Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Alan Keyes Says Yes to Smiley Debate

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Despite Negative Press, Fred Thompson Declines

Black social conservative Alan Keyes, newly declared for a third try for the presidency, will join Tavis Smiley's GOP "All-American Presidential Forum" next week in Baltimore, a spokeswoman said, but despite two newspaper stories Wednesday in which prominent GOP figures warned the party against appearing to write off voters of color, former senator Fred Thompson is declining to appear.

"There are only a certain number of debates we can attend," Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for Thompson, told Journal-isms. He said the candidate had just accepted an invitation to participate in a forum sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida and at another on economic issues.

Reminded of the criticism that the GOP seemed not to care about African American and Hispanic votes, Sadosky said, "I would not draw any conclusions" from Thompson's decision.

Carla Michele, a spokeswoman for Keyes, told Journal-isms that Keyes had decided to accept Smiley's invitation but could not elaborate because the campaign had just returned from Keyes' first debate since he announced his candidacy on Friday.

Keyes was one of seven Republican candidates in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Monday night trying to win over an evangelical voting bloc at what was called the Values Voter Presidential Debate. The front-runners skipped the event, Breanne Gilpatrick reported in the Miami Herald, and a straw poll declared former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee the winner. An article on a Keyes Web site praised Keyes' performance.



The Washington Post and the Boston Globe both carried stories on Wednesday in which such GOP figures as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former HUD secretary Jack Kemp and former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman urged the front-running Republican candidates to reconsider their refusals to appear before African American and Hispanic audiences.

"We sound like we don't want immigration; we sound like we don't want black people to vote for us," Kemp, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996, said in the front-page Post story by Perry Bacon Jr. "What are we going to do — meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we're going to be competitive with people of color, we've got to ask them for their vote."

"I think it is a terrible mistake," Gingrich said in the Boston Globe story by Michael Kranish. "I did everything I could to convince them it was the right thing to do, [but] we are in this cycle where Republicans don't talk to minority groups," he said.

In addition to skipping Smiley's debate, no Republican candidates except Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accepted an invitation to appear on Spanish-language Univision, forcing that network to postpone its Sept. 16 forum for Republican contenders.

Keyes' appearance at the Sept. 27 Smiley forum — for which former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney already had cited scheduling conflicts — means the candidate lineup no longer will be solely white males.

In addition to his unsuccessful presidential bids, Keyes, a radio host, former Reagan administration official and Maryland resident, was brought in by the GOP late in the 2004 campaign to oppose Democrat Barack Obama, who was seeking a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. He raised the question then about whether Obama was "black enough," a question that gained traction earlier this year as Obama ran for president.

"During the campaign, Keyes argued that the government should pay reparations to descendants of slaves — pointedly observing that Obama would not qualify under his proposal," the Post's Michael A. Fletcher noted in January. However, Obama beat Keyes by 43 percentage points.

While there is no telling what questions the missing candidates at Smiley's forum might have been asked, Dwight Lewis of the Nashville Tennessean wrote last May about the 1995 nomination for U.S. surgeon general of Dr. Henry Foster, an African American from Tennessee. One Tennessee senator, Bill Frist, invited Foster to his home and became one of only two Republicans in the Senate to support Foster. The other home-state senator, Thompson, "helped kill Foster's chances of becoming the nation's top health spokesman when, in June of that year, the Senate refused to break a filibuster blocking a vote on the nomination."

As reported on Friday, Smiley said he would continue with his forum even "if it's just me and Mike Huckabee."

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Small-Town Jena, La., Preparing for Media Spotlight

Tiny Jena, La., is bracing for an onslaught of media coverage for demonstrations Thursday protesting charges against the so-called "Jena Six," African American teenagers accused in the beating of a white classmate after a series of events that included hanging a noose on a tree.



"It is clearly one of the biggest stories in the country right now and one of the biggest ever in Louisiana," Mike McQueen, the Associated Press' bureau chief for Louisiana and Mississippi, told Journal-isms. The news cooperative has six people on the ground in Jena, he said, including a television reporter/videographer from AP Television, three photographers and two reporters, led by reporter Mary Foster.

The local paper, the Alexandria (La.) Town Talk, is sending "a majority" of its small staff of about 20, which includes sports reporters, to the central Louisiana town about 45 miles away, according to Sean McCrory, assistant managing editor/local content.

Stage-setting stories with a Jena dateline appeared Wednesday in the New York Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"CNN, which has led broadcast networks in coverage of the 'Jena 6,' will originate much of its programming this week from Jena, La., where people from around the nation will gather on Thursday, Sept. 20, for a day of demonstrations," the network touted in a news release.


"On Thursday, CNN's 'American Morning,' 'CNN Newsroom' and 'Anderson Cooper 360ï¿œ' will carry live reports from Jena on all of the latest developments. At 8 p.m. (ET), CNN will premiere a one-hour documentary, 'CNN: Special Investigations Unit — Judgment in Jena,' an investigation reported by Kyra Phillips examining the complex issues of this case. In addition to Phillips, the network has moved Sean Callebs, Tony Harris, David Mattingly and Susan Roesgen to the town for live reports."

"The events in Jena have become a national touchstone in race relations," Jon Klein, president CNN/U.S., said in the news release. "As we do with all major stories, CNN is mobilizing massive resources to cover this story from every angle." Viewers can play back video from the network's early reporting on this coverage at using the keyword "Jena."

Martin Savidge reported live from Jena on Wednesday's "NBC Nightly News." The network also sent Mike Taibbi, who might report also for CNBC, spokeswoman Barbara Levin said.

[ABC News said on Thursday that Terry Moran will report from Jena on "World News with Charles Gibson" on Thursday and would co-anchor 'Nightline' from Jena. Moran "will also report for all ABC News broadcasts and platforms," a news release said. A spokeswoman said there was extensive coverage on "Good Morning America" on Thursday, with reports from Moran, and that the show would have continued coverage on Friday.]

At National Public Radio, "National Desk reporter Audie Cornish will be reporting on-location and she will be contributing to the NPR Newscasts and the shows 'Morning Edition,' 'The Bryant Park Project,' 'Tell Me More,' 'Day to Day,' 'News & Notes' and 'All Things Considered.' Additionally, both 'News & Notes' and 'Tell Me More' have tentatively scheduled interviews within the shows with key people involved in the story," spokeswoman Andi Sporkin told Journal-isms.

Syndicated black talk-show hosts Al Sharpton and Michael Baisden are among those planning to broadcast from Jena. They helped mobilize what might become 50,000 demonstrators.

"A community of about 3,500 isn't equipped to handle thousands of people pouring into its town limits. Food, water, bathroom facilities and emergency medical needs are just a few of the concerns," Abbey Brown wrote in the Town Talk.

And that includes handling the news media. Darran Simon, who wrote the stage-setter in the Times-Picayune, spoke with Journal-isms after driving four hours to Jena. He said that when he checked two days ago, all the hotels in Jena were booked, but he was able to find a room in Alexandria for himself and his photographer, Michael DeMocker. He was hoping to interview family members of the accused teenagers and said New Orleans readers were "very interested" in the story, not least because its historically black Dillard and Xavier universities were expected to send 400 students. In addition, "I spoke to one woman who had organized two busloads on her own," Simon said.

But while such news outlets as CNN and NPR can point to stories on the Jena Six they produced months ago, the mainstream media have by and large followed other media on the story, as Howard Witt pointed out Wednesday in the Chicago Tribune.

"This will be a civil rights protest literally conjured out of the ether of cyberspace, of a type that has never happened before in America — a collective national mass action grown from a grass-roots word-of-mouth movement spread via blogs, e-mails, message boards and talk radio," Witt wrote.

"Jackson, Sharpton and other big-name civil rights figures," he said in a reference to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, "far from leading this movement, have had to scramble to catch up. So have the national media."

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Cartoonist Tells Latino World War II Stories in Strip

"Cartoonist Hector Cantu decided if the stories of Latino soldiers were going to go untold in Ken Burns' upcoming World War II documentary, he'd have 'Baldo' tell them," Suzanne Gamboa reported Tuesday for the Associated Press.

"This week, Cantu and co-creator Carlos Castellanos unveiled Benito 'Benny' Ramirez in their syndicated comic strip "Baldo," which appears in 200 newspapers.

"Benito is a composite character based on the actual stories of several Hispanic World War II veterans. Their experiences are featured in a book by University of Texas journalism professor Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez.

"'We are telling a little story about a Latino serving in World War II and there will be millions of people exposed to that,' said Cantu, whose two uncles were veterans of the war. 'Will we reach as many as Ken Burns? Probably not. But there will be more people out there who know about Latinos serving in the U.S. military.'"

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Judges in O.J. Simpson Case Share Media Duties

"Nancy Oesterle, a Las Vegas judge, was tending to her morning calendar Monday when she received an urgent message. Fellow judge Ann Zimmerman had been assigned the O.J. Simpson case and needed Judge Oesterle to answer media questions," Peter Lattman and Amire Efrati wrote Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal.

"Judge Zimmerman put on Judge Oesterle's black robe and took over her morning caseload. With almost no time to prepare, Judge Oesterle walked outside the courthouse to face a throng of television cameras and reporters. 'I barely had time to put lipstick on,' she said.

"Mr. Simpson was arrested Sunday and faces multiple felony charges tied to an alleged armed robbery of collectors involving the former football star's sports memorabilia. A hearing in the case is scheduled for today.

"In addition to the half-hour press conference, Judge Oesterle and her staff fielded more than 100 media calls Monday, she says. She also made appearances on a few national cable shows. 'The press conference was extremely hectic, but it was a real adrenaline rush,' she said.

"The Nevada courts have devised an unusual system. Judges handling high-profile matters may assign colleagues to serve as media liaisons. The role is a natural fit for Judge Oesterle, who for 15 years co-hosted a local weekly TV show.

"'The public has a right to know and it's important for them to hear what a judge has to say,' said Douglas Smith, chief judge of the Las Vegas Township Justice Court. 'Nancy understands the system and her real strength is that she speaks to the public in plain English so they can understand what's going on.'"

Meanwhile, "During the post-hearing news conference, O.J. Simpson's attorney Yale Galanter criticized Fox News Channel and CBS News for having on as a guest, a lawyer who claimed to be more involved in the Simpson case than he was," according to Chris Ariens in the TV Newser column. Ariens identified the man as Scott Holper.

"'Fox News, last night, and the CBS morning show interviewed a lawyer based on bogus paperwork that was filed with the clerk's office knowing that he was unauthorized, unretained and the family had not requested that he do that.' Galanter added that he will be going after the lawyer who went on the news shows, for trying to solicit Simpson."

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Does "Blessed Ramadan" Belong on the Front Page?

"Whatever their concept of Islam, Muslims here and elsewhere can't help note the irony of the United States promoting our American concept of democracy at gunpoint in Iraq and Afghanistan. So at this convergence of Muslims' and Jews' most introspective holidays, a timely contrast might be how U.S. news organizations reflect the billion-plus Muslims who humbly observe the fasting month of Ramadan," C.B. Hanif, ombudsman and editorial columnist at the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, and a Muslim, wrote on Sunday.

"The increased focus on Islam and Muslims since 9/11 has brought more clarity regarding the faith and the diverse folks who practice it, as well as more light on the actors of all stripes who would prefer a so-called 'clash of civilizations.' But does that increased information and balance mean that we've reached the point where a 'Happy Ramadan' banner should grace newspapers' front pages, as 'Happy Rosh Hashana' on Wednesday marked the start of the Jewish High Holy Days, and similar greetings routinely note Christmas, Easter and the New Year?"

Meanwhile, on the South Asian Journalists Association Web site, Arthur Dudney took to task the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times of London, writing that, "Two weeks ago the Times of London printed a special section that is a textbook example of how not to cover a minority concern, in this case the beliefs of Muslim clerics in Britain.

"The key issue is that plans are in the works to construct the largest mosque in Europe near the East London site of the 2012 Olympics.

". . . The Times's coverage reads like an unsourced case study of every petty dread that exists in the White British population. The unavoidable conclusion is that the paper either exploited fear to sell copies or did not have the journalistic rigor to rise above fear, and no one's interests are served."

On an Arab-American Web site,, however, Dr. Aref Assaf Wednesday commended the Record of Morris County, N.J., for its stance during a controversy over a planned mosque that has roiled the town.

"The unprecedented uproar over the planned Rockaway (Morris County, NJ) mosque has been partly premised on the view that American Muslims are responsible for acts committed by other Muslims anywhere in the world and as such should be denied a place of worship," Assaf wrote.

"In the specific case of the Rockaway mosque, one particular newspaper exemplified the true mission of journalism. The Daily Record interviewed all concerned, did their own research on the legality of our claims and were compelled to support our reasonable demands."

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Columnist Looks for Outrage Over Human Victims

"When federal prosecutors in Virginia released details of the dogfighting charges against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, all hell broke loose," columnist Roland S. Martin wrote Friday.




Then "look at the case of Megan Williams. The 20-year-old West Virginia woman was kidnapped by six sadistic individuals and held in a mobile home. They raped her, forced her to eat rat and dog feces, made her drink from a toilet, stabbed her multiple times and called the black woman a 'n-----' every time they beat her."

Or, "the deaths of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. The two University of Tennessee students were on a date when they were carjacked by several men in the early morning hours of Jan. 7. They were taken to a house where Christopher was raped, doused with gasoline, shot and his body dumped on the side of a road.

". . . We've determined that Vick, Paris Hilton and the shenanigans of Lindsay Lohan are far more important than the viciousness of what took place in West Virginia and Tennessee. We had wall-to-wall coverage of Vick, comments from his friends, family, high school classmates and others. Every cable news show led with the story, and viewers were fed a constant diet of Vick. Megan, Channon and Christopher? Passing news.

"But maybe the problem isn't just the media. Maybe the problem is you. The reader. The viewer. Maybe you've decided that you care more about celebrities than nobodies like Megan, Channon and Christopher."

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Short Takes

  • "Hispanics whose first language is Spanish are among America's most avid newspaper readers, according to a new study of how ethnic groups use old and new media," Mark Fitzgerald reported in Editor & Publisher. "The study by the Florida State University Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication contains more good news for newspapers, finding that the time spent reading print is not going down among whites, African Americans, Asian Americans, and English-speaking Hispanics despite their heavy use of the Internet and television." The Multicultural Marketing Equation surveyed 2,500 adults.
  • "On street corners where day laborers congregate, it's no longer as easy to find work â?? but there are plenty of offers of sex for money. . . . In an investigation by La Opinión on various day labor corners in Long Beach, Rancho Cucamonga, Los Angeles and Moreno Valley, more than half of those interviewed admitted having received at least one offer of sex in exchange for money," the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language newspaper reported. "It's like a well-known secret that everyone knows and has experienced, but no one talks about," Pablo Alvarado, national coordinator of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said in the story by Claudia Núñez.
  • "Two years after it began raising money to help newspaper staffers in New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina, the Friends of the Times-Picayune has raised and distributed more than $300,000, according to organizers," Joe Strupp reported in Editor & Publisher.


Stephanie Sy

  • "Stephanie Sy is ABC News' new Asia correspondent," Marisa Guthrie reported in Broadcasting & Cable. "Sy, who joined ABC in 2003, has worked in the network's London bureau, where she reported for various ABC News platforms and broadcasts including affiliate service NewsOne,, 'World News Now' and 'Good Morning America.' Sy will be based in Beijing. She essentially replaces ABC's longtime Asia correspondent, Mark Litke. Earlier this year, ABC News declined to renew Litke's contract, which expires in October."
  • "Robin Roberts intends to continue working while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. The 'Good Morning America' co-anchor told viewers Wednesday morning that she'll begin chemotherapy Thursday," Marisa Guthrie reported Wednesday in Broadcasting & Cable.
  • Donovan McNabb of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles said African American quarterbacks are perceived differently than white quarterbacks in a wide-ranging interview that aired Tuesday on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," the Philadelphia Daily News reported.
  • "More than a 120 journalists and supporters paid homage to Leslie Guevarra in San Francisco Sept. 14, sponsored by the Filipina Women's Network," the Asian American Journalists Association reported. "Guevarra is a news and communications professional with more than 25 years in the industry. She was a reporter, editor and senior newsroom manager and a podcaster for the San Francisco Chronicle's 'Pinoy Pod.' Most recently she was a deputy managing editor for the Chronicle."
  • "One thing is certain: When Federal Communications Commissioners bring their road show to Chicago Thursday, they'll get an earful," Robert Feder wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Media executives, community leaders and public interest groups will be vying for attention at the FCC's seven-hour public hearing set for the national headquarters of Operation PUSH, 930 E. 50th St. It starts at 4 p.m."
  • "Reporters Without Borders is dismayed by the Casablanca appeal court's decision today to uphold a prison sentence for reporter Mostapha Hurmatallah of the Arabic-language weekly Al Watan Al An, one week after he was freed pending the outcome of his appeal," the organization said on Tuesday. "This ruling marks the end of the relative respite the Moroccan press has been enjoying of late. Whatever the result of the petition that will now be made to the court of final appeal, Morocco is now clearly on a dangerous slope."

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. 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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