Obama Gives Historic Scoop to Robin Roberts


President Backs Same-Sex Marriage in White House Talk

Robin Roberts did not really need anchor Diane Sawyer's confirmation on ABC's "World News With Diane Sawyer" later Wednesday, when she told viewers that Roberts' interview with President Obama was historic. The co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America" knew the magnitude of her scoop.


The buzz had been building since Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he supported same-sex marriage. Press Secretary Jay Carney was barraged the next day with questions. The buzz reached a crescendo after ABC announced that Roberts would interview Obama in the White House. Roberts interrupted her New York plans to travel there.

After Obama told Roberts in the Cabinet Room interview that same-sex marriage should be legal, becoming the first sitting president to say so, Roberts completed the interview, then ducked a question from her fellow reporters. She was hurrying to do a live report outside the mansion.

Roberts told an inquiring April D. Ryan of American Urban Radio Network, "I asked him about a wide range of issues," then covered her head. She and her White House colleague Jake Tapper delivered their live report for ABC as some 20 journalists were camped out under a riser in the White House driveway. "Everybody was going out there to see what she had to say. They knew this was a historic event," Ryan said.

It was a noteworthy day for Roberts, 51, a former ESPN reporter who joined ABC News 10 years ago. Jeffrey W. Schneider, senior vice president and spokesman for ABC News, said Roberts was not available to discuss its personal significance, but Brian Stelter of the New York Times tweeted Thursday that when the interview was replayed on "Good Morning America," Roberts said, "I'm getting chills again."


Schneider said that Roberts and the president had a long history. "She was the very first person on the night of the inauguration to interview the new president," Schneider told Journal-isms. Martha Kumar of Towson University in Baltimore, a political science professor and historian of the presidency and the press, said Roberts had interviewed Obama four times.

According to Sam Stein, writing Wednesday for the Huffington Post, administration officials specifically wanted Roberts.


". . . top officials, speaking on condition that they not be named or quoted, said that the president was not agitated about Biden's appearance NBC's 'Meet the Press,' " Stein wrote. "Instead, he decided that he had to make his position known sooner rather than later. The administration had knowledge of Biden's remarks after he taped his interview last Friday. By Tuesday morning, aides began putting a plan in motion.

"The president would conduct an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts, during which he would explain how he came to take the final step in an 18-month-long evolution of his stance on marriage equality.


"The White House had preferred to break the news in such a setting from the get-go. Now, however, it had to be done rapidly and with some secrecy. . . . By Tuesday,The White House had notified ABC that Obama wanted to do a sit-down. White House aides were instructed to tell not a single outside stakeholder in the gay rights debate about the forthcoming announcement."

Schneider said he could not discuss whether ABC had acceded to a White House request for Roberts. "We have a standing request to interview the president from all of our anchors," he said.


Schneider added, however, that Roberts and her mother, Lucimarian Roberts, had been scheduled to appear on ABC's "The View" Wednesday to promote "My Story, My Song: Mother-Daughter Reflections on Life and Faith," an inspirational book the two wrote.

"That plan changed," he said. Roberts was due to return to New York Wednesday to keep her dinner date with mom.


"Gay Marriage," "Same-Sex Marriage," "Marriage Equality"

Just as President Obama's views on marriage between two people of the same gender have evolved, so have the terms used to describe the phenomenon.


What many in the media had called "gay marriage," then "same-sex marriage," is now joined by a term preferred by its advocates: "marriage equality."

"Marriage equality is definitely the term being used more frequently and it seems to make sense," David A. Steinberg, copy desk chief at the San Francisco Chronicle and president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, told Journal-isms by email. "Our style book advises only to use same-sex marriage rather than 'gay marriage,' as that implies a different type of institution.


" 'Marriage equality' conveys the information in a straightforward way. That's what people have been pushing for — equality. Nothing other than what straight couples already have access to. Not a 'gay marriage,' as if that were different than a 'heterosexual marriage.' Folks argue that it's all just marriage. NLGJA initially recommended using a phrase such as 'marriage for same-sex couples' because the key point was it was just marriage not a separate type of marriage. Of course phrasing like that doesn't work if you're trying to write a headline."

Jennifer Abel, Daily Dot: Obama supports gay marriage, Twitter reacts

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Liberty and Justice for All

Keith Boykin, BET.com: Commentary: Blacks Won't Abandon Obama Over Gay Marriage

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: On gay marriage, Obama's words finally match his deeds


Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: 'Losing forward' with North Carolina's Amendment One

Adrian Carrasquillo, NBC Latino: Latinos React to President Obama Supporting Gay Marriage


Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Obama Evolves

Cheryl Contee (Jill Tubman), Jack & Jill Politics: How to Talk to Your Christian Black Relatives About Obama & Same-Sex Marriage


Helene Cooper, New York Times: Gay Marriage and Black Voters

Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: North Carolina gay marriage ban: How does it affect the social and political future of the state?


Eric Deggans blog, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: President Obama makes history, telling ABC's Robin Roberts "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

Jason Johnson, Politic365.com: Obama on Gay Marriage: He's Smarter Than You Think


Howard Kurtz, Daily Beast: How President Obama, in Six Days, Decided to Come Out for Gay Marriage (May 10)

Rick Klein, ABC News: President Obama Affirms His Support for Same Sex Marriage


Bryan Llenas and Roque Planas, Fox News Latino: Obama's Support of Gay Marriage Sparks Strong Reactions from Latinos

Brendan Nyhan, Columbia Journalism Review: Obama 'evolves,' Romney 'flip-flops'

Mallary Jean Tenore, Poynter Institute: Robin Roberts interview with Obama a coup for 'Good Morning America'


Touré, Time: Will Black Voters Punish Obama for His Support of Gay Rights?

Advertiser Boycott of Limbaugh Cost Company Millions

"This spring's advertiser boycott of Rush Limbaugh over his insulting description of a female college student cost Cumulus Media 'a couple of million dollars,' Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says," David Hinckley reported Tuesday for the Daily News in New York.


" 'It hit us pretty hard,' Dickey said in his quarterly call with financial analysts. 'A couple of million bucks in the first quarter and a couple of million bucks in quarter two.' "

". . . Cumulus' statement is the first that puts a dollar figure on the boycott's effect. But it comes with an interesting side note.


"Limbaugh is heard on more than 600 stations and only 38 of them are owned by Cumulus. So while the Cumulus outlets include cornerstones like WABC in New York, this suggests the total impact of the boycott on all radio station owners exceeded just the Cumulus loss.

"Limbaugh himself was relatively unaffected in any direct way, since he is paid through a long-term contract with his syndicator, Premiere."


Sole Journalist of Color Among Next Michigan Fellows

Suzette Hackney, a staff writer at Detroit Free Press and an African American, is the sole U.S. journalist of color in the Knight-Wallace Fellows program at the University of Michigan for the 2012-13 academic year, program director Charles Eisendrath told Journal-isms on Wednesday.


". . . this year we had two black applicants and took one," Eisendrath said by email.

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". . . The number of applications from African Americans was down, which I regret. We had nine minority applications overall (2 black, 3 Hispanic, 4 Asian), made three offers and were turned down by two who went elsewhere."

The program named 12 American and seven international journalists to the incoming class this week.


The current class includes an African American and three Asian Americans. Eisendrath said last year that 16 of the 76 applications the program received then were from journalists of color, and that he was "very pleased" with the results of outreach the program had made at the journalist of color conventions.

Hackney plans to study "enhancing traditional journalism with technology." In November, the Free Press ran a series by Hackney and photographer Romain Blanquart, "Living With Murder."


According to a news release, "While on leave from regular duties, Knight-Wallace Fellows pursue customized sabbatical studies and attend twice-weekly seminars at Wallace House, a gift from the late newsman Mike Wallace and his wife Mary. . . . Knight-Wallace Fellows receive a stipend of $70,000 for the eight-month academic year plus full tuition and healthcare insurance."

Seven of the 13 U.S. recipients of the John S. Knight Fellowships at Stanford University announced last week are people of color, a development that James R. Bettinger, director of the program, attributed to working "very hard to broaden our outreach to journalists of color, especially those involved in untraditional news media ventures."


The Nieman Fellowship program at Harvard University announced an incoming U.S. class with two self-identified Hispanics, an "Asian-American and white/Caucasian" and no African Americans.

. . . One of Color in Business Journalism Fellowship Class

The 10 recipients of the Knight-Bagehot fellowships in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism include seven whites, one Asian and two who are undeclared, Terri Thompson, director of the program, told Journal-isms on Wednesday. For the second year, there are no African Americans.

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The mid-career fellowships provide full tuition and a living stipend of $50,000 for experienced journalists to take graduate courses at Columbia's Schools of Business, Law, and International and Public Affairs, the university said in an April 25 news release.


The journalist of color in the group is Nandagopal Jayakumar Nair, 28, assistant news editor for CNBC-TV18 in Mumbai, India. "In charge of driving editorial content, he heads the news channel’s 14-member evening desk team and oversees production of shows, including India Business Hour, What's Hot, and Markets Today. He is part of the core team that is establishing CNBCTV18's online presence via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the channel's website – moneycontrol.com," the announcement says.

The current class includes three Asians and two Hispanics.

"I love diversity and this year we had the most diverse class ever," Thompson said by email. ". . . it was one of the best classes in the Knight-Bagehot Program's 36 year history. But I don't discriminate against non-minorities and for the 2012-2013 academic year the best applicants just happened to be white. Although, I must say, it is quite ethnically and culturally diverse; we have folks coming in from India, France, Greece and even Michigan! I'd love to reach the readers of your column and invite the best of those who cover business and economics to apply for the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at www.jrn.columbia.edu/knight-bagehot. Please spread the word."


The Society of American Business Editors and Writers has said it is renewing a push to broaden its diversity efforts to increase the pool of business journalists of color.

Blogger Out After Readers Challenge Black Studies Posting

"The Chronicle of Higher Education dismissed one of its bloggers after outcry over a blog post she wrote questioning the legitimacy of black studies as an academic discipline," Gene Demby reported Tuesday for the Huffington Post.


"Naomi Schaefer Riley, a lecturer and author who wrote for the Chronicle's blog, Brainstorm, was let go after readers pushed back on an essay she published last week titled 'The Most Persuasive Case For Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.'

"Riley's essay responded to a sidebar of a story in the Chronicle which profiled several up-and-coming black studies scholars in the process of writing dissertations. Riley looked at the titles of the dissertations — on subjects like the role of race in housing policy and the history of black midwifery in the United States — and called them 'left-wing victimization claptrap.'


"Nearly 6,500 people signed a petition calling for her dismissal from the blog. Yesterday, Liz McMillen, the site's editor, wrote a note apologizing for Riley's post, and said that the publication had decided to part ways with the author, who is also an affiliate scholar of the Institute of American Values, a conservative think tank based in New York."

Lindsay Beyerstein, In These Times: Naomi Schaefer Riley: You Knew What I Was When You Picked Me Up


Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Black Studies And 'Intellectual Cowardice'

Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed: The Trouble With Black Studies

Liz McMillen, Chronicle of Higher Education: Editor's Note (May 3)

Naomi Schaefer Riley, Wall Street Journal: The Academic Mob Rules

Betsy Rothstein, FishbowlDC: An Editor's Dangerous Mea Culpa

Craig Silverman, Poynter Institute: Writer fired by Chronicle of Higher Ed: 'The vitriolic reaction is kind of surprising'


Did Interest in FAMU Victim Wane After Gay Disclosure?

". . . Twenty-six-year-old Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion died of blunt force trauma after he was pummeled by more than a dozen fellow band members during a hazing ritual," Rod McCullom wrote Tuesday for ebony.com. "According to the lawsuit later filed by Champion's family, their son was beaten so brutally, he suffered 'severe bleeding' and was reportedly vomiting.


". . . Champion's case had become a cause célèbre among the Black e-telligentsia, Black gossip blogs and news portals. After Champion's parents announced that their late son was gay? Not so much.

"Reporting on the case virtually disappeared across Black cyberspace between January and May 2012. Several outlets — such as The Grio — published the AP's report on Champion's sexuality and never mentioned it again until last week's announcement that 13 people had been charged in connection with his death, most facing felony hazing counts. Just as well, because many of the posted comments around Champion's sexuality were hatefully heartbreaking. . . "


Mexico and U.S.: "Political Neighbors"

"Political Neighbors" opened this week at El Taller Latino Americano in New York, Arturo Conde wrote this week for Univision, offering Americans "a glimpse of the political cartoons of three Mexican master artists: Eduardo del Río (Rius), Felipe Galindo (Feggo), and Rafael Barajas Durán (El Fisgón.) . . . the panels of these Mexican artists compel viewers to question their own principles and awaken a deeper sense of consciousness."


Short Takes

"Al Jazeera English has closed its bureau in Beijing after the Chinese authorities refused to renew its correspondent's press credentials and visa, or allow a replacement journalist," the network reported on Wednesday. "The channel expressed its disappointment at the situation and said it would continue to request a presence in China." Speaking of Hong Lei, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Madeline Earp of the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote, "His explanations for the ministry's refusal to renew credentials for the channel's Beijing correspondent Melissa Chan were a mixture of denial and obfuscation."


"The New York Times Magazine recently ran a story on my home, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, a place one of the most powerful newspapers in the world insensitively dubbed a 'Jungleland,' " Jenga Mwendo wrote for the Maynard Institute's America's Wire. "Contrary to the article, residents of this community are not reconciled to life in the wilderness and we don't live in an untamed mess of overgrowth or in a forgotten wasteland. We are not resigned to anything; we are fighting to revive our community."

"Leaders on the ABC affiliates side applaud official word of the arrangement between ABC News and Univision to create a 24/7 English-language news and lifestyle network, but are unsure about what their role in the network will be," Michael Malone wrote Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. Alex Weprin of TVNewser reported that getting carriage by cable companies might be a problem and Melissa Pitts of HuffPost LatinoVoices listed five ways to turn off Latinos with the collaboration.


"JET® Magazine will host its first-ever open casting call for its JET Beauty® of the Week franchise," the magazine announced Tuesday. "The casting call will be held in Atlanta, Ga. and co-hosted by 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' co-star Cynthia Bailey, chief executive officer, The Bailey Agency School of Fashion this Saturday, May 12, noon-3 p.m. Mitzi Miller, editor in chief, JET, Cynthia Bailey and a special invited celebrity guest will be on hand to judge the women." For more information, email JETcastingbow (at) gmail.com.

"ESPN2's two-hour weekday morning live debate show, 'ESPN First Take,' will get a new look on Monday, June 4 as Stephen A. Smith joins the show fulltime in a key role five days a week," the network announced on Tuesday. "Smith, who now also hosts the daily radio program Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco (1-3 p.m. ET) on ESPN Radio in New York and will serve as a major contributor to SportsCenter year-round, has long been a frequent guest on 'ESPN First Take.' "


". . . as the first, and longest-running, radio station in the South to be founded by blacks, WVOE remains a voice of a community that can still remember when it had no voice at all," Chick Jacobs wrote Tuesday for the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. The station is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

"The governor of Puerto Rico is trying to do what more than a century of American citizenship has failed to accomplish: make Puerto Ricans fluent in English," Danica Coto reported Tuesday for the Associated Press. "Gov. Luis Fortuno, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican vice-presidential candidate, has proposed an ambitious, and what critics call far-fetched, plan to require all public schools to teach all courses in English instead of Spanish."


"FAIR's recent study of the Sunday morning network shows documented a distinct right-wing bias in the guestlists," Peter Hart wrote Monday for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. ". . . Since the study was released, [the] left-leaning commentator/TV host Tavis Smiley has been on two shows, CBS's 'Face the Nation' (4/22/12) and ABC's 'This Week' (5/6/12). The latter showed how a guest like Smiley can broaden the discussion — at one point he invoked Martin Luther King's critique of militarism to talk about current U.S. policy. And he talked about poverty. . . ."

The "Power Players Week" for the game show "Jeopardy!" has been taped and readied for airing starting May 14. NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is scheduled for May 15 and Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page May 17.


"Why does MSNBC allow Al Sharpton to be involved in the [Trayvon] Martin story and still cover it on his 6 p.m. program 'PoliticsNation?' Isn't that a conflict of interest?" former newspaper editor Paul Janensch wrote Monday for the Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group in Stuart, Fla. ". . .The late Abe Rosenthal, a tough executive editor of The New York Times, once told a reporter who wanted to march in a demonstration he had been assigned to write about: 'You can make love to an elephant if you want to. But if you do, you can't cover the circus.' (Actually, Rosenthal said something earthier than 'make love to.')"

As commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War continues, C-SPAN3 plans to air a discussion of the contributions of African American women during the Civil War. The speaker is Hari Jones, curator and assistant director of the African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum in Washington. The program airs Saturday at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern time and 11 a.m. Sunday.


Referring to Honduras, "Reporters Without Borders calls on the authorities to render justice in the murder of Erick Martínez Ávila, a 32-year-old opposition journalist and gay rights activist whose body was found at the side of the road between Tegucigalpa and Olancho on 7 May, two days after his family reported him missing," the press-freedom group said on Wednesday. "Local officials said he appeared to have been strangled."

"On April 24, 2012 Philippine Journalist Michael Calanasan, 36, was shot dead by two gunmen riding tandem on a motorcycle at approximately 7:00 a.m. in San Pablo City, Laguna Province, in the Philippines," Molly Ochs wrote Wednesday for the International Press Institute. "Calanasan was a columnist for the local daily newspaper The Laguna Courier as well as a city traffic officer. . . . Calanasan's mother is the former editor-in-chief of the paper."


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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.

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