A Strained Relationship Between Obama and the Black Press.

 

Has Obama turned a blind eye to the Black press?

Is the bromance between Obama and the Black press over?

Human beings have the unfortunate habit of looking at their own circumstances, incorrectly blaming others for problems of their own making and complaining bitterly it’s the other guy who needs to clean up the act.

Recently, George Curry, editor of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA), took the easy route and griped how President Obama had shown “disrespect” for the Black press.

“There is a disrespect for the black press that we have not seen in recent years. For example, we have requested — every year — an interview with the president. He can ignore 200 black newspapers and 19 million viewers but he can give one to every stupid white comedian there is on TV, the black ones and the white ones, and has time for all types of buffoonery but they will not respect the black press enough to give us an interview,” Curry said on TVOne’s “NewsOneNow with Roland Martin.”

It’s understandable Curry is bent if Obama opts to talk to a “stupid White comedian” like  Zach Galifianakis and not him, but he underestimates his own importance and misunderstands than in the final push to get the Obamacare enrollment numbers over the top,  the smarter media strategy is to plow resources into a You Tube video that garnered  11 million views of the video, and a 40 percent spike in traffic to Healthcare.gov from the day before.

That doesn’t happen in an interview with The Oklahoma Eagle or any other Black newspaper.    Old media takes it on the chin yet again from new media.   You’d think they’d be accustomed to it by now.

Black want more meetings with Obama like this one in 2010 (Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House)

Black want more meetings with Obama like this one in 2010 (Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House)

The president is no different from most of Black America.   The problem isn’t the president pays no attention to the Black press. The problem is the Black press gives him no reason he should.   Their clout within the Black community has withered and faded in the face of competition from Twitter, hip-hop web sites,  bloggers, podcasting and the rest of social media.

Obama does need to spend a little more time with the Black press and throw them a bone now and then to make them happy,  but he didn’t need them in this fight. Black folks are three times in favor of healthcare reform. It was White folks–specifically YOUNG White folks he needed to recruit. The Black press can’t even deliver young Black folks. Obama would get more attention from an interview with World Star Hip-Hop than the Chicago Defender.    The support for Obamacare by Blacks is three times that of Whites.   Clearly the White House doesn’t believe it needed Curry and company to sell the program to Black America.

If the Black press feels disrespected it earned that disrespect.   Most of its wounds are self-inflicted and chief among them are a failure to adapt to both changing demographics, embrace the technological innovations that could have resuscitated it and enabled it to thrive in the 21st century, but that takes money and the willingness to try something new and different.   I haven’t seen a lot of publishers in the NNPA who aren’t convinced yet their problems are due to a failure to adapt and that is why they don’t matter all that much.

Black journalism has a proud history and a sketchy future.  The audience they need to thrive is made of up young people who don’t read Black newspapers, don’t see how it is relevant to their lives and can smell the musky, antiquated thinking and unwillingness to meet them where they are.

As a former editor and reporter of the Columbus Post newspaper, I saw first-hand the push-and-pull between the reporters, editors, photographers, and staffers who were committed to creating a quality product and the publishers who were more interesting in protecting their turf, currying favor with favorite politicians, pushing their pet projects, schmoozing with old cronies, nursing grudges and settling scores with other prominent people in the Black community.

The tragedy is there has never been a greater need for a healthy, robust, dynamic and energized Black Press. Many of the advances made by African-Americans are under assault by a hostile Republican Congress, a fickle and unprincipled Democratic Party, right-wing activists from the Tea Party to the U.S. Supreme Court.   Now more than ever the Black Press is needed to tell our truth to our people and now more than ever it seems unprepared for the task.

If Bams gives the Black press the “sit at the little kids table” treatment, what have they done to earn a place with the adults?  Not historically. but from a contemporary and serious journalism perspective.  Break any major stories? Do any enterprise or investigative stories lately? Earn any Pulitzer Prize nominations?

Politicians and the press maintain a relationship of mutual need  that at times has to become adversarial.   Curry, Martin and the Black press wants more respect from Obama they need to realize they need to do more to get it.   Simply grumbling over the Obama Administration making them them sit at the little kids table doesn’t cut it.   They need to raise their game as journalists to a point where even the president realizes it is politically advantageous to keep the Black press in the loop.   Right now there’s no particular price to pay for Obama if he doesn’t set out the good china and seat them at the grown-ups table.

The president can do better but so can the Black press.

Martin wants more face time with President Obama, but will he get it?

 

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Paula Deen’s Southern-Fried Racist Fantasies

Maybe by now you’ve heard that Paula Deen, the Food Network chef whose confections include stomach-churning monstrosities such as Deep-Fried Lasagna, Chocolate Cheese Fudge (don’t forget the Velveeta!)  and  Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding  made some colorful comments during a deposition she gave for a discrimination lawsuit filed against her, her brother and others.

Deen admitted to using “nigger” and other derogatory racial slurs (“yes, of course”) and described wanting to have a “very southern style wedding” for her brother modeled after a restaurant where the “whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men” in white jackets and black bow ties

I am absolutely shocked–SHOCKED–I tell you that a 66-year-old, White trash, trailer park, backwards-ass, country-fried peckerwood who fries everything in butter is a racist old SKANK. Who woulda thunk it?

Am I going too far?  Am I wallowing in the same sort of vulgar and nasty stereotypes  Paula Deen dreams of?   Yes, I am and what of it?

Just to be clear if my language is extreme (and admittingly it is)  you can’t be bad with that and e good with Mrs. Deen’s “bunch of little niggers” dancing around like they’re in a Shirley Temple movie phraseology.   Because if we can’t express loathing, revulsion and disgust for Deen’s Southern-fried fantasies of Black men in White shirts waiting on her hand and foot, then I’m kind of stumped on how to do so properly without turning Deen’s vile stereotypes against her.

Paula is down for the chocolate.

What gives stereotypes their sting is when they have some grain of truth to them. African-Americans do like fried chicken. White people put mayonnaise on their sandwiches. There are gay men whom adore Judy Garland and Irish husbands who get sauced and beat their wives’ asses.

Americans like to tell themselves racism is a thing of the past.   The Supreme Court stands poised to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act because Antonin Scalia says it is a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”   Surveys indicate Whites are more hostile to affirmative action than ever before and believe they are the ones suffering most from racial discrimination.    In comparison to the mounting tensions between Whites and Blacks, Deen’s wet dreams of subservient Blacks seem staggeringly trivial, but in another way are a troubling reminder of how much progress remains to be made between the races.

There remains Southern born bigots like Paula Deen who long for the days when you could call a Black man shining your shoes a “boy” and much worse if they forgot their place  and they had better not give a White person any sass  if they knew what was good for them.

Is calling Deen a peckerwood, White trash, a trailer resident going over-the-top deep into Stereotype Lake?  Sure it is, and I know she’s probably none of those things, but then I’m not a nigger either.

What Paula Deen thinks about Blacks is sad, pathetic and backwards as hell,  but I still feel more pity than contempt for her.   To the extent she can think at all, who  cares what this phony thinks about Blacks?  The women’s brain is full of butter, gravy and b.s. and ingesting all that fried gunk probably gave her Type 2 diabetes.

Seems like poetic justice to me.

ADDENDUM:  Oh, look!  Roland Martin, The National Association of Black Journalists choice for the 2013 Journalist of the Year took to his Twitter account to defend Deen’s divine right to say “nigger” as much as she wants.   How gallant of The Ascot.

“I like plenty of butter and gravy on my Negroes.”

GLAAD’s Outrageously Selective Outrage

Kirk says for gays it doesn't get better.

Like an example of double standards and selective outrage?  Me too.  Here’s one case of it in action.

LOS ANGELES, March 4 (TheWrap.com) – Former “Growing Pains” star Kirk Cameron‘s negative comments on homosexuality and gay marriage, made Friday on CNN’s “Pier Morgan Tonight,” have drawn a rapid response from GLAAD.

Cameron said he thought homosexuality was “unnatural.”

“I think that it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization,” the actor told Morgan.

Cameron, who is an evangelical Christian, also spoke out against gay marriage.

“Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve. One man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don’t think anyone else should either,” Cameron said. “So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don’t.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a statement Saturday in response to the actor’s appearance on the CNN program.

“In this interview, Kirk Cameron sounds even more dated than his 1980s TV character,” Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs at GLAAD, wrote “Cameron is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemned because of their sexual orientation.”

Graddick also addressed Cameron’s remarks regarding gay marriage.

“With an increasing number of states recognizing marriage equality, Americans are seeing that marriage is about committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other and that gay and lesbian couples need equal security and legal protections. That’s not ‘redefining’ anything.”

In brief remarks to TMZ Saturday night, Morgan called Cameron “brave” to voice his beliefs. Morgan said he feels Cameron “was honest to what he believed” even if most people find his views to be “antiquated.”

When Roland Martin tweeted remarks GLAAD considered homophobic and possibly an incitement to gay bashing, they unleashed their rap on him leading to CNN suspending him indefinitely, despite Mr. Martin’s apology.

GLAAD gives Piers Morgan a pass on enabling homophobia.

Piers Morgan gives Kirk Cameron a forum to call homosexuality “unnatural,” “detrimental” and “ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization” and though a has-been, hack actor like Cameron gets the GLAAD smack down, why is Morgan given a pass for telling TMZ Cameron’s remarks were “brave” and “honest?”  Does the qualifier that they were “antiquated” give Morgan a pass from Martin’s apology does not?

Seems like GLAAD has their own evolving standards when it comes to Martin’s silly Tweets and  Morgan’s tacit approval of Cameron’s clear and present homophobia.   What’s the lesson to be learned here?   It’s a bad thing when a Black CNN contributor implies homophobia but it’s okay when a White CNN host applauds it?

How can GLAAD plausibly criticize a nobody like Cameron while giving Morgan a pass?   I could care less what a nobody like Cameron says.  This is a guy who attacked Steven Hawking and John Lennon for not believing in heaven.  To go after the former teen idol of Growing Pains while saying nothing about Piers Morgan, the enabler and defender of Camerion’s bigotry makes no sense.  Or maybe it does if GLAAD figures they’ve bagged their quota of CNN personalities by getting Martin off the air.

GLAAD apparently considers the sin lies in making remarks they consider offensive.  But if you give the homophobe a forum and defend his right to be homophobic, it’s no harm, no foul.

Or maybe the simplest answer is it’s true that hypocrisy IS the greatest luxury and GLAAD is more willing to take on homophobic remarks when they’re coming from self-described Christians like Martin and Cameron and tolerate them when Morgan sticks up for bigotry.

The White privilege card.  Don’t leave home without it

The Soul Sacrifice of Roland Martin

Live by the word and die by the word

CNN contributor Roland Martin makes his living off of words.  A few of them led to his suspension from the network and an uncertain future.

While most of the country was watching the Super Bowl, Martin was merrily tweeting away providing a running commentary of the game, the commercials and anything else that popped in his head he figured might amuse his thousands of Twitter followers.

Soccer star David Beckham’s commercial with him stripped down to his skivvies appeared and next came the words that croaked Martin at CNN.

“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!”

If all hell didn’t break loose a small enough piece did and with it the gay activist group, GLAAD, ripped Martin for encouraging anti-gay violence and demanded CNN fire him.   Martin later issued an apology, but with his standard sarcasm dripping from it.

“Let me address the issue that some in the LGBT community have raised regarding some of my Super Bowl tweets yesterday,” he wrote. “I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise.”

Roland Martin's troublesome Tweet

Got that LGBT community?   It’s not me, it’s you.   As an apology it was inadequate.   As far as saving Martin’s job with CNN, it was insufficient.

CNN suspended Martin indefinitely and issued a statement “Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive.  Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”

Roland Martin is an experienced journalist and he knows journalists have to be accountable for their words.   He is also a Black man with a high-profile gig and there’s a hot spotlight on him.  He shouldn’t overshare on Twitter and while what he said was silly and sophomoric, I don’t think it was vicious or homophobic.

GLAAD did and they pounced.   They could have seen Martin’s remarks as a teaching moment opportunity to point out how words can be hurtful and homophobic speech creeps out when we least suspect it.

Nuh-uh.  That’s not how GLAAD rolls.  They’re in the business of collecting hides, not educating minds.  They howled for Martin’s head and CNN served it up on a silver platter (but not conservative commentator Dana Loesch who said she’d happily piss on dead Afghanis as U.S. troops have done).  The takeaway here is White gays have a stronger lobby than dead Afghanis.

GLAAD fires back at Martin.

I can’t say I know Roland Martin, but I’ve met him and sparred with him over other issues. Martin is passionate, articulate, smart and he fights for what he believes in. He is also caustic, patronizing, overbearing, and occasionally nasty.  Martin can be pleasant and charming when he wants, but get on his bad side (and it doesn’t take much to get there) and bring your lunch for an all day fight.

I don’t think Roland should be fired for his Tweets. He should be educated and learn how homophobia hurts. This is the proverbial “teaching moment” and rather than hang Mr. Martin out to dry,  GLAAD and other gay activists missed an opportunity to show Martin and the Black community that discrimination and insensitive speech is unacceptable no matter who does it.

Martin should have known as a Black man in a prominent position, the spotlight is always on and with social media you’re ALWAYS “on the record.”  I have never understood why some people can’t go to the john without reporting the details on Twitter, but some folks find these details riveting reading.

But there is a double standard here where a CNN conservative commentator can say she would piss on dead Afghanis and she isn’t suspended, but Rick Sanchez is fired for making insensitive remarks about Jews and Martin is suspended for offending gays.   Apparently, CNN is selective about what kind of speech crosses the line depending on what group is demeaned.

Martin objects to homosexuality based upon his religious upbringing and his 2006 article references how his wife ministers to gays to change their orientation.  I think that kind of ministering is crap, but I also recognize Martin and his wife believe the same way as other Black folks do.  That does not make it right. It does make it a reality.

Mr. Martin is no friend of mine. I don’t even much like the guy, but I do think he has the right to free speech. His employers at CNN have the right to hold him responsible for that speech–as long as everyone else is being held to that same standard and that is not the case.

Martin’s discriminatory words are being matched and trumped by GLAAD’s hectoring and CNN’s cave-in to a pressure group.   He was served up as a soul sacrifice on a silver platter to the altar of political correctness gone berserk.

Freedom of speech does not men freedom from taking responsibility for that speech.  Martin will have to do the same as Tracy Morgan, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and everyone else who words have done a drive-by past their brain.  Martin is a man of strongly held and expressed opinion and sometimes those opinions come back to bite where it smarts.   I’m sure he will emerge from this externally chastised and internally unbowed.

The takeaway from this is other oppressed groups have learned well the tactics of Blacks during the Civil Rights era of protest and how to seize, hold the moral high ground and slap down the oppressor.  They have learned it so well they have turned the tables on the once oppressed whom they now consider are oppressing them.

This must be what they mean by poetic justice.