Agreeing With These Critics

Jul 30, 2020

I am prompted to address a couple of things that have recently crossed my radar screen – mostly because I agreed with the critics.

The first involved Tuesday’s comment by U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana) to Attorney General William Barr during Barr’s contentious testimony to the House Judiciary Committee.

“I would just suggest that actions speak louder than words and that you really should keep the name of the Honorable John Lewis out of the Department of Justice’s mouth,” Richmond said.  “PBS NewsHour” White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor tweeted the quote, which got some 23,000 likes and 4,900 retweets.

The only problem, in my view, is that she accompanied the tweet with a fire emoji.  What is a fire emoji?

“The fire emoji is commonly used to praise someone or something, signifying that a person or object … is ‘lit,” a slang term to describe something that is exceptionally cool or great,” according to

"In case there was any doubt that Yamiche is a partisan hack, she has helpfully eliminated that doubt for us," Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy told Fox News.

Added conservative commentator T. Becket Adams in commenting on Alcindor’s tweet and another from the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig: "Maybe I am just a right-wing crank, but I think we would be better served by having a press that did not also double as a cheer squad for a political party."

In my view, there was nothing wrong with sharing Richmond’s quote. But the emoji was totally unnecessary – especially at a time when many viewers complain that they already see the "PBS NewsHour” as having a liberal bias.

Beware of Euphemisms

One reader registered an objection to language used in the “NewsHour’s” June 24 segment: “Why these meatpacking workers fear for their health and safety amid COVID-19.”

“I am very sympathetic to the plight of the workers in these slaughter plants and further processing plants. However, it is disappointing that the ‘PBS NewsHour’ refers to the horrible death of the pigs, who were literally baked and suffocated to death over a period of many hours of documented torture and agony, as ‘euthanasia.’ Euthanasia means a merciful, compassionate, ‘good death.’ The pigs and chickens in these coronavirus-related killings were not, and are not, euthanized …

“Please use accurate language in speaking of our animal victims. PBS should hold to the highest standard of language in speaking of them and not resort to euphemisms to disguise the truth of what these poor animals have endured in the ‘blood and guts environment’ of the slaughterhouse. And please say slaughterhouse or slaughter plant, because these terms are accurate, and ‘meatpacking’ is not.“

Sara Just, the “NewsHour’s” executive producer and senior vice president, said, “We received a few viewer emails with the same point. It’s an interesting point about the word ‘euthanasia,’ and we will keep it in mind.”

Enough said, I think.

You can subscribe to CPB Ombudsman Reports at Read more CPB Ombudsman Reports here.