• Book Cites Contempt From Both Russian, Trump
  • A School Shooting Deserving of More Coverage
  • Golden Age of Rap Writing Gave Way to Blog Culture
  • Paying Tribute, a Morning Anchor Raps the News
  • Short Takes
Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and President Donald Trump, shown in Hamburg on July 7, 2017, shared contempt for former President Barack Obama, a new book says. (Credit: Stephen Crowley/New York Times)

Book Cites Contempt From Both Russian, Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin was so contemptuous of Barack Obama that Putin’s aides, if not Putin himself, would refer to the United States’ first black president using the N-word, according to a just-released book by two investigative reporters.

Michael Isikoff, now chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, also cite information indicating that Donald Trump, who had claimed that Obama was not born in the United States, vied with Putin in his hatred of the 44th president. They report on a controversial dossier that said Trump hired prostitutes to defile space where the American president and first lady had slept.

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“Putin and his inner circle had nothing but utter contempt for Obama and his administration — much of it cast in racist terms,” Isikoff and Corn write in “Russian Roulette: : The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”

“Putin and his top advisers routinely denigrated Obama and his national security team as ‘weak’ and ‘indecisive’ — and then, contradictorily, blamed him for meddling in Russia’s internal affairs. In Putin’s presence, Obama would be called a ‘monkey,’ and it was not uncommon for the American president to be referred to as the N-word.”

The book has been No. 1 on the Amazon best-sellers list for the past two days, Brian Stelter reported Wednesday for his “Reliable Sources” newsletter.

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Corn and Isikoff continued, “The small number of U.S. officials privy to the reports from this source wondered if Putin and his crew truly viewed Obama in such crude terms. But the source’s credibility was bolstered by a recent episode.

“Months earlier, Irina Rodnina, a Russian figure skater, posted a racist tweet showing a doctored photo of Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama looking like monkeys and admiring a banana. The U.S. Embassy lodged a protest, and Rodnina claimed on Twitter that her account had been hacked. When the Sochi Olympics opened, Putin selected Rodnina, a member of his United Russia Party in the Duma, as one of two Russian athletes to light the Olympic torch. This seemed like a not-too-veiled message. . . . “

“Russian Roulette,” released Tuesday and accompanied by a blizzard of media appearances by its authors, repeats information from a dossier put together by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. Steele had headed Britain’s intelligence Russia desk, then started his own private investigative agency.

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Quoting the dossier, the authors write, “Source D, described as ‘a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow,’ claimed that ‘TRUMP’s (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs. OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. . . .”

Russian figure skater Irina Rodnina tweeted this doctored photo of Barack and Michelle Obama, then said she’d been hacked.

The Steele dossier was published in full in January 2017 by BuzzFeed, which stated that the claims were all unsubstantiated and unverified but deserved to be made public. Other media outlets accused BuzzFeed of being irresponsible. However, the material in the dossier was said to have been shown to both Trump and Obama.

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The authors write that Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, had encouraged James Clapper, director of national intelligence, during the daily intelligence briefing to tell Obama about the “golden showers” allegation.

“Obama turned to Rice and said, ‘Why am I hearing this?’ He was incredulous,” Isikoff and Corn write. “ ‘What’s happening?’ he asked. Rice said the intelligence community had no idea if this story was true but that Obama needed to be aware the allegation was circulating. ‘You don’t really expect to hear the term “golden showers” in the President [cq] Daily Brief,’ a participant in this meeting later said, ‘or that the guy who is going to become president may be a Manchurian candidate.’ . . .”

The reporters also write, “When [Vice President Joseph P.] Biden was briefed about intelligence reports on the connections between various players in the Trump orbit and the Kremlin, he had a visceral reaction. ‘If this is true,’ he exclaimed, ‘it’s treason.’ . . .”

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“Russian Roulette” has a larger focus than Obama and race, as Steven Lee Myers wrote in a review published Wednesday by the New York Times. Myers notes that its “subtitle promises to reveal ‘the inside story of Putin’s war on America and the election of Donald Trump,’ but adds, “Alas, it does not — at least so far as offering foolproof evidence of Putin’s involvement, or his motives.”

Still, an excerpt published in Mother Jones touches on Trump’s posture toward women of color. The setting is a 2013 visit to Moscow to support the Miss Universe pageant, which he owned.

Frequently, Trump would toss out finalists and replace them with others he preferred. ‘If there were too many women of color, he would make changes,’ a Miss Universe staffer later noted.

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“Another Miss Universe staffer recalled, ‘He often thought a woman was too ethnic or too dark-skinned. He had a particular type of woman he thought was a winner. Others were too ethnic. He liked a type. There was Olivia Culpo, Dayanara Torres [the 1993 winner], and, no surprise, East European women.” On occasion, according to this staffer, Trump would reject a woman ‘who had snubbed his advances.’

“Once in a while,” Paula Shugart, the president of the Miss Universe Organization, “ would politely challenge Trump’s choices. Sometimes she would win the argument, sometimes not. ‘If he didn’t like a woman because she looked too ethnic, you could sometimes persuade him by telling him she was a princess and married to a football player,’ a staffer later explained. . . .”

Philip Bump, Washington Post: 4.4 million 2012 Obama voters stayed home in 2016 — more than a third of them black

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David Corn and Michael Isikoff, Mother Jones: “Why the Hell Are We Standing Down?” (book excerpt)

David Corn and Michael Isikoff, Mother Jones: What Happened in Moscow: The Inside Story of How Trump’s Obsession With Putin Began (book excerpt)

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | Times-Picayune: Steve Scalise’s bizarre claim that Donald Trump’s been tough on Russia

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Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe: Deval Patrick for president? Democrats could do a lot worse

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Defining deviancy down — the legacy of the 45th

Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: Even Latin America worries that White House chaos is a sign of U.S. instability

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Andrew Romano, Yahoo News: As Trump visits border, Latino voters are watching and biding their time

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: President Trump’s cultural assault on the First Amendment

A School Shooting Deserving of More Coverage

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“It was a moment of sheer terror that surely none of the hundreds of kids flooding the corridors for the end of the school day will ever forget,” Will Bunch wrote Tuesday for the Philadelphia Daily News.

“One moment, 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington — already accepted to college for the fall, with dreams of becoming a nurse — was seen with another teen student, a wide receiver on the football team. Then came a loud pop as a bullet went right through Courtlin’s heart, ending her life way too short of adulthood.

‘ ‘The last thing I told them was “I love you” and have a blessed day at school,’ Courtlin’s mom, Tynesha Tatum, who has another son and daughter in the same high school, told the Birmingham News. ‘That was at 7:45 a.m…At 3:45 p.m., I got a call that my baby got shot.’

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“On Wednesday, Courtlin’s schoolmates — her murder still ringing in their ears — are planning to walk out of school and protest the lack of safety for teenagers trying to grow up in the most gun-crazed nation on the planet. [They did so.] If you follow the news, it’s almost certain that you’ve already heard about the National School Walkout Day, which has become — rightfully so — a huge story from coast to coast. But it’s almost a lock that you haven’t heard at all about the loss of Courtlin Arrington.

“This isn’t Parkland, Florida, where the mass shooting of 17 kids in the upscale Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School upended the world of students who’d been raised to expect the best things in life — and thus triggered a social revolution that is only starting to grow. No, Courtlin Arrington was killed by a handgun inside Huffman High School in Birmingham, Ala., in the kind of struggling urban district where kids have grown all too accustomed to hardship, even to violence.

“Even so, it was somewhat shocking that a shooting inside a school classroom received virtually no national coverage . . .

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“Of course, one death may seem less impactful than one of the 10 largest mass shootings in U.S. history, but tell that to Courtlin’s classmates who will be traumatized by the sound of that fatal gunshot for the rest of their lives. There’s no definitive way to know how much of the ignoring of her story was simply fatigue, in a nation where gun deaths remain off the charts, and how much is because both Courtlin and her alleged killer are African-Americans. . . .”

Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: We must all support Wednesday’s student walkout to toughen gun laws

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | Times-Picayune: New Orleans students to demand gun control in National School Walkout

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Editorial, Baltimore Sun: Student walkout: Protest has a price

Editorial, Buffalo News: In support of the student walkout

Editorial, Chicago Sun-Times: In Chicago, 79 dead of guns so far this year. When will politicians say #enough?

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Editorial, Miami Herald: Defend Florida’s gun restrictions, Gov. Scott, and push back hard against the NRA’s lawsuit

Editorial, Star Tribune, Minneapolis: Assessing the 1994 ban on assault-style weapons

Sherrilyn Ifill, Time: Black Children Will Be the Victims of Armed Teachers (March 7)

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Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, reappropriate.co: Preparing Little Brother for a Mass Shooting

Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Don’t attack students waging war against guns

Kevin Rector, Baltimore Sun: At Excel Academy in Baltimore, national walkout against gun violence hits close to home

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Ruben Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: Arming teachers, the DMV mess and that Bachelor dude …

Pete Vernon, Columbia Journalism Review: The media today: Student walkout keeps media attention on gun violence

Golden Age of Rap Writing Gave Way to Blog Culture

Vintage covers of the Source, Vibe and ego trip magazines (Credit: Pitchfork.com)

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Michael Gonzales found himself locking horns with Damon Dash in 1997,” Dean Van Nguyen wrote Monday for Pitchfork.com under the headline, “How a Group of Journalists Turned Hip-Hop Into a Literary Movement: Looking back at the golden era of rap writing.”

“The Roc-A-Fella co-founder wanted a Jay-Z feature pulled from The Source when it was decided that rap supergroup the Firm was going on the cover instead. When his request to have the Jay story cut was refused, Dash pulled up outside the magazine’s office looking to speak to the piece’s writer. ‘I’m not getting in your car,” Gonzales remembers telling him. ‘I’ve seen that movie and it didn’t end well.’ In the end, The Source ran two covers.

“The drama with the artists was reflected within the offices of The Source too. Most of the tension arose from co-founder David Mays and his complex relationship with rapper and entrepreneur Ray ‘Benzino’ Scott. A staff walkout occurred in 1994, when Mays secretly slid an article into the magazine about Benzino’s group the Almighty RSO — a clique Mays just happened to be managing — behind the backs of his editorial team. . . .”

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Van Nguyen also wrote, “The golden age of rap journalism probably ends with the decline in both music sales and print media — less money for expensive album launches and 4,000-word artist profiles — as well as the rise of blogging culture and social media. ‘I don’t think people are curious they way that they used to be,’ laments Amy Linden. ‘How can we expect thoughtfulness when we’re interested in hashtags and tweets and fast thoughts?’ “ He referred to Sacha Jenkins, creative director of Mass Appeal, which began as a magazine but now has a website, label and creative agency.

“As Jenkins puts it, ‘If I had to depend on writing about hip-hop, I’d be fucked right now.’ . . .”

Paying Tribute, a Morning Anchor Raps the News

WSB-TV anchor Fred Blankenship took lines from the late Craig Mack and worked them into his news and traffic reports. (Screenshot)

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In Atlanta, “WSB morning co-anchor Fred Blankenship and traffic reporter Mark Arum spent this morning’s show rapping the news,” Chris Ariens reported Tuesday for TVSpy.

“Why?

“Well, it was a tribute to rapper Craig Mack, who died yesterday at age 46.

“Mack shot to fame with the 1994 platinum hit Flava in Ya Ear.

“So this morning [Blankenship] and Arum took lines from[the] song, working it into news and traffic reports. WATCH: . . .”

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Short Takes

  • Thirty jobs will be cut from the newsroom of The Denver Post in the coming months, Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo told her staff on Wednesday,” the Post reported. ‘These job losses are painful, and we know meaningful work will not get done because talented journalists have left the organization, she said in a memo sent following a newsroom meeting. ‘I’m sure some commenters will cheer what they believe is the eventual demise of the mainstream media, but there is nothing to celebrate when a city has fewer journalists working in it.’ The Post newsroom currently has about 100 journalists. . . .”
Terrance Bates

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  • Terrance Bates, the morning news anchor at WCCB-TV, has been off the air since being arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault on a female following an incident with his wife last week,” Théoden Janes reported Tuesday for the Charlotte Observer. “Bates, 44, has been with Channel 18, Charlotte’s The CW affiliate, for almost seven years. According to the arrest warrant, Bates’s wife — Tamara Bates, 44 — alleges that he choked her and threw her to the ground last Tuesday morning. . . .”
  • The San Francisco spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement resigned after the agency’s recent Northern California sweep, saying he couldn’t continue to do his job after Trump administration officials made false public statements . . . ,” Hamed Aleaziz reported Monday for the San Francisco Chronicle, updated Tuesday. “James Schwab told The Chronicle on Monday that he was frustrated by repeated statements by officials, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that roughly 800 undocumented immigrants escaped arrest because of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s Feb. 24 warning to the public about the four-day operation, issued the night before federal officers began staking out homes and knocking on doors. Schwab wanted the agency to correct the number, which he understood to be far lower, and didn’t want to deflect media questions about it, he said. . . .”
  • Spanish-language Estrella TV has brought on Gino Del Corte and model and actress Maria Elena Anaya as hosts for its midday TV shows iTestigo and En Vivo, respectively,” TVNewsCheck reported Tuesday. “iTestigo is a news-based program featuring user-generated content that empowers viewers to become ‘citizen reporters’ and to capture and report on newsworthy events. . . .”
  • Anthony Ponce, who quit his job as reporter and weekend morning anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 to become a Lyft driver, is returning to TV news,” Chicago media writer Robert Feder reported Tuesday on his website. “He’s joining Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, where he’ll anchor ‘Good Day Chicago’ from 4 to 6 a.m. weekdays with Natalie Bomke. Ponce left NBC 5 in 2016 to launch ‘Backseat Rider,’ a podcast in which he interviews his Lyft passengers. He’ll continue to host the podcast and use segments from it on ‘Good Day Chicago’. . . .”
  • Camila Bernal joins CNN Newsource as a bilingual national correspondent based in Washington, D.C.,” CNN announced Wednesday. “Bernal will deliver live English and Spanish language reports and digital content for CNN Newsource’s 1,000+ local news partners. Bernal joins CNN Newsource from KRON in San Francisco, California where she was a general assignment reporter. . . .”
  • Roland S. Martin has been named vice president-digital of the National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ President Sarah Glover announced Wednesday. “He is in his 10th year as a senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show; is host and managing editor at TV One Cable Network; and is CEO of his own media company, Nu Vision Media, Inc.,” the announcement said.
  • Joe Ritchie has become a Hong Kong-based staff editor at the New York Times International Edition, Jill Taylor, deputy editor of the edition, messaged Journal-isms on Wednesday. Ritchie had worked in a contract arrangement since 2013. “Joe brings decades of good editing judgment, international experience and a relentless curiosity and enthusiasm to his work,” she said. “We’re so happy he’s staying here longer than he had planned.” Ritchie was Knight Chair in Journalism at Florida A&M University after working as an editor at the Washington Post and Detroit Free Press.
  • Panama Jackson considers himself one very blessed brotha,” Roy S. Johnson wrote Feb. 26 for al.com, updated Feb. 27. “A graduate of Bob Jones High School in Madison, Jackson never aspired to be a writer. But here he is: a co-founder and Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas, a popular (2.5-3 million monthly uniques) blog offering biting, witty — and always very black — insights into the world. (Launched 10 years ago with co-founders Damon Young and Liz Burr, VSB was acquired last year by Univision under the Gizmodo Media Group, where it is a vertical under The Root.) . . .”
  • Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday it “condemns the Ethiopian government’s deportation of British journalist William Davison in the space of just a few hours last week, after refusing to renew his accreditation. Davison had been based in Addis Ababa for seven years, reporting initially for Bloomberg and then for The Guardian. . . .”
  • “Ahead of elections in Egypt later this month, in which President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is seeking a second term, the authoritarian leader’s government has further clamped down on press freedom, issuing warnings to the media and arresting critical journalists on ‘false news’ charges,” Sherif Mansour reported Monday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Even satirical TV shows have not been spared, with AFP reporting how the media regulator suspended broadcasts of the ONTV show ‘Saturday Night Live bil Arabi’ last month over accusations that it violated ethical standards. . . .”

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Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.