"Unrelentingly Negative" Coverage for Obama
Sunday, October 16, 2011
President Obama joined first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Sunday at the dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)
Barack Obama is the presidential candidate who has suffered the most unrelentingly negative treatment in the news media, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
"Though covered largely as president rather than a candidate, negative assessments of Obama have outweighed positive by a ratio of almost 4-1," said the study, released Monday. "Those assessments of the president have also been substantially more negative than positive every one of the 23 weeks studied. And in no week during these five months was more than 10% of the coverage about the president positive in tone.
Nine percent of the news coverage about Obama over the last five months "has registered as positive while 34% has been negative and 57% has been neutral or largely straight news accounting of events. In each of the 23 weeks studied, his negative coverage exceeded his positive coverage by more than 20 percentage points. And in none of those weeks did his negative coverage fall below 30%. The tone of Obama’s coverage on blogs, while still overwhelmingly negative, was slightly better — 14% positive and 36% negative."
As for Republicans, Pew said that "In the first months of the race for president, that weeding out period before citizens ever vote or caucus, Texas Governor Rick Perry has received the most coverage and the most positive coverage from the news media of any GOP contender. . . .
"But in what is already a fluid race, Perry lost that mantle to Herman Cain two weeks ago, after the Florida straw poll and a faulty debate performance, according to the study, which combines traditional media research methods with computer algorithms to track the level and tone of coverage of candidates for president. The analysis also shows that Cain’s narrative actually started to become more positive in late August, six weeks before he began to rise in the polls."
Keach Hagey added in Politico on Monday, "The gap between the tone of the president’s coverage and that of his challengers also stood in startling contrast to the media’s sunny assessments of the president’s performance during his first 100 days.
"At the time, Pew found that positive stories about Obama outweighed negative ones two-to-one, with 42 percent of coverage rated as positive and 20 percent as negative — a significantly better media reception than either presidents George W. Bush or Bill Clinton received during their first 100 days. (A second, broader sampling of media tightened the ratio some, but the overall assessment was still highly positive.)
"Researchers chalked up some of the disparity between Obama’s coverage and that of his challengers to the fact that the news media cover the president mostly as a president, not a candidate, and so he is the focus of stories about the faltering economy. Plus, he is a target of not just his GOP challengers, but of congressional Republicans and disaffected portions of the left.
" 'People should be wary of studies that attempt to quantify how positive or negative coverage is, but there is no doubt that being president in such a tough time for the American people is going to come with some tough coverage,' said Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press secretary who is now a senior strategist at Priorities USA.
" 'When you’re governing, you don’t have the context of a campaign where you can at least get covered in the context of an opposing world view. You just have to take all the arrows that are coming at you.' ”
" 'The day after being inaugurated, President Obama sought to pry open a government he viewed as insulated from the people it served," the Federal Times said in an editorial Oct. 8.
"Declaring that 'a democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency,' Obama directed agencies to adopt a presumption of openness in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, and pledged to work toward 'an unprecedented level of openness in government.'
"We aren't there yet.
"Today, less than half of all FOIA requests are approved, not much better than during the last administration, and worse by far than during the Clinton years, when more than 70 percent of requests were approved."
- Braden Goyette, ProPublica: What Is Obama’s Actual Record on Creating Jobs?
- Huffington Post: Ed Henry Clashes With Obama At White House Press Conference (Video)
- Alex Leary and Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald: Many Hispanics on fence about Obama in 2012
- Suzanne Mettler, salon.com: Obama’s forgotten triumphs
- Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Barack Obama's lonely presidency
- Sean Reilly, Federal Times: In Obama's ‘open government,' transparency elusive
- Bob Ray Sanders, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Obama trip to Dallas was about 'giving America a win'
- Brian Stelter, New York Times: Republican Debates Are a Hot Ticket on TV
- Brian Stelter, New York Times: Debates Sway Media Coverage, Study Finds
- Krissah Thompson, Washington Post: Can Obama hold on to African American voters in 2012? [Oct. 18]
- Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times: The allure of an Obama-Hillary ticket
- Gary Younge, the Guardian, London: How Barack Obama went from cool to cold
Diahann Carroll, the singer and actress best known for her television roles in "Julia" in the 1960s and "Dynasty" in the 1980s, was among the luminaries paying tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday at the dedication of the King Memorial in Washington.
She ended with a surprise exhortation about the media:
"I was on a little TV show and I was a star and I was pleased to be there," Carroll, 77, said. Now, "I don't want to be satisfied to be on the television. . . We have to own the damn station!"
“Thank you Diahann!!" David Honig told Journal-isms by email. Honig founded the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, which advocates for and facilitates minority broadcast ownership. "When she starred in 'Julia' there were no minority owned TV stations. The first one, Channel 62 in Detroit, was bought by the Masons in 1973. It is no longer minority owned.
"In the mid-1990s, the number of minority owned full power television stations was about 40. That number has dropped in half due to FCC ownership deregulation and the loss of policies like the tax certificate that enabled minorities to secure access to capital and opportunity. The FCC has before it dozens of long-pending recommendations to address this crisis.
“It’s great to have pioneers who have a long memory and a social conscience.”
Dan Rather, anchor of the "CBS Evening News" for 24 years, now anchor and managing editor of HDNet's “Dan Rather Reports,” also connected Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message with today's media environment. The "corporatization, politicalization and trivialization of the news" is worse today than when King faced it 50 years ago, Rather said.
Here are Rather's prepared remarks for Sunday's dedication:
"Heroes are honored in their time; legends live through the ages. While considering Dr. King's legacy...an obscure poem called 'Lifters and Leaners' comes to mind. Dr. King was a world-class, heavyweight lifter. While thousands leaned on him, I never saw his shoulders give way or his back bend. He was as brave a man as I've ever met.
"The historical weight of this long overdue monument reminds us, WE must be lifters now.
"In the 1960s, as today, divisiveness was based on fear and prejudice and misinformation. Now, with the constant 24-hour news cycle, the power of misinformation has increased. We must remind ourselves that intelligence trumps ignorance every time. And when given a choice and all the facts, people make good decisions. But that leads us to a problem Dr. King faced 50 years ago .. . one that is worse today. That is the corporatization, politicalization and trivialization of the news.
"Dr. King once spoke candidly with me about news coverage of the Civil Rights Movement — nationwide, but especially in cities such as Atlanta and Jackson. The first problem was that there was so little news coverage at all. And he was also concerned that Southern affiliate stations would persuade the networks to tone down coverage that went out to the rest of the country.
"At the time, I didn't feel his concerns were warranted. My bosses in New York were rock-ribbed when it came to reporting the news without fear or favor to anyone, including their own affiliates. And yet, in retrospect, I can't ignore that the CBS affiliate at that time in Atlanta — Dr. King's hometown — refused to carry some CBS News reports about the movement in 1962.
"Today, different owners and many big money special interests are more closely intertwined with, more colluding with big political special interests than ever...for their own — not the people's — purposes.
"In Dr. King's time, his main battle was against racial injustice, a battle far from over. But now, added to that, is the fight against greed and for economic justice. This time, we judge people not on the content of their character, but on the color of their money.
"Once again, we have Americans on the outside looking in. This time many people of ALL races and creeds feel stuck in a rickety, rudderless boat of economic injustice, and are struggling to make their voices heard.
"Many in white America supported desegregation but didn't support the demonstrations and passive resistance that Dr. King had learned from Thoreau and Gandhi. This created a kind of ambivalence on the part of white Americans, and it gave some unscrupulous figures in local, state and federal government the opportunity to try to skew the news — and press coverage — their way. Does this not sound familiar?
"The lifters, such as Dr. King, must have felt the weight of a million injustices. But hewn like this stone likeness, he was strong and able to carry the weight.
"For every Lifter there are a hundred Leaners. But on this day, standing in front of the statue of an American hero, icon and legend, we are reminded: we must all be Lifters now. We cannot wait for others to carry our messages and lift our share of the load.
"Looking back, I can admit something now that I could not admit to myself when Martin Luther King was leading the broad sweeping movement of civil rights. In case you haven't noticed, I'm White, and I am a Southern Male. I suppose deep inside I always felt during those turbulent times that I had a dog in that fight. Instinctively, in my gut, I knew, as all reporters should know, that dehumanizing others is immoral. We were the champions of the little guy. But Dr. King wasn't the little guy. He was the champion of us all.
"Although Dr. King's lasting legacy can never be summed up in a few minutes, let me leave you with this: There is heavy lifting to do again ... and in the spirit of Dr. King's lasting legacy, we need to start now.
"Thank you very much."
- Jared A. Ball, Voxunion.com: The Corporate King Memorial and The Burial of a Movement (Aug. 24)
- Cynthia Gordy, theRoot.com: MLK Memorial Rite Hails Today's Fight
- Lynette Holloway, theRoot.com: King Memorial Dedication: Focus on 'Oughtness of Tomorrow'
- Martin Luther King III, Washington Post: Martin Luther King’s legacy for today
- Rep. John Lewis, BlackAmericaWeb.com: The King Memorial: A Symbol of the Best in America
- Deborah Mathis, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Weren't You Full of Pride Witnessing That Day?
- F. Finley McRae, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Occupy Wall Street Symbolic of King's Resonance
- Robert E. Pierre, Washington Post: Martin Luther King Jr. made our nation uncomfortable
- Kenrya Rankin, theLoop21.com: What Would Dr. King Say About Our Current State?
- Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: King's dream must not end with dedication of a monument
- Sabrina Tavernise and Helene Cooper, New York Times: A Dedication to King, and the Work Yet to Do
- Erica Taylor, "Tom Joyner Morning Show": Little Known Black History Fact: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Name Change
- Jesse Washington, Associated Press: Obama Carves King Legacy New Chapter
- Brett Zongker, HuffPost BlackVoices: MLK Memorial: Thousands Gather In D.C. For Dedication Ceremony
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said people don't want to hear critiques of his weight from some "arrogant guy."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has not taken kindly to a column by the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson suggesting that he lose weight.
In fact, the governor said Monday on Sean Hannity's syndicated radio show that Robinson is an "idiot" who "masquerades as Pulitzer prize winner,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Katz, who covers Christie and maintains a blog about him called "Christie Chronicles."
"These blowhards on the left just drive me crazy," he told Hannity, according to a tweet from Katz.
Christie has decided not to seek the Republican presidential nomination. Before the governor made it definitive, Robinson wrote this on Sept. 26: "Whether or not he lets himself be persuaded to run for president, Chris Christie needs to find some way to lose weight. Like everyone else, elected officials perform best when they are in optimal health. Christie obviously is not.
". . . Politically, I disagree with Christie on almost everything. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to tell him why. Today, I’d just like to offer him a bit of unsolicited, nonpartisan, sincere advice: Eat a salad and take a walk."
Katz tweeted Christie's response: the overweight "don't want to hear 'eat a salad & take a walk' from some arrogant guy."
Robinson's column was just one in a wave of stories about Christie's weight. Burgess Everett wrote Sept. 30 in Politico: "It’s certainly not the first time Christie’s weight has come under scrutiny; after being hospitalized on July 28 for experiencing difficulty breathing, he told CNN’s Piers Morgan that his weight is something he’s 'really struggling' with and that he 'feels a sense of guilt' about it at times."
"Business journalism organizations are hiring despite the gloom in the media . . . , according to a panel of recruiters and editors on Friday," Talking Biz News reported.
" 'We’ve had a good growth story over the last several years,' noted CNNMoney executive editor Chris Peacock, adding that his staff was at 25 seven years ago but now has 70 people. 'We’re looking to expand in the coming year' by about 10 percent.
"There are about 45 open positions at Reuters, said Walden Siew, an editor at the wire service.
" 'We’ve been steadily adding positions,' added Glenn Hall, the editor in chief at TheStreet.com. 'And I expect that to continue for the next several years.'
"The panel was part of the fall Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference held in New York. The panelists also provided tips on finding jobs in business journalism.
" 'You have to report really well. You have to have high standards,' said Beth Hunt, manager of editorial operations at American City Business Journals, which owns 40 weekly business newspapers across the country. 'You have to constantly be expanding your skill set.' "
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Gil Noble's daughter, Lisa, says her dad, recovering from a stroke, cannot speak yet because of an obstruction in his throat but is "definitely on the path up." (Credit: Tim Soter/Wire Image)
New York's WABC-TV aired a tribute Sunday to Gil Noble's long-running public affairs show "Like It Is," but the program, which featured Noble's daughter Lisa and such figures as entertainers Bill Cosby, Lena Horne, Max Roach and Sarah Vaughan, the late Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and the Rev. Al Sharpton, masked some behind-the-scenes maneuvering.
Noble is recovering from a stroke, and WABC General Manager Dave Davis announced last month that a new show would replace "Like It Is," which is ending after 43 years. Noble owns the rights to the show's name and its archives.
Davis met Monday with Charles Barron, a New York city councilman, Betty Dopson of the Committee To Eliminate Media Offensive To African People (CEMOTAP), journalist Herb Boyd and activist entertainer Ralph Carter.
Davis told Journal-isms by email on Monday night:
"We had another good meeting today with Councilman Barron and several members of CEMOTAP. They offered input on several issues, including potential hosts of the new program, and suggested topics of discussion. WABC welcomed the discussion, and will take their points into consideration as we develop the new program. I did not consider either the meeting last week or today to be tense. I thought it was cordial and thoughtful."
"Last Thursday, in the hours before the filming of the so called tribute to Gil Noble, several of the people scheduled to be on the tribute, New York City Councilman Charles Barron, Betty Dopson, Ralph Carter and Herb Boyd met with WABC Station Manager Dave Davis.
"The group had heard that they were being used to validate a new series called 'Here and Now,' that WABC was 'slipping in' under the guise of a tribute to Gil Noble. Barron threatened that the group would all refuse to appear on the show unless Davis agreed that more community input would be involved in developing ABC's new program.
"After a tense stand off Davis agreed to withhold calling this program the continuation of 'Like it is' and agreed to call it simply a 'Tribute to Gil Noble.' He agreed to a subsequent meeting on Monday to discuss what would be necessary to continue the tradition of Gil Noble and maintain the cultural and historical integrity of the series.
"Charles Barron was eloquent and forceful during the Thursday meeting. He was also eloquent and forceful during the subsequent taping. That is why Barron's actual remarks from the taping were completely cut out of the program that was broadcast and a tape from some earlier interview was substituted. At the end of the program Barron was shown in studio saying one sentence or so and an [abrupt] and very amateurish cut was made to some earlier tape featuring Gil Noble saying that time was up.
"After the taping, Barron was contacted and told that some technical difficulties resulted in his remarks being cut out of the show. So much for Davis' promises. Either the new hostess or her bosses at WABC did not want to show Barron praising Noble specifically for giving voice to revolutionaries and warriors such as Assata Shakur, Mumia [Abu- Jamal] and other political prisoners."
Davis has said a video of Sunday's tribute show would remain on the WABC website for a week.
As the tribute pointed out, Noble has met and filmed nearly every prominent African American leader since the early 1960s.
Lisa Noble said her father was concerned that archives of the show get "into schools, into the universities with the right direction and the right people to teach" from them. Noble has long been concerned that citizens of all races were not sufficiently familiar with black history. Boyd said the family's attorney, Joe Fleming, wants to meet with community activists and scholars to discuss projects that can be developed from the collection.
- John Marzulli, Daily News, New York: Son of Ch. 7 news legend Gil Noble is using father's stroke as legal argument
George E. Curry, who edited Emerge, an iconic magazine of the black politics, life and culture of the 1990s, says he will try to bring it back if he can get 100,000 interested readers.
The veteran journalist posted a note on newemergemagazine.com with the headline "Emerge is back …. Almost!"
It reads: "This is a special edition of Emerge magazine. I will revive Emerge on a regular basis if I can get 100,000 interested readers. If I can count on your support, leave your name and e-mail, both of which will be kept confidential. I will keep you posted on future progress. Let me know if you want us to re-Emerge." He told Journal-isms, "I could get solid advertising if I can show that kind of support in advance."
The original Emerge was launched in 1989 by Time Inc. and was later purchased by BET, as theRoot.com recalled this year. "Emerge earned widespread respect for capturing black life and culture. The articles, which spanned the globe and won awards like Amnesty International USA's Media Spotlight Award, never ran away from controversial topics. BET turned over publishing control to Vanguarde Media in 2000, and the following year, the publishing house decided to combine Emerge with a new magazine: Savoy."
Emerge was edited first by the late Wilmer C. Ames Jr., then by Curry.
"I remember very well the first story I ever reported that appeared on 'World News Tonight,' "Ron Claiborne wrote Saturday on the ABC News blog, reflecting on 25 years at the network. "It was early July 1986 and I had been a correspondent for exactly one week. I was assigned a story about drug testing in professional football. I wrote my script and submitted it to The Rim, the show’s executive producer and senior producers who vet the stories the correspondents write.
"To my shock, they kicked it back with changes. So, I re-wrote the story and handed it in again. One of the senior producers read it over as I stood alongside him, and then he proceeded to grill me about various aspects of the story. As I answered, he took out a pen and scribbled more changes on my script. I walked away, revised it again and brought it back again. I had never undergone an editorial process anything remotely like this in my four previous years in local television in New York or five years as a newspaper and wire service reporter. I was both embarrassed and impressed.
"Finally, having run the gauntlet of script approval, I went into the tracking booth — a small chamber about the size of a telephone booth — to read the narration while an editor recorded it. I settled down to start, but there was knock on the door. I opened it. There stood Peter Jennings, apologizing for interrupting me and then asking if he could look at my script. I handed it to him. He read it in a matter of seconds and offered some suggestions that, even in my innocence, I realized immediately were no more suggestions than what was written on the stone tablets Moses received on Mt. Sinai.
"That was my introduction to ABC News. It was daunting, exciting and thrilling. I couldn’t sleep that night I was so energized. The thing that just blew me away was how seriously everyone took the news. It was as if it was a sacred trust that to be revered, burnished, respected. It was the Big Leagues."
"In the late 1960s, Lloyd Garrison, a New York Times correspondent in Nigeria, filed a story about the West African country. A few days later, he was shocked to the core. By the time the article appeared in The New York Times, his editors in New York had taken it upon themselves to insert a whole paragraph about how 'Primitive' Nigerians were," Safari Gaspard wrote this month in the Rwandan newspaper New Times.
"Garrison, believed to have been a descendant of the famous American abolitionist [William Lloyd Garrison], wrote to his editors, expressing shock and disappointment, because, he indicated, he had not encountered any of those’ 'primitives' that his editors were alluding to," wrote Gaspard, who is managing director of the Great Lakes Communications and Media Center and president of the Rwanda Journalists Association.
"It later emerged. that the editors had simply made-up, concocted and manufactured this assertion, to fit into what they wanted.
"It is very ironical, to say the least, that 50 years down the lane, nothing much has changed about how the western media, by and large, sees and views Africa. There are indications that today, more than 60 percent of all news, opinions and analyses in the Western Media towards Africa is outrightly biased."
- Milton Allimadi, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: New York Times archives reveal a history of racist fabrication (2003)
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