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Gates Becomes Part of "Black in America 2"

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Star Editor Janice Min Stepping Down from Us Weekly

Jose Antonio Vargas Jumps to Huffington Post

Professor Stars in Run-Up to CNN Documentary

Henry Louis Gates Jr. became the star of CNN's long-planned "Black in America 2" debut Wednesday night as a result of his arrest in Cambridge, Mass., after beingRetired banker Bill Carter, a neighbor, took this photo of Henry Louis Gates Jr., in front of his Cambridge, Mass., home last week on the day he was arrested. (Demotix Images). suspected of burglarizing his own home.

During "Moment of Truth: Countdown to Black in America 2," a live event broadcast from Times Square, Gates recounted for CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien his arrest at his Cambridge home.

He noted that the mayor "called and apologized," and said he was waiting for the police officer to "tell the truth about what he did," and not "the distortions and fabrications in the police report." The officer insists he followed proper procedures.

Gates did not rule out legal action, and said he had no animosity toward the neighbor who reported seeing two black men with backpacks trying to break into the home. Gates was with a driver, returning from the airport. In fact, Gates said he was happy for the vigilance, because he has valuables in the house.

Gates was originally scheduled because he had helped radio host Tom Joyner trace his ancestry, which includes relatives who were wrongly executed in the killing of a Confederate veteran. The two men said they were appealing for redress from South Carolina's governor, Mark Sanford.

The two-hour debut of "Black in America 2" began at 9 p.m. Eastern time, after President Obama's 8 p.m. news conference, which focused on health care.

Jennifer Lee, a spokeswoman for the, which Gates edits, said CNN's was Gates' only scheduled broadcast appearance, to her knowledge. He told his story in a Q and A on and in an hour-long interview with the Washington Post. Both are owned by the Washington Post Co.

Despite the dropping of charges, the Gates arrest for disorderly conduct has quickly become the subject of commentary, particularly, but not only, by African Americans. The opinions range from editorials in the Los Angeles Times, the Dallas Morning News and Salem (Ore.) Statesman Journal, to pieces online by Gates' daughter and by a Los Angeles police officer, writing under an assumed name for the National Review. Henry Louis Gates Jr., left, Tom Joyner and Soledad O'Brien spoke during a CNN show shot live from New York's Times Square. (credit: Dimitrios Kambouris for CNN)Cambridge police.

"I don't blame Gates for viewing himself as the victim of racial profiling. History is on his side," Editorial Page Editor Dick Hughes, who is white, wrote in a column scheduled for the Salem newspaper.

"When minority motorists talk about being stopped for 'Driving While Black" or 'Driving While Hispanic,' history supports them. When I was a police reporter in the 1970s, doing ridealongs with officers, they told me how they profiled drivers in deciding whom to stop.

"Even if that profiling wasn't an official part of department policy, it was passed from one generation of officers to the next.

"Yes, times have changed, and the U.S. has elected its first black president. But such history dies hard."

Another editorial page editor, Harold Jackson of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who is black, said "I'm using the incident to introduce an editorial on The Sentencing Project's new report on racial disparities in prison sentencing."

Many used the incident to puncture the myth that the United States had entered a "post-racial" era with Obama's election, an idea Obama himself denied last week.

On the other side, a Los Angeles police officer writing under the pseudonym "Jack Dunphy" wrote for the National Review:

"The claim that Gates had been 'profiled' is ludicrous. Police responded to a 911 call from a witness who described two black men she believed to be breaking into a home. If contacting a black man then found inside that very home is deemed to be 'profiling' then the term itself has been stripped of its meaning.

". . . If there's an apology that's owed, it's not from the police."

Under the headline, "Professor quick to exploit case," Boston Herald columnist Peter Gelzinis wrote, "Exploitation can assume many forms - including Skip [Gates'] sudden decision to train his historian/journalist eye on the subject of racial profiling. Obviously, there's no need to ask why he wasn't moved to make such a documentary before yesterday."

From the left, Cornel West, the activist Princeton professor who worked with Gates at Harvard, linked the incident with Obama's speeches on personal responsibility and the president's admiration of Abraham Lincoln.

On Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" West said, "Lincoln became great, because a social movement pushed him against slavery in that regard. And Obama is looking to the wrong Lincoln. And if he doesn't understand the greatness of Lincoln was responding to the social movements of working people and poor people, he's going to end up with a failed presidency, with a lot of symbolic gestures, but, on the ground, everyday people, those Sly Stone called 'everyday people,' suffering still."

Obama Says "Cambridge Police Acted Stupidly"

President Obama, asked to comment at his news conference about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., said "any of us would be pretty angry" if we had been subject to the same police actions, and that "the Cambridge police acted stupidly, when there was already proof that they were in their own home." 

The question, asked by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, was the final one at an hour-long conference focused on Obama's health care proposals. The president began his answer by saying that "Skip Gates is a friend" and "I don't know all the facts.

"Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that," he said, as reported by the Boston Globe. "'But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact," Obama said.

"That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made," he added. "I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us. And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently and often time for no cause casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody is going to be."

Despite the president's familiarity with Gates, who has been called the most prominent African American scholar in American history, the professor apparently wasn't so large on some journalists' radar screens.

Blogging for USA Today, David Jackson described him as "Henry Gates, an African-American professor at Harvard who was arrested at his home by police in Cambridge, Mass." Chris Cillizza, summarizing the conference for his "The Fix" column on the Washington Post site, did not mention Gates.

Commenting on MSNBC, Howard Fineman said Obama's more down-to-earth response to the Gates question showed more of the Obama that people tuned in to see than did his discussion of health-care policy.

The news conference was covered live by BET, which has been attempting to change its reputation as the network of booty-shaking music videos. Keith Brown, senior vice president of news and public affairs, said the network had covered all of Obama's news conferences.

When the session was over, special correspondent Sophia Nelson of explained that her father, brother and even she had been victims of profiling, and she presumed her male anchor, BET News correspondent Andre Showell, had as well. They quickly went on to discuss Obama's responses on health care.


Star Editor Janice Min Stepping Down from Us Weekly

"Janice Min, the editor who turned Us Weekly into one of magazine publishing‚Äôs major success stories, will step down next week after seven years there, in what she and her boss, Jann S. Wenner, described Monday as an amicable parting," Richard P?©rez-Pe?±a wrote Monday in the New York Times.

Janice Min"Ms. Min said she did not have her next move planned, though she talked about online ventures and television as fields that would appeal to her. But after publicized contract haggling in 2005 and 2007, with speculation each time that one of the field’s biggest stars might just walk away, Ms. Min said that this time she had decided not to renew her contract, which expires Aug. 1.

“'As long as I’m here, I can’t really even begin to think about what I’m going to do next,' she said. 'But I’m 39 and I’d like to have another career. I felt like I’d done every possible thing at Us Weekly to make it successful.'”

"Ultimately, it was all about the money," Amy Wicks wrote Wednesday for Women's Wear Daily.

"A few years ago, Us Weekly editor in chief Janice Min signed a contract worth approximately $2 million, but that deal is about to expire, and given the state of the publishing world, that kind of money wasn’t on the table this time around. While Us owner Jann Wenner asked Min to stay, in the end they couldn’t agree on a new salary number."

U.S. Holds Iraqi Journalist 10th Month Without Charges

"American forces arrested Iraqi journalist Ibrahim Jassam last year and continue to hold him without charge in a U.S. military prison camp — even as the United States transfers jurisdiction to Iraqi authorities," Quil Lawrence reported Monday for NationaAbu Miriam, holds a photo of his brother, detained Iraqi journalist Ibrahim Jassam. (Credit: Quil Lawrence/NPR)l Public Radio.

"Jassam, a cameraman, shot footage of Iraq's violence during times when it was impossible for Western reporters to move safely around Iraq.

"He was 29 years old in 2006 when he began working for Reuters news agency. At the time, the towns southwest of Baghdad had earned the nickname the 'Triangle of Death' because of the violence between Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. His brother, Walid, says Jassam took his work very seriously.

". . . But as with many cases in the past, the U.S. military apparently thought Jassam's photos looked a little too close to the action, suggesting a connection to insurgents.

". . . Iraqi journalists have been regularly detained by U.S. forces through the course of the American occupation; several have been killed when mistaken for insurgents. According to Mohamed Abdel Dayem, of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Jassam is the only one still in U.S. custody.

"No charges have been brought against any of the journalists . . . If and when they are detained, [journalists'] cases should be reviewed in a quick and timely way, and they should either be charged with a recognizable crime or they should be released,' Dayem says.

". . . Jassam's sister says he isn't eating enough and looks thin. She says her brother knows that the Iraqi court cleared him in November, and that he can't understand why the Americans keep holding him, for 10 months now and counting."

Jose Antonio Vargas Jumps to Huffington Post

Jose Antonio VargasJose Antonio Vargas a rising star at the Washington Post who covers what he calls "the marriage of the Internet and politics," "is moving to a Web site that operates at that intersection: The Huffington Post," Brian Stelter reported Tuesday for the New York Times.

"Mr. Vargas will join the Arianna Huffington outfit next month as the technology and innovations editor. He will oversee a new section about tech (coming this fall) and encourage sitewide innovation.

"The Huffington Post has been on something like a hiring tear in recent months. After Dan Froomkin, the Washington Post columnist, was dismissed last month, Ms. Huffington happily scooped him up.

"Mr. Vargas said he had respect and admiration for The Washington Post, where he has worked since 2004, and that his move to Ms. Huffington’s Post was a personal decision."

Vargas, 28, told Facebook friends he seemed "2 have stunned some peeps with this move: to me, there is no new media v old media. only good journalism."

The hiring of Vargas brings Huffington's total to seven paid reporters, with Vargas, who is of Filipino background, its first paid reporter of color. Huffington spokesman Mario Ruiz said the operation had 38 editorial staffers.

Traditional Burial Service Planned for Cronkite Thursday

A family funeral service for longtime CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, who died Friday at 92, is scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m., at St. Bartholomew’s Church in midtown Manhattan, CBS said on Wednesday. 

CBS News will provide a live feed by satellite to broadcasters that wish to carry it. The network said it would stream the service on

The ceremony will be a traditional burial service from the Book of Common Prayer with the Rev. William McD. Tully presiding. It will include a jazz band’s rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In” during the final procession. Speakers are to include Andy Rooney, Sanford Socolow, Mike Ashford and Bill Harbach followed by a final tribute from son Chip Cronkite.

The family has requested that donations be sent to the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fund in care of The Austin Community Foundation (

"They will distribute the funds as a tribute to their parents’ wishes and values: local and national charities they supported, among them education (including sailing), journalism, basic needs, health care and research, community organizations, planned parenthood and animals."

Personal notes may be sent to the family in care of the church, 325 Park Ave., New York, NY 10022.

Short Takes

  • The Michael Jackson story kept television newsmagazines, especially CBS Television Distribution's "Entertainment Tonight," at high rating levels for a third straight week amid widespread coverage of Jackson's funeral and memorial service, TV Newsday reported on Tuesday. Meanwhile, TV One announced "Forever Michael Week," a week-long tribute starting Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern time that includes a new documentary, "The Michael Jackson Story"; "The Jacksons: An American Dream" miniseries; and "Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration," a concert that commemorates Jackson's 30 years as a solo performer. It was originally scheduled to celebrate the kickoff of Jackson‚Äôs London concerts. Jackson died at 50 on June 25.
  • "The dual assault from government and media is also wearing on the community fabric" of Somali Americans in the Twin Cities, according to Michelle Chen, writing for Colorlines magazine. "'Young Somali men are being portrayed as terrorists right now. All the media love to have a story that is going to sell,' said Nimco Ahmed, a youth organizer in the Twin Cities. 'But that is going to hurt those who live in this country, who actually want to contribute to this country, like me and many others.'‚Äù
  • "The BBC‚Äôs latest annual report admits that the [corporation] continues to miss its targets on diversity. It has an internal target of having at least 12.5% of staff from an ethnic minority background," Asians in Media magazine reported on Tuesday. "It also has internal targets to have at least 7% of senior managers from an ethnic minority background. But both targets have been missed [a] third year in a row since they were first mooted."
  • Errol Louis"An unusual $10 million defamation suit against an attorney brought by a Brooklyn, N.Y., judge for allegedly telling a New York Daily News columnist the judge improperly presided over a case involving a lawyer who represented the judge before the judicial conduct commission has been dismissed," Vesselin Mitev wrote Friday for the New York Law Journal. "However, while Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Martin Shulman dismissed all claims against attorney Ravi Batra, he allowed a defamation claim to proceed against the Daily News and columnist Errol Louis, finding that 'the average reader might have concluded from one of Mr. Louis' columns that Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Larry D. Martin is a corrupt jurist' under investigation."
  • Forty journalists, including Christina Boomer of KNXV-TV in Phoenix, were invited by the Mexican consulate in Phoenix to join a three-day conference in Mexico City about migrant communities in North American cities. Boomer kept a blog.
  • JazzTimes Editor in Chief Lee Mergner and Managing Editor Evan Haga will remain with the publication under its new ownership, Jason Fell reported for Folio magazine, quoting Boston-based Madavor Media.
  • Tom Joyner, host of radio's syndicated ‚ÄúTom Joyner Morning Show,‚Äù is scheduled to testify in Washington Thursday on the success of the 1 866 MYVOTE1 hotline. Appearing before the Committee on House Administration. Joyner will discuss and make several recommendations on what needs to be improved, according to a news release from Joyner's Reach Media.
  • Harvard University‚Äôs Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy has created a new program for writers, named in honor of A.M. Rosenthal, former executive editor of the New York Times, the center announced on Monday. "The Rosenthal Writer-in-Residence Program will bring professional nonfiction writers to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and provide an opportunity for them to conduct research and work on a specific project. The Rosenthal Writer will receive a stipend of $30,000, and will have an office at the Shorenstein Center and a student research assistant. In addition to the writing project, the Writer will teach student workshops and participate in Shorenstein Center events." Candidates should be writers with an established project and a solid history of published books or essays in the area of press, policy or public affairs.

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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Gates to become iconic image of ongoing racial strife in America

Today I received an unannounced visit from the former police chief of Ashland, Oregon. He just walked into the newsroom and right up to my desk and thanked me for the blog I posted on July 20 (titled, "I hardly know what to say ...") about the Gates incident. He then proceeded to offer anecdotes about experiences he had during his 20+ years as a police officer. One memorable story was the time he filled in for a dispatcher early in his career during a day when the department was shorthanded. He received a call from a woman complaining of a suspicious black man holding a white baby. This astute officer asked her what was the specific complaint. The woman responded that she wanted the police to check out a 'suspicious' black man because he was holding a white baby. The officer asked her if she would complain about a white man holding a black baby. She responded, "Of course not!" Regarding the police photo of Gates, I'm inclined to think that mug shot — of one of the most revered academicians in the nation — stands as a testimony in the same way that images of the arrests of dignified black leaders during the Civil Rights era captivated Americans and helped in part to galvanize support to address the deep-rooted problems within this nation's institutions (http://3.bp. blogspot. com/_fOxYvrHFbrM /RvEzM76ALOI/ AAAAAAAAApQ/ 8M2TCKgnYEY/ s400/MLK% 2BArrested. jpg). I posted the photo on my blog ( Not as a slight to Gates, but as a stark reminder of how elements embedded within powerful institutions in America are all too willing to dismiss the dignity and respect we've sought for so long. That mug shot evokes a feeling of righteous indignation. And that's what Gates felt when, in a moment, he was stripped of everything he spent a lifetime earning. In that moment, Gates became huge. And in the weeks, months and years to come he (and his mug shot) will rise to an iconic level, forever securing a place in this nation's history. And the experience of Harvard's revered professor Henry Gates will write a new chapter in the continuing story of racial strife in America.

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