Former Moscow Reporter Says He Too Was a Target

Paper Sees ‘a Sliver of Hope’ That Ex-Cop Will Pay

Education Writers See Role in Furthering Diversity

5 to Be Inducted into NAHJ Hall of Fame

Portrait of Dallas’ Working Poor

La Raza Changes Name; Will That Stop the Hating?

Congo Now Top Nation Sending Refugees to U.S.

Mike Tirico Doesn’t Like Questions About His Race

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Donald Trump Jr. defends himself Tuesday on Sean Hannity's Fox News Channel program, while saying he wishes he'd "have done things a little differently."

Donald Trump Jr. defends himself  July 11 on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel program, while saying he wishes he’d “have done things a little differently.”

Former Moscow Reporter Says He Too Was a Target

So it was a big “nothingburger,” as Donald Trump Jr. claims about his meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised sensitive government information that could be damaging to Hillary Clinton.

Gary Lee, one of the few American journalists of color to have covered the Kremlin, doesn’t think so.

“As a journalist who worked for several years in Moscow at the peak of the Cold War, I witnessed several ‘fishing expeditions’ — attempts by Kremlin officials to feel out westerners to see if they could be ensnarled by blackmail, coercion, or other means to collaborate in Kremlin campaigns of propaganda or espionage,” Lee wrote Saturday on Facebook.

Lee worked as a journalist in the Soviet Union for four years during the Gorbachev-era Soviet Union of the 1980s.

Gary Lee

Gary Lee

“I was the object of one such fishing expedition,” Lee continued, adding parenthetically that readers would have to wait for the details.

“As a result of my experience, I learned a few important lessons about how the Kremlin carries out such actions:

“1. They usually start out gently: a meeting with someone or some people who appear to be harmless whose assignment is mostly trying to engage the level of interest or culpability of the westerner.

“A meeting in New York between a woman who has ties to the Kremlin with Donald Trump Jr. and a few other people, for example.

“2. How the westerner reacts is crucial to the success of the expedition. If for example, the object says ‘I love it’ [as did Trump Jr.], the Russians know they have snagged a Big Fish.

“3. Once the Russians gauge success, they develop a plan for reeling the fish in, eventually splitting him (or her) in half and having a good lunch.

“So, in my view, the below Washington Post article is spot on.”

Lee, who worked for the Post in Moscow and elsewhere as a foreign correspondent and then as a travel writer, now is co-owner and general manager of Las Canteras, a Peruvian restaurant in Washington.

His concluding reference was to a Washington Post opinion piece by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, director of the Intelligence and Defense Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. He served for three years as director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the Department of Energy and for 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer in domestic and international posts.

In the essay, posted Friday, Mowatt-Larssen said, “We should be cautious about overestimating the significance of this episode in isolation. Russia may have extended other feelers to other Trump associates at other points in time. Indeed, the Steele dossier suggests that the Kremlin was trying to cultivate the Trumps as far back as 2011. But, based on the publicly available information, the June 2016 overture seems to have been a win for Russia.

“It helped set the stage for the possibility of subsequent contacts between Trump associates and witting agents of the Russian government. (Some of these contacts are now known; others, perhaps not.) And it would have allowed Russian intelligence to be comfortable initiating the next phase of its operation — systematically leaking information on Clinton and trying to penetrate the U.S. voting process — with the knowledge that the Trump campaign was interested in such Russian government assistance.

“Although the Kremlin could have meddled without active or tacit approval from the campaign, having the campaign on board would have made the meddling more effective. . . .”

Lee is among only a handful of African Americans who have covered Russia for mainstream U.S. outlets. Others have included William Worthy in 1955, Homer Smith, who lived there from 1932 to 1946 and Ann M. Simmons, now with the Los Angeles Times, who covered Russia for Time from 1991 to 1994.

After his Moscow stint, Lee wrote a piece in 1991 for the Post, “Black Among the Reds” [PDF], about the racial aspect of his time there.

Jennifer Garvey, a former officer with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, was found guilty of assaulting a Roxbury woman and falsifying official reports about the incident. (Credit: Josh Reynolds for Boston Globe/pool).

Jennifer Garvey, a former officer with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, was found guilty of assaulting a Roxbury woman and falsifying official reports about the incident. (Credit: Josh Reynolds for Boston Globe/pool).

Paper Sees ‘a Sliver of Hope’ That Ex-Cop Will Pay

Jordan Edwards

Jordan Edwards

As attention turned toward the fatal shooting of a white Australian woman in Minneapolis by a Somali-American police officer, a white officer in Balch Springs, Texas, who shot and killed black 15-year-old Jordan Edwards was indicted and the Boston Globe applauded a finding of guilt in the case of a white former transit officer who assaulted a black woman and falsified official reports about the incident.

“[T]here’s some optimism to be found with a verdict that delivers a measure of police accountability,” the Globe editorialized on Friday in the case of Jennifer Garvey, who assaulted Mary Celeste Holmes of Roxbury.

“Nationwide, officers are routinely acquitted in violent encounters with African-Americans, but Garvey was convicted for both her deeds and words. She said Holmes intentionally bumped, then charged at her; those claims were refuted by security camera footage. That punctures a hole, however small, in the usually impenetrable assumption of an officer’s infallibility. . . .”

Mohamed Noor (City of Minneapolis)

Mohamed Noor (Credit: City of Minneapolis)

The Globe also said, “A coverup is just as bad as the crime. . . . the Garvey conviction should not be discounted. It represents a sliver of hope for communities of color that rarely expect justice, and a message to officers who break the law that their badge is not a shield from the truth.”

Coverage of the Minneapolis shooting emphasized the Australian victim and lack of body-camera footage and did not dwell on the race or nationality of the police officer, though his photo was widely published.

The death of Justine Damond, who called 911 to report a possible crime only to be killed by a responding Minneapolis police officer, has left her grieving family, neighborhood and nation demanding answers in the latest police-involved shooting to thrust Minnesota into the international spotlight,” Andy Mannix wrote Monday for the Star Tribune.

The policeman, Mohamed Noor, 31, “is one of nine Somali police officers in the department, and he became the first to patrol the Fifth Precinct in the city’s southwest neighborhoods,” David Chanen and Faiza Mahamud wrote Monday in the Star Tribune.

They also wrote, “Sixth Ward City Council candidate Mohamud Noor, who is unrelated to [Officer Noor], said the community is doubly shaken because ‘this is another officer-involved shooting and the officer is a member of the Somali community.’

” ‘People are shocked because of the tragedy of the killing that took place,’ Mohamud Noor said. “This should be treated as a police-civilian issue. There is a loss of life and we’re always concerned. We believe the police should be held accountable as any other police shooting.’ . . . .”

In Texas, a Dallas County grand jury indicted fired Officer Roy Oliver on murder and aggravated assault charges for firing his rifle into a car full of teenagers leaving a party April 29.

Jordan, who sat in the front passenger seat, was struck in the head, Jennifer Emily and Tasha Tsiaperas reported Monday for the Dallas Morning News.

Many who have been strongly advocating that prosecutors move forward with the case have questioned whether the district attorney’s office could win a conviction after so many officers nationwide have been acquitted after shooting unarmed black men,” they wrote.

“But another attorney for Jordan’s family, Jasmine Crockett, said she is no longer one of them.

” ‘There’s no question now in my mind whether he’s going to be locked up,’ she said.. . .”

Education Writers See Role in Furthering Diversity

Just over eight in 10 of the 170 members who responded to a survey by the Education Writers Association said the organization has a significant role in strengthening diversity and inclusion in education journalism, EWA reported on Monday.

The survey asked respondents to rank their priorities when it came to diversity in the makeup of the education journalism workforce,” EWA reported. “Nearly half — 82 of the 167 respondents to that question — rated racial/ethnic diversity as ‘most important.’ Economic class and language diversity were next, with 27 percent and 13 percent, respectively, ranking those types of diversity as ‘most important.’ Gender, generational, physical ability, and sexual orientation were ranked as lower workforce-diversity priorities.

“Asked to rank categories of inclusion in order of importance to the field of education journalism, two approaches tied for first place as top priority. ‘Hiring members of underrepresented groups’ and ‘training education journalists to cover underrepresented communities and the issues that impact them’ were each rated as ‘most important’ by 36 percent of respondents.

“Tied for the next-highest priorities — each ranked as ‘most important’ by 23 percent of respondents — were ‘creating pipelines and pathways for promotion for underrepresented groups’ and ‘targeting and creating support systems and programs (e.g., mentorship, scholarships) for groups that have traditionally lacked access to the profession.’ . . .”

The majority of the respondents who provided their demographic information identified as white (77 percent) and female (73 percent). About 23 percent of respondents identified as nonwhite; 52 percent as millennials; and 15 percent as gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer.

Francisco Vara-Orta, chair of the EWA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and a vice president of the EWA board, told Journal-isms by email that one of the task force’s first goals “was to first obtain better data to help guide our work. Having that concrete information allows for us to see a clearer mandate from our majority white membership to continue to push for a more racially and ethnically diverse newsroom, as well as better coverage that is more sensitive to the troublesome history in our country around race and ethnicity.”

5 to Be Inducted into NAHJ Hall of Fame

Dino Chiecchi

Dino Chiecchi

Dino Chiecchi, Federico Subervi, Andrés Cediel, Jodi Hernandez and Nancy Rivera Brooks are to be inducted into the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hall of Fame for 2017, Borderzine reported on Thursday.

Chiecchi, who has worked at the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Associated Press, Austin American-Statesman, Tucson Citizen, South China Morning Post and El Paso Herald-Post, is multimedia professor at University of Texas at El Paso. He is also a former president of the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and of NAHJ.

Subervi, a retired journalism professor at Kent State University, was described as a trailblazer of diversity.

Cediel is a journalist and documentary producer at the University of California at Berkeley.

Hernandez is an NBC Bay Area reporter.

Rivera Brooks is assistant business editor at the Los Angeles Times.


(Credit: Dallas Morning News)

Portrait of Dallas’ Working Poor

The Dallas Morning News Thursday published the above portrait of the working poor in the city. Their median age is 36; 64 percent are Hispanic; 75 percent speak a language other than English at home; and of those, 57 percent cannot speak English well.

The editorial board’s Michael Lindenberger tweeted Sunday, “First of 6 straight days of editorials on Dallas published in print this morning.”

La Raza Changes Name; Will That Stop the Hating?

The National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino advocacy organization, is changing its name to UnidosUS,” Suzanne Gamboa reported July 10 for NBC Latino. Mary Sanchez, columnist for the Kansas City Star, wrote Friday that she expects the change to clear up confusion.

Mary Sanchez

Mary Sanchez

The National Council of La Raza has long been demonized for its name alone,” Sanchez wrote. “ ‘La raza’ can be translated literally to ‘the race.’ But its usage in Spanish is far different, a reference to the collective body, the people. It’s a flashback to the group’s founding nearly 50 years ago, and the Chicano movements of the 1970s. The term ‘la raza’ also denotes the truth that Latinos aren’t a race but an ethnicity that includes all races.

“It’s a term of inclusion, not separation. But that’s a fact that has long been lost on critics who have crudely called the group racist and anti-white. The notion is so off-base it’s ridiculous.

“Most Latinos in the U.S. are racially white, mixed with indigenous roots. To accuse them of being anti-white is to suggest self-hatred.

“Among the most conspiratorial accusations the organization faced was the idea that NCLR was pressing for a reclaiming of Southwestern states for Mexico. While it is true that huge swaths of the United States were once Mexico’s land, no sane person believes that the property should or will be relinquished.

“Another source of never-ending grief for NCLR and other groups pressing for congressional immigration reform was the false claim that this was akin to calling for an open border.

“This sort of cultural and factual confusion was part of the decision by NCLR to rebrand as UnidosUS. . . .”

Matindi-Sephora is 19 years old. She had to flee from Kaga Bandoro IDP camp, where she lived for three years. (Credit: Norwegian Refugee Council.)

Matindi-Sephora is 19 years old. She had to flee from Kaga Bandoro IDP camp, where she lived for three years. (Credit: Norwegian Refugee Council.)

Congo Now Top Nation Sending Refugees to U.S.

In June, this space reported the paucity of coverage given a report that since October, at least 3,383 people had been killed in warfare in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Pew Research Center last week reported an additional reason to pay attention: the Congo has become the No. 1 country sending refugees to the United States. Congolese represent 17 percent of refugee arrivals since the Trump administration began, Pew reported, citing figures from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.

The Congo isn’t the only country needing humanitarian help.

Tiril Skarstein reported Monday for the Norwegian Refugee Council, “Three years after armed groups in the Central African Republic signed a ceasefire agreement, more than one million people are displaced. ‘The number of families displaced from their homes has increased to a level we have not witnessed since the peak of the conflict in 2014,’ warned Eric Batonon, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

“More than 100,000 people have fled their homes in the Central African Republic since April, due to renewed fighting in several parts of the country. In total, 534,000 people are now displaced within the country and another 481,000 people are living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Political turmoil and continued conflict have also left half of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. . . .”

Skarstein also wrote, “Lack of international attention to the crisis has been matched with a similar lack of funding. Halfway into the year, less than 30 percent of the funding required to meet the humanitarian needs in 2017 has been received.

“ ‘There is an urgent need for more funding to ensure that people receive the most basic life-saving assistance. Most of the newly displaced were forced to flee suddenly, leaving everything behind. They need food, clean drinking water, shelter, sanitation facilities and medical care. If we are not able to step up the support now, the dramatic humanitarian situation may fuel further conflicts,’ said Batonon. . . .”

Farther north, Ann M. Simmons reported Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times, “A cholera outbreak in Yemen that has infected more than 300,000 people and caused more than 1,700 deaths in the last few months is propelling the war-ravaged nation to the brink of catastrophe, health and humanitarian officials say.

“Security concerns amid a severe shortage of safe drinking water are limiting what can be done to help fight the often-fatal bacterial disease, which causes severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. . . .”

Here, there has been more international attention. Iolanda Jaquemet, a spokeswoman for the Near East and Middle East regions at International Committee of the Red Cross, is quoted as saying, “It’s because of the response of the international aid community inside Yemen that things are not worse than they already are, because the local health authorities are not in a position to face such a totally massive unprecedented outbreak.”

Mike Tirico Doesn’t Like Questions About His Race

Mike Tirico

Mike Tirico

NBC Sports anchor Mike Tirico caused a bit of a social-media stir this weekend with his comments in a New York Times profile about racial identity,” Alex Putterman reported Monday for Awful Announcing.

“Despite drawing attention as one of the most prominent black broadcasters in sports, Tirico has always dodged comments about race. In a 1991 story in the Syracuse Post-Standard, he said he wasn’t sure if he was black, and since then he has rarely discussed his background at all.

“In the Times’ story, he brought up his Italian mother, then punted on the question of racial identity.

“But these days, at a time when the nation is transfixed by a discussion of race relations, Tirico just doesn’t want to go there. He told me to say he was mixed race, and that was that.

“‘Why do I have to check any box?’ he said. ‘If we live in a world where we’re not supposed to judge, why should anyone care about identifying?’

“Besides, he added, ‘The race question in America is one that probably never produces a satisfactory answer for those who are asking the questions.’

“The Times spun Tirico’s reticence about race as part of a general reluctance to draw attention to himself, but the comments about identity clearly rubbed people, including some of his former ESPN colleagues, the wrong way. . . .”

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