Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Networks Wait, Get Affirmative Action Ruling Right

Send by email
Monday, June 24, 2013

CNN, Blasted for Past Mistakes, Takes Its Time

Reporters Fly From Moscow to Cuba — Without Snowden

Armstrong Williams, Juan Williams Wrote Mandela's Letters

Hispanics Oppose 10-Year Wait for Permanent Residency

"Dark Girls" Showing on OWN a Hit on Social Media

Britain Gets 1st Nonwhite Editor of Modern National Paper

NPR's "Snap Judgment" Becoming the Next Big Thing

Haynes Johnson Recalled for Affinity With Civil Rights

A crowd in front of the Supreme Court on Oct. 10, 2012, after the court heard ar

CNN, Blasted for Past Mistakes, Takes Its Time

"As NBC’s Chuck Todd Tweeted this morning, there are four big decisions coming from the Supreme Court this week — its final week before recess," Alex Weprin reported Monday for TVNewser. Those cases are same sex marriage, DOMA, the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action.

"A 7 – 1 ruling to send the affirmative action case back to a lower court was the first to come this morning, triggering special reports from the broadcasters.

"Unlike last year, when a complicated decision and a rush to be first resulted in incorrect information on the health care decision airing on Fox News and CNN, this time around, the TV networks appeared to be on top of their game. All of the channels noted that a decision was handed down, but waited to report on what it was until they were absolutely certain of the decision. CNN — which took the brunt of the criticism last time around for its reporting — reported the decision after the other TV networks. . . ."

In what was called "The Fisher decision in Plain English," Amy Howe wrote for the SCOTUSblog:

"Today a broad majority of the Court reinforced that affirmative action must be strictly reviewed, but it did not outlaw those programs. In an opinion that required only thirteen pages, the Court explained that a university's use of race must meet a test known as 'strict scrutiny.' Under this test, a university's use of affirmative action will be constitutional only if it is 'narrowly tailored.'

"The Court in Fisher took pains to make clear exactly what this means: courts can no longer simply rubber-stamp a university's determination that it needs to use affirmative action to have a diverse student body. Instead, courts themselves will need to confirm that the use of race is 'necessary' — that is, that there is no other realistic alternative that does not use race that would also create a diverse student body. Because the lower court had not done so, the Court sent the case back for it to determine whether the university could make this showing. . . ."

Coincidentally, on Tuesday, the American Society of News Editors releases its annual diversity survey of newspaper and online newsrooms.

"The Newsroom Employment Census is a tool ASNE uses to measure the success of its goal of having the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage of minorities in the nation's population by 2025," ASNE says. The percentage of journalists of color in newsrooms has been between 12 percent and 13 percent for about a decade.

"Across all market sizes, minority newsroom employment is still substantially lower than the percentage of minorities in the markets those newsrooms serve," ASNE said last year.

A video of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa's insults to his country's news media, put together by Ecuadorean journalists with English translations.

Reporters Fly From Moscow to Cuba — Without Snowden

"Since NSA leaker Edward Snowden apparently left Hong Kong, journalists have been trying to track his whereabouts," Alex Weprin reported Monday for TVNewser. "He supposedly flew to Moscow, Russia (though no reporter saw him there) and Russian state media reported that he would be flying to Cuba, before moving on to Venezuela and likely Ecuador.

"A slew of reporters, believing the Russian media report, booked tickets on the Aeroflot flight to Havana. When they boarded, it became clear that Snowden was not going to be joining them. ABC News Moscow correspondent Kirit Radia indicates that Russian authorities definitely wanted to give the appearance of something big."

Weprin posted Radia's Monday morning tweet: "Our producer on #Snowden's flight reports police took ABC's camera and erased video shot on plane before it took off."

Weprin added, "To make matters worse, the 11 hour flight does not include alcohol service.

"As Gawker notes, however, some reporters were able to take pictures of Snowden's empty seat. Now journalists across the globe are scrambling to figure out where he is, and where he is going."

Bill Sweeney added for the Committee to Protect Journalists:

"Snowden is said to be seeking asylum in Ecuador, with passage reportedly through Venezuela. Leaks of sensitive government information are growing less likely by the day in the two nations, which have moved aggressively to silence independent reporting. Venezuela has effectively eradicated independent broadcast outlets through its politicized regulatory system. Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, has pursued criminal prosecution of his critics. His government went even further this month, as CPJ's John Otis recounted, with the adoption of sweeping legislation that criminalizes critical follow-up reporting and obligates news media to cover government-prescribed activities.

"Back in the UK, where the story all began when the Guardian broke the first of Snowden's leaks, the public has been debating a surveillance bill that critics derisively call the 'snoopers charter.' The bill would expand the intelligence service's ability to monitor digital communications, but one wonders how much weight David Cameron's government gives to public debate. Among the latest revelations via Snowden and the Guardian: For 18 months, the British spy agency GCHQ has been secretly tapping into vast amounts of data carried by fiber-optic cable."

Armstrong Williams, Juan Williams Wrote Mandela's Letters

Journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Nelson Mandela and Armstrong Williams. (Court

As the world's media keep an eye on Pretoria, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela lies in critical condition at age 94, media members so privileged are beginning to share stories of their encounters with South Africa's first black president. On SiriusXM on Monday, commentator Armstrong Williams recalled the two weeks in 1990 when he and journalist Juan Williams doubled as Mandela's personal secretaries.

That occurred after Mandela had been released from 27 years of imprisonment. Armstrong Williams was in South Africa as vice president of the International Division of B&C Associates, headed by Bob Brown, an aide to President Richard Nixon. Juan Williams was a reporter for the Washington Post. The Williamses are close friends — Armstrong Williams is godfather of Juan Williams' children — but are not related.

Juan Williams told the Mandela story in 2008 at Lafayette College, where he received an honorary doctorate:

"Mandela was being let go, and correspondents from near and wide were sent, not only from here in the United States — the likes of Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather — but also their peers from around the world. I was sent as a correspondent from the Washington Post, and of course I wanted to get an interview with Nelson Mandela. But I was told by his aides that it was not possible, there was just too much pressure on Mandela, too much demand on his time. It turned out that he had read a book that I had written, so I was put in a line of dignitaries, because he wanted to shake hands with the author.

"When I got up there, I wouldn't let go of his hand. I just held on for dear life and I said, 'Mr. Mandela, it would mean so much to us if you would give me a few minutes of your time for an interview.' I don't know if you've ever seen that silly show on TV — I think it's called 'Showtime at the Apollo' — where they literally bring out a hook and take the comedian offstage, but it looked like that. I was being dragged away by his aides to stop pestering this man when he turned to me and said, 'Well, you're a writer. If you're willing to help me with some correspondence — I don't have a personal secretary — you can stick around and talk to me.' I said, 'Absolutely. It's a deal.'

"So I ended up writing some silly notes, things like, 'Thank you, Comrade Gorbachev. It's great to be out. Hope to see you soon. Love, Nelson.' But in exchange, I get to sit with Mandela when he's meeting grandchildren, eating home-cooked food, seeing old friends. . . ."

Armstrong Williams said the letter writers included President Reagan, former presidents Nixon and Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali and admirers from around the world. The two Williamses created Mandela's stationery, since the newly freed prisoner had none.

Juan Williams continued, "At one point, we're left together and I say, 'Mr. Mandela, from the time that you were a young man, your heart must have been absolutely bursting with the desire to break apart this cruel apartheid system.'

"Mandela, who's such a sober and serious individual, began to laugh out loud, and I thought there had been some misunderstanding, some miscommunication. I started to apologize, and he said, 'No, no. It's just so absurd. People all the time say this,' but when he was a young man, all he wanted to do was rebel against his parents. He just wanted to leave his family. He didn't want to live in any township, he wanted to go to the big city, which for him was Johannesburg. He wanted to become a prize-fighter, wanted to learn the language of the Dutch settlers, wanted to be a poet. And then he wanted to do what you have done on this day, he wanted to get what he called a Western-style education. . . ."

Do you have a story about Nelson Mandela? If so, please share it here.

Hispanics Oppose 10-Year Wait for Permanent Residency

"Hispanics are as likely as whites and blacks to say undocumented immigrants should pay fines before obtaining legal status," the Pew Research Center reported on Sunday. "About six-in-ten Hispanics favor this proposal, compared with 56% of blacks and 54% of whites.

"However, there is more opposition than support among Hispanics for requiring a 10-year waiting period for most undocumented immigrants before they can gain permanent residency (59% oppose, 40% favor), while majorities of both whites (56%) and blacks (60%) favor this."

As the Senate works toward a compromise on immigration reform, the Pew survey found that "Broad majorities — across party lines — continue to support a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. And large majorities also say this legislation must include increased border security."

Pew also found, "While whites and blacks are split on this question, Hispanics say — by nearly two-to-one (59% to 32%) — that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to apply for legal status while border improvements are being made. Younger people (those younger than 50) are more likely than those 50 and older to say the same. . . ."

Oprah Winfrey discusses perceptions of light versus dark skin with, from left, actresses Gabrielle Union, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard. (Video)

"Dark Girls" Showing on OWN a Hit on Social Media

"The 'Dark Girls' movie premiered on Oprah's OWN channel on Sunday at 10 pm ET, with a replay right after the initial 2-hour documentary premiere (with lots of commercial interruptions, I might add — got to pay the bills), sending the hashtag #DarkGirls to the top trending spot on Twitter," Paula Mooney wrote Monday for

"While plenty of people from Cleveland to California and beyond got busy tweeting and 'Facebooking' their reactions to the movie and light and dark skinned colorism issues around the world, others bemoaned the fact that they didn't own 'OWN' and couldn't watch it.

"Oprah has released some YouTube clips of the documentary, which can be watched on right now on . . . "

Britain Gets 1st Nonwhite Editor of Modern National Paper

Amol Rajan

In Britain, "Last week, Amol Rajan became the first non-white editor of a national paper in the modern era,"Gavriel Hollander wrote Monday for the PressGazette. He was referring to the Independent.

Hollander added, "Rajan grew up in south London after emigrating from Kolkata at the age of three. He was educated at a comprehensive before going to Cambridge where he became editor of the student paper, Varsity.

"He initially joined The Independent as a news reporter before becoming a media advisor to new owner Evgeny Lebedev after he bought the paper in 2010. He was made editor of the Independent Voices comment section earlier this year.

"Rajan, besides being the first editor of non-white background to edit a national paper, is also one of the youngest in Fleet Street history." He is 29.

"Commenting on the appointment, a spokesperson for the Journalism Diversity Fund told Press Gazette: 'Amol Rajan's appointment as editor of The Independent is encouraging, as he could prove to be an inspiration to those with diverse backgrounds who want to become journalists.' "

Former editor Simon Kelner said he met Rajan when he was a guest on Channel 5's "The Wright Stuff."

" 'After the programme, a young man came up to me and said: "I think I've got what it takes for journalism. Can I come and do work experience with you?"

" 'I was rather taken with his enthusiasm. At the time he was the man in the audience putting the microphone to people, but I could see he was a bright guy. ' . . . "

NPR's "Snap Judgment" Becoming the Next Big Thing

In its first three years, "Snap Judgment," Glynn Washington's "fast-paced, music-heavy, ethnically variegated take on the public-radio story hour, has spread like left-end-of-the-dial kudzu," Mark Oppenheimer wrote Wednesday for the Atlantic.

"It is on 250 stations, reaching nine of the top 10 public-radio markets, and its podcast is downloaded more than half a million times a month. And while there has long been minority talent on public radio — a realm that includes National Public Radio and other producers of non-commercial radio, like American Public Media and Public Radio International — Washington is the first African American host to swing a big cultural stick, the first who seems likely to become a public-radio superstar on the order of [Ira] Glass or Garrison Keillor.

'Public-media executives are obsessed with their diversity problem. They are well aware of the perception that NPR is most influential among the elderly (or at any rate the middle-aged—the median age of an NPR listener is 56) and the Caucasian; they also realize that many of the medium's stars are white men of a certain age. Washington's big break came as a result of the radio bosses' fixation on expanding their core audience. Minority hosts and reporters have a presence on public radio's flagship magazine programs, but due to the nature of such programming, they blend in with the rest of the chorus.

"While Michel Martin's daily show, Tell Me More, has a multicultural focus, it is heard on only 117 stations. Tavis Smiley, who had a daily NPR show from 2002 to 2004, never really caught on (perhaps because he was a poor fit for the medium). So in 2007, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes government money to NPR and other public-media ventures, and Public Radio Exchange launched the Public Radio Talent Quest, in the hopes of finding future hosts, perhaps from outside the elite — and mostly white — pool that traditionally yields public-media talent. . . . "

Haynes Johnson Recalled for Affinity With Civil Rights

Haynes Johnson

For a journalist whose career took off because of his coverage of the civil rights movement, there was irony at the memorial service Sunday for Haynes Johnson, longtime Washington Post writer and editor and later a journalism professor at the University of Maryland.

Among the 250 who came to the National Press Club to celebrate his life were no more than a handful of black people.

Perhaps it was because the attendees represented the Washington journalism establishment, as reflected in such institutions as Johnson's beloved Gridiron Club and the weekend talk shows. (Johnson had been a regular on PBS' "Washington Week in Review.") Consider just some of the names: Eleanor Clift, Mark Shields, Jules Witcover, Bill Kovach, Howard Fineman, Roger Mudd, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Ben BradleeGwen Ifill, Clarence Page, Paul Delaney, Hedrick Smith, E.J. Dionne, Michael Getler, Robert Kaiser.

Johnson, who died at 81 on May 24, won a Pulitizer Prize for a 1965 story in the Washington Evening Star on the aftermath of the Selma, Ala., demonstrations that year. "He had a bond with every civil rights leader," the pollster Peter D. Hart said in his welcome remarks. "They knew that  in him they had a soul mate." Sen. Robert F. Kennedy felt the same. He offered Johnson a place in his 1968 presidential campaign, but Johnson declined, choosing instead simply to remain good friends.

Johnson lived in the shadow of his journalist father, Malcolm Malone ("Mike") Johnson, who had written an expose about the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia in the 1920s, then left for New York, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for his series in the New York Sun on crime on the New York waterfront. They are the only father-son combination to win a Pulitzer for reporting.

In remarks about Johnson, Donald E. Graham, chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Co., told the group, "You've got to remember where he started, covering the story of race in America." The first of Johnson's 18 books, 1963's "Dusk at the Mountain: The Negro, the Nation, and the Capital — A Report on Problems and Progress," was about what black and white Washingtonians were saying about each other.

That required listening. "In this decade in Washington, Haynes may have been the only person still listening to anyone," Graham said. "Listening. How old-fashioned is that?" Dan Balz, the Post's chief political writer, said, "He had a way of getting people's confidences."

Johnson was better known for his political work — he wrote of presidents and was featured in "The Boys on the Bus," Timothy Crouse's classic book about the 1972 presidential campaign.

When it was time for his children to speak, the professional became personal. "He taught us to appreciate all races, all religions, all cultures," said Katherine J. Autin, a daughter. "He saw that his role as a journalist was to provide the necessary foundation to write the wrongs," said David M. Johnson, a son.

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter @princeeditor

Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.

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.



Nelson Mandela Memories

Dear Richard, On Mandela's first trip to the United States, I was news director at WEAA-FM. I convinced my GM to alllow me to cover this historic journey to give listeners a preview of what to expect when he got to Washington. While in New York, we got wind that Mandela was going to do a "Black Press Only" event. It was to be held at Gracie Mansion, the mayor's residence. I jumped in a cab with James and Richard Muhammad of the Final Call. When we arrived, there were 20 Black journalists. We waited for 3 hours; that's when a spokesman for Mandela said he would not do the event.

A frustrated Frances Murphy of the Afro-American newspaper began to quiz the assembled group as to our affilations. "It's a shame he can't talk to the people who kept his story alive," she said. Two days later, I received a call from my mother, who asked how the trip was going "because there was an article in the 'Afro' with my name." When I returned to Baltimore, I decided to make another attempt to get that exclusive that had eluded me in NY. I decided to go to National Airport for his arrival in the Washington, DC metro area. As I waited on the tarmac, I was joined by April Ryan. As we waited, I talked about my exploits in New York.

Mandela flew to Washington on Trump Airlines. As he deplaned, he began walking to the terminal and then reversed course and headed toward me and April. When he stopped, he was in front of us and took every question. I happen to have a "throwaway camera" and started snapping pictures. (That Christmas, all my family got personalized pictures). Oh, by the way, on my way to the big media hookup with Mandela in DC, I happed to see this guy in a New York Yankees jacket. I thought it odd because I remembered the Yankees had given Mandela a jacket. In the press briefing Mandela was asked what he he missed most about while being in prision." The ability to just go out and take a walk, so this morning I did just that, I put on my jacket (NY Yankees Jacket) and went for a walk."

Lastly, Mandela did do a Black press briefing in Washington, DC. Leading the delegation was Frances Murphy of the Baltimore/Washington Afro- American Newspaper.

Introducing Mandela to Mom

My favorite personal story involving Nelson Mandela involves my mother, Margaret Davidson. I first met him shortly after his release in 1990, covered him during his U.S. tour, then was posted to Joburg as a Wall Street Journal correspondent in 1991. My mother came to visit me that year and I took her to a Mandela presser, where I introduced them. Always gracious, Mandela told her, "you have a wonderful son." I've seen Mandela in many political settings, but it was that one moment with my mom that means the most to me. My one regret, I don't have a picture of him with my mother and me.

Also: Lessons from the ultimate public servant: Nelson Mandela (Federal Diary column, Washington Post)

Nation of Invisible Black Folks

Interesting truth about written words that become laws you can make people disappear. In America, laws can create rights and take away rights. In America you can be a slave, colored, negro, Black, African American, and then nobody. The same laws that make you can break you. Laws at the end of the day are words . The power of words is the most powerful force in America. Laws today gone tomorrow .. Watch Out Black America!

Nelson Mandela

From Adam Powell III:

When Mandela came to the US in 1993 to receive the Medal of Freedom, I invited him to the Freedom Forum for a public event before he went to the White House. To my complete surprise, he said yes. While we were being seated, the AP ran an update form the CODESA talks announcing they had just announced an election date -- the following April. So I introduced him as "the next president of South Africa." He broke into a big grin (see photo <>), and then he covered the mike and said "No one has ever introduced me that way before." I then covered my mike and said, "Get used to it." Another big smile....

   Back story: At 8 am that morning, sitting on a sofa with Mandela in his suite at the hotel watching ESPN SportsCenter, he turned to me and said, maybe you can help me with a problem. "Your Mr. Warren Christopher (then Secretary of State) called and said I should," [turning to Thabo Mbeki, and then remembering the exact words} "What did he say? that I should [using hand for quotation marks] 'blow you off.'" It seems Christopher had a reception planned at the State Dept at the same time Mandela was committed to our event. Thinking quickly, I replied that since he, the shadow head of state, was going to an event with the President of the US, perhaps it would be appropriate for the ANC shadow foreign minister to greet the US Secretary of State. Mandela flashed a huge smile. "Yes! Thabo, *you* will go to see Mr. Christopher." [whew]

  Mandela then turned to me and asked, "But who will go with me in my car to your event? Mr. Clayton Powell, would you like to come with me?" (Is this an intelligence test?) But there's an even better question to come: In the car, as we crossed the Potomac, he turned to me and asked, "Can you tell me, what is Allen Neuharth really like?"

   So I answered by giving the 30-second Neuharth Gannett / Freedom Forum profile. No, that wasn't what Mandela had in mind. "But he has hired many black people, correct?" Yes, I replied, the Gannett company had perhaps the best diversity record among major US newspaper companies. "So why did he do that?" I replied with the 30-second Neuharth childhood profile, and he interrupted me again. "So why does he hire so many black people? Is Allen Neuharth part black?"

Post new comment

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