Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

A Cartoon, an Apology and a Defense

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Thursday, October 30, 2008
  • Palin Takes Prank Call From Fake¬†"Sarkozy" (2nd item)

Election Commentary Upsets Some on N.J. Campus

The college newspaper at Montclair State University in New Jersey has apologized for running a cartoon featuring a woman telling a canvasser for Sen. Barack Obama that she's going to "vote for the Nigg**." The syndicated African American cartoonist, Keith Knight, says his work is based on an actual incident and that, "Comic strips aren't always 'ha-ha' funny."

In the strip, a canvasser for Obama, who is flush with enough cash to campaign "where no Democrat has gone before," goes to a woman's door. The woman answers. The knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, and has to ask her husband. Her mate yells from inside the house, "We're votin' for the n***er!"

The woman turns back to the canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er."

As Rob Tornoe reported on the Politicker Web site, "Montclarion editor Bobby Melok apologized for running the cartoon, and placed the focus of the blame on MCT Campus, a syndicate that provides comics, graphics, crossword puzzles and pictures, among other things, to campus newspapers nationwide."

Those objecting were both black and white.

"Angry students have complained to the university's dean of students, other campus officials and the editors since the strip ran Thursday in The Montclarion, which has a circulation of about 4,000," Mark Mueller reported Tuesday in the Star-Ledger of Newark.

"'My heart just dropped when I read it,' said Tamar VanDerVeer, 21, a senior who serves as secretary of the Organization of Students for African Unity, a campus group. 'I'm trying to find something positive in the situation, but being a senior at Montclair State, a very diverse school, the ignorance is really uncalled for. They really hurt us.' "

On his own site, the creator of "The K Chronicles" published a letter from the paper's assistant sports editor, a white junior identified only as "J." She said she was raised in an interracial environment and was hurt by the use of the "N" word.

"On the other hand," J continued, "I do get what you were saying. It was based off a real-life event and it took a professor in the Broadcasting Department, the Department I am majoring in, to explain that even though these people are ignorant and racist, they still see Obama is the best choice no matter his skin color.

Keith Knight"I was going to quit the newspaper yesterday after I saw that comic. I just think that the word is nasty, and it holds a lot of bad weight. I feel that if people on my campus heard your side, they might understand it a little more. Also, this isn't even a black/white thing because I have dealt with more white people coming into the office or talking about how offended they were."

Knight wrote, "Is it offensive? Yes. Is it sad? Sure. But that's the reality of the United States and this very unique election.

"We have the first African-American candidate for president who could actually win. And folks of all colors are coming face-to-face with bias and race issues they didn't know about, have ignored or pretended didn't exist. Neighbors, co-workers, and family members are learning a little more about the society we live in."

"The comic is pointing out one aspect of it. Straight-up racists are prepared to pull the lever for a black man. While some folks out there, who never thought they were prejudiced, aren't going to vote for him because of his skin color.

"Should we ignore stuff like this? I don't think so.

"Should it be in a comic strip? Yes!!

"Comic strips aren't always 'ha-ha' funny. They can be peculiar or strange or dark or embarrassing. Some of the most effective cartooning addresses serious issues. I suppose there are still a lot of folks who think comics should all be like 'Garfield.'

For those who remember the 1970s Ford compact car with a name beginning with "M," Knight posted another zinger on Tuesday. That strip features a man saying, "Whoa, that's one seriously ancient car!" The car owner says, "It's a Maverick." "How's it running," the owner is asked.

"Feeling its age. Addicted to oil. And veering horribly to the right," he replies.

"It's served honorably, though."

Palin Takes Prank Call From Fake "Sarkozy"

"This seemed like a viral joke but since the Palin campaign has confirmed it, must be true: That Quebec radio team, the 'Masked Avengers,' which specializes in prank calls to celebrities, somehow got Sarah Palin on the line and kept her there, one of them pretending to be Nicholas Sarkozy, for several minutes -- even as 'Sarkozy' told her he wanted to go hunting with her in a helicopter (without Cheney) to 'kill animals" and that his wife, Carla Bruni, was 'hot in bed,' " in the words of Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher on Saturday. He was referring to the prime minister of France and to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"He courteously asked if Joe the Plumber is her husband. Palin hardly batted an eye until told, at the end, that she had been 'pranked.'"  The incident took place just hours before Palin's running mate, Sen. John McCain, was due to appear on "Saturday Night Live."

The show opened with a sketch featuring McCain and Tina Fey, as Palin, appearing on the QVC shopping network offering merchandise, a cash-strapped contrast to Sen. Barack Obama's multimillion-dollar infomercial buy on major networks Wednesday night.  McCain's wife, Cindy, made a cameo appearance. "Palin" said she was either going to the White House or "I'm going to be a white Oprah." No mention was made of the prank call.  [Added Nov. 1] 

GOP Attack Ad Darkens Opponent's Complexion

Minnesota attack ad darkened candidate Ashwin Madia."A Republican attack ad invites viewers to 'meet the real Ashwin Madia,' but the still photos featured in the spot present a noticeably darker version of the 3rd District DFL congressional candidate," John Croman reported Thursday for Minneapolis' KARE-TV, referring to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

"'At least three of the photos of Madia were obviously darkened, using one method or another,' public affairs and media consultant Dean Alger told KARE 11.

"He said the viewing public has grown accustomed to hearing distorted claims, or statements and votes used out of context. However, Alger asserts the altered images of Madia, the son of Indian immigrants, crosses a line.

"'There is an attack ad tactic that goes beyond distortion, and frankly, is a betrayal of what Minnesota politics is all about.'

The commercial was produced by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart asked Barack Obama whether, because he is biracial, he was "concerned that you may go into the voting booth and . . . your white half will all of a sudden decide, 'I can't do this.'" Obama said he was in therapy to be sure he voted properly.

Obama Blitz a Ratings Winner -- for Him, Jon Stewart

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's rising tide lifted several TV boats Wednesday night as it washed across the small screen from dinner time to the midnight hour setting ratings records," David Zurawick wrote for the Baltimore Sun.

"Most impressive is the boost the Illinois senator gave Comedy Central and two of its most popular shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. As successful as both have been in attracting audiences in the past, Wednesday they reached all-time highs.

"An audience of 3.6 million viewers tuned in Wednesday for The Daily Show to see Obama interviewed via satellite from Florida where he was campaigning. Not only was it Stewart's biggest audience ever, it was the first time he topped 3 million viewers.

". . . And then, there were the 33.5 million who watched Obama's infomercial at 8 p.m. on three networks and four cable channels. Drawing an audience of that size for an estimated cost of $5 million is a bargain by any TV standard. An episode of most prime-time dramas costs at least that much and none draws an audience nearly that large."

Obama Plane Seats Ebony, Essence; Others Dropped

"The skies haven't been so friendly on Air Obama after the campaign decided on Thursday to pull the seats for reporters from The Washington Times, New York Post and Dallas Morning News — all papers that endorsed John McCain — after Saturday," Kenneth P. Vogel and Michael Calderone wrote.

". . . Two documentarians and magazine writers from titles including Ebony and Jet have seats through Tuesday, while major newspapers and all of the foreign press — with the exception of Agence France-Presse — have been left off the plane for the final two days of the campaign.

"The Democrat's FEC report shows that through September, ESPN, Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,' 'Entertainment Tonight,' 'Extra,' US Weekly, El Nuveo Dia, Howey Politics Indiana, Men's Health, Men's Vogue, Parent's magazine, YouTube, Afro-American Newspapers, Essence, AOL Black Voices, and Ebony and Jet magazines paid a combined $198,000 to send photographers, camera crews and reporters (or, in Comedy Central's case, faux reporters) on the trail" with Sen. Barack Obama and Joseph Biden, the Democratic presidential and vice presidential nominees, the story said.

In July, Ebony and Jet sent senior editor Kevin Chappell and staff photographer Valerie Goodloe on the plane, but there was no indication whether this would be Ebony's team again.

Essence spokeswoman Sheila Harris confirmed that Essence would be on the plane but said she had no further details.

Separately, John F. Harris, editor of, told Journal-isms that Nia- Malika Henderson, the news outlet's new hire from Newsday and a black journalist, would be "on our White House team."

Studs Terkel Introduced Mahalia Jackson to Whites

Studs Terkel at 94Author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol Louis "Studs" Terkel, who died Friday at age 96, was not only part of a great literary tradition that celebrated the common man, he was a progressive who promoted the career of the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and participated in a groundbreaking radio series that brought black history to life in the 1940s.

Among his oral histories was "Race: What Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession," from 1992.  Terkel's first book, published when he was 45, was "The Giants of Jazz," a celebration of the music of Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke and others.

"In the early days, he was mainly a jazz fan, and then it was blues and world music," said musician Pete Seeger, Terkel's longtime friend, National Public Radio reported.

Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, David Hoekstraon recalled Friday that in 1945, Terkel introduced Jackson to a white audience as host of "The Wax Museum," a Sunday night ABC network radio show that originated from the 19th floor of the Merchandise Mart.

"I'd pick out records at George Hoefer's Concorde record shop on Randolph Street (Hoefer was a critic for Down Beat magazine). And I found this Apollo 78!" Hoeskraon quoted Terkel telling him in a 2000 interview. "Studs' 88-year-old eyes lit up. He loved to be on the pulpit in front of a fellow story catcher.

"The fine record featured Jackson singing the Rev. W. Herbert Brewster's 'Move on Up A Little Higher,' which became her signature tune. Terkel smiled and said, 'I heard this voice. Oh no, it wasn't (opera contralto) Marian Anderson. It wasn't Bessie Smith. It's all of them!

"'So I started to play all her records, "In the Upper Room," '"Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho." Bit by bit, she's known. And she'd give me credit for white America knowing her. That's how we got to be friends.'

"Jackson's gospel found its way onto mob-controlled South Side and West Side jukeboxes, thanks in part to gangster Al Capone."

"Destination Freedom" was conceived and written by black journalist and radio scriptwriter Richard Durham as a vehicle to air black history and contemporary political issues in a dramatic format. The half-hour ran on Chicago's NBC-owned WMAQ from 1948 to 1950, and Terkel was one of the actors and writers, as was singer Oscar Brown Jr. The show was considered too radical for national programming, and the Cold War prompted a shift in format -- to stories about white patriotic heroes.

In 2000, Terkel, Brown and actor Fred Pinkard reunited at Denver's KUVO-FM for a performance of a radio play they had first performed 50 years earlier, "Poet of Bronzeville -- The story of Gwendolyn Brooks," the African American poet.

"During the show, Terkel hit all his lines, as he played a prissy literary society type who tries to interview Brooks over the roar of the elevated train outside her apartment," John C. Ensslin wrote in the Rocky Mountain News.

Philly Papers Sell Out After World Series Victory

"In response to the Phillies' World Series win last night, Philadelphia Media Holdings Chief Executive Officer Brian Tierney announced this morning that last night's over-run of almost 350,000 copies of The Inquirer and Daily News are completely sold out.

"And, in an unprecedented move, the printing presses are running again this morning so that an additional 350,000 copies can be printed and available," the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News announced Thursday morning.

"'People are buying these souvenir editions of The Inquirer and Daily News in massive quantities and we are responding by firing up our printing presses for another run this morning,' said Tierney. 'We have not restarted the presses like this in decades but we want to be sure that every fan who wants a copy of our newspapers can buy one.'"

Outside of Philadelphia and the home of the opposing Tampa Rays, interest in the series was significantly lower.

"The three-inning conclusion of the suspended Game 5 of the World Series attracted 19.8 million viewers Wednesday night," Richard Sandomir reported 'Thursday in the New York Times.

"The Series was hamstrung by a 90-minute rain delay before Game 3 and the two-day suspension of Game 5. It was the least-viewed Series by a significant amount."

Eritrean Journalist Reportedly on 5 Years' Forced Labor

"Daniel Kibrom, a journalist employed by Eritrea's state-owned Eri TV, has been held since October 2006 in a prison camp in the south of the country, where he is serving a sentence of five years of forced labour for trying to cross the border into Ethiopia, Reporters Without Borders has learned from a former prison interrogator who fled the country a year ago," the organization reported on Thursday.

"'The intolerance and cruelty of the Eritrean authorities must not go unremarked,' Reporters Without Borders said. 'Daniel Kibrom disappeared into the oblivion of a prison camp hell created by President Issaias Afeworki and his aides with the approval of acting information minister Ali Abdu, who often talks to the international press. We ask him to publicly tell the personnel under his responsibility and the foreign media what he knows about the fate of his ministry's missing employees.'

". . . The Kibrom case means the number of verifiable cases of detained Eritrean journalists or information ministry employees now stands at 18. According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, at least four of the 10 journalists who were arrested in the course of a round-up of government critics in September 2001 died subsequently in Eiraeiro high-security prison camp in the north-east of the country. They include the famous co-founder of the weekly Setit, Fessehaye 'Joshua' Yohannes."

Short Takes

  • Food writer Joyce Saenz Harris of the Dallas Morning News said Thursday she was among the 22 newsroom people who were laid off last Friday at the paper, raising the number of laid-off journalists of color to five. "I had been there more than 25 years and was one of the two Hispanic journalists left in the lifestyle/arts department," she told Journal-isms. "Now, I plan to complete a half-finished novel before I do some freelancing. My husband, Stephen Harris, is still at the News, where he has worked for more than 30 years. He's a GA [general assignment] editor on the Metro desk. This has been a difficult time, but great support from colleagues and friends has made it more bearable." [On Saturday, she blogged about the experience.]¬†

  • Russell ContrerasRussell Contreras left the Boston Globe Thursday to cover immigration and minority affairs for the Associated Press in Boston, and helping the AP to expand its multimedia efforts in New England. "I was the host for the Globe's podcast on people of color called 'Across the Divide.' I'm also the president of the Boston area's NAHJ," the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. "While at the Globe, I was the first reporter to produce audio stories and slideshows and serve as a trainer in addition to covering the cities of Lawrence and Lowell," Contreras told Journal-isms.

  • Unity: Journalists of Color said it had not heard from the chairmen of the Commission on Presidential Debates about diversifying the questioners for future presidential debates. "Therefore today, we requested the Council of National Journalism Organizations to join UNITY and the Women's Media Center in continuing to put pressure on the Commission to meet with us so we can work with them on strategies," the coalition said on Friday.

  • Obie Shelton"Longtime WKYC Channel 3 newsman Obie Shelton is leaving the station on Friday, Nov. 7. His contract with the station was not renewed," Julie Washington reported Thursday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Shelton, 53, joined Channel 3 in 1986." The News Blues Web site reported Friday that Cleveland native Bill Safos and reporter and weekend anchor Lydia Esparra were also told their contracts wouldn't be renewed. Rita Andolsen, news director at the Gannett-owned station, told Journal-isms, "I am not at liberty to discuss personnel issues."

  • Writing on the Daily Beast, writer Tour?© called out¬†rapper Soulja Boy, who was asked "What historical figure do you most hate?" "He was stumped. I said, 'Others have said Hitler, bin Laden, the slave masters . . .' He said, 'Oh wait! Hold up! Shout out to the slave masters! Without them we'd still be in Africa,'" Toure wrote. "My jaw, at this point, was on the ground. 'We wouldn't be here,' he continued, having no idea how far in it he'd stepped, 'to get this ice and tattoos,'" referring to diamonds.

  • In New York, "WNBC/Ch. 4 has hired Miami anchor DeMarco Morgan to work weekends and has promoted Erika Tarantal to a weekend morning anchor," David Hinckley reported Thursday in the New York Daily News. "Come December, Morgan, who had been the 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. anchor at NBC's WTVJ in Miami, will join the station to work the weekend newscasts. "'We believe that DeMarco and Erika will be a great fit and bring a new brand of energy and enthusiasm to the weekend newscasts,' News director Vickie Burns said in a statement."

  • Teresa WiltzTeresa Wiltz, a Style section writer at the Washington Post, left Friday and told Journal-isms she would be freelancing for the and completing book projects. She came to the Post in August 1999 from the Chicago Tribune.

  • Beginning Nov. 9, TV One will premiere an original, five-hour special chronicling "the unforgettable moments, cultural movements and personal achievement that have advanced the black race and helped change the course of American history over the past century in '100 Greatest Black Power Moves,'" the network announced. Arsenio Hall is hosting the series, which will air over five consecutive nights from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time, culminating with the top 20 ‚Äì and the No. 1 moment ‚Äì on Nov. 13. "Viewers love list shows, and at TV One we wanted to create one that would not only capture attention, but would provoke discussion online and around the water cooler about the events, people and moments that have truly impacted American culture and even shaped our world, society and identity," TV One President and CEO Johnathan Rodgers said in a news release.

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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Thoughts on an election

I wonder how many of us would try to do what Obama is trying to do -- faced with raw hate from some in our nation who cling to a shameful past. He truly is putting his life on the line. This is why so many of my older relatives feared his campaign. They didn't want to see him get hurt and leave his family alone. But to my surprise, they have come around. They were the ones who marched and withstood the hoses. They see a finish line that they could only dream of. They essentially are telling Barack, "we got your back. If you really want to do this, we are with you." I know a few of our white brothers and sisters have a hard time understanding this. For for a lot of us this is a moment to pass on to a younger generation. That the elders in the neighborhood have to endure the Palin/McCain taunts and threats is really not so big a deal after dealing with Bull Connor, George Wallace and the boys (and girls) in the white hoods. This is an election that is 400 years in the making. I hope that those us charged with recording it for the ages are up to the task of recording this event. The elders are the reason I picked up a pen in the first place -- why I tell stories. I will likeley die with a pen in my hand.

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