Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Suspect Fatally Shot at Discovery Building

Send by email
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"I'm Locked In," Says TV One's Johnathan Rodgers, Across the Street

Jason Whitlock Seals Deal With

First Significant Decline in Illegal Immigrants in 20 Years

FAIR Says Media Didn't Ask Right Questions After Beating

Wilkerson Praised for 15-Year Project on Great Migration

Pediatricians Urged to Confront Media on Sexual Messages

Short Takes

"I'm Locked In," Says TV One's Rodgers, Across the Street

"The standoff at the Discovery Communications building in downtown Silver Spring ended Wednesday afternoon when authorities shot and killed the suspect holding three hostages, bringing a dramatic close to a tense situation four hours after it began, according to police and law enforcement sources," Dan Morse, Christian Davenport and John Kelly reported Wednesday for the Washington Post, describing the police action in the Maryland suburb.

Johnathan Rodgers"All three hostages are safe, said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger.

"Sources said the suspect is James J. Lee, who railed against the Discovery Channel for years, is now dead. Law enforcement officials fired at 4:48 p.m. Wednesday because police 'believed the hostages' lives were in danger,' he said.

"Police had been negotiating with Lee for several hours, and spoke to him minutes before firing. Manger said Lee displayed 'a wide range of emotions' during the talks. "One of the explosive devices the suspect had in his possession appeared to go off, Manger said. Police are working to clear suspicious devices in the building.

"The standoff began at 1 p.m. Wednesday after a man walked into the large office building in the heart of downtown Silver Spring waving a handgun and wearing what appeared to be metallic canisters on his chest and back. "Manger said that most of the 1,900 people who work at the Discovery building were safely evacuated, including all of the children at the day-care center located there. Some employees could still be on the upper levels of the building, Manger said.

"A manifesto posted on a Web site registered to a person named James Lee, who gave a post office box in Canada as his address, lists several demands to the Discovery Channel, saying the station 'MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet.' It lists 11 demands about airing shows that would promote curbing the plant's population growth, finding solutions for global warming and dismantling 'the dangerous US world economy.' "

Police described the suspect as "an Asian man," but did not appear to emphasize his ethnicity.

Still, the Asian American Journalists Association issued a statement that, "Journalists should be careful when using headlines, crawls, and tweets referring to 'Asian' taking hostages - as the suspect's race and ethnicity, does not seem to be a factor in his actions. It's doubtful that news organizations would say 'Black man (or white man) takes hostages.' This reminder is in that same vein."

Johnathan Rodgers, CEO of TV One, works in a building across the street. "I'm locked in. I can't get out," he told Journal-isms by telephone shortly after 5 p.m. "I went out to lunch at noon; at 1:05 p.m., it started to happen." He said most of the 80 TV One employees at the location were locked in.

"I can see an FBI Hummer, three SWAT units, more people in uniform than I can count, people in green fatigues and desert fatigues," he said. "A number of our employees have appeared on CNN, on Radio One, on local television outlets." He said he had made an arrangement with a delicatessen next door to bring food into the building.

Rodgers is a veteran of the Discovery Networks, joining Discovery Networks U.S. as president in 1996. He helped grow Discovery from a two-channel, $1 billion outfit to an 11-channel, $20 billion company, as Broadcasting & Cable noted, stepping down in March 2002.

Jason Whitlock, who left his columnist's perch at the Kansas City Star, 'always did his best and most creative work for Fox Sports,' according to the Pitch, an alternative Kansas City newspaper.

Jason Whitlock Seals Deal With

Less than two weeks after leaving the Kansas City Star and delivering a purported tell-all radio extravaganza, Star sports columnist Jason Whitlock has sealed a multiyear deal with that sources estimate at about $1.5 million over three years.

"Previously, Whitlock was a weekly contributor, but he now writes two columns per week. He now also contributes either a podcast or chat weekly, and plans are in the works for him to be featured in a program produced for's mid-day 'Lunch With Benefits' programming block," an announcement said on Wednesday.

"Whitlock, whose columns regularly spark impassioned debate and discussion, now shares his unique point-of-view via every platform has to offer. His singular national perspective is now available to fans through columns, digital programming, podcasts, chats and mobile apps."

Whitlock said in the statement, 'My relationship with has been very successful so far and this is only the start. I'm very pleased that my editors have shown the wisdom to let me be me, and very soon there will be a lot more of me to love on the web site."

While Whitlock's reported $1.5 million over three years no doubt tops his Star earnings, it is not unusually high in the broadcast business. Whitlock's deal includes an online program, but not traditional television.

Rick Reilly reportedly negotiated a five-year, $17 million deal when he jumped from Sports Illustrated to ESPN in 2007. The same year, Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon cut a four-year deal with Disney, which owns ESPN, for just under $8 million, the Washingtonian magazine reported. Wilbon co-hosts ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption."

On Aug. 17, the Star announced that, "after 16 years of writing thought-provoking and popular columns for The Kansas City Star, Jason Whitlock is leaving the paper to pursue other interests." Three days later, Whitlock arranged a LeBron James-style radio show called "The Explanation" in which he appeared to burn any bridges remaining at the Star. "There were admissions of deception, a whole lot of bitterness . . . oh, and a bizarre tidbit that forced the station to temporarily yank the program from the air," wrote Glenn Davis on

Among the subjects was Star Editor Mike Fannin. "To hear Whitlock say it, Fannin sounds like a party guy - . . . the station couldn't yank the program from the air fast enough," Davis wrote.

The Whitlock statements lit up the Kansas City blogosphere. On the website KC Confidential, Hearne Christopher, a former Star columnist, recounted his own experiences at the paper.

"Should Kansas City Star publisher Mark Zieman have taken embattled editor Mike Fannin's advice two years ago to not hire him?" Christopher asked.

First Significant Decline in Illegal Immigrants in 20 Years

"The annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center," Jeffrey Passel and D'Vera Cohn wrote Wednesday for the Pew Hispanic Center.

"This sharp decline has contributed to an overall reduction of 8% in the number of unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S. — to 11.1 million in March 2009 from a peak of 12 million in March 2007, according to the estimates. The decrease represents the first significant reversal in the growth of this population over the past two decades.

". . . The Pew Hispanic Center's analysis also finds that the most marked decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants has been among those who come from Latin American countries other than Mexico. From 2007 to 2009, the size of this group from the Caribbean, Central America and South America decreased 22%."

FAIR Says Media Didn't Ask Right Questions After Beating

The progressive media-watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting has reviewed the April incident in which a Seattle news director failed to air a video of a police beating and found the coverage wanting.

Martin Monetti The news director at KCPQ-TV, known as Q13, resigned, and an assignment manager was fired after freelance photographer Jud Morris offered the station footage of Seattle police officers stomping on a Latino man's head and body. When Q13 did not air the footage, Morris posted a video of the beating on YouTube and sold the footage to competitor KIRO-TV for $100.

"Fewer reports took note of the fact, also recounted by Morris, that a “key [Q13] staffer was talking to the police as she was viewing' the tape, which he found 'kind of odd' (Seattle Times, 5/8/10)," Janine Jackson wrote in FAIR's "Extra!." "The Stranger alt-weekly (5/19/10) published claims by an unidentified Q13 employee that management was bowing to 'friends at SPD,' " the Seattle Police Department, "in not airing the footage, but it doesn’t sound as though pressure was required.

"(Indeed, in SPD’s version, the station staffer who called 'didn’t think the video constituted a major issue. But [Interim Police Chief John] Diaz said it was up to police commanders to decide if an incident rises to the level of possible misconduct' — Seattle Times, 5/21/10.)"

The video showed gang unit detective Shandy Cobane standing over 21-year-old Martin Monetti. who was lying on the sidewalk, telling Monetti, “I’m going to beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you, homey. You feel me?” and kicking him in the head.

"Journalists seemed genuinely not to understand that what was disturbing was not the 'language' Cobane used with Monetti, but the casually violent racism it evinced in combination with physical abuse. How might such an attitude affect all aspects of Cobane’s policing? Is this racism reflected in gang unit policy? Is it OK for police to 'beat the piss out of' people, or to threaten to? Media overwhelmingly declined to pull back from the incident to ask the questions it suggested about law enforcement’s approach to communities of color."

The Seattle Times reported in May that Seattle police said they opened an internal investigation April 26, "which was put on hold when the case was referred Monday to a Seattle police detective for a criminal investigation.

"Seattle police said May 14 that the conduct of other officers, including a supervisor, who were present but did not intervene also was the subject of an internal investigation. . . . The FBI has launched a preliminary investigation to determine if Monetti's civil rights were violated.

"Cobane has since apologized for his words that night. Diaz has said racial and ethnic slurs are unacceptable in the department."

Wilkerson Praised for 15-Year Project on Great Migration

It was 15 years ago, in 1995, that Isabel Wilkerson, Chicago bureau chief at the New York Times, went on leave to write a book about the black migration to Chicago. That was a year after Wilkerson became the first African American female journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for her individual work in the then-78-year history of the Pulitzer competition. Isabel Wilkerson

The book, "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration," (Random House, $30) is finally completed, and on Monday won a rave review from Janet Maslin in Wilkerson's former newspaper.

"In a book that, quite amazingly, is her first, Ms. Wilkerson (a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Chicago bureau chief for The New York Times who is now professor of journalism and director of narrative nonfiction at Boston University) has pulled off an all but impossible feat. She has documented the sweeping 55-year-long migration of black Americans across their own country. She has challenged the dismissive assumptions that are sometimes made about that migration, treating it as a briefer and more easily explained event," Maslin's review began.

Maslin wrote that Wilkerson has produced "a mesmerizing book" after interviewing more than 1,200 people. The book runs to 622 pages, and is scheduled to go on sale Sept. 7.

The Economist, which reviewed the book in its Aug. 28 edition, was not as kind. "Her account of their experiences lacks the objectivity and historical depth of Nicholas Lemann's classic: 'The Promised Land' (1991)," an anonymous reviewer said. "Her understanding of economics is shaky; her international perspective myopic. Hers instead is an oral history that lifts the spirits and warms the heart."

However, Cameron McWhirter wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "If you want to learn the broad facts and ramifications of the Great Migration, read Lemann. But if you want to learn about what being a migrant felt like, read Wilkerson. Her intimate portraits convey — as no book prior ever has — what the migration meant to those who were a part of it."

Pediatricians Urged to Confront Media on Sexual Messages

"New evidence points to the media adolescents use frequently (television, music, movies, magazines, and the Internet) as important factors in the initiation of sexual intercourse," the American Academy of Pediatrics reported on Monday.

"There is a major disconnect between what mainstream media portray — casual sex and sexuality with no consequences — and what children and teenagers need — straightforward information about human sexuality and the need for contraception when having sex. Television, film, music, and the Internet are all becoming increasingly sexually explicit, yet information on abstinence, sexual responsibility, and birth control remains rare. It is unwise to promote 'abstinence-only' sex education when it has been shown to be ineffective and when the media have become such an important source of information about 'nonabstinence.' "

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported in January that black and Hispanic youth consume nearly 4¬? hours more media daily than white youths (13 hours of total media exposure for Hispanics, 12:59 hours for blacks and 8:36 for whites). "The difference between White and minority youth is largest for TV: Black youth spend an average of 2:18 more per day with TV than White youth. The only medium where there are no racial or ethnic differences is print," Kaiser said.

The pediatricians found a media drenched in sexual messages, from teen magazines to the advertising industry.

"Teen magazines are popular with preadolescent and adolescent girls and devote an average of 2.5 pages per issue to sexual topics. Coverage of sex as a health issue in magazines is more common than on TV, but the overarching focus seems to be on deciding when to lose one’s virginity," it said.

"Advertisements for erectile dysfunction drugs are ubiquitous. In the first 10 months of 2004, the makers of these drugs spent nearly $350 million on advertising. At the same time, advertisements for birth control products are rare."

Its recommendations for pediatricians:

  • "Pediatricians can help parents and teenagers to recognize the importance of the media by asking at least 2 media-related questions at each well visit: (1) How much time do you spend daily with entertainment media? and (2) Is there a TV set or Internet access in your bedroom? Research has shown that bedroom TVs are associated with greater substance use and sexual activity by teenagers. A recent study revealed that office-based counseling is effective and could result in nearly 1 million more children and adolescents adhering to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to limit media time to less than 2 hours/day.

  • "Counsel parents to recognize the importance of the media, exert control over their children‚Äôs media choices, keep their children‚Äôs bedrooms free of TVs and Internet connections, and avoid letting their children see PG- 13‚Äì and R-rated movies that are inappropriate for them. Pediatricians and parents also need to be aware of the importance of social networking sites and how they work so that they can effectively counsel children and adolescents about them.

  • "Encourage the entertainment industry to produce more programming that contains responsible sexual content and that focuses on the interpersonal relationship in which sexual activity takes place. . . .

  • "Pediatricians should urge schools to insist on comprehensive sex education programs (to counter the influence of sexually suggestive and explicit media) that incorporate basic principles of media literacy into their sex education programs. . . .

  • "Urge the broadcast industry to air advertisements for birth control products. . .

  • "Urge the broadcast industry to limit advertisements for erectile dysfunction drugs until after 10 PM. . .

  • "Urge the broadcast media to include healthy messages about sex and sexuality in their programming, especially in media that children and early teenagers use most frequently. . .

  • "Pediatricians, the broadcast industry, the federal government, and private foundations should support further research into the impact of sexual content in the media on children‚Äôs and adolescents‚Äô knowledge and behavior. A national task force on children, adolescents, and the media should be convened by child advocacy groups in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and/or the National Institutes of Health to study the issue of children, adolescents, and media, devise new research, locate funding sources, and make recommendations to Congress, the broadcast industry, and the American people."

Short Takes

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter

Facebook users: Sign up for the "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" fan page.

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.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact and tell us who you are.

About Richard Prince

View previous columns.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.