President Obama
MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images
President Obama
MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

No Timidity in President's Condemnation of Rape

April D. Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks broke through the flood of questions about the potentially historic Iran nuclear deal at President Obama's news conference Wednesday and told Journal-isms that she was "shocked" by the president's answer. Her question was about Bill Cosby.

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"Earlier this year, on the flight to Selma, you said, on matters of race, as President your job is to close the remaining gaps that are left in state and federal government. Now, how does criminal justice reform fit into that equation? And what gaps remain for you towards the end of your presidency? And also, what does it mean to travel to Kenya, your father’s homeland, in the next couple of weeks as President [of] the United States? And lastly, would you revoke the Medal of Freedom from Bill Cosby?" Ryan asked.

" You stuffed a lot in there, April," Obama replied.

After answering the questions about criminal justice reform and Kenya, Obama said, "And with respect to the Medal of Freedom, there's no precedent for revoking a medal. We don’t have that mechanism. And as you know, I tend to make it a policy not to comment on the specifics of cases where there might still be, if not criminal, then civil issues involved."

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He paused, then continued.

"I’ll say this: If you give a woman — or a man, for that matter — without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape. And I think this country — any civilized country — should have no tolerance for rape."

Ryan said she was shocked because Obama had shied away from discussing cases in the legal system ever since he was burned in 2009 after saying that police in Cambridge, Mass., "acted stupidly" in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. after a confrontation at Gates' home.

Likewise, a backlash ensued in 2013 when Obama said of the slain African American teenager Trayvon Martin, killed by an off-duty night watchman, "You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son."

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As Michael D. Shear reported for the New York Times, "Mr. Obama’s remarks came days after the release of portions of a years-old court record in which the former 'Cosby Show' star admitted to having obtained prescriptions for quaaludes, a sedative, in the 1970s. He testified under oath that he had given the sedative to at least one woman.

"In the unsealed document, Mr. Cosby was asked whether it was 'in his mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with.'

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"Mr. Cosby replied, 'Yes.'

"In the deposition, Mr. Cosby, now 78, did not admit to drugging unwitting women, suggesting instead that the women had consented to taking the pills and having sex with him. Even so, some of his accusers have treated the deposition as a vindication of their claims.

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"Mr. Cosby has denied the assault accusations, and he has never faced criminal charges. . . ."

On MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews" later Wednesday, Matthews explained that congressional leaders had raised the question of revoking the Medal of Freedom.

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Jonathan Capehart, a Washington Post editorial writer, said in the segment that with Obama's answer, "I thought he had come full circle" from his reply in 2009 in the Gates incident. He was back to "that" Barack Obama. "The way he did it today was incredibly, incredibly forceful."

Ryan added that Obama has been strong on women's issues, signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on equal pay for women as the first act of his presidency, speaking out against sexual assault in the military and on college campuses and naming Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett to be chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

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Ryan Grim of Huffington Post said of Cosby, "For all intents and purposes, his medal has been revoked. The president of the United States has denounced him in front of the whole world."

Art Critic Urges Smithsonian to Remove Cosby Collection

"Inside the Castle, it looks as if Smithsonian officials are standing on principle: An exhibition of art owned by Bill and Camille Cosby, on display at the National Museum of African Art, is not an endorsement of Cosby's character, behavior or reputation," Philip Kennicott, art and architecture critic of the Washington Post, wrote on Tuesday.

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"This is about the art, and the artists, not the collector, who is accused of sexually assaulting more than 40 women and who acknowledged in a 2005 legal deposition that he intended to give drugs to women he wanted to have sex with.

"Although Cosby's name appears dozens of times throughout the exhibition, the Castle will not take it down before the scheduled end of its run in January 2016. To do otherwise, they say, would set a bad precedent and open the institution to public pressure from interest groups far and wide who disagree with or dislike anything on display. . . "

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Kennicott also wrote, "This isn't about borrowing art from an unsavory rich guy; it's about hosting an exhibition that celebrates the family life and character — 'the personal importance of family to the collectors cannot be overstated,' reads one exhibition text — of a married man who by his own admission acquired Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with.

The critic also wrote, "Rape is already inescapable in art museums, which is why the museum should be more sensitive to its Cosby connections. No matter what the Smithsonian asserts, the Cosby exhibition is now inextricably tied to women's portrayal of Cosby as a sexual predator. Its casual celebration of patriarchy and traditional female role models will be read in context of women who claim that he allegedly used drugs to incapacitate them. Once you start looking for rape as a subtext, it leaps out at you with a shocking sense of the obvious. . . ."

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Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Obama's NAACP speech called for reforms — and made me proud

Eliza Collins, Politico: Barack Obama shuts down reporter: 'You should know better'

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Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Black conservative group has more concern for Bill Cosby than for his accusers

Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: Atticus Finch and Bill Cosby — Fallen Heroes?

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Craig D. Lindsey, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Bill Cosby has let us all down

Simon Moya-Smith, Indian Country Today Media Network: Obama Commutes Sentences of 46 Federal Prisoners, But What About Leonard Peltier?

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Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: 'Public moralist' Cosby's iconic fall

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Bill Cosby’s moralizing undercut by immoral acts

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Janell Ross, Washington Post: The black president some worried about has arrived

Arlette Saenz, ABC News: President Obama Says 'No Precedent' to Revoke Bill Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Robert Snell, Detroit News: Obama to visit Kilpatrick's prison in Oklahoma

Sue Valentine and Tom Rhodes, Committee to Protect Journalists: Broken Promises: How Kenya is failing to uphold its commitment to a free press

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Story on Serena Williams' Body Rebuked as Racist, Sexist

"When The Times's sports staff gave the green light to an article proposed by a frequent freelancer, Ben Rothenberg, intentions were good," public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote Monday for the New York Times. "Here was an opportunity to illuminate a pervasive problem in women's sports, the old and troubling notions of what a female athlete should look like, and to do so through the views of the athletes themselves

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"Mr. Rothenberg even had the tennis superstar Serena Williams on the record with thoughtful quotes.

"Mr. Rothenberg and his editors said they took special pains to make the story balanced and sensitive.

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"But by Friday afternoon, many readers were aghast. They were calling the article (and even The Times itself) racist and sexist. They were deploring the article's timing, which focused on body image just when Ms. Williams was triumphing at Wimbledon. The article, they said, harmed progress in bringing equality and recognition to women's sports — something happening that very day with New York City's first ticker-tape parade for a team of female athletes, the World Cup champion United States soccer team. . . ."

Sullivan quoted Pat Griffin, professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the author of "Strong Women, Deep Closets" and a consultant on sports and discrimination.

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" 'Sacrificing your femininity is a really old narrative in women's sports,' Ms. Griffin told me by phone. 'There is a whole new narrative breaking through — that women athletes come in all sizes, shapes and forms. So presenting Serena as some kind of freak, or animal-athlete, was appalling.'

"The Times article, she said, 'didn't get at the sexism and racism' just under the surface, or take into account the not-so-distant history of a sport where, for example, a lesbian tennis star like Amélie Mauresmo was derisively referred to by an opponent as 'half a man.'

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"And, as an aside, the author J.K. Rowling had something to say on that subject, responding to a tweet critical of Ms. Williams.

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"Most of all, it's unfortunate that this piece didn't find a way to challenge the views expressed, instead of simply mirroring them.

"Including the perspectives of those who could have unpacked the underlying issues, while also considering the article's timing and staying away from reductive social-media techniques — all of this could have made for a more productive conversation. And that conversation is still worth having."

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Seve Chambers, alldigitocracy.org: How race & gender stop Serena Williams from getting those lucrative endorsements

Christopher Clarey, New York Times: It's Time to Appreciate Serena Williams's Greatness

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Brittney Cooper, Salon: The world only has ugliness for black women. That's why Serena Williams is so important

Judge Backs News Outlets, Unseals Calif. Police Video

"A judge's decision to release videos showing police killing an unarmed California man doesn't mean it will be easier for the public to get such footage. In fact, it shows police will do all they can to keep recordings secret," Brian Melley reported Wednesday for the Associated Press.

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"Even after U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled Tuesday in favor of news media companies that the First Amendment required unsealing the evidence in a lawsuit, the city of Gardena took its aggressive fight to shield the footage from view to a higher court.

" 'We have serious privacy concerns as it relates to the release of police videos in general,' Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano said in a statement after the ruling. 'Although the video has been released, we are still moving forward with our appeal because we are concerned about the broader implications of this decision.'

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"The ruling comes amid a broader debate about whether public accountability requires disclosure of video of officers using force recorded by a growing number of cameras worn on police uniforms and mounted in their cruisers. Police want to keep footage under wraps as evidence exempt from disclosure and to protect the privacy of people caught on camera.

"Video showing the fatal encounter with Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino was released after an attorney for The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg argued the videos should be unsealed because of the intense public scrutiny of police shootings nationwide and the public's interest in knowing what happened.

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"Wilson agreed, saying people should be able to see why the city paid $4.7 million to settle a lawsuit with Diaz-Zeferino's family and another man wounded in the shooting 'only strengthens the public's interest in seeing the videos.' He also said any privacy concerns were outweighed because the victims wanted the footage released. . . ."

Brittny Mejia, Richard Winton and Joel Rubin added Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times, "The grainy videos, captured by cameras mounted in two patrol cars, show three men mistakenly suspected of stealing a bicycle standing in a street under the glare of police lights. With their weapons trained on the men, officers scream at them to keep their hands up.

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"While two of the men in the videos remain motionless, Diaz Zeferino appears confused by the officers' instructions. He drops and raises his arms repeatedly, showing the officers his hands and stepping backward and then forward a few paces. A laser dot from an officers' pistol can be seen on his shirt. After Diaz Zeferino removes a baseball cap from his head, officers standing to the side of the men unleash a volley of gunfire.

"The videos show Diaz Zeferino, 35, collapsing to the ground, along with Mendez, who was wounded. . . ."

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Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: NAACP: It's time to fix criminal-justice system

Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: St. Louis County Still May Charge Journalists Arrested While Covering Ferguson Protests

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Tom Cleary, heavy.com: Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Editorial, Daily News, New York: A wise and humane deal between New York City and Eric Garner's family: There is virtually no doubt a civil jury would have found the city liable

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Los Angeles Times: Full Coverage — Gardena police shooting of unarmed men

Richie Richards, indianz.com: Native Sun News: Half-year marked by race-related incidents

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Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times: Q&A Gardena police shooting video: Justified or 'cold-blooded' killing?

News Outlets Want Gag Order Lifted on Charleston Massacre

"The Post and Courier and others filed a motion Monday to challenge a Charleston judge's gag order and sealing of court documents in the Emanuel AME Church shooting," Cleve O'Quinn reported for the Charleston, S.C., newspaper.

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"Ninth Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson drafted and signed the temporary protection order Friday stating that Dylann Roof's 'right to a fair and impartial trial could be in jeopardy' because of pretrial publicity. He set a court hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday to address the issue.

"Roof faces nine counts of murder, three of attempted murder and one firearms charge after Charleston police allege he killed nine people, including pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, during a Bible study June 17 at the downtown church in an attempt to start a race war.

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"The newspaper filed requests citing the S.C. Freedom of Information Act for 911 calls and police radio communications from Charleston County, along with video, reports and other public records from the Charleston Police Department.

"Nicholson's order bars the release of records and also prohibits prosecutors, defense attorneys, court officials, law enforcement and anyone 'potentially involved in the trial' from making any statements regarding the case.

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"Evening Post Industries Inc., the parent company of the newspaper, the S.C. Press Association, Sinclair Properties for WCIV-TV, and The Associated Press jointly filed the notice in the 9th Judicial Circuit to intervene for the purpose of having access to public records and allowing people potentially involved in the trial to speak. The motion also asks for attorneys to be heard on the matter Thursday. . . ."

Richmond, Va., Paper Urges "Truth and Reconciliation"

"The situation in South Carolina drew attention to racially charged issues throughout the region and the nation," the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch editorialized for the Sunday print edition.

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"Gov. Terry McAuliffe wisely ordered the removal of the Confederate flag from Virginia license plates. The statues on Monument Avenue came under discussion. Shrines to the Confederacy abound in the South. Monument Avenue stands unrivaled for the totality of its projection of a lost cause. South Carolina's official explanation of its secession focused on slavery. After the war, Virginia and its fellow states in the Confederacy avoided an accounting. The gentleman's code apparently deterred integrity.

"Accounting has not occurred; the half remains untold. The United States has not authorized a truth and reconciliation commission. Although blurred, the color line persists. Barack Obama's election did not translate into a post-racial society. White America seems to have believed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 erased history. Several centuries of slavery followed by segregation and racism, de jure and de facto, apparently left no trace.

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"The attitudes insulted those who made history and those who lived it. Nothing could be less conservative than a reluctance to confront the past.

"This is Virginia's opportunity. . . ."

The editorial concluded, "Richmond and Virginia do not lack resources and passion. Taking command of a truth and reconciliation process would exemplify the Dynamic Dominion in sublime ways."

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George E. Curry, National Newspaper Publishers Association: The Confederacy's 'Heritage' of Slavery

Lee A. Daniels, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Standing for Righteousness and against the Confederate Flag

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Gene Demby, NPR "Code Switch": When The 'Heritage' In 'Heritage Not Hate' Is More Skynyrd Than Stonewall Jackson

Editorial, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch: License plate tectonics (July 7)

Editorial, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch: Free Speech: The Rebel Flag & the First Amendment

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Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Confederate flag may be gone, but racist laws remain

David Harris Gershon, Daily Kos: They Are Greeting President Obama with Confederate Flags in Durant, OK

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James W. Loewen, Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.: What should Charleston do with John C. Calhoun?

Newseum Institute: Mark Trahant and Richard Prince Discuss Confederate Flag at The Freedom Forum (video)

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Dannye Romine Powell, Charlotte (N.C.) Observer: A secret agent in Civil War South

Rev. Al Sharpton, Huffington Post: Confederate Flag, Eric Garner Anniversary and The Harper Lee Factor

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Riley K. Temple, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch: Avenue of monumental mendacity

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.
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Bankole Thompson Lands as Detroit News Columnist

Bankole Thompson, who left last month as senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle after a lingering dispute with publisher Hiram E. Jacksonhas joined the Detroit News as a contributing columnist, the News reported on Tuesday.

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"His column will debut Thursday in the Think section," the News said.

Meanwhile, Keith Owens, a former columnist and editorial writer for the Detroit Free Press and senior editor at the Chronicle from 2003 to 2006, told friends that he had been chosen as the publication's new top editor.

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However, Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media, which publishes six African American newspapers, told Journal-isms through a spokeswoman that "we have not filled that position as editor or senior editor." Although Owens is working for the publication, "there has been no announcement about who the next editor or senior editor will be," the spokeswoman said.

Owens messaged Journal-isms, "Until the formal announcement for my appointment comes out — should be a week or so — I'd rather not say too much publicly in 'print' about my role here."

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Tom Greenwood reported for the Detroit News on June 25, "Thompson said he was proud of the work done at the paper during his tenure as senior editor despite what he called 'editorial interference,' the paper’s difficulty in meeting payrolls and 'stale stories' that he said were pushed by financial executives with no background in journalism.

"Thompson said his belief in the importance of the paper, a weekly aimed at the local African-American community, made him stay on as senior editor despite the company's alleged connection to 'pension fund deals during the Kwame Kilpatrick era and the corruption investigations.' . . .”

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Keith A. Owens, blue-route.org: Joy and Pain; 20th Anniversary Reflections on the Detroit Newspaper Strike

Broadband Expanding in Public Housing, Choctaw Nation

"President Obama announced a pilot program to bring broadband to low-income households in public housing on Wednesday, attempting to close a gap that leaves many without high-speed Internet," Katie Zezima reported Wednesday for the Washington Post.

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"The plan, called ConnectHome, will launch in 27 cities nationwide and is expected to reach 275,000 public-housing households, including 200,000 children. The program will also come to the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, where Obama spoke . . . Wednesday. . . ."

Among those applauding the initiative was the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which said in a news release, "The Latino community continues to face significant challenges with home-broadband adoption. According to one recent count, only 53% of American Latinos and 38% of Spanish-dominant American Latinos have home broadband access. Low-income levels are directly correlated to low-broadband adoption. . . ."

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The White House listed these locations as part of the pilot program: Albany, Ga.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Baton Rouge, La.; Boston; Camden, N.J.; Choctaw Nation, Okla.; Cleveland; Denver; Durham, N.C.; Fresno, Calif.; Kansas City; Little Rock, Ark.; Los Angeles; Macon, Ga.; Memphis, Tenn.; Meriden, Conn.; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; Rockford, Ill.; San Antonio, Texas; Seattle; Springfield, Mass.; Tampa, Fla.; and Washington.

Oklahoma Daily, University of Oklahoma: President Obama visits Oklahoma, announces ConnectHome for Choctaw Nation

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Darlene Superville, Associated Press: Obama unveils high-speed Internet help for low-income homes

Hispanic Republicans Score Trump for Remarks on Mexicans

"The undersigned are proud Americans who are either Mexican immigrants or children of Mexican immigrants," 11 Hispanic Republicans wrote in an "open letter" to Donald Trump, who insulted Mexican immigrants last month as he began his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Fox News Latino reported Tuesday.

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"Our story, similar to that of millions of immigrants — of all races, creeds and nations — who came before us is one of hard work, faith, perseverance, ingenuity, sacrifice, success and love for America. We are not rapists. We are not criminals. And we do not have a lot of problems, just one — and that is with the comments you made about Mexican immigrants. . . .

"Republicans deserve a standard bearer that appeals to our best hopes, not our worst fears. We need a presidential candidate who focuses on proposing real solutions to issues rather than having sensationalism and demagoguery as a campaign strategy. . . ."

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Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, Trump "found a new home for Miss USA on the little-known Reelz Channel after NBC dumped the pageant because of his comments on Mexican immigrants, but fewer than a million television viewers watched.

"That's down sharply from the 5.6 million people who watched Miss USA on NBC in 2014, evidence of the still-potent advantage broadcast television has in showing an event that appears to have more default viewers than people actively seeking it out. . . ."

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Esther J. Cepeda, Washington Post Writers Group: Have faith in the melting pot

Jelani Cobb, the New Yorker: Donald Trump Is a Rapper

Juan Gonzalez, Daily News, New York: Martin O'Malley could gain support with bold immigration reform plan

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Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas Morning News: Donald Trump's rise is good news for Jeb Bush

Maria Elena Salinas with Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources," CNN: How Univision covers immigration like no other network

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Rick Sanchez, Fox News Latino: Donald Trump's talk was no slip or slur — it was a simple lie (July 8)

Short Takes

"A new FAIR study finds that NPR commentary is dominated by white men and almost never directly addresses political issues," Michael Tkaczevski reported Wednesday for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. "This study reviewed transcripts from January 1 to May 31, 2015, looking at regular commentators — that is, voices who were featured twice or more on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Edition Sunday to present their perspective in monologue form. The study found 14 regular commentators, whose viewpoints were featured in a total of 106 segments. Of these commentators, 12 were men and two were women (86 percent male); 12 of the commentators (86 percent) were non-Latino whites and two were people of color. . . ."

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Arun Rath, the host of NPR's weekend "All Things Considered" who is leaving that post in September to make way for Michel Martin, says his new assignment hasn't yet been finalized. "We're still working out details about what I'll be doing in Boston in October, but hopefully should be able to announce something soon," Roth messaged Journal-isms. He describes his ethnicity as "South Asian Indian, or precisely half Indian half English."

"Lester Holt is on a ratings roll on 'NBC Nightly News,' " Stephen Battaglio reported Tuesday for the Los Angeles Times. "The evening news broadcast last week scored its third consecutive weekly ratings win since Holt was officially named as the replacement for Brian Williams as anchor. . . ."

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In Philadelphia, "Longtime KYW Newsradio newsman Vince Hill, anchor of 'KYW's Opening Bell,' heard the closing bell yesterday when CBS Philly laid him off," Jenny DeHuff reported Tuesday for the Philadelphia Daily News. DeHuff recalled that on July 1, KYW fired three of its top TV news personalities, Kathy OrrChris May and Beasley ReeceJeff Blumenthal added for Philadelphia Business Journal, "In 2008, Vince Hill was given the Lifetime Achievement award of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. And in 2014 he also received the National Association of Black Journalists’s President's Award for outstanding contributions to the organization. . . ."

"Connie Llanos is the mayor's new press secretary," Kevin Roderick reported Tuesday for LAObserved, referring to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "She is currently the communications director and strategic advisor for City Council member Curren Price." Roderick also wrote, "Before switching sides in 2011, Llanos was a reporter for the Daily News of Los Angeles covering politics and education. . . ."

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"With little public fanfare, seven federal agencies have announced a controversial trial program of publishing documents responsive to most Freedom of Information Act requests online," Adam Marshall reported July 9 for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "Under the program, known as a 'Release-to-One is Release-to-All' policy, any member of the public will presumably have access to the result of almost any FOIA request. . . ."

"When Eric Garner died while being arrested on July 17, 2014 near his Staten Island home, New York City joined a growing number of cities that recently witnessed high-profile cases of African American men and boys dying during police action," public radio station WNYC said in an announcement Tuesday. "From Wednesday, July 15- Friday, July 17, members of the community where Garner lived and the larger Staten Island public are invited to visit WNYC's TalkBox to share their thoughts on Garner's death and its impact. These testimonials will be shared via Twitter from @WNYCTalkBox during the days leading up to the anniversary, and will play a significant role in WNYC's news programming. TalkBox is a former New York City payphone that WNYC has repurposed. . . . To find out where the TalkBox will travel next, follow @WNYCTalkBox on Twitter."

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"National Journal's Next America is continuing to bolster its editorial venture with the additions of Jamila Robinson and Emily DeRuy,"  Damon Marx reported Tuesday for FishbowlDC. Robinson will be responsible for Next America's digital growth strategy as senior digital editor, while DeRuy, who served as a reporter for Fusion, is to cover early childhood and major changes in education.

"Juan Antonio Ramos, executive editor of La Estrella, the Star-Telegram’s Spanish-language publication, has joined the Star-Telegram Editorial Board," the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas, announced Friday. It also said of Ramos, "He has led La Estrella's coverage of the Hispanic community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1997 and has represented the Star-Telegram and La Estrella at community events throughout the Metroplex. . . ."

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's declaration as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was greeted Tuesday by these words from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial: "Walker is the most divisive Wisconsin politician in living memory. And that kind of governing is wearing thin with some voters here. . . ."

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