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Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV
WBAL's Jayne Miller says she will 'step back' from Freddie Gray coverage

WBAL reporter Jayne Miller said in a radio interview Tuesday that she is going to "step back" from covering the Freddie Gray story now that it is headed to court.

Last Friday, the Fraternal Order of Police wrote a letter asking Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby to appoint a special prosecutor in the case involving six police officers involved in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. The FOP called for the change because of alleged conflicts of interest in Mosby's office.

One of the allegations centered on the "lead prosecutor's connections with members of the local media."

The lead prosecutor is Janice Bledsoe. She is in a relationship with Miller, the veteran investigative reporter confirmed to the Sun.

As a result of that relationship, I wrote on Friday that Miller either should not be covering the Freddie Gray story or, at least, should disclose the conflict of interest. (Read that here.)

Here's what was said about it Tuesday in an interview with Robin Young for "Here & Now,"...

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Why Obama should have come to Baltimore, not David Letterman's couch

Am I the only person who thinks there is something wrong with President Obama going on David Letterman Monday to talk about the riots in Baltimore, but not coming to the city less than 50 miles away from the White House one day last week?

I vowed I was going to let it rest after I quoted NBC’s Chuck Todd last week raising the issue of Obama not coming here to address what's been happening in America with unarmed black men dying while being arrested or in police custody after arrest.

But last night on Letterman, Obama sanctimoniously said, “How can we send a message to young people of color and minorities, particularly young men, saying, ‘Your lives matter. We do care about you’?”

You know how you could have done that, Mr. President? By coming to Baltimore and letting the people of West Baltimore and the other citizens here see you in the flesh. If the streets could not be secured, then you could have done it at City Hall.  And if we could not have secured City Hall, then heaven help us...

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'House of Cards' announces first casting call for new season in Bel Air

The first casting call for Season 4 of "House of Cards" was announced today.

It's Friday, May 15, at the Bel Air Armory.

The casting agents are looking for "paid background performers" who are dressed for a black-tie affair. They want performers 18 and older to arrive with "hair product" and "makeup applied."

I guess the annoucement suggests "House of Cards" is coming back to Maryland.

Check out the casting call above for particulars.

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It is not OK for Fox to get it so wrong in Baltimore Monday

Given its performance in Baltimore, I am starting to wonder if maybe Fox News should only do opinion and stay away from covering challenging news stories like the one still playing out on the streets of Baltimore.

I know that might sound extreme, but in the volatile situation that is Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, you would think the last thing any reporter or producer would do is report any act of violence, particularly a police shooting, that it had not absolutely confirmed and vetted several different ways.

But that's just what happened Monday afternoon with Fox News reporting that police shot a black man in the back as he was running from them. It was on Fox air, Fox Twitter accounts and Fox online.

Mike Tobin reported the shooting from Pennsylvania and W. North Avenues for the channel. But what he thought he saw appears to have never happened.

"We screwed up," anchor Shepard Smith said after police tweeted and explained that a man who was running from police threw a gun...

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On Freddie Gray coverage, don't blame the messenger

The national media spotlight has shone more brightly on Baltimore this past week than at any point during my 25 years of writing about media at The Baltimore Sun.

To some local officials, it must feel like a national media sun lamp that is starting to burn.

And they have pushed back, criticizing and even blaming the media for some of the ugliness that was captured by network and cable cameras.

Sensing an outlet for their general enmity toward the press, some audience members have also jumped in, tweeting or posting on Facebook about how awful they think CNN's Don Lemon or Fox News' Geraldo Rivera is. If you're from Baltimore, it's us (locals) against them (national media), and it just feels good after drowning in a week of profoundly disturbing hometown images to blast away on social media.

But if we are going to review media performance, let's do it fairly and honestly, and not through a haze of ideology, boosterism or political misdirection.

Not for one second, for example, should we...

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Links between TV reporter, prosecutor's office are Ethics 101 example

The Fraternal Order of Police leveled serious conflict-of-interest charges Friday against the Baltimore state's attorney's office — and the local media.

Gene Ryan, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, wrote in a letter to State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby that he has "very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest" involving her office prosecuting six officers for the death of Freddie Gray. He asked her to appoint a special prosecutor.

The FOP's issues with her marriage to a City Council member or the campaign contributions she received from William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr., a Gray family attorney, are not my concern.

But, as media critic, the allegation that the "lead prosecutor's connections with members of the local media" constitute a conflict of interest demands comment. He follows that charge by saying, "Based on several nationally televised interviews, these reporters are likely to be witnesses in any potential litigation regarding this incident."

The FOP declined...

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