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The spectacle of black pain

CNN interview reveals the difficulty of covering natural disasters

4:23 PMFrom a media perspective, natural disasters are a difficult beast when it comes to ethical standards of coverage. While you want your audience to be informed, there is also the very difficult balance of doing your job, hurting any humanitarian efforts and, very plainly, exploiting your subjects.

Tuesday afternoon on CNN, viewers were treated to a live interaction that served as an incredible lesson in media ethics. To be clear, this criticism is not about the network itself necessarily. I’ve appeared on CNN multiple times in my career, and I haven’t been monitoring various outlets for the purposes of fair criticism. I just turned this on and saw what was leading up to and was instantly uncomfortable.

From what I recall, the question was basically about how she saved her children. But honestly, that didn’t really matter. She was going to say whatever she wanted to say. And good for her. A temporary shelter is not the place to start interviewing people like they are coaches coming off the field before halftime of a game. Sunday on NPR, I heard a teenage girl talking about the state of her family in a flooded house in which everyone was hanging out in the kitchen because that was the only room with a light.

Point is, as a business, we are all trafficking in this. The interview was just a particularly egregious example of how a shortsighted attempt at shedding light on something can in fact be harmful. It’s an EXTREMELY tricky balance for anyone who’s ever covered anything in real time that involves live broadcasting.

It’s hard to believe that they would have put a nonblack person in this situation. Over the past five years, images of black suffering have become en vogue, from movies about slavery winning Oscars to the constant images of our young men getting shot and killed looping on cable news networks across the nation. Is there value to exposing that to people, to understand what happened? Of course, that’s what this business is about. But there are diminishing returns, and for black folks in particular, it contributes to collective generational post-traumatic stress disorder, which is real.

And if you don’t believe me on that, you can click here, here, here or here.

Natural disaster coverage has no handbook. Of course, airing many of these stories is the connection it takes to make some people feel the need to give. But that doesn’t mean that the so-called greater good is always a fruitful endeavor. There is common sense, the drive to be first, the desire to help and everything in between. How that’s handled sticks with more than just media companies; it’s been known to ruin presidential reputations as well. Just ask Kanye West.

Daily Dose: 8/28/17

Texas tries to battle Hurricane Harvey

1:36 PMHey, gang, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news: The Morning Roast is coming to an end. Football season is upon us, and programming is changing, alas. Good news: There’s one more show left. Check out this week.

All prayers go to Texas. In a storm the likes of which no one alive has ever seen before, Hurricane Harvey has basically destroyed large parts of the state with both rain and wind and the subsequent flooding. And it’s not getting any better anytime soon. They say that recovering from this will take years, and don’t forget: Quite a few people who survived Hurricane Katrina back in the day had permanently relocated to Houston. This is a nightmare all over again for them. The police chief’s advice? Hunker down, they’re trying. This is such a sad situation, overall.

Might be time to get that Amazon Prime account, if you’d been holding out. The official sale of Whole Foods to the megaretailer became official on Monday, and word is that prices will be dropping at the high-end grocer rather soon as a result. This means that Jeff Bezos owns one of the country’s most prominent media companies, as well as a massive online sales operation, besides a monster food chain. Dude is doing a lot. How this will affect any of those businesses overall, who knows? Here are the details.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t watch the MTV Video Music Awards. Typically, it’s my favorite of all the award shows. This year, I just didn’t have it in me as a result of the fight on Saturday draining all my desire to watch long, live programming for the rest of the weekend. But Katy Perry was the host, and from what my Twitter feed says, there were a decent number of solid performances. It’ll likely air 23 more times in the next five days, but if you just want to catch up on what you missed, you can do that too.

By many accounts, Vontaze Burfict is a dirty player. He’s had that reputation for a while in Cincinnati, and now the league is suspending him for five games as a result of a hit he put on a Chiefs player this preseason. Look, I don’t know what his deal is or why he can’t seem to stay out of trouble regarding his on-the-field play, but this dude needs to get it together. The NFL allows a lot of reasonable leeway when it comes to the basic concept of knocking the crap out of people, and the fact that he can’t seem to get it right is troubling. He plans to appeal the decision.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Russell Wilson seems like a nice guy. He and Ciara make a lovely couple, and generally he is a pretty decently liked person. But whatever he had in mind for his outfit at the Mayweather-McGregor fight is beyond me. I mean, look at this outfit. Dude looks like Carlton from that episode of Fresh Prince when they go to Compton, California.

Snack Time: In the 21st season of the WNBA, not a single player has a sneaker line of her own. Seems like that’s a problem that needs to change.

Dessert: Shoutout to Katherine Johnson — you know, the NASA genius — who just celebrated her 99th birthday.

Daily Dose: 8/25/17

How the Browns’ national anthem protest came together

1:21 PMWhat’s up, gang, hope your week’s gone well. I’ll be hosting #TheRightTime with Bomani Jones on Friday afternoon from 4-7 p.m. EST on ESPN Radio. There will be quite a lot to discuss heading into this weekend.

When multiple Browns players took a knee in Cleveland during the national anthem last week, it wasn’t impromptu. As it turns out, this was a decision that went through multiple channels and happened with the blessing of the franchise. You might recall that head coach Hue Jackson made some comments on the matter a while back that some viewed as unproductive. Well, he felt he was misinterpreted. Check out this in-depth look at how it all came together for the Browns. Also, let’s not forget what one Ohio Supreme Court justice said on it.

We’ve all been on family vacations. Sometimes there are multiple parties involved, as in, different constituencies who don’t necessarily live in the same household. So interests are not exactly congruent, and even though you all love each other, so to speak, that doesn’t mean you’re always going to get along. In many ways, it can feel like a competition. And if you were to hold a news conference after one in which people had to answer questions like athletes, you’d probably get a hilarious scene.

If you’ve never been to Africa, you don’t know what it’s like. Ancient and modern depictions of the continent are typically rooted in racist, colonialist and otherwise just stupid, misguided generalizations. As a result, people still believe that Africa is full of jungles and darkness. FYI, that’s not the case. So when a Harvard professor decided she wanted to re-create the Heart of Darkness boat cruise and write about it, we knew we were in for a trip. But there are ways to report on the continent, which ain’t one country. Take some time and learn something.

Saturday’s finally the night. Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will get into the ring Saturday night in Las Vegas, and hopefully McGregor will deliver a vicious roundhouse to the face of Mayweather and set off a vicious brawl that will be far more entertaining than the described bill. Alas, most people want an actual fight, but we all know that’ll likely be super boring. That said, multiple $1M bets on Mayweather have come into Vegas, which have caused the odds to move a little bit. Awesome.

Free Food

Coffee Break: The 1992 riots in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict were a seminal moment in U.S. history. Not because riots were anything new, but these were all over TV in the news cycle in a new way. Nonetheless, there were two sides. A new movie explores the Korean store owners’ side of the situation.

Snack Time: If you think the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony’s relationship is somehow getting better, you’d be wrong. He’s been left out of their marketing plans for next season.

Dessert: Happy weekend, y’all. This is how you educate the youth.

LeBron James is not impressed with your shenanigans

Celtics fans burn Isaiah Thomas’ jersey after trade to Cavs

3:26 PMhttps://twitter.com/kylegordon28/status/900146707295596544

There’s something so specifically stupid about jersey burning that makes it universally accepted as the single most pathetic and idiotic form of fan protest there is. A player does something you don’t like — or, in this case, moves on from a team through no choice of his own — so you set fire to the piece of clothing you bought with his name on it. Brilliant.

Over the years, the practice has turned into something that exists in the same universe as what we’ll call “face painters.” One step too far for even the hard-core sports fans, just a demonstrative display that ultimately only makes the person involved look silly. So when the Boston Celtics’ general manager decided he wanted to trade fan favorite Isaiah Thomas (and a gazillion other things) to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving, some fans uploaded a couple of videos of themselves burning Thomas jerseys. LeBron James was not happy about that.

So he tweeted his displeasure. Here they are, in reverse chronological order, because if I have to explain to you how Twitter works, then this isn’t the story for you anyway.

via Twitter

To be fair, clearly the two doing this are children, basically. That much is clear. But motivating James to create a further bond with the very guy who gave everything he had to that franchise, AND now he’s on the team that pummeled the Celtics by nearly 50 in an Eastern Conference semifinal in Boston? Dumb.

We know that this doesn’t represent every single Celtics fan, clearly. But for a town that’s already got an awful reputation regarding how it feels about certain athletes, this is a really bad look.

Daily Dose: 8/24/17

Cardi B is officially in takeover mode

1:50 PMEveryone, I have good news and I have bad news. First the bad news: I didn’t win Powerball. The good news: You might have! There goes my shot to become a professional sports owner.

We’ve seen a lot of lists about the number of quarterbacks who have signed in the NFL since Colin Kaepernick opted out. But have you thought about another number regarding what he was kneeling for and speaking out against in this country? As it turns out, police have killed more than 200 black Americans since Kaep first decided to protest. Think about that. So, whether or not you agree with what he and many NFL players have chosen to do, those numbers regarding law enforcement are not good.

You all know how I feel about Cardi B. As far as I’m concerned, she saved hip-hop this summer with her banger “Bodak Yellow,” which goes so hard it’s almost hard to believe. For those of us who’ve been fans for a while, her ability to handle the big stage is not a huge surprise. She’s been about this superstar life from the beginning. She also bought a Bentley — and she doesn’t even drive. When it comes to making it in New York, there are many levels of success. Getting recognized by The New York Times is certainly one of them.

Let’s take a trip around Hollywood. You might know Yvonne Orji from her role on HBO’s Insecure. You might not know that in her real life, she’s actually a virgin and plans on staying so until marriage. Moving to the basic cable package, Lakeith Stanfield, while promoting his new Netflix movie, said that you can expect season two of FX’s Atlanta to tackle today’s political climate as a subject matter. Good. Lastly, from the “truth is stranger than fiction, sort of” file, the guy who played Suge Knight in Straight Outta Compton caught an assault charge.

There was a half-second earlier this week in which I considered buying the fight. I don’t know what came over me, but in a moment of weakness, I thought, I don’t want to waste my time running all over town trying to find a fun environment in which to watch it. Heck, I’ll get it and if someone wants to come over and pitch in, sure. But after watching that super low-wattage presser Wednesday, I’m definitely out. It seems these two can only go outrageous, vulgar yelling match or near silence. No in between, alas. Mayweather-McGregor is losing steam.

Free Food

Coffee Break: As a child, Chuck E. Cheese was a fun, if not slightly terrifying, experience. Why the latter? Because as much as they were supposed to entertain us, that animatronic band was absolutely a scary situation if you were a kid. Now they’re phasing it out, to which I say good riddance.

Snack Time: People get drunk and drown all the time. People get drunk and crash cars all the time. Not a lot of people get drunk and then get swallowed by a sinkhole on the beach and get buried alive. This story is nuts.

Dessert: The new Action Bronson/Rick Ross track is pretty smooth, kiddos.