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Right Wingers: Powell Chose Race Over Party

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Meet the Press" Obama Endorsement Grabs Ratings

Pat Buchanan labeled Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama "ingratitude."

Colin L. Powell's declaration of support for Sen. Barack Obama drew banner headlines and sizeable ratings for NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, but led to cries of "traitor" from right-wing pundits, including Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh, who charged that the Republican, despite his statements to the contrary, put his race ahead of his party.

A syndicated cartoonist, Gordon Campbell, drew Powell as a black Benedict Arnold.

Limbaugh, the most popular syndicated radio talk-show host, declared that Powell's actions were "totally about race. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with," according to Jonathan Martin, writing on

Buchanan, appearing on a Sunday edition of MSNBC's "Hardball," echoed the sentiment. Obama is "a black American who wants to be president and he," Powell, "wants to be a part of it," Buchanan said.

The columnist and onetime presidential candidate called the actions of the retired general, who served under three GOP presidents, "ingratitude."

On ABC's "This Week," former House speaker Newt Gingrich took a different tack. "I mean, how are you going to say the former -- you know the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the former national security adviser, former secretary of state, was taken in?"

Gordon Campbell's cartoon But George Will, the most widely circulated conservative columnist and a regular on the program, used Powell's announcement to return to one of his dreams: to be rid of the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. "I think this adds to my calculation," Will said. "This is very hard to measure, but it seems to me if we had the tools to measure it, we'd find that Barack Obama gets two votes because he's black for every one he loses because he's black because so much of this country is so eager, A, to feel good about itself by doing this but more than that to put pay to the whole Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson game of political rhetoric."

"Meet the Press" host Tom Brokaw anticipated the racial reaction. He told Powell, "You are fully aware that there will be some -- how many, no one can say for sure -- but there will be some who will say this is an African American, distinguished American, supporting another African American because of race."

"If I had only had that in mind, I could have done this six, eight, 10 months ago," the former secretary of state and onetime chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

"I really have been going back and forth between somebody I have the highest respect and regard for, John McCain, and somebody I was getting to know, Barack Obama. And it was only in the last couple of months that I settled on this. And I can't deny that it will be a historic event for an African American to become president. And should that happen, all Americans should be proud -- not just African Americans, but all Americans -- that we have reached this point in our national history where such a thing could happen. It will also not only electrify our country, I think it'll electrify the world."

Eric Easter wrote on "In a matter of about a dozen well chosen sentences he debunked the notion that African Americans are making a decision based only on race, called McCain old, unstable and wrong on the economy, pronounced Palin unqualified and called for his party to get back to its reasonable center," referring to Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. "It was an amazing thing to see."

Buchanan shared in a Thumbs Down award from the National Association of Black Journalists in August after writing "A Brief for Whitey," in which he asserted that white Americans were tired of complaints of racism from black people, saying that "America has been the best country on earth for black folks."

Buchanan also wrote that "the Caucasian race is going the way of the Mohicans" because of a "baby boom among these black and brown peoples" that will bring an end to Western man in the 21st century.

In his appearance Sunday, "Buchanan played the race card, insisting Powell would never have endorsed Obama if he were white," Joan Walsh, who shared the set with him, wrote Monday on "A lot of people are telling me I was too nice when I told Buchanan 'that's beneath you,' but I like to think Pat Buchanan doesn't have to be the worst caricature of himself. He just couldn't manage to be better than that on Sunday. But this is all the GOP has now: To slime one of their most popular heroes for endorsing Obama out of racial solidarity and tribalism."

Mark Whitaker, NBC's Washington bureau chief, said on MSNBC that "Tom Brokaw and the producers worked months" to get Powell on "Meet the Press" but Powell was not ready until Sunday. The reason he chose the show was the culmination of "all of those reasons" Powell laid out for supporting Obama, Whitaker said.

Based on preliminary overnight ratings, Powell's appearance on "Meet the Press" topped the rival talk shows with a 4.9 rating/13 Household rating, compared with "Face The Nation's" 2.2/6, "Fox News Sunday's" 1.4/4 and "This Week" on ABC, 2.9/8, according to Jenny Tartikoff, "Meet the Press" spokeswoman.

" generated 1.1 million video streams in the first 24 hours, making it the most-watched individual video stream on the program ever," she said. "And in Washington D.C., 'Meet the Press' delivered a 7.6/20."

When Should Reporters Correct Obama-Is-Muslim Myth?

Colin L. Powell won kudos in some quarters for declaring on "Meet the Press" that some Republican leaders permit to be said "such things as, 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America."

But what should a reporter do when the person being interviewed says Barack Obama is a Muslim?

"That idea of using the truth as a tool to push interview subjects is the main reason that Michael Powell of The New York Times says he tries to correct the record in every interview where the Muslim claim arises, as it did while he was reporting in Pennsylvania over the summer," Clint Hendler wrote Monday in Columbia Journalism Review, in a piece examining that question.

"'Almost without exception, you'll get a more interesting answer. The point isn't to try to get in an argument with people. The point is to draw them out,' says Powell. 'I'd love to say it's out of some sense of high ethics, and maybe it is at some inchoate level, but it's also out of good journalism, or more interesting journalism, because you're going to get a more revealing response if you poke and prod people.'"

Sen. Barack Obama tells Michael H. Cottman, 'Nobody has more of a stake in the reversal in these [Bush] policies than the African-American community does.' (Credit: Robert Gibbs/Obama campaign)

Obama Says Blacks, Latinos Have High Stake in Election

"Barack Obama, in the final stretch of his historic race for the U.S. presidency, said he is focused on mobilizing an unprecedented turnout of African-American, Latino and young voters to help him win the White House next month," Michael H. Cottman wrote in the first of a two-part series Sunday on

Cottman told Journal-isms he was the only African American reporter on Obama's campaign plane for the seven days he traveled with him, save for off-air NBC reporter Athena Jones and an overlapping day with Corey Dade of the Wall Street Journal. The interview was conducted as the media plane went from Roanoke, Va., to Chicago.

"In an exclusive interview with," his story continued, "Obama said blacks and Latinos -- two crucial voting blocs -- have suffered significantly the past eight years under the Republican regime of George W. Bush.

"'I think that if you look at what is happening with the economy, everybody is being hit hard, and the African-American and Latino voters are likely to be hit the hardest, in terms of layoffs, in terms of foreclosures, lack of health care,' Obama said, pausing to glance out the airplane window at 30,000 feet, en route to Chicago.

"'The decline of wages and incomes for African-American families during the Bush era has been significant,' he said. 'So I think nobody has more of a stake in the reversal in these policies than the African-American community does. And they can be the difference makers in a lot of these states.'" 

Writers See "Hitler" Reference Double Standard at ESPN

Lou Holtz"Before the typical banter at the start of halftime of the Georgia Tech-Clemson game, the ESPN host Rece Davis gave the microphone to Lou Holtz for an awkward apology," Pete Thamel wrote Saturday for the New York Times' College Sports Blog. "Without being specific, Holtz said he was sorry for comments he had made in reference to Michigan Coach Rich Rodriguez.

"A quick Google search revealed that Holtz had said that 'Hitler was a great leader too.' As Deadspin pointed out, it will be interesting to see whether ESPN removes him from the air for a while, considering that it suspended Jemele Hill, a columnist who compared rooting for the Celtics to rooting for Hitler."

On Sunday came the answer, via the Associated Press: "An ESPN spokesman said Holtz will not be further disciplined."

The difference in penalty was the main topic Monday on the Sports Task Force e-mail list of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Jemele HillIt was also a topic on the sports blog the Big Lead. "What's really confounding is the fan reaction," the author of that site said.  "Or rather, the lack thereof. Remember how unruly Boston fans were so worked up and angered by Hill's words that they called radio stations to vent about it, and then posted Hill's phone number on the internet? One could argue that the mob mentality against Hill is the reason ESPN reacted with a suspension. How come nobody's giving the same treatment to Holtz? . . . "

"Excuses, excuses. We have no stake in this race. We've poked fun at Holtz a couple times, and gently prodded Hill. It's the double standard for Hitler references that is most disturbing. Maybe you can help us: Why was everyone so outraged when a black woman invoked Hitler's name, but nobody was outraged when a white man did?"

An ESPN spokesman promised to get back to us on the difference in penalties.

[ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told Journal-isms on Tuesday, "Both were wrong and each commentator apologized.We take each case as it comes and carefully consider the situations. We believe these instances were substantively different and we took what we felt was the appropriate action in each case."] 

Rhonda Swann Joins Editorial Board at Palm Beach Post

When C.B. Hanif and Elisa Cramer both appeared ready to accept buyouts at the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post over the summer, leaving the Post's Opinion section without journalists of color, J. "Bart" Bartosek, editor of the paper, told Journal-isms he would "make the right [decisions] to make sure we reflect our communities."

Rhonda Swann, a member of the enterprise team and a former assistant metro editor, wrote her first column Friday as a member of the editorial board.

She introduced herself as "the mother of two adult sons that have given me my share of heartache and joy. And a teenage daughter who yearns for independence, yet still wants to be mommy's little girl.

"The eldest of seven very intelligent, but loud and opinionated siblings, I've figured out that there are valuable lessons in silent stillness," she continued. "And that family values is more than a slogan. It's how we live our lives.

"Rhonda SwannI've also learned to value diversity -- ethnic, cultural and religious -- because the fact that we are not all alike makes life interesting and fun, not dangerous and scary.

"America is strong because of our differences, not in spite of them, and those differences create a beautiful mosaic of life.

"There's no neat little box into which I fit, no dividing label on which to print my name.

"I'm not a liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. Despite attending church most of my life, I'm spiritual, not religious. I believe in the power of Love, the power of Now and the indomitability of the human spirit."

Before Hanif and Cramer left, the editorial page lost Stebbins Jefferson, who died at age 71 last year.

Spanish Radio Network Fined Over Horrific Prank Call

"The FCC has issued a notice of apparent liability to Spanish Broadcasting System, with two separate forfeitures of $16,000 for recording a phone call for broadcast without the permission of the call recipient," Radio Ink reported on Friday. The Notice of Apparent Liability "says an independent contractor working with the 'El Vacilon de la Manana' show recorded a prank phone call that ultimately aired twice on each station.

"On July 19, 2007, contractor Ruben Ithier called a woman, claimed to be a hospital employee, and told her that her husband had been murdered and his body was in the hospital morgue. He then added that the woman's daughter had been killed by a car while running from the scene. After the woman became hysterical -- the FCC transcript cites 'crying, screaming, inaudible conversation' -- Ithier identified himself and said the call was a joke.

"The stations admitted that the call was made, saying it was done at the request of the recipient's sister, and that the call was broadcast, and also acknowledged that Ithier did not tell the recipient that the call was being recorded for later broadcast."

Tributes for Four Tops Singer Levi Stubbs

Saturday's Detroit News.Perhaps because he preferred to be part of a team rather than out front as its star, the Four Tops' Levi Stubbs was better known by his voice than by his name.

The Motown baritone, who died Friday at 72, didn't receive the headlines of many of his contemporaries at their passings, but his group held together without a personnel change for 44 years. And there were remembrances just the same:

  • Karen Grigsby Bates, National Public Radio:¬†Levi Stubbs, Four Tops Lead Singer, Dies

  • Michael H. Cottman,¬†Remembering The Four Tops' Levi Stubbs, the Next-Door Neighbor with Both Heart and Soul

  • Vetalle Fusilier,¬†Whose Tube? Levi Stubbs: The Four Tops

  • Jet Gardner, Levi Stubbs (1936-2008): One of Motown's Greatest Soul Brothers Is Gone

  • Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune:¬†Farewell, Levi Stubbs: His legacy in 3 classic Four Tops songs

  • London Telegraph:¬†Levi Stubbs

  • Mark Anthony Neal,¬†Man Enough: Remembering Levi Stubbs

  • Susan Whitall, the Detroit News:¬†Funeral services set for Levi Stubbs

    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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    Rush Limbaugh

    Simply put, Rush Limbaugh should be ignored. I realize he has a very strong following, but his rhetoric and logic for most arguments defeats his own cause. He's just not a credible source and I don't understand why the major networks all clamor to his words every time he says something outlandish. It's not like he hasn't done it before and it's not like he doesn't have a brand to protect: the official mouthpiece of angry white men.

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