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Aug 16, 2005
Howie Kurtz only likes you if you're on TV (and probably only if you're white)

I'm going to start out by noting The Common Ills because C.I. continues to note the importance of John H. Johnson, pioneering publisher, and today, a guy at work stopped me when I was about to get off and asks,  "Cedric, did you read The Common Ills?  You got to read it for Johnson!"

So here's a section of today's Common Ills:

From the land of fantasy, Howie Kurtz:

Washington, D.C.: I'm very disappointed in the media's lack of coverage on passing on John H. Johnson the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. I understand all the tributes to Peter Jennings (was an editorial about Jennings in The Post really necessary?) but I really feel Johnson deserved equal consideration and coverage. His contributions deserved more of than the short shrift they got last week.

Howard Kurtz: John Johnson was a very important figure, and I'm glad that The Post ordered up an appreciation to run alongside my piece on Jennings even though we didn't learn of Johnson's death until about 5 p.m. last Monday. But due to the power of television, Peter Jennings was one of the most famous people in the world, while most Americans would have had trouble identifying John H. Johnson. As a magazine publisher, he played a behind-the-scenes role; as a network anchor, Jennings played the most public of roles.

Jennings played the most public of roles? A) Get out of your limited and apparently very white world, Howie. B) The press decides what gets emphasized. The press needs to take some responsibility and saying, 'Peter Jennings was on TV!' really isn't taking responsibility. And as Kendrick points out, Malcolm Forbes's "death was talked and talked and talked" about and he wasn't a TV anchor.

Kendrick: If Howard Kurtz was a Black man, I wonder if he'd be so dismissive of Mr. Johnson or so ho-hum about the way Mr. Johnson's death didn't play out in the media last week?

The reality is that the press determined whom to cover. The reality is the press made one passing "noteable" and the other an aside. To Howie, Johnson "played a behind-the-scenes role . . ." but that's not the sentiment of everyone in this country, so possibly Howie, like a lot of others, needs to leave his restricted (highly restricted) comfort zone. And note, Kurtz is speaking of the mainstream media not just the Washington Post. Howie, critic of all media, says that someone on TV's passing is more noteable than someone not on TV* -- an attitude that appears to endorse the beliefs of the character Suzanne Stone Maretto (Nicole Kidman's character in To Die For):

You're not anybody in America unless you're on TV. On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what's the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody's watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person.

He also fails to address the issues raised -- as well as the question regarding was an editorial necessary on Jennings? To which I'd add, "If an editorial on Jennings was necessary, why wasn't one necessary on Johnson?"

The Third Estate Sunday Review has two features on this topic:

  • A Tale of Two Deaths
  • World News Tonight's hard hitting reporting (a parody)

    [Note: I assisted Jim, Dona, Ty, Ava and Jess with the above as did " Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine subbing for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man and Kat of Kat's Korner."]

    *Howie: "But due to the power of television, Peter Jennings was one of the most famous people in the world, while most Americans would have had trouble identifying John H. Johnson."

    Is that what dictates coverage? The news exists to feed us what we already know? "Most Americans would have had trouble identifying John H. Johnson." Does he mean most white Americans? Again, Kurtz needs to move out of his restricted comfort zone.

    The excuse that "Jennings was on TV and known!" is no excuse at all. The press is supposed to inform us of passings and the press made the decision that Johnson's death wasn't worth noting in depth. That decision was made. For those who see racism as the basis for the decision, Howie's simple-minded and dismissive reply backs it up.

    Let's step back into the real world and go to Susan (Random Thoughts: Unfair and Unbalanced) who's running down some of the recent passings and notes this:

    John H. Johnson, founder of Ebony and Jet magazines, died the other day at the age of 87.

    The media swarm over the death of Peter Jennings buried news of the death of this publishing pioneer.

    Johnson was also the first African-American to make the
    Forbes 400 list of richest Americans.

    (Trey e-mailed to note Susan's comments).

  • Actually, there's on more part, where C.I.'s noting this from Democracy Now! today:

    Funeral To Be Held For Jet & Ebony Founder John Johnson
    And in Chicago, a funeral is being held today for John H. Johnson, the pioneering African-American magazine publisher. He died last week at the age of 87. He was the founder of Jet and Ebony magazines and was one of the most influential African-American entrepreneurs of the past half-century.

    See, some people are noting it.  Amy Goodman and the folks of Democracy Now! covered Johnson last week and are again this week and Susan of Random Thoughts gets it and Trey and Marcia and C.I.

    As for Howard Kurtz, he's a bigger stooge than my cousin who just got patterns shaved into his scalp that make his head look like one of those stickers you put down in the tub to prevent someone from falling.

    With Vernon, I said,  "What the heck were you thinking?"  With Kurtz, he obviously doesn't think.
    Peter Jennings got massive coverage and John H. Johnson very little coverage because, according to Howard Kurts, Peter Jennings was on TV.  And because he was an anchor of an evening news program.  So that means no one of my race gets that kind of coverage, right Zowie Howie?  I mean, I don't hear that CBS is looking to replace Rather's white rabbit replacement with a brother.  And Brian Williams looks like he applies man-tan.  So we don't have a black anchor on the evening news of any of the big three broadcast networks.  By Zowie's logic, we, therefore, don't get any coverage.

    You're only matter, Zowie Howie says, if you're on TV.  Of course he would say that since he is on TV.  If you lose your TV outlet, do you no longer matter, Zowie?

    Most Americans don't know who John H. Johnson was, according to Howie.  I'm guessing he doesn't know many black people other than maybe his servants.  What Howie's saying is that not many white people he knows know who John H. Johnson is.  A lot of important people die that your average person of any color never heard about and I kinda thought that was what the press did, let you know someone important passed but I guess I was wrong.  Howie tells us it's all about if you are on TV or not.

    Howie needs to leave his, what did C.I. call it?, "restricted comfort zone."  I love that.  Restricted zone.  That's Howie Kurtz.  And black people get restricted right out of his area.

    I'll close by saying Kat called me tonight to tell me about some dope putting down people who are anti-war.  I'm anti-war.  I told Kat, put me down as anti-war because that sort of bull crap shouldn't just pass by without comment.


  • The Common Ills
  • Cedric's Big Mix
  • The Third Estate Sunday Review
  • Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man
  • Kat's Korner (The Common Ills)
  • Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
  • Mikey Likes It!

  • Posted at 04:59 pm by cedricsbigmix

    August 17, 2005   11:47 AM PDT
    Where is big media on this? Silent and justifying. Racism didn't vanish and this just reminds us all.

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