Roland Martin suspended

Roland Martin, CNN commentator, has been suspended for a tweet. He has not been suspended for anything he said on air, but for homophobic comments that he made during the Super Bowl in a tweet. Martin should’ve known better. We live in an odd society. We want people to be provocative. We want people to push the limits and push the edge. In order to get a following on Twitter, you have to do that. Some guy got millions of followers just by the provocative title, “Shit My Dad Says.” (Yes, he even got a television show out of it.) Yet, being provocative still puts you out there. You’re always at risk of stepping over the line. When you step out of line, you get smacked down. Martin got smacked.

TP compares what Roland did to what conservative Dana Loesch said. There is no comparison. Here’s what TP wrote:

It’s the second time in a month that CNN commentators have come under fire for controversial comments: Dana Loesch recently cheered reports of members of the United States Marine Corps urinating on the bodies of dead Afghans and suggested that had she been present, she would have joined in. But while Martin apologized and will experience an indefinite suspension, CNN and Loesch refused to apologize for her remarks, and she’s remained on the air.

The clear difference between the two cases? A sense that CNN’s audience was offended. GLAAD, which keeps a careful eye on defamation against gays and lesbians in the media, moved quickly to call for Martin’s dismissal and to track the network’s response to the incident. CNN got the message that its own constituents were upset, and that it would suffer consequences — or at least a lot of annoyance — if it failed to act.

Loesch’s comments on the other hand, offended human rights advocates and decent people everywhere. But that’s not the same as running afoul of an organization with a well-established plan to respond to these kinds of events and a well-worn path to media outlets who would cover and amplify their response. While Loesch’s comments were reprehensible, there was also no organized group who was likely or able to hold CNN accountable for her words, and for continuing to let her appear on-air without penalty.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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