important, he said, to also determine if anyone was wrongly convicted."


Meanwhile, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a historian who writes for the Woodson Review and other publications of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, noted on his blog that a year had passed since he publicly identified Bradley as the the trigger man. "This is very significant because the statute of limitations on libel in New Jersey is one year, which expired yesterday, making it impossible for Bradley to ever sue me for exposing him to the world. He can never legally say I lied about him or that he is not who I said he is," Muhammad wrote.

Lack of Eligibility Keeps Latinos Underrepresented at Polls

"Even though more Latinos than ever are participating in the nation's elections, their representation among the electorate remains below their representation in the general population," Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center reported on Tuesday.


"In 2010, 16.3% of the nation's population was Latino, but only 10.1% of eligible voters and fewer than 7% of voters were Latino.

"This gap is driven by two demographic factors — youth and non-citizenship. More than one third of Latinos (34.9%) are younger than the voting age of 18. And an additional 22.4% are of voting age, but are not U.S. citizens. As a result, the share of the Latino population eligible to vote is smaller than it is among any other group. Just 42.7% of the nation's Latino population is eligible to vote, while more than three-in-four (77.7%) of whites, two-thirds of blacks (67.2%) and more than half of Asians (52.8%) are eligible to vote.


"Yet, even among eligible voters, Latino participation rates lag those of other groups. In 2010, 31.2% of Latino eligible voters say they voted, while nearly half (48.6%) of white eligible voters and 44.0% of black eligible voters said the same."

Lopez's report began with the good news: "More than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year's election — a record for a midterm," and "Latinos also were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006."


2 Ebony Editors Tell Own Stories for "Mixed-Race" Report

Two editors of Ebony magazine became part of the story when the magazine produced a 12-page report on "Mixed-Race America" for its May issue — Editor-in-Chief Amy DuBois Barnett and Elaine Welteroth, beauty and style editor.


"I have a personal perspective because my mother is Black and my father is White," Barnett wrote in her Editor's Letter. "For me, it was simple: My parents firmly believed that their daughter was Black, that society would see me as Black, and that it was emotionally and politically important for me to have a firm identity. I've never thought of myself in any other way — even when nosy and presumptive strangers try to tell me that I must be 'Mediterranean.' I'm a Black woman with a White dad. My father and I are very close, and neither of us feels that statement somehow negates his role in my life.

"But there are clearly many different perspectives on the topic."

Welteroth and her older brother, Eric Welteroth, "often mistaken for twins," each provide their own stories.


"My parents decided that my brother and I were going to identify as Black," Elaine Welteroth writes. "They determined this before we were born . . . To White people, we're different. To Black people, we're different. I can identify with my brother; we don't fully fit into either race. But I was more determined to have people like me. It's just part of my personality. My brother wasn't interested in that. He was like, 'Screw you if you don't like me.' I've gravitated to people who like the same things I do. It just so happens that those people are African-American."

Patch Aims to Recruit up to 8,000 Bloggers in 8 Days

"Arianna Huffington must not be taking that class action lawsuit against her too seriously. Not only is AOL’s new content chief not cutting down on the use of unpaid bloggers, she’s doubling down — literally," Jeff Bercovici wrote Tuesday for Forbes.com. "Patch, AOL’s network of hyperlocal news sites, is trying to recruit as many as 8,000 bloggers in the next eight days, according to editor in chief Brian Farnham.


"On Friday, Patch editors were told to start recruiting bloggers in preparation for the launch of its blog platform on May 4. Yesterday, Farnham issued a memo with concrete targets: Each editor is expected to sign up five to 10 new bloggers by then.

" 'The introduction of blogging on our sites is far more than just the release of a new feature,' wrote Farnham. 'It is a full-on course correction heading Patch in the direction we want to go.'


"He seemed to be anticipating grumbling from the ranks in response to the command.

" 'As for the question of why we are moving this fast after the go-slow approach presented on Friday, let me address that here: we’re a startup,' Farnham wrote [emphasis his]. 'You’ve heard that before and it’s going to remain true for some time. You all signed on knowing this was a young company, and while no one likes a fire drill, at the same time you have to get used to changes and moving fast if you want to be a Patch editor.' "


AAJA "Men of Broadcast" Contest to Also Benefit Japan

George Kiriyama, a reporter for NBC Bay Area KNTV-TV who scored the highest number of votes in the "2012 AAJA Men of Broadcast calendar" contest to raise money for the Asian American Journalists Association, pledged to write a check for Japan earthquake/tsunami relief equal to the amount of votes he received. He got 917.


"Once I pay off my recent Hawaii trip…I will cut a check for $920 (rounded up figure) and donate to the Japan Earthquake Relief," Kiriyama, who is also AAJA's vice president for broadcast, told Journal-isms via email on Wednesday.

Janet Cho, AAJA's vice president for print, wrote Journal-isms to clarify that "the original Men of Broadcast calendar was published in 1996, not 1998-99. It was the brainchild of then-AAJA National President Dinah Eng, who remains the only person in the world with a calendar autographed by all 12 original calendar men.


"Another former AAJA National President, Lloyd LaCuesta, will be the only man to appear on BOTH calendars," she said.

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