Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Anchor: I Was Fired Over "Mothasucka"

Send by email
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Atlantan Appeals to Corporate to Reinstate Her

A weekend Atlanta anchor was fired after she was said to have uttered the word "m-----f-----" during her newscast, but the anchor, Cari Champion of WGCL-TV, told Journal-isms her superiors misheard what she said and that she is appealing the firing to corporate headquarters.


Cari Champion
"I was talking to my co-anchor during a commercial break. The floor director did not cue me or my co-anchor, and when it was time to tease an upcoming story, you could only hear us but not see us," Champion wrote to Journal-isms.


"My co-anchor and I were talking about a mechanical screenwriter. It is difficult to use at times. The last part of our conversation was silly banter and barely audible, but it was picked up. I called the screenwriter a 'mothersucka' not the f-bomb. I emphatically deny any attempted cover up of the mishap. In fact I was the one who brought it to the attention of the news directors. And, the beta tape, wherever it is, has conversation that clearly supports my position."

Nevertheless, Champion said she was let go on Tuesday.

Others at the station were loathe to discuss the Sunday night incident and its aftermath. News Director Rick Erbach, who informed the staff that Champion no longer works there, did not return telephone calls from Journal-isms. Neither did the assistant director, Eric Ludgood. The floor director said his headset was not working when the exchange took place. Co-anchor Mike Moore, noting that the matter is now being contested at Meredith Corp., the parent company, said, "it's not my place to weigh in on this at this time."

"On the beta [tape], the director and I have clear discussions where we were worried that the word 'mothasucka' had been picked up," Champion continued.

"I did not curse on the air, and what happened should not have cost me my job. 'Darn,' 'shoot' and 'heck' are all words that a listener may see as substitutes for curse words. But, they are not curse words . . . and neither is 'mothasucka.' The penalty seems extremely heavy-handed.

"Several years ago an Atlanta anchorman at another station actually said MF on the air and was merely suspended, not fired. This situation is a one-time mishap that resulted from miscommunication on the set. I simply was not [cued], and I said something that was not a curse word.

"Also, it happened at 11:30 at night when kids are asleep and to my knowledge there were not complaints made about it to the station.

"I hope that the Meredith Executives in Iowa take the time to check the facts here and hire me back."


MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

Afro Newspapers' Frances Murphy Dies at 85

Frances L. Murphy II, granddaughter of John H. Murphy Sr., a former slave and Civil War veteran who founded the Afro-American newspaper in 1892, died Wednesday in Baltimore, the paper reported today.


Her second cousin, John J. Oliver Jr., chairman of the Afro, told Journal-isms she had a rare syndrome called amyloidosis with multiple myeloma, cancer that begins in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell.


Frances L. Murphy II
Murphy, 85, served in the family business and became chairwoman of the Afro, which publishes in Washington and Baltimore and formerly had seven to 10 editions around the country. She was also publisher of the Washington edition. Murphy was involved in a wide range of social organizations, mentored up-and-coming journalists and taught journalism at Howard University.


"She had her notebook wherever she went," Oliver said. After she entered Sinai Hospital in October, the staff there would say "she spent all day on that damn notebook," he added. Although she retired as publisher of the Washington Afro-American, she continued to write a column, "If You Ask Me," whose subjects would include, for example, notable families.

"Frances Murphy II, or Frankie Lou, as she is commonly known throughout the many society clubs and organizations she belonged to, grew up in Baltimore where her parents, Carl and Vashti Turley Murphy (a co-founder of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.), encouraged their daughters to get an education and participate in the family business," the Afro said.

"At an early age, the children, including Ms. Murphy, spent summers learning the AFRO business from the bottom up. She served as a reporter for several beats, including crime, which was then usually reserved for men. Ms. Murphy earned a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin in 1944, another undergraduate degree from Coppin College in 1958, and a Master's of Education from Johns Hopkins University in 1963."

She was an inveterate networker and was particularly active in the Deltas, but "she loved being involved in all the aspects of our community. She was everywhere," Oliver said.

Murphy was active in the planning for the Million Man March in 1995. At an early organizational meeting, the Washington Post quoted her as saying, "Almost all of us agreed that the goal was to reverse the balance in the black family and create a partnership with our men, like it was originally, before slavery."

When Mayor Marion Barry was caught smoking crack cocaine, black journalists debated the coverage. "Yes, we go out of our way to bend over backwards to give him the benefit of the doubt, because so many others are bending the other way," Murphy said at a 1990 Capital Press Club forum.

Oliver said that "she was my bridge" to older employees in getting them to accept technological changes. "She's tell the older folks that this was the way to go," he said. Oliver was one of the first in the black press to embrace the Internet. He said the papers record 29,000 visitors a week online, while the two editions' combined paid circulation ranges between 9,000 and 13,000 a week.

The History Makers listed some of her organizations and honors:

"She received the Women of Strength Award from the National Black Media Coalition in 1994 and 1995, the Woman of the 20th Century Award by the National Congress of Black Women, and has been named one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony. She has served on the boards of the Freedom Foundation, the University of the District of Columbia, and the African American Civil War Memorial."

MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

CNN Says Kolbe Didn't Meet "Rising Standards"

"CNN is relying on performance assessments by some of its top executives to counter allegations in a federal suit that it declined to renew a former anchor's contract because it wanted to infuse its networks with younger and ethnic on-air talent," R. Robin McDonald wrote on Monday in Georgia's Fulton County Daily Report, a legal-affairs publication.



Marina Kolbe
"Former CNN International 'floating' anchor Marina Kolbe accused the network in her 2003 suit of violating federal anti-discrimination laws after it didn't renew her contract. As an 'older' white woman -she was 42 when she was let go - she claims she was the victim of an aggressive push by CNN to bring more diversity to the air, particularly in overseas news programming.


"Kolbe's attorneys have introduced a string of e-mail messages among top executives to support their allegation that the network's drive for diversity led it to discriminate. One e-mail expressed a preference for 'younger, more attractive anchors' at CNN Headline News. A second e-mail from Eason Jordan, CNN's former chief news executive, to Tom Johnson, then-chairman and chief executive of the CNN News Group, listed six U.S. cities and Beijing where he described new hires or promotions by a correspondent's race or ethnicity.

"CNN executives have acknowledged they placed a premium on diversity but say they parted ways with Kolbe solely because she didn't meet the network's highly competitive and rising standards for on-air talent.

"The trial is entering its second week before U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooperin Atlanta."

McDonald's reports have been the only courtroom coverage of the case, which apparently has not been mentioned on CNN or in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

Gerald Boyd Left Positive Memories, Mostly

"Jeff Coplon's story about New York Times managing editor Gerald Boyd ("How Race Is Lived in America," November 19) touched a nerve with many readers, some of whom responded with personal recollections of Boyd," New York magazine writes in the Nov. 26 issue. "Most memories were positive, but not all.
Franklin Pierce CollegeGerald Boyd gives tips to the editor of the Pierce Arrow, student newspaper at Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, in his post-New York Times life.


"A reader who identified himself as a 'black NYT escapee' wrote that 'Gerald was a decent man who had his faults, the most tragic of which was that he believed, with all of his heart, in the Great Gray Lie that is the New York Times.'

"Another reader wrote, 'I'm a black journalist in my late thirties and had an internship at the Times the summer after my junior year of college. During my stint on the metro desk, Boyd was invisible to me - I didn't meet him until we both happened to be at a reporter's weekend party. I eagerly told him about an investigative story I was working on, and he said, "What do I need you to work on that for? I have reporters for stories like that." . . . So, I always thought of Gerald Boyd mainly as a jerk. Yet I respect his pioneering accomplishments, and I'm angry at the way he was railroaded in the Blair matter.'

"A journalism-school classmate of Boyd's who 'knew him but not well' wrote that 'after we graduated, I watched for his articles . . . I'm sad to report that I always found his prose to be merely okay. . . .

"Another reader lambasted what he saw as the Times' passive culture of political correctness: 'What the current leadership fails to recognize is that white paternalism - a skill well-honed by the cadre of financially comfortable Upper West Side - and Park Slope?¢??dwelling editors - is much more insidious than the outright racism of¬†Abe Rosenthal¬†and his predecessors.'

"Finally, there was this note from Ferne Horner, a former colleague of Boyd's from the Times, who wanted to emphasize the better part of his nature: 'Gerald Boyd was my best friend on the New York Times. I'm white, and I point that out because he tried to help me. His biggest faults were not realizing that everyone can't be helped and all situations can't be cured. Bless him for trying.'"

Michel Marriott, who left the Times for Baruch College in September, told Journal-isms, "I have been teaching the article all day today in my classes as an example of strong, [insightful] writing and Citizen Kane-like reporting. I think Coplon found Rosebud and used it to [unlock] the wonder of Gerald Boyd for so many who knew him, thought they knew him and unfortunately never had the opportunity to know him."

MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

Groups Protest U.S. Plans to Prosecute AP Photog

"The U.S. military has said it plans to prosecute an award-winning Associated Press photographer it has held for more than 19 months without charge for alleged links to Iraqi insurgents, but has not revealed evidence of the journalist's alleged criminal wrongdoing," the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Tuesday.


"The U.S. military informed the AP on Sunday that it would refer the case of detained photographer Bilal Hussein to the Iraqi justice system for possible prosecution because of his alleged links to Iraqi insurgents; however, U.S. officials have not revealed 'new evidence' it says it has that implicates the journalist, the AP reported yesterday. The case against Hussein could be heard in Iraqi courts as early as November 29, the AP said. Although the military has not laid out what specific charges Hussein might face, the AP said that charges of aiding militants could carry a death sentence.

"'That Bilal Hussein has been held for more than 19 months without charge and on the pretext of unsubstantiated, shifting allegations is deeply alarming," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. 'While we welcome the military's belated attempt to give him his day in court, we are equally alarmed that he continues to be denied due process and that his legal team has no idea what the evidence is against him so they can prepare a proper defense.'"

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press also condemned the process being used by the U.S. military to prosecute Hussein.


Tom Curley, AP chief executive officer and president, said the agency has "grave concerns" that Hussein's rights are being "ignored and even abused" and called on the United States to release the photographer, CNN reported on Monday. It noted that one of Hussein's photographs was among a series of 20 AP photographs that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2005.

MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

GadoThis Gado cartoon about deadly malfeasance in Kenya ran Nov. 7 in the Daily Nation in Nairobi. Godfrey Mwampembwa explores topics from terrorism and deforestation to HIV/AIDS and corruption.

"Cartooning for Peace" Exhibit on Display in Atlanta

The work of Kenya's Godfrey Mwampembwa, a freelance cartoonist known as "Gado," is part of an initiative called "Cartooning for Peace" that was prompted by last year's uproar over a cartoon that pictured the Prophet Mohammad.


"Conceived by the French cartoonist Plantu, 'Cartooning for Peace' is an initiative born on October 16, 2006 at the UN Headquarters in New York. Twelve of the most renowned political cartoonists from all over the world participated in a two-day conference to help us 'Unlearn intolerance'. The conference was accompanied by an exhibition," the group's Web site says.

The traveling exhibit is at Emory University in Atlanta until Dec. 5 and at the Peynet Museum in Antibes, France, until Feb. 3. It is also scheduled for Dec. 10-12 in Rome for Human Rights Day.

Gado is said to be the most syndicated editorial cartoonist in East and Central Africa, his work exploring a wide range of topics from terrorism and deforestation to HIV/AIDS and corruption.

Mexico is represented by freelancer Cintia Bolio. Americans in the exhibit include Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Liza Donnelly of the New Yorker, Ranan Lurie of Foreign Affairs magazine, syndicated cartoonist Jeff Danziger and freelancer Ann Telnaes.


MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

For Comeback, Don Imus Hires a Super-Publicist

"What's harder: Deflecting attacks on Katie Couric and Hillary Clinton, or restoring Don Imus's tarnished reputation?" asked Jeff Bercovici Tuesday in his blog on



Don Imus
"Matthew Hiltzik will soon be able to answer that. The super-publicist who organized Clinton's 'listening tour' and guided Couric through her transition from NBC to CBS has added Imus to his high-profile client list. He's currently fielding press inquiries surrounding the fallen WFAN talker's return to morning radio on Dec. 3.


"Imus will usher in his tenure at WABC with a charity show at New York's Town Hall theater. Tickets recently went on sale, with the $100 price going to the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer.

"Hiltzik, whose other clients include Alec Baldwin andHarvey Weinstein, declined to say how long he's been repping Imus or even confirm it, but it's a safe guess the relationship began some time after this article, in which he was quoted offering advice on how Imus could rehabilitate his career following the racially-tinged remark that got him fired from CBS Radio and dropped by MSNBC."

Meanwhile, David Hinckley reported Tuesday in the New York Daily News thatJames Carville says he will be a first-day guest.

Jeffrey Yorke of Radio and Records wrote Monday that he saw the Rev. Al Sharpton sitting courtside at Washington's Verizon Center, "watching the Washington Wizards out-hoop the Portland Trailblazers Saturday evening. . . ." Sharpton "acknowledged that Imus had picked up WTKK-FM/Boston as an affiliate on Friday and that more stations are expected, but 'we'll see what happens. We got him fired for what he did,' Sharpton told R&R. 'We proved our point.'"


MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

Activists, Congress Hope to Short-Circuit FCC Plans

"The last time federal regulators tried to change the rules on how many media outlets companies could own, the effort bombed like a bad movie. The sequel appears to be headed for the same fate," Jim Puzzanghera wrote Monday in the Los Angeles Times.


"The Federal Communications Commission's examination of media ownership restrictions, moving along slowly but smoothly just a few weeks ago, has suddenly devolved into a mess similar to the one that doomed proposed rule changes in 2003. Activist groups have risen up in protest and some members of Congress are complaining about what they call the agency's flawed and rushed effort to help media giants at the expense of average Americans."

Jeffrey Yorke added in Radio and Records, "The FCC has set a jam-packed agenda for its Nov. 27 open meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. Commissioners will discuss multiple ownership of radio stations in local markets, including rulemaking on initiatives to increase media ownership by new entrants and small businesses, as well as those owned by minorities and women."

The group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting critiqued the L.A. Times piece this way:

"A decent business section article foregrounds the role of activism in standing in the way of the FCC's deregulation moves in 2003 when, after 'a huge public outcry,' U.S. 'lawmakers quickly scaled back one of the major rule changes.' But outside of the business section, there's a reluctance to mention the effectiveness of organizing, as evidenced by the very same writer's much lesser emphasis on activism in a story on the same topic that appeared in the Times' November 14 news section - where Puzzanghera wrote only that along with many consumer, public-interest and minority groups, the lawmakers have said the FCC first must finish a long-running proceeding studying how broadcasters serve their local communities before it considers allowing more media consolidation.

"The difference in background context offered in the business vs. news sections of major dailies betrays a distinct lack of urgency over the FCC's attempt to rush Chair Kevin Martin's planned lifting of cross ownership limits through by December. It's like the business press has to acknowledge the real threat to corporate interests that effective organizing against deregulation has posed, but it can't be acknowledged where ordinary people might read about it and get ideas."


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.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact and tell us who you are.

About Richard Prince

View previous columns.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.