Data Show How Long Crisis Wasn’t Given Its Due

Like Air Force Academy, Writers Confront Racism

Kaepernick Left Off Cover Homage to His Movement

Russia-Linked Tweets, Postings Exploited Race

Hugh Hefner Left Mark on Civil Rights Era

Fox Business Network President Shuns ‘Politics’

St. Louis Paper Backs Outside Probe of Police

Reggie Lavong, Philly Station Owner, Dies at 84

Imminent Mom Keeps Composure on Anchor Desk

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Hurricane-comparison -mehta-hurricanemedia-1

Data Show How Long Crisis Wasn’t Given Its Due

CNN and CBS News continue to provide the most robust coverage of the continuing crisis in Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria made landfall 9 days ago,Chris Ariens reported Friday for TVNewser.

“CNN, and its channels CNNI and CNN en Espanol, [have] 8 reporters on the island: Leyla Santiago, Bill Weir, Ivan Watson, Boris Sanchez, Bryn Gingras, Rafael Romo, Maria Santana, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta who, while reporting on the health crisis for some, helped transport a sick patient.

“ ‘I’m a doctor, we can take the patient. Time is of essence. We can do that.’

“CBS News’s David Begnaud has been reporting from one of the hardest hit towns, Aguadilla, where relief supplies are just beginning to arrive. Omar Villafranca is reporting with the U.S. Marines and Dr. Jon Lapook is reporting on the urgent health care needs.”

The Puerto Rico crisis continued to lead national newscasts and received considerable coverage in print and online, but new reports documented how long the crisis failed to receive its due in the media and elsewhere.

Data from Media Cloud, a database that collects news published on the internet every day, [show] that the devastation in Puerto Rico is getting comparatively little attention,” Dhrumil Mehta reported Thursday for fivethirtyeight.com.

“TV news coverage reveals a similar trend. Data we collected from the TV News Archive [show] that people on TV news shows spoke significantly fewer sentences about Hurricane Maria than about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The spike in conversation about Puerto Rico right as the hurricane hit was also much smaller than the spike in mentions of Texas and Florida on television as each of those states was hit by a hurricane. . . .”

In the Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis, Dan Lamothe and Ed O’Keefe reported Thursday, “After an earthquake shattered Haiti’s capital on Jan. 12, 2010, the U.S. military mobilized as if it were going to war.

“Before dawn the next morning, an Army unit was airborne, on its way to seize control of the main airport in Port-au-Prince. Within two days, the Pentagon had 8,000 American troops en route. Within two weeks, 33 U.S. military ships and 22,000 troops had arrived. More than 300 military helicopters buzzed overhead, delivering millions of pounds of food and water.

“No two disasters are alike. Each delivers customized violence that cannot be fully anticipated. But as criticism of the federal government’s initial response to the crisis in Puerto Rico continued to mount Thursday, the mission to Haiti — an island nation several hundred miles from the U.S. mainland — stands as an example of how quickly relief efforts can be mobilized. . . .”

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, right, and Michelle Miller (Credit: CBS News)

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, right, and Michelle Miller (Credit: CBS News)

President Trump’s praise for his administration’s response to the disaster was also undercut by media coverage given Puerto Ricans on the ground who strongly disagreed.

The slow pace of the federal response to Hurricane Maria — and the upbeat portrayal of the response by federal officials, including President Trump — threatened this week to become an embarrassment and political liability for the administration as it scrambled to confront a natural disaster that has overwhelmed this island, and presented breathtaking logistical challenges,” Richard Fausset, Michael D. Shear, Ron Nixon and Frances Robles reported Friday for the New York Times.

” . . . But the disconnect between what officials in Washington were saying and the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico was captured on live television by the response of the mayor of San Juan when she was played a clip of the Homeland Security secretary, Elaine Duke, saying that she was ‘very satisfied’ with the government’s response. Ms. Duke called it ‘a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place.’

“The retort from Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz: ‘This is, damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a “people are dying” story. This is a “life or death” story. This is “there’s a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people” story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.’ . . . ”

On the “CBS Evening News” Friday, Michelle Miller spoke with retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who led relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

He calls Mr. Trump’s response slow and small,” Miller reported.

To some, the administration response was symptomatic. “Puerto Rico has been failed by its own government, by the overlords in Washington, by the vulture fund managers all too happy to prop up its finances with bond issues that could never be repaid,” Michael Sean Winters wrote Wednesday for BuzzFeed. “Now, Mother Nature has dealt it a harsh and crushing blow. In the next few days and weeks, the situation could become worse: Desperate people often turn to desperate measures.”

" Former fire chief Paul Smith wants everyone to know the Facebook post that got him fired from his gig at the Muse Volunteer Fire Department in Cecil Township was not the result of racial malice or bigotry."

“Former fire chief Paul Smith wants everyone to know the Facebook post that got him fired from his gig at the Muse Volunteer Fire Department in Cecil Township was not the result of racial malice or bigotry,” columnist Tony Norman wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Like Air Force Academy, Writers Confront Racism

The story from Colorado Springs, Colo., deservedly received plaudits and national attention Friday:

The head of the Air Force Academy stood all his 4,000 cadets at attention Thursday to deliver a message on racial slurs found written on message boards at the academy’s preparatory school,” Tom Roeder wrote Friday for the Gazette in Colorado Springs.

“Chins in and chests out, the cadets were flanked by 1,500 officers, sergeants, athletic coaches and civilian professors inside cavernous Mitchell Hall.

“Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria told them to take out their smartphones and record his words.

” ‘If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out,’ he said.

“Silveria spoke as investigators interviewed cadet candidates at the prep school, where five black students woke up Tuesday to find ‘Go Home’ followed by the epithet scrawled on message boards outside their rooms. . . .”

Anchor Anthony Mason announced on the “CBS Evening News” that the network had posted the text of Silveria’s remarks on its website. On “NBC Nightly News,” Peter Alexander called it “a powerful lesson in leadership.”

Journalists elsewhere were also dealing with expressions of racism.

As a parent of two kids who attend Richardson grade schools, I was taken aback by the racist memes that, according to RISD officials, were crafted and circulated on social media by two students from J.J. Pearce High School,” James Ragland wrote Friday in the Dallas Morning News.

“The memes, which surfaced in the days leading up to a Thursday night football game between the rivals, depicted images of a burning cross with Richardson High’s emblem in flames and hooded KKK terrorists parading Pearce’s Mustang logo.

“Oh, it gets worse.

“There’s another picture of a whip-wielding overlord (with the Pearce logo) whipping a slave (his face covered with a Richardson High banner). . . .”

Ragland called it “a crude reminder that hatred and intolerance still exist at every level of our society. I say this not because I am unable to consider that this may have been no more than a couple of naïve or warped teenagers taking a rivalry too far.

“I say it because black and Hispanic students who’ve attended Pearce say they’ve encountered bigotry before. . . .”

In Pittsburgh, meanwhile, Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman wrote,” Former fire chief Paul Smith wants everyone to know the Facebook post that got him fired from his gig at the Muse Volunteer Fire Department in Cecil Township was not the result of racial malice or bigotry.”

Norman also wrote, “Being the very patriotic American that he is, Mr. Smith composed the following Facebook message out of a sense of duty to his country and posted it: ‘[Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin] just added himself to the list of no good [racist slur beginning with ‘n’]. Yes I said it.’ . . .”

Smith attacked the coach for having his team remain in the locker room during the national anthem.

Norman continued, “Now just because Paul Smith used the worst racial slur in America against a black coach doesn’t make him racist by Western Pennsylvania standards. It does make him race-ish, though. To be race-ish is to lack even the courage of one’s convictions when confronted about racism.

‘What, me?’ the race-ish person says. ‘I’m not racist. I grew up with those people. You can be black, white, red, yellow or purple. I don’t care. I don’t see race.’ . . .”

In Michigan, Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley wrote Friday, “The meme on Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue’s Facebook page said: ‘Dear NFL: We will not support millionaire ingrates who hate America and disrespect our Armed Forces and Veterans. Who wins a football game has ZERO impact on our lives. Who fights for and defends our nation has EVERY impact on our lives. We stand with the Heroes, not a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American degenerates. Signed, We the People.”

Riley also wrote, “Etue, whose department has been besieged by complaints of racial discrimination and who just had an officer Tase a young black teenager while chasing his ATV, causing his death, doesn’t get it. Here’s what she doesn’t understand, what that Pennsylvania fire chief doesn’t understand and what Trump doesn’t understand: When you become a public servant, you can no longer be a public racist. . . . ”

Where is Colin Kaepernick?

Where is Colin Kaepernick?

Kaepernick Left Off Cover Homage to His Movement

Sports Illustrated has taken heat for its latest cover, which features a series of sports figures linking arms — including a front row depicting Stephen Curry positioned between LeBron James and Roger Goodell,” Tim Bontemps wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post.

“Count Curry among those unhappy with the way he was depicted and the decision to leave Colin Kaepernick off it altogether. . . .”

Bontemps also wrote, “In a video posted on Sports Illustrated’s website, executive editor Stephen Cannella, who said the message the cover was trying to get across was that the enduring symbol of the weekend was unity among athletes of all sports, tried to defend the publication’s decision to leave Kaepernick off the cover by essentially saying everyone knew he was there — at least in spirit. . . .”

Russia-Linked Tweets, Postings Exploited Race

A social media campaign calling itself ‘Blacktivist’ and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an apparent attempt to amplify racial tensions during the U.S. presidential election, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN,” Donie O’Sullivan and Dylan Byers reported Thursday for CNNMoney. “The Twitter account has been handed over to Congress; the Facebook account is expected to be handed over in the coming days.

“Both Blacktivist accounts, each of which used the handle Blacktivists, regularly shared content intended to stoke outrage. ‘Black people should wake up as soon as possible,’ one post on the Twitter account read. ‘Black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of black men,’ another read. The accounts also posted videos of police violence against African Americans.

“The Blacktivist accounts provide further evidence that Russian-linked social media accounts saw racial tensions as something to be exploited in order to achieve the broader Russian goal of dividing Americans and creating chaos in U.S. politics during a campaign in which race repeatedly became an issue. . . .”


Comedian Dick Gregory roasts Hugh Hefner at the New York Friars Club shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. (video)

Hugh Hefner Left Mark on Civil Rights Era

The death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is sure to draw strong reactions,” Keli Goff wrote Thursday for the Daily Beast. “Hefner’s most vocal critics have included high-profile feminists who despised how his Playboy empire celebrated women as sex objects.

“But Hugh Hefner also played a far less known but still integral role in the quest for equality, using Playboy as a powerful weapon in our nation’s culture wars.

“At a time when debate rages regarding the role celebrities — particularly white ones — should play in bridging our nation’s racial divide, Hefner’s surprising civil-rights legacy looms large.

“Hefner opened his far-reaching media platform to black activists and entertainers long before other mainstream outlets did. He also opened his wallet to fund civil-rights causes.

April 1971 issue

April 1971 issue

“Comedian Dick Gregory revealed in an interview that Hefner provided $25,000 toward a reward that Gregory later credited with helping break one of the civil-rights movement’s most notorious cases: the murder of three young civil-rights workers in Meridian, Mississippi.

“Hefner was also an avid supporter of Martin Luther King Jr. and would go on to serve as a significant funder of the Rainbow PUSH coalition helmed by King acolyte Jesse Jackson. (Hefner donated to a number of progressive and legal causes throughout his life, including funding America’s very first rape kit, via his charitable foundation.)

“Though many may hear the name Playboy and think of centerfolds (or, let’s be honest, breasts), those of us who are writers, particularly writers of color, think of names like Alex Haley. Long before Roots made Haley a literary superstar, he conducted the very first interview for Playboy magazine with musician Miles Davis.

“In the interview, Davis discussed his thoughts on racial inequality, setting the tone for what would become a staple of the magazine: serious people giving serious interviews, on serious subjects, including many prominent people of color. Those people included everyone from athlete and activist Muhammad Ali to Sammy Davis Jr., and Dr. King, who granted the longest print interview of his career to Haley for Playboy. The extraordinary interview from January 1965 — given shortly after King received the Nobel Peace Prize — was republished by The Daily Beast three years ago.

“Hefner’s son, Cooper, even said the last article ever written by King was published in the magazine.

“Haley also interviewed Malcolm X for Playboy in 1963, a precursor to ultimately ghostwriting the groundbreaking, bestselling The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

“The platform Hefner provided black writers, leaders, and entertainers in print was indicative of his understanding that you can reach more people, and transform more minds, through culture than just about any other vehicle. . . .”

Hefner died Sept. 27 of natural causes at his home, the Playboy Mansion, in Los Angeles, according to Playboy Enterprises. He was 91.

Fox Business Network President Shuns ‘Politics’

Brian Jones

Brian Jones

Brian Jones, who has been the president of Fox Business Network since May following the exit of Roger Ailes deputy Bill Shine, didn’t take the usual route to the top,” Marisa Guthrie wrote Thursday for the Hollywood Reporter.

“He dropped out of the University of Tulsa to work so he could send money to his single mother and younger brother in East Baltimore, Maryland. His first job was at KTLU in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he came up through local news before joining Fox News in 1995 in the business development unit.

“When FBN launched 10 years ago, it was easily dismissed as an also-ran to market leader CNBC. But the network has ridden a wave of economic populism (and luring former CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo) to four consecutive quarters as the No. 1 business news network. . . .”

In a Question-and-Answer session that followed, Guthrie asked Jones, “Is it harder to be a black Republican in the era of Donald Trump and white nationalism?”

Jones replied, “But again I see myself as the champion of the people [at the network]. If I were involved in [politics], then maybe that would be an appropriate question. But right now I have two focuses, one about a mile and a third from here in my home and the other on this floor. And that’s really all I’m focused on.”

St. Louis Paper Backs Outside Probe of Police

It’s only logical to ask an outside investigator to review allegations that St. Louis police used excessive force to quell protests after the Sept. 15 Jason Stockley verdict,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorialized Thursday.

Stockly, a white former police officer, was acquitted Sept. 15 in the 2011 shooting death of black driver Anthony Lamar Smith, prompting continual demonstrations since.

“Since the police command is reluctant to acknowledge wrongdoing — despite compelling video evidence depicting it — the only way to hold wayward officers to account is by taking the probe outside,” the editorial continued.

“Mayor Lyda Krewson and interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole made the right call to ask the U.S. attorney’s office to launch an independent probe. Such an investigation requires someone with clear authority and integrity to interview participants, review recordings, issue subpoenas and gather all necessary evidence to determine whether procedures were violated and laws were broken.

“There are reasonable concerns that the Justice Department can’t be trusted to conduct a balanced inquiry, given Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ pronouncements in favor of vacating Obama-era consent decrees aimed at curbing abusive practices by local police and courts. Major reforms in Ferguson resulted from that federal intervention. . . .”

Reggie Lavong, Philly Station Owner, Dies at 84

Reginald Nelson Lavong, 84, a radio broadcasting pioneer and station owner, 84, died Sept. 19.,” Nick Vadala reported Friday for philly.com.

Reggie Lavong (Courtesy Lavong family)

Reggie Lavong (Courtesy Lavong family)

“Mr. Lavong was an on-air personality who went on to own WHAT-AM (1340) and was one of the first black men to be part owner of a television station. His deep love of music led him to work in the music industry before he eventually returned to radio in Philadelphia.

“Affectionately and professionally known as ‘Reggie,’ Mr. Lavong was born in Gainesville, Fla. in 1933. . . .”

Vadala also wrote, “Mr. Lavong worked at radio stations geared to black audiences throughout his career, including ones in Norfolk, Va.; Wilmington; Chicago; and New York. ‘One of the big things he talked about was his flexibility,’ Daryl Lavong said of his father’s career. ‘He did jazz and R&B, but he also did country. He did all different genres because he could adjust his voice and style to fit whatever he needed it to.’

“In 1964, Mr. Lavong partnered with fellow radio personality Georgie Woods to become part owners of WPHL-17 (along with Aaron Katz and Leonard Stevens), making them the first two African-American men in the United States to co-own a TV station. . . .

“Around that time, Mr. Lavong became involved in the civil rights movement, and worked with leaders such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, who the Lavong family lived near when Mr. Lavong worked at New York-area radio stations. Mr. Lavong also produced his own music that complemented the civil rights movement’s message with ‘Skin Deep,’ a spoken-word track backed by the Shiloh Pentecostal Choir.

“ ‘Yes I’m black/God made me this way/And beneath this skin of mine/I’m as good as any man/No matter what they say,’ Mr. Lavong says on the track. Daryl called the project Mr. Lavong’s way of ‘using his talents to say something.’

“In 1969, he moved his family to California to pursue a position at Capitol Records, serving as the company’s first African-American executive. . . .”

Natalie Pasquarella, 35, joined her co-hosts during the 11 p.m. news when she let out a quick giggle and waited for the newscast to end before telling anyone her water broke. (Credit: NBC)

Natalie Pasquarella, 35, third from left, joined her co-hosts during the 11 p.m. news when she let out a quick giggle and waited for the newscast to end before telling anyone her water broke. (Credit: NBC)

Imminent Mom Keeps Composure on Anchor Desk

She gave new meaning to the term live birth,” Nicole Bitette reported Friday for the Daily News in New York.

“An NBC News 4 New York anchor welcomed a baby boy after her water broke during a live news broadcast on Tuesday night.

Natalie Pasquarella, 35, joined her co-hosts during the 11 p.m. news when she let out a quick giggle and waited for the newscast to end before telling anyone her water broke, NBC News 4 reported.”

Bitette also wrote, “Pasquarella welcomed a baby boy on Wednesday — nearly 13 hours after News 4 New York’s executive producer and fellow people at 30 Rockefeller Plaza helped her get to the hospital. . . . The little boy, Jamin James Pastore, weighed in at 5 pounds and 6 ounces.”

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