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"What Are You Doing? Are You Out of Your Damned Mind?"

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Peanuts Hit Black Photographer at GOP Convention

Yahoo's D.C. Bureau Chief Fired After Romney Remark

Hurricane Isaac Destroys Melissa Harris-Perry Home

Disconnect Between GOP and Latino Journalists

"We Built It" Speaker Received $2 Million in SBA Loans

Syracuse, Harrisburg Papers to Cut Back Print Editions

Journalists Shift in the Way They Cover Colombia

Ethiopia Frees Editor Arrested After Premier's Death

"Gentleman's Agreement" Ends, NAHJ Enters L.A.

Short Takes

The Republican National Convention released a statement saying, 'Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated.'  (Credit: National Museum of American History)

Peanuts Hit Black Photographer at GOP Convention

An African American camerawoman for CNN who suddenly found herself assailed by peanuts at the Republican National Convention Tuesday reacted as many would. "What are you doing? Are you out of your damned mind?" she said, according to a friend.

"Here's some more peanuts," responded one of two "older-than-middle-aged white men," the friend, Jamila Bey, told Journal-isms by telephone on Wednesday. "This is what we feed animals," they said.

The camerawoman, whom Bey believes to be the only camera operator of her race and gender working at the Tampa convention, was flanked by ABC and Fox News crews as they worked from their depressed area on the convention floor. "She realized she had to be kind of cool about it," said Bey, host of the Washington-based "Sex Politics And Religion Hour: SPAR with Jamila" on the Voice of Russia radio network.

The camera operator then told two African American cameramen from ABC and a white producer from another network what had happened. Two RNC officials came over to apologize. "These must have been alternates. Our delegates would never do anything like that," one of the officials was reported to have said.

Bey said she told her friend that she would not disclose her name, but she described the camerawoman as a "sweet, unimposing looking person . . . a cute, brown thing. She's clearly not there in any other capacity." The friend, clearly shaken, spoke briefly with Journal-isms but said she had to continue the conversation later because she was on the other line with her mother. She apparently decided not to follow through.

CNN issued a brief report online Wednesday but was criticized for not saying more. Television reports on CNN's main channel were preoccupied with hurricane coverage, but on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Huffington Post, the network finally addressed the incident on-air. Anchor Wolf Blitzer said the incident was "truly shocking" and "hit home" for people at the network.

The CNN online report said:

". . . Multiple witnesses observed the exchange and RNC security and police immediately removed the two people from the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"The convention released a statement saying, 'Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated.'

"CNN also acknowledged the incident, saying, 'CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon. CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.' "

The story was the talk of social media on Wednesday morning.

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of TPM Media LLC, wrote Wednesday of CNN's dilemma.

". . . you may have noticed that one of the biggest news organizations in the world — CNN — has been remarkably tight-lipped about this," Marshall wrote.

"So it's worth noting why that probably is. There's a normal and correct tendency for a news outfit not to want to make itself into the story. But this goes way beyond that and puts CNN in an exquisitely awkward position. CNN has been bending over backwards of late trying to position itself as the last holy beacon of objectivity and fairness in cable news, as Fox and MSNBC play to more clearly partisan audiences. Yet they're under almost constant assault from conservatives for alleged (and basically mythical) liberal bias.

"Meanwhile, the Republican National Convention is the GOP's quadrennial 'we love us a lotta non-white people' fest. And given what I said above the last possible thing CNN wants is to rain on that parade or become the focus of a huge messaging nightmare if attendees were harassing an African-American member of their team. Certainly, the Convention organizers want to avoid discussion as much as possible too.

"As a side note, one can only imagine how Fox News would be going to town over this had something somehow analogous happened to one of their staffers at a Democratic convention. . . ."

At the Washington Post, two bloggers called for transparency from CNN.

Erik Wemple wrote Tuesday night, CNN "knows all the details of this event. How will the network balance a workplace issue — someone on the job enduring an insulting outburst — with a matter of public interest? Resolving that conflict must start with the preferences of the crew person. But the presumption should fall in favor of doing the story in all of its detail, regardless of whether the details are more or less damaging than what’s been reported." Wemple also said it was safe to rule out criminal charges, based on conversations with authorities.

Greg Sargent added on Wednesday, "CNN has since posted a brief item on the incident, but here's what it does not tell you:  The identity of the target of the nut attack or of the alleged nut hurlers. Whoever wrote the CNN item did not say whether it made any attempt to interview the target — or to identify the nut throwers."

While this incident involved only two people, Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News reminded readers in May that the actions of just two members of the New Black Panther Party in 2008, when one of them stood outside a polling place brandishing a nightstick, became a national cause celebre among conservatives.

The New Black Panther Party now "serves as a 50,000-watt boogeyman for conservative talk radio in America. . .," Bunch wrote. Republican members of Congress accused Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who is African American, of being a New Black Panther Party sympathizer, claiming that the Justice Department went easy on them in what became a voting rights case.

Those who wonder whether the peanuts incident will receive its fair share of scrutiny have a point.

"Can you imagine what would happen if someone shouted 'white devil' at a Muslim event, or threw a bagel at a Jewish event?" Bey asked. On Wednesday night, she wrote an essay on the incident for the Washington Post's "She the People" Web section.

Meanwhile, as a Puerto Rican functionary began speaking in her accented English, some in the crowd started shouting "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!," AlterNet reported. It could not be determined whether the chanting was actually the result of a feud over delegates with Ron Paul supporters.

Yahoo's D.C. Bureau Chief Fired After Romney Remark

"David Chalian, the Yahoo News Washington Bureau chief, has been fired after getting caught on a hot mike telling a fellow host on an live ABC News web show to 'feel free to say' that 'they' — Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans — 'are happy to have a party with black people drowning,' Rachel Weiner reported Wednesday for the Washington Post.

"The implication: that Republicans' decision to continue with their convention despite the hurricane hitting New Orleans means they don’t care about black people."

Chalian's firing came during an online broadcast from the GOP convention in Tampa, Rebecca Shapiro reported for the Huffington Post. The conservative media watchdog NewsBusters was first to post audio of the incident. Politico broke the news of his firing, Shapiro wrote.

"During the broadcast, Chalian can be heard saying that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann were 'not concerned at all' and 'happy to have a party with black people drowning.' Chalian seemed to be referring to the simultaneous occurrence of the GOP convention convening in Tampa and Hurricane Isaac hammering its way across the gulf coast and through New Orleans.

"A Yahoo spokesperson released a statement regarding the company's decision to fire Chalian 'effective immediately:'

" 'David Chalian's statement was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!. He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended.' "

Chalian apologized on his Facebook page on Wednesday evening, Peter Ogburn reported for FishbowlDC. He said, "I am profoundly sorry for making an inappropriate and thoughtless joke. I was commenting on the challenge of staging a convention during a hurricane and about campaign optics. I have apologized to the Romney campaign, and I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Gov. and Mrs. Romney. I also regret causing any distraction from the exceptional coverage of the Republican convention by Yahoo News and ABC News."

Chalian served as political director at ABC News between 2007 and 2010, winning an Emmy for his role in producing ABC's coverage of President Obama's inauguration, Dylan Stableford reported for Yahoo News last year when Chalian was named to the Yahoo job. He was then the political editor at "PBS NewsHour."

Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent of the NewsHour, tweeted Wednesday, "One mistake does not change this. @DavidChalian is God's gift to political journalism. #IStandwithDavid"

Hurricane Isaac Destroys Melissa Harris-Perry Home

"Hours after Hurricane Isaac hammered its way through New Orleans on the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Melissa Harris-Perry tweeted that her new home had been destroyed by the storm," Rebecca Shapiro reported for the Huffington Post.

"Harris-Perry and her husband closed on the purchase of what one could fondly describe as a 'fixer-upper' (the house lacked all four walls) just last month. She excitedly announced that she and her family planned to restore the New Orleans property that was destroyed and abandoned during Katrina.

"On her Sunday MSNBC show, Harris-Perry acknowledged the anniversary of Katrina by giving viewers a tour of what she called her 'extreme home makeover.' Harris-Perry described the ripped-apart home as a safety concern and the 'site of crime' in the neighborhood. . . ."

The Times-Picayune reported Wednesday night, "Though downgraded from a hurricane status this afternoon, Isaac continues to drop heavy rains between 7 and 14 inches along its path — with isolated accumulations of up to 20 inches — and has sustained wins of 60 mph . . . "

Disconnect Between GOP and Latino Journalists

"The Republicans wanted to talk about the economy. The press wanted to talk about immigration," Bryan Llenas wrote from Tampa Tuesday for Fox News Latino.

"In the first Republican National Convention daily briefing for Latino press, the RNC and campaign of presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney stressed the need to revitalize the economy.

"But members of the Spanish-language media pressed the issue of immigration, and tried to challenge Texas Rep. Francisco 'Quico' Canseco and [former] New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu — the two surrogates who appeared on behalf of the RNC — on the GOP's push for strict enforcement.

"Canseco and Sununu spoke of the 'American Dream,' a 'bankrupt economy,' and the confidence that Romney can offer 'laws,' enduring solutions to the immigration system that would improve programs involving guest workers and visas.

"Their focus, to be sure, was unmistakably the economy.

"But members of the press wanted to focus on undocumented youth, what they characterized as the harsh immigration rhetoric by GOP candidates, and a Republican party platform that recently incorporated calls for tough enforcement of immigration laws.

"For critics, the bilingual press conference on a rainy Monday epitomized the 'disconnect' and divide between Romney and Latinos."

"We Built It" Speaker Received $2 Million in SBA Loans

"The Republican National Convention opened by smacking President Obama with the theme 'We Built it,' " columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote Tuesday for the New York Times.

"To pound that message, Republicans turned to a Delaware businesswoman, Sher Valenzuela, who is also a candidate for lieutenant governor. Valenzuela and her husband built an upholstery business that now employs dozens of workers.

"Valenzuela presumably was picked to speak so that she could thunder at Obama for disdaining capitalism.

"Oops. It turns out that Valenzuela relied not only on her entrepreneurial skills but also on — yes, government help. Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group, documented $2 million in loans from the Small Business Administration for Valenzuela's company, plus $15 million in government contracts (mostly noncompetitive ones). . . "

Syracuse, Harrisburg Papers to Cut Back Print Editions

"Newhouse Newspapers, which earlier this spring announced that it would stop printing a daily paper at The New Orleans Times-Picayune and its Alabama newspapers, said it would end the daily distribution of two more of its newspapers, The Post-Standard in Syracuse, and The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa.," Christine Haughney reported Tuesday for the New York Times.

"The papers will merge their content with local news Web sites and deliver the printed newspaper only three days a week.

"Starting in January, The Post-Standard will publish on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The Syracuse Media Group, the company formed to oversee The Post-Standard, is still considering whether to publish a newspaper that it would not deliver to homes and businesses on the other four days."

"The news prompted more than 100 comments by readers on the Web site Syracuse.com who expressed their concerns about life without a daily newspaper."

Journalists Shift in the Way They Cover Colombia

"Here are two headlines from two decades apart: A headline 20 years ago in the Milwaukee Journal — Who's in charge: Colombia or Escobar? A July 2012 headline in USA Today — Colombia gets its first W hotel," Justin D. Martin reported Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review.

"For many years Colombia was a byword for drugs and dysfunction. Today it signifies a country that has fought through terrorism and years of warfare, a country once known for merciless militias that is, while not [guerrilla]-free, a frequent topic of brighter discussions.

" 'Global media have shifted significantly in the way they cover Colombia,' Michael LaRosa and German Mejia wrote in a 2012 history of the country. 'Stories focusing on tourism, restaurants, Colombian tennis stars, and positive reviews of literary works…suggest the US media's perception of the Andean nation is evolving away from the myopic, one-dimensional view that marked earlier portrayals of the country.'

"And as for domestic journalists and their perceptions: It's easier for reporters to focus on a country's positives when they aren't being murdered. For years, Colombia was a country in which a journalist would get dead every couple of months. Cesar Gaviria, the country's president from 1990-1994, has seen acquaintances, as well as his sister, killed for political reasons. Before he won the Colombian presidency in 1990, three other candidates were murdered, one of which was his colleague. Yet he gives much credit to his nation's journalists for reporting through the risks. In Colombia, Gaviria told me in his Bogotá office in August, 'Journalists take all the risks. Many have been killed, but this country has not been intimidated. . . .' "

Ethiopia Frees Editor Arrested After Premier's Death

"The International Press Institute (IPI) on Tuesday welcomed the news that charges against Ethiopian editor Temesgen Desalegn have been withdrawn, and called for Ethiopia to reform its stance toward the media and free all journalists who are currently in jail for their criticism of official policies, and cease its harassment of Feteh newspaper," Naomi Hunt reported for the Vienna-based press freedom organization on Tuesday.

"Prosecutors sent a letter to the 16th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court saying that charges against Desalegn had been dropped to allow time to further investigate, the Ethiopian Reporter said. IPI was told that the journalist had been released from Kality Prison.

"Temesgen Desalegn, editor of the critical weekly newspaper Feteh, was arrested last week just after the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was officially announced, according to reports. He was charged with inciting the public to overthrow the constitutional order, defaming the state, and spreading false rumours to incite the public against the government, a legal expert in Ethiopia told IPI.

". . . With the passing of strong-arm leader Meles Zenawi, who ruled Ethiopia for over twenty years, Ethiopia has an opportunity to review policies that crushed human rights and democratic principles as much as they promoted economic development."

"Gentleman's Agreement" Ends, NAHJ Enters L.A.

Pilar Marrero of La Opinion, Art Marroquin of the Daily Breeze, sports broadcaster and new KPCC host A Martinez, Edwin Tamara of Associated Press, Victoria Infante of Huffington Post, Agustin Duran of latinocalifornia.com and Kris Fortin of eastsidestreetsblog.org were among those who met last Thursday to form the first Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reported Tuesday for Los Angeles public television station KCET.

Ruben Vives, whose stories helped the Los Angeles Times win this year's Pulitzer Prize for public service, was the featured guest.

". . . The SAG-AFTRA union co-sponsored the mixer. Union representative Ray Bradford said . . . there was a gentleman's agreement between the NAHJ and the older, California-based Latino journalist group," the California Chicano News Media Association, which preceded the formation of NAHJ. "And so while NAHJ prospered around the country building chapters across the country we as NAHJ needed to support CCNMA's continued growth in Southern California,' he said.

"During the 2000s CCNMA's activity in L.A. tapered off.

" 'I think it would be wrong for us to depend on one organization, bring on two, bring on three, as long as we all have a unified mission of equality and respect, and quality journalism bring it on," Bradford said.' "

In reporting on the development, Kevin Roderick of LAObserved included this curious paragraph:

"Now the two groups can contend to see which survives, if either. Or is the idea of ethnicity-based professional organizations fading, especially among younger and more digitally oriented journalists?"

Short Takes

  • Cynthia Gordy, a 2010 NAACP "40 Under 40" honoree who was named "Emerging Journalist of the Year" in 2009 by the National Association of Black Journalists, has left journalism to become senior communications associate at a "next-generation civil rights organization Cynthia Gordy called Advancement Project, mostly working on multiple issues around voter protection," Gordy told Journal-isms. Gordy joined theRoot.com as Washington reporter in 2011 and had been Washington correspondent for Essence Magazine and Essence.com. Writer and blogger Keli Goff joined the Root as a political correspondent this month.

  • "Allan Villafaña has been hired as morning anchor at WNJU-47, which is bringing back its early morning newscast in November," Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for her Media Moves site. "The Telemundo O&O in New York had pulled the plug on its morning newscast in 2008."

  • A Spanish magazine's cover image of first lady Michelle Obama partially nude and in slave attire comes from a continent where "racism is blunt and unabashed," Helena Andrews wrote Wednesday for theRoot.com. "Since the Hottentot Venuses, African women whose 'exotic' features were displayed like animals in zoos in 19th-century Europe, black women's bodies have been fetishized. . . . the Portrait d'une négresse seemed to reach beyond that narrative, but it lay firmly in the era of battling ideologies over a black woman's naked body, like public turf and not private property."

  • "Her new television network is struggling, but Oprah Winfrey's bank account is doing just fine, according to financial website Forbes.com, which on Monday named the talk show queen as the highest paid celebrity for the fourth straight year," Reuters reported on Monday.

  • "Let's just say Jason Whitlock isn't a member of the Joe Posnanski fan club," Ed Sherman wrote Monday for the Sherman Report. "There have been plenty of harsh reviews about Posnanski's book, Paterno. But few were more vicious than the one written by Whitlock. . . . Yet this review goes deeper than the book. Whitlock and Posnanski were long-time columnists at the same time for the Kansas City Star."

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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 BugMeNot.com 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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Comments

"What Are You Doing?" (Paul Delaney)

i'm with those who feel cnn should have further comment. it's the kind of issue none of us should simply drop. right wingers would not let it drop if it had happened to of their minions at, say, an naacp meeting. witness joe biden or reaction the right to the booing of romney. similarly, we should not simply let it drop. racism is too serious, especially nowadays.

Paul Delaney

Peanuts thrown at newswoman

A black journalist covering one of the national political conventions in the 1950s was used as a human ashtray. One white man after another walked up to him and put out a cigarette on his clothing while he did nothing. I have read about this in more than one place. Maybe even seen a photo. But I cannot recall any of the names. A white correspondent related the incident years later with retroactive shame. Mike Wallace? Halberstam? I believe this took place in 1952 or 1954 in Philadelphia, will work on recalling, researching it.

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