‘I Was Going to Fire Regardless of Recommendation’

Two Latinas Added to Fox News Lawsuit

ASNE Leader: Scant Diversity Progress ‘Palpable’

Editor & Publisher Explains Pale List of Achievers

‘Maverick’ Black Site Boasts ‘Superstar Team’

Parties Disagree on Role of News Media

Puerto Rico, Colonial Relationship Both Bankrupt

BET Leaving D.C. for N.Y. After 37 Years

‘Original Street Bible’ Offers Scoops by Inmates

Short Takes

Support Journal-isms

‘I Was Going to Fire Regardless of Recommendation’

President Donald Trump, in an exclusive interview Thursday with NBC News’ Lester Holt, called ousted FBI chief James Comey a ‘showboat’ and revealed he asked Comey whether he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia,” NBC News reported.

” ‘I actually asked him’ if I was under investigation, Trump said, noting that he spoke with Comey once over dinner and twice by phone.

” ‘I said, if it’s possible would you let me know, Am I under investigation? He said, “You are not under investigation.” ‘ ”

“Trump described Comey, whom he fired Tuesday, as a ‘showboat,’ a ‘grandstander’ and said [he] was going to dismiss him regardless of the recommendation from the Justice Department.”

In that, Trump confirmed reports Wednesday by the New York Times and Washington Post.

After stewing last weekend while watching Sunday talk shows at his New Jersey golf resort, Mr. Trump decided it was time,” Maggie Haberman,  Glenn Thrush, Michael S. Schmidt  and Peter Baker reported in the Times. “There was ‘something wrong with’ Mr. Comey, he told aides.

“The collision between president and F.B.I. director that culminated with Mr. Comey’s stunning dismissal on Tuesday had been a long time coming. To a president obsessed with loyalty, Mr. Comey was a rogue operator who could not be trusted as the F.B.I. investigated Russian ties to Mr. Trump’s campaign. . . .”

In the Washington Post, Philip RuckerAshley Parker, Sari Horowitz and Robert Costa wrote, “Trump had long questioned Comey’s loyalty and judgment, and was infuriated by what he viewed as the director’s lack of action in recent weeks on leaks from within the federal government. By last weekend, he had made up his mind: Comey had to go. . . .”

NBC News provided these excerpts from the transcript:

DONALD TRUMP: Look he’s a show boat, he’s a grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago, it hasn’t recovered from that.

LESTER HOLT: Monday you met with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Right.

HOLT: Did you ask for a recommendation?

TRUMP: What I did is I was going to fire, my decision, it was not …

HOLT: You had made the decision before they came in the room.

TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey. I — there’s no good time to do it by the way.

HOLT: Because in your letter you said “I accepted their recommendation,” so you had already made the decision.

TRUMP: Oh I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.

HOLT: So there was …

TRUMP: He made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy, the Democrats like him, the Republicans like him, he made a recommendation but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey.

. . . HOLT: Let me ask you about your termination letter to Mr. Comey. You write “I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation.” Why did you put that in there?

TRUMP: Because he told me that. I mean he told me it.

HOLT: He told you weren’t under investigation regardless …

TRUMP: Yes and I’ve heard that from others I think …

HOLT: Was it in a phone call, did you meet face to face?

TRUMP: I had a dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. We had a very nice dinner at the White House.

HOLT: He asked for the dinner?

TRUMP: A dinner was arranged, I think he asked for the dinner. And he wanted to stay on as the FBI head. And I said I’ll consider and we’ll see what happens. But we had a very nice dinner. And at that time he told me “you are not under investigation.”

HOLT: That was …

TRUMP: Which I knew anyway.

HOLT: That was one meeting. What was it, what were the other two?

TRUMP: First of all, when you’re under investigation you’re giving all sorts of documents and everything. I knew I wasn’t under and I heard it was stated at the committee, at some committee level, that I wasn’t. Number one.

HOLT: So that didn’t come directly from him?

TRUMP: Then during a phone call he said it. And then during another phone call he said it. So he said it once at dinner and then he said it twice during phone calls.

HOLT: Did you call him?

TRUMP: In one case I called him and one case he called me.

HOLT: And did you ask “Am I under investigation?”

TRUMP: I actually asked him, yes. I said, “If it’s possible would you let me know, am I under investigation?” He said “you are not under investigation.”

HOLT: But he’s given sworn testimony that there is an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with the Russian government. You were the centerpiece of the Trump campaign, so was he being truthful when he says you weren’t under investigation?

TRUMP: Well, all I can tell you is, well I know what, I know that I’m not under investigation. Me. Personally. I’m not talking about campaigns. I’m not talking about anything else. I’m not under investigation.

“NBC has lucked into the most consequential interview of Trump’s presidency,” Brian Stelter wrote Wednesday for CNNMoney.

Bethune-Cookman students turn their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Wednesday at Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: David Tucker/Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Bethune-Cookman students turn their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Wednesday at Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: David Tucker/Daytona Beach News-Journal)

“When the interview booking was announced on Monday, Holt and his colleagues had no idea that Comey’s ouster was imminent.

“The main news peg for the interview was thought to be last week’s health care vote in the House.

“But now, with Comey’s firing garnering wall-to-wall coverage, the stakes are higher.

“Thursday’s sit-down could be the biggest interview of Trump’s young presidency and the biggest interview of Holt’s career. . . .”

Holt, anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” is the first African American solo anchor of a weekday network newscast.

Some writers and politicians have been accusing Trump of reneging on promises to help historically black colleges and universities, whose leaders he hosted at the White House in March.

Michael Stratford wrote Saturday for Politico, “President Donald Trump signaled Friday that he may not implement a 25-year-old federal program that helps historically black colleges finance construction projects on their campuses, suggesting that it may run afoul of the Constitution. . . .”

In Daytona Beach, Fla., “Many of the 374 Bethune-Cookman University graduates booed Wednesday as their speaker, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, received her honorary degree,” Seth Robbins and T.S. Jarmusz reported for the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

“Then, as she began her commencement address, they stood and turned their backs. . . .”

Two Latinas Added to Fox News Lawsuit

Two Latinas have added their names to a lawsuit against Fox News that cites racial discrimination and a hostile work environment, bringing to 13 the number of current and former Fox News employees taking court action.

Five are Hispanic, lawyer Michael J. Willemin of Wigdor LLP told Journal-isms by email on Wednesday, with the caveat that “taking into account that what constitutes ‘Hispanic’ is notoriously difficult to define.”

The two new plaintiffs have made similar claims against former comptroller Judith Slater who was fired in March just before the original suit was filed,” Chris Ariens reported Tuesday for TVNewser.

Elizabeth Fernandez worked in the accounts receivable department from Nov. 2011 to July 2014. Claudine McLeod began working at Fox News in 2010, and is still employed there. The two ‘were subjected to a litany of offensive and racist comments that created a hostile work environment,’ the amended suit claims. . . .”

“ ‘Fox News terminated Judy Slater before a single lawsuit or any amended complaint was filed,’ a Fox News spokesperson said. . . .”

McLeod is Hispanic and Panamanian, Willemin said. Other Latinas are Monica Douglas, Vielka Rojas and Griselda Benson.

According to the lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County, “Throughout her employment, Ms. Fernandez was subjected to numerous discriminatory comments and conduct by Slater, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • “Being told, ‘I don’t like Spanish people’s food, you guys like eating pig feet, chicken feet, pig tongue and cow tail I wouldn’t even feed my dogs your food; Liz, do you like pig feet?’
  • “When she was pregnant with her first son, Slater, in front of others at a meeting, asked if she knew the sex of the baby and if she planned on having more kids because ‘Latinas like having a ton of kids’ . . .”

The suit also says, “On April 19, 2017 — after permitting Bill O’Reilly (‘O’Reilly’) to harass and sexually harass Fox employees for 15 years — the Company was forced to terminate him due to mounting public pressure.

“Fox’s statement to employees regarding the decision disingenuously asserted: ‘[W]e want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.’

“Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, the only consistency at Fox is the abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination that was inflicted on minority employees that appears more akin to Plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment.

“In an effort to cover up the many years of harassment by O’Reilly and others, Fox News’s General Counsel, [Dianne] Brandi, and Head of Human Resources (‘HR’), [Denise] Collins, permitted Slater and others to engage in abhorrent and blatant acts of race discrimination.

“When met with complaints about the racist behavior, incredibly, Black employees were told by Brandi and Collins that nothing could be done because Slater knew too much about senior executives, including former [CEO Roger] Ailes, former Chief Financial Officer Mark Kranz (‘Kranz’) and O’Reilly. . . .”

From left, Mizell Stewart III, Alfredo Carbajal and Charlotte Hall at board meeting last year of the American Society of News Editors. (Credit: American Society of News Editors)

From left, David Boardman, Mizell Stewart III, Alfredo Carbajal and Charlotte Hall at a board meeting last September of the American Society of News Editors. (Credit: American Society of News Editors)

ASNE Leader: Scant Diversity Progress ‘Palpable’

In my more pessimistic moments, I believe our industry has made little progress since 1968,” Mizell Stewart III, president of the American Society of News Editors, wrote members on Tuesday.

That was the year that the Kerner Commission, also known as the National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders, declared that “the journalistic profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training and promoting Negroes.”

Explaining his assessment, Stewart continued, “That is not because of a willful disregard for diversity; on the contrary, countless programs and initiatives are in place with the goal of bringing persons of color and women into the industry, and women and persons of color occupy top leadership positions in media organizations of all stripes.

“The lack of progress is palpable because the continuing transformation of media business models has led to dramatic reductions in newsroom employment, particularly at local newspapers.

“In many legacy news organizations, moving the needle on staff diversity took a back seat to the survival of the enterprise. . . .”

Stewart, vice president/news operations of Gannett and the USA Today  Network, was urging members to fill out ASNE’s annual newsroom diversity survey.

He also wrote  that “the American Society of News Editors is proud to welcome Google News Lab as a new partner in its annual Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey. We are launching the 2017 survey more committed than ever to helping news leaders advance the cause of diversity in staffing, as well as content and coverage. . . .

“We are adding questions about best practices in coverage and community engagement to provide news leaders with actionable strategies for better reflecting community interests.

“We are also increasing efforts to reach digital-only news organizations and exploring ways to more deeply examine the challenges for news leaders across all platforms aiming to diversify their staffs. . . .”

Editor & Publisher Explains Pale List of Achievers

Nu Yang

Nu Yang

“We received a few inquiries last month regarding our annual 25 Under 35 list: ‘Where were the black newspaper leaders?,” Managing Editor Nu Yang wrote Friday for Editor & Publisher.

Fair question, but I want to share a little bit about our selection process. . . . We have no knowledge of their skin color until we contact them for photographs.

“We choose them based on their talents and accomplishments, their duties and responsibilities, and their passion and commitment to their profession.

“Of course we want to make sure we choose a diverse group of newspaper leaders, but we would be doing a disservice if we only focused on picking a person based on his or her race or gender.

“The subject does call attention to another matter. Here at E&P we believe our next generation of newspaper leaders should come from all backgrounds; we also believe as a whole, our industry needs to work harder at hiring and promoting minorities. . . .

“So, I want to ask that you help us recognize the diverse talent in your newsrooms. Send me your story ideas at nu.yang@editorandpublisher.com. Send assistant editor Sean Stroh (sean@editorandpublisher.com) your new hires, promotions and relocations to be included in our NewsPeople section. If you have a headshot, send that to Sean too. We love seeing the faces making a positive impact in our industry on our pages.

“Later this year, we will be putting out a call for nominations for our annual Publisher of the Year feature, and nominations will open for our 2018 25 Under 35 list. I hope to read about your accomplishments soon, and I hope they come from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. . . .”

Detavio Samuels (Credit: Adweek)

Detavio Samuels (Credit: Adweek)

‘Maverick’ Black Site Boasts ‘Superstar Team’

Kierna Mayo, former editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine who left for Interactive One last year when Johnson Publishing Co. sold the iconic magazine, is heading a new website featuring a “superstar team” with a “maverick” approach.

“CASSIUS was built from the ground up in house at iONE,” as Interactive One is now known, Detavio Samuels, president of the company, told Journal-isms Wednesday by email. “It is the brainchild of a superstar team that we’ve been building here since Q4 of 2016.”

Kierna Mayo

Kierna Mayo

Samuels said the site, which went into “soft launch mode” on May 4, features such staffers as “Darnell Moore (formerly Mic.), Jamilah Lemieux (formerly of Ebony), Jada Gomez (formerly of Latina), Julian Mitchell (formerly of Complex), Marielle Bobo (formerly of Ebony) S. Tia Brown (formerly of Ebony) and Gideon Moncrieffe (formerly of iHeart). You can learn more about the entire CASSIUS editorial team, here.”

Samuels also wrote, “CASSIUS is taking a maverick approach in every way. Some of the biggest differentiators include:

  • “The Voice. CASSIUS is ‘born unapologetic.’ Imbued with the spirit of young Cassius Clay, the brand aspires to represent Black culture on a global stage in a very unapologetic manner.
  • “The Strategy. CASSIUS pulls from the best of magazine culture and injects it into the digital space.

“So while we will cover the day to day stuff such as Kendrick [Lamar] dropped an album and Beyonce is having twins, we will also be planning around big monthly themes that drive a specific cultural conversation.

“This will be done in the form of Monthly Digital Covers that start the conversation and multimodal content (text, photo and video) that [complements] the covers. To do this, we’ve bought together a great team of millennial editors with print and digital experience.

  • “The .com Experience. We believe that the visual web is what drives the internet; consequently, the CASSIUS .com experience was built to be visually engaging and different from any other .com experience. You will see this in the content which will be video first, our ‘moodboard,’ which is the way our audience will navigate the site from the homepage, the custom graphics that compliment every article and the custom style section that is being built.
  • “The Team. The CASSIUS editorial team is uniquely diverse and a wholistic slice of New America: Black, LatinX, white. Gen X and Millennial. Straight and LGBTQ. Male and female.

“Asked about the business model, Samuels replied: “CASSIUS is an ultra premium environment. We built it based on how we see the future of publishing sites, which is heavy on content and light on ads. The only places we have to run media on CASSIUS are pre-roll video and one large banner on every article page.

“Consequently, the bulk of the revenue will have to come from native advertising and sponsorships, which is what we believe is the future for all publishers who want to build differentiated platform for advertisers.”

(Credit: Pew Research Center)

(Credit: Pew Research Center)

Parties Disagree on Role of News Media

Democrats and Republicans, who already tend to place their trust in different news sources and rely on different outlets for political news, now disagree more than ever on a fundamental issue of the news media’s role in society: whether news organizations’ criticism of political leaders primarily keeps them from doing things they shouldn’t — or keeps them from doing their job,” Michael Barthel and Amy Mitchell reported Wednesday for the Pew Research Center.

“Today, in the early days of the Trump administration, roughly nine-in-ten Democrats (89%) say news media criticism keeps leaders in line (sometimes called the news media’s ‘watchdog role’), while only about four-in-ten Republicans (42%) say the same. . . .”

The study did not include breakouts by race, Pew communications manager  Rachel Weisel said.

Puerto Rico, Colonial Relationship Both Bankrupt

Juan Gonzalez

Juan Gonzalez

Last week Puerto Rico officially became the largest bankruptcy case in the history of the American public bond market,” Juan González reported Tuesday for the Intercept.

“On May 3, a fiscal control board imposed on the island’s government by Washington less than year ago suddenly announced that the Puerto Rico’s economic crisis ‘has reached a breaking point.’

“The board asked for the immediate appointment of a federal judge to decide how to deal with a staggering $123 billion debt the commonwealth government and its public corporations owe to both bondholders and public employee pension systems.

“The announcement sparked renewed press attention to a Caribbean territory that many have dubbed America’s Greece. The island’s total debt, according to the control board, is unprecedented for any government insolvency in the U.S., and it is certain to mushroom quickly if no action is taken. Detroit’s bankruptcy, by comparison, involved just $18 billion — one-ninth the size of Puerto Rico’s.

“Within days, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, acting under a provision of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (known as PROMESA), which was enacted last June, appointed federal judge Laura Taylor Swain from the southern district of New York to take over the Puerto Rico case. A former bankruptcy court judge who was appointed to the federal court by President Clinton, Swain famously presided over the long criminal trial of employees of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

“Few press reports on Puerto Rico’s troubles, however, have bothered to examine the deeper issues behind this crisis.

“First, the colonial relationship that has prevailed between the U.S. and Puerto Rico since 1898 is no longer viable. . . .

“Second, the impact of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy will continue to reverberate throughout the U.S. bond market, far more than most Wall Street analysts have so far acknowledged. . . .”

BET's building sits in an industrial section of the nation's capital. (Credit: Google Maps)

BET’s headquarters sits in an industrial section of the nation’s capital. (Credit: Google Maps)

BET Leaving D.C. for N.Y. After 37 Years

BET confirmed today that it it shuttering its Washington DC headquarters, the city where the network got its start in 1980 before it was acquired by Viacom in 2000,” Patrick Hipes reported Tuesday for Deadline Hollywood.

“BET confirmed the news after Deadline obtained a copy of a memo to the DC staff from BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee in which she announced the plan.

“The office will close July 7, with operations to move to New York. It was unclear whether the staff was offered the opportunity to transfer to NYC or whether there will be layoffs. According to a source the DC team has about 20 salaried employees and 40 freelancers.

“ ‘The closing of BET Network’s Washington D.C. office has been an ongoing transition in line with our overall strategy to make New York BET’s new headquarters,’ a BET spokesperson said this evening. ‘We are very proud that Washington D.C. was the birthplace of BET Networks, the first network and the premier destination for African American audiences for the past 37 years.’

“The network currently shoots its gospel music series Joyful Noise in DC; it is unclear whether that series will also move. The source also said Lee, who lives in Washington, DC, has put her home on market and moved to Los Angeles. . . .”

‘Original Street Bible’ Offers Scoops by Inmates

In traditional crime reporting, the inside details come from the authorities,” Alan Feuer reported Tuesday for the New York Times. “Who pulled the trigger? The police department tells you. How was the heroin shipped across the border? The federal agent or prosecutor knows.

“But then there is the crime reporting in Don Diva magazine, a street-life publication that is often written for — and occasionally by — those who live in prison.

“When Kwame M. Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit, was convicted four years ago of racketeering, he gave Don Diva an interview for Issue 45 before he was sentenced. The Jamaican drug lord Christopher M. Coke, who is known as Dudus, sends the editors letters from his federal penitentiary.

“In its nearly two decades on newsstands and in cellblocks, the gritty quarterly, which calls itself the Original Street Bible, has offered scoops on hip-hop killers and cocaine kingpins, all of whom have trusted that its editors would get their stories right. . . .”

Short Takes

Amanda Barrett

Amanda Barrett

Lawrence Aaron
(Credit: Lawrence  Aaron)

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