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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Jay Smooth: "This recurring theme of turning 'community organizer' into some kind of epithet like 'communist' or 'homo' or something, that's really despicable." See third item.

McCain's Humor Can Be "Way, Way Over the Line"

"We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco," the Republicans' new vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said to cheers at the party's national convention on Wednesday. "As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever he goes, and whoever is listening, John McCain is the same man."

As the McCain campaign tosses charges of sexism to describe the coverage of Palin's selection, a former journalist's reminiscences of McCain's off-duty life puts those characterizations in a different light.

"McCain, a member of the House of Representatives in the mid-1980s, often held court at a table near the bar at Bullfeathers, a popular Capitol Hill watering hole, telling jokes and matching hangers-on drink by drink," Doug Thompson wrote Aug. 1 on his 14-year-old Web site, Capitol Hill Blue.

"As a Capitol Hill chief of staff, I often drank at Bullfeathers and was invited to join the throng at McCain's table one evening. A few minutes listening to the racism, bigotry and homophobia of the Arizona Congressman told me all I needed to know.

"McCain loved to tell jokes about lesbians, blacks, Hispanics and the Vietnamese community that occupied a large section of Arlington County, Virginia, just south of the District of Columbia.

"Of course, McCain didn't use polite language in the jokes: He used names like 'fags' or 'queers' or 'dykes' or 'niggers' or 'spics' or 'wetbacks' or 'gooks.'"

Thompson went on to list several of the "jokes" told then and on other occasions.

Some have been widely reported. "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?" McCain asked guests at a Senate Republican fundraiser in 1998, when Clinton was 18. "Because her father is Janet Reno," the Clinton administration's attorney general.  McCain "formally apologized" to President Bill Clinton, the Arizona Republic reported then.

The Tucson (Ariz.) Citizen reported this one McCain told during a fundraiser for his 1986 Senate campaign:

"Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, 'Where is that marvelous ape?'"

"McCain's humor . . . makes him the political counterpart of the radio host Don Imus (whom he has defended)," Ben Smith wrote July 18 in Politico. "It's sharp, unrehearsed and, at times, way, way over the line. This cycle, he's drawn winces, and worse, for everything from a joking reference to domestic violence to a now-notorious little ditty about bombing Iran. Earlier in his political career, the Arizona press reported that he'd cracked a rape joke that would now probably end any politician's career, a joke his aides then and now say he doesn't recall making.

"To McCain's friends and supporters, the humor is a mark of his authenticity. To his detractors, some of the jokes are offensive and out of touch with contemporary mores. What's undeniable, though, is that the humor, with its political risks and, to some, its charm, is intrinsic to John McCain."

A 1997 story in the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill described Thompson as a onetime reporter for the Alton (Ill.) Telegraph and the Roanoke (Va.) Times. He also worked as chief of staff to Rep. Manuel Lujan, R-N.M., and was vice president for government affairs and operations for the National Association of Realtors. Earlier in his career, Thompson served as a Navy SEAL.

Thompson called himself a "political agnostic," but had worked as a consultant for a conservative pro-business lobbying and consulting firm when the story was written.

"McCain's collection of off-color jokes are riddled with racist words and sentiments," Thompson wrote. "Advisors have toned down the raunchy rhetoric of his early years in Congress but close aides say his attitudes have not changed."

It should be noted that there is not always a correlation between words and deeds. Democratic presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Harry S Truman, both known for the advances they made for civil rights, were known to use the N-word.

The McCain campaign did not comment on the Capitol Hill Blue story.

"No One Will Ever Be Able to Take Your Place" as a Mom

Sidmel Estes-Sumpter"My question to Sarah Palin is this. Who is going to lead your children?" Sidmel Estes-Sumpter, a media consultant and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, asked on her blog on Friday.

"I get it when you say you have a supportive husband who is always there for you. I get it when you complain that men aren't subjected to the same kind of questioning as women when it comes to family values. Been there . . . done that . . . got the t-shirt. But Sarah . . . GET REAL. No one will ever be able to take your place as a mother. I'm telling you this not because of what I have heard. I'm telling you this because this is what I know.

"More than 17 years ago, I was elected the national president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). . . the first woman in our organization to accomplish that. The biggest heartstring pulling at me was how it would affect my two year old son. That consideration almost forced me not to run."

News Outlets Capture Community Organizers' Outrage

Many news organizations reacted quickly to capture the outrage of community organizers to the denigration of their profession Thursday at the Republican National Convention.

"Understandably, they were dumbstruck at how both former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and the vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin turned community organizing into a running joke during their speeches Wednesday night at the Republican convention," David Gonzalez wrote on a New York Times "City Room" blog, describing the reaction of organizers in the Bronx.

"Mr. Giuliani drew laughs with this line: 'On the other hand, you have a resume from a gifted man with an Ivy League education. He worked as a community organizer. What?' He paused for laughter from the convention floor. 'He worked ‚Äî I said ‚Äî I said, O.K., O.K., maybe this is the first problem on the r?©sum?©.'"

Writing on the Time magazine site, Joe Klein wrote, "here is what Giuliani and Palin didn't know: Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed -- job training, help with housing and so forth -- from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord's work -- the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a 'task from God.')"

"How many of the Republican delegates, 93 percent of whom are white, are familiar with community organizers is debatable," Dean Reynolds said on the "CBS Evening News." "More than half have a net worth in excess of half a million dollars and may have no need for someone like Julio Medina of New York." He went on to interview Medina, director, of Exodus Transitional Community.

Fact-Checkers Fault Speeches at GOP Convention

"Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth," Jim Kuhnhenn wrote Wednesday night for the Associated Press.

In one example, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

Kuhnhenn wrote, "A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries."

Palin Called "Blank Sheet" on Racial Issues

Maryline Blackburn, a Democrat, defeated Sarah Palin for the 1984 Miss Alaska title "There's no record that Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin uttered anything more than the obligatory complimentary congratulations to the woman that beat her out for the Miss Alaska title in 1984," syndicated columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson wrote Friday for

"The winner was Maryline Blackburn, an African-American.

"A ritual congratulatory wish from Palin would have been about the only public acknowledgement to date from her about an issue, in this case a beauty contest, where Palin was confronted with the issue of diversity in the person of a competitor.

Since then, Palin's record on race and diversity has been the blankest of blank sheets. The probes into Palin's record on diversity and civil rights have almost exclusively focused on her views on gay rights, gay marriage and equal pay. These are crucial civil rights issues. But so is racial diversity and civil rights.

". . . Democrats, much of the media, and a big segment of the public have pounded Palin for her non-existent experience and public pronouncements on foreign policy and national security matters. But she has been absolutely expansive on these issues in comparison to her past and present mute silence about diversity and civil rights."

Meanwhile, Rob Capriccioso wrote for Indian Country Today that Native attendees at the Republican convention reacted favorably to Palin's selection. "On specific tribal issues, especially healthcare improvement, Republican Indians were quick to say that McCain and Palin could bring change -- and blamed certain Democrats for lack of action in recent times," he wrote.

But on a Web site called L.A. Progressive, Charley James wrote a piece headlined, "Alaskans Speak (In A Frightened Whisper): Palin Is 'Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean.'"  Others challenged the credibility of that piece.

60,000 Letters Demand That St. Paul Drop Charges

"Journalists and St. Paul citizens assembled outside St. Paul City Hall today to deliver more than 60,000 letters to Mayor Chris Coleman and prosecuting attorneys demanding that they immediately drop charges against all journalists arrested this week as they covered the Republican National Convention," the media advocacy group Free Press said on Friday.

"By Friday morning, dozens of journalists, photographers, bloggers and videomakers had been booked by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office in what appears to have been an orchestrated round-up of media makers covering protests during the convention."

"Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, The Newspaper Guild, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reporters Without Borders, the Society for Professional Journalists and the Writers Guild of America, East have also sounded the alarm over the unusually harsh treatment by city authorities."

In total, 30 or more people who said they were journalists or had media credentials were arrested during the convention, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said on Friday, Mara H. Gottfried reported in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

"We recognize that media folks . . . are there doing the job," Harrington said. But he also said police had told journalists that when officers declare that there's an unlawful assembly, "the media isn't exempt from legal order and have to move."

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama makes his first appearance on 'The O'Reilly Factor,' hosted by Bill O'Reilly. It was the first of four segments, to be spread over four days. (Fox News)

Obama Faces Off With O'Reilly in the "Spin Zone"

"It was billed as the ultimate smackdown, and it certainly promised to be a wonk vs. wacko match: the cerebral, conciliatory Senator Barack Obama versus Bill O'Reilly, Fox News Channel's most irascible, combative anchor: a commentator who calls liberals 'loons' and 'pinheads' and on Thursday's show described reporters scrutinizing Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as 'sniveling, left-wing, wine-drinking, brie-eating,'" Alessandra Stanley wrote in the New York Times.

"The topic was national security, and their tone was civil, but thankfully not too civil: Mr. O'Reilly, as is his wont, spoke brusquely, interrupted, argued and didn't let his guest off the hook. He told Mr. Obama he had 'bloviated' in parts of his convention speech, but congratulated him on his early opposition to the war, saying he had been 'perspicacious.'

"Mr. O'Reilly then demanded that his guest admit that he was wrong to oppose the military surge. Mr. Obama didn't give in; he repeated previous qualifications but did go farther, and less equivocally, than before in acknowledging that the surge had worked. "It's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams," he said. Mr. Obama is known for the subtlety and nuance of his answers; Mr. O'Reilly has no patience for either. And accordingly, they had a bracing exchange, in what was the first of four segments to be spread over four days."

Gannett Diversity Numbers Still Top Industry Average

"Our Information Centers have held the line on percentage of staffing for people of color, and the percentage of managers has slightly increased. The 19.5 percent in staffing and 20.8 percent in managers of color have kept the numbers at record highs," Phil Currie, senior vice president for news at the Gannett Co., the nation's largest newspaper company, wrote internally on Thursday. "Information Centers" is the company's new term for its platforms that provide content.

"The percentages well exceed the industry national averages compiled by ASNE (13.5 and 11.4 respectively), keeping Gannett at the forefront of diversity," he continued, referring to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

"A high percentage of the managerial promotions of minorities (34.1 percent) shows that upward mobility is increasing across the company for people of color.

". . . One concern is that for three years now, we have been at virtually the same staffing level percentages, even though minority managers have increased. So while holding to our record numbers is very good, getting beyond those numbers must be the goal ahead.

"We also know realistically that the 2010 census will paint an even more diversified picture of our nation.

"A key effort for our Information Centers is to seek parity with their own community population. Twenty-nine of Gannett's Information Centers do that now, according to our All-American statistics. That number is down slightly from a year ago. But we need to be heading in the other direction."

Hernandez Leaves Dallas Paper; Belo to Start Layoffs

Macarena Hernandez Macarena Hernandez, an up-and-coming reporter at the Dallas Morning News who said she wanted to write to illuminate the world that the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants will inhabit, has left the paper, feeling the priorities of the newspaper business are elsewhere, she told Journal-isms.

Hernandez spoke as the News' parent company, A. H. Belo Corp., announced Thursday that 413 employees will leave under a voluntary severance offer: 270 at the Morning News, 23 at the Providence Journal, and 120 at the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise.

Since the company did not reach its target of voluntary departures, "an involuntary reduction in force will be completed by mid-to-late October to achieve the necessary remaining workforce reductions," the announcement said. The figures cover all departments and are expected to amount to 5 percent, spokeswoman Maribel Correa told Journal-isms.

Correa said she had no breakdown on how many of the departures were in newsrooms or how they affected diversity at the company. She said Belo accepted severance offers on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of ethnicity, and that diversity could best be measured after the layoffs took place.

However, Lesley T?©llez, a writer for the Morning News' Quick tabloid, told Journal-isms she is leaving the paper for Mexico City to be with her husband, who was transferred there. T?©llez, 29, was Quick's only full-time staff writer, covering Dallas night life, and had been there for 2 ¬? years.

Hernandez was Rio Grande Valley correspondent for the San Antonio Express-News in 2003 when a story she wrote was plagiarized by the New York Times' Jayson Blair and led to Blair's downfall there. She and Blair were two of four interns who were offered jobs at the Times together after their internships, but Hernandez declined.

"She'd rather have you remember her for 'One Family, Two Homelands,' a 16-page series published last December in the Express-News detailing the death of her family's Mexican birthplace," Morning News Editorial Page Editor Keven Willey wrote the staff when Hernandez joined that paper in 2005. She worked on the editorial page and later in the newsroom on projects.

Hernandez, 34, said she left the paper Aug. 27 -- her resignation was tendered in June, before the severance offer -- to become a fellow in the International Reporting Project of Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

She is working on a project on Mexico's immigration policy, which affects Central Americans trying to get to the United States. She is an IRP/Frontline World Fellow, meaning her piece could air on PBS' "Frontline." She has a degree in documentary filmmaking.

Hernandez became a journalist because "the only stories I would read about Mexicans and Mexican Americans were about a guy in an orange jumpsuit, or census numbers would come out -- 'oh, my God, there's more of them,'" she told Journal-isms.

"I feel like newspapers are the foundation of an enlightened community, and bring a world to readers they may never have encountered otherwise." But she said in the current panicky newspaper environment papers are more concerned about catering to existing, suburban readers. While "a lot of the stories I want to write about" might not be about subscribers, she said, their children will be.


Detroit Media Pull Out Stops on Kilpatrick Story

"Detroit stations of course had a field day covering former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick this week," Mike Malone wrote Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. "Fox O&O WJBK, which went wall to wall covering Wednesday's hearing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., offers a video timeline of the charismatic/controversial Kilpatrick's rise to power in Motown. Washington Post's WDIV has Kilpatrick's 20-minute resignation speech from Thursday on demand, during which he claimed 'full responsibility for my own actions.'"

"Both The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press published special section wraps Friday on Kilpatrick's revelations that he lied under oath and pleaded guilty to felony charges related to squandering some $10 million in city funds," Joe Strupp reported  in Editor & Publisher.

On, Natalie Y. Moore, co-author of "Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation," wrote, "As a whole, black politicians are surprisingly na?Øve and often willfully ignorant of the way media works. And they either don't care or don't realize that their ethical gaffes play right into the media's hands.

"There is a double standard, but savvy politicians accept, even cuddle, that paradigm and proceed accordingly. In the end, what did Kilpatrick do? Philanderer? Check. Felon? Check."

Members of Kilpatrick's police bodyguard team barred Free Press reporter M.L. Elrick and WXYZ-TV investigative reporter Steve Wilson from attending the mayor's news conference Thursday night, the Free Press reported.

Short Takes

  • Vibe magazine is denying singer Robin Thicke's claim that he can't make its cover because he is white. He told Gail Mitchell of Billboard magazine. "If there's one magazine that I'd want to be on the cover of, it's Vibe. ¬†Their response was they don't have white artists on the cover; that the only white artist they've had on the cover was Eminem. I guess if that's what it is, it is what it is. And I respect that because I live in a house with a black woman." Vibe Editor in Chief Danyel Smith replied, "We have a great deal of respect for Robin Thicke and his music, and we remain flattered by his desire to be on a VIBE cover. A VIBE cover is a huge milestone in any artist's career ‚Äî recent cover stars include Young Jeezy, Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, Usher, Senator Barack Obama, Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Robert De Niro, to say nothing of our 15-year history.'
  • So why weren't there more African Americans in the media ranks at the Republican convention? the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz asked Gwen Ifill of PBS at the convention in St. Paul. "You have to look hard," Ifill said. "That's a failure of news organizations, mostly newspapers, to support and promote people of color." She also said, "I'm in great demand -- everyone wants to talk to me -- but I'm not speaking for the whole race. My job is to be a reporter. I cannot be the great interpreter. It's not my job to be on someone else's air telling them what black people think," Kurtz wrote on Thursday.
  • "With a backdrop of rising paper costs and declining advertising, Vibe is downsizing. The hip-hop monthly will switch to a smaller trim size as it redesigns with the October issue, on sale Sept. 16. Vibe also cut its rate base, to 800,000 from 850,000 starting in July," Lucia Moses wrote Thursday in MediaWeek. "The new look, under the direction of Luke Hayman of design firm Pentagram, coincides with the music magazine's 15th anniversary."
  • "Jaime Garza, who was laid off from KCAL/KCBS five months ago, is the new 10 pm anchor at KTXL, Fox-40 in Sacramento. His first day on the job is next Monday," Veronica Villafane wrote on Thursday for her Media Moves site.
  • "Tatiana Bedoya celebrated her 33rd birthday Monday by officially launching Vixta, a new Spanish-language magazine for greater Sacramento's Latino community," Edgar Sanchez wrote Thursday in the Sacramento Bee. Bedoya is a former news reporter and anchor for KUVS-TV, a local Spanish-language TV station.
  • Howard University's WHUR-FM has been picked as this year's winner of the National Association of Broadcasters' HD Radio Multicast Award, for its WHUR-World HD2 channel, RadioInk reported "WHUR-World HD2 has successfully combined nontraditional music, news, community involvement, and information into a fresh new variety format that creates a new identity for HD Radio," said NAB EVP/Radio John David.
  • Sergio Avila, who back in July proposed to his girlfriend on live television in Yuma, Ariz., has joined the KGUN-9 news team in Tucson as a general assignment reporter, Veronica Villafane reported in her Media Moves site.
  • "Vogue India's August issue presented a 16-page vision of supple handbags, bejeweled clutches and status-symbol umbrellas, modeled not by runway stars or the wealthiest fraction of Indian society who can actually afford these accessories, but by average Indian people," Heather Timmons wrote Sunday in the New York Times. The editorial spread was "example of vulgarity," said Kanika Gahlaut, a columnist for the daily newspaper Mail Today, based in New Delhi.
  • "Andrew Berends, an established, award-winning American filmmaker and journalist from New York, was detained Sunday August 31st by the Nigerian military along with his translator, Samuel George, and Joe Bussio, the manager of a local bar. Andrew entered Nigeria legally in April 2008 to complete a documentary film," MediaBistro reported on Thursday.
  • Kim Gennaula, KGMB-TV Honolulu news co-anchor, is leaving to become director of philanthropy at Kapi'olani Health Foundation, effective Sept. 15, the Honolulu Advertiser reported on Wednesday.

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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