Sessions Praised for Action on ‘Gender Fluid’ Death

ABC Nabs Gold Star Widow, Angry About Trump

CNN Pushes Back With ‘Facts First’ Slogan

Va. Paper Sorry for Black Conservative’s Column

In Too Many Venues, Asian Americans Are Missing

Fox News Covers Immigration More, but Negatively

One-Third Say Diversity Focus Slights White Men

Bernal E. Smith II Dies, Publisher in Memphis

Short Takes

Support Journal-isms

The side of a garage was tagged with a memorial for Kedarie Johnson in the alley for Kedarie Johnson in the alley where he was found dead March 2, 2016, in Burlington, Iowa. (Credit: Michael Zamora/Des Moines Register)

The side of a garage was tagged with a memorial for Kedarie Johnson in the alley  where he was found dead March 2, 2016, in Burlington, Iowa. (Credit: Michael Zamora/Des Moines Register)

Sessions Praised for Action on ‘Gender Fluid’ Death

On an unseasonably cold Wednesday evening last year, 16-year-old Kedarie Johnson stopped by a close friend’s house to try on bras,” Courtney Crowder wrote Monday for the Des Moines Register.

“As the two talked, the normally jovial Burlington High School student shared that he was scared of a man named ‘Lumni.’ He said he’d noticed a red car following him that day; he wasn’t sure who was behind the wheel.

“Kedarie didn’t stay long at his friend’s house. He asked to borrow a few of the bras he’d modeled, and the friend, 15 at the time, obliged. Kedarie tucked the undergarments into his black and blue school backpack and braced against the biting wind as he walked into the night alone.

“Their quick exchange was one of the last times Kedarie Johnson was seen alive.

Kedarie Johnson

Kedarie Johnson

“At about 11:36 p.m. March 2, 2016, Burlington police found Kedarie’s body, his chest riddled with bullets, discarded in the wild prairie overgrowth of a quiet alley.

“He was wearing women’s clothes, and strands of his hair weave had been pulled from his scalp by a garbage bag cinched around his head. A harsh chlorine-like smell hung in the air, and an empty bottle of Dollar General-brand bleach lay edgewise. . . .”

The Register put the spotlight on an issue that some say has received too little media attention — violence, sometimes fatal, against transgender people, particularly those of color. The Register story was headlined, “What happened to Kedarie Johnson? The mystery of how an LGBTQ teen from Iowa ended up slain in an alley.”

The story quoted a close family friend, Shaunda Campbell, a former Burlington High counselor. “Here’s a 16-year-old kid going to work at Taco Bell every night, getting off of work late at night, knowing he has to go to school in the morning, and he’s taking his paycheck and putting it with mom’s money so they could rent this motel by the week.”

The article also said, “While sometimes reported to be a transgender teen, Kedarie’s status isn’t that simple, those who knew him said. Most of the time he presented as male, but he loved to wear hair extensions and leggings. . . .

“At 16, he was on the cusp of ‘figuring himself out,’ his pastor, Nathan Williams, said at the time of Kedarie’s death. . . .”

In August 2016, in the midst of the debate over the North Carolina “bathroom bill” that required people to use public bathrooms matching their birth sex, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote, “In the first six months of this year, 14 trans people have been murdered, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

“That puts the year on track to exceed the 21 murders counted by the group in 2014. (The coalition has been criticized for including killings that have not been proven to be hate attacks. On the other hand, it’s likely that cases that were murders of trans people inspired by hatred were missed because of poor reporting by law enforcement officials.) Earlier, the coalition counted 14 murders of trans people in 2013, and 12 in 2014.”

Showing a poster from the Ku Klux Klan declaring that “Transgender is an abomination, according to the King James Bible,” the center wrote, “Ku Klux Klan attacks on transgender people are only a small part of a larger movement targeting
America’s most vulnerable minority.”

“It was already known that trans people are victimized by hate crime more than others,” it continued. “Several years ago, the Intelligence Report, using 14 years of FBI hate crime statistics, found that LGBT people were far more likely to suffer violent hate attacks than any other group. Within that community, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that trans people, and especially trans women of color, were the most victimized of all. Most of the trans murder victims of the last two years fit that description. . . .”

On Sunday, the Register editorially gave a rose to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for assigning a prosecutor to the case of Johnson, who was described as “gender fluid.”

Christopher J. Perras of the Justice Department’s civil rights division will assist Iowa officials in the prosecution of Jorge Sanders-Galvez, who is charged with first-degree murder in Johnson’s shooting death in March 2016,” it said.

“The New York Times reported that the move to add Perras was ‘personally initiated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.’

“Our rose is cautionary, however. Sessions has promised to ‘enforce hate crime laws aggressively and appropriately where transgendered individuals are victims,’ as he told a summit in June. But he’s also reversed protections for transgender people, declaring that federal civil rights law ‘encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity, per se, including transgender status.’ . . .”

The board also wrote, “Murder and assault aren’t the only ways transgender people are under attack. Sessions did the right thing in intervening in the Johnson case, but he has much more to do to show that his administration cares for the lives of transgender people.”

Myeshia Johnson (Credit: ABC News)

Myeshia Johnson (Credit: ABC News)

ABC Nabs Gold Star Widow, Angry About Trump

In the “get” interview of the news cycle, “The pregnant widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was among four U.S. service members killed in Niger this month, expressed a mix of blame and sorrow today on ‘Good Morning America,’ saying she was ‘very angry’ about President Donald Trump’s condolence phone call and upset because she says he struggled to ‘remember my husband’s name,’ ” M.L. Nestel reported Monday for ABC News.

“ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos spoke to Myeshia Johnson, who criticized Trump’s handling of the phone call, which started a firestorm of controversy.

” ‘I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name, and that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?’ said Johnson, who had known her husband since she was 6 years old.

” ‘That’s what made me upset and cry even more, because my husband was an awesome soldier.’

“After Myeshia Johnson’s interview aired, Trump argued on Twitter today that he said La David Johnson’s name ‘from the beginning’ and ‘without hesitation.’ . . .”

Both Republicans and Democrats urged Trump to drop the issue, but there was no sign that the president was prepared to do so.

Just how did ABC land Myeshia Johnson on “GMA”? “We don’t comment on our booking process,” Julie Townsend, ABC News’ vice president, communications, responded by email.

(Credit: CNN)

(Credit: CNN)

CNN Pushes Back With ‘Facts First’ Slogan

CNN is throwing something new at people who have tried to portray it as a purveyor of so-called ‘fake news,’Brian Steinberg reported Monday for Variety.

“In what may be one of the most distinctive and unorthodox promotional campaigns from the Time Warner cable-news outlet since Ted Turner launched it in 1980, CNN will push back against the portrayal by critics and members of the Trump administration that it dispenses made-up stories to the public in deliberate fashion. A new branding campaign gives the network a new slogan: ‘Facts First.’

“At a time when President Trump and his representatives have been caught in many instances of giving out inaccurate information and details, ‘CNN has never been more relevant than we are now’ says Allison Gollust, CNN Worldwide’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, in an interview. . . .”

Va. Paper Sorry for Black Conservative’s Column

The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch apologized Wednesday for running a column by black conservative Walter Williams that discussed sexual assault, saying “the column fell short of our editorial standards” and that the newspaper was “re-evaluating Williams’ place in our stable of syndicated columnists.”

Walter Williams

Walter Williams

The column was titled “White Privilege and Other Fables.” It was deleted from the Times-Dispatch website, but Katie Bashista, opinions editor at the Commonwealth Times, an independent newspaper at Virginia Commonwealth University, gave her readers a recap on Monday:

The most criticized aspect of [Williams’] article is where he discusses campus sexual assault and rape — a topic all women are tired of hearing men try to explain,” Bashista wrote.

“He questions decisions college aged women make by comparing the situation to a hypothetical one in which Williams leaves his wallet on top of his car and goes about the rest of his day. He says while he has the right to do so, it isn’t a wise decision and he most likely will not find his wallet still sitting on top of his car when he returns.

“Comparing a traumatic sexual assault or rape situation to that of an inanimate object is not only ridiculous, it’s demeaning. Williams was able to diminish an entire nation-wide epidemic down to the inconvenience of losing your wallet.

“Then he says it’s as equally unwise for college women to ‘get stoned, use foul language and dance suggestively.’ It’s deplorable to claim women are asking to be assaulted by taking part in normal young adult activities both genders participate in. . . .”

Times-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor A. Barton Hinkle wrote in his editor’s message:

“On Saturday, we published a Walter Williams column, ‘White Privilege and Other Fables,’ that included two paragraphs about sexual assault — to which many readers have taken strong exception.

“As we said in an earlier note, we often publish opinion pieces with which we, too, strenuously disagree — and we disagreed with Williams’ points in his Saturday column.

“That was an understatement.

“The column fell short of our editorial standards. Given the chance to do it all over again, we would not run it — and certainly not those two paragraphs.

“In light of that, we are removing the column from, and we are re-evaluating Williams’ place in our stable of syndicated columnists.

“I would like to stress that the Times-Dispatch newsroom had zero role in publishing the column. The News and Editorial departments are entirely separate operations, and News bears no responsibility for anything that appears in the opinion pages.

“Thanks to everyone who provided feedback about the column, for reminding us of the importance of striving always to elevate the conversation rather than debase it. Nobody is perfect — ourselves least of all. But we do aspire to something higher.”

In Too Many Venues, Asian Americans Are Missing

Chris Lu

Chris Lu

Last month, a landmark study called ‘Tokens on the Small Screen’ confirmed what even casual TV watchers have probably observed: the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population is seriously under-represented on television,” Chris Lu, U.S. deputy secretary of Labor during the Obama administration, wrote Friday for Time.

“Examining 242 scripted shows on broadcast, cable and streaming TV over a one-year period, researchers found that barely one-third of TV shows have a series regular who is AAPI. Even TV shows set in cities with large AAPI populations — New York and Los Angeles, for instance — are mostly devoid of Asian American characters.

“AAPIs are also missing elsewhere. A recent study of Silicon Valley technology companies concluded: ‘Asians are the least likely to be promoted to managerial or executive positions, in spite of being the largest minority group of professionals and the most likely to be hired.’

“An analysis of the legal profession found: ‘Asian Americans are the largest minority group in big law firms, but they have the highest attrition rates and the lowest ratio of partners to associates.’

“Meanwhile, AAPIs are now the fastest-growing racial group in the country. The population of Americans of Asian descent — now numbering 20 million — has grown 72% since 2000 and is expected to surpass that of Hispanics by the year 2055. Yet in too many spaces, they’re largely invisible.

“Take, for instance, the political programming that dominates cable news and Sunday morning shows. Since leaving the Obama Administration in January, I have appeared on TV to discuss the policy debates and political fights in D.C., and I can count on one hand the number of AAPI pundits who appear on a consistent basis. . . .”

immigration-Media Matters

Fox News Covers Immigration More, but Negatively

A Media Matters review of recent evening programming on the three major cable news channels found that Fox News is covering immigration significantly more than CNN and MSNBC, a disparity that has occurred before,” Dina Radtke reported Monday for Media Matters for America. “But Fox’s coverage of immigration issues is overwhelmingly negative, and its dominance of the subject on cable news effectively allows it to shape the debate when immigration issues are a topic of national discussion.

“From October 9 to October 13, the week after President Donald Trump ‘dropped a potential bomb into negotiations on the future’ of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Fox News’ programming between 5 and 11 p.m. devoted a total of one hour, two minutes and 23 seconds to discussing immigration, compared to CNN’s six minutes and nine seconds of coverage and MSNBC’s five minutes and 47 seconds of coverage. . . .”

One-Third Say Diversity Focus Slights White Men

More than a third of Americans in a new national survey said they think the heightened focus on diversity at work has overlooked white men, according to the consultancy firm Ernst & Young. Thirty-two percent of male respondents, meanwhile, reported feeling ‘personally excluded’ in the office,” Danielle Paquette reported Oct. 16 for the Washington Post.

“Employment data, however, show men continue to dominate the top ranks of virtually every field, including business, politics and academia.

Karyn Twaronite, EY’s global diversity and inclusiveness officer, said the company wanted to better understand why some male workers said they did not feel engaged in efforts to boost employees who have been historically underrepresented in higher roles. . . .”

Bernal E. Smith II Dies, Publisher in Memphis

Bernal Smith (Credit: WMC-TV)

Bernal E. Smith II (Credit: WMC-TV)

Bernal E. Smith II, president and publisher of The New Tri-State Defender and Memphis civic leader, died Sunday at his home, his newspaper reported,” Wayne Risher wrote Monday for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis. “He was 45.

“The Defender, one of the country’s oldest African American newspapers, quoted a family spokesman as saying Mr. Smith was with family when he was found Sunday afternoon. . . .

” ‘The New Tri-State Defender and its management board is devastated,’ said a joint statement from associate publisher Karanja Ajanaku and Calvin Anderson, president of Best Media Properties, the Defender’s parent company. . . .”

Ajanaku reported Monday in the Defender that Smith’s wife, Towanda Smith, said doctors attributed his death to natural causes. “In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the American Heart Association.”

Ron Maxey of the Commercial Appeal added Monday, “Breathing new life into the Tri-State Defender as the weekly newspaper’s president and publisher was only one of Smith’s accomplishments. Those who knew him and worked with him said Monday Smith would be remembered as well for the way he empowered the city’s majority African-American population through the many hats he wore. . . .”

Maxey quoted Phil Trenary, CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, on Smith’s role as publisher. “I can’t speak to the Defender before Bernal,” Trenary said, “but I can definitely say that in his time there, it has been a very respected publication. It’s not opinion pieces; they do the hard work, the real reporting. It’s a very reasoned voice.”

Maxey also wrote, “The Memphis Association of Black Journalists said in a statement that Smith wisely positioned the Tri-State Defender for growth by creating new revenue streams and strategic partnerships.

“MABJ President Siobhan Riley said Smith’s life stood in sharp contrast to the negative images often seen of African-American men.

” ‘Smith made a huge impact in Memphis and loved MABJ,’ Riley said. ‘He taught our organization the importance of leadership and telling stories in a way that would bring about change in our community.’ . . . ”

MABJ and the Redwing Group, a public relations firm, each announced plans for scholarships to honor Smith, who was recently elected to the board of the National Newspaper Publisher Association.

Short Takes

Support Journal-isms

Facebook users: “Like” “Richard Prince’s Journal-isms” on Facebook.

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter @princeeditor

Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at

To be notified of new columns, contact and tell us who you are.

About Richard Prince

View previous columns (after Feb. 13, 2016).