February 03, 2016
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O.J. Simpson holds up his hands before the jury after putting on a new pair of gloves similar to the infamous bloody glove during his double-murder trial in Los Angeles on June 21, 1995. Associated Press writer Linda Deutsch is seen in background at right.



Good Wednesday morning!


The FX miniseries "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" debuted Tuesday night.


Based on New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin's 1996 book, it follows Simpson's 1994-95 murder trial through its 16 months.


Linda Deutsch covered the trial for the AP - one of many she covered during her 48-year career as journalism's premier courts reporter - and offers this review of the 10-part miniseries for her Connecting colleagues.


And for you readers of Today in History, make note that today is the anniversary of the Day the Music Died. Got a memory of that day? Send it along.



FX's People v. O.J. Simpson:  Reviving memories of America's first reality show




            Watching the first episode of American Crime Story's  "People vs. O.J. Simpson," I found myself wondering why anyone wanted to do this project.  I also wondered who would want to watch it.
For those old enough to remember the real thing, the O.J. Simpson trial was America's first reality show.  It was unique and riveting because these were real people, a real trial told from a courtroom, and throughout the year-long proceedings there was a great mystery hovering over it.  Would one of the nation's most beloved football heroes be found guilty of murdering his ex-wife and her friend?  We have known the answer now for 20 years and we have followed the subsequent sad life of O.J. who now sits in a Nevada prison serving time for a completely different crime.
The FX-TV project is essentially a recreation of the trial with famous actors playing the real people. As many know, I was there for the trial and all of the later developments. I covered three O.J. trials, two in Los Angeles and one in Las Vegas and a habeas corpus hearing in Vegas in 2013. I became O.J. Simpson's media contact with the world after he called me at trial's end to thank me for being fair to him.  We became telephone friends in the years that followed the verdict and O.J., who loved to talk, spent hours in conversations with me.  On the 10th anniversary I flew to Miami to interview him in person.  I was on the phone with him the day he was arrested in Las Vegas. He had to hang up when the police came to his hotel room door. The last time I saw him was during a habeas corpus hearing in Las Vegas when he was trying to get his conviction reversed.
Through all those years there was one constant. O.J. was a star.  He was handsome, self confident, charming and charismatic.  And that is the thing that Cuba Gooding Jr. is unable to capture in the new TV series.  It may be just a case of terrible casting, but this actor is the wrong person for the role.  Then again, it may be that there is no actor who could play that role other than O.J. himself.  Gooding is not handsome enough, not big enough (OJ was a football player after all) and he doesn't communicate the essence of the man. In the first episode, he does a lot of yelling and comes off as merely petulant.
At one point in the show, the Alan Dershowitz character says, "He's a handsome gifted Greek god brought low."  That was true of the real O.J.  But the guy on the screen? Not by a long shot.
This is an expensive production with some of the best actors Hollywood has to offer. And yet few hit the mark. It's as if they never saw the original proceedings. The exception is the actress Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark. She owns the show and gives a powerful performance.  She even looks like Marcia during the trial. 
With other actors, the resemblance factor is distracting. Courtney Vance is a good double for the late great Johnnie Cochran Jr.  But John Travolta as Robert Shapiro is a stretch. He has studied Shapiro's mannerisms and channels his actions quite well. But we know this is John Travolta trying to be Robert Shapiro. David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian seems to have no idea who this man was.  The script is responsible for that.  The writer gave him silly lines to say including conversations with his children in which he refers to O.J. as "Uncle Juice."  And there are gratuitous references to his daughter "Kimmy" to remind the audience that these were THE Kardashians. But Robert's deep friendship with O.J. is never really understood. There is a nice performance by Nathan Lane as the famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey, maybe because Lane is an actor incapable of a false move.  
 Because all of this is fictional, we never see pictures of the real O.J. and Nicole, two of the most glamorous celebrities of the '90s.  We never see the football hero making history on the gridiron nor running through an airport in the famous Hertz commercials. A viewer coming to this production without any background -  for instance someone who was a child at the time - might wonder why America was in such an uproar over this person. It's interesting to note that there is video of the entire trial, but the FX producers used none of it.
ESPN is planning a series later in the year that uses documentary footage to tell O.J.'s life story. That may be more compelling.
If you were addicted to the O.J. show in the'90s, you may want to skip this long recreation. The magic of the original is gone and this imitation will be jarring.  There are also some serious factual errors in the story that will have O.J. trial experts yelling at the TV: "That's not how it happened!" 
For those who have asked if I was involved in the project, the answer is no. I was not asked to consult on it. As the AP reporter chosen to be the pool for jury selection, I spent a lot of time giving reports on TV in those days. But in the episodes I saw there are no depictions of the reporters who covered the case, myself included. The exception is Jeffrey Toobin, whose book is the basis of this show.  At the crime scene, the media is depicted as a screaming hoard with cameras on their shoulders.  I don't know why filmmakers think that reporters are so noisy.  
I offer the caveat that I have watched only two segments of this show in screeners provided to me for comment on a radio show.  I don't know if I have the patience to watch ten episodes. I spent a year of my life watching this trial. Maybe that's enough. 



Q&A: How and why AP called Clinton-Sanders race when it did

Donald Trump, with wife Melinda, right, takes a moment for a selfie Monday at a GOP caucus site in West Des Moines. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

WASHINGTON (AP) - The question burned late into the night: Who won the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? There would be no answer until well into the next day.
News organizations widely rely on The Associated Press to call the winner in elections and, in presidential caucuses and primaries, to determine the number of delegates won by candidates to the nominating conventions. On Monday night, a close approximation of the delegates won by Clinton and Sanders was known. But the winner wasn't - not until early Tuesday afternoon.
Some questions and answers about how the AP determined that Clinton won Iowa and how it allocated delegates in the Democratic contest:
Q: Why didn't the AP call the winner in the Iowa Democratic caucuses on Monday night?
A: The race was too close. Clinton's margin over Sanders was so minuscule that it risked being erased if vote-counting errors were discovered later.
The AP uses data from three sources to call races. First, entrance or exit polls of voters arriving to caucuses or leaving voting precincts (on Monday, entrance polls were used). Second, an analysis of actual votes from a random sample of precincts across each state. Third, the AP vote count, which tabulates all actual votes as they are reported from precincts to counties, or towns or parishes.
For the very closest races, the AP depends heavily on actual vote returns, as they slowly or rapidly flow in depending on circumstances, to make a call.
Q: What changed on Tuesday afternoon that led the AP to call the race for Clinton?
A: Three factors enabled the AP to call the race for Clinton just after 1 p.m. EST: All the results had been tallied, the Iowa Democratic Party told the AP it would not conduct a recount of any results, and the Sanders campaign said it was not interested in challenging any results.
Clinton in the end won by less than three-tenths of 1 percent.
Q: If Clinton won the caucuses, why didn't she get all the delegates?
A: It's not winner take all.
Iowa Democrats award delegates proportionally, based on the statewide vote and the vote in individual congressional districts. Clinton won two more delegates than Sanders - the tally was 23-21 - even though the vote was very close to a tie. That is because she got the most votes in one congressional district. Seven delegates were at stake in the Third District; she won 4, he won 3.
Also, a pot of 9 delegates was awarded based on the statewide vote. By narrowly winning the statewide vote, Clinton got 5 and Sanders got 4.
Q: So, what's the delegate count heading into New Hampshire?
A: Clinton has a big lead, thanks to the party establishment.
Party officials known as superdelegates can support the candidate of their choice. When superdelegates are counted, Clinton has a total of 385 delegates and Sanders only has 29. More than half of the party's superdelegates have decided whom to support - though they can always change their minds.
It takes 2,382 delegates to win the Democratic nomination for president.
Q: Since delegates determine who wins the nomination, and Sanders and Clinton split them almost equally, why does it matter who got the most votes in Iowa?
A: Politics craves a voting winner. In real time, momentum is shaped by which candidate wins the most votes, and that's how history will remember Iowa in 2016.
In truth, Iowa's delegate allotment is tiny compared with those of the big states to come.
Associated Press writers David Pace, who directs the AP's race-calling efforts, and Stephen Ohlemacher, who runs the AP's delegate count, contributed to this report.
Click here for a link to this story.   Shared by Sibby Christensen.

Michael J. Feeney, 'tenacious journalist,' dies
at 32; worked for AP in Baltimore and Detroit

NEW YORK (AP) - Michael J. Feeney, a former reporter for The New York Daily News and former president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, died Sunday. He was 32.
Feeney's mother, Reba Willis, told The Daily News that her son died of complications from a staph infection of the kidneys. She said he'd been in Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, since Tuesday.
Feeney was past president of the New York Association of Black Journalists and the recipient of the national organization's Emerging Journalist of the Year Award in 2010.
"He was a tenacious journalist who possessed a passion and energy for telling stories reflective of diverse communities - stories which otherwise might not have been told," NABJ President Sarah Glover said on the group's website.
"He was an immensely talented young black man for whom - like far too many of our young black men - death came way too early," said NABJ founder DeWayne Wickham, who taught Feeney journalism at Delaware State University. Feeney graduated from the university in 2005.
The Teaneck native joined The Daily News in 2009 where he covered crime and later neighborhoods in upper Manhattan, including Harlem. He worked as an entertainment and culture reporter for The Record in New Jersey, and as a reporter for The Associated Press in Detroit and an AP intern in Baltimore. He also was a freelancer writer.
His mother said he was about to begin a job as an entertainment reporter at when he became ill.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by a sister, Maria Feeney, and a twin brother, Anthony Feeney.

Michael and Diane

Diane Parker - director of AP staffing and diversity -  I was honored to host The New York Association of Black Journalist General Body meeting Nov. 10., 2015 at the Associated Press. This was Michael Feeney's last meeting as the president of the organization. Michael mentioned this was where it all started because his first meeting as president was held at the AP. I personally wanted to recognize his commitment, dedication and his ability to touch the lives of so many. I surprised him with a cake at the meeting. His mom was in the front row beaming with pride. One person truly can make a difference. Michael Feeney was a bright light and that light will continue to shine in the hearts of all who knew him. R.I.P.  Michael J. Feeney .


Julie Walker (Email), an AP radio correspondent in New York and also the president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, shares this statement on Michael, who was an AP intern in the Baltimore bureau in 2005 and then worked as a newsman in the Detroit bureau for 10 months in 2006:
The New York Association of Black Journalists is saddened by the passing of former President Michael J. Feeney. It is with deep sorrow that we mourn him. He was a dedicated leader of the organization and an outstanding journalist. Michael, who served four years as president of NYABJ, worked tirelessly furthering our goals and revitalizing the chapter. He was a mentor to so many just starting out as journalists and a constant voice for those working tirelessly in media. Professionally, Michael worked long and hard to bring his stories to the pages of so many New York and New Jersey publications. He was an award winning journalist who clearly loved what he did and made a true impact on so many lives. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his mother and the entire Feeney family. As soon as we learn of arrangements, we will post them.
Homegoing Services for Michael J. Feeney

From his family:  To accommodate the outpouring of love and support for Michael, we will host funeral services in Harlem, NY and Englewood, NJ. 

Harlem, NY Homegoing Service: First Corinthian Baptist Church, 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd, NY, NY 10026 (Formally 7th Ave) and 116th St. Date: Monday, February 8, 2016. Time: Viewing 9-11 AM. Funeral Service Immediately Following.

Englewood, NJ Homegoing Service: Community Baptist Church, 224 First St, Englewood, NJ 07631. Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2016. Time: Viewing 4-6 PM. Funeral Service Immediately Following. Street parking is available and early arrival is highly suggested.

Click here for a link to the Michael J. Feeney memorial fund.

Connecting mailbox
Valerie Komor - A postscript to Joe McKnight on Atlanta Bureau (Tuesday Connecting).  Lewis Hawkins was in the bureau in London when Ed Kennedy called to report the unconditional surrender of the Germans on May 7, 1945.  Lew picked up the phone and took the dictation.  It was a bad line and they were having trouble hearing each other.  Lew went on to coordinate much of our civil rights coverage throughout the South from the Atlanta hub, working closely with southern bureau chiefs and Alan Gould in New York.
Investigative reporter David Caruso named AP NYC news editor
NEW YORK (AP) - David B. Caruso, a national investigative reporter with wide experience in government accountability and data journalism over nearly 15 years with The Associated Press, has been named New York City news editor.
The appointment was announced Tuesday by James Martinez, the cooperative's state editor for New York, and Karen Testa, editor for the east region of the United States.
"David has deep knowledge of New York City and boundless curiosity to find out the stories behind the stories," Martinez said. "He's not satisfied with routine coverage. He wants to help the AP stand out, even in the nation's most crowded and competitive news center."
In his new role, Caruso will lead a team of reporters and work with photographers and videographers to pursue breaking news, develop compelling enterprise across formats and to press for accountability using public records.
Caruso has been a New York-based member of national investigative reporting team since 2014, probing delays in the Veterans Affairs health system and how big increases in the cost of flood insurance created an affordability crisis in many coastal cities. Prior to that, as a reporter in the New York City bureau since 2005, Caruso uncovered large-scale problems with the disposal of natural gas drilling wastewater, improprieties at dozens of 9/11 charities and soaring pharmaceutical company profits from human growth hormone.
He reported on how some 9/11 first responders suing the city had exaggerated or falsified medical claims. And in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, he slipped into nursing homes and a mental hospital to investigate the plight of elderly evacuees crammed into overcrowded facilities.
"David is a natural leader, and his enthusiasm and competitive edge coupled with his own reporting experience ensure he'll help AP's team uncover the best stories of New York for a global audience," Testa said.
Caruso, 43, joined the AP in 2001 in Philadelphia, where he covered general news and federal courts. He previously worked at the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. He is a 1994 graduate of Boston University.
Caruso succeeds Amanda Barrett, who was promoted to a management role on the AP's Nerve Center.
Click here for a link to this story.
Welcome to Connecting

Hans Greimel -
Patty Woodrow -
Update: Connecting '80s/'90s/100 Club'
Max Desfor  - 102
Jack Bausman  - 91
Carl Bell  - 91      
George Bria - 99
Albert Habhab -  90
Elaine Light - 92
Joe McKnight  - 90
Sam Montello -  92
Joy Stilley  - 94
Harold Waters  - 93
Mercer Bailey - 89
Joe Benham  - 81
Ben Brown  - 82
Sibby Christensen - 81
Otto Doelling  - 81
Phil Dopoulos  - 83 
Mike Feinsilber  - 81
Lew Ferguson  - 81
George Hanna  - 85
Bob Haring  - 82
Gene Herrick  - 89
Kathryn Johnson - 89
Ferd Kaufman  - 88
Joe McGowan  - 84
Walter Mears - 81
Reid Miller  - 81
Charlie Monzella - 84
Richard Pyle  - 81
Gordon Sakamoto  - 80
Joe Somma  - 82
Arlon Southall  - 84
Paul Webster - 84
George Zucker  - 82

(Missing someone? Birthday needing update? Drop me a note.)

Stories of interest

Amid the Flint water crisis, journalists are calling for changes to Michigan's FOIA law   (Poynter)

When Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released emails related to the ongoing water crisis in the city of Flint earlier this month, he was under no obligation to do so. Michigan is one of only two states in the country (Massachusetts is the other) where the state's Freedom of Information Act excludes the governor's office from public records searches.
Click here to read more.


Cable news gets record audiences for Iowa caucuses coverage  (Politico)



Last night's Iowa caucuses made for a big night on cable news, bringing in the highest ratings for the event in cable news history, if preliminary numbers hold.
Fox News Channel's coverage of the caucuses won for total viewers between 8 and 11 p.m., counting 4.461 million of them during its primetime coverage, according to Nielsen fast national numbers. That's compared to CNN's 3.73 million primetime viewers and MSNBC's 1.97 million.
But CNN won in the key advertiser 25-54 demo in that timeframe, netting 1.394 million primetime viewers compared to FNC's 1.165 million and MSNBC's 592,000.
There was some solace for MSNBC in here, too. Despite trailing well behind in total viewers and in the demo, the network called Ted Cruz as the Republican winner of the caucus three minutes before FNC and five minutes before CNN.
Click here for a link to this story.
Today in History - February 3, 2016

By The Associated Press
Today is Wednesday, Feb. 3, the 34th day of 2016. There are 332 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 3, 1959, rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson died in a small plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

On this date:

In 1783, Spain formally recognized American independence.

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens held a shipboard peace conference off the Virginia coast; the talks deadlocked over the issue of Southern autonomy.

In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing for a federal income tax, was ratified.

In 1924, the 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, died in Washington, D.C., at age 67.

In 1930, the chief justice of the United States, William Howard Taft, resigned for health reasons. (He died just over a month later.)

In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. transport ship Dorchester, which was carrying troops to Greenland, sank after being hit by a German torpedo; of the more than 900 men aboard, only some 230 survived.

In 1959, An American Airlines Lockheed Electra crashed into New York's East River, killing 65 of the 73 people on board.

In 1966, the Soviet probe Luna 9 became the first manmade object to make a soft landing on the moon.

In 1971, New York City police officer Frank Serpico, who had charged there was widespread corruption in the NYPD, was shot and seriously wounded during a drug bust in Brooklyn.

In 1991, the rate for a first-class postage stamp rose to 29 cents.

In 1994, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off, carrying Sergei Krikalev, the first Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard a U.S. spacecraft.

In 1998, Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker, 38, for the pickax killings of two people in 1983; she was the first woman executed in the United States since 1984. A U.S. Marine plane sliced through the cable of a ski gondola in Italy, sending the car plunging hundreds of feet, killing all 20 people inside.

In 2005, Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation as attorney general.

Ten years ago: An Egyptian passenger ferry sank in the Red Sea during bad weather, killing more than 1,000 passengers. Twenty-three al-Qaida prisoners escaped from a Yemeni prison, including one convicted of the 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole. Actor Al Lewis ("The Munsters") died in New York (he was probably 82, although he'd claimed to have been born in 1910, which would have made him 95).

Five years ago: Tens of thousands of protesters staged unprecedented demonstrations against Yemen's autocratic president, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AH'-lee ahb-DUH'-luh sah-LEH'), a key U.S. ally in battling Islamic militants, as unrest inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia spread further in the Arab world.

One year ago: An evening rush-hour commuter train with 750 people aboard slammed into a SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, New York, killing the vehicle's driver and six people on the train. A video released on militant websites purportedly showed a Jordanian pilot who was captured by the Islamic State group being burned to death.

Today's Birthdays: Comedian Shelley Berman is 91. Former Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., is 83. Football Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton is 76. Actress Bridget Hanley is 75. Actress Blythe Danner is 73. Singer Dennis Edwards is 73. Football Hall-of-Famer Bob Griese is 71. Singer-guitarist Dave Davies (The Kinks) is 69. Singer Melanie is 69. Actress Morgan Fairchild is 66. Actress Pamela Franklin is 66. Actor Nathan Lane is 60. Rock musician Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) is 60. Actor Thomas Calabro is 57. Actor-director Keith Gordon is 55. Actress Michele Greene is 54. Country singer Matraca (muh-TRAY'-suh) Berg is 52. Actress Maura Tierney is 51. Actor Warwick Davis is 46. Actress Elisa Donovan is 45. Reggaeton singer Daddy Yankee is 40. Musician Grant Barry is 39. Human rights activist Amal Alamuddin Clooney is 38. Singer-songwriter Jessica Harp is 34. Actor Matthew Moy is 32. Actress Rebel Wilson is 30. Rapper Sean Kingston is 26.

Thought for Today: "Your friend will argue with you." - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian writer (1918-2008).

Got a story to share?

Got a story to share? A favorite memory of your AP days? Don't keep them to yourself. Share with your colleagues by sending to Ye Olde Connecting Editor. And don't forget to include photos!

Here are some suggestions:
- Spousal support -  How your spouse helped in supporting your work during your AP career. 
- My most unusual story -  tell us about an unusual, off the wall story that you covered.
- "A silly mistake that you make"-  a chance to 'fess up with a memorable mistake in your journalistic career.
- Multigenerational AP families  - profiles of families whose service spanned two or more generations.
- Volunteering  - benefit your colleagues by sharing volunteer stories - with ideas on such work they can do themselves.
- First job  - How did you get your first job in journalism?
- Connecting "selfies"  - a word and photo self-profile of you and your career, and what you are doing today. Both for new members and those who have been with us a while.
Life after AP for those of you who have moved on to another job or profession.
Most unusual place a story assignment took you.

Paul Stevens
Editor,  Connecting newsletter