Reporter Fired For Being Black, A Woman, Her Short Hair, Or Facebook Response?
Rhonda Lee, a meteorologist at KTBS, a family-owned ABC-affiliated TV station in Shreveport, Louisiana, was fired after responding on the station’s Facebook page to a negative comment about her hair.
Thomas Roberts and Melissa Harris-Perry spoke with Lee about the incident.
Frankly, her response was more than nice — mine would not have been so cordial!
What do you think? Justified? Or should she sue them?
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Unedited transcript via MSNBC:
>> lee, a meteorologist fired after responding to a rationally charged comment on her tv station’s facebook page. a viewer posted a comment saying the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady. the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. i’m not sure if she’s a cancer patient. what about letting a male have waist long hairdo the news, about what that? later, rhonda responded saying i’m the black lady to which you are referring. i’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. and no, i don’t have cancer. it is it about what being american is about. i hope you can embrace that. she joins me like from shreveport. joining us sound on is melissa harris- perry, host of nbc’s melissa harris- perry show. rhonda lee, your response is reasonable and perhaps kind and thanked them. explain, why did the explanation fire you. did they explain it properly is? was it just about this response issue?
>> well, initially, i was — i actually brought are that particular comment to the attention of management. i sent them a screen scrap at the time, and i told my manager, randy, at the time, well, you know, it seems like, i’m okay with not everybody liking me. that’s fine. but a lot of our comments as of late have come across more racist than anything. so i would like to help with getting a policy together so that we can, one, block offensive posts like this. and two, maybe start a good dialogue for educating people and getting a good discourse, going on the web. so then the next few days after that, i was called into our general manager’s office, and i was told that while we got lucky this time. and i got a little confused at first. i’m like, lucky, what do you mean? apparently according to the gm, it could have gone much worse. it could have gotten much more of ugly. so we got really lucky. he told me, next time if there’s a controversial post like this, what i need to do is thank the viewer and then bring it to the attention of management, and they would do something about it.
>> you did go — you thanked viewer within that statement. i want to get into the wtbs. saying on november 12th, wtbs dismissed two employees for repeated violation of station’s written procedure. miss rhonda lee was let go and warned several times if her behavior continued. were you warned about some type of ongoing behavior that was creating a file of marks against you that would lead up to termination?
>> no, sir, that first remark is the first time i’d ever replied, aside of giving a forecast. and the second one, the other reason — well, the main reason i was term theyinated was only the second time i ever replied in that way at all. the repeated part, i asked them during my termination, when was this repeated. there was the first time in october. and now there’s this time. that was it. that was all. i’ve never even seen that e-mail. as far as i know, as far as i can tell you, there is no written policy. that was my first and only time i’d seen that that.
>> melissa, i want to bring you in. when i first heard about this and rhonda, i was taken aback. i know you were, too. the evolution of black woman has been brought to the attention by people like chris rock.
>> is it signaling something to something? that you wear something, is that somehow signaling something? is that just working out our emotions? or is there something meaningful about as african-american women are trying to think true our self-preservation?
>> let’s talk about that the thinking through of the self-preservation. didn’t rhonda have a right to respond? the viewer asked questions, and rhonda provides answers.
>> i just want to be really clear the space we’re talking about african-american women and their hair is a very are fraught space. and the idea that rhonda’s employer was so aware to have a conversation about this. television, of course, is a visual media. we make all kinds of choices what we do and don’t wear. what we do with our hair. how much makeup we put on before we show up on television. the idea that there’s only one style of hair or one version of what would constitute beautiful or attractive hair has been an incredibly powerful tool for controlling african-american women self-presentation, in all kinds of spaces, especially corporate spaces. i’m not a fan of the chris rock film. one of the reasons is, i think it’s so important for black women to speak for themselves about their hair. so what i appreciate about what rhonda did here, in a very calm, consistent and i think educating manner, she spoke about what her hair is. what the choices were. the reasons for it. and then she thanks the viewer for having a response.
>> one thing i want to get out there, rhonda, jennifer livingston, an anchor was chastised by a viewer about her weight. she used an editorial to speak back. it was huge for her. why do you think they saw her in a different light, the moment to talk about you and your hair?
>> right. i honestly wish i had a good answer why. you know, as i said before, i felt like she got a platform and i got das boot. and i’m not clear why i couldn’t have used this as an educational moment. instead, it was very disheartening i will say i tried. i really did try. i don’t believe in having to chastise a viewer, saying bad viewer. clearly, the guy just didn’t know. i felt like if i was that a position to help him, i should be able to do so.
>> you know rhonda, i’m sorry this has happened to you. i think it’s the best thing that happened to you in the long run. who wants to work for a person like that. you can match melissa as she hosts the melissa harris- perry show right
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Dominion Wins ‘Blockbuster Victories’ Against Fox News – Last Legal Issue Will Be Decided by a Jury: Report
Dominion Voting Systems won what are being called “blockbuster victories” Friday afternoon when a judge ruled the company suing Fox News for $1.6 billion in a major defamation lawsuit had met its burden of proof that Rupert Murdoch‘s far-right wing cable channel had repeatedly made false statements.
The final, and likely greatest legal issue Dominion will have to prove will be actual malice. That issue will be decided in a jury trial, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis ruled Friday, according to Law & Crime.
Unlike previous cases, Fox News will reportedly not be able to argue the on-air statements its personalities made were opinion.
CNN legal analyst and Brookings senior fellow Norm Eisen calls Friday’s decision a “huge win for Dominion on their summary judgment motion against Fox News.”
READ MORE: Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’
“Dominion won partial summary judgement that what Fox said about them was false! Now they just have to prove actual malice and damages,” Eisen says. “Meanwhile Fox’s motion was totally denied.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, an MSNBC contributor adds: “Dominion’s evidence Fox made false statements with reckless disregard is as strong as any I’ve seen.”
The judge was very clear in his ruling.
“While the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to Fox, the record does not show a genuine issue of material fact as to falsity,” Judge Davis wrote. “Through its extensive proof, Dominion has met its burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact as to falsity. Fox therefore had the burden to show an issue of material fact existed in turn. Fox failed to meet its burden.”
READ MORE: ‘Propaganda Network’: Media Reporter Says Dominion Filing Exposes Fox News as ‘Void of the Most Basic Journalistic Ethics’
Attorney and MSNBC host and legal analyst Katie Phang points to this key passage in Judge Davis’ ruling.
Dominion has won the argument on the issue of falsity, meaning that as the Court funds below, “it is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.” pic.twitter.com/7lKEspN0WI
— Katie S. Phang (@KatiePhang) March 31, 2023
Court watchers and news junkies are familiar at this point with the massive legal filings Dominion has made in which it exposed how Fox News knowingly made false statements regarding the 2020 presidential election. Those filings, each hundreds of pages, also detail internal Fox News communications and bombshell conversations between the company’s top personalities, executives, and even Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Image of Rupert Murdoch via Shutterstock
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’
The U.S. Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant at Arms on Friday jointly issued a statement warning they “anticipate” Trump protests across the country. The statement is not time-specific, and it states it has no information on “credible threats,” but some Democratic offices are allowing staffers to work from home Friday and Tuesday.
“The Sergeant at Arms and United States Capitol Police (USCP) anticipate demonstration activity across the country related to the indictment of former President Trump. While law enforcement is not tracking any specific, credible threats against the Capitol or state offices, there is potential for demonstration activity. USCP is working with law enforcement partners, so you may observe a greater law enforcement presence on Capitol Hill,” the statement reads.
“The SAA and USCP are monitoring the potential nationwide impacts to Senate state offices,” it adds.
The House Sergeant at Arms was conspicuously absent from the statement. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has control over that office.
READ MORE: Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor
Additionally, Axios is reporting, “several House Democrats are allowing staffers to work from home as a safety precaution,” noting that “the memory of Trump supporters ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 is still fresh on the mind.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is allowing staff to work from home for safety reasons. She told Axios, “I don’t ever want to see a Jan. 6 again.”
“I’ve been in the Trump hate tunnel, Donald Trump has gone after me, and quite frankly I don’t have security. I don’t have entourages.”
She’s not the only Democrat to raise concerns.
“Much of the language from the former President and his devotees is similar to what inspired Jan. 6th,” U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips said. “I’m concerned about safety for my colleagues and my staff.”
READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump
Meanwhile, House Republicans are issuing full-throated support for Trump and calling for protests.
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was called out by name in a six-page letter Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sent to Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan Friday morning, announced she will be in New York on Tuesday to support Trump when he is arraigned. She has posted several tweets since Trump was indicted.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Thursday seemingly designed to gin up rage and action in the MAGA base.
“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election. As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”
Image by Elvert Barnes via Flickr and a CC license
Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor
Donald Trump, and all of America, could spend the next 18 months – or longer – engrossed in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s trial of the ex-president, and that could bring the trial close to Election Day.
That’s according to a former prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Charles Coleman, who is now a civil rights attorney and MSNBC legal analyst.
Asked by MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, “How long typically might a case like this take?” Coleman offered a two-tiered answer.
“A case like this is usually going to take a year or a year and a half,” Coleman said.
That could be through September of 2024.
READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump
“Wow,” a surprised Jansing replied. “So it’s going right up into the campaign.”
“Absolutely,” agreed Coleman. “But it’s important to understand I said a case ‘like this.’ This particular case, I expect may take longer because I am anticipating a number of different legal maneuvers by Donald Trump’s defense team.”
That theoretically means into October of 2024, or longer.
“I do see motions to dismiss at a number of different terms, more likely than not to the point that the judge probably will ultimately end up admonishing them and telling them stop filing motions to dismiss. I think that that’s going to happen,” Coleman explained.
“I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, I do believe that we are going to see an attempt to try to change the venue, in this case outside of somewhere in the five boroughs. All of that is going to extend the time deeper and deeper into election season.”
READ MORE: Manhattan DA Unleashes on Jim Jordan With Stern Warning: You May Not ‘Interfere’ With Trump Prosecution
Reuters agrees, reporting Friday morning, “any potential trial is still at minimum more than a year away, legal experts said, raising the possibility that the former U.S. president could face a jury in a Manhattan courtroom during or even after the 2024 presidential campaign, as he seeks a return to the White House.”
And because “Trump’s case is far from typical,” Reuters notes, his trial could extend “past Election Day in November 2024.”
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