Diversity & TV News

Diversity & TV News: Analysis, Critiques, and Research

Posts Tagged ‘CNN

Oprah, Tyler Perry, 200 Molested Men, But No Bishop Eddie Long

with 5 comments

Oprah Winfrey devotes three shows in her farewell season to discuss a little talked about issue: men being sexual abuse victims.  It is an issue that sparked major headlines over the last few months. 

Oprah’s show wouldn’t normally fall into the category of a news show for me, but I made the exception for a couple of reasons.  First: a number of television stations around the country localized the story in their markets, like WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, NC.  Two: this story hits on a topic that is seldom told about men and especially men of color.  Third: this topic is related to the recent lawsuits filed against Atlanta area mega-church pastor, Bishop Eddie Long for allegedly having sexual relationships with young men he ministered in his church.  This topic was heavily covered by major media outlets when it broke because of Bishop Long’s global ministry.    

The first show aired in this series featured Tyler Perry, a well-known media mogul, sharing his stories of being physically, sexually, and verbally abused as a child.   Perry can’t contain his emotions as he talks about being abused and how it changed his life. 

The Queen of Talk gathered 200 men who were victims of molestation and/or sexual abuse at some point during their lives for the second show.  You can view the show on Oprah’s site by clicking on this link.    The men shared stories about how their fathers, family friends, and spiritual leaders sexually abused them. 

The third installment from Oprah brings back the same 200 men along with those who have shared in their pain, such as wives or mothers.  This show focuses on how the abused men have continued to live with the damage caused by being molested. 

I understand the inherit difficulties in covering these types of stories on the local news level.  In order to tell an effective and compelling story you  need to hear from the victims.  You also must be aware of the allegation aspect of these stories, because every victim isn’t a victim.  The stories are told too many times in the rapid-fire mode:  “Teacher charged with sexually assaulting a student.  Get shocked parents’ reaction.” And that’s about it.  But, from watching the two Oprah episodes, I see there are many areas that need to be addressed.  You can look at the short-term and long-term effects on the victims.  The education side can include ways to identify predators, how to teach kids to always communicate what’s happening, and methods for parents to better help their victimized children.  

Without having background knowledge of the Harper Studio story selection meeting, I can only speculate on this next part. 

I find it highly inconceivable that the Bishop Eddie Long sexual allegation case as reported by CBS News below didn’t make its way into the discussion.

 The mega-church pastor filed court papers recently denying the claims of the 4 young men who say he used his spiritual authority and lavish gifts to get them to have sex with him.  Here’s one account from an alleged victim reported by WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia.

I can only assume that Oprah and Tyler Perry felt they were speaking out against the alleged acts of Bishop Long based on the timing of the shows.  It seems like this is Oprah’s way of speaking out against what Bishop Long is accused of without mentioning his case or name specifically.  I would think that giving the accusers in the Bishop Long case, who’ve already spoken to the media a chance to speak out on her show could shake up the blind faith of those who support the bishop.  That blind faith seems to foster an atmosphere in which victims don’t feel comfortable or safe telling their stories. Some of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church members said in interviews that they believe without a shadow of a doubt the pastor didn’t do anything wrong. This perpetuates the idea that certain people are above reproach.  So this makes it harder for victims to speak out against their predators.  CNN’s Don Lemon actually admitted to being a sexual abuse victim while interviewing young members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church who were adamantly supporting Bishop Eddie Long. 

A great pastor/teacher/coach/doctor/officer is capable of both great and horrendous acts.  So, if Oprah would have allowed Bishop Long’s accusers to speak out then she could have helped combat one of the very things this series of shows says all the sexual assault victims face: fear of sharing their stories because of shame or some type of retribution. 

I’m  glad Oprah shined a light on this topic, but a brighter one could have made a bigger impact on her audience.

Why do you think Oprah left Bishop Eddie Long out of the discussion?


Debt = Slavery (CNN’s Black in America)

leave a comment »

“Debt is slavery.”  Those words hooked me into watching CNN’s latest installment of its Black in America series, “Almighty Debt.”  This two-hour special focused on how finances and religion intertwine in the            African-American community.  Here’s a link to CNN’s “Black in America” website.

I commend CNN and Soledad O’Brien for tackling this subject.  It would be easy to shoot down this show idea since countless Americans are dealing with financial issues.  But, the special continues to point out that all the economic indicators show African-Americans suffer proportionately worse than the majority of the country in all the major financial categories.   So, it was interesting to see the current and historical factors that have made such a perfect storm of financial instability in a large number of black households.   You can find a one-on-one interview Soledad O’Brien gave to Essence magazine about the “Almighty Debt” special here.

“Almighty Debt” introduces you to a New Jersey pastor, Rev. Buster Soaries of the First Church of Lincoln Gardens.  Rev. Soaries makes the comparison between debt and slavery.  The reverend didn’t stop there.  He also says, “Debt is a bigger problem than racism.”   So his ministry instituted educational and debt relief programs to help his congregation unshackle themselves from their financial burdens. 

The pastor and his mission to rid his congregation of debt is the focal point of the special.  CNN illustrates this point through the financial stories of several of the church members.  The 3 stories can be easily translated to many homes in America.  If you click on the links below you’ll see a short synopsis of each story from CNN.

Story 1: A married couple fights to keep their dream home from going into foreclosure. 

Story 2: A high school student takes on mounds of debt to pay for his college education.

Story 3: A long-time company executive gets laid off, and now he’s applying to hundreds of jobs without getting any callbacks.

Noted economist and Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux, Ph.D., made a profound statement about having a middle class job and actually being middle class.  “You can be middle class by income, but not by wealth.  So, if you’re laid off and you’ve got a little wealth then maybe you can make it a year or two.” says Dr. Malveaux.  But, she goes on to say, if you’re middle class by income, “lose your job and you’ve got a mortgage to pay, you’ve got about a month’s worth of saving, you’re in trouble and that’s the difference.”   It should be noted I teach at Bennett College, where Dr. Malveaux serves as the President. 

The outcome for each subject wasn’t a fairytale ending.  The pastor admits his frustrations that his congregation isn’t completely buying into living a debt-free life.  But Rev. Soaries wants to take the program he’s started to other churches around the country. 

You never know what portions of a story have been aided along because a highly recognizable camera crew is following people around, but in this case most of the stories seemed to be very plausible.  There was extra effort given to get the young man into college, but that’s something that happens for a lot of students during the admissions process. 

The packaging of the story was well told. I felt like the panel discussion at the end of the story was rushed and not well put together.  One of the panelists, Pastor T.D. Jakes, didn’t really need to be there unless he was going to offer a counterpoint to the way Rev. Soaries helps his congregation.  The panel segment tried to analyze situations within the packaged story, but also bring out other topics.  There wasn’t adequate time given to cover the final issues. 

This is a topic local news outlets around the country should also include in their morning meetings.  Even if it’s not billed as Black in (your city), addressing the fact that the minorities in your market are possibly suffering at larger a rate than the majority is newsworthy.  It would be worth looking into the many ways people are learning to cope with even less during these rough economic times.

If you didn’t watch “Almighty Debt” on CNN you can find it broken down in segments on the website You Tube.  The quality isn’t great, but it is viewable.

Does the media have an obligation to do more stories on a particular community when that community is adversely affected more than the general population by an issue?