‘The Media-Political Complex Bowed Down’

Trump Suggests Ending Daily Briefings

Trump Voting Panel to Push ‘Myth of Fraud’

Readers Imagine Successors to Confederates

‘Cultural Anxiety’ Drove Many to Trump

Too Many U.S. Moms Dying in Childbirth

NABJ Names Four More Award Winners

Honoring Mom Amid ‘Incarceration Epidemic’

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In the interview with President Trump Thursday, Lester Holt "leaned back and crossed his legs in an attitude of alpha male sangfroid throughout their 31-minute encounter," Lloyd Grove wrote. (Credit: NBC)

In his interview with President Trump Thursday, Lester Holt “leaned back and crossed his legs in an attitude of alpha male sangfroid throughout their 31-minute encounter,” Lloyd Grove wrote in the Daily Beast. (Credit: NBC)

‘The Media-Political Complex Bowed Down’

Lester Holt conquered the news on Thursday, and the media-political complex bowed down and acknowledged his sovereignty,” Lloyd Grove wrote that evening for the Daily Beast.

“The NBC Nightly News anchor’s calm and businesslike grilling of President Donald Trump about his sudden and savage sacking of FBI Director James Comey, among other inconvenient subjects that are plaguing Trump’s 113-day-old presidency, led not only Holt’s broadcast, but also the evening newscasts on CBS and ABC, as well as coverage throughout the day on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. . . .”

Unsurprisingly, Grove’s verdict was not unanimous. Cristina López G. wrote Friday for Media Matters for America, “Right-wing and fringe media attacked NBC anchor Lester Holt . . .

“They claimed Holt was ‘disrespectful’ and a ‘rude Negro’ who ‘interrupted’ and ‘spoke over’ Trump, calling the interview ‘an interrogation’ during which the president was treated ‘like a damn criminal.’ . . .”

The “rude Negro” reference, one of few mentioning Holt’s race, came from infostormer.com, whose motto is “Destroying Jewish Tyranny.”

The website was correct to take the interview seriously, however. In its wake were questions about obstruction of justice, reports that Trump had sought a loyalty oath from Comey and even speculation about impeachment.

As Grove reported, “The biggest headline from the White House tête-à-tête — blazoned in an exclusive video clip that was judiciously released by NBC in a special report that preempted an afternoon soap opera (as opposed to the ongoing Trump soap opera) — was the president’s claim to have decided on his own to fire Comey after hosting him at a White House dinner (in which Comey, according to Trump, asked to keep his job).

“The president said that he repeatedly, if improperly, sought the director’s reassurance that he isn’t the target of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in last year’s election and the Kremlin’s possible collusion with Trump campaign operatives.

“Those revelations provoked bipartisan expressions of outrage and amply demonstrated what many in Washington and beyond have suspected: that Trump’s hapless communications team — notably Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, to say nothing of Vice President Mike Pence — have either been incompetently out of the loop or lying their asses off when they’ve insisted for the past three days that Comey was fired only because of a face to face meeting followed by a meticulous review and thoughtful recommendation from the freshly minted deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, and his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. . . .”

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times captured the reaction of many.

That the White House couldn’t get its story (or stories) straight about something as important as the firing of the F.B.I. director, during an investigation into ties between the president’s campaign and a foreign power reportedly trying to sway a United States presidential election, once again breaks the mold of what’s ‘normal’ in United States governance,” Rutenberg wrote Friday.

On social media, some criticized Holt for failure to follow up on some questions, but others noted that the anchor had to be strategic in the use of his time.

Grove wrote, “The anchor directed the president to a straight-back chair opposite his own. While Holt leaned back and crossed his legs in an attitude of alpha male sangfroid throughout their 31-minute encounter . . . Trump sat edgily forward on his chair, legs spread wide — looking for all the world like some giant, yellow-haired badger bracing for an attack.

“In a way, Trump was right to do so, as Holt relentlessly pressed him for a reason for sacking Comey that made even a little bit of sense, wondering repeatedly if the president was angry at the FBI director, as multiple news outlets have reported, because his agency was pursuing what he’d called the ‘hoax’ of the Russia investigation. . . .”

Conservative media watchers, such as Tim Graham of NewsBusters, tried to paint Holt, reported to be a registered Republican, as pro-Hillary Clinton.

Holt was the designated hit man in Thursday’s interview, expected to create and underline a ‘credibility crisis’ for the White House,” Graham wrote Friday. “But don’t they remember how Holt ‘winced’ to Hillary Clinton in January of 2016 at anyone [who] suggested she might be seen by someone as (gasp) dishonest…why that must hurt her feelings! . . .”

The interview did not touch on race-specific concerns such as historically black colleges and universities or immigration, but Trump did discuss Clinton’s emails, North Korea and health care.

Trump Suggests Ending Daily Briefings

President Donald Trump told Jeanine Pirro that he thinks it is a ‘good idea’ to not have press conferences, unless he does them himself every two weeks,” Ted Johnson reported Friday for Variety.

“His comments came after he tweeted early Friday morning that perhaps the White House should do away with the daily press briefings, a long-time tradition in which the press secretary faces the gamut of reporters every day.

“Trump was frustrated over media reports that what he has said about the reasons for firing FBI Director James Comey contradicts what his communications staff said earlier in the week. . . .”

Trump Voting Panel to Push ‘Myth of Fraud’

Two days after firing FBI director James Comey and creating a full-blown constitutional crisis, Donald Trump signed an executive order today creating a presidential commission on ‘election integrity,’ based on his debunked claims that millions voted illegally in 2016,” Ari Berman wrote Thursday for the Nation.

“Vice President Mike Pence will be the chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be the vice chair — two men with very long histories of making it harder to vote, especially Kobach. Given the lack of evidence of voter fraud, the commission seems designed for one purpose: to perpetuate the myth of fraud in order to lay the groundwork for enacting policies that suppress the vote.

“If you want to know what such voter intimidation looks like, take a look at Pence’s home state of Indiana, where state police in October 2016 raided the offices of a group working to register African-American and low-income voters. They seized thousands of voter-registration applications, even though only 10 were suspected to be fraudulent and no one has been charged.

“In Kansas, Kobach has been the driving force within the GOP behind policies that erect new barriers to the ballot box and the most fervent evangelist of unproven voter-fraud claims. . . .”

The Kansas City Star said in an editorial on Thursday, “Since the non-problem of in-person voter fraud — Kobach has convicted all of nine Kansans of this crime — is inflated to push through laws that disenfranchise, this whole commission isn’t just unnecessary but wrong. . . .”

On Friday, the NAACP said in a statement, “This Commission poses a very real and direct threat to our electoral system and democracy. Clearly designed to bar millions from exercising their democratic birthright, through a gumbo of alt-facts, stereotypes and dog whistle politics, the NAACP as this nation’s first-responder on civil rights will fight back with every resource at our disposal against any assault on the vote. . . .”

Readers of the Times-Picayune submitted their reimaginings of the space formerly occupied by Confederate monuments. (Credit: Times-Picayune)

Readers of the Times-Picayune submitted their reimaginings of the space formerly occupied by Confederate monuments. (Credit: nola.com)

Readers Imagine Successors to Confederates

The Jefferson Davis statue in Mid-City was taken down early Thursday (May 11),” the Times-Picayune reported on Friday from New Orleans on its website. “It’s one of four monuments the New Orleans City Council declared nuisances in December 2015 and the second Mayor Mitch Landrieu has removed. . . .”

Amid final challenges to the statues’ relocations, the Times-Picayune editorial board wrote on March 26, “With the city of New Orleans preparing to move the statue of Robert E. Lee from its perch, we asked readers to reimagine Lee Circle. Dozens of you responded with thoughtful, creative ideas. We’ll run more as we get them. Keep them coming to NewCircle@nola.com. . . .”

The site had more than 230 comments as of Friday, including:

PATRICIA GALMICHE: A circle of people of all races, genders and ages holding hands with one another, continued by another circle of the same inside of that circle and another inside of that circle and so on. The circle of people would symbolize unity and strength and its repetition inside of itself, and so on, would represent an eternal continuation of unity, strength and love, repeated within the community.

“ROB FLORENCE: Lee Circle to become Piano Professor Circle. Put a piano at the top of the column and around the base put markers for Louis Moreau Gottchalk, Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, James Booker, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and others. . . .

“UNNAMED TEACHER: A statue of four people standing in a circle facing out: two men and two women (alternating), back-to-back, arms linked. Neither person is clearly of any particular race, sexuality, religion, etc., and the interlinking of those arms is platonic, peaceful and hopeful. Perhaps each person could face one of our main directions: lake, river, downtown, Uptown.

“The area could be renamed ‘We’ Circle.”

A dissenter identified as “Gulf92” wrote, “I’m sorry, but these ideas are dull and uninspiring, especially for a city that overflows with imagination and art. It would be better to just put up a giant bronze crawfish or gator in Jackson Square instead of any one of these.”

(Credit: the Atlantic)

‘Cultural Anxiety’ Drove Many to Trump

White Americans carried Donald Trump to the White House. He won college-educated white voters by a four-point margin over Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls,Emma Green wrote Tuesday for the Atlantic.

“But his real victory was among members of the white working class: Twice as many of these voters cast their ballots for the president as for Clinton.

“In the wake of Trump’s surprise win, some journalists, scholars, and political strategists argued that economic anxiety drove these Americans to Trump.

“But new analysis of post-election survey data conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found something different: Evidence suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump.

“Besides partisan affiliation, it was cultural anxiety — feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment — that best predicted support for Trump. . . .”

(Credit: the Economist)

Too Many U.S. Moms Dying in Childbirth

The ability to protect the health of mothers and babies in childbirth is a basic measure of a society’s development,” Nina Martin of ProPublica and Renee Montagne of NPR reported Friday.

“Yet every year in the U.S., 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and some 65,000 nearly die — by many measures, the worst record in the developed world.

“American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination), six times as likely to die as Scandinavians.

“In every other wealthy country, and many less affluent ones, maternal mortality rates have been falling; in Great Britain, the journal Lancet recently noted, the rate has declined so dramatically that ‘a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.’ But in the U.S., maternal deaths increased from 2000 to 2014. In a recent analysis by the CDC Foundation, nearly 60 percent of such deaths were preventable.

“While maternal mortality is significantly more common among African Americans, low-income women and in rural areas, pregnancy and childbirth complications kill women of every race and ethnicity, education and income level, in every part of the U.S. ProPublica and NPR spent the last several months scouring social media and other sources, ultimately identifying more than 450 expectant and new mothers who have died since 2011. . . .”

Martin and Montagne also wrote, “In recent decades, under the assumption that it had conquered maternal mortality, the American medical system has focused more on fetal and infant safety and survival than on the mother’s health and well-being. . . .”

NABJ Names Four More Award Winners

Leoneda Inge

Leoneda Inge

The National Association of Black Journalists announced awards this week for Leoneda Inge, Ernest Owens, Candace Smith and Jocelyn K. Allen.

In November, Smith filed a “reporter’s notebook” for ABC News, “What It Was Like as the Black Journalist Who Covered Donald Trump.”

Inge was chosen for NABJ’s second Journalist of Distinction Award recognizing a journalist in a small or medium-sized market, the group said Thursday.

Inge is a longtime reporter at WUNC North Carolina Public Radio in Durham.

Also on Thursday, NABJ announced the selection of Owens, editor of G Philly, an LGBTQ section of Philadelphia magazine, and Smith, segment producer for ABC News, as the Michael J. Feeney Emerging Journalists for 2017.

On Friday, NABJ said Jocelyn K. Allen would receive the 2017 Patricia L. Tobin Media Professional Award.

In May 2015, Allen embarked on what she calls ‘Jocelyn 3.0,’ partnering with friend and colleague Chandra S. Lewis to launch The Allen Lewis Agency (TALA), a full-service marketing and communications firm.

“As CEO, Allen puts her creative thinking skills and passion for connecting individuals, brands and businesses to use daily for clients big and small,” the organization said. “Allen is a marketing and communications maestro skilled at finding and telling her clients’ stories to diverse audiences. . . .”

Honoring Mom Amid ‘Incarceration Epidemic’

Mother’s Day is a celebration of motherhood and the influence that mothers have on society,” Elizabeth Lo wrote Thursday for the New York Times.

“But for too many American children — including those I filmed for this project — the holiday serves as a bitter reminder that their mothers are locked behind bars.

“This film follows an overnight bus program that takes some of those children to visit their parents in California prisons during the weekends around Mother’s Day (they coordinate similar trips for Father’s Day). Journeys can be as long as ten hours one-way — at the end of which children get to spend a few precious hours with their mothers. . . .”

Lo also wrote, “While completing a fellowship with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, I decided to make a documentary about this experience by focusing on the long bus journeys that children have to endure simply to be with their mothers on Mother’s Day.

“My co-director, R. J. Lozada, and I shot this project last year over many overnight bus rides to two California prisons, the Folsom Women’s Facility in Folsom and the California Institution for Women in Corona.

“We made ‘Mother’s Day’ to remind us of the steep price an entire generation of youth — and by extension, our nation — has to pay because of systems that remain broken across America. The incarceration epidemic is not just today’s problem; it’s a structural disaster that stretches across generations, and will be with us for many years to come.”

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