Racial Issue Addressed After Years of Reluctance

Critiquing First Lady, O’Reilly Sugarcoats Slavery

Reporter Barred, Patted Down at Pence Event

Business Dispute Could Figure in Journalist’s Killing

Baltimore Sun: Dropping Charges Was Right Move

College-Educated Blacks More Vocal About Racism

Fusion Retooled for Politics, Investigations, Opinion

Short Takes

Racial Issue Addressed After Years of Reluctance

Michael Jordan’s surprise announcement Monday that he would give $2 million to organizations working to improve police-community relations was published first on ESPN’s recently launched site the Undefeated because “he had read some of the articles on The Undefeated and liked what we were doing,” editor-in-chief Kevin Merida said he was told.

Jordan’s declaration has put him someplace he has never been,” columnist Mary Mitchell wrote Monday in the Chicago Sun-Times. ” . . . Maybe because Jordan, who is still much admired by the masses, has been quiet for so long his voice will help us to listen to one another. . . .”

Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest basketball player in NBA history and the lone African-American majority owner of a franchise, has decided to speak out on the country’s growing racial and social unrest,” Mike Wise, Jerry Bembry and Martenzie Johnson wrote Monday for the Undefeated, the ESPN website on the intersection of sports, race and culture that launched May 17.

“ ‘As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers,’ Jordan writes in a one-page letter released exclusively to The Undefeated. ‘I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.’

Kevin Merida

Kevin Merida

“He used the letter to also announce grants of $1 million each to two organizations working to build trust between law enforcement and the communities in which they work: the Institute for Community-Police Relations, which was launched in May by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which was established in 1940 to work through the legal system to push for civil rights. It became a separate organization from the NAACP in 1957.

“ ‘Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference,’ Jordan wrote.

“Both groups were informed of the donations Sunday night. . . .”

The reporters also wrote, “Today’s statement is something of a public milestone for Jordan, who has been criticized over the years for his low profile in political and social advocacy. For instance, [Kareem] Abdul-Jabbar, in a 2015 NPR interview, said, ‘He took commerce over conscious. That’s unfortunate for him, but he’s got to live with it.’

“Jordan has donated to the presidential and senatorial campaigns of Barack Obama, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley’s 2000 presidential campaign and, yes, despite numerous stories to the contrary, Harvey Gantt’s unsuccessful campaign against Sen. Jesse Helms in North Carolina.

“For two decades, Jordan has been saddled with a quote attributed to him by an anonymous friend in former Chicago Tribune NBA writer Sam Smith’s 1995 book, The Second Coming, that he didn’t support Gantt because ‘Republicans buy sneakers, too.’ In a later book, Smith said it was a joke, not a political statement and that he felt badly about the backlash Jordan received. But a spokeswoman for Jordan said he denies ever using those words. And a 1996 Charlotte Observer story lists a $4,000 campaign donation made from Jordan to Gantt for his second Senate race. . . .”

Merida told Journal-isms by email on Tuesday how its widely reported exclusive was obtained.

“I recently met with a Jordan representative and had pitched various ideas for The Undefeated. It turns out, unbeknownst to me at the time, that Michael already had been thinking of making a statement about black men being killed by police and the targeting of police officers. Not only did he want to make a statement, but he was researching where he might put money behind his thoughts to have a tangible impact, I later learned.

“We are certainly glad he released the statement to us. I was told he had read some of the articles on The Undefeated and liked what we were doing.”

Michelle Obama said in her speech Monday, "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women -- playing with their dogs on the White House lawn."

Michelle Obama said in her speech Monday, “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

Critiquing First Lady, O’Reilly Sugarcoats Slavery

On Monday night in a widely praised speech here at the Democratic National Convention, first lady Michelle Obama made a poignant observation about her life and race in America: ‘I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn, ” Erik Wemple wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post.

“Within minutes, PolitiFact confirmed the factual rigor of Obama’s claim. The New York Times also did a write-up: ‘Yes, Slaves Did Help Build the White House.’

“On his Tuesday night program, however, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly felt he still had something to add to the conversation. ‘Slaves did participate in the construction of the White House,’ O’Reilly said, noting that ‘free blacks, whites and immigrants also worked on the massive building.’

“Then: ‘Slaves that worked there were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government,’ the host said. Thanks, O’Reilly, for the context. For even more context, try Jesse J. Holland’s book ‘The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House,’ which notes, ‘With the invention of steam shovels still several years away, these slaves dug for the clay on site with hand shovels, working day and night to get the raw material to the skilled brick makers and at the same time, opening up ground on the site for the space that would become the White House’s foundation and cellar.’

“. . . ‘Digging up clay was unskilled, tedious and backbreaking work,’ writes Holland. As to the ‘decent’ lodging, Holland notes that a ‘barn’ was built for the workers. Is that ‘decent’ lodging? ‘It wouldn’t be a leap to say the living conditions in a barn were much less comfortable than in a house,’ Holland said in an interview with the Erik Wemple Blog. . . .”

Reporter Barred, Patted Down at Pence Event

Donald Trump’s campaign has denied press credentials to a number of disfavored media organizations, including The Washington Post, but on Wednesday, the campaign of his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, went even further,” Paul Farhi reported early Thursday for the Washington Post.

Jose DelReal

Jose A. DelReal

“At Pence’s first public event since he was introduced as the Republican vice-presidential candidate two weeks ago, a Post reporter was barred from entering the venue after security staffers summoned local police to pat him down in a search for his cellphone.

“Pence’s campaign expressed embarrassment and regret about the episode, which an official blamed on overzealous campaign volunteers.

“Post reporter Jose A. DelReal sought to cover Pence’s rally at the Waukesha County Exposition Center outside Milwaukee, but he was turned down for a credential beforehand by volunteers at a press check-in table.

“DelReal then tried to enter via the general-admission line, as Post reporters have done without incident since Trump last month banned the newspaper from his events. He was stopped there by a private security official who told him he couldn’t enter the building with his laptop and cellphone. When DelReal asked whether others attending the rally could enter with their cellphones, he said the unidentified official replied, ‘Not if they work for The Washington Post.’ . . .”

Jay Torres (Credit: Rebecca Aguilar)

Jay Torres (Credit: Rebecca Aguilar)

Business Dispute Could Figure in Journalist’s Killing

A murder warrant has been issued for a 23-year-old Garland man accused in the June killing of an area freelance journalist over issues in his real estate business, police said Tuesday,” Domingo Ramirez Jr. reported Tuesday for the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Police identified the suspect as Anibal Edilfredo Chirino Mejia.

“He is accused of fatally shooting Jay Torres, 57, of Dallas, on June 10. Torres’ body was found the afternoon of June 13 in the back yard of a residence that was being sold.

“In addition to running a real estate business that involved renovating homes, Torres was a longtime freelance reporter and photographer for the Star-Telegram’s bilingual weekly, La Estrella. The news release does not indicate that his journalism work had anything to do with his death, but says that he may have been targeted because of a real estate matter.

“The investigation revealed that several lawsuits had been filed against Torres related to purchasing houses, and detectives discovered that Mejia had intended to file one against him. . . .”

Some journalists, such as those in the Committee to Protect journalists, expressed concern that Torres’ reporting might have prompted his killing.

We urge authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of Jay Torres, including whether his journalistic work was the motive for his death,” Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, said last month.

Baltimore Sun: Dropping Charges Was Right Move

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s decision to pursue charges against the officers involved in Freddie Gray’s arrest was the right one,” the Baltimore Sun editorialized on Wednesday. “His treatment and the circumstances surrounding his fatal injury while in custody raised serious questions about the legal standards to which we hold police, and the evidence warranted the kind of open airing that can only happen in court.

“Her decision today to drop all charges against the three remaining officers was also the right one. Judge Barry Williams’ thorough and dispassionate explanations of his not-guilty judgments in the cases of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., Lt. Brian Rice and Officer Edward Nero made clear that the evidence the state presented was insufficient to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The remaining officers’ cases presented no substantially new circumstances or legal issues. Dropping charges in cases Ms. Mosby could have had no expectation she would win was the responsible, ethical thing to do. . . .”

The editorial added, “Ms. Mosby’s decision has one other important effect. There is now no impediment to the Police Department’s internal review of the [officers’] actions. . . .”

Charles M. Blow, writing Wednesday for the New York Times, took a markedly different tack. “I deserve to be angry. I deserve to survey the system that thrusts so many officers and black and brown people into contact in the first place, and be disgusted. I deserve to examine the biases that are exposed in officer/citizen encounters, and be disgusted. I deserve to take account of an utterly racially biased criminal justice system, and be disgusted. . . .”

College-Educated Blacks More Vocal About Racism

A majority of black Americans say that at some point in their lives they’ve experienced discrimination or were treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity, but blacks who have attended college are more likely than those without any college experience to say so, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey,” Monica Anderson  reported for the center on Wednesday.

“About eight-in-ten blacks with at least some college experience (81%) say they’ve faced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity, compared with 59% of blacks who have never attended college.

“These differences also extend to more specific incidents of racial discrimination. For example, blacks who have attended college are more likely than those who have not to say they have been met with suspicion or that someone has questioned their intelligence.

“Some 55% of blacks with at least some college education say that in the past 12 months someone has acted as if they were suspicious of them because of their race or ethnicity, while a similar share (52%) say people have treated them as if they weren’t smart. Among blacks with a high school diploma or less, those shares are lower, 38% and 37% respectively. . . .”

Fusion graphic 7-25-16

Fusion Retooled for Politics, Investigations, Opinion

When news broke one morning in January that Univision, the largest Spanish-language TV network in the world, had acquired a majority stake in The Onion, many who glanced at the headline assumed it was just another of the popular website’s satirical essays,” Rene Rodriguez reported Sunday for the Miami Herald.

“But anyone who had been paying attention to what Univision Communications Inc. (UCI) had been doing over the past two years knew the news was no joke. Since launching the English-language TV network and website Fusion in 2013 as a joint venture with Disney ABC, Univision has moved beyond its traditional Spanish-speaking core audience, aggressively courting millennials of all cultures and ethnicities.

“In April, Univision bought out Disney’s 50 percent stake in Fusion, taking over distribution and ad sales rights for the network. Univision, which owns 59 television stations, 67 radio stations, 11 cable brands and multiple websites in the U.S., is in the process of preparing an initial public offering.

“After experimenting with sports, talk shows and comedies, Fusion has been retooled to focus primarily on politics, investigative journalism and social commentary — the issues that are of primary importance to its target 18-34 demographic. The company more than doubled its revenues from 2014 to 2015, from $28.1 million to $63.5 million, while steadying its losses, $35 million in 2014 and $37.6 million in 2015.

“Fusion is also now the anchor of the Fusion Media Group, Univision’s ambitious multiplatform endeavor launched in April that includes The Onion, the African-American news site The Root, the pop-culture obsessive The AV Club, the music-oriented The Flama and other popular online destinations. The intent is to supplant Fusion’s current TV offerings with programming produced in conjunction with the portfolio’s other entities — all of which have established a broad reach with Fusion’s target demographic. . . .”

Short Takes

Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” 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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