CNN Weighs Call to Fire Roland Martin
Sunday, February 5, 2012
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]
- Dylan Byers, Politico: CNN's political contributor problem, pt. 2
- Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer: Gay group calls for CNN to fire Roland Martin
- Samantha Master, the Colored Other: An Open Letter to Roland Martin
- Jesus Ortiz, San Francisco Chronicle: Beckham’s underwear ad exposes Roland Martin
- Dr. Boyce Watkins, syndicated: Roland Martin, GLAAD and How We’ve Learned to Become Oppressors
- Elizabeth Wellington, Philadelphia Inquirer: David Beckham's Super Bowl Underwear Ad
- Erik Wemple, Washington Post: At CNN, is homophobia a ‘viewpoint’?
- Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Roland Martin’s new statement, old hogwash [Feb. 7]
- Scott Wooledge, Milk Men And Women, Daily Kos: Please, CNN's Roland Martin, explain to me what's so darn funny about hate crimes?
"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."
"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)
"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?"
- Jerry Brewer, Seattle Times: Adventures of the misguided prognosticator: Taking the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI [Feb. 5]
- Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: A Super Bowl party with wistful former players
- Eric Deggans blog, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: Madonna's seeming lip synching leaves this critic cold at Super Bowl halftime
- Eric Deggans, National Sports Journalism Center: Inflated Super Bowl coverage endorses NFL initiatives rather than investigates
- Rip Empson, Techcrunch.com: First Legal Streaming Super Bowl A Success, But Audience Still Denied The Real Show
- Mike Freeman, CBSSports.com: Second Super Bowl loss to the Giants hurts Belichick's, Brady's legacies
- Chloé A. Hilliard, Loop21.com: Madonna Is Part of My Black History
- HuffPost LatinoVoices: Latino NFL Greats And Super Bowl Stars
- Sean Jensen, Chicago Sun-Times: Giants’ ground game finally comes to life in postseason
- Jason Johnson, Politic365.com: Love and Hate Between the Super Bowl and Black Folks
- Gregory H. Lee Jr., Boston Globe: What now for Brady and Belichick's legacy? (video)
- Julie Moos, Poynter Institute: In matchup between NY, New England, no clear winner for Super Bowl front pages
- David Steele, AOL FanHouse: Elite discussion now starts with Eli
- Brian Stelter, New York Times: No Ads, No Madonna But NBC Calls Live Stream A Success
- Jason Whitlock, FoxSports.com: Eli an impact player — on NFL history
- George Willis, New York Post: Giants stop Brady when it counts
- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPNNewYork.com: Deja Blue: 'We've seen this before'
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.
- Kim Barker, Al Shaw and Ariel Wittenberg, ProPublica: With Spotlight on Super PAC Dollars, Nonprofits Escape Scrutiny
- Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Halftime Show.
- Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Romney, the Rich and the Rest
- Mary C. Curtis, Nieman Watchdog: Will Trump Take Credit for Romney’s Nevada Win?
- John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: PEJ: Negative Newt Gingrich Coverage on the Rise
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Where are Romney’s Blacks?
"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."
- Ellen O'Neill, Un-Fair Campaign: Campaign's view: If we recognize racism, we can stop it
- Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune: Backlash slams ‘Un-Fair’ anti-racism campaign in Twin Ports
- Robin Washington, Duluth News Tribune: Racism easy to see with a little help
"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, 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 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.
- Melissa Harris-Perry, the Nation: Cornel West v. Barack Obama [May 17, 2 011]
". . . 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."
- Committee to Protect Journalists: Iran detains, harasses relatives of BBC Persian service staff
- Marcela Toledo, a freelancer who is at Eastern Michigan University securing a second bachelor's degree, is resigning from the board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, where she is a regional representative, she told Journal-isms. "I will be moving from Ann Arbor to Covina, California, at the beginning of May. I applied for a [master's] at three schools," Toledo said by email. "I hope I get in at the best school for me. I want to make documentaries and write for the big screen. In the meantime I'll continue as a freelance." Ada Alvarez Conde, Spanish-language at-large officer, announced last week she, too, was stepping down from the NAHJ board.
- "The labels used to describe Americans of African descent mark the movement of a people from the slave house to the White House," Jesse Washington wrote Friday for the Associated Press. "Today, many are resisting this progression by holding on to a name from the past: 'black,' " resisting the term "African American." This column discussed the origin of "African American" in 2004 on the 20th anniversary of advocacy of the term by the National Alliance of Black School Educators.
- Alfred Liggins, CEO of Radio One since 1997 and president since 1989, told RadioInk, "The last three or four years have been very challenging for traditional media businesses. Radio is certainly as traditional as traditional media gets. They have been very tough years. However, we think that the industry has hit bottom."
- "Miguel Marquez, late of ABC News, will rejoin CNN as a Los Angeles-based correspondent, TVNewser has learned," Chris Ariens wrote on Monday. "Until November, Marquez was a London-based correspondent for ABC News."
- Harris Faulkner, a former Minneapolis anchor now on Fox News Channel, was asked by Star Tribune columnist C.J., "Are you guys really beating CNN and MSNBC, because people can do whatever they want with numbers?" Faulkner replied, "I think there are people who don't admit to their friends they watch Fox .... You know, I travel quite a bit because I've got family in the Southwest. ... People can tell me what I had on, so I know they're watching. ... If you ask me how they do the meters and diaries, I can't tell you all that. But people are watching Fox News Channel in droves."
- "Monica Pearson, WSB Atlanta's veteran anchor, will retire after the 6 p.m. news July 25, wrapping up a colorful 37-year run at the station," Michael Malone reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. "When she arrived in Atlanta from WHAS Louisville in 1975, Pearson became the market's first woman, and, first minority, to anchor the 6 p.m. news, says parent Cox Media Group."
- Nischelle Turner, a correspondent on CNN's "Showbiz Tonight," is profiled by Margaux Henquinet in the Columbia Missourian, a publication of the Missouri School of Journalism at Turner's alma mater, the University of Missouri.
- Mikki Taylor, who retired as beauty and cover director after 30 years at Essence magazine, discusses her time there in a video interview with Donya Blaze of MediaBistro.
- In Kansas City, "Veteran WDAF-FOX4 sports anchor/reporter Al Wallace is recovering from prostate cancer surgery he had Thursday at the University of Kansas Hospital, sources have told Bottom Line," John Landsberg wrote Friday for that website. "He reportedly went home Friday evening. His cancer was reportedly diagnosed early and he reportedly is doing well and will be recovering at home for an undetermined period of time."
- "Academy Award front-runner Viola Davis covers the February 2012 issue of [the Los Angeles Times] Magazine with a photoshoot that shows a drastically different side of the actress," reports the site Young, Black and Fabulous. "See the pics inside and get highlights of the interview she did with Andre Leon Talley for 'ET.' "
- "The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) has reportedly enlisted the service of the police in a bid to stop foreign newspapers without local offices from circulating," Media Institute of Southern Africa, based in Windhoek, Namibia, reported on Friday. "Publications that might be affected include[:] the Sunday Times, Mail and Guardian, Business Day and the Zimbabwean."
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@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine