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Wrong Kind of Shout-Out to Obama

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Even Fox News Calls Reporter's Breach Disrespectful

A Year After Disclosure, Vargas Makes Time Cover

NAHJ Hopefuls Pledge to Forgo Personal Attacks

Shallow Coverage of Asian Americans Is "Stunning"

N.Y. Times Videos Bring Diversity to Online Op-Eds

Primer on "Marrying Politics and the Economy"

Marco Rubio Makes Peace With Univision

Media Critic Names 5 TV Dads He Learned From

Short Takes

Neil Munro of the Daily Caller, with red press credential, said of his interruption: "I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks." (Video)

Even Fox News Calls Reporter's Breach Disrespectful

"The interruption stunned White House correspondents and television viewers," Brian Stelter wrote Friday in the New York Times. "And it clearly surprised President Obama, too."

A reporter for the conservative Daily Caller website interrupted Obama's Rose Garden announcement of a change in immigration policy in what some reporters characterized as heckling and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus called further disrespect of the first African American in the White House.

"In a surprising breach of normal etiquette, President Barack Obama's Rose Garden remarks on Friday were interrupted by heckling from reporter Neil Munro of the website Daily Caller, whose editor-in-chief is conservative commentator Tucker Carlson," Byron Tau and Donovan Slack reported for Politico.

"Obama, announcing a change of policy that would allow the children of illegal immigrants to avoid deportation if they meet certain criteria, was interrupted mid-speech by Munro.

" 'Why’d you favor foreigners over Americans?' Munro shouted.

" 'Excuse me, sir, but it's not time for questions,' Obama responded.

" 'Are you going to take questions?' Munro asked.

" 'Not while I’m speaking.' Obama said."

Jeff Poor, reporting for the Daily Caller, wrote, "On Martin Bashir's Friday MSNBC program, Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have received an 'alarming' amount of disrespect, possibly because of their race.

"According to Cummings, the so-called disrespect included an incident involving The Daily Caller's Neil Munro in the White House Rose Garden on Friday and coverage of Holder's handling of the Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal.

" 'What I believe is happening is there has been a disrespect not only for the president, but for the office of the president. And that is very, very alarming. We saw it when Joe Wilson called the president a liar,' said Cummings, referring to the Republican South Carolina congressman.

". . . Host Martin Bashir asked if race was a factor in these instances, and Cummings said he thought it was.

" 'I think that probably has something to do with it,' said Cummings, 'and I think the other thing it has to do with is they purely disagreed with their politics, period.' "

Even Fox News called the interruption disrespectful. "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace said, "I think it's outrageous  . . . The idea that you would interrupt the president in the middle of prepared remarks and shout a question — I don't think the guy should be allowed back in the White House on a press pass and my guess is he won't be," the Huffington Post reported.

Fox's Shepard Smith said, "I'm hoping maybe Tucker didn't see it, didn't know the context, because Tucker knows better. He does. He knows better.

"Carlson told The Huffington Post that he saw nothing wrong with Munro's actions."

According to Politico, Munro said in a statement that he misjudged when Obama was ending his speech.

" 'I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States,' Munro said in a statement posted on the Caller's website. 'I know he rarely takes questions before walking away from the podium. When I asked the question as he finished his speech, he turned his back on the many reporters, and walked away while I and at least one other reporter asked questions,' he said."

The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone reported that Carlson defended Munro in an interview with Calderone shortly after the incident.

" 'This is what reporters are supposed to do,' Carlson said by phone. 'They're supposed to get their questions answered.'

" 'It's hard to know what's wrong with asking the president a question,' he continued."

When told that ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer referred to Munro as a heckler, Carlson said he "doesn't remember anyone saying that about Sam Donaldson," the aggressive former ABC News White House correspondent, if Donaldson interrupted the president, Calderone continued. "Carlson suggested Sawyer would probably describe Donaldson as 'being a tough reporter.' "

But the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty reached Donaldson, who said he did not approve.

I never interrupted any president while he was making a formal presentation of any sort. You don't do that, do you?" said Donaldson, who, Tumulty recalled, titled his 1987 memoir "Hold On, Mr. President!"

"Not that Donaldson ever let them slip away quietly. But he would wait until a president had finished his remarks, he said. And if the chief executive turned away without answering questions, Donaldson would fire away."

Carlson described Munro as an experienced White House reporter in his mid-40s who has worked at the website for two years, according to David Nakamura of the Washington Post. Before that, Munro worked for National Journal. Carlson "said Munro is an immigrant from Ireland who is married to an American and has children."

Munro is not a permanent member of the White House press corps. Mark Knoller of CBS News tweeted during the encounter, "Man with temporary press credential shouts question at Pres Obama about the new policy. Pres tells him not to interrupt."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, responding to questions about the incident, did not address Munro's future status with the press corps. He would say only, "The incident won't diminish the President's commitment to pursuing immigration policies that reflect our values, our laws and our history as a nation of immigrants," Donovan Slack reported for Politico.

A Year After Disclosure, Vargas Makes Time Cover

Time's June 25 issue "In Spring 2010, four undocumented students trekked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington to press passage of the Dream Act, a bill that would offer a path to permanent residency for immigrants who came to the country as minors and achieved certain educational accomplishments," Feifei Sun wrote for the June 25 issue of Time magazine.

"Moved by their courage, Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who was part of the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize winning team for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting, revealed that he, too, was an undocumented immigrant in an essay published by the New York Times Magazine last June.

"A year later, Vargas finds that immigration in America has seen little progress, as he writes in this week's TIME cover story [written before Friday's developments]. On the cover, photographed by Gian Paul Lozza, Vargas stands before 35 other undocumented immigrants living across the country. 'They're living in America — but only in the shadows,' Lozza says. 'They're very much in the dark.'

"It was important for TIME's photo editors to show just how many cultures are represented by America’s undocumented immigrants. 'They come from so many different countries, religions and backgrounds,' Lozza says. 'We wanted to bring that diversity to the light. This is not just a problem for Latinos, as we hear about often, but for every culture from around the world.'

"It was a poignant topic for Swiss-born Lozza. 'For me it was fun to see how motivated the kids were, and how much they wanted to learn,' he says. 'They have dreams of being teachers, doctors, lawyer — it was fascinating that they all want to do something for other people.' "

Hugo Balta, left, and Russell  Contreras

NAHJ Hopefuls Pledge to Forgo Personal Attacks

The two candidates for president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists have agreed that "personal attacks have no place in the campaign nor do anonymously produced and posted videos," NAHJ President Michele Salcedo said in a statement posted Thursday on the association's website.

If implemented, the pledge by Hugo Balta and Russell Contreras and their campaign managers would "reset the tone of the NAHJ's election campaign," in Salcedo's words. Balta, a coordinating producer at ESPN, has raised Contreras' history of insulting those whom he believes disagree with him. Through his  campaign manager, Contreras, an Associated Press reporter who is NAHJ vice president for print and chief financial officer, accused Balta of "seeking the seat for ego" and "promoting anonymous attack videos using images of Russell's family." Balta said he supported the videos but denied any participation in making them.

Salcedo wrote that the agreement came during a conference call Wednesday morning.

The candidates agreed to "be civil, ethical and respectful for each other, all candidates, their supporters, NAHJ members in general, NAHJ staff and the organization itself. Contreras and Balta, and their respective managers, Suzanne Gamboa and Vickie Adame, agree that the campaign should focus on the critical issues that NAHJ faces now and in the coming years as it continues the important task of rebuilding."

Among the other points of agreement:

  • "The campaigns will remove any and all anonymously produced videos currently circulating and any new anonymous videos will be denounced by both sides.

  • "Candidates will encourage their supporters who have questions or criticism about the NAHJ board to address the board directly in a civil, ethical and respectful manner and the board will answer them as promptly as possible in kind.

  • "Candidates or their supporters may question in a civil, ethical and respectful manner their opponent's record in serving NAHJ. Criticism is to be constructive and not personal.

  • ". . . No images of an opponent's family or friends will be used in the production of campaign videos. No images of a candidate from Facebook, LinkedIn or any other source from any medium, including NAHJ Web or social media sites, will be used by anyone other than the candidates themselves. Opponent may use a candidate's image provided for the campaign. Any image that is altered with Photoshop or other software or means must be noted as having been altered.

  • "Candidates acknowledge that they respect each other as professionals and fellow members of NAHJ, and as such will not engage in 'tit-for-tat' exchanges."

Meanwhile, Joanna Hernandez, president of Unity Journalists, posted this message on a Unity Facebook page: "Just a reminder about the policy for posting on the UNITY Convention 2012: Las Vegas Facebook page. As you know, discussions need to be civil and respectful. Personal attacks will not be tolerated. Also, political campaigning of any kind is not permitted, including content that expresses political ambitions and the use of images endorsing candidates."

Hernandez told Journal-isms Friday by email: "We've received inquiries about general guidelines for posting on UNITY's social media pages, and instead of responding individually, posting on the UNITY Facebook page presented an opportunity to share the policy with everyone.

"This was a reminder of issues we have dealt with in the past but also, because it is election season and there are several contested races, this was a good time to make clear that UNITY, the organization, does not participate in association campaign politics."

Shallow Coverage of Asian Americans Is "Stunning"

"From New York Knicks basketball star Jeremy Lin to Priscilla Chan, wife of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the mainstream media usually portray Asian-Americans as wealthy, well-educated and foreign," Joshunda Sanders wrote Thursday for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

"The dominant cultural narrative routinely ignores working and middle class Asian-Americans, people of various nationalities who struggle with the same socioeconomic conditions as do other Americans.

"Despite shortcomings, mainstream media are rarely criticized for the way they depict Asian-Americans, even though the lack of depth in the coverage is stunning. In fact, Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) in Washington, says simplistic media coverage pictures Asian-Americans as either the model minority or the perpetual foreigner.

"Because of this, she says, 'the true needs and complexity of Asian-Americans are totally missed by mainstream reporters. "American Beats Michelle Kwan" or "The Ultimate Assimilation" are mainstream headlines that underscore my point — the media need to do better.' "

In an "op-doc" on the New York Times website, Tyquan Brehon of Brooklyn, N.Y., says he was stopped by police more than 60 times before age 18. (Video)

N.Y. Times Videos Bring Diversity to Online Op-Eds

The New York Times website is featuring "The Scars of Stop-and-Frisk," a short documentary by freelance contributors Julie Dressner and Edwin Martinez, that speaks in a broader way to the exhortation in this space for creative ways to diversify op-ed content.

The documentary focuses on Tyquan Brehon, a young man in Brooklyn who says he was stopped by police more than 60 times before age 18.

"According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the NYPD stopped and frisked people 685,724 times in 2011 alone. Our math tells us that just over 1,800 a day," said this week.

"Eighty-seven percent of those searches involved blacks or Latinos, many of them young men."

The Times calls the pieces "Op-Docs." In another short piece posted May 31, "The filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa presents an Op-Doc on black women's decision to embrace their naturally kinky hair, rather than use chemical straighteners," the Times says.

In a third, posted May 21, "The filmmaker Peter Nicks goes behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients."

Primer on "Marrying Politics and the Economy"

"Reporters and editors who are on the front lines of covering the intersection of business and politics share their insights regarding the upcoming election, the economic stories it will offer up, and what business journalists should be watching for during the next training call from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers," the TalkingBizNews site reported on Friday.

"It's called 'Marrying Politics and the Economy: Business Coverage in an Election Year,' and it will be held 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern time, Monday, June 18.

"Sign up for the call here. On the day of the call, dial 218-339-2626 and, when prompted, enter the access code 4058935 and you'll be put in to the call. Callers may only listen in to the panelists' discussion, but may submit questions to that will be sent to the moderator for possible inclusion in the hour-long discussion."

Among those on the call is Michael A. Fletcher, national economics correspondent at the Washington Post.

Marco Rubio Makes Peace With Univision

"Senator Marco Rubio appears to have made peace with the giant Spanish television network Univision, a year after a bitter feud over coverage of drug charges against Rubio's brother-in-law," BuzzFeed reported on Thursday.

"A Capitol Hill source noticed Rubio walking the Senate halls today with anchor Jorge Ramos for, a source told BuzzFeed, an interview to promote his memoir. The book, American Son, is due out Tuesday in both English and Spanish, part of high-profile media campaign around the book.

"The Ramos interview will add a touch of intrigue to the roll-out: Univision was badly bruised by the coverage of Rubio, which prompted Republican presidential candidates to drop out of a planned Spanish-language debate, and produced an embarrassing Miami Herald report alleging — based in part on claims from Rubio's office — that Univision had offered to soften the piece in exchange for an interview, something Univision denied."

Media Critic Names 5 TV Dads He Learned From

"Almost everything I know about being a father, I learned from television," media critic Eric Deggans wrote Friday for his Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times blog.

Deggans offered up ". . . a short list of the TV dads who have taught me the most as I struggle to raise four children of my own. My kids have certainly turned out much better than I have any right to expect, so maybe [I] learned a little more than I realized."

His list included James Evans Sr. (John Amos) of "Good Times"; Tom Corbett (Bill Bixby), "The Courtship of Eddie's Father"; Ray Barone (Ray Romano), "Everybody Loves Raymond"; Dan Conner (John Goodman), "Roseanne"; and Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby), "The Cosby Show."

Short Takes

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Congratulations and No Respect


First, congrats to you and the Maynard Institute on your 10th anniversary. As a double-Maynard grad (Editing, '84; Management, '91), your columns keep me connected to what's dear. You also hold the media industry accountable for racial diversity in coverage and hiring. 

Your watchdog role leads me to express embarrassment for today's reporting corps, which is increasingly absent of people of color. Yesterday's spectacle of disrespect for the Office of the President of the United States is another shameful example of racist behavior. Hands in pocket, shouting above President Obama, the Daily Caller scribe now can be Googled by simply typing "reporter" and "heckler."

Shame that he could be called a journalist. We've gone a long way -- and likely down the wrong paths -- seeking business models that prevail. Diversity has been lost and the hirings aren't outweighing the firings, especially of African American journalists.

Without "journal-isms," the paths would be even more tilted against what is right for the craft and for our democracy. Thanks, again.

Obama's wimpy defenders

Enough already Obama can handle and did handle the heckler. I engaged often in democratic discourse from the side lines in public and private forums. No pity from this corner for Obama more importantly I reject any attempts to censor free speech even rude and hate speech .

International Criminal Court Now!


When the POTUS is interrupted, because a reporter imagined he was finished, and the reporter's explanation/apology is flippant and glib, it is apparent that racism in America is entrenched and wretched.  We will not go backward and yet we cannot go forward but for racism.  At this juncture, Black Americans must add American crimes against "black" American humanity to this country's dialog -- in this election cycle -- to the International Criminal Court (ICC) schedule -- and use data instead of talk to demonstrate the impact of racism on being black in America.  This is a movement.  This is the next step.


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