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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: 8/25/17

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.

 

Daily Dose: 8/23/17

James Comey to speak at Howard convocation and teach there

1:36 PMHey, all, sorry for the absence Tuesday. I was out sick after a long few weeks of travel, but I’m back now and I’ll also be hosting The Right Time on ESPN Radio on Friday if you’d like to tune in to that.

Welp, it looks like the president is ready for war. On multiple fronts. At what looked like a campaign rally in Arizona on Tuesday, President Donald Trump went full fire and brimstone, outlining how he plans to fight with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, in addition to how he wants to battle the media, a constant refrain of his. To call the speech over the top would be inaccurate, considering this is basically what we get all the time from Trump. But it’s worth noting that the world is watching and no one is particularly impressed. That includes Germany’s Angela Merkel, who said this America First stuff is really just not a smart global strategy when it comes to basically everything.

It’s about to be lit at Howard University’s opening convocation. The historically black institution in Washington, D.C., dealt with a very weird circumstance on campus Aug. 19 when two Trump supporters showed up claiming they were just there for a meal, and now the controversy is likely to continue. The school has secured James Comey — yes, THAT James Comey — to speak next month to kick off the school year, which promises to be a very eye-opening event. He’s the former FBI head, and you might recall that his testimony had the nation at a standstill when he spoke about his relationship with the president. For all the stuff that Howard is criticized for, one thing the school does well is land good speakers and performers, no doubt. Comey will also hold an endowed chair in public policy at the university, engaging in a lecture series to foster discussion and spur interaction on campus and beyond.

Scheduled for Sept. 22, opening convocation officially signals the beginning of the academic year. Comey will formally welcome the class of 2021 to the 2017-18 school year and recognize the university for its accomplishments and its commitment to excellence in truth and service. As the holder of the King Endowed Chair in Public Policy, Comey will lead and conduct five lectures featuring speakers who will touch on several topics.

Powerball is at an insane number right now. The $700M jackpot is the kind of money that brings everyone out of the woodwork to play, including office pools and family groups of all sorts. It’s also the kind of money that, if you win, not only changes your life but also sets things up for generations to come. In short, considering how large that jackpot is, you’d be borderline stupid not to at least give it a shot with a dollar or 20. Me? I’d probably buy a sports franchise with all that cash after taxes, a minor league baseball team or something — of course after buying my family everything they ever wanted. But what are the actual odds of taking home all that cash? Let’s take a look.

While the San Francisco 49ers might not be so progressive on one front, they are on another. You might recall that general manager John Lynch, while discussing the Colin Kaepernick situation, said he didn’t think that protesting the national anthem was an effective thing to do. It’s also important to know he stepped straight into an NFL front office with zero experience, from the broadcast booth. But now the San Francisco NFL franchise has hired the league’s first openly gay coach, who is also a woman. This is a huge step forward for a league that’s been known to be rather conservative on basically all social issues. Good for them.

Free Food

Coffee Break: We talk a decent amount about the White House around here, but what we don’t do is make fun of kids and what they wear. So why anyone would feel the need to take a shot at Barron Trump for not dressing like a grown-up is beyond us. I’m a grown man and still dress like a kid, so this is particularly irksome. Barron, do you until you can’t.

Snack Time: When I was a child, I loved Knight Rider. The show with the talking car felt like the most technologically advanced thing ever at the time. Now, David Hasselhoff wants to remake it as a movie, with a dark twist. I could be into that.

Dessert: Action Bronson’s cooking show has been renewed, but it also might get a daily late-night show. One of those things is a good idea.