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Obama Turns "Obamacare" Slur on Its Head

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

"I Do Care, That's Right. . . . Why Don't You Care?"

Carroll Out, Demby Rises at HuffPost BlackVoices

Second Chicago Defender Editor Gets Pink Slip

Media Grappled With Graphic Images of Gaddafi Killing

Reporter's Book Research Led to Headache for Marco Rubio

In Consolidation, Carolina Garcia to Lead Three Newsrooms

NBA Commissioner Stern Won't Fire Back at Gumbel

Short Takes

President Obama greets hospital workers while visiting wounded service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington in June. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

"I Do Care, That's Right. . . . Why Don't You Care?"

For more than a year, Republicans have taken to calling President Obama's health care reform legislation "Obamacare" in an effort to disparage it. No Republican presidential candidates debate is complete without numerous uses of the term, and like "death tax" for "estate tax" before it, the hope is that with repetition, even "objective" journalists will use the word.

The strategy is partly succeeding, but here is the surprise:

Obama is trying to turn the term on its head and use it to his advantage. He did as much in a campaign-style stop in St. Louis this month as he tried to whip up support for his proposed American Jobs Act. The president was ticking off his administration's achievements, including health care reform:

". . . And while it will take a couple of years for all the reforms to fully take place," he said, "already we’ve got seniors all across the country who have gotten $250 to help them pay for their prescription drug benefit. And nearly 1 million young adults already have health insurance because of it — 1 million more young people. That’s an incredible achievement. The Affordable Care Act is working. (Applause.)

"They call it Obamacare. I do care, that’s right. (Applause.) The question is, why don’t you care? The question is, why don’t you care? You should care, too. Some of these folks [are] making central to their campaign pledge to make sure that 30 million people don’t have health insurance. What kind of inspiring message is that? (Laughter) "

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, used "Affordable Care Act" on Thursday when she and Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes took questions from audience members, tweeters and reporter Cynthia Gordy at a White House discussion sponsored by (Video).

"A million young people right now are on their parents' insurance," Jarrett said to the in-house audience of 150 and others watching's live stream of the event. Most of the audience was African American, and it included a sprinkling of black journalists.

The public relations offensive was designed "to educate everybody about what's at stake here," Jarrett said, including members of Congress. She and Barnes, who announced Thursday that she was leaving her post at the end of the year, directed audience members to, and for more details about the administration's jobs initiatives.

Carroll Out, Demby Rises at HuffPost BlackVoices

Gene Demby has been named editor of the HuffPost BlackVoices website, a spokesman said Friday, and Rebecca Carroll, who rose from culture editor to managing editor, only to be replaced in that job by Gene DembyDemby, left the operation this week.

"Gene Demby was promoted to Editor of HuffPost Black Voices last month, and Rebecca Carroll is no longer with us. We appreciated her contributions to our team and we wish her the best in her future endeavors," Huffington Post spokesman Mario Ruiz told Journal-isms by email. "He's our first editor of the site."

Demby was hired as a news editor in June and founded the website

Demby's LinkedIn profile lists him as a news assistant and writer at the New York Times from May 2005 until June.

"What would I like to do next?" Carroll said in response to an email from Journal-isms. "Something that involves bold ideas, brilliant narratRebecca Carrollive writing, culture, art and the nuances therein."

BlackVoices has undergone significant turnover since coming under Huffington Post control this year. Carroll made major changes in subject matter and presentation leading to a site redesign that was introduced by Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in August.

At the relaunch, Christina Norman, the ousted CEO of Oprah Winfrey’s struggling OWN cable channel, was named executive editor, and she was still listed in that position in an Oct. 7 Huffington Post article.

HuffPost BlackVoices had 3 million unique visitors in September, according to the comScore, Inc., research company, placing it second to the lurid among African American-oriented sites.

Second Chicago Defender Editor Gets Pink Slip

The No. 2 editor at the Chicago Defender Thursday joined Executive Editor Lou Ransom in being shown the door by publisher Michael House, Rhonda Jones-Gillespie, the Defender's now-departed news editor, told Journal-isms on Friday.

Rhonda Jones-Gillespie "I found out about my departure from your column," Jones-Gillespie said, referring to Wednesday's report that Ransom was out, wondering whether Jones-Gillespie might join him. "I was unfortunately out of the office on vacation Wednesday through Friday. This morning, I went into the office, and Michael House said they just were going to mail me my layoff letter."

Jones-Gillespie said House told staff members a few weeks ago that "personnel cuts" would be coming.

Jones-Gillespie, 39, started with the Defender as a freelancer in 2004 when Roland Martin was editor and became a staff member in 2006.

She said she considered it a "professional privilege" to have worked for the historic paper, which helped guide the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to Chicago in the early part of the 20th century. Jones-Gillespie said she had launched and supervised a scholarship initiative and an internship program for the Defender, and participated in a news literacy project.

Media Grappled With Graphic Images of Gaddafi Killing

Britain's the Sun newspaper tied the news of Moammar Gaddafi's killing with the 1988 "News organizations are defending airing the grim video of deposed Libyan dictator Moammar [Gaddafi's] lifeless, bloodied body being kicked and dragged through the streets near his hometown of Sirte," Marisa Guthrie wrote Friday for the Hollywood Reporter.

"The cell phone video was obtained by Qatar-based Al Jazeera on Thursday morning before widespread reports of [Gaddafi's] death. And while U.S. news organizations were careful to note that [Gaddafi's] death was not confirmed by NATO or the U.S. government, they quickly began airing the video, warning viewers that what they were about to see was disturbing."

Meanwhile, Lucas Shaw noted Thursday for, "When the news of Moammar Gaddafi’s death broke on Thursday, it was no surprise which network was first with a video of the bloodied dictator's body dragged through the streets of Sirte: Al-Jazeera.

Shaw asked al-Jazeera spokesman Osama Saeed how Tony Birtley, reporter for Al-Jazeera English, managed to get the video.

"It’s a pretty straightforward story," Saeed said. "We have maintained a strong presence in Libya even after Tripoli fell. Though there has been a general drop off, we’ve maintained our presence there. Tony knew what was happening in Sirte, and he was the first journalist in there. As such, when people had footage of what happened, he was on hand to receive it."

The Poynter Institute was one of several news operations to note the many English transliterations of Gaddafi's Arabic name, surfacing a 1986 article reporting that the colonel once spelled it out in English.

In that article, Cecil Adams wrote, "For many years . . . the Mummer was too busy promoting global chaos to devote much time to the niceties of orthography. That changed in May, 1986, when he responded to a letter from some second-graders at Maxfield Magnet School in St. Paul, Minnesota. The colonel signed the letter in Arabic script, beneath which was typed 'Moammar El-Gadhafi.' This was the first known indication of his own feelings on the subject . . . "

Reporter's Book Research Led to Headache for Marco Rubio

Manuel Roig-Franzi, left, and Sen. Marco Rubio"Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) pushed back Friday against The Post’s front-page story that details how the Florida senator confused key dates in his family history, saying that 'if The Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that,' " Nia-Malika Henderson reported Friday for the Post.

“ 'But to call into question the central and defining event of my parents’ young lives — the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return — is something I will not tolerate,' he wrote in an op-ed published by POLITICO.

" 'My understanding of my parents’ journey has always been based on what they told me about events that took place more than 50 years ago — more than a decade before I was born. What they described was not a timeline, or specific dates.' "

"The Post story reports that Rubio got his parents’ story wrong, saying for instance, on his Web site that his parents 'came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.' Yet documents reveal that Rubio’s parents were admitted as lawful residents on May 27, 1956, a date of which Rubio was apparently unaware.'

" 'My parents and grandparents came here from Cuba in ’58, ’59,' Rubio said in a 2010 interview with Sean Hannity.

"It was on New Year’s Day in 1959, that Castro’s forces came to power, a date that marks a bright line in Cuba’s history, and as The Post reports, provides a dividing line between the post-revolution exile community and the pre-Castro community."

Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia told Journal-isms on Friday that the story grew out of reporting he is doing for a biography of Rubio, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate. "I came upon some documents that I thought were interesting, related to the arrival of his family in the United States," he said by telephone.

When he came upon the 1956 date, he thought it was a typo, he said. "I had heard Sen. Rubio say his parents came in 1959, and seen references to that in many articles, from the Weekly Standard . . . and particularly the Miami Herald," Rubio's hometown newspaper.

After further research, including a five-hour stretch reading microfilm at the Library of Congress, Roig-Franzia said he, the Post and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, decided that he had a story that could not wait for the book.

"Mario Rubio is an important figure in American politics today. He is somebody invested with a lot of hope by a lot of the country regarding his potential future, so it doesn't surprise me that this piece has generated" plenty of comment "on both sides of the political divide," Roig-Franzia said.

On Friday, Rubio changed the passage in his official biography that said his parents "came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover."

In Consolidation, Carolina Garcia to Lead Three Newsrooms

Carolina Garcia"Carolina Garcia, the editor of the Daily News, will now be the executive editor for the Daily Breeze and the Press-Telegram in Long Beach as well," Kevin Roderick reported Friday for LAObserved.

"Breeze editor Toni Sciacqua becomes managing editor - digital for the group. Sue Schmitt, the editor & general manager of the Press-Telegram, has 'decided not to remain as a full-time employee of the company as part of this transition.' It's the next, big shoe to fall after yesterday's axing of the DN's features and food editors. In Northern California, the MediaNews papers have been largely merged into one product — and many expect this is the first step toward that occurring here."

A memo from Jack Klunder, named last month as publisher of all three papers, says, "The three respective newsrooms of the Daily News, Daily Breeze and Press-Telegram will be led by one executive editor. Carolina Garcia has been selected to serve in this new role."

NBA Commissioner Stern Won't Fire Back at Gumbel

"David Stern declined comment yesterday on commentator Bryant Gumbel's assertion that the NBA commissioner has come off like a 'modern plantation overseer' during the lockout," Marc Berman reported Thursday in the New York Post.

"Using racially tinged remarks, Gumbel said on his HBO show Monday night that Stern is 'a modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys.'

"Stern was a former board member of the NAACP in the 1990s, and during his tenure, the NBA has been given high marks for its minority hiring practices and minority ownership.

"The attack on Stern also may not have helped the Players Association in the labor battle, because Gumbel's remarks could be turning Stern into a more sympathetic figure.

" 'Stern's version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys,' " Gumbel said on his show 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.' 'It's part of Stern's M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he's the one keeping the hired hands in their place.' "

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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