Angry Trump Backers Call Leaked Cell Number

AT&T Merger Considerations: Diversity, Big Media

Journalists Charged in Standing Rock Protests

3 Unity Groups to Weigh Concurrent Conventions

More Cuts at Gannett, Wall Street Journal

News Service Denies Possibility of Right-Wing Link

Short Takes

Evan Axelbank of WTVT-TV in Tampa, Fla., tweets Monday about a frightening “exchange” between CNN reporter Jim Acosta and a Donald J. Trump supporter as Trump seeks votes in Florida.

Angry Trump Backers Call Leaked Cell Number

The most recent batch of hacked emails distributed by WikiLeaks included the cell phone number of Fox News commentator Juan Williams, prompting supporters of Donald Trump to call the number at all hours to insult Williams and accuse him of being a Democratic Party stooge, Williams wrote on Monday.

The incident follows criticism of WikiLeaks not only for accepting unauthenticated material that U.S. officials say was hacked by Russian intelligence agencies, but also for distributing it without editing to protect sensitive personal information.

National Security Agency contractor turned whistle-blower Edward Snowden chided WikiLeaks on Thursday for its indiscriminate approach to leaking information, barely a week after the antisecrecy organization published 20,000 emails that were obtained in a hacking from the Democratic National Committee,” Michelle Mark wrote for Business Insider on July 29, after the leak of the latest batch of emails began.

Credit: Fox News Channel

Juan Williams (Credit: Fox News Channel)

“The organization possesses a ‘hostility to even modest curation,’ Snowden wrote on Twitter.

“WikiLeaks has attracted harsh criticism for failing to curate the information it leaks based on what is legitimately in the public’s interest. The organization has also made it a policy not to redact sensitive personal information that may be contained in the documents it exposes. . . .”

The leaks presented a quandary for news media, Jim Rutenberg wrote Sunday for the  New York Times.

The Russians seem to be using the United States’ free press — a great symbol of our democracy — against it while setting up an impossible choice for American newsrooms: Run with the stolen and in many cases unverified correspondence and potentially assist an audacious Russian attempt to disrupt a presidential election, or decline to print it and betray their mission to combat the great political fog machine. . . .”

Williams, writing in the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, told readers:

My cell phone started ringing before dawn in Las Vegas last Wednesday.

“At first, I thought frat boys had found my number and decided to prank me on the morning of the final debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The flood of anonymous calls began politely, checking to see if it was really me. Then they sank into rude and threatening language.

“By 4 a.m., I figured out that a new batch of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, had been released, including a note I wrote to Podesta with my cell number.

“By dawn, I had new appreciation for the phrase ‘your cell phone is blowing up.’ It literally did not stop ringing with phone calls, buzzing with text messages, chiming with new email.

“The barrage of crude suggestions about me — ‘ignorant, alcoholic and token black on Fox that needs to go,’ — was interspersed with cheerleading: ‘Trump Will Win,’ ‘TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP…’ and ‘Juan, you are a piece of … just wait till TRUMP wins by landslide.’

“But there was one serious line of criticism of my journalism in the anonymous text messages. The Trump supporters took my email to Podesta as proof that I am a ‘liberal stooge,’ who is guilty of ‘continued deceit.’

“ ‘Now we know you are as corrupt as all the rest,’ one Trump-backer wrote.

“Another concluded: ‘You are a sell-out, Criminal Clinton-crony.’ A more poetic version read: ‘How’s it feel being in Podesta’s pocket? Dark in there? If journalists have to kiss ass to get in, that’s ridiculous. In three weeks we will see that those polls were cooked.’ . . . ”

Williams explained that he interacts with sources of all political persuasions.

“At that point I was similarly talking with the people running Jeb Bush’s effort on the Republican side and having lunch with Ed Rollins, who later became head of the Great America super-PAC, a pro-Trump group. I was also guilty of sitting down with other Washington journalists to talk with Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. I went to Nevada to attend a Bernie Sanders rally and briefly chat with him. . . .”

He concluded his column with a reference to last week’s presidential candidate face-off.

“At the debate, Clinton said Trump is ‘talking down our democracy.’ She is right,” Williams wrote. “Journalists — including me — now fall into Trump and Putin’s autocratic worldview as pawns of their foes.

“Trump really is ‘talking down’ the idea of a free press and honest journalism. I can tell you from personal experience.”

An AT&T employee recorded this talk by CEO Randall Stephenson on diversity and inclusion. He received a standing ovation. (Credit:

AT&T Merger Considerations: Diversity, Big Media

The proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T might pit advocates of diversity against opponents of big media consolidation.

“ATT is a diverse American company with roots in the community,” Kim Keenan, president and CEO of the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, which advocates for diversity in the telecom industry, told Journal-isms by email Monday. “Expanding that diversity model to the content area is a very good thing.”

However, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists plans to join other groups that have opposed further media consolidation, Brandon Benavides, president of NAHJ, said by email.

“NAHJ is against media consolidation. We believe there should be diversity among media owners. Just as we opposed the COMCAST/NBC merger, we oppose the proposed AT&T and CNN merger.

“At our next board meeting, I’ll motion for a resolution opposing the AT&T and CNN merger,” Benavides said. That meeting takes place Dec. 10 in Las Vegas.

The 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal by Comcast will be foremost in the minds of most who consider the proposed Time Warner-AT&T acquisition.

The pairing brings together AT&T’s millions of wireless and pay-television subscribers with Time Warner’s deep media lineup including networks such as CNN, TNT, the prized HBO channel and Warner Bros. film and TV studio,” Thomas Gryta and Keach Hagey reported Saturday for the Wall Street Journal in breaking the story of the agreement.

“A merger of the companies would be the most ambitious marriage of content and distribution in the media and telecom industries since Comcast Corp.’s purchase of NBCUniversal and would create a behemoth to rival that cable giant. A rigorous regulatory review is expected and the acquisition of Time Warner likely wouldn’t close until late 2017, people close to the process said.

“Regulators have indicated misgivings about the prior Comcast-NBCU deal — in particular, whether obligations placed on Comcast were tough enough and enforceable — so it is unclear if they will be willing to bless another such merger. At the very least, former regulatory officials say there could be significant conditions placed on the combination. . . .”

AT&T Inc.’s Chief Executive Randall Stephenson made news last month when he told employees, “Our communities are being destroyed by racial tension and we are too polite to talk about it” and received a standing ovation, Thomas Gryta reported Sept. 29 for the Wall Street Journal.

“It is a difficult, tough issue. It’s not pleasant to discuss. It takes work, it takes time, it takes emotion,” he said, “but we have to start communicating and if this is a dialogue that is going to begin at AT&T, I felt like it probably ought to start with me.”

About 43 percent of the company’s more than 270,000 U.S. workforce is nonwhite, according to an AT&T report.

Salvador Rodriguez wrote Sept. 30 for, “Stephenson is the epitome of how a CEO of a company trying to become more diverse should act. His direct involvement in helping employees sympathize and understand one another sets a tone that the rest of AT&T’s more than 200,000 employees can follow. . . .”

Matt Wood, policy director of the Free Press advocacy organization, a longtime opponent of media consolidation, said in a statement Saturday:

Any time you hear media executives talking about synergies, throwing around the business-babble that always accompanies these rumors, you know it’s time grab your wallet and hang on tight. Big mergers like this inevitably mean higher prices for real people, to pay down the money borrowed to finance these deals and their golden parachutes.

“The deals are driven by Wall Street’s insatiable desire for short term growth at any cost. And just as AT&T’s recent purchase of DirecTV was quickly followed by price hikes, there’s every reason to expect this potential tie-up would cost internet users and TV viewers dearly too. . . .”

Journalists Charged in Standing Rock Protests

Activists and law enforcement clashed this weekend in North Dakota over construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, leading to dozens of arrests and a temporary road closure as protesters set up camp near the pipeline’s proposed path,” Ralph Ellis and Emanuella Grinberg reported Monday for CNN.

“About 300 protesters trespassed Saturday on private property three miles west of State Highway 1806, along the pipeline right of way, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said. At least 127 were arrested on various charges, including reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, engaging in a riot, assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest. . . .”

Alexa Erickson added Monday for

“ ‘In Standing Rock, the cops are out of control,’ said Cooper Brinson, who is a staff attorney at Civil Liberties Defense Center. He cited accusations of humiliation, beatings by police, and unwarranted strip-searches of arrestees. He reported:

“ ‘The actions of police against the land and water protectors at Standing Rock are depraved, abusive, and disgraceful. They are exceedingly disrespectful and radically humiliating to the people who have occupied this land since time immemorial.’

“Brinson also claimed that police have seized sacred tribal drums and tools that belong to Native American journalists.

“The consistent increase of protestors against DAPL has pressured authorities to seek desperate and unnecessary measures, including the arrest of actor Shailene Woodley, and of Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman.

“The criminal charges initially given to Goodman were dismissed, however, many journalists still face charges for reporting on the DAPL protests, including four members of the Unicorn Riot media group who have been charged with misdemeanor, and three other journalists who are facing felony charges due to reporting on the protests. Emmy-winning documentarian Deia Schlosberg is one of them, and could potentially be sentenced to 45 years behind bars. . . .”

3 Unity Groups to Weigh Concurrent Conventions

Neal Justin, media critic of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and member of the Asian American Journalists Association, on Saturday was elected president of Unity: Journalists for Diversity, the coalition of AAJA, the Native American Journalists Association and National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

Russell Contreras, left, and Neal Justin. (Credit: Unity)

Russell Contreras, left, and Neal Justin. (Credit: Unity)

The Unity board, meeting in Chicago, unanimously selected Justin to succeed Russell Contreras of the Associated Press as it endorsed a proposal that hearkened back to Unity’s early structure.

It “would allow AAJA, NLGJA, and NAJA to hold concurrent conventions in the same city. The plan calls for each alliance partner to hold its own conventions while UNITY organizes plenary events and a UNITY gala,” Unity said in a statement.

Unity began as a convention-only partnership, staging its first joint gathering in Atlanta in 1994. Each of the then-partners — the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, AAJA and NAJA — conducted its own activities while joining with its sister groups for others.

After the pullout of NABJ in 2011 and NAHJ in 2013, Unity reinvented itself as an organization that would no longer hold large conventions but instead program regional “summits” around the country. The Chicago summit, held Friday at Loyola University, attracted 80 participants.

However, according to the Unity statement, the board “unanimously voted to explore holding a joint national media summit in 2018 with its three alliance partners, and will examine inviting other journalism organization to participate.”

“. . . UNITY president Russell Contreras said the joint national media summit in 2018 could be one of the largest and most diverse gatherings of journalists in the country. . . .”

NABJ, the largest journalist of color organization, has already selected Detroit for its 2018 convention, however, NAHJ has not chosen a site. “Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Seattle are among the cities UNITY will explore as a host,” the Unity statement said.

Justin told Journal-isms by email, “This blueprint allows each group to serve its members as each [sees fit], while still finding elements where combining forces makes sense, such as a joint job fair and a shared opening reception.

“This plan reflects a new age, one that we believe will be embraced by all of our members, news outlets and sponsors. It will need approval from each organization’s individual boards.

“Much more to come in the spring.

“In addition, Unity will continue to look at opportunities to lend support and resources [toward] caucuses and workshops throughout the country, particularly in markets that are often overlooked and/or are facing a specific crisis that may be benefit from Unity facilitating a discussion.”

More Cuts at Gannett, Wall Street Journal

Gannett, the largest U.S newspaper company, is cutting another two percent of its workforce,” Ken Doctor reported Monday for Politico. “That cut, which should total about 350 or more positions throughout the company, was made official in an internal memo . . . to Gannett employees by CEO Bob Dickey moments ago.

“On Friday, POLITICO had reported [‘Gannett approaches possible billion dollar deal to buy Tronc – and layoffs, too’] the layoffs and other cost reductions would be announced this week. . . .”

Meanwhile, “The Wall Street Journal is offering all employees in its news division the option to take buyouts, according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC,” Katie Little, Antonio José Vielma and Christine Wang reported Friday for CNBC.

“Reuters first reported the news on Friday.

“The paper, which is owned by News Corp., is “seeking a substantial number of employees” to take the buyouts, according to a memo from Gerard Baker, its editor-in-chief.

” ‘In order to limit the number of involuntary layoffs, we will be offering all news employees around the world — management and non-management — the option to elect to take an enhanced voluntary severance benefit,’ Baker said in the memo. . . .”

News Service Denies Possibility of Right-Wing Link

A right-leaning nonprofit has proposed an 11th-hour effort to place news articles critical of Hillary Clinton and other Democrats in black newspapers in the runup to the November election,” Darren Sands of BuzzFeed News reported Saturday, citing “sources.”

However, Andre M. Johnson, co-founder of the Urban News Service, which produces articles for placement in the black press, emphatically denied as “false and simply not true” any suggestion that the service would be used for such purposes. “We don’t write about politics,” Johnson told Journal-isms by telephone. “We can’t endorse in primaries or get involved in any political activity” or it would risk losing its 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status.

Letter to Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, sent Sunday byRichard Miniter, chief executive officer of the
American Media Institute, is in the Comments section.

Short Takes

Darren Sands

Darren Sands

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