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CNN Suspends Roland Martin Over Tweets

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pundit to Meet with GLAAD, Will Be Off-Air "for Time Being"

Martin, CNN Could Have Done Better on "Crisis Response"

Patricia S. Due, Civil Rights Pioneer, Dies at 72

Project Documents Pain of Using Rape as Weapon of War

Pundit to Meet with GLAAD, Will Be Off-Air "for Time Being"

CNN Wednesday suspended commentator Roland Martin over the tweets that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has denounced as anti-gay.

Roland MartinA CNN spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the network issued this statement:

"Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being."

At 10 p.m. Eastern time, Martin tweeted that he would reverse course and meet with GLAAD, which tweeted back, "We look forward to a productive dialogue and to working together as well."

"Fam, late last night I received word of GLAAD's invitation to meet with me, and as I have informed CNN...  I look forward to meeting with GLAAD in the near future and having a productive dialogue," Martin said in words spread across two tweets.

Minutes afterward, Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists, of which Martin is a former board member, said in a statement, "This is a teachable moment for all journalists. We are reminded that what we communicate in print and broadcast — and now through social media — has considerable power. NABJ does not support any commentary in any medium that is insensitive or offensive.

"Mr. Martin is one of our most committed members. In lieu of his presence on CNN, until this matter is resolved, we encourage the network to continue to present a diverse offering of voices in its programming."

Spokesmen for TVOne and the syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show," where Martin also appears, did not respond to requests for comment. [A Joyner spokesman Thursday reacted by quoting Martin's comments on that morning's show, saying he would meet with GLAAD.]

GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro said after the suspension, "CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community. Yesterday, Martin also spoke out against anti-LGBT violence. We look forward to hearing from CNN and Roland Martin to discuss how we can work together as allies and achieve our common goal of reducing such violence as well as the language that contributes to it."

Ferraro added early Thursday, "Timing and participants will be determined. . . . Our goal is to ensure better coverage that works toward ending anti-LGBT violence."

Since Martin issued his "final statement" on the matter on Monday night, he had not responded to a call from GLAAD for talks, and continued to tweet frequently about other matters.

As Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser, "It was business as usual last night for CNN political analyst Roland Martin. He was first chair on the panel discussing the voting in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota."


At CNN, Mark Whitaker, managing editor and executive vice president, urged Martin's suspension, according to Brian Stelter, reporting Wednesday for the New York Times:

"On Tuesday, CNN indicated that no punishment was forthcoming; in an otherwise unrelated interview, Mark Whitaker, an executive vice president at CNN, emphasized that Mr. Martin had apologized in a statement, and noted that the original comments were made on Twitter, not the television network.

" 'For the moment we’re letting him apologize and we’re hoping that people will understand that he is sorry for what he said,' Mr. Whitaker said then.

"Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Whitaker had advocated early on for a suspension of Mr. Martin, according to a fellow CNN executive who insisted on anonymity because the network was declining to comment beyond a statement it issued on the suspension on Wednesday afternoon. "

On social media, Martin had his defenders and detractors.

D E Malik Patterson, a self-employed media consultant, wrote on Facebook:

"Roland can be an equal opportunity offender to some, I grant you that, but it's never with malice in his heart. And trust, he can take a ribbing just as much as he can give them. And maybe he should watch what he says more when dealing in public forums. I know, however, that he means no ill-will toward anyone with his words. I've personally known the man to be very patient, kind and generous with his knowledge, time and money with all kinds of people - including myself. People of different agendas and lifestyles, some of you have to stop being so damn sensitive....ijs [I'm just sayin'.]"

But also on Facebook, Joyce Ladner, former interim president of Howard University and a sociologist, said:

"I sure saw this coming because he doesn't know how to keep his mouth shut. The 'twitterization' (my word) of American culture bit him in the rear because he thought he could write any flippant thing that popped into his head. I hope they don't fire him. Perhaps this is a time when he will learn that all of the letters forming words in his head can't be used like a patient on a psychiatrist's couch doing free association. It is also an example of how the society's use of language has deteriorated into 'tweets', oftentimes inane phrases that pass for communication."

In 2009, the Washington Post prompted controversy when it issued social media guidelines that said, in part, "Post journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything – including photographs or video – that could be perceived as reflecting political racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility."

GLAAD's Ferraro said his organization had received a statement from Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s largest black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, calling for increased media visibility for issues affecting black LGBT people.

“While we are encouraged by CNN’s stance against language that incites anti-gay violence, we hope they also will make a commitment to shine more visibility on the hardships LGBT people of color face when trying to participate fully in their communities," Lettman-Hicks said.

"With the recent attack on Brandon White in Atlanta and the murder of Deoni Jones in Washington, D.C., awareness of the challenges of our community and the urgency for more fair and accurate representations of LGBT people of color are greater now than ever."

Ferraro added that GLAAD was urging media to report on the attack on White "as an example of what 'smacking the ish' out of someone for being gay can look like — and to shed light on the high rates of violence that our community faces. . . .

"This comes at a time when the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that violence against LGBT people was up 23%. 70 percent were people of color, and 44% were transgender women."

Martin, CNN Could Have Done Better on "Crisis Response"

Gerard Corbett, chairman and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, told Journal-isms Wednesday that both Roland Martin and CNN "could have done a better job at crisis response."

Corbett said in a telephone conversation: Gerard Corbett

"It's like any executive or any celebrity who is constantly in the public eye. The fact is you need to be careful and circumspect about what you say in public, period.

"It took CNN some time to deliberate about what to do about this. It took Roland time to realize what he had done. Both Roland and CNN could have done a better job at crisis response.

"Roland should not have tweeted that in the first place, even if he was being irreverent or comedic or whatever. Perhaps his intentions were in the right. He's a public person. If he wants to maintain credibility with his audience, and with the CNN audience, you need to be careful about what you say in public.

"CNN eventually did the right thing by suspending him. They should have investigated right away, said it was investigating it and that Roland will not be on the air until they were satisfied that he meant no ill will and no harm.

"In today's world, information travels at the speed of light. Any and all organizations need to be prepared for any incident."

Corbett was asked about complaints that Martin was suspended but not Dana Loesch, a CNN contributor who cheered reports of members of the U.S. Marine Corps urinating on the bodies of dead Afghans and suggested that had she been present, she would have joined in.

"Clearly, CNN doesn't have a uniform policy on how to deal with these things," Corbett said. "If they had a uniform policy they could deal with everything swiftly and in a matter that is equitable. . . ."


Patricia S. Due, Civil Rights Pioneer, Dies at 72

Patricia Stephens Due, a civil rights pioneer, Family photo shows Tananarive Due, left, John Due, Patricia Stephens Due, Lydia Due Greisz and Johnita Due. died Tuesday at 72 after a two-year fight with cancer.

Two of her daughters made careers in the news media. Tananarive Due teaches creative writing at Antioch University in Los Angeles and is a columnist for the Oakland Tribune, and Johnita Patricia Due is CNN’s chief diversity chair and assistant general counsel

In 2003, Patricia S. Due co-authored a memoir with Tananarive Due, "Freedom In The Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of The Fight for Civil Rights."

A story by Alicia W. Stewart for CNN began this way:

"The stories we tell often leave room for only one hero.

"In America, our civil rights hero is Martin Luther King.

"But even he recognized the sacrifice of heroines like Patricia Stephens Due.

" 'Going to jail for a righteous cause is a badge of honor and a symbol of dignity. I assure you that your valiant witness is one of the glowing epics of our time and you are bringing all of America [to] the threshold of the world's bright tomorrows," King said in a telegram to Due and fellow students.

"Patricia Stephens Due stayed in jail for 49 days, refusing to pay bail after she was arrested for sitting at a Woolworth lunch counter in Tallahassee, Florida.

" 'We are all so very happy to do this so that we can help our city, state and nation. We strongly believe that Martin Luther King was right when he said, "We’ve got to fill the jails to win our equal right",' she wrote in a letter to the Congress of Racial Equality’s James Robinson.

"She, her sister, six other Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University students and one high school student were jailed after participating in the peaceful sit-ins, a defining symbol of America’s civil rights movement.

"Due, a 20-year-old student then, led the first jail-in, and received global attention from leaders like King.

"Today, Patricia Stephens Due died after a two-year battle with thyroid cancer, and more than 50 years of activism."

Correction: This item originally referred to Antioch University as Antioch College.


Lwange, 51, with her daughter, Florida, who had been raped the week before this photo was taken in 2008. The child had screamed at the time, then bled. With her vagina and her young psyche damaged, Florida would no longer speak. (Credit: Lynsey Addario/VII)

Project Documents Pain of Using Rape as Weapon of War

"The Women’s Media Center launched a new project today, 'Women Under Siege,' to raise awareness about how sexualized violence is used as a weapon of war, Mallary Jean Tenore wrote Wednesday for the Poynter Institute.

"The project, which Gloria Steinem initiated, has a website that features testimonies from journalists who have been sexually assaulted or have covered sexual assault, including CBS’ Lara Logan and New York Times photojournalist Lynsey Addario. Addario, who was captured in Libya last year, wrote about the impact of covering rape in Congo."

Addario's report reads, in part:

"Rape as a weapon of war was rampant in Congo. Soldiers raped women to mark their territory, to destroy family bonds (women were often ostracized from their families once they were raped), and to show their power and intimidate civilians. They gang-raped women — they used their weapons to tear them apart, causing internal tears resulting in fistula — and they forced the families of the victims to watch gang rapes in progress. The stories were unbearable, and the more testimonies I heard during interviews, the more angry and sad I became. As a photojournalist, I felt there was very little I could do for the women in the DRC but record their stories, and hope there would be some way to change the pattern in the future through awareness. . . ."

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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Dear Sirs/Madam: I think it is a shame that Americans are now relegated to speaking like kindergarteners to one another, and unlike adult human beings. Mr. Martin spoke as an adult American male whose language could have meant any number of things. For instance, most people do not watch the Superbowl to cheer on the half-nakedness of men in their undies. They come to see the all-American pastime and to bath in the testosterone action of the sport. I would think as one of our supposed "betters" you would be able to see the distinction between out and out verbal and psychological abuse, and a random, throw-away empty comment. I don't feel insulted in the least that Mr. Martin expressed his wish as not seeing a half-naked man in his underwear during the Superbowl. Most Americans express the annoyance at the stupid and time-consuming televised spam thrown at us daily. We are sick of being unindated with stuff that does not speak to us and wastes a huge amount of our time. Be grown-ups and accept the man's apology for acting like a free human being with the legal right to speak his mind about a man in an ad, in his freakin' underwear.

Roland Martin

Roland I stand behind you 100%, it seems no one can say anything that won't offend somebody somewhere, stand your ground

Roland Martin

I suspect there was a hidden motive for Roland Martin's ouster. CNN used this flap to silence a voice that had become too strident. Bill Clinton had plenty of attack dogs in the media who went on the air waves to defend him. Ditto for Bush-Cheney. Roland Martin was the best attack dog the Obama administration had, and CNN decided that he growled to much and sent him to the dog pound. Somehow, black folks need to create a new black press that represents our interests.   

Melissa Harris-Perry and Cornel West

I read her Nation article from last spring. Thanks for providing the link.

So, West called her a "liar" and a "fraud"?


He's calling Harris-Perry names, meanwhile she used facts to "tear [West] out of the frame," as a campus colleague of mine likes to say.

Black Intellectuals need to come correct

It is refreshing in part to observe passion and diverse perspectives in the Black Intellectual Chatter Class....Every layer and sphere of Blackness requires a tune up and no one is above the fray.

I hope the banter is not too negative but I support the heated exchange that needs to take place in the Black Intellectual bandwidth.

The Arrogance of Martin & West

Black opinion makers in the post-racial era must have the skills and talents to navigate around many barriers, it is therefore incumbent upon them not to trip over their own stupidity and shortcomings.

Both West and Martin were out of order. Both should move quickly to redeem themsleves or face the specter of being ignored, a fate that is never good in a marketplace where soundbites rule the airwaves.


I thought we lived in America. What happened to free speech! Get a life!

Free Speech should not be HATE SPEECH

Roland was out of order of course since GLADD is lacking diversity on their board they are treading with care because GLADD has never been a strong advocate for Black Gays.

Roland is getting a get out of jail card opportunity and I am GLAD ( don't excuse the pun) he is taking it and meeting with GLADD

Patricia Due correction


In your obit for Patricia Due you mention that one of her daughters taught at "Antioch College in Los Angeles." Technically, there's no such place. You probably mean Antioch University in Los Angeles. Antioch College is in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Though the two institutions have something of a shared lineage, they are in fact two separate entities. I won't go into all the complicated history, but suffice it to say that alums of Antioch College — and I'm on the alumni board — bristle at any attempt to link us back to the University, after all we did to reopen the College after the University tried to close it (I told you it was complicated).
But that's all in the past. The news, that you might want to pass along especially to parents with teens considering college in the near future, is that Antioch College — reopened in 2011 after that complicated battle with the University &mdaash; is offering free tuition to all classes entering in the next three years. for details.


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