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FAMU Partners for 24-Hour Black News Channel

March 19, 2014

Trustees approve 11-year collaboration with J.C. Watts; Cooke reportedly in line for "CBS Evening News" producer; Jackson, at Hewlett-Packard, pushes for high-tech diversity; Liggins gives Howard U. Communications School $4 million; Byron Pitts wins McGruder diversity award; ESPN ombudsman urges more on sports issues, not less; Miami Herald finds 477 kids died from state's inattention; black press says Obama disrespects by not giving interview (3/19/14)

Trustees Approve 11-Year Collaboration With J.C. Watts

Black Press Says Obama Disrespects by Not Giving Interview

"This morning on #NewsOneNow with Roland Martin, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) wire service Editor-in-Chief George Curry said the black press has been disrespected in recent years,"Lauren Victoria Burke wrote Wednesday for crewof42.com.

"'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 NewsOneNow with Roland Martin this morning. . . ."

It's a familiar complaint from mainstream newspapers as well.

"Why bother with The New York Times beat reporter when Obama can go on 'The View'?" Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen wrote last year in Politico.  They also wrote, "The president has not granted an interview to print reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, and others in years. These are the reporters who are often most likely to ask tough, unpredictable questions.'. . . "


As a candidate, Obama was asked in 2007 by Cheryl Smith of the Dallas Weekly why he had reached out to the black press, with whom the candidate held a conference call early that year, and whether he would continue to reach out if elected.

Naming three Chicago black newspapers — the Defender, the Crusader and the Citizen — Obama said that when he served in the Illinois legislature, those papers would cover issues he was working on that the mainstream press would not.

"My attitude is that if you were covering me when nobody wanted to cover me, then they should cover me when everybody wants to cover me. That attitude will continue when I'm in the White House," Obama said at a Las Vegas convention of the National Association of Black Journalists.

As president, Obama seems to have altered his strategy.

On March 3, Obama was on the "Ricky Smiley Morning Show" on the black-oriented network TV One discussing the Affordable Care Act (audio). He also calls in periodically to the syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show."

The White House preferences seem to be broadcast over print, friendly questioners over others, larger audiences over smaller ones, and those the president finds intellectually challenging or with whom he has a special rapport.

Obama gave considerable time to David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, for a 17,000-word New Yorker profile that appeared in January.

"It was similar to the wide-ranging set of interviews the president gave Michael Lewis a year ago for a Vanity Fair profile,"John Dickerson wrote for Slate. "In the Lewis interview, the president was buoyant, game for Lewis' conceit to train a person for the presidency in 30 minutes. He invited the writer to play basketball with him and needled him for his sloppy defense. . . ."

However, Lewis told a Lincoln Center audience in 2012 "that as a condition of cooperating with his story, the White House insisted on signing off on the quotes that would appear," Jeremy W. Peters reported for the New York Times. But "Mr. Lewis said that ultimately the White House disallowed very little of what he asked to use."

In January 2013, Piers Morgan, the CNN host, asked "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft, "Let me ask you at the top, why do you think he keeps coming to you? Because there's two schools of thought. One, is that you're the most brilliant, penetrating interviewer on American television. And the other one is that you give him a soft time. Neither of which I suspect is entirely the true picture."

Kroft replied, "No, I think that first of all, I think he likes '60 Minutes.' It's, you know, we have a huge audience. We have a format that suits him, it's long. We can do 12 minutes or 24 minutes. We do, you know, we do a good job of editing. And I've been doing these interviews with him since a few weeks before he declared his candidacy. So I covered him during the campaign and have kept doing it in the White House.

"But I think it's a question of fairness. We have not — I think he knows that we're not going to play gotcha with him, that we're not going to go out of our way to make him look bad or stupid and we'll let him answer the questions."

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