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CNN Weighs Call to Fire Roland Martin

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pundit Makes 2nd Statement After Gays Link Tweets to Hate

Super Bowl XLVI Most-Watched Program in TV History

". . . But Of Course, She Didn't Look Like Any of the Others"

African Americans, Latinos on Air for CNN During Caucus

Duluth, Minn., Begins Community Dialogue About Racism

Disney, Univision Weigh English-Language Cable News

Cornel West Settling Scores With Melissa Harris-Perry

Iranian Journalists Under Siege Establish Website

Short Takes

Roland Martin

Pundit Makes 2nd Statement After Gays Link Tweets to Hate

CNN was weighing its response Monday to gay activists who demanded that CNN contributor Roland Martin be fired over Twitter remarks during the Super Bowl that they interpreted as anti-gay. Martin denied the tweets were homophobic but acknowledged that they were intended to be "over the top."

Late Monday, Martin issued a more sober statement that he labeled his "final thoughts" on the subject, noting that "In fact, I was bullied in school, and watched another middle schooler [pull] a knife on my father when he boarded our school bus and came to the defense of me and my brother. My position has been unequivocal on this issue, and will remain so."

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said early Tuesday that it would respond to Martin's latest statement later in the day.

[GLAAD said Tuesday it wants Martin "to meet with GLAAD as well as other LGBT organizations and advocates. GLAAD also called on CNN to speak out against the violence that Martin promoted via Twitter during Super Bowl XLVI."]

On Sunday night, after the game, that group said in a statement, "Twice on Sunday, Martin joked about violence against men who could be perceived as gay — once for wearing pink clothing, once for being interested in an ad showing a scantily-clad man. And we know how he feels about the LGBT community."

"This isn’t a mistake made on twitter," GLAAD Director of Communications Rich Ferraro said in the statement. "It’s part of a pattern of anti-LGBT rhetoric that culminated in two tweets yesterday promoting violence towards gay people. The time has come when CNN and Time Warner have to decide whether they want to continue to use their platforms to elevate those who use such language."

". . . Following retailer H&M's Super Bowl commercial featuring soccer player David Beckham, CNN's Roland Martin tweeted to almost 95,000 followers: 'If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl' "

GLAAD responded to the tweet with: "@rolandsmartin Advocates of gay bashing have no place at @CNN #SuperBowl #LGBT"

Martin, an inveterate tweeter whom one writer described as cheeky, replied, "@glaad @CNN well you're clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted. Way to assume, but you're way off base."

GLAAD also said, ". . . Earlier today, Martin posted to his Facebook fan page: 'Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass."

On Monday, Martin responded to his critics on his website: ". . . I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time.  I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise.

"It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football season it’s another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more."

However, GLAAD cited support for its position from an organization of African American gays. " 'Even if he meant it in a jovial manner, Roland Martin’s words carry a real impact on the everyday lives of Black LGBT people, especially our youth,' said Sharon Lettman, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s largest black LGBT civil rights organization. 'Given the number of rash murders, attacks and violent acts involving LGBT people of color, we cannot let statements such as this go unchecked. Silence is a form of acceptance and only perpetuates the problem.' "

GLAAD went on to cite Martin's defense last year of remarks by comedian Tracy Morgan of "Saturday Night Live," who said during a stand-up routine that if his son were gay he would 'stab him.' Morgan later apologized and worked with GLAAD to send positive messages to parents and LGBT youth, the organization noted.

But Martin said in a response,  ". . . I just believe that many of you would be shocked and amazed that you laughed hysterically at some of the most sexist, homophobic, racist stuff imaginable by comedians of all shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations."

Martin won support in the skirmish Monday from some who tweeted that they thought it a stretch to think Martin was advocating hate crimes. But one, signed "Political Nupe," wrote, "hope @rolandmartin survives this but he's gotta be smarter. Talking trash with your boys is cool but tweeting it to the masses? Dumb."

Others said Martin did not seem to realize the seriousness of the situation.

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association issued a brief statement that said, in part: "As journalists, we understand that our words carry weight. Whether we speak in a broadcast studio or in bursts of 140 characters on Twitter, we often command national attention — so it's our obligation to choose our words carefully.

"Roland Martin says he did not intend to target the LGBT community with his tweets; it's clear, however, that he might have thought more carefully about how his words might be received. LGBT people are often targeted for violence because of their sexual orientation — and many of our straight friends are targeted because they are perceived to be LGBT. Comments like those tweeted by Martin are an unfortunate reminder of that reality."

CNN seems to have grown increasingly sensitive to pressure from groups complaining about the utterances of its employees or those under contract. Although it took months, the network cut ties with host Lou Dobbs in 2009 after a campaign by Latinos and others who complained about consistent inaccuracies Dobbs asserted on the air about immigration.

Then, in 2010, Octavia Nasr, a Mideast correspondent for CNN for 20 years, was fired after, on hearing of the death of a Hezbollah leader, she tweeted, "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot."

The same year, CNN fired anchor Rick Sanchez, one of the few Latino anchors on an English-language network, over remarks to a radio interviewer that critics insisted were anti-Semitic, but which Sanchez contended were just clumsily phrased.

Martin is also a syndicated columnist, author, public speaker and commentator for TV One and the syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show." He arrived at CNN with hopes of having his own show at a time when journalists of color were expressing continuing dissatisfaction that all prime-time hosts on the cable news networks were white. [Updated Feb. 7]

Super Bowl XLVI Most-Watched Program in TV History

"It was by the slimmest of margins, but last night's Super Bowl XLVI set a record for most-watched program in TV history," Toni Fitzgerald wrote Monday for medialifemagazine.com.

"The NBC broadcast averaged 111.3 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, bettering last year's record on Fox by 300,000.

"It marked the third straight year that the Super Bowl has set a new record for most-watched program, having surpassed the 106 million who watched the final edition of 'M*A*S*H' in 2010.

"Viewership peaked from 9:30 to 9:58 p.m., when 117.4 million watched the New York Giants score their final touchdown and the New England Patriots get the ball back with less than a minute to play. The Giants won 21-17."

Chris Ariens added for TVNewser:

"Most-watched programs in TV history:

"1. 111.3 Million – Super Bowl XLVI, NBC (2012)

"2. 111.0 Million – Super Bowl XLV, Fox (2011)

"3. 106.5 Million – Super Bowl XLIV, CBS (2010)

"4. 106.0 Million – [M*A*S*H] Finale, CBS (1983)

"5. 98.7 Million – Super Bowl XLIII, NBC (2009)"

 

Marisol González, reporter for Televisa Deportes, causes a stir at Super Bowl XLVI Media Day on Jan. 31. (Credit: Jocksandstillettojill.com)

". . . But Of Course, She Didn't Look Like Any of the Others"

"When social media explodes around the question of, 'Who was that ridiculous Latina chick in the red dress at the Super Bowl media day,' I pay attention," Mariela Dabbah wrote Friday for Fox News Latino. "The chick in question was Marisol González, the reporter for Televisa Deportes.

"Wearing a super tight, red mini-dress with her luscious, wavy brown hair flowing down to her waist, the striking reporter was at the media event interviewing players alongside other reporters. But of course, she didn’t look like any of the others.

"Her outfit was just as sexy as those favored by her competitor, Inez Sainz, from TV Azteca, who last year was at the center of an investigation following a 'locker room incident' where some players made jokes and comments about her appearance. I wonder why?

"The fact that these two reporters are not only allowed but very likely encouraged to flaunt their great attributes by their employers speaks volumes of the deeply engrained sexism in the Hispanic culture. . . .

"The problem with übersexy reporters who pose in bikinis and wear skimpy clothing to do their jobs is that you can’t take them seriously and they devalue the profession. When Inez Sainz describes herself on her website as the 'World Hottest Sports Reporter' who 'is best known because of her sexy looks' and 'is hot, talented and has a great smile,' it makes me wonder, why not chose a career as a model, spokesperson for a sun block brand, or even have her own variety show?"

African Americans, Latinos on Air for CNN During Caucus

A healthy number of African Americans and Latinos were on-air at CNN Saturday night for the Nevada Republican party caucuses, won handily by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Romney finished with 50 percent; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was second with 21 percent; Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, tallied 19 percent; and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 10 percent.

Among the working journalists live in the CNN Election Center were Soledad O'Brien, Don Lemon and Roland Martin, along with Maria Cardona, a contributor who is Latina. O'Brien is the daughter of a white Australian father and a black Cuban mother. Lemon and Martin are African American. Off-air was Bryan Monroe, who is African American and editor of CNNPolitics.com.

Jeremy M. Gaines, spokesman for MSNBC, was asked what the diversity looked like on that network.

"Among others," he replied, "MSNBC analysts Michael Steele and Karen Finney participated in the coverage. NBC's Ron Mott reported from Gingrich HQ in Las Vegas."

A Fox News spokeswoman did not reply to an emailed request for comment.

According to Chris Ariens of TVNewser, these were the Nielsen viewership averages between 10 p.m. Eastern Time, when the polls closed, and midnight Eastern:

Fox News Channel, 1,334,000 total viewers and 244,000 in the key demographic of 25 to 54; MSNBC, 418,000 viewers, 187,000 ages 25 to 54; CNN, 631,000 viewers, 231,000 ages 25 to 54.

Duluth, Minn., Begins Community Dialogue About Racism

"It’s hard to see racism when you’re white," begins the copy on the home page of the Un-Fair Campaign, introduced to readers Sunday in the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune.

"Racism is an issue that we don’t like talking about. The Un-Fair Campaign was developed to look at racism and to encourage a community dialogue about the causes and solutions.

"Racism is a complex social issue and depending upon what you see as the causes of racism you have ideas about the solutions.

"We invite you to spend time on this website and to ask yourself how you may be part of the problem as well as part of the solution.

"See it. Know it. Stop it."

Partners include the Central Labor Body, a coalition of churches, area colleges and universities and social action groups. The News Tribune is a supporter but not a partner. The campaign began Jan. 24.

According to a story that day by the News Tribune's Steve Kuchera, "The campaign will use posters, billboards, a website, events and television and radio public service announcements to make the public aware of white privilege.

". . . Organizers describe white privilege as white people receiving advantages in life simply because of the color of their skin.

" 'Generally, white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it,' scholar Peggy McIntosh has written.

"Duluth’s demographics — 90 percent of Duluth’s population is white — promote the feeling that white is 'normal,' organizers say. They hope their campaign will help white people become aware of the unfairness of judging people by their race, and of their responsibility to help bring racism to an end."

Disney, Univision Weigh English-Language Cable News

"Walt Disney Co., owner of the ABC broadcast network, is in talks with Univision Communications Inc. to create an English-language 24-hour cable-news channel, according to two people with knowledge of the situation," Andy Fixmer reported Monday for Bloomberg News.

"Disney, based in Burbank, California, would oversee advertising sales and distribution for the venture, said the people, who sought anonymity because an agreement hasn’t been reached. The channel would draw newsgathering resources from ABC News and Univision, the largest U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster, they said.

"The discussions have been under way for at least six months and are ongoing, said the people. The channel would be based in Miami and start service before the November presidential election, they said.

"A venture would provide Disney with a cable-news presence and advance Univision Chief Executive Officer Randy Falco’s goal of building new channels. Falco is interested in starting English-language service in sports and news, he told the Wall Street Journal in October. The Journal reported the discussions with Disney earlier today.

"Closely held Univision, based in New York, is starting a Spanish-language telenovela network this month on Dish Network Corp.’s satellite-TV system. Spanish-language sports and news channels will follow by midyear, according to Monica Talan, a spokeswoman."

 

The eponymous '"Melissa Harris-Perry" is scheduled to debut on MSNBC on Feb. 18.

Cornel West Settling Scores With Melissa Harris-Perry

Cornel West, one of President Obama's fiercest critics among black academicians, turns his fire on MSNBC's newest host, Melissa Harris-Perry, in an apparent attempt to settle scores as he is interviewed for the Feb. 2 issue of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

"West says that the attacks by his former colleague, Melissa Harris-Perry, in the Nation and on cable news were strictly personal," Jamal Eric Watson writes.

". . . West was responsible for bringing her to Princeton from the University of Chicago after the two met at a conference. . . . She held a joint appointment between the Center for African American Studies and later turned on him and [Dr. Eddie] Gluade, the chairman of the department, calling them 'hypocritical leftists.' 'I have a love for the sister, but she is a liar, and I hate lying,' says West. . . . She's become the momentary darling of the liberals, but I pray for her because she's in over her head. She's a fake and a fraud. I was so surprised how treacherous the sister was.'

"Harris-Perry declined to be interviewed for this story."

"Melissa Harris-Perry" is to debut on MSNBC on Saturday, Feb. 18, airing Saturday and Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, Eastern time.

Harris-Perry told Journal-isms she would have no comment.

Iranian Journalists Under Siege Establish Website

". . . Reporters Without Borders is supporting Khabarnegaran Iran (The Iranian Journalist), an Iranian news website aimed at journalists," the press freedom group said on Wednesday. "Launched in July 2009, it has become part of the resistance to the government’s repression and propaganda.

"What are the differences between working as a journalist in Tehran and working as a journalist in the rest of the country? How can you inform the public when all dissident voices are being censored? What role do women journalists play in Iran? Who are the journalists that are in jail and why are they there? How do the families of detained journalists live? These are the kind of stories the website covers.

"The articles are written in Farsi but about a quarter of them are translated into English in order to reach a wider audience. The team of translators also translate[s] some international articles into Farsi.

"Using a network of contributors in Iran, the website offers a unique insight into what life is like for Iranian journalists and provides an alternative outlet to those who have been forced to stop working as journalists for political reasons."

Short Takes

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Comments

re Roland Martin's homophobic tweets

I'm sorry, but as a gay man man who has absolutely no interest in soccer, I have no way of interpreting CNN's Roland Martin's Super Bowl tweets as being anything but homophobic: " It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football season it’s another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more." Who is he kidding?

Roland Martin's Tweets tick off gay rights group

Instead of trying to beat Roland Martin into submission, GLAAD should be using this incident as an opportunity to teach about homophobia and how easily people can slip into hate speech without meaning to.

However, it appears GLAAD is more interested in adding Martin's hide to their wall. This is wrong-headed and misguided.  The right to free speech also carries the responsibility of owning our words.  Roland Martin is no exception, however, it seems that GLAAD is pursuing a course of zero tolerance for any words they deem are politcally incorrect.   This is going to be a missed opportuntiy for education and enlightenment for all parties concerned.  

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