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Whitaker Resigns From CNN

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Managing Editor Says New Boss Deserves Own Team

Managing Editor Says New Boss Deserves Own Team

Mark Whitaker, the former Newsweek editor who as executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide became the highest-ranking African American at CNN, has resigned, he told colleagues Tuesday, to give new CNN chief Jeff Zucker "his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff."Mark Whitaker

Whitaker, 55, came to CNN from NBC News, where as vice president he was also the highest-ranking person of color, in January 2011.

CNN came under fire from the National Association of Black Journalists for the lack of diversity among its prime-time anchors, and then-President Jim Walton assigned that challenge to Whitaker. He hired Amy Entelis to "to help build a diverse slate of anchors," as Eric Deggans wrote in his new book, "Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation," but no prime-time anchor of color materialized.

In his farewell note, however, Whitaker said he took the job on the condition "that we make CNN a leader in diversity in its broadest sense — in the backgrounds of our on- and off-air talent, but also in the range of their experience and points of view.

"As Executive Vice President in charge of program and talent development, I was thrilled to attract Amy Entelis, Vinnie Malhotra and Ramon Escobar to CNN and to work with them to recruit journalists like Jake Tapper, John Berman and Miguel Marquez, contributors like Margaret Hoover, Van Jones, Ross Douthat, Charles Blow, Ron Brownstein and Ryan Lizza, and specialists like ESPN sports reporter Rachel Nichols."

However, Tommy Christopher reported this month for Mediaite, MSNBC ". . . enjoyed significant (around 20%) ratings increases across the board" in 2012, "but made astonishing gains with their already-large African American audience, growing that audience by 60.5% for the Mon-Sun 8pm-11pm period.

"In that same time period, CNN grew its black audience by 23.7% (from 131,000 in 2011 to 162,000 in 2012, 23.9% of their total audience), while Fox News' declined by 23.7% (38,000 in 2011 to 29,000 in 2012, 1.4% of their total audience), but MSNBC had more black viewers than both of those nets combined (from 177,000 in 2011 to 284,000 in 2012, 31.4% of their total audience)."

In a statement, Zucker said:

"I want to thank Mark for his service at CNN. We are grateful for his contributions and wish him the best in the future," Alex Weprin reported for TVNewser.

Whitaker's note read:

"Dear CNN Colleagues:

"Two and a half years ago, when Jeff Bewkes, Phil Kent and Jim Walton first approached me about joining CNN in the newly created role of Managing Editor across all our TV and digital platforms, I told them that I would welcome the challenge under three conditions.

"The first was that the CNN recommit itself to Ted Turner’s global vision of being the premier destination for news both domestic and international. I am proud that since I took the job, we have made good on that goal. From Election Day 2012 to our recent coverage of Superstorm Sandy and the Newtown school massacre, we have remained the network that Americans turn to when news matters most. On the international front, we have done groundbreaking reporting on everything from the Arab Spring and the uprising in Syria to the Japanese tsunami and the financial crisis in Europe. In 2011 that coverage brought us the best ratings we had had in years, and in 2012 it won us a record number of awards, including two Emmys, three Peabodys and four Eppys for our digital coverage.

"The second condition was that we do more to drive editorial integration between and our TV networks. I am gratified by the progress we have made in this area, from our weekly In Depth offerings to the inspiring CNN Heroes collaboration to the growth of CNN Money, iReport, Belief Blog, In America and other digital franchises. As our formidable traffic numbers attest, CNN’s future as a go-to destination for news online and across today’s new mobile and social media platforms looks very bright.

"The third condition was that we make CNN a leader in diversity in its broadest sense — in the backgrounds of our on- and off-air talent, but also in the range of their experience and points of view. As Executive Vice President in charge of program and talent development, I was thrilled to attract Amy Entelis, Vinnie Malhotra and Ramon Escobar to CNN and to work with them to recruit journalists like Jake Tapper, John Berman and Miguel Marquez, contributors like Margaret Hoover, Van Jones, Ross Douthat, Charles Blow, Ron Brownstein and Ryan Lizza, and specialists like ESPN sports reporter Rachel Nichols.

"On the programming front, my team has created the exciting new CNN Films franchise for distinguished documentaries and brought Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock to CNN to launch signature shows that will expand our scope of storytelling.

"Now, with Jeff Zucker's arrival, we have a new leader with his own forceful ideas about where to take CNN's reporting, programming and brand. For him to succeed, I believe he deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff. I have shared that conclusion with him and he has agreed to let me step down as Managing Editor and move on from CNN.

"As someone who worked with Jeff at NBC, I know what a bold innovator he is, and I wish him and you all the best as you embark on CNN's next great adventure.

"Good luck and thanks for everything,


Obama Sees Media Role in Ending Gridlock

January 28, 2013

President Faults "He Said, She Said" Journalism

Chicago Mother Loses All Four Kids to Gun Violence

Ethnic Media Jointly Urge Immigration Reform

Does "Rodent Community" Mean M.L. King Admirers?

No Date for Return of T.J. Holmes' "Don't Sleep"

Film on Oscar Grant Shooting Wins at Sundance 

Mainstream Columnist Bemoans Black Abortions

Iran Arrests More Than a Dozen Journalists

Short Takes

President Obama returns to the White House after a visit to the Presidential Ina

President Faults "He Said, She Said" Journalism

"The New Republic has just lifted the embargo on its [wide-ranging] interview with President Obama, in which he talked at length about the role the media can play in breaking Washington's partisan gridlock," Dylan Byers wrote Sunday for Politico.

" 'One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates,' he tells editor Frank Foer and owner and publisher Chris Hughes. 'If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it.'

"We've often noted here on the blog that right-wing media, especially Fox and Limbaugh, have an outsized influence on Republicans — and are arguably more powerful than most members of [Congress.] But Obama notes that left-wing media plays a role in shaping political debate, as well.

" 'The same dynamic happens on the Democratic side,' he said. 'I think the difference is just that the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word. And I think at least leaders like myself — and I include Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in this — are willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.'

"The president also faulted nonpartisan media outlets for their adherence to 'he said, she said' journalism, which places equal blame on Democrats and Republicans when, according to the president, Republicans should bear more blame.

" '[T]hat's one of the biggest problems we've got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity,' Obama told Foer and Hughes. 'And so the default position for reporting is to say, "A plague on both their houses." On almost every issue, it's, "Well, Democrats and Republicans [can't] agree" — as opposed to looking at why is it that they can't agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing?'

"Obama also suggested that the media's obsession with confrontation presented a roadblock. . . ."

On Monday's "Fox & Friends," co-host Brian Kilmeade responded to the president's statement, the Huffington Post reported. "He kicks off the next four years by saying that?" Kilmeade asked in an interview with Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. "They ran a package consisting of multiple comments Obama has made about the network."

Siblings from left: Carlos, LaToya, Jerome and Ronnie Chambers. Carlos was kille

Chicago Mother Loses All Four Kids to Gun Violence

If the national media need someone to personify the effects of urban gun violence, they might consider Shirley Chambers of Chicago, who lost her fourth son and remaining child to gun violence over the weekend.

"After Shirley Chambers lost her third child to gun violence in 2000, she said she felt sadder for her surviving son, Ronnie, than she did for herself," Peter Nickeas and Rosemary Regina Sobol reported Sunday for the Chicago Tribune.

" 'I only have one child left,' Chambers told the Tribune at the time, 'and I'm afraid that (the killing) won't stop until he's gone too.'

"Chambers' worst fears apparently were realized early Saturday, when police said a man named Ronnie Chambers, 33, was fatally struck when a gunman or gunmen opened fire on a van Chambers was riding in just after it arrived in the 1100 block of South Mozart Street."

On CBS News Monday, Dean Reynolds told Chambers' story as he reported on President Obama's efforts to curb gun violence.

" 'It's not Chicago. It's these people. It's these people with these guns. They shouldn't have guns, you know?' Chambers said.

"Her son was a former gang member who stole cars, sold drugs and spent time in prison.

" 'He had changed a lot. He was trying to help other people. So whatever he did in the past, that's in the past. He changed,' Chambers said of her son.

"Just last month he appeared on the Ricki Lake show as an example of transformation. . . ."

Ethnic Media Jointly Urge Immigration Reform

More than 50 ethnic media across the country have published a joint editorial produced in association with New America Media, a national association of ethnic media, that began, "The White House and Congress must move quickly to enact just and humane comprehensive immigration reform."

They saw movement. "A bipartisan group of senators outlined a far-reaching proposal Monday to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, saying that the time has come to fix 'our broken immigration system,' " Rosalind S. Helderman and William Branigin reported for the Washington Post.

Also, "The Obama administration has developed its own proposals for immigration reform that are more liberal than a separate bipartisan effort in the Senate, including a quicker path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, people with knowledge of the proposals said," Helderman and David Nakamura reported separately for the Post.

". . . President Obama is expected to provide some details of the White House plans during a Tuesday appearance in Las Vegas, where he will call for broad changes to the nation's immigration laws."

In their joint editorial, the ethnic media said they had "a high stake in the future of immigration policy in this country. That's why we are joining together to take an editorial stand to urge Congress and the White House: Make 2013 the year of immigration reform," New America Media reported on Monday.

(c) 2013 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. World Rights Reserved.

Does "Rodent Community" Mean M.L. King Admirers?

"Just that it comes across as homophobic, racist and reactionary, I told one caller last week, is not reason enough to fish-wrap the alleged comic strip 'Mallard Fillmore,' " Barry Saunders wrote Monday for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

"Bruce Tinsley, creator of the 19-year-old strip featuring a right-wing duck that's carried in The News & Observer, sets out to attack anyone to the left of Genghis Khan. His unmistakable mission is to shock and offend.

"You know whom he mainly offends, though? Anyone with a funny bone.

"As reader Eileen Burns told me last week, 'it's gotten worse and worse' in recent years. 'It seems like it's gotten meaner.'

"Yeah, that happened about the time President Barack Obama was elected. The vitriol has increased since Obama's re-election, and it boiled over last week in the strip the day after the nation re-inaugurated him and celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. In that strip, Tinsley compared people who celebrate King's life and legacy to rodents.

"That prompted Burns, a native New Yorker who now lives in New Hill, to call me and ask how we could carry such a 'hateful' strip. 'Very simply,' she said, 'it's hate couched in humor.'

"Hateful it is, too. Bile runs through every word of Tinsley's strip like – yep – bile through a goose. . . . "

According to King Features Syndicate, "Mallard Fillmore" runs in nearly 400 newspapers.

No Date for Return of T.J. Holmes' "Don't Sleep"

T.J. Holmes' "Don't Sleep," initially touted as a late-night "Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert-type show" for an African American audience, hasn't filmed an episode since Dec. 19 and a date for its return is "not yet determined," BET spokeswoman Jeanine Liburd told Journal-isms on Sunday.

T.J. Holmes filled in on MSNBC on Dec. 29. (Credit: MediaBistro)

BET announced in November that it was scaling back the vehicle created for the former CNN anchor from half an hour Monday through Thursday to an hour once a week.

"The viewers have spoken and due to the overwhelming demand, DON'T SLEEP! will now be expanded to a one hour weekly format allowing for a more comprehensive discussion of the issues and events affecting the African-American community," a BET announcement began.

During the hiatus, meanwhile, Holmes worked as a fill-in anchor on MSNBC on the last weekend of the year and again last weekend, and became a father. BET turned its promotional energies to "Real Husbands of Hollywood," a new mock-reality series with Kevin Hart, J.B. Smoove, Boris Kodjoe, Nick Cannon and Robin Thicke.

Holmes tweeted on Jan. 23: "Im so proud of #BETDontSleep. I want nothing more than 4 the show 2 continue. I am still n partnership w/BET & hopeful 4 the show's return."

Dr. Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University finance professor who blogs at, wished Holmes well last week and added, ". . . TJ Holmes hosting a show on BET is like Barack Obama marrying Kim Kardashian. This might have been an ill-conceived relationship from the beginning."

"Fruitvale" director Ryan Coogler, right, with producer Forest Whitaker at the

Film on Oscar Grant Shooting Wins at Sundance

" 'Fruitvale,' a drama based on the real-life story of a young man shot to death at an Oakland BART station, took home the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. The movie also won the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film," Julie Makinen, Steven Zeitchik and Mark Olsen wrote Monday for the Los Angeles Times from Park City, Utah.

"The Grand Jury Prize for U.S. documentary went to "Blood Brother," Steve Hoover's look at his best friend, who moves to India to help children with HIV. The film also won the Audience Award for U.S. documentary.

" 'Fruitvale' is the first feature-length film from USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate Ryan Coogler, 26. Actor Forest Whitaker served as a producer on the movie, which stars Michael B. Jordan," the star of "Friday Night Lights" and "The Wire." The film is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, who was 22 when he was shot and killed in a public transit station.

". . . Two special jury awards were given for U.S. documentaries. One went to Jacob Kornbluth for 'Inequality for All,' a look at the wealth gap in America featuring former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. The other went to 'American Promise,' directed by Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson, which follows two African American boys over 12 years as they attend very different schools."

The Associated Press quoted Coogler as he accepted the final prize of the night: "This project was about humanity, about human beings and how we treat each other; how we treat the people that we love the most, and how we treat the people that we don't know."

"Fox Searchlight founder and Sundance juror Tom Rothman said 'Fruitvale' was recognized for 'its skillful realization, its devastating emotional impact and its moral and social urgency — and for anyone out there who thinks for one second that movies don't matter and can't make a difference in the world.

" 'This will not be the last time you guys walk to a podium,' he added. . . . "

Mainstream Columnist Bemoans Black Abortions

"Roe v. Wade — the U.S. Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion and sparked America's unending second Civil War — hit the big 4-0 this week," Darryl E. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel wrote Friday, adding that ". . . there's a silent epidemic nestled within this shameful milestone.

Darryl E. Owens"Every year, some 7,000 blacks are murdered on the streets (often done in by other blacks). Occasionally, one hears a whispered SOS," Owens continued.

"Every day, meanwhile, nearly 1,000 unborn black babies are terminated in an abortionist's shop. About that, hardly a peep."

Owens thus became one of the few columnists of color at mainstream media outlets to bemoan black abortions.

"Black women are about 12 percent of the population, yet account for more than 30 percent of abortions in the U.S. Put another way, an African-American woman is four times more likely than a white woman to choose abortion," Owens wrote.

". . . Abortion foes must do a better job of getting the word out that allies such as Orlando's BETA Center exist to buoy women who choose to parent or allow would-be parents an adopted blessing.

"Also, more must be done to blunt the all-too-true reality that black children who land in foster care often languish waiting for adoption. One-third of foster kids awaiting adoption are black, yet black kids make up only about 14 percent of the nation's youth. . . ."

He called for evangelical groups to "stand up for transracial adoption" and for black groups to push "sexual responsibility on the front end, and, failing that, parenthood and adoption the back end."

Iran Arrests More Than a Dozen Journalists

"Iranian authorities have arrested more than a dozen journalists in the past two days over their links to 'anti-revolutionary' media, Iranian media reported, in what appeared to be a coordinated crackdown on the press," Yeganeh Torbati reported Monday for Reuters.

"With a presidential election five months away, Iran's clerical leadership appears to be tightening its grip on the media to avoid a repeat of the widespread protests that erupted after the disputed election in 2009.

". . . Last week, Iran's judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei warned of the threat the Islamic Republic faced from some of its own journalists.

" 'Based on information I have from reliable sources, unfortunately a number of journalists, as well as writing for the nation's newspapers, work hand-in-hand with Westerners and anti-revolutionaries,' he said at the time. . . ."

Short Takes

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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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