Friday, October 03, 2014

Ben Smith's Diversity Fetish



By EVAN GAHR




It sounds like a great opportunity—if you have sufficient melanin. 


Columbia University Journalism School and BuzzFeed.com last Thursday breathlessly announced a one-year investigative reporting fellowship, with an $85,000 stipend, plus benefits. 


But only reporters of a certain hue were eligible for the program. 


"Are you an experienced journalist of color who wants to move into investigative reporting? Then apply!" Buzzfeed chirped.


The idea is to redress the heinous under-representation of minorities among the hallowed ranks of investigative reporters.


This is a horrific problem, BuzzFeed and Columbia Journalism School believe, because . . . well, that is not clear.


Is there a black way to do investigative reporting and a white way?

Were stories by Washington Post reporter Carol Leonning and Washington examiner Susan Crabtree about the Secret Service letting an armed, convicted felon into an elevator with Barack 
Obama somehow deficient because both women are white?  


Apart from the palpable foolishness of the supposed need for this kind of program, it also ran afoul of the law. Jeff Zuckerman, a high-powered employment lawyer, told dcgadfly.blogspot.com that the outright refusal to consider whites for the fellowship is “illegal.”


Zuckerman, who was chief of staff to Clarence Thomas when the taciturn jurist was EEOC chairman, said that, “You can’t just set a quota like this. They can reach out to encourage minority journalists [to apply for the fellowship].  But simply to say ‘no whites allowed’” violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 


I am white and Jewish. But I decided to apply to the program anyway.  Three letters of recommendation were needed and Daily Caller media blogger Betsy Rothstein, knowing how enamored BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith is of the Daily Caller and Tucker Carlson, generously agreed to write one. 

I also asked Smith if I joined a tanning salon would that qualify me as a “journalist of color.”  And reminded him of what Zuckerman said. 

Smith replied that my application would be considered.  And  the BuzzFeed.com announcement was amended to say the program was now open to to “journalists of color” and “persons of diverse background.”


But what exactly qualifies a “diverse background? Smith dodged the Weekly Standard’s inquiry and hung up on this reporter when he asked if being a white Jew qualifies as a “diverse background.” (Video/audio bellow)


video 

So questions persist. But they probably will not be asked by the rest of the media: diversity uber alles.

Zuckerman, the former Clarence Thomas aide, says that Columbia Journalism School and BuzzFeed opening the program to persons with “diverse backgrounds” is simply “code for saying, ‘we are not going to take any whites.’”

He said the exclusionary policy shows that universities like Columbia “are the last bastions of racism in America.”

Twitter:@EvanGahr

 

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