Veteran journalist April Ryan discusses White House, CNN roles

Photo by Timothy Cox- Seasoned journalist April Ryan, right, responds to questions

Veteran journalist April Ryan discusses White House, CNN roles
September 28
01:00 2017

BALTIMORE, Md. —A packed house, mostly comprised of a healthy mix of students and community members, filled auditorium seats at Seeley G. Mudd  Hall on the campus of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) near downtown Baltimore.

The featured attraction was April Ryan, the notable newswoman who became nationally renowned, largely following the election of President Donald Trump. Subsequent controversy erupted when the president asked her to setup a meeting with the Congressional Black Congress, at a press briefing last February. In March, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer, berated her publicly for “shaking her head,” during another press briefing.

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, Ryan discussed those controversial events and more at a special event dubbed “*JHU Forums on Race in America.” She specifically addressed “Race, Politics, and the Changing Face of Journalism.”

In a relaxed face-to-face interview with Tracey Reeves, JHU’s Director of Media Relations, Ryan fielded several diverse topics including her personal relationship with the President to discomforts of the small, James S. Brady White House Press Room where she and fellow journalists conduct press conferences.

During Ryan’s 20-year journalistic career, she has worked in various mediums, including gospel and jazz radio in her native Baltimore, leading to her current gig as a White House Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN).

Having turned 50 on Sept. 5, the mother of two young daughters has authored two books, including best-seller, “The Presidency In Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents” and “At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White.”  The first book won an NAACP Image Award. In May, she was named “2017 Journalist of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists.

The northwest Baltimore native is currently chief of AURN’s Washington bureau — the only African-American media outlet in the White House, with a network of more than 300 stations nationwide and nearly 20 million listeners each week. She’s also a regular contributor and political analyst on CNN.

In 1985, she graduated from Baltimore’s Seton-Keough High School, a private Catholic high school that closed its doors for good, last June due to decreased enrollments and increased operating costs.

When Reeves asked  Ryan about her initial reaction when President Trump took office,  Ryan’s replied, “I knew it was going to be much different (than the previous administration). She noted that during President (Bill) Clinton’s era, the Oval Office was literally accessible to the press. Things changed during President George W. Bush’s terms, she said. “Things were more closed-off, and it got even  tighter during President Obama’s tenure,” she said.

When asked how she felt history will ultimately judge President Trump, Ryan responded, “So far, hectic, chaotic and divisive.” Additionally, on the controversial topic of “Fake News vs. Real News,”  Ryan said the rise of Facebook, is a major culprit in providing non-journalists a vehicle to create and allow unconfirmed articles a chance to reach vulnerable audiences.

She also briefly discussed a public riff between herself and Trump staffer Omarosa Manigault. The two were friends before political differences created a split between their relationship, she said. They reportedly also had argumentative words last month outside of Spicer’s White House offices.

On the subject of Presidential Tweets, she said social media usage by President Trump is a “game-changer” because in previous administrations, press conferences offered the official White House statement.  Now, “you have to be able to run around and react quickly,” because Twitter has now become the official word, she said.

She also commented on the differences of President Obama’s first term and his reactions during his second term. She noticed a more relaxed person who was more eager and supportive of his stances, with more added swagger during hit second term compared with his first term.

She said she doesn’t feel personally responsible to take on black issues, instead, she asks questions that impact the overall populous.

“I just want them to get it right and I talk to all the players. But, she added, “if I need to go-there, I will,” she said, noting that she’s not shy about raising issues special to black folks. Especially, when it appears no one else is going to discuss those pertinent issues.

She then noted that she has received death threats in her media role.

“Why? Because I ask valid questions? No, I’m not scared. Remember, I’m from Baltimore,” she quipped with a smile.

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