Tag Archives: soledad o’brien

CNN’s In America Series Presents Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door

by Latoya Peterson

Readers, you can imagine our surprise when we received an email inviting us to the screening of CNN’s latest documentary for the latest in their In America series.

After all, we had a lot to say about the first few:

Thoughts on CNN’s Black in America Series
Going For Broke: The Racialicious Review of Black In America: Almighty Debt
Latinos Under Siege? A Look At CNN’s Latino In America
Latino In America goes out with a whine
The Fallout from Latino in America

But hey – they offered an advance screening, free breakfast, and a Q & A with Soledad O’Brien and the producers afterward. How could I resist? So Art RSVP’ed and I hopped on the Boltbus and made it to NYC in time for the 9:00 AM screening.

The newest addition to the In America family is called Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door. Here’s the trailer:

The Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door special revolves around the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, situated about 35 miles from Nashville. According to O’Brien, her team first heard about the tensions flaring in Murfreesboro when researching the “Ground Zero Mosque.” While the proposed Islamic Center in New York made national headlines, the drama playing out in Murfreesboro illuminated a different issue: how smaller towns were coping with the Islamaphobic rhetoric currently in vogue and how local Muslim populations were beginning to feel the heat.

Unwelcome begins by looking at the community of Murfreesboro, where even amid the fever pitch of hateful rhetoric, the citizens describe each other as neighborly, and defend Murfreesboro as one of the best places to live in America. For decades, Muslims in Murfreesboro have been free to worship as they see fit – there is one Islamic center in the town and around 250 currently practicing Muslims. Some of the Muslims interviewed in the documentary remarked that Murfreesboro remained peaceful and civil even after 9/11 – the idea of Muslims living and worshiping in the town was just a non-issue.

That is until plans to expand the existing Islamic center came to light last year. Continue reading

Going For Broke: The Racialicious Review of Black In America: Almighty Debt

By Arturo R. García

Soledad O’Brien and Almighty Debt come closest to the program’s stated goal toward the end, when she asks Pastor DeForest “Buster” Soaries if he “pulled strings” to help one of his parishoners, Fred Philp, get into college, leading to this exchange:

Soaries: I picked up the phone to make sure that nothing got lost in the sauce and that Fred didn’t fall between the cracks.
O’Brien: What’s that mean, “lost in the sauce”?
Soaries: well, Fred was not your classic college applicant, and he was not heavily sought after in colleges. He had academic challenges, financial challenges, and I didn’t want to trust his high school counselors to be his primary advocates. And so when I heard that Fred was having some difficulty with the college of his choice, I thought it probably would help if I let the president know that Fred is with me.

Unfortunately, aside from that sequence and a couple of other statements later in the show, the issue is ignored. The irony of her church-oriented report is, the devil isn’t in the details – it’s in the lack thereof.

Continue reading

The Fallout From Latino In America

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García


Note: Video contains one instance of NSFW language

This was noted in last week’s thread over Part 2 of CNN’s Latino In America, but it’s worth a bigger mention: it looks like the network is getting the wrong kind of attention for it, as Latino groups seized on the broadcast to protest CNN’s continued involvement with Lou Dobbs, as reported by the New York Times:

Roberto Lovato, a founding member of Presente.org, a Latino advocacy group, said in a statement, “We won’t allow the network to court us as viewers while, at the same time, they allow Dobbs to spread lies and misinformation about us each night.”

Neither CNN nor Soledad O’Brien, who presented the four-hour series, has offered a public comment on the protests; in fact, according to several stories, the network didn’t even cover them. But even worse for CNN, pro-immigrant attorney Lorena García, one of the few people who were profiled positively in the series told the Times the network clipped her own comments:

She had expected a 15-minute conversation about immigration opposite Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., and a staunch supporter in immigration enforcement, on the prime-time program “Anderson Cooper 360.” During the taped interview Wednesday, she said she made several unprompted comments about Mr. Dobbs.

She said she called Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Dobbs “the two most dangerous men to our communities,” and said that “because of them, our communities are being terrorized in a real way.” She also asserted that CNN was “promoting lies and hate about our community” by broadcasting Mr. Dobbs’s program. The comments were not included when the interview was shown Wednesday night.

“They heavily deleted what I did get to say,” she said.

CNN said the segment in question was tied to “Latino in America.”

“As with all pre-taped interviews, they are edited for time and relevance to the topic of discussion,” a spokeswoman said. “The debate between Isabel Garcia and Joe Arpaio was no exception.”

Of course, CNN’s and Anderson Cooper’s willingness to broadcast a debate between García and Arpaio is also questionable, given the ads featuring Cooper hyping the talk as “extreme.” As I wrote in my reviews, the series’ and/or O’Brien’s inability or unwillingness to place their stories in a larger context on the air, or to acknowledge the disparity between figures like O’Brien and Dobbs and what role they or the network have in the pictures America at large receives of its’ Latino immigrant populations, only weakened whatever good CNN thinks would come out of the series.

Video courtesy of Basta Dobbs

UPDATE: Courtesy of Muslimah Media Watch & The Daily Show, another example of CNN undermining its’ cause:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen – Latino Stereotypes
www.thedailyshow.com
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Latino In America goes out with a whine

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

For a review of Part 1, click here

marta1No way around it: Latino In America was a failure.

At the very least, Thursday’s conclusion, “Chasing The Dream,” seemed equal parts melodrama and bait-and-switch, with the broadcast component weakened by a lack of questions that undercut even its’ more compelling segments.

For instance, in the report on the murder of Luis Mendoza, we got an overview of events in Shenandoah, Penn., leading up to the crime, and of the area’s history with several immigrant populations, but when one individual reported he felt he was being intimidated because of his speaking to CNN, we got no follow-up with local authorities. When it was mentioned that one of the four defendants – who were acquitted of hate-crime accusations – testified the cops told them to get their stories straight, we got no follow-up.
Continue reading

Latinos Under Siege? A Look At CNN’s Latino In America

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

cindy garcia1Soledad O’Brien says she wants Latino In America to “start a conversation.” Unfortunately for viewers, the series’ message seems to be, what? Woe is us? Abandon ship? What did Brown ever do to you?

Grounded in depressing case studies and missed questions, the series’ first installment was less “Latinos In America” and more like “Latinos For Lou Dobbs’ Audience.” Most of the people featured were not “changing” their communities – they were being victimized in or by them. They were pregnant, suicidal (or pregnant and suicidal), caught in an immigration raid, losing their cultural roots, facing an uphill job struggle or isolated in their churches. The premiere’s first profile, of Univision TV chef Lorena García, was the only one that focused on somebody doing something positive – in her case, building her own brand in spite of skepticism over her “accent.” Continue reading