Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Obama, McCain Split on Affirmative Action

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama said at the Unity convention that anti-affirmative ballot initiatives, such as one supported in Arizona by Sen. John McCain, are 'all too often designed to drive a wedge between people.' (Jennifer Dronkers/Unity News)A Confident Democrat Supports the Concept at Unity

Looking supremely confident, Sen. Barack Obama, returning from his eight-day trip to the Mideast and Europe, drew for Unity: Journalists of Color on Sunday a sharp distinction between himself and Republican rival John McCain on what has come to be the defining public policy question about race: affirmative action.

Earlier Sunday, during an interview on ABC News' "This Week," Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., reversed himself and endorsed a proposed state ballot measure backed by Ward Connerly that would end race and gender-based affirmative action in McCain's home state of Arizona.

Questioned at the Chicago convention by representatives of the national associations of black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American journalists, Obama told John Yang of NBC News, a member of the Asian American Journalists Association, that "these kinds of Ward Connerly referenda or initiatives . . . are not designed to solve a big problem, but they're all too often designed to drive a wedge between people.

"And one thing that I'm absolutely convinced about, after having traveled all across the world over the last -- last week, is that one of our greatest strengths is the fact that we come from so many different places, and yet we are all Americans.

"The Iraqis and the Afghans, when we talked -- when they talked to me about our military, not only were they impressed with how effective our military was, but they were also impressed with the fact that we had people from all walks of life who looked different all joining together as Americans.

Unity convention attendees spent 20 minutes in line waiting for the Secret Service to allow them into the McCormick Place convention center ballroom to hear Sen. Barack Obama.(Jennifer Dronkers/Unity News) "They were impressed with the fact that our main commanding officer now in Iraq is an African American [Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III]. That, I think, is what makes America special. And we shouldn't lose that -- we shouldn't either lose that or see that as a source of division. It should be a source of pride. And when properly structured, affirmative action, I think, can be a part of that."

As the Associated Press reported on Sunday, "McCain was asked specifically Sunday whether he supported an effort to get a referendum on the ballot in Arizona that would 'do away with affirmative action.'

"'Yes, I do,' said McCain in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's 'This Week.'

"The Republican senator quickly added that he had not seen the details of the proposal. 'But I've always opposed quotas.'

"Over the years, McCain has consistently voiced his opposition to hiring quotas based on race. He has supported affirmative action in limited cases. For example, he voted to maintain a program that encourages the awarding of 10 percent of spending on highway construction to women and minorities.

"In 1998, a resolution pending in the state legislature would ask Arizona voters to eliminate most preferences based on race, gender, color or ethnic origin. McCain warned against using ballot proposals to outlaw quotas or racial preferences."

Obama also told the Unity audience, "I've also said that affirmative action is not going to be the long-term solution to the problems of race in America, because, frankly, if you've got 50 percent of African American or Latino kids dropping out of high school, it doesn't really matter what you do in terms of affirmative action. Those kids are not getting into college.

"And, you know, there have been times where I think affirmative action has been viewed as a shortcut to solving some of these broader, long-term structural problems.

"I also think that we have to think about affirmative action and craft it in such a way where some of our children who are advantaged aren't getting more favorable treatment than a poor white kid who's struggled more. That has to be taken into account."

Obama was asked by Brian Bull of Wisconsin Public Radio, representing the Native American Journalists Association, "Would your administration issue an apology to Native Americans for the atrocities they've endured for the past 500 years?"

Dianne Solis of the Dallas Morning News, a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, asked, "Should we have more immigration or less immigration? And where should people come from, particularly given that the biggest backlogs are out of Latin America and Asia for legal entry?"

Syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, the National Association of Black Journalists' Journalist of the Year, asked whether Obama thought he had "actually done harm to the cause of Muslims" by stating often that he is Christian, not Muslim, as a portion of the American public continues to believe.

The three journalists received answers not easily digestible into sound bites.

Obama's appearance was eagerly awaited by attendees at the quadrennial convention, at which attendance rose to 7,550 on Sunday (see item below).

Convention planners envisioned and advertised a "presidential candidates forum" for Thursday, but McCain eventually declined and Obama instead planned his trip to Europe and the Middle East. By the time Obama's 40-minute appearance was announced last week, many had already booked flights out of Chicago on Saturday or early Sunday. As a result, the mammoth Skyline Ballroom at the McCormick Place convention center, which seats 4,500, was slightly more than half full. Those who did attend the CNN-televised event stood in line for about 20 minutes as Secret Service personnel examined anything audience members wanted to carry into the hall.

Obama, wearing a subdued pale green suit, a stylish red-and-green tie and a flag pin, bounded onstage at 11 a.m. with a "Hello, everybody," and took a seat to be interviewed by Suzanne Malveaux of CNN and Ramesh Ratnesar of Time magazine. The Democratic senator from Illinois exuded a confidence that contrasted with his appearance a year ago at the National Association of Black Journalists' convention, when the media story line was "Is he black enough?"

"Now I'm too black," Obama quipped to a generally restrained audience, warned by Unity President Karen Lincoln Michel to be on its "utmost" professional behavior because "The world is watching." Audience members were allowed to take photos with their cell phones during commercial breaks, and many did.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee used Sunday's occasion not only to discuss his trip but to respond to critics in the McCain camp and in the news media.

"Just 3 1/2 years ago, you were a state senator who represented a district just a couple miles from where we are," Malveaux said. "Since then, you have met with world leaders; you've traveled the globe. But clearly, eight days overseas doesn't make anybody a foreign policy expert.

"What more do you need to learn?"

Replied Obama: "Well, you know, I don't think that you ever stop learning. But I think it's pretty clear, Suzanne, if you talk to the people I met with, they feel confident that I know what I'm talking about and what I'm doing."

Ratnesar asked whether the "surge" in troops hasn't in fact helped improve conditions in Iraq, though Obama opposed it: "After the last five years, haven't we learned that a commander in chief needs to be willing to acknowledge mistakes or errors in judgment when circumstances change?"

Replied Obama: "I have to say, it is fascinating to me to hear you guys re-emphasize this over and over again. I have not heard yet somebody ask John McCain whether his vote to go into Iraq was a mistake. I haven't, during the entire week that we were having this conversation."

Malveaux asked, "Senator, I want to use a word that you love to use, 'audacity.' A lot of people looked at the trip and they saw the palaces, the world leaders, the 200,000 that were gathered in Berlin, and they said, 'The audacity of this trip, it looks like he is running for president of the world.'

"And a lot of people looked and they want to know, what out of this trip did you take away that you feel makes you a stronger candidate to be a leader here?

Replied Obama: "First of all, I basically met with the same folks that John McCain met with after he won the nomination. He met with all these leaders. He also added a trip to Mexico, a trip to Canada, a trip to Colombia, and nobody suggested that that was 'audacious.'"

What most resonated were the questions from the representatives of the associations of color, delivered from the microphones in the audience,  according to Gregory Stanford, who took a buyout in November as editorial writer and columnist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"The journalists on stage asked the typical narrow questions," Stanford said, "but when it came to the (audience), it broke us out of the box."

One of those questions, from Bull, was reminiscent of a question to President Bush at the 2004 Unity convention in Washington, when the president drew titters in the audience when he could not define what "sovereignty" meant to American Indians.

Obama used the word "sovereign" in his answer to Bull. "What an official apology would look like, how it would be shaped, that's something that I would want to consult with Native American tribes and councils to talk about, and -- because, obviously, as sovereign nations, they also have a whole host of other issues that they're concerned about and that they've prioritized," Obama told the NAJA member.

"One of the things that I've said to tribal leaders is, I want to set up a annual meeting with them and make sure that a whole range of these issues are addressed." He went on to say that "whether it's Native American issues, whether it's African American issues and reparations, that the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just to offer words, but offer deeds."

On immigration, Obama said, among other points, "Part of comprehensive reform would also involve examining where are various immigrants coming from, because, frankly, we are probably underrepresented when it comes to immigrants from certain parts of the world.

"The fact that it is much harder for Haitians to immigrate than it is from persons from other countries, in some cases, despite relative similarities in need, that's something that we should examine."

To Pitts' question on Muslims, Obama said in part, "What I would ask is that I am treated like other candidates in terms of expectations and that people look at my entire record. When it comes to anti-Muslim bias, when it comes to discrimination against Muslims or Arab-Americans, I have been at the forefront of those fights and will continue to be when I'm president of the United States."

Kay Lai Scanlon, a page designer and copy editor at the Los Angeles Daily News, was among those in the audience. "He was very levelheaded and handled the questions well," she told Journal-isms.

"He did answer the questions, which a lot of people don't," said Dorine Bethea, a copy editor at the Daily Record in Morris County, N.J. "I can see his point that he can't win for losing" on the Muslim question.

Mark Whitaker Named to Head NBC News D.C. Bureau

Mark WhitakerMark Whitaker, the former top editor at Newsweek who became a senior vice president at NBC News, was named Monday to head the NBC News Washington bureau, filling a vacancy left by the June death of Tim Russert.

Whitaker, 50, "will continue in his role as SVP at NBC News. His day-to-day responsibilities will include executive oversight of 'Meet the Press,' as well as of all of NBC News' network election and political coverage. As D.C. Bureau Chief, he will oversee all bureau management and administration, as well as work closely with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Wendy Wilkinson and Brady Daniels. Whitaker will also make occasional appearances as an on-air analyst," an NBC News release said.

The presence of Whitaker and Lyne Pitts, both black journalists, as NBC News vice presidents is one reason NBC looked better than its rivals in a report from the National Association of Black Journalists last week on the diversity of top management at network news divisions and at network-owned television stations. Last year, NBC News President Steve Capus won the Ida B. Wells Award from NABJ and the National Conference of Editorial Writers for his demonstrated commitment to diversity.

Capus came to the Washington bureau on Monday afternoon. "Russert's Army is the best in the business -- and today the team gets that much stronger," he said in an internal memo.

"The enormity of filling this position was by no means lost on any of us, given the significance this job holds, particularly on the eve of an extraordinary presidential election," he added in a news release. "But the truth is, he is the ideal candidate for the job, and that was evident the minute we took stock of potential replacements. Mark's got all of the components that will assure his success -- a commitment to journalistic integrity, political savvy, a keen eye for the future, and a management style that is inclusive and fair. He is exactly what the bureau needs."

Unity Attendance Rises to 7,550, Topping 2004 Event

Attendance at the Unity: Journalists of Color convention rose to 7,550 attendees and 7,303 registrants as of Sunday night, the closing day of the Chicago gathering, Executive Director Onica Makwakwa told Journal-isms on Monday.

By that count, attendance exceeded that of the 2004 convention in Washington, which attracted 7,273 registrants, under revised figures for that year.

While the state of the economy and the tumult in the newspaper business had been expected to depress turnout, those factors might have driven more people to the jobs fair, Makwakwa said. She called the fair the biggest attraction of the convention and said recruiters reported their booths were "busy all the time" and that they had seen strong candidates.

Some 300 people registered for one day only on Sunday to see Sen. Barack Obama, she said.

Obama's Media Delegation Had One Black Reporter

Kevin Chappell"When Senator Barack Obama announced his plans to travel to Europe and the Middle East, U.S. news organizations began jockeying for one (or a few) of the coveted 'embed' spots available. Johnson Publishing was the Black media organization invited along. For the duration of Obama's trip, EBONY Senior Editor Kevin Chappell and staff photographer Valerie Goodloe will be posting daily reports from their time spent traveling with the senator and his delegation," read a note Thursday on the Web site.

Reporters who accompanied Obama Sunday to the Unity convention, including Chappell, told Journal-isms that no broadcast journalists of color were part of the media throng following Obama to the Middle East and Europe for his eight-day trip, and that while there might have been a couple of still photographers of color, Chappell was the only black reporter.

On Friday, the National Association of Black Journalists awarded one of its Thumbs Down awards to "news organizations across media platforms that have failed to provide a diverse pool of people covering elections."

"This is apparent in print, radio, television and online," said NABJ President Barbara Ciara in a news release. "This lack of diversity, especially for African Americans, has allowed far too many miscues and insensitive comments this election season."

Chappell wrote in his Thursday dispatch from Berlin:

"Today was a little different than the previous three days. As a result of gentle reminders of the fact that Ebony and Jet have more readers than most of the other mainstream publications with us on this historic trip, the Obama camp finally saw the light and placed me in what is called 'the pool.' In other words, I go from following Barack Obama to select events to being in his motorcade for all events.

"I tell you, the world of presidential politics is tough on a brother. In an area of journalism that for the most part remains colorless, you find yourself constantly pushing for more access, demanding more respect. In the end, you hope to get to play on an even playing field. And if you play your cards right, you might just end up in the pool.

"So that's where I find myself, with an all-access pass to the fourth day of Obama's world tour."

On Wednesday, he wrote in blog-like fashion from Jerusalem:

"Upon arrival, Obama was greeted by Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem. No sooner had Obama made it inside [than] an Israeli journalist called out to him: 'Can you ensure that there'll be no second holocaust!?' Obama didn't respond and walked into the museum's main building. I mean how do you respond to such a question? While Obama may represent our greatest hope of restoring America's standing in the world, how can he or anyone guarantee a country halfway around the world anything?

"The audacity of the question begs another question: At what point does Israel go from being an important ally to becoming our 51st state? One problem many Blacks have with U.S. support of Israel is the paternalistic nature it often seems to take. A President Obama, at least as far as many African-Americans are concerned, will need to show just as much compassion for African people around the world who have endured much more injustice than Israel ever will, even if they do experience a second holocaust."

While not part of the traveling press corps, DeWayne Wickham, columnist for USA Today and Gannett News Service, filed a column from Paris on the Obama trip.

Networks Found to Be Tougher on Obama Than McCain

"Haters of the mainstream media reheated a bit of conventional wisdom last week," James Rainey reported Sunday in the Los Angeles Times.

"Barack Obama, they said, was getting a free ride from those insufferable liberals.

"But now there's additional evidence that casts doubt on the bias claims aimed -- with particular venom -- at three broadcast networks.

"The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

"You read it right: tougher on the Democrat."

Ronnie Washines of Yakama Nation to Lead NAJA

Ronnie WashinesRonnie Washines, program administrator for multimedia services for the Yakama Nation in Washington state, was elected president of the Native American Journalists Association on Friday night.

Board members also elected Rhonda Levaldo vice president, Shirley Sneve secretary and Mike Kellogg, a former NAJA president, as treasurer.

Washines, 58, has responsibility for the tribal newspaper, the Yakama Nation Review, and the tribe's radio station, KYNR-AM. He told Journal-isms his priority was to continue NAJA's five-year strategic plan, now in its third year, which is aimed at "developing, maintaining and promoting Native journalists." He also will be working to maintain financial stability for the organization, which has about 560 members, he said.

Washines said NAJA faced frustrations at the Unity conference, with its Friday night function compressed to meet a bus schedule back to members' hotels, and with NAJA-sponsored workshops poorly attended because they were scheduled for Saturday morning.

However, Washines, who said he had been to every Unity conference since the first one in 1994, said he was pleased to renew acquaintances and sit in on other associations' programs. The incumbent president, Cristina Azocar, remains on the board.

Fox Is Whitest Network in Prime-Time Cable News

The media watch organization Media Matters for America said Monday it had examined four programs on each of the three cable news networks during May and concluded that "whatever effort the networks have made to increase the diversity of their guests has borne little fruit, at least in prime time."

“By underrepresenting specific demographic groups from the national conversation, the cable news networks send the not-so-hidden message that only white men are credible enough to be interviewed. To treat women and ethnic minorities as mere novelty guests for race- and gender-related topics implies they’re ignorant or less qualified to speak on other important news items,” said J. Jioni Palmer, a former Newsday reporter who is now a Media Matters spokesman.

“Integrating a more diverse, more representative pool of qualified speakers can add depth and enhance the quality of discussion. The networks risk nothing but a boost in credibility.”

Key findings include:

  • "In total, 67 percent of the guests on these cable programs were men, while 84 percent were white.
  • "MSNBC featured the greatest gender imbalance, with 70 percent of its guests being male. CNN and Fox News were not far behind; each of those networks featured 65 percent male guests.
  • "Fox News was the whitest network, with 88 percent white guests. CNN and MSNBC were close behind, with both featuring 83 percent white guests.
  • "Latinos were particularly underrepresented. Though they now comprise 15 percent of the U.S. population, they made up only 2.7 percent of the guests. The worst of the three networks on this score was MSNBC, which featured only 6 prime-time appearances by Latinos during the entire month (out of a total of 460 guest appearances).
  • "A number of ethnic groups were shut out entirely, or nearly so, on some networks. During this month, there was only one appearance by an Asian-American on MSNBC, and only one on Fox News. Across all three networks, there were only four appearances by someone of Middle Eastern descent.
  • "Though white men make up only 32 percent of the population, they made up 57 percent of the guests on prime-time cable during this period. The host of every single prime-time cable show is white, and all but two (Greta Van Susteren of Fox News and Campbell Brown of CNN) are men."

Examined were: "Lou Dobbs Tonight," "CNN Election Center," "Larry King Live" and "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN; "Special Report with Brit Hume," "The O'Reilly Factor," "Hannity & Colmes" and "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" on Fox; and "Race to the White House with David Gregory," "Hardball with Chris Matthews," "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and "Verdict with Dan Abrams" on MSNBC.

Belo to Cut 14 Percent of Workforce

A. H. Belo Corporation said Monday it would cut 14 percent of its workforce, reduce other costs and explore selling some of its real estate, as the Dallas-based newspaper company announced its second quarterly loss in a row," Brendan M. Case reported in the Dallas Morning News, which is owned by Belo.

"The company will make voluntary severance offers this week to employees at its four daily newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, with the goal of completing the process by mid-September.

"The company aims to shed 500 full-time equivalent positions, and will make involuntary layoffs if it does not reach that goal. Those cuts and others are expected to lower costs by $50 million by early 2009, exclusive of newsprint price fluctuations."

Firm Challenges Minority Provisions in Satellite Merger

"XM Satellite Radio Inc. and smaller rival Sirius Satellite Inc. have cleared the final hurdle in their merger," Jeff Clabaugh reported Saturday in the Washington Business Journal.

"The Federal Communications Commission late Friday gave its blessing to the $3.5 billion merger, after commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate cast her tie breaking vote. The merger had been supported [by] two other commissioners and opposed by two members.

"Approval comes with several conditions. The broadcasters agree to freeze subscription rates for three years and to allow subscribers to pick individual channels, known as a la carte programming, for cheaper monthly costs.

"XM and Sirius will start offering radios that receive signals from both broadcasters, and will free up airwaves for community based and minority programming.

"That condition has caught the attention of a public-interest law firm. Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, in a letter to the FCC, contends the agency is violating the Constitution's equal protection guarantee by demanding use of racial preferences or quotas."

Mountain States Legal Foundation brought suit in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, the 1995 case in which the Supreme Court said federal programs that classify people by race can survive only if they are "narrowly tailored" to accomplish a "compelling governmental interest."

Senegalese protesters  start    a chant Friday at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago. They were protesting  arrival of Abdoulaye Wade, president of Senegal, at the Unity: Journalists of Color. Among their objections were Wade actions on press freedom issues. (Roxana Vasquez/Unity News)

Ciara Defends Arrangement With Senegal President

Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, is defending an arrangement in which the president of Senegal came to the Unity convention and paid about $20,000 of the cost for an NABJ fundraiser that featured Dakar, capital of the west African country, as its theme.

"We did struggle with this as journalists . . . there were no absolutely clear parameters," Ciara told Journal-isms.

Abdoulaye Wade The focus was the "One Night in Dakar" dinner, staged Friday night at $500 a head to raise money for a new home for NABJ at the University of Maryland. About 120 attended, with 60 of them part of the entourage of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

Staging a show for the event was prohibitive, so Wade volunteered to provide the entertainment free of charge, Ciara said.

Ciara said she expected the issue of accepting donations from a foreign government to be problematic, so she asked the organization's treasurer, Gregory Lee Jr. of the Boston Globe, to look into the ethics of accepting the offer.

Lee told Journal-isms he found that the NABJ ethics committee "had no problem with it" and that the Poynter Institute "said it was a gray area." He said Ciara made the decision to invite Wade and to hold the fundraiser.

Wade was the first foreign head of state to address a Unity: Journalists of Color conference and the second for an NABJ convention. Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica spoke in 1989.

Short Takes

  • Sportscaster Derek Castillo is bidding goodbye to viewers at KXAS-TV in Dallas, effective Aug. 1. "I must say I am leaving NBC5 on my own terms," he said. "I just could not work weekends, nights and holidays anymore. I have been doing that for nearly 20 years. Now that I have a family, it is time to devote most of my attention to them. My goal is to find a career that will allow a nice balance between family and work. I'm still searching, but I'm confident I will find something that will be fulfilling."
  • Bob Rainey"Bob Rainey, a sports reporter and weekend anchor at WCCO-TV, died this morning after battling colon cancer," Judd Zulgad reported Saturday in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. "Rainey, who was 46, joined the station in February 2004 after having worked as a sports reporter and anchor in Nashville, Tenn., for seven years. A graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Rainey started in the television business in 1985 and also had stops in Kentucky and Philadelphia."
  • Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto received the National Association of Hispanic Journalists 2008 President's Award on Friday from outgoing president Rafael Olmeda. Nieto authored "Augie's Quest: One Man's Journey from Success to Significance" last year. "In his book, Nieto recounts his journey from a fitness entrepreneur at the top of his game to a depressed and suicidal individual after his diagnosis" of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, "followed by his renaissance as a business-savvy strategist in the fight to conquer the disease," according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Olmeda said he was inspired by Nieto's story after his sister was diagnosed with ALS.
  • The New York Daily News carried a story Saturday by Kathleen Lucadamo about the induction of News columnist Juan Gonzalez, a past president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, into the NAHJ Hall of Fame. "News Deputy Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Martin Dunn appeared in a video tribute to Gonzalez that started with the columnist's days as a young activist in the Bronx. Gonzalez was met with thunderous applause at the prestigious UNITY '08 convention, a gathering of minority journalists," the story said.
  • Keith Hempstead, a Durham, N.C., lawyer, former reporter for the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer and subscriber to the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer, has dropped his lawsuit against the newspaper, the News & Observer reported on Monday. The black journalist-turned-lawyer "said today that his point had been made after stories of his complaint traveled around the Web. He was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Harper's Magazine, National Public Radio and The New Yorker. He said he filed the suit to get The N&O to stop cutting staff and reducing news coverage," Leah Friedman reported.
  • NBC News weekend "Today" anchor Lester Holt interviewed Phillip Bailey, Ralph Johnson and Verdine White, three original members of the '70s musical group Earth Wind and Fire. "The highlight, hands-down, was when Verdine handed me a bass and invited me to play a number," Holt said on Saturday. "Having seconds to decide which song from among all their hits I wanted to play, I quickly decided to go with 'Let's Groove Tonight.' . . . It's been a week now and I still haven't managed to wipe the smile off my face."
  • The courage of ABC's "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts in fighting breast cancer "has earned her the Inspiration Award from the W.N.B.A., to be presented at the league's pre-Olympic sendoff Wednesday in San Francisco. Roberts has been a great friend of the league, first as a broadcaster, later as a fan," George Vecsey reported Monday in the New York Times.

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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Obama & Press access

Did anybody ask Obama about how often he would meet with the press and how much access reporters will have with his campaign. One thing reporters love about McCain is his open access with the media where Obama has been more like a traditional candidate in regards to media access. A promise of at least one press conference a month and a once a month Saturday town hall would not hurt Obama's chances.

Obama's Inner Circle; One Token Negro Woman

After reading the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine with Obama on the cover the magazine reported those managing his campaign were all white males and one Black woman not one Black male was named or identified in his inner circle of campaign operatives. I am disappointed that none of the journalists at Unity questioned Obama on this Blackout. Obama's lack of Black males in his inner circle and Black jouralists and reporters at the Unity convention failure to confront Obama about this unsettling reality leaves a lousy taste in my mouth including a lot of disturbing questions about Obama's relationships with Black males as well as the integrity of people of color in the media covering Obama....

Obama's Inner Circle

Mr. Thrasher is correct that journalists should be inquiring as to the racial and gender makeup of Mr. Obama's leadership. If he were to win the nomination, would these be the sort of personnel decisions made during the first-ever presidential administration of an African-American? I doubt very seriously that we can extrapolate the Obama campaign structure's racial makeup and translate it into personnel decisions post-elections. There are at least two factors at play here. 1. Obama has a successful campaign structure and it gets results. Rightly or wrongly, that means a white male structure. Very few minorities do this sort of political work -- raising huge sums, organize large campaigns. Obama had no time to "grow his own." The better question is: Of the pool of minority campaign workers who can do the work at the level Obama needs, is the Obama campaign employing a majority of these folks? 2. If and when Obama gets to the White House, he can surround himself with political appointees. They don't necessarily need the technical campaign skills of his campaign staff, so that opens the door to select more minorities. Just as an aside: Sometimes, we should not make an affirmative-action case for every last thing a minority or black person does. That's too old-school. The logic goes like this: A minority in charge must have a diverse structure around him or her because we know whites won't have such a diverse structure. I don't see that as a requirement for minorities. I see it as an advisory. Mr. Obama's goal is to win. His staff ought to be made up of people who will ensure that. It is nice, but not necessary, that it be diverse. What matters more is what Obama does for minorities once he gets into office. So let's focus our affirmative-action laser on results rather than on process.

obama's inner circle

amazing how black people who ordinarily would decry tokenism anywhere else are rationalizing it when it's practiced by a mixed-race candidate they choose to call "black." for 18 months, obama has in most ways distanced himself from black people and their spcific interests, except for a few speeches and a couple of recent, gratuitous appearances. so, why should anyone believe something is going to become a priority post-election that was non-subject pre-election? why would anyone believe obama is going to suddenly become interested in black interests and surround himself with more black people as president when he's showing such ambivalence now? obama came into the election with absolutely no record in terms of working with black people, let alone hiring them. as a community organizer for a very short time in chicago, all he did was help get grants and join a group that was trying to get asbestos removed from a large residential building -- a project that was unfinished when he left and for which the real community workers are angry because he took all the credit. obvously, most black americans are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. trouble is, there are too many good reasons to doubt. what are obama's convictions? so far, he hasn't shown us. and hope and change aren't convictions. makes you wonder if black americans are being played by someone who is reverse-passing.

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