By Harold Bell
If you don’t think it is the American way and there is not a big problem with black men in major media here are some stats for you to chew on as it relates to the television Black Out.
HEADLINE NEWS REPORTERS: 25 (no black men)
FOX NEWS REPORTERS: 42 (one black man)
CNN NEWS REPORTERS: 26 (2 black men)
MSNBC & NBC: 21 (no black men)
CNBC: 11 (no black men)
TOTAL: 125 REPORTERS (3 black men)
60 MINUTES THE NUMBER ONE MAGAZINE TV SHOW IN AMERICA: ZERO black reporters (Ed Bradley never again). They did have lurking in the shadows a relief pitcher named Russ Mitchell. He recently told the show to take their job and shove it and switched to ABC NEWS. The reason, he could not get the producers to air any his stories—too black. The 60 Minute producers will bring INSIDE THE NFL host James Brown in as a token black every now and then. He adds a little color to the program–he will go along to get along and he is safe!
Russ Mitchell a popular CBS weekend anchor cleaned his desk out in December 2011. He took a job at NBC affiliate WKYC television in Cleveland. Mitchell was wrapping up his tenure as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” weekend editions and the “The Early Show” on Saturday. He was also a national correspondent for “CBS News Sunday Morning,” the weeknight editions of the “CBS Evening News” and “The Early Show.” CBS 60 Minutes’ contributor Byron Pitts left to work at an ABC affiliate.
Mitchell had been passed over so much at CBS he was beginning to feel like QB Tim Tebow. First, it was Katie Couric and then it was Scott Pellet as the CBS Evening News anchor.
In 2012 I received an e-mail from Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise saying, “Harold you probably belong in the DC Sports Hall of Fame but you have probably pissed the judges off.” A couple of weeks ago the DC Sports Hall of Fame inducted several sporting personalities into the 2013 hall of fame during a Washington Nationals’ game against the NY Mets. It was then I discovered who the judges were and I e-mailed Mike that he was right I had pissed the judges off! The judges were legendary PR man Charlie Brotman and a wannabe legend Andy Ockerhausen a much traveled radio and TV executive. These 2 guys have use black folks as stepping stones to build their reputations and to stuff their own wallets without any returns.
The NABJ (National Association of Black Journalist) is another organization that is crying cry “Foul” calling for a meeting with the Presidents of the major news networks as it relates to the Blackout of black reporters. In its 17 years of existence they have inducted 35 journalists into its Hall of Fame. The network Presidents are ignoring them with “No comment” God bless the child that’s got its own and clean up your own house before you try to clean up another’s house!
A few years ago CNN ran a human interest story about a 103-year old black woman who was still driving. In the closing segment a rap song was heard in the background playing and using the words, “Nigga, Nigga, I am MF Nigga!!!” The station apologized claiming it was all a “mistake.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWXGk86sc8o). CNN recently released Soledad O’Brien and Roland Martin.
Mike Greenberg is the co-host of the Mike & Mike radio and television morning sports talk show heard weekdays on ESPN and ESPN radio. He was heard during the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday saying “Happy Birthday to Dr. Martin Luther Koon!” He also claimed it was a mistake. It is here the double standard occurs. During a debate ESPN’s Rob Parker referred to Washington Redskins superstar Quarterback Robert Griffin III as a “cornball brother.” Parker also noted that Griffin had a white girlfriend. ESPN suspended him and then fired him! The crime didn’t fit the punishment according to ESPN’s track record. The only comparison is the punishment for distribution of crack cocaine and cocaine distribution. One sentence is given for a black distributing crack and another sentence for a white distributing cocaine when they are both the same? Justice & Just Us!
The cloak and dagger racism and greed in America media has cost this great country the respect it once had worldwide. Boxing promoter Don King said it best, “The media use to report the news but now they create the news” at our expense.
I would like to make one thing perfectly clear, there is nothing wrong with Charlie Brotman and Andy Ockerhausen supporting folks that look like them because that is who they are comfortable with. My problem is they use us for their financial gain but exclude us from their payrolls. The bigger problem is that other blacks use us for their financial gain and exclude us from their payrolls also. They never reach back—enter the likes of John Thompson and others like him in our community.
For example; the Washington football player Doug Williams was the first black QB to win a Super Bowl and be named the MVP in 1988. When he arrived in DC to play for the Redskins he contacted me. I was recommended by his mentor and friend the late Bob Piper. He suggested to Doug that I be his media and community contact person. Doug is one of the nicest pro athletes I have ever known, second only to Washington linebacker, the late Harold McLinton.
Piper told Doug, “Harold will keep all the riff-Raff and Players Haters at arms length.” Doug and I became good friends but not the kind who hung out and called each other everyday, that was not my style. Doug was a regular guest on my radio show Inside Sports and participated in my community out-reach program Kids In Trouble Inc. He played Santa Claus following in the footsteps of linebackers, Harold McLinton and Dave Robinson (2013 NFL of Fame inductee). DC is known to be a town that can chew up pro athletes and spit them out in a hurry. The athletes fall prey to the beautiful women found in every night club in the city and the player-haters lurking in the shadows. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes.
During the run to the 1988 Super Bowl Doug fell victim to temptations of the city. He got caught in the bright lights and blink of DC. I now realized how difficult it was for him to be same guy I met coming into DC and expected him to be the same guy going out. I have known only one man who could have handled that kind of success—Muhammad Ali.
Major media took over and guys like George Michael (The Sports Machine) became Doug’s go-to guy and there was the childish rivalry between him and Sugar Ray Leonard of who was the most popular guy in town. There was conflict with his mentor and coach the legendary Eddie Robinson. It was a circus that I wanted no part of and I moved on.
This leads me back to Brotman and Ockcerhausen. Doug and his friend former NFL QB Shack Harris started “The Black College Football Hall of Fame” in Atlanta, Georgia in 2010. There have been 3 inductions into their hall of fame and I have never been considered. My point, if Doug and Shack don’t think I meet their requirements, therefore, I am not worthy of their hall of fame and I look like them. Why should I be upset with Brotman and Ockerhausen because of a perceived slight and I don’t look like or think like them?
Dave Aldridge is a former Washington Post sports columnist. He is now a TNT NBA sideline reporter and one of the nicest guys in sports media. I remember him calling me several years ago upset because I had disagreed with him in a blog commentary on a column he had written on the tragic murder of a Washington football player in his Miami home. He was very emotional, he said, “I thought we were friends?” He was hurt and felt the criticism was unfair.
He also blurted out during the telephone conversation, “I nominated you for NABJ Hall of Fame.”
I tried to explain to Dave that it was not personal and when he decided he wanted to be a journalist that criticism would follow from friend and foe. His biggest and most important job would be being able to distinguish between CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM and DESTRUCTIVE CRITICISM!
I give Dave a lot of credit for picking up the telephone and calling me out. Unlike his Washington Post and ESPN colleagues Michael Wilbon, John Thompson, Sugar Ray Leonard, etc. they would rather talk behind your back and defend their point of view. Evidently, they choose the wrong career paths, sports!
You would think if anyone understood my plight it would be the NABJ, Doug and Shack because they have been there and done that!
My impact on sports talk media has been global, every radio and television sports talk show you see and hear is a copy of the Original Inside Sports format, and those sports media outlets include, ESPN, SPORTS REPORTERS, OUTSIDE THE LINES, HBO REAL SPORTS, etc.
The alumni of Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports can be heard and seen on national and local media outlets around the country. Pro athletes’ involvement in the community started with Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports!
The NABJ, Doug and Shack’s behavior has become the norm in the black community. They cry foul when they are the victims, but take on the characteristics of the oppressor with their success. We have become a community of EXCLUSIVENESS instead of INCLUSIVENESS!
The bottom-line, I am hoping that I will be a first ballot inductee into the only hall of fame that really counts– God’s Hall of Fame, that is wishful thinking and he ain’t even mad at me.
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site The Original Inside Sports.com.