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Maria Taylor leaves ESPN, making her second Black woman to do so after white host sparks controversy

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Taylor thanked Pitaro in her statement. “So thankful to Jimmy and all of my great teammates and friends at the SEC Network, College GameDay, Women’s and Men’s college basketball, and the NBA Countdown family—the people who believed in me, encouraged me, pushed me, and lifted me up,” she said. “Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.”

Taylor is the second Black woman involved in the controversy to leave ESPN afterThe New York Times obtained a recording of the 20-minute phone call featuring Nichols’ complaints. “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world—she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said during the call. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity—which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it—like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.” Nichols made the remarks on July 13, 2020, when she learned she wouldn’t be hosting the NBA Finals as expected. She didn’t apologize publicly for the comments until they were featured in a New York Times’ article earlier this month.

She told the Times Taylor hasn’t responded to the white anchor’s attempts to apologize and that at the time of the conversation, she was told the “content of the conversation did not warrant any discipline.” However, Kayla Johnson, the Black digital video producer who later sent the video to Taylor, was suspended for two weeks and stuck with “less desirable” work after the incident, the Times reported. Johnson later left ESPN.

Taylor told ESPN executives including Pitaro in an email The New York Times obtained that when she learned of Nichols’ comments she was fed up because she had already learned of another colleague’s disparaging remarks. “I will not call myself a victim, but I certainly have felt victimized and I do not feel as though my complaints have been taken seriously,” she wrote two weeks after the Nichols incident. “In fact, the first time I have heard from HR after 2 incidents of racial insensitivity was to ask if I leaked Rachel’s tape to the media. I would never do that.” Taylor added: “Simply being a front-facing black woman at this company has taken its toll physically and mentally.” Taylor later reconsidered and agreed to host NBA Countdown if Nichols didn’t appear, an agreement ESPN failed to uphold, the Times reported.

It’s unclear what’s next for Taylor, but the New York Post reported that she is expected to cover the Olympics for NBC starting Friday and that she may be up to host the network’s Football Night in America when host Mike Tirico takes a new position with NBC in the fall of 2022.

RELATED: Guess who’s suspended when ESPN host suggests Black peer hired because of race! Not the white woman


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Pelosi’s masterstroke on Jan. 6 committee helped media finally deliver fair, fact-based coverage

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Had Jordan been there, mainstream outlets surely would have felt obligated to include his disinformation rants in their reporting on the hearing. Indeed, that’s how all congressional hearings have been covered over the past decade, even as the House GOP caucus—and the Republican Party, more generally—radicalized to the point of absurdity. In the past five years, that has meant an infuriating amount of news coverage about serious proceedings on everything from impeaching Trump to election security has been hijacked by profoundly cynical, unserious Trump bootlickers like Jordan. Their presence and the time devoted to it has not only impeded the ability of Congress to govern, it has corroded the public’s understanding of our democracy from within.  

But on Tuesday—precisely because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to seat Jordan—the hearing focused on the officers and a bipartisan group of lawmakers who were genuinely interested in what they endured, their insights, and their desires for the investigation moving forward.

Even some right-wing outlets were forced to carry a dose of reality to their viewers because they were deprived of centering their coverage on the performative outrage of GOP lawmakers seeking to score political points. Predictably, One America News did an amateurish hatchet job on the hearing. But CNN’s media critic Brian Stelter writes:

It stood in stark contrast to Fox News and Newsmax, two other right-wing channels that actually showed the hearing while police officers described fearing for their lives when a pro-Trump mob overwhelmed law enforcement at the Capitol on January 6.

The Fox/Newsmax hearing coverage was sandwiched between obligatory GOP objections, but as Stelter noted, “The mere act of carrying the police testimony at all is noteworthy because right-wing media has so thoroughly downplayed the crimes of that day.”

A little fact-based journalism seeping into the right-wing airwaves is a real feat these days. But it wasn’t made possible by the journalists—it was a function of the way Speaker Pelosi structured the committee. Depriving spots to Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana—who both voted against election certification and would have solely dedicated themselves to impeding the probe—allowed a sincere attempt at fact-based democratic governance to proceed, and the coverage followed.

Sure, Republicans staged their own sad little press conferences surrounding the hearing, but they received separate articles that allowed serious reporters to more thoroughly fact check and debunk their claims. But paramount is the fact that coverage of those claims didn’t infect the coverage of democracy at work.

And democracy at work is the ultimate point. For the better part of a decade, Washington Republicans have been proving they have no interest in actual governance. They have broken norms, like depriving a Democratic president of a Supreme Court appointment for roughly a year. They have almost universally failed at legislating. Even with unified control of Washington, they only managed to pass one major bill—and it was entirely along partisan lines. And when they controlled both the White House and the Senate, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell left it to Speaker Pelosi to do all the negotiating with the Trump administration on COVID relief and keeping the government’s lights on (which is actually critical to successful governance).

But perhaps most importantly, Republicans have stopped caring about any adherence to the truth, opting instead to feed their voters so much garbage that they can’t see beyond the mountain of sludge in front of them. In fact, Republicans’ clear goal now is to so thoroughly distort reality that it becomes irrelevant, and they have largely succeeded with enough of their voters to pose a threat to the republic itself.

The media and Washington reporters, in particular, have not kept up, as The Washington Post‘s Margaret Sullivan observes in her most recent op-ed. But Sullivan also offers apt prescriptions for the problem. “There is a way out,” she writes. “But it requires the leadership of news organizations to radically reframe the mission of its Washington coverage.”

Specifically, she says, get rid of the winners-losers political frame and replace it with a pro-democracy governance frame. 

Stop asking who the winners and losers were in the latest skirmish. Start asking who is serving the democracy and who is undermining it.

If journalists started covering Washington through that lens, voters could actually judge who is working to preserve our democracy and who is working to destroy it. But that lens would also require a paradigm shift in newsrooms accompanied by a lot more high-level thinking and a willingness for reporters and editors to take the heat. 

Unfortunately, most Washington journalists, mired in terrible habits, still aren’t exhibiting that they are up to the task.

So until that changes, Democrats like Pelosi can help journalists by refusing to treat Republicans as if they are a party that is interested in governance or, indeed, democracy itself. 

That is the type of congressional hearing America was treated to on Tuesday—and it was glorious. 


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Georgia congressman refuses to back off claim that Jan. 6 was a ‘normal tourist visit’

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“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” Clyde’s statement said.

“Those are your words,” Raskin continued. After being called out for his words, Clyde— who could have easily apologized for his ignorance and belittling of the violent experience many face— defended his statement. 

“And I stand by that exact statement, as I said it,” Clyde said.

But Clyde’s statements comparing rioters to tourists isn’t the only problematic thing the congressman defended. Clyde also defended his vote against honoring the Capitol Police and D.C. Police officers who risked their lives defending the Capitol by awarding them medals.

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The heated exchange follows the officers’ testimonies heard earlier in the day by the select committee. During the hearing, several lawmakers asked the officers to make comparisons between the rioters and normal tourists visiting the Capitol. 

As he recalled his experience defending the Capitol, one officer, Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges, repeatedly referred to the rioters as “terrorists.” When asked why he used this specific term, Hodges read directly from the U.S. code for domestic terrorism to justify why he called the Capitol rioters “terrorists.”

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Before calling out Clyde for comparing the rioters to tourists, Raskin asked Clyde if he had watched that morning’s hearing. 

Clyde at first attempted to dodge the question, saying that “It’s absolutely irrelevant to this amendment right here.” But Raskin continued to push him, arguing that Clyde “refuses to say whether or not he heard the Capitol officers who risked their lives and have experienced traumatic medical injuries.”

After quoting Clyde’s statement and having him confirm that he still stood by what he said, Raskin addressed the dangers of calling a “medieval mob” a group of “tourists.”

“I spent several hours today, with millions of Americans, watching sworn police officers testify about their battle to defend our lives, the members of the House and the senators. And they took issue, not with, let’s put your statement aside, because you think that you’ve been misinterpreted by people, but they’re taking issue with an internet meme that the people here were just tourists, it was a normal day, and they were saying they weren’t tourists. They were terrorists,” Raskin said. Raskin added that “lots of people online believed your statement that it was a normal tourist visit.”

But despite the fact that Raskin read his statement aloud word for word and Clyde accepted it as the truth, Clyde was unable to handle the consequences of his words and grew angry, claiming Raskin was misquoting him. He alleged he never called those who breached the Capitol “tourists.”

“That is not my statement!” Clyde said. “I’m not responsible for an internet meme, okay?” Clyde continued. He then claimed that Raskin was attempting to make the meeting “another January 6th hearing.”

While Clyde didn’t confirm whether or not he saw the hearing, it’s no surprise many Republican lawmakers didn’t tune in. It’s been months since the violent Capitol insurrection, yet many GOP officials fail to acknowledge the role they played in the event (and continue to play) by downplaying its reality. They need to be held accountable, just like those who stormed the Capitol itself.


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Luis Grijalva’s DACA status put halt to his Olympic dreams. A last-minute approval has changed that

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Grijalva and Jessica Smith Bobadilla, his attorney, “were unsure whether immigration officials would be able to grant Grijalva permission on time, but on Monday, he got cleared to travel after weeks of uncertainty,” CNN reported. Advance parole, the process that allows some DACA recipients to travel internationally for employment, humanitarian, or educational purposes, can take as long as 90 days to get approved, she told CNN.

They said they put together “a very detailed” application, then traveled to a USCIS in Phoenix to continue pleading their case. “Tomorrow morning I will be marching down the USCIS office in Phoenix to make one last effort in gaining an advance parole that allows me to leave the country and be able to return safely,” he wrote in an Instagram post the day before. Following the good news Monday, he told The New York Times“[i]t’s just a lot of emotions—excitement, just really happy.”

But even though he’s lived here since he was a baby and has excelled in American competitions and American schools (including winning a full scholarship to Northern Arizona University), Grijalva will be competing with the Guatemalan running team in Tokyo. CNN reports “he couldn’t represent the US in the Olympics for several reasons, including his immigration status.” The Times reported that the time Grijalva finished at last month’s NCAA race is a national record in Guatemala.

“It would be pretty special to represent Guatemala at the Olympics,” he said in that report. “To be able to represent my parents and my roots—that was where I started.” In his Instagram post the day before traveling to the Phoenix USCIS office, Grijalva had also said he was seeking “to be a voice and represent over 600,000 Dreamers like me.”

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The only thing Grijalva should have been worrying about right now was the competition itself, yet his immigration status would have ended his Olympic dreams for now if the last-minute approval hadn’t come through. But even that process is on shaky ground: When DACA was killed by the previous administration in 2017, so was advance parole. While it was forced to reinstate the program under court order last year, a federal judge this month has halted new applications for now. The lives of Grijalva and many others will continue to be in limbo until there’s permanent relief.

Democrats right now have the best chance in years to pass a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, as well as temporary status holders and essential workers. Just this week, more than 80 mayors across nearly 30 states issued a call to President Joe Biden and legislators to pass legalization through the budget reconciliation process, writing that “it’s time for Congress to act.”

“It is a failure of our government not to move forward in passing comprehensive immigration reform,” Tucson mayor and letter signatory Regina Romero said during a press call this week. “Now, we have the chance to pass a comprehensive plan for those who stepped up to support our country during the pandemic while contributing to our economy. For more than two decades, Congress has failed to act and now is the perfect opportunity through reconciliation.”

“I’ve been here for 21 years, some ways I feel as American as anybody else who was born here but just that having that birthright, that being born here, just takes away so many opportunities for myself but also for everyone else who’s on DACA,” Grijalva said according to CNN.


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