“So much for a belated honeymoon period. A day after gaining widespread praise in the media for his address to a joint session of Congress, President Trump is facing a barrage of potentially damaging stories,” PR Week wrote in a Thursday morning headline.
“The good vibes in the media from President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress didn’t last long,” the story began. “A troika—that’s a Russian term — of potentially very damaging stories to the Trump administration broke Wednesday night.
“At the top of the list is a Washington Post report stating that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator and top Trump campaign surrogate, met twice with Russia’s U.S. ambassador last year, but did not disclose the meetings during his Senate confirmation hearings. Democrats are calling for Sessions to recuse himself from an investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Several top Democrats in Congress are demanding Sessions to step down as attorney general. . . .”
If that takes place, the media reports will have accomplished what attention to Sessions’ civil rights record could not.
On Feb. 9, the NAACP issued this statement: “Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was confirmed as the nation’s 84th US Attorney General this evening, despite intense opposition by the NAACP and hundreds of organizations due to his historically weak and questionable support for voting rights, police accountability and the rights of immigrants and women. . . .”
It also said, “In January alone, the NAACP earned in support of its #StopSessions campaigns gained 43,000 new Twitter followers, generated hundreds of posts earning over 14.5 million views and more than 370,200 engagements.
“With Facebook, our supporters churned out 573,000 page ‘likes,’ and posts were seen 4.1 million times, while videos were watched 1.07 million times in January alone. These numbers represent the floor of our potential activity in mobilizing support for the protection of civil rights rather than its ceiling.
“Despite all our work and the coalitions we’ve collaborated with, Senator Sessions was confirmed today along a clear red versus blue partisan line of 52-47. . . .”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice said then, “It is deeply troubling that the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions despite his extreme anti-immigrant record and reports that he played a role in President Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims and Syrian refugees . . . .”
Investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, author of “The Making of Donald Trump,” published last year, said of Republicans Thursday on Pacifica’s “Democracy Now!” “You’re going to see them stop defending Donald Trump’s lies and utter incompetence, and start protecting themselves. This is the beginning of the end, not the beginning.”
Charlie Savage reported for the New York Times, “Congressional Republicans began breaking ranks on Thursday to join Democrats in demanding that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuse himself from overseeing an investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. . . .”
Asked whether he would step aside from investigating alleged ties between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, Sessions told NBC News, “I have said whenever it’s appropriate, I will recuse myself. There’s no doubt about that,” NBC’s Tony Capra and Erik Ortiz reported.
Alexander Bolton, the Hill: Schumer calls for Sessions to resign
Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmid, New York Times: Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking
Lauren Smith and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN: Democrats call for Sessions to resign over meetings with Russian envoy, some Republicans [call] for recusal.
Adam Withnall, London Independent: US media turn screw on Donald Trump administration with fresh reports of Russia links
The topics for commentary on Donald Trump seem limitless. In this animated cartoon, Mike Thomas of the Detroit Free Press focuses on Trump’s ability to profit handsomely from the presidency.
“President Donald Trump campaigned promising a return to ‘law and order,’ Chiraag Bains reported Tuesday for the Marshall Project.
“Since taking office, he has attempted to fulfill that promise through policies that have been criticized as being thin on substance and out of touch with crime statistics. The president’s approach is misguided for another reason, however: [He] is targeting immigration as a driver of violent crime when it just might have the opposite effect. . . .”
That wasn’t the message Trump delivered later Tuesday in his address to a joint session of Congress.
“I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims,” the president announced to audible groans. “The office is called VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests. Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them. . . .”
Bains also wrote, “A trove of empirical research contradicts the notion that immigrants are the violent criminal horde Trump makes them out to be. In fact, studies consistently show that they commit significantly less crime than native-born Americans, and although the data are difficult to untangle, this appears to be true of both authorized and unauthorized immigrants. Even more, new findings suggest that immigrants may actually cause crime to decline in the areas where they live. . . .”
Fact-checkers who reviewed Trump’s speech, which was praised by many as “presidential” for its marked evenness in tone, found it premised on other false assumptions and assertions.
“Some of the problems Mr. Trump promised to solve last night don’t actually exist,” CBS anchor Scott Pelley said on Wednesday’s “CBS Evening News.”
Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee of the Washington Post were among several who examined Trump’s statement that “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.”
“This is an absurd Four-Pinocchio claim, based on a real number,” the Post reporters wrote. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics, relying on a monthly survey known as the Current Population Survey (CPS), shows that, as of January 2016, 94.4 million Americans 16 years and older were ‘not in labor force.’
“How is this number developed? Well, there is a civilian noninstitutional population of 254.1 million people, and 159.7 million are in the labor force. The difference yields the 94.4 million figure.
“But the unemployment rate is only 4.8 percent because just 7.6 million people actively are looking for a job and cannot find one. They are considered part of the overall labor force. In other words, you have to be seeking a job to be counted in the labor force.
“Who are the 94 million not in the labor force? The BLS has data for the year 2015. It turns out that 93 percent do not want a job at all. The picture that emerges from a study of the data shows that the 95 million consists mostly of people who are retired, students, stay-at-home parents or disabled.
“Trump is doing a real disservice in citing this 94 million figure and suggesting it means these people are looking for work. . . .”
Binyamin Appelbaum, Coral Davenport, Caitlin Dickerson, Dana Goldstein, Nicholas Kulish, Ron Nixon, Robert Pear and Charlie Savage, New York Times: Fact Check: Trump’s First Address to Congress
Brian Beutler, New Republic: The Worst Performance of Trump’s Presidency Now Belongs to the Press Corps
Aaron Blake, Washington Post: Trump critic Van Jones: ‘One of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period’
Bloomberg News: Oprah Realizes You Don’t Need Experience to Be President (video)
Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer: America needs immigrants, even the ones living here illegally
Veronica Escobar, New York Times: How Trump Will Hurt My Border Town
Madison J. Gray, Ebony: Meet the Trump Address Guest Who Backs School Choice
Ryan Grim, Huffington Post: Undocumented Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas Is In The Capitol To Watch Trump’s Address
Louis Jacobson and Amy Sherman, PolitiFact: Fact-checking Donald Trump’s address to Congress
James King, vocativ.com: Trump Candidate To Head Border Patrol Is Under FBI Investigation
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: On immigration, Trump is playing Obama’s game
Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: President Trump, stop scaring away foreign tourists. Take a lesson from Costa Rica.
Lis Power, Media Matters for America: Trump Advocated White Nationalism With An “Indoor Voice,” And Pundits Loved It
Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald: This is why Americans should strongly support legalization of undocumented immigrants
Alana Horowitz Satlin, Huffington Post Latino Voices: Dreamer Delivers Powerful Response To Donald Trump In Spanish
“ABC News President James Goldston has pledged to ‘stand with our colleagues who cover the White House’ and ‘protest’ if the White House does not operate with transparency, he said Wednesday in response to a petition imploring the broadcasting company to take a stand over the White House’s decision to exclude news organizations from a press gaggle last Friday,” Kelsey Sutton reported Wednesday for Politico.
Sutton also wrote, “Earlier Wednesday, Goldston received a petition signed by more than 230 former ABC News executives, correspondents, producers and other former staffers calling on him to refuse to take part in White House briefings if news organizations are barred from attending.
“The petition, a copy of which was reviewed by a POLITICO reporter, referred to an incident Friday during which several news outlets were barred from an informal press briefing with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Among the signers was former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, who was known for his tough questioning of White House officials. . . .”
Meanwhile, Steven Perlberg and Adrian Carrasquillo reported Tuesday for BuzzFeed, “Donald Trump on Friday railed against the media’s use of anonymous sources in stories. Four days later, he was one. . . .”
They also wrote, “In a private meeting with national news anchors ahead of his address to Congress Tuesday night, Trump went on background with reporters as a ‘senior administration official’ to discuss issues like immigration, telling attendees that it was time for a legislative compromise from both parties. . . . Reporters were allowed to put some of Trump’s comments back on the record at 6 p.m., according to a person familiar with the terms of the meeting.”
Perlberg and Carrasquillo said that among the attendees were NBC’s Chuck Todd and Lester Holt, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer, Univision’s María Elena Salinas and Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart and TVOne’s Roland Martin.
On Monday night, Trump held an off-the-record dinner meeting with 18 local television reporters, representing six station groups, Kevin Eck reported for TVSpy.
Margaret Sullivan wrote Tuesday for the Washington Post, “President Trump and his aides despise and condemn anonymous leaks to reporters. Except, of course, when they are the ones doing the leaking. . . .”
In Asia, “In a sign that President Trump’s criticism of the news media may be having a ripple effect overseas, a government spokesman in Cambodia has cited the American leader in threatening to shutter foreign news outlets, including some that receive money from Washington,” Mike Ives reported Tuesday for the New York Times.
“The spokesman, Phay Siphan, said that foreign news groups, including the United States-financed Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, should ‘reconsider’ how they broadcast — or risk a government response if their reports are deemed to spread disinformation or threaten peace and stability. . . .”
Reggie Anglen, columbusunderground.com: Opinion: Trump Needs to Let Journalists do Their Jobs
Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: Trump Tells News Anchors At Private Lunch That He Wants To Be Treated Fairly
Editorial, Detroit Free Press: Donald Trump’s latest step toward tyranny
Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter and Roland Schatz, Washington Post: News coverage of Trump is really, really negative. Even on Fox News.
Hadas Gold, Politico: Vice President Pence snubs CNN
Jessica Huseman, ProPublica: The Breakthrough: How Reporters Really Use Unnamed Sources
Adam Liptak, New York Times: Barring Reporters From Briefings: Does It Cross a Legal Line?
Kelly McBride, Poynter Institute: Trump’s speech should remind journalists that tone matters
Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Trump credits ‘Fox & Friends’ for his political rise
“After Kellyanne Conway was photographed sitting on her feet on an Oval Office couch, the Internet reached for its best material — and behold, a new meme was born,” Lindsey Bever reported Tuesday for the Washington Post.
“The counselor to the president had her shoes on when she was apparently perching on the furniture Monday to snap a photo of President Trump with leaders of the nation’s historically black universities and colleges. . . .”
Social media exploded. One Conway defender wrote on Facebook, “Do I believe that had I done what Kellyanne has done in the media that I would be still working at the WH? Hell no! I would be blackballed and ruined as a black woman for good. That’s real. We do not get the same chances or privileges. It is what it is. But to attack a woman and call her racist, disrespectful or worse because she took a photo and sat on a couch is just WRONG!!!!”
Karen Mizoguchi wrote Tuesday for People magazine, “Kellyanne Conway spoke out about the couch controversy and offered an explanation as to why she was kneeling on the Oval Office furniture.
“I was very busy today and didn’t follow a lot of it, but I know there are a couple of reports at least showing what happened. And what happened is we had the largest gathering of men and women to date in the Oval Office for a picture,” the White House adviser explained on Tuesday’s episode of Fox News’ Lou Dobbs Tonight.
“I was being asked to take a picture in a crowded room with the press behind us. I was asked to take a certain angle and was doing exactly that. I certainly meant no disrespect, I didn’t mean to have my feet on the couch,” she continued.
“. . . When asked by Dobbs about the ‘deplorable hypocrisy’ and the ‘venom of the left’ regarding the photo’s backlash, Conway blamed an unnamed journalist. . . .”
Nick Chiles, NPR “Code Switch”: HBCUs Graduate More Poor Black Students Than White Colleges
Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed: New Visibility for HBCUs, but Not Dollars
Errin Haines Whack, Associated Press: AP FACT CHECK: Black colleges hardly school choice pioneers
“As a new columnist and editor at large at The Undefeated, William C. Rhoden is looking toward the future, and not just his own,” Corinne Grinapol reported Tuesday for Fishbowl. “In his new role, Rhoden will not only be writing columns on sports, culture and race, but is also setting up an internship program to support a new generation of sports journalists.
“ ‘John Skipper and Kevin Merida have helped turn a dream into reality,’ Rhoden said in a statement. “Through The Undefeated, ESPN has provided me with an unprecedented opportunity to identify, mentor and sponsor talented young journalists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I look forward to passing the torch I received from Sam Lacy and many others to a vibrant, new generation,’ he said, referring to the black sportswriter who worked during and experienced the effects of segregation and also served as a mentor to many generations of journalists.
“ ‘Bill’s pioneering career has been phenomenal, his body of work unmatched. We are grateful to have him leading a new initiative at The Undefeated to develop the next generation of Bill Rhodens,’ said Merida, who is ESPN senior vice president and editor in chief of The Undefeated, in a statement. ‘Thankfully for us, and for our readers, Bill will continue to write — his strong, brilliant voice is still needed.’
“Rhoden had spent almost three-and-a-half decades at The New York Times, the last 26 of them as Sports of The Times columnist, before taking a buyout in July of last year. At the time, Rhoden told Richard Prince that one of his post-Times aims would be a focus on getting ‘young black writers in the pipeline.’ He’ll be doing just that in this new role.”
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists Tuesday added its voice to those protesting Univision’s dramatization last Saturday of the deadly mass shooting nine months ago at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“To say the dramatization was unnecessary is to put it mildly,” NAHJ President Brandon Benavides wrote the network. “Your graphic depiction of this terrible crime was simply over the top. We question the judgment behind choosing to focus on nightclub-goers getting shot, blood oozing from their wounds and splattered on the floor; and the chaotic scenes of people running covered in the blood, screaming for help and dying. . . .”
In a response from a Univision representative whose name was redacted in the letter posted on the NAHJ website, the company said, “. . . We deeply respect the outpouring of feelings and opinions we have received this week, including yours. We consulted with numerous family members of the victims and survivors in order to accurately reflect their viewpoints and testimonies.
“We hope that, after everybody was able to watch the entire program and fully understand the interviews and experiences of the victims that participated in it, they will agree that it is a serious and conscientious journalistic effort.”
Monivette Cordeiro, Orlando Weekly: Pulse survivors outraged over Univision news special re-enacting massacre
Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel: Pulse re-enactment: Univision atrocity
“As the city experiences a boom in new skyscrapers, the house that EBONY/Jet founder John H. Johnson built remains a decaying relic that’s up for sale as hungry developers push the limits of their projects into unchartered waters,” Erick Johnson wrote Wednesday for the Chicago Crusader.
“The buzzards of urban progress are closing in while the EBONY/Jet building stands increasingly vulnerable to extinction as space grows tight on South Michigan Ave. and demands for bigger, stylish skyscrapers climb to greater proportions. . . .”
Johnson also wrote, “On Feb. 2, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the building would be considered for preliminary landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks — a nine-member group that has granted similar status over the years to over 370 historic sites in Chicago, including the homes of writers Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry and Richard Wright. The group’s latest move capped a month of researching and writing a preliminary report about the history of the EBONY/Jet building. . . .”
“Completed in 1971, the building not only represented the city’s once mighty position as a publishing powerhouse, but as the home of Ebony and Jet magazines, the modernist high-rise was a beacon of Chicago’s African American business community,” AJ Latrace reported Feb. 3 for Curbed Chicago.
“The planning and design of the building also represents the ethos of Johnson Publishing as the tower was designed by John Warren Moutoussamy, an African American architect who studied under Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology. According to the city, to this day, the building was the first and remains the only high-rise in downtown Chicago designed by an African American. . . .”
In Chicago, “ABC7's Hosea Sanders announced Tuesday that he will undergo surgery for prostate cancer,” WLS-TV announced on Tuesday. “Sanders says he was first diagnosed several weeks ago and will undergo surgery on Wednesday as part of the treatment. . . .” Sanders’ announcement on Facebook had garnered more than 7,672 “likes,” 1.445 shares and 4,990 comments by Thursday morning.
The PBS NewsHour and the Washington Press Club Foundation announced Wednesday the creation of The Gwen Ifill/PBS NewsHour Journalism Fellowship. “The 10-week PBS NewsHour summer fellowship was created in honor of award-winning anchor, reporter, and author Gwen Ifill, the former PBS NewsHour co-anchor and managing editor and Washington Week moderator and managing editor, who died in November 2016 after complications from endometrial cancer,” an announcement said. “Financially supported by the Foundation, the fellowship will begin annually in June 2017, open to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need and are pursuing careers in journalism. . . .”
In Cincinnati, Byron McCauley “has returned to The Enquirer after 10 months away,” Editor Peter Bhatia told Journal-isms Tuesday by email. “He is in the process of developing a local column and will have some other duties we’re still sorting out. He’s a terrific journalist and an outstanding person. We’re thrilled to have him back.” McCauley left the editorial board a year ago to become communications director for the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, an education advocacy group.
“Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a waiver to unscramble anonymous phone numbers that had been used to call in bomb threats to a New York Jewish Community Center,” Ali Breland reported Wednesday for the Hill. “. . . Since the start of 2017, there have been roughly 100 threats to 81 JCCs across the U.S. . . .”
“ ‘Time: The Kalief Browder Story’ is a six-part documentary that debuts on Spike TV Wednesday March 1 at 9 p.m.,” Jarvis DeBerry wrote Wednesday for NOLA.COM | the Times-Picayune. “Having seen the first two parts, I can report that the documentary is difficult to watch, but we owe it to Kalief to keep our eyes open. . . .” R. Thomas Umstead added in Multichannel News that the documentary “follows the experiences of Browder, who in 2010, at 16, was arrested for stealing a backpack. He was never convicted of the alleged crime but nonetheless spent three years in Rikers Island prison in New York — a good portion of that time in solitary confinement. . . .”
“Workshops ranging from civility in the workplace and in politics to cyber bullying in the classroom will highlight the second World Civility Day on April 13,” Lu Ann Franklin reported Feb. 19 for the Northwest Indiana Times. “The full slate of eight workshops put together by Community Civility Counts takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Indiana Welcome Center, located at Kennedy Avenue and Interstate 80/94 in Hammond. Community Civility Counts started as a partnership of the Gary Chamber of Commerce and The Times Media Co. in 2015 and now involves other countries. . . .” Travel and ticket details
Belize native Kendis Gibson has been named co-anchor of “America This Morning” and the overnight “World News Now,” joining Diane Macedo, ABC News announced on Tuesday.
Ana Cabrera has been named anchor of CNN’s weekend prime time programming effective immediately,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker announced Wednesday. “Cabrera will anchor CNN Newsroom from New York on Saturdays from 3-6pm ET and 7-9pm ET, and Sundays from 5-8pm ET. . . .”
“When Casey Chaffin learned refugees were coming to Salem in 2016, she realized she didn’t know much about refugees or a handful of other groups of people already living in the city,” Natalie Pate reported Tuesday for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore. “Chaffin, a senior at West Salem High School . . . is now spearheading a project called ‘Stories for Salem.’ The goal of the project, she said, is to get Salem talking about and embracing its diversity. This is one of 12 student-led projects in the United States to receive a sponsorship from the Bezos Scholars Program, a leadership development initiative for high school students. . . .”
“The Ford Foundation has awarded $50,000 to the Fronteras Desk, a public radio collaboration covering issues that span the U.S.–Mexico border,” April Simpson reported Feb. 23 for current.org. “Distributed over two years, the grant will support the journalism initiative in developing stories about inequality and marginalization along the Southwest border. Fronteras is the first of the CPB-supported journalism hubs to receive Ford support. The desk is based at KJZZ in Tempe, Ariz. . . .”
Cash Michaels, contributing writer for the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Chronicle and the Carolina Peacemaker in Greensboro, will be celebrated Friday and Saturday at the annual African American Festival in Cary, N.C., the town announced on Monday. Michaels is also a staff writer and columnist for the Wilmington (N.C.) Journal and contributing writer for the New York Amsterdam News.
“Bionic Barbara. That’s what Barbara Ciara’s WTKR colleagues have been calling her of late,” Larry Bonko wrote Tuesday for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk. “Ciara had both knees replaced at the same time. Two at once! Total knee arthroplasty. What pluck. . . .” Bonko also wrote, “Channel 3’s viewers now see the new Barbara Ciara with new knees, a body that’s 35 pounds slimmer, new-ish wardrobe plucked from the internet, a new hairdo and what Ciara calls timeless jewelry, including some spectacular necklaces. . . .”
Hugo Pérez, news director at KRWG-TV in Las Cruces, N.M., Victor Ramirez, assignment editor/producer at CNN Newsource in Atlanta, Terra Hall, digital multimedia reporter at KSHB-TV, Kansas City; and Chanteé Lans, reporter at WBZ-TV in Boston, are among 12 producers, reporters, and editors to become Fellows in Europe in June as part of the German/American Journalist Exchange Program, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation announced on Wednesday.
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“The Journal-isms column is needed more than ever to document how the media are covering the racial turmoil of the past couple of years and solving the still unresolved issues on how to improve the thought processes of our news organizations in the digital age.”
— Arlene Notoro Morgan, assistant dean for external affairs at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication.
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.