Has U.S. Media Coverage Been Overly Politicized?

Miami Herald in Step With Anti-Castro Cubans

Diversity Consultants Foresee More ‘Us Vs. Them’

AP Urges Caution With ‘Alt-Right’ Term

Blow Says ‘Never’ to Accommodating Trump

Pastor Blasts ‘False Religion’ Behind Trump

Bernie Sanders’ Next Target: ‘Corporate Media’

Anchor Improves After Collapse During Newscast

Journal-isms Undertakes ‘Stay Woke’ Fund Drive

Short Takes


ABC News’ Tom Llamas, whose parents fled Cuba, said of Fidel Castro, “He was a tyrant. He was a killer. He was a liar.” (video)

Has U.S. Media Coverage Been Overly Politicized?

We saw the scenes of Cuban exiles in Miami dancing in the streets Saturday at the news that Fidel Castro had died at age 90.

It was not difficult to find the views of people like Tom Llamas, an ABC News reporter whose parents fled the island as political exiles. He was emotional as he told his ABC colleagues that Castro “was a tyrant. He was a killer. He was a liar.”

Perhaps surprisingly, some of Castro’s most ardent defenders were African Americans. “The Fidel Castro that Sam Riddle and many other African-Americans admired was not the brutal revolutionary dictator who plunged Cuba into economic ruin and held the island nation in an iron grip,” Corey Williams reported Monday for the Associated Press.

To them, he was a freedom fighter who cared about improving the lives of all Cubans, regardless of race,” Ronald Howell wrote in the Daily News in New York, “I say the greatest media shortcoming of the past half century was not recognizing that Fidel Castro was the most dedicated and powerful proponent of racial justice the world has ever known.”

Others posted photos of Castro with such figures as Joe Louis and Nelson Mandela and praised his intervention in Southern Africa in the 1970s and 1980s against expansionist plans of apartheid South Africa.

Dig around a little more, however, and a reader might come across an essay by Nigerian writer Oreoluwa Runsewe, headlined, “#FIDELCASTRO: Why Africa’s Love-In With the Revolutionary is Very Naive.”

Going by reactions to his death from Africans and their leaders since yesterday, there seems to be some kind of naivety somewhere in there,” Runsewe wrote for venturesafrica.com. “As much as he helped to free countries from dictatorial regimes, he helped in installing others, because of shared Marxist-Leninist values. . . .”

In the New York Times archives, one might find a 2013 essay by Roberto Zurbano, an Afro-Cuban, who wrote, “Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about. The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn’t exist. . . .”

Julie Schwietert Collazo, who describes herself as “a bilingual (English-Spanish) writer, editor, and translator whose work covers a wide range of topics and interests, from art to science and from food to Pope Francis,” wrote Saturday for alldigitocracy.org that the American news media were less than helpful in sorting through the contradictions.

“Regardless of one’s politics or, if Cuban, one’s own opinions forged through the lens of family and first-hand experiences of Castro’s revolution and all it meant, it’s hard to argue that Castro was anything other than one of the most polarizing figures of our time,” she wrote.

“But even in death, the man and his legacy are proving difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. to report on in any measured way. Whether you’re looking at the so-called ‘liberal’ media or more conservative outlets, the reporting of Castro’s death is — not surprisingly — being done in exactly the same way his rule and revolution were for nearly six decades, which is to say: entirely decontextualized, partial, and overly-politicized. . . .

“In the 10-plus years I’ve been covering Cuba (and covering coverage of Cuba), a persistent frustration has been the seeming inability of U.S. media to report on Castro, specifically, and Cuba, generally, without resorting to tired terms and tropes that obscure the complexity and nuances of this most compelling — and, yes, contentious — leader, as well as the revolutionary movement he headed for more than 50 years.

“To say there are one or two generations of Cubans whose members have grown up knowing nothing other than Castro is true, just as it is also true to say that, in the United States, there are one or two generations of Americans who have grown up knowing nothing other than shoddy reporting about Castro and ‘Castro’s Cuba.’

“In addition to developing ideas about Castro and the Revolution that are based entirely on biased language, words used so many times that they’ve practically lost meaning, Americans have learned little, if anything, about what Cuba was like before Castro’s ‘triumph of the Revolution’ (and thus, what precipitated it), and know nothing about some of the Revolution’s most significant achievements and global contributions, such as its role in African liberation movements in the 1970s. . . .”

Citizens of Miami-Dade poured into the streets on Saturday after the announcement of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s death. (Credit: David Santiago and German Guerra/Miami Herald)

Miami Herald in Step With Anti-Castro Cubans

Editorially, the Miami Herald and its columnists were no fans of Fidel Castro, a stance entirely in line with that of the anti-Castro Cubans who settled in its circulation area.

The Herald’s editorial on Saturday said:

” . . . Unceasing defiance of the American Colossus made Castro a hero to millions, including many who did not otherwise share his left-wing politics. He was the most influential figure of the 20th century in Latin America, the lion whose roar gave voice to the resentment and grievances, real and imagined, that accumulated over decades as the United States rose to become the dominant force in the hemisphere. At the height of his power in the 1970s, his admirers in the Third World — disregarding his status as a Soviet pawn — chose him to lead the Non-Aligned Movement.

“But all of his prominence and power came at a terrible cost to the Cuban people, and therein lies his most lasting, tragic and unforgivable legacy.

“The history of Latin America is replete with the names of dictators who ruled by fear and violence, including some of Castro’s contemporaries, from Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay to Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. But Fidel Castro outdid them all because his regime was the most oppressive — and most enduring. Petty tyrants like Peru’s Alberto Fujimori and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez came and went. Castro endured.

“The painful price that his suffocating tyranny exacted on the Cuban people is impossible to measure, but safe to say that there is hardly a single freedom recognized by civilized countries around the world that Fidel Castro did not violate.

“In one of the great paradoxes of the era, Castro successfully posed as a champion of the downtrodden around the world, even as he trampled on the rights of downtrodden Cubans. His many admirers abroad chose to ignore, and illogically justify, his denial of freedom to the people of Cuba even as they fought for the right to enjoy civil liberties and freedoms at home. . . .”

The U.S. Justice Department’s Community Relations Service uses a diversity consultant’s video on Arab and Muslim cultural awareness for law enforcement roll call training.

Diversity Consultants Foresee More ‘Us Vs. Them’

On election night, as it became clear that Donald Trump would be the country’s next president, Dorcas Lind was feeling unsettled,” Kat Chow reported Monday for NPR’s Code Switch. “With her children tucked in bed, Lind watched as the results trickled in and battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina turned red on the TV map. She thought about work.

“Maybe, she thought, this would be good for business. Or, maybe, it was time for a career change.

“Lind is a diversity consultant in the health care industry. It’s her job to go into companies and help them create inclusive environments for their employees.

“For consultants like Lind, the election’s polarizing nature, which especially divided the nation on issues of race, is two-fold. While it means some of their business will almost certainly boom, a new set of challenges emerges for the professional peacemakers. Now, they say, they have to work harder to tamp down heightened feelings of us versus them; they have to hear the concerns of people usually thought of as privileged; and they have to navigate a language minefield where the wrong word can ignite conflict. . . .”

AP Urges Caution With ‘Alt-Right’ Term

John Daniszewski, vice president for standards of the Associated Press, urged caution Monday in use of the term “alt-right.”

The ‘alt-right’ or ‘alternative right’ is a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States in addition to, or over, other traditional conservative positions such as limited government, low taxes and strict law-and-order,” Daniszewski wrote.

He also wrote, ” ‘Alt-right’ (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be used in quotes or modified as in the ‘self-described’ or ‘so-called alt-right’ in stories discussing what the movement says about itself.

“Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist. . . .”

Blow Says ‘Never’ to Accommodating Trump

Charles M. Blow

Charles M. Blow

Donald Trump schlepped across town on Tuesday to meet with the publisher of The New York Times and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper,” Charles M. Blow wrote Wednesday for the Times in one of his most unequivocating columns.

Blow also wrote, “I will say proudly and happily that I was not present at this meeting. The very idea of sitting across the table from a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities and treating him with decorum and social grace fills me with disgust, to the point of overflowing. Let me tell you here where I stand on your ‘I hope we can all get along’ plea: Never.

“You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.

“I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity. . . .

“You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver. . . .”

Pastor Blasts ‘False Religion’ Behind Trump

William Barber II

Rev. Dr. William Barber II

Two weeks after electing Donald Trump to the highest office in the land, America pauses this week for a day of Thanksgiving,” the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post.

“No doubt, many dinner tables will be as divided as the election results — as contentious as our anxious streets. But if we listen closely to the prayers of those who are jubilant in this season, we may discern the false religion that blessed Trump’s reactionary campaign.

“Such discernment is necessary, as we have learned through our cross-racial Moral Mondays movement, before we can experience the moral revival that offers the only way forward together for American democracy.

Franklin Graham, the son of our home state’s most famous preacher, Billy Graham, celebrated Trump’s election with this prayer of thanksgiving: ‘Political pundits are stunned. Many thought the Trump-Pence ticket didn’t have a chance. None of them understand the God factor. . . . While the media scratches their heads and tries to understand how this happened, I believe that God’s hand intervened.”

“While many progressives scoff at neo-Nazi and Klan celebrations of Trump’s victory, they often fail to comprehend the deep wound race has inflicted on white religion in America. . . . ”

Bernie Sanders’ Next Target: ‘Corporate Media’

In his new book, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., “lays out 10 concrete things Americans can do to fight corruption and carry on the message that inspired so many people to join his side during the primaries,” Caitlin Abber reported Nov. 22 for PRI’s “The Tavis Smiley Show.” On his list is fighting corporate media and recognizing the power advertisers wield over journalists. That can impact not only the information the public receives, but also the outcomes of elections.

“Sanders points out that President-elect Donald Trump sees this media coverage as something he can manipulate and bend to his interests, as evidenced by his recent tweet storm about ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Saturday Night Live,’ as well as his treatment of journalists who refuse to meet with him off the record.

“ ‘Trump, who is nobody’s fool, understands that if you say outrageous things, you’ll get the media all over the place,’ Sanders explains.

“The lack of coverage surrounding climate change also greatly concerns Sanders, who points to a clear path as to why the media avoids such a crucial topic.

“ ‘Climate change, according to the scientific community, is the great global crisis that we face,’ says Sanders. ‘Yet there is unbelievably little coverage of climate change, and I believe that has a lot to do with the fossil fuel advertising and the special interests that dominate television.’

“To fight this type of bias, Sanders recommends holding journalists accountable, and that citizens share information directly — via the internet or interpersonal discussions — to avoid being beholden to whatever CNN or CBS might be saying. . . .”

Anchor Improves After Collapse During Newscast

Dawne Gee

Dawne Gee

A Louisville news anchor collapsed while broadcasting on live television Friday,” Jere Downs reported Monday for the Courier-Journal and WTSP-TV, both in Louisville, Ky.

“In a clip during the 7:30 p.m. broadcast, WAVE’s Dawne Gee was talking about holiday shopping when she began to slur her words and slumped forward onto the news desk.

“Gee was rushed by ambulance to Norton Hospital, with meteorologist Kevin Harned at her side.

” ‘She is talking now,” Harned said on the ambulance ride from WAVE 3’s news station. ‘I am with her.’

“Gee is a veteran television personality who spends most weekends as the emcee of community and charity events. The mother of three is a survivor of both kidney and breast cancer, and a vocal advocate for health and nutrition. . . .”


Video accompanying Journal-isms fund drive. (Credit: National Association of Black Journalists)

Journal-isms Undertakes ‘Stay Woke’ Fund Drive

“Stay woke!

“That rallying cry took on added urgency in November, not only with the election of Donald J. Trump, but with the passing of Gwen Ifill, a truth-teller who, like fellow journalist George Curry, left us this year with daunting journalistic shoes to fill.

“Reports tell us that some news organizations are seeing huge spikes in donations and subscriptions as readers look to support newsrooms that hold Trump accountable.

“That’s a good thing. But we also must hold newsrooms accountable, especially on issues of diversity and inclusion. . . .”

So begins the first official fund drive for “Journal-isms,” inaugurated on this gofundme page on Nov. 29, “Giving Tuesday.” Donors will be enrolled as “Journal-isms” charter members and as “Journal-isms” subscribers. The goal is $50,000.

Short Takes

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