Some Writers Note Dashed Hopes of People of Color

AP Expands Team Covering Race and Ethnicity

Reporter Who Covered Wallace Sees Similarities With Trump

Critics Charge Sanders Getting Short Shrift

Where’s Coverage of Fatal Shooting of 5 Near Pittsburgh?

Academy to Meet With Asian Americans Over Oscar Jokes

Short Takes

Merrick Garland said in the Rose Garden ceremony on Wednesday, "Trust that justice will be done in our courts without prejudice or partisanship is what, in a large part, distinguishes this country from others. People must be confident that a judge's decisions are determined by the law and only the law." (Credit: Valerie Jarrett/Twitter)

Merrick Garland said in the Rose Garden ceremony on Wednesday, “Trust that justice will be done in our courts without prejudice or partisanship is what, in a large part, distinguishes this country from others. People must be confident that a judge’s decisions are determined by the law and only the law.” He is flanked by Vice President Biden and President Obama. (Credit: Valerie Jarrett/Twitter)

Some Writers Note Dashed Hopes of People of Color

President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, announced Wednesday, appears to meet with the overwhelming approval of the nation’s editorial pages, according to an informal survey.

The opinion writers are validating Obama’s statement that the majority of the public is opposed to the declaration by Senate Republicans that they will refuse to consider any nomination until the next president is elected.

Jim Morin/Miami Herald

Jim Morin/Miami Herald

Jim Morin, editorial cartoonist at the Miami Herald, poked fun at the Republicans with a cartoon that showed a man calling out to an elephant, “You flouted the Constitution by refusing to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. Then Hillary won the election and Democrats took back the Senate. . . ..”

The next panel shows the man out of view telling the elephant, “Meet your new Supreme Court Justice!” Portrayed is a toothy Barack Obama in judicial robes.

Despite the favorable reaction to Garland, who is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, some journalists of color noted disappointment that a person of color was not chosen.

April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, “There is a segment of this country, your constituents, who was hopeful from day one that there would be a Supreme Court nominee who could possibly — not necessarily, but possibly fill the shoes of Thurgood Marshall,” the nation’s first African American Supreme Court justice.

“And their hopes have been dashed now. They’re feeling that there’s no more chance. What do you say to some of those people who were hopeful — were in the Rose Garden when the President made the announcement today, and they’re supporting the President but they’re still somewhat hurt by not having that potential?”

Earnest replied, “Well, April, I can tell you that the President considered a diverse array of candidates, and I think that’s what you’d expect considering the diverse array of individuals that the White House consulted in advance of the President making his decision. The President took that advice quite seriously and considered a diverse array of candidates.

“The President ultimately settled on Chief Judge Garland for one reason, and one reason only, and that is simply that he believes that Chief Judge Garland is the best person in America to do that job. And that’s how the President made the decision.

“At the same time, April, I can tell you that the President himself has talked on a number of occasions about how important it is to ensure that the federal bench is as diverse as the rest of the country. And when you take a look at the President’s track record, it’s quite strong. . . . ”

Aaron Morrison of International Business Times wrote that other people of color were similarly disappointed. “For years, members of the black, Latino and Asian communities have seen opportunity in Obama’s presidency to make the nation’s government more representative of a U.S. population that is more than 40 percent nonwhite,” Morrison wrote.

“They had urged the president to make history and choose an African-American female or an Asian-American as the next court justice, while also pledging to put pressure on the Republican senators who’ve vowed to block any nominee put forward until the next president is sworn in. While activists said Wednesday they recognized that Garland may have been the president’s absolute best choice among a handful of vetted candidates, they also expressed some disappointment that racial progress on the nation’s highest court will be deferred. . . .”

In the Daily News in New York, activist Shaun King, now a News columnist, wrote of Garland, “He seems to be a genuinely decent, moderate man with a brilliant legal mind, but he’s a worst-case scenario for those of us who are passionate about criminal justice reform. On this issue, he is a true conservative and runs the risk of actually pushing the court to the right. . . .”

[Benjamin Crump, president of the National Bar Association, told SiriusXM radio host Joe Madison on Thursday, “We would have liked President Obama to nominate an African American, especially an African American woman.” (audio)]

Those views were far from the institutional positions of editorial pages, however.

The Los Angeles Times, for example, wrote, “The stubborn refusal of Senate Republicans to consider any Supreme Court nominee offered by President Obama would be outrageous, regardless of whom the president selected to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. But Obama’s announcement Wednesday that he will nominate Merrick Garland, a moderate federal appeals court judge who has won bipartisan praise during a long and distinguished legal career, puts the Republicans’ irresponsibility and cheap partisanship in even starker relief.

“Garland, 63, is the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on which he served with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who once said that ‘any time Judge Garland disagrees, you know you’re in a difficult area.’

“Incredibly, Obama and Garland had barely finished a Rose Garden news conference before prominent Republicans reiterated that they would refuse to give Garland fair consideration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dusted off the specious argument that because Obama is in his final year as president, his exercise of his appointment power must be held hostage to the results of the November election. ‘Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy,’ McConnell pleaded.

“This is a preposterous argument, and a cynical one to boot. The relevant vote of ‘the people’ in this situation is their decision to support Barack Obama for president in 2008 and again in 2012. Perhaps sensing that his assertion was unconvincing, McConnell also cited a non-existent ‘Biden Rule,’ which supposedly holds that the Senate shouldn’t vote on Supreme Court nominations in a presidential election year. . . .”

Stephen Henderson, a black journalist who is editor of the Detroit Free Press editorial page, wrote, “Obama’s pick for Scalia’s seat is masterful. Merrick Garland is about the least noxious liberal nominee you can imagine, from a conservative perspective. He’s thoughtful, patient, noncombative, and his opinions defy ideological classification. Sometimes, he sees the law through a liberal lens, but more often, he’s extremely resolutely moderate, sometimes even conservative.

“Other judges love Merrick Garland, something I remember from the five terms I spent covering the U.S. Supreme Court, just down the road from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [Circuit], where Garland has sat since the late 1990s. . . .”

The Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times noted that Garland is a native son, with the Tribune displaying an “interactive map” featuring photos from Garland’s yearbook.

Garland, 63, grew up in north suburban Lincolnwood,” the Sun-Times wrote. “That fact jumps out for us. He’s a hometown boy! We admit to a little local pride. In all other ways, Garland fits the mold of superb Supreme Court nominees of the past who have drawn strong bipartisan support. . . .”

AP Expands Team Covering Race and Ethnicity

Sonya Ross (Credit: Associated Press)

Sonya Ross (Credit: Associated Press)

The Associated Press is significantly expanding its coverage of race and ethnicity issues and their impact on the United States,” the news cooperative announced on Tuesday.

“The existing team, under the direction of Race and Ethnicity Editor Sonya Ross, will increase in number with reporters, photographers, videographers and others from across the country dedicated to delving more deeply into the race issues of the day, including a sharp focus on the 2016 campaign and its impact on people of color.

” ‘Events of the past year have underscored just how much this coverage matters. There is an increased industry demand for it, and we intend to meet that demand,’ said Ross.

“The team consists of veteran journalists based in Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., who consistently break news and produce well-received enterprise on trends and issues. . . .”

They are: Jesse Holland and Jeannie Ohm, Washington; Felicia Fonseca, Flagstaff, Ariz.; Russell Contreras, Albuquerque, N.M.; Janie Har, San Francisco; Jeff Karoub, Detroit; Greg Moore, Milwaukee; Jay Reeves, Alabama; Errin Whack, Philadelphia; and Kim Johnson, Dallas.

(Credit: JD Crowe/al.com) http://bit.ly/1ppoaVx

(Credit: JD Crowe/al.com; see <http://bit.ly/1ppoaVx>)

Reporter Who Covered Wallace Sees Similarities With Trump

Although one [is] a New York millionaire and the other a former golden glove boxer from Clio, Alabama, there are similarities in their races for president,” Jim Bennett wrote Wednesday for al.com. Bennett was a reporter for the Birmingham (Ala.) Post-Herald from 1961 to 1971.

“Each appeared on the political scene as unlikely candidates for the leader of the free world, both appealed to voters who felt they were being ignored by an out-of-touch political leadership and each brought cheering crowds to their feet with fiery bombast,” Bennett continued.

Donald Trump and George Wallace turned the political world on its proverbial ear. In doing so, they perplexed the pundits and confounded the media, some of which blamed them for political divisiveness. Populists upset the status quo.

“Gov. Wallace, if you might recall, not only called for [states’] rights, he also declared he was a self-proclaimed champion of the working class against big government; same as Trump. Both were tough on crime and critical of people in Washington ‘who don’t know what they are doing.’

“Wallace said they reminded him of people who ‘can’t park their bicycles straight.’

“Both were capable of packing Madison Square Garden or the Cleveland Convention Center to the consternation of their more liberal opponents. Both have been critical of the U.S. Supreme Court, although not the same decisions.

“As a reporter, I was assigned to cover Wallace in his presidential bids both in 1964 and 1968. In Democratic primaries in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Maryland in 1964, Wallace got a third of the vote running against three surrogates backed by President Johnson. Trump is expected to do well in these three states as well, having already carried 18 states including Alabama and most of the South. . . .”

Critics Charge Sanders Getting Short Shrift

The March 15 primary elections handed five victories to Hillary Clinton, giving the former secretary of State a 1,094-to-774 pledged delegate lead, by the New York Times‘ count, heading into the second half of the primary season,” Adam Johnson wrote Wednesday for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting.

Bernie Sanders, while well behind, is still a viable candidate and is very much staying in the race. One wouldn’t know this, however, from watching last night’s cable news coverage, because the three major 24-hour news networks — CNN, MSNBC and Fox News — cut away from Sanders’ speech. As the Huffington Post reported late Tuesday night:

” ‘Fox News, CNN and MSNBC all declined to carry Sanders’ speech, instead offering punditry about the evening, with the chyrons promising, ‘AWAITING TRUMP’ and ‘STANDING BY FOR TRUMP.’

“Hillary Clinton last week got similarly dissed by the networks in favor of Trump.

“This pecking order follows a similar pattern: The media prioritizes Trump, then Clinton, and, if there’s time left over, Sanders. . . .”

Johnson also made the point in a discussion Monday on the “Room for Debate” page of the New York Times.

Where’s Coverage of Fatal Shooting of 5 Near Pittsburgh?

Why is that when black people are killed, either the story is ignored, or at best, it gets only second or third-tier coverage? David A. Love wrote Monday for theGrio.com.

“The news last week coming out of Wilkinsburg, Pa. (Allegheny County adjacent to Pittsburgh) is heartbreaking and shocking to the conscience. A team of two gunmen gunned down and killed five people, including a pregnant woman, and seriously wounded two others at a backyard cookout.

“The death of the fetus was ruled as a homicide, which raised the death toll to six. One of the victims was shot 50 times, and one of the attackers even used an AK-47 rifle to shoot his victims in the head. By all accounts, this was a military-style operation.

“Drugs were not ruled out as a possible motive. Although we might not know the whole story, this much is certain: The victims were black, no white folks were involved, and apparently this was not the work of ISIS. So, in other words, keep moving, nothing to see here.

“And it is not that the ambush-style mass murder was not covered in the media but rather that it was covered in a manner that is customary when black lives are at stake — or should we say, when black deaths are involved.

“Even in a nation that, far too often, is accustomed to mass shootings, these mass shootings still make front page news. However, no one seems to care about the murder of poor black people, and so the story is buried. . . .”

Academy to Meet With Asian Americans Over Oscar Jokes

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences apologized on Tuesday for the Asian jokes on the Feb. 28 Oscar telecast, after receiving a protest letter signed by 25 AMPAS members, including Ang Lee,” Tim Gray reported for Variety.

Anita Busch added Wednesday for Deadline Hollywood, “The Academy leadership has decided to meet with its 24 members to hear them out and figure out solutions moving forward in regards to the Asian community and sensitivity issues. This comes after AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson issued a pro-forma apology letter yesterday to the group who were upset over Asians being used as the butt of jokes that perpetuated stereotypes to a worldwide audience during the Oscar telecast.

“After more correspondence to the Academy leadership yesterday challenging the organization for failing to address any “concrete” steps to make sure that Asians are treated with respect, the Academy said they would make time to meet. Yesterday, after the letter from the 24 was made public, AMPAS sent out a press release noting that they had made changes to its board to reflect diversity and then issued the apology. . . .”

Krithika Varagur wrote Tuesday for Huffington Post, “Last month’s Oscars was mired in controversy in light of the fact that every actor nominated for an award was white. What’s more, host Chris Rock engaged in a tasteless gag involving three children of Asian descent, whom he described as “accountants” and suggested were involved in child labor. Sacha Baron Cohen, in his ‘Ali G’ alter-ego, also made a crude joke about Asian men.

“In the days immediately following the telecast, Asian-Americans and the news media spoke out strongly against the racist jokes, which seemed to go against the inclusive spirit of the diversity-focused telecast. . . .”

Short Takes

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