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Ann Curry's "Today" Ouster Is Hot Copy Again

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Fresh Details in 8,000-Word New York Magazine Piece

Jake Tapper's New CNN Show Dragging in Ratings

Dominican Says Daily Caller Paid to Set Up Menendez

Digital Reporter Corey Dade Leaves NPR After 2½ Years

200 at L.A. "Summit" on Asian American Stereotypes

Criticism of Pre-Iraq War Coverage Called Too Simplistic

Whites More Likely Victims of Suicides; Blacks of Homicides

Anthony Lewis Explained Threat to Journalism, Civil Rights

Short Takes

Ann Curry, center, dresses as Cher for the "Today" show's 2006 Hallowee

Fresh Details in 8,000-Word New York Magazine Piece

The repercussions of the dumping of Ann Curry as a co-host of NBC's "Today" show haven't stopped. Monday's media columns were filled with reports from a nearly 8,000-word article by Joe Hagan in New York magazine with fresh reporting on the saga.

Here's how Jack Mirkinson summarized it for Huffington Post:

" 'Today' host Matt Lauer recently joked at an advertiser event that he was trying hard to make the show 'the most-watched morning program, and least talked-about morning program.'

"That has proven exceedingly hard to do, as report after report trains its focus squarely on Lauer and the show's disastrous ouster of Ann Curry last June. In just the past few weeks, Lauer himself spoke to media reporter Howard Kurtz about Curry, saying the show handled her departure badly and that he had pleaded with the network to give her more time. Then there was the front page New York Times report which portrayed Lauer as increasingly unpopular with viewers and the subject of hushed whispers all around NBC News.

"On Sunday night, New York magazine threw its hat into the ring, with a nearly 8,000-word article by Joe Hagan that will not make for happy reading at 30 Rock.

"Hagan dives deeply into the frostiness between Curry and Lauer, whose personalities appear to have been a complete mismatch. Lauer, he writes, 'openly complained' about Curry and 'simply didn’t like her.' "

[Referring to co-anchor Meredith Vieira and former co-anchor Katie Couric, Hagan writes, "Off air, Curry and Lauer had no relationship and barely spoke. When she started, Curry had asked Lauer out for lunch to get advice, but Lauer seemed to drag his feet scheduling it and Curry felt he didn’t offer much. With Couric and Vieira, Lauer could be an easygoing straight man; with Curry, who threw off his rhythm and also threatened his dominance of the hard-news stories, he could often look sour."]

Hagan's "account of the behind-the-scenes negotiations to oust Curry also places Lauer at the center, by noting that it came just as he was about to sign a new contract with NBC, rather than bolt for ABC and Katie Couric — something he has openly admitted to have thought about:

"At the moment when he had maximum leverage with NBC, Lauer, as the multimillion-dollar megastar, could easily have saved her — but he didn’t. To the contrary, in signing a new contract to remain at the show for at least two more years, he tacitly ratified the plan to remove her.

"Curry's despair was plain for all to see when she bid farewell to the show. Her on-air tears, and especially her pained refusal to let Lauer hug her, immortalized her public image as the wronged victim. Hagan writes that, off air, she was just as distraught, crying all the way to the airport as soon as the show ended. Astonishingly, he adds, NBC continued to play hardball with her, even refusing to let her tweet a message of support for the ailing Robin Roberts for fear she was trying to undermine 'Today.' . . . "

However, the New York piece said, Curry left with a deal that gave her $12 million and her own production unit at NBC.

Jake Tapper's New CNN Show Dragging in Ratings

"Four days into its run during the 4 p.m. hour, the show fronted by network newcomer Jake Tapper continues to come up shy of its time-slot predecessor, Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room," Michael O'Connell reported Friday for the Hollywood Reporter.

"Thursday's outing of The Lead With Jake Tapper, which featured an interview with Jimmy Kimmel about NBC's Jay Leno dilemma, brought in just 326,000 viewers. It marked the lowest viewership since the premiere, with the series now averaging 42 percent fewer viewers than the same four days last week. . . . "

A week ago, CNN President Jeff Zucker excitedly proclaimed Tapper, lured away from ABC, as "the face of the new CNN, " Along with other recent hires, that declaration led some to question why the "face" of CNN and other networks invariably was white.

Dominican Says Daily Caller Paid to Set Up Menendez

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

"A top Dominican law enforcement official said Friday that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative Web site the Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)," Carol D. Leonnig and Luz Lazo reported Friday for the Washington Post.

"The lawyer told Dominican investigators that a foreign man, who identified himself as 'Carlos,' had offered him $5,000 to find and pay women in the Caribbean nation willing to make the claims about Menendez, according to Jose Antonio Polanco, district attorney for the La Romana region, where the investigation is being conducted.

"The Daily Caller issued a statement Friday saying that the information allegedly provided by the Dominican lawyer, Melanio Figueroa, was false.

"The videotaped claims of two women, made with their faces obscured, were posted in the fall on the Daily Caller. The site reported that 'the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. . . . They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.' . . . "

Digital Reporter Corey Dade Leaves NPR After 2½ Years

Corey Dade

Corey Dade, hired at NPR in 2010 as a Washington-based national correspondent amid concern about the paucity of on-air African American men at the network — still a problem — left NPR on Friday, he told Journal-isms.

"I'm leaving because I want to expand my work across platforms, take on a greater role as a news analyst and write a book," Dade told Journal-isms by email. "My two and a half years at NPR were incredibly rewarding, so much so that I'm excited to continue collaborating with my friends there."

Dade, who is also a board member of the National Association of Black Journalists, was a national correspondent for NPR Digital News. On March 12, NPR aired "The Revolution of Reverend Al Sharpton," an 11-minute story that resulted from a day Dade spent in New York with the activist and MSNBC host.

Dade joined NPR from the Wall Street Journal, where he was based in the Atlanta bureau for nearly five years, covering southern politics and economics. He has also worked at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press and Miami Herald.

200 at L.A. "Summit" on Asian American Stereotypes

Jeff Yang

"More than 200 participants gathered in Little Tokyo on Saturday to talk — and tweet — candidly about persistent negative images damaging to their ethnic group, especially when it comes to family, education, politics and news coverage," Anh Do reported Saturday for the Los Angeles Times.

"Participants converged on Little Tokyo for 'Beyond the Bad and the Ugly,' the first ever summit on Asian American stereotypes. Some sported buttons with labels touting them as thugs, geeks, players and FOBs, or 'fresh off the boat.' "

The event was organized by Jeff Yang, co-author of "Shattered, the Asian American Comics Anthology" and a cultural columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He said in the story that the "event really is the culmination of a dream, seeing people not only talking about these issues — but doing something about it. The point is to empower everyone, telling them, 'Change is happening, and it's happening inside — with us.' "

Noor al-Zahra Haider, center, was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in whic

Criticism of Pre-Iraq War Coverage Called Too Simplistic

"For much of the past decade, the American news media has chastised itself for how badly it performed in the months leading up to the war in Iraq," Paul Farhi wrote Sunday in the Washington Post. "The 10th anniversary of the conflict, in particular, offered article after article this past week condemning the media's 'failure' to challenge the Bush administration's rationale for the war, plus plenty of mea culpas by journalists.

"There's no doubt that many news organizations, including this one, missed important stories, underplayed others that were skeptical of the administration's case and acted too deferentially to those in power. A few instances — such as the New York Times' September 2002 report hyping Iraq's aluminum tubes as evidence of a reconstituted nuclear program — have become infamous. The Times and The Washington Post have publicly examined and admitted their shortcomings.

"But 'failure' grossly oversimplifies what the media did and didn't do before the war, and it ignores important reasons the reporting turned out the way it did. As new threats loom, from Iran to North Korea, better understanding these circumstances can help us assess what happened and whether we're better positioned today.

"Thousands of news stories and columns published before the war described and debated the administration's plans and statements, and not all of them were supportive. Reporters at The Post, the Times, Knight Ridder, the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek periodically produced stories that challenged the Bush administration's claims about Iraq.

"Some of these stories — too many — were not given prominence and, in the case of newspapers, didn’t make the front page. But it wasn't impossible for skeptics of the war to connect the dots. . . ."

Whites More Likely Victims of Suicides; Blacks of Homicides

"Gun deaths are shaped by race in America. Whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, and African Americans are far more likely to be shot by someone else," Dan Keating reported in Saturday's Washington Post.

"The statistical difference is dramatic, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun; for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns.

"Where a person lives matters, too. Gun deaths in urban areas are much more likely to be homicides, while suicide is far and away the dominant form of gun death in rural areas. States with the most guns per capita, such as Montana and Wyoming, have the highest suicide rates; states with low gun ownership rates, such as Massachusetts and New York, have far fewer suicides per capita. . . . "

Anthony Lewis Explained Threat to Journalism, Civil Rights

Anthony Lewis"Anthony Lewis, a former New York Times reporter and columnist whose work won two Pulitzer Prizes and transformed American legal journalism, died on Monday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85," Adam Liptak reported for the New York Times.

Lewis' "Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment" chronicled the 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan, landmark litigation significant in civil rights as well as journalism history.

In February 1992, Jerry Goldman of the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University explained, "In 1960, a full-page ad in the New York Times alleged that the arrest of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. for perjury in Alabama was part of a campaign to destroy King's efforts to integrate public facilities and encourage blacks to vote.

"L. B. Sullivan, the Montgomery, Alabama city commissioner, filed a libel action against the newspaper and four black ministers who were listed as endorsers of the ad, claiming that the allegations against the Montgomery police defamed him personally. Under Alabama law, Sullivan did not have to prove that he had been harmed. A defense claiming that the ad was truthful was unavailable since the ad contained factual errors. Sullivan won a $500,000 judgment. The Times appealed through the Alabama courts, but continued to lose. Its last chance was an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.

"In his opinion for a unanimous Court, William J. Brennan, Jr. argued that the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when such statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity). Under this new standard, Sullivan's case collapsed. The decision also energized a new view of the First Amendment, one that now accommodates expression that challenges the existing order. . . ."

Walter Dellinger, former U.S. solicitor general, told NPR's David Folkenflik Monday, "Before Lewis' 'Make No Law,' people didn't understand the real threat that the Deep South was going to shut down coverage of the civil rights movement by libel suits against the press."

Short Takes

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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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Anthony Lewis: Media Ally

Reading opinion columns in major print publications and finding positive comments about Black Americans is rare. One journalist who valued Black America was Anthony Lewis he will be missed by many especially by those of us whose activism Anthony inspired with his writings on politics and race.

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