'Obamacare' Slur Turned on Its Head

President Obama (Getty Images)
President Obama (Getty Images)

"I Do Care, That's Right. . . . Why Don't You Care?"

For more than a year, Republicans have taken to calling President Obama's health care reform legislation "Obamacare" in an effort to disparage it. No Republican presidential candidates debate is complete without numerous uses of the term, and like "death tax" for "estate tax" before it, the hope is that with repetition, even "objective" journalists will use the word.


The strategy is partly succeeding, but here is the surprise:

Obama is trying to turn the term on its head and use it to his advantage. He did as much in a campaign-style stop in St. Louis this month as he tried to whip up support for his proposed American Jobs Act. The president was ticking off his administration's achievements, including health care reform:

". . . And while it will take a couple of years for all the reforms to fully take place," he said, "already we’ve got seniors all across the country who have gotten $250 to help them pay for their prescription drug benefit. And nearly 1 million young adults already have health insurance because of it — 1 million more young people. That’s an incredible achievement. The Affordable Care Act is working. (Applause.)


"They call it Obamacare. I do care, that’s right. (Applause.) The question is, why don’t you care? The question is, why don’t you care? You should care, too. Some of these folks [are] making central to their campaign pledge to make sure that 30 million people don’t have health insurance. What kind of inspiring message is that? (Laughter) "

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, used "Affordable Health Care Act" on Thursday when she and Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes took questions from audience members, tweeters and reporter Cynthia Gordy at a White House discussion sponsored by theRoot.com.

"A million young people right now are on their parents' insurance," Jarrett said to the in-house audience of 150 and others watching theRoot.com's live stream of the event. Most of the audience was African American, and it included a sprinkling of black journalists.

The public relations offensive was designed "to educate everybody about what's at stake here," Jarrett said, including members of Congress. She and Barnes, who announced Thursday that she was leaving her post at the end of the year, directed audience members to www.whitehouse.gov/jobsact, and http://www.whitehouse.gov/opportunity for more details about the administration's jobs initiatives.


*Cynthia Gordy, theRoot.com: What Has Obama Done for Poor People?

*Betsy Rothstein, FishbowlDC: The FishbowlDC Interview With The Root’s Top Byrd

*Obama Administration Tries to Foil "Obamacare" Searchers (Jan. 7)

*Sunday Talk-Show Hosts Resist GOP's "Obamacare" Term (Nov. 8, 2010) 

Carroll Out, Demby Rises at HuffPost BlackVoices

Gene Demby has been named editor of the HuffPost BlackVoices website, a spokesman said Friday, and Rebecca Carroll, who rose from culture editor to managing editor, only to be replaced in that job by Demby, left the operation this week.


"Gene Demby was promoted to Editor of HuffPost Black Voices last month, and Rebecca Carroll is no longer with us. We appreciated her contributions to our team and we wish her the best in her future endeavors," Huffington Post spokesman Mario Ruiz told Journal-isms by email. "He's our first editor of the site." 

Demby was hired as a news editor in June and founded the website postbourgie.com.


Demby's LinkedIn profile lists him as a news assistant and writer at the New York Times from May 2005 until June.

"What would I like to do next?" Carroll said in response to an email from Journal-isms. "Something that involves bold ideas, brilliant narrat

Rebecca Carroll
This image was lost some time after publication.

ive writing, culture, art and the nuances therein."

BlackVoices has undergone significant turnover since coming under Huffington Post control this year. Carroll made major changes in subject matter and presentation leading to a site redesign that was introduced by Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in August.


At the relaunch, Christina Norman, the ousted CEO of Oprah Winfrey’s struggling OWN cable channel, was named executive editor, and she was still listed in that position in an Oct. 7 Huffington Post article.

HuffPost BlackVoices had 3 million unique visitors in September, according to the comScore, Inc., research company, placing it second to the lurid MediaTakeOut.com among African American-oriented sites.


Media Grappled With Graphic Images of Gaddafi Killing

Britain's the Sun newspaper tied the news of Moammar Gaddafi's killing with the 1988
This image was lost some time after publication.

"News organizations are defending airing the grim video of deposed Libyan dictator Moammar [Gaddafi's] lifeless, bloodied body being kicked and dragged through the streets near his hometown of Sirte," Marisa Guthrie wrote Friday for the Hollywood Reporter.

"The cell phone video was obtained by Qatar-based Al Jazeera on Thursday morning before widespread reports of [Gaddafi's] death. And while U.S. news organizations were careful to note that [Gaddafi's] death was not confirmed by NATO or the U.S. government, they quickly began airing the video, warning viewers that what they were about to see was disturbing."


Meanwhile, Lucas Shaw noted Thursday for theWrap.com, "When the news of Moammar Gaddafi’s death broke on Thursday, it was no surprise which network was first with a video of the bloodied dictator's body dragged through the streets of Sirte: Al-Jazeera.

Shaw asked al-Jazeera spokesman Osama Saeed how Tony Birtley, reporter for Al-Jazeera English, managed to get the video.


"It’s a pretty straightforward story," Saeed said. "We have maintained a strong presence in Libya even after Tripoli fell. Though there has been a general drop off, we’ve maintained our presence there. Tony knew what was happening in Sirte, and he was the first journalist in there. As such, when people had footage of what happened, he was on hand to receive it."

The Poynter Institute was one of several news operations to note the many English transliterations of Gaddafi's Arabic name, surfacing a 1986 article reporting that the colonel once spelled it out in English.


In that article, Cecil Adams wrote, "For many years . . . the Mummer was too busy promoting global chaos to devote much time to the niceties of orthography. That changed in May, 1986, when he responded to a letter from some second-graders at Maxfield Magnet School in St. Paul, Minnesota. The colonel signed the letter in Arabic script, beneath which was typed 'Moammar El-Gadhafi.' This was the first known indication of his own feelings on the subject . . . "

*Chris Ariens, TVNewser: How the Evening Newscasts Reported the Death of [Moammar] Gaddafi


*Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro blog: "This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya .."

*Roy Greenslade, the Guardian, Britain: Gaddafi's death — how the papers covered it, and what they say…


*Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: John McCain, Libya Expert

*Huffington Post: [Moammar] Gaddafi Dead: Did Newspapers Go Too Far?

*Mahmood Mamdani, AlJazeera.com: What does Gaddafi's fall mean for Africa? (Aug. 30)


*Justin D. Martin, Columbia Journalism Review: A Grand Year for Free Speech

*Julie Moos, Poynter Institute: Few U.S. front pages feature dead [Gaddafi], many international papers show body


Reporter's Book Research Led to Headache for Marco Rubio

"Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) pushed back Friday against The Post’s front-page story that details how the Florida senator confused key dates in his family history, saying that 'if The Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that,' " Nia-Malika Henderson reported Friday for the Post.


“ 'But to call into question the central and defining event of my parents’ young lives — the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return — is something I will not tolerate,' he wrote in an op-ed published by POLITICO.

" 'My understanding of my parents’ journey has always been based on what they told me about events that took place more than 50 years ago — more than a decade before I was born. What they described was not a timeline, or specific dates.' "


"The Post story reports that Rubio got his parents’ story wrong, saying for instance, on his Web site that his parents 'came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.' Yet documents reveal that Rubio’s parents were admitted as lawful residents on May 27, 1956, a date of which Rubio was apparently unaware.'

" 'My parents and grandparents came here from Cuba in ’58, ’59,' Rubio said in a 2010 interview with Sean Hannity.


"It was on New Year’s Day in 1959, that Castro’s forces came to power, a date that marks a bright line in Cuba’s history, and as The Post reports, provides a dividing line between the post-revolution exile community and the pre-Castro community."

Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia told Journal-isms on Friday that the story grew out of reporting he is doing for a biography of Rubio, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate. "I came upon some documents that I thought were interesting, related to the arrival of his family in the United States," he said by telephone.


When he came upon the 1956 date, he thought it was a typo, he said. "I had heard Sen. Rubio say his parents came in 1959, and seen references to that in many articles, from the Weekly Standard . . . and particularly the Miami Herald," Rubio's hometown newspaper.

After further research, including a five-hour stretch reading microfilm at the Library of Congress, Roig-Franzia said he, the Post and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, decided that he had a story that could not wait for the book.


"Mario Rubio is an important figure in American politics today. He is somebody invested with a lot of hope by a lot of the country regarding his potential future, so it doesn't surprise me that this piece has generated" plenty of comment "on both sides of the political divide," Roig-Franzia said.

On Friday, Rubio changed the passage in his official biography that said his parents "came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover."


*Keach Hagey, Politico: The Marco Rubio story: From birther blog to mainstream media

In Consolidation, Carolina Garcia to Lead Three Newsrooms

"Carolina Garcia, the editor of the Daily News, will now be the executive editor for the Daily Breeze and the Press-Telegram in Long Beach as well," Kevin Roderick reported Friday for LAObserved.


"Breeze editor Toni Sciacqua becomes managing editor - digital for the group. Sue Schmitt, the editor & general manager of the Press-Telegram, has 'decided not to remain as a full-time employee of the company as part of this transition.' It's the next, big shoe to fall after yesterday's axing of the DN's features and food editors. In Northern California, the MediaNews papers have been largely merged into one product — and many expect this is the first step toward that occurring here."

A memo from Jack Klunder, named last month as publisher of all three papers, says, "The three respective newsrooms of the Daily News, Daily Breeze and Press-Telegram will be led by one executive editor. Carolina Garcia has been selected to serve in this new role."


NBA Commissioner Stern Won't Fire Back at Gumbel

"David Stern declined comment yesterday on commentator Bryant Gumbel's assertion that the NBA commissioner has come off like a 'modern plantation overseer' during the lockout," Marc Berman reported Thursday in the New York Post.


"Using racially tinged remarks, Gumbel said on his HBO show Monday night that Stern is 'a modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys.'

"Stern was a former board member of the NAACP in the 1990s, and during his tenure, the NBA has been given high marks for its minority hiring practices and minority ownership.


"The attack on Stern also may not have helped the Players Association in the labor battle, because Gumbel's remarks could be turning Stern into a more sympathetic figure.

" 'Stern's version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys,' " Gumbel said on his show 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.' 'It's part of Stern's M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he's the one keeping the hired hands in their place.' "


*J.A. Adande, ESPN: Should've seen this one coming

*John Gonzalez, Philadelphia Daily News: NFL timeout is good theater

*Eric McErlain, dailycaller.com: Bryant Gumbel, David Stern and the television ratings game 


*Shaun Powell, ESPNNewYork.com: Bryant Gumbel should've known better

*Deron Snyder, theRoot.com: Bryant Gumbel: Exposing Himself or David Stern?

*Deron Snyder, Washington Times: Gumbel’s slavery slam on Stern was out of bounds


*USA Today: Barkley calls Gumbel's comments "stupid"

*Dr. Boyce Watkins, NewsOne: Bryant Gumbel And The Rise Of The Planet Of The Athletes [Video]


*Jason Whitlock, FoxSports.com: Players need to stick to their day jobs

Short Takes

*". . . I've considered Juan Williams a friend since we covered Jesse Jackson's first presidential campaign back in 1984," Jack White wrote for Saturday on theRoot.com. ". . . That's why reading the ludicrous piece comparing [Thurgood] Marshall's successor on the court, Clarence Thomas, to Malcolm X that Juan posted on The Root earlier this week made me so sad. It made me wonder what had become of the journalist I had known and respected for his careful analysis and courageous willingness to examine the unpleasant facts about the most sacred black icons."

*WikiLeaks and retired ABC News anchor Carole Simpson are the winners of the PEN Oakland 2010 Censorship Award, PEN Oakland, "a Bay Area Chapter of the International Organization of Poets, Essayists, and Novelists," announced on Thursday. Simpson self-published her biography "NewsLady" after being turned down by literary agents as too controversial, she said. Ishmael Reed, PEN Oakland board chairman, told Journal-isms, "Since publishers and television networks might belong to the same conglomerate, it's not surprising that Carole Simpson had to self-publish her book,['NewsLady.'] The racist and sexist treatment she received behind the cameras explains how African-Americans appear before the cameras." This columnist won the award last year.


*"It's only been a month since syndicated talk show host Michael Baisden started working with The Black and Missing Foundation," RadioInk reported this week. "Since then, Baisden's program has been directly responsible for finding three missing children. The most recent success story involves young Jhada Clarke, who had been taken out of state by her father and missing for more than a month."

*Asians who watch video on the Internet viewed more than nine hours of it per month, according to the Nielsen Co.'s second-quarter 2011 report on cross-platform consumption, Kate Kaye reported Thursday for ClickZ.com. Asians are followed by Hispanics, who spent six hours and 15 minutes watching online on average. African Americans viewed web video for around six hours and whites for only three hours 50 minutes, Kaye reported.


*Justin Tejada, assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated Kids, will be joining Bob Der to co-direct the Asian American Journalists Association's Executive Leadership Program, a volunteer position, AAJA announced on Thursday.

*"Time Warner Cable today (Oct. 20) launched a new, originally-produced African-American-themed talk show as part of its On Demand platform," R. Thomas Umstead reported for Multichannel News. "The six-episode series, Born To Shine, spotlights the impact African Americans continue to make within the entertainment industry, sports, technology and the community," according to cable officials.


*". . . California’s Silicon Valley is booming, and technology companies like Facebook, Skype, and Apple are seeing their valuations soar," CNN announced on Friday. "CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien reports that the ownership of this digital bloom is mostly young, white, and male. For her fourth 'Black in America' documentary, O’Brien asks why, according to industry analyst CB Insights, less than one percent of all venture capital money went to digital startups with African-American founders in 2010 — and she profiles a unique, technology-focused 'accelerator' developed to help African-American digital entrepreneurs secure funding to establish their businesses. 'Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley' will debut on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 8:00p.m. ET & PT and replay on Nov. 13 at 11:00p.m. ET & PT."

*Teresa Puente is returning for a second year as secretary of the Journalism & Women Symposium, known as JAWS, the group announced on Friday. Puente teaches at Columbia College Chicago and is a visiting professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. Charreah Jackson, associate editor of Heart & Soul Magazine in New York, is one of three returning board members. Katherine Rowlands, an editor with the Bay Area News Group in California, was elected president.


*"As sports fans move to the real time reporting of the Internet to get their fix, so too has Sporting News," Steve Smith reported Oct. 6 for minonline.com. "The venerable title is celebrating its 125th year in print, and does so by pulling its hard copy publishing schedule back from bi-weekly to monthly. The publication announced this week it would go to once a month beginning with the November 7 issue. It is merging with the Sporting News Yearbooks brand, but retains Sporting News as its title. The editorial content will shift towards sports previewing, focusing on pro, college and fantasy sports."

*"On September 26, 2011, five days after tragic execution of Troy Davis by the State of Georgia, the National Board of the Pacifica Foundation passed a resolution calling for the end of the death penalty in the United States," according to an announcement from Pacifica, which operates five "community radio" stations. "In response to the resolution, Pacifica’s Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt said, 'We will encourage our programmers across the country to inform the public about the ramifications of the death penalty and the harm it invokes. We will encourage our radio stations to provide opportunities for those working to end the death penalty in the United States to have a voice on our airwaves.'”


*"Cuban human rights defender Laura Pollán, who died Friday from respiratory complications at a Havana hospital, fought a mighty battle against the Cuban government for almost a decade," Carlos Lauría and María Salazar-Ferro wrote Monday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Pollán, 63, leaves behind her husband, the award-winning independent journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, and a daughter. She also leaves a legacy of determination, courage, and creativity. Her powerful belief in justice was ultimately rewarded when dozens of wrongly imprisoned dissidents and journalists, including her husband, were freed from prison over the last two years, in large part due to her efforts."

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter

Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.

Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter