With Kelly’s Arrival, NABJ Cites ‘Whitewashing’

‘Do We Need Another White Guy’ on the Court?

Ban Prompts Memories of a Family Escape

. . . CNN Editor Sues Over Immigration Order

. . . BBC Reporter Held at O’Hare Airport

Oprah to Contribute to ’60 Minutes’

Coates to Join Journalism Faculty at NYU

Newsrooms Should Review Depictions of Muslims

Great Job, Frederick Douglass!, Trump Says

Short Takes

Singer Alicia Keys, left, with Tamron Hall on "Today," Sept. 1, 2016. (Credit: Nathan R. Congleton/Today)

Singer Alicia Keys, left, with Tamron Hall on “Today,” Sept. 1, 2016. (Credit: Nathan R. Congleton/”Today”)

With Kelly’s Arrival, NABJ Cites ‘Whitewashing’

Tamron Hall, the first black woman to co-host “Today,” is leaving NBC and MSNBC despite a multimillion offer to stay and a pledge for an expanded role on other shows, official and unofficial sources said Wednesday.

The network sought to replace Hall and co-host Al Roker, also a black journalist, on the “Today” show’s third hour.

NBC planned to make room for former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, although it has not decided whether Kelly or 10 a.m. ET hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb would take over the third “Today” hour at 9 a.m. ET. Hall’s contract expired this month, and she was in negotiations that apparently broke down over the last two days. She was known to be annoyed by the prospect of being displaced at 9 a.m.

The episode had racial overtones. “NBC has been a leader for diversity in broadcasting, but recent reports that Hall and Roker will be replaced by former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly are being seen by industry professionals as whitewashing,” the National Association of Black Journalists said in a statement Wednesday.

NABJ also said, “Kelly has a well-documented history of offensive remarks regarding people of color. On The Kelly File, her Fox News show, the host said then-First Lady Michelle Obama’s commencement address at Tuskegee University pandered to a ‘culture of victimization.’ . . .” The association asked for a meeting with NBC executives.

An NBC statement said, “Tamron is an exceptional journalist, we valued and enjoyed her work at TODAY and MSNBC and hoped that she would decide to stay. We are disappointed that she has chosen to leave, but we wish her all the best.

Megyn Kelly

Megyn Kelly

“Tamron joined MSNBC and NBC in 2007, and became part of the TODAY team in 2014. She has also worked passionately to bring awareness to domestic violence, highlighting the issue on her show ‘Deadline Crime, with Tamron Hall.’

“She earned an Edward R. Murrow Award for a story that aired on NBC News, and an Emmy in 2010 as a member of NBC News’ live inauguration coverage.

“Al Roker will continue to co-host TODAY’s Take at 9am weekdays until a new morning lineup begins in the Fall of 2017.

“Tamron asked that we share the following. ‘The last ten years have been beyond anything I could have imagined, and I’m grateful. I’m also very excited about the next chapter. To all my great colleagues, I will miss you and I will be rooting for you.’ ”

Brian Stelter added for CNN Money, “Some staffers came to Hall and Roker’s defense and questioned the 9 [a.m.] decision. Observers writing for web sites like Jezebel and The Daily Caller drew attention to the racial context of the change — two black hosts being replaced by a white woman who spent a decade at a conservative cable news channel.

” ‘This news is more than disappointing, since the two most prominent black faces on’ the ‘Today’ show ‘are losing out to accommodate a white conservative with a history of questionable rhetoric with regard to race relations in America,’ Paula Rogo wrote for Essence.com.

“Kelly has said she is an independent, not a conservative. She’s not choosing her new time slot, her bosses are, but Hall’s departure shows how TV news moves sometimes cause domino effects. . . .”

Hall has not said whether she had a new job lined up. She and Roker won their time slot for seven consecutive weeks, but NBC executives apparently believed that record was not permanent enough.

Lloyd Grove reported Wednesday for the Daily Beast, “The 46-year-old Hall, whose final appearance was Tuesday on MSNBC, turned down a multimillion-dollar offer to stay, according to a person familiar with the situation, including a significant role on the first two hours of Today, the weekend Nightly News anchor chair, an expanded role on Dateline NBC — essentially Lester Holt’s portfolio before he was named Nightly’s weekday anchor — and the opportunity to continue hosting her MSNBC show. . . .”

Grove also wrote, “The Daily Beast has learned that she aggressively tried but failed to make a deal with ABC News, where a place on Good Morning America, which is neck and neck with Today in the ratingsmight have made sense.

“But there was no room on the couch. . . .”

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch addresses a pale crowd Tuesday as President Trump introduces him. (Credit: Al Jazeera)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch addresses a pale, mostly male crowd Tuesday after President Trump introduced him. (Credit: Al Jazeera)

‘Do We Need Another White Guy’ on the Court?

“Do we need another white guy on the Supreme Court?” That question escaped most commentators who evaluated President Trump’s nomination Tuesday of federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Antonin Scalia.

Joshua Johnson, host of the new “1A,” the NPR show that succeeded “The Diane Rehm Show” last month, asked that question on Wednesday. Johnson, who is African American, also noted the whiteness of the audience present for Trump’s televised prime-time announcement.

Joshua Johnson

Joshua Johnson

Below is how some of the conversation went, with guests Elizabeth B. Wydra, president of the Constitution Accountability Center; Kenneth Josh, author of “The Supreme Court Yearbook”; and Josh Blackman, associate professor at the South Texas College of Law, who are white. The show originates at WAMU-FM in Washington.

Johnson: “Josh Blackman, do we need another white guy on the Supreme Court?”

Blackman: “What a loaded question.”

Johnson: “But it’s an honest one. Is there room for more diversity on the Supreme Court?”

Blackman: “Oh, I think there’s room for geographic diversity as well. Judge Gorsuch is the first person to be nominated who is not from the coasts since John Roberts.”

Johnson: “And he’s a white guy. I mean, there have got to be conservative jurors who are women, who are people of color; they may not lean as far to the right as Judge Gorsuch does . . . but aren’t there anybody we could pick other than another white guy?”

Blackman: “So if you want to go back in history, there were a couple of prominent minority judges that the Bush administration who appointed that did not go well,” naming Miguel Estrada, a Bush administration nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and Janice Rogers Brown, another Bush appointee who was confirmed to the federal appeals court in Washington.

“She was put through hell,” Blackman said. “The pipeline perhaps dried up a bit because Democrats recognized that these might be viable candidates” for higher office. . . .

Johnson: “Well, let me flip it around a little bit to you, Elizabeth, or you, Kenneth. What difference does it make? If the primary responsibility is to have someone who interprets the law as the law is intended, and not to bring their own political litmus tests into it, why does the complexion of the court even matter?

Wydra: “I think, obviously, anyone, no matter what they look like, what nation they’re from, and their ancestry, should be focused on the Constitution and the law. But I think that, as we’ve seen with some of the recent opinions, it does make a difference if you have a broad view of the realities in which law plays out on the ground.

“We’ve seen some very powerful opinions from Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor on the way that policing, and particularly intrusive policing, violent policing, affects communities of color.

“And I think that was very powerful, not just in informing the way that the law and the opinions were written from the Supreme Court, but in the way that people hear the Supreme Court speaking to them. The way that she writes, and I think the affirmative action is another example, is something that people can see themselves in, they can see their experience reflected in, and that’s incredibly important when you have the Supreme Court issuing opinions that govern the most intimate aspects of our lives.

“And I disagree that there aren’t any conservatives out there who are people of color or women on the bench. . . .”

Listen below:

Helene Cooper, left, with her mother and her sister in Monrovia, Liberia, in 1972. (Credit: New York Times)

Helene Cooper, left, with her mother and her sister in Monrovia, Liberia, in 1972. (Credit: New York Times)

Ban Prompts Memories of a Family Escape

When I was 13 years old, my family fled our home for the United States,” Helene Cooper, who covers the Pentagon for the New York Times, wrote Tuesday.

“We were refugees, even though we came here on visitor visas that we simply outstayed. The country of my birth, Liberia, had just seen a military coup, where enlisted soldiers took over the government, disemboweled the president and launched an orgy of retribution against the old guard.

“My father was shot. My cousin was executed on the beach by firing squad. My mom was gang-raped by soldiers in the basement of our house after she volunteered to submit to them on the condition that they leave my sisters and me, ages 8 to 16, alone.

“In the hours after it happened, my sisters and I huddled on the floor in my mom’s bedroom while she sat, silently, on the love seat, like a sentry keeping watch over us. In her lap she held a pistol. Twice that night, the soldiers came back, but each time they left again without entering the house.

“In the ensuing weeks, my mom worked steadily to get us out of Liberia. . . .”

Cooper also wrote, “On Saturday, when I read reports of the refugees and Muslims from seven countries who were being denied entry into the United States, one passage in particular jumped out at me, in our lead story about the executive order: ‘In Istanbul, during a stopover on Saturday, passengers reported that security officers had entered a plane after everyone had boarded and ordered a young Iranian woman and her family to leave the aircraft.’

“That single sentence took me back — to another plane on another tarmac, and another family, more than 37 years ago. To my mom and my sister and myself, as we sat fearfully looking at the door of the plane, praying that no one would come on and take us off. . . .”

. . . CNN Editor Sues Over Immigration Order

Mohammed Tawfeeq

Mohammed Tawfeeq

A CNN editor and producer who was detained Sunday at Atlanta’s airport has filed a federal lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s immigration order,” Ellen Eldridge reported Wednesday for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Mohammed Tawfeeq is an Iraqi national who has been a permanent legal resident of the United States since 2013.

“As an editor, Tawfeeq frequently travels to the Middle East as part of his reporting duties, the lawsuit states.

“Tawfeeq was detained Sunday at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where he was subjected to additional screening that delayed his entry into the United States.

“Defendants used Trump’s recent executive order to unlawfully detain Tawfeeq, who is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., an immigrant from Iraq, an award-winning Middle Eastern journalist and the current manager of CNN’s International Desk, the lawsuit states. . . .”

. . . BBC Reporter Held at O’Hare Airport

Customs and Border Protection officers should respect the rights of journalists to protect confidential information when subjecting international reporters to screening on their arrival to the U.S.,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

Ali Hamedani, a reporter for BBC World Service, told CPJ that border agents detained him at Chicago O’Hare airport for over two hours and questioned him when he arrived in the U.S. on January 29 to interview a Persian singer. The journalist, who said he was traveling on a Media I Visa, told CPJ that agents searched his phone and computer and read his Twitter feed.

“Hamedani told CPJ that when he traveled to the U.S. on the same visa in November he did not have any issues at the border. . . .”

Oprah to Contribute to ’60 Minutes’

Oprah Winfrey will contribute several stories to the coming season of ’60 Minutes,’ CBS announced Tuesday,” Brian Stelter reported for CNN Money.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

“The deal joins one of the most famous women in the world with the most prestigious newsmagazine on television.

“Winfrey will be a ‘special contributor,’ CBS said. This means she’ll have several stories on the upcoming season of the newsmagazine. The first story will air sometime in the fall. . . .”

Stelter also wrote, “‘Winfrey’s main outlet remains OWN, the cable channel she co-owns with Discovery Communications. But ’60 Minutes’ will allow her to reach many more people with a single segment. The program regularly draws 10 to 20 million viewers a week. . . .”

“In a statement on Tuesday, she said, ‘I’ve been a big admirer of 60 MINUTES since my days as a young reporter. I’m so excited and proud to join forces with this historic news program, which for me represents the bastion of journalistic storytelling.’

“She added: ‘At a time when people are so divided, my intention is to bring relevant insight and perspective, to look at what separates us, and help facilitate real conversations between people from different backgrounds.’ . . .”

Coates to Join Journalism Faculty at NYU

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates

The world between Ta-Nehisi Coates and NYU is about to become much smaller — the university announced yesterday that Coates officially signed a three year contract with the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute,” Natasha Roy and Diamond Naga Siu reported Tuesday for Washington Square News, the student newspaper at New York University.

“Prior to joining, he worked as a fellow at NYU’s Institute for the Humanities.

“Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and authored the NYU required reading ‘Between the World and Me,’ a letter addressed to his son that tackles how to navigate modern America as a black male. He is critically acclaimed for his work regarding race relations in the United States, especially those regarding politics and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Vice Provost for Faculty, Arts and Diversity Ulrich Baer said that Coates will start in the Fall 2017 semester after conversing regularly with him. Baer said that Coates will greatly contribute to the university’s ongoing dialogue surrounding diversity and inclusion. . . .”

Newsrooms Should Review Depictions of Muslims

If there is widespread distrust of Muslim and Arab Americans, it is generated, in part, by the narrow contexts in which Muslims and Arabs appear. That persistent context is obviously terrorism,” Roy Peter Clark wrote Wednesday for the Poynter Institute.

He also wrote, “I believe every newsroom in America should reflect on their content as it describes or involves Arabs and Muslims, both here and abroad. Look for examples that depict them in everyday jobs and concerns.

“If you cannot find such examples, or don’t know how to find them, it may be time to flip the switch. Until we see Arabs and Muslims working with us in the newsrooms, playing beside us on the soccer fields, dispensing our medicines in the pharmacies, we won’t have a prayer of achieving the kind of tolerance and understanding that will lead us to the place where America deserves to be.”

Great Job, Frederick Douglass!, Trump Says

President Trump is capable of many a miracle,” Dana Milbank wrote for the Washington Post. “On Wednesday, after just 12 days on the job, he raised the dead.

“Addressing a small group of African American aides and supporters to kick off Black History Month, the new president not only offered pro forma praise for the usual suspects — Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr. — but also singled out somebody who recently caught his attention.

“ ‘Frederick Douglass,’ Trump said, ‘is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.’

“Amazing job, Frederick! Great work!

“It’s unlikely anybody could recognize Douglass today, because he died in 1895. . . .”

Short Takes

Loren Ghiglione-South Africa-2000-USC Annenberg

“Richard, I cite your reporting virtually every week in my journalism history course at Medill. Thanks to you, I can better connect our past to the present and help students think about journalism’s future.”

— Loren Ghiglione, professor, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, veteran of 45 years in journalism and journalism education. Photo by Irene Fertik from a 2000 visit to South Africa when Loren was director of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism.

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