I have to admit I had more fun watching Hurricane Issac on the Weather Channel than I did watching the convention. I always love Jim Cantore getting soaked and pounded. But I did look at brief glimpses of the convention and once again it struck me how very white the delegates are. Looking through all the convention coverage this morning I was struck by two little stories both involving the media, race and gender. This was suppose to be the night of the convention for women.
An attendee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday allegedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said “This is how we feed animals” before being removed from the convention, a network official confirmed to TPM.
Erik Wemple who writes a blog for the Post on the media predicts
Based on the limited details thus far, the episode will have at least a full day in the news cycle. There’ll be the quest to find both the employee against whom the incident was directed as well as the person who directed the incident. There’ll be a search for other witnesses as well. If those details drip and drip and drip, the event could pose a distraction for the goings-on, though we have no idea who did it and what connection the person may have to the convention.
One thing is now safe to rule out: Criminal charges. A call to the Tampa police department late tonight brought a referral to the Secret Service, which has jurisdiction over the interior of the convention venue. A Secret Service official told me that they’re referring calls on the incident to the Republican National Committee. Not a police matter, in other words.
It is, however, a matter for CNN. It knows all the details of this event. How will the network balance a workplace issue — someone on the job enduring an insulting outburst — with a matter of public interest? Resolving that conflict must start with the preferences of the crew person. But the presumption should fall in favor of doing the story in all of its detail, regardless of whether the details are more or less damaging than what’s been reported.
And Juan Williams who is trying hard to be a black commentator for Fox is back in the news. Politico reported that was involved in a “ribbing” incident during the Fox convention coverage. His sin? He called Ann Romney a corporate wife.
Fox News contributor Juan Williams took some ribbing from his colleagues Tuesday night after saying Ann Romney looked “like a corporate wife” who hasn’t struggled in her life.
“Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, on the other hand looked to me like a corporate wife,” Williams said, speaking on a panel after the Republican National Convention’s speeches wrapped for the night. “And you know the stories she told about struggle, eh, it’s hard for me to believe. She’s a very rich woman and I know that and America knows that.”
Fox News hosts Bret Baier replied, “Wow, OK,” and Megyn Kelly asked Williams, “What does that mean, corporate wife?”
“What does it mean?” Williams replied. “It looks like a woman whose husband takes care of her and she’s been very lucky and blessed in this life. She’s not speaking, I think, for the tremendous number of single women in this country, or married women or separated — actually she did not convince me that you know what, ‘I understand the struggles of American women in general.’”
Later, the panel reconvened — but without Williams. Wall Street Journal columnist and former presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan joined to offer commentary in Williams’s place.
“I want to point out that we did not kick Juan off the panel because of the corporate wife comment, we wanted to get a speechwriter’s perspective,” Baier said, to laughter.
“Although we considered it,” Kelly said.
And as Baier and Kelly wrapped the show, Kelly offered a last take on Williams’s remark.
“My final thought is, [Ann Romney] may have improved Mitt Romney’s standing with women,” Kelly said. “You know whose standing did not improve with women tonight?”
“Whose?” Baier asked.
“Juan Williams,” Kelly replied, as the duo laughed.
Juan, I always did wonder if you got a raw deal from NPR but Kelly is wrong. Your standing improved with this woman. I do think that both of these little stories illustrate the conservative problem with both race and gender and it seems to extend to the media.