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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.

By |2012-02-09T07:42:17-04:00February 9th, 2012|Media|Comments Off on Roland Martin suspended

Olbermann’s ordeal was stupid

By now, everyone should know that Keith Olbermann was suspended and now is back on the air because of political contributions that he made a couple weeks ago. What happened and why? It appears that MSNBC has a policy on political contributions by their on-air commentators. Cool. Their policy states that all political donations need to be approved prior to making the donations. Why? I don’t understand how prior approval will make any donation any more or any less ethical. Now, if you inform MSNBC about political donations, certain interviews and certain stories could and should be reported differently. It should be clear to the viewer that the commentator is specifically biased (yes, I know that many on MSNBC are liberals. Liberal does not equal bias. Endorsements do equal bias.)

If this is an important rule, should it be written into one’s contract? For the most part, these commentators are commenting on politics. It seems to me that that MSNBC would want to make sure that every commentator knows what the rules are and would therefore specifically write those rules into the contract.

There is a larger context. What is the role of journalism in the year 2010? How should journalists differentiate themselves from commentators? Shouldn’t this delineation be crystal clear to the viewer?

Matt Taibbi has more:

We had a whole generation of journalists who sat by and did nothing while, for instance, George Bush led us into an idiotic war on a lie, plus thousands more who spent day after day collecting checks by covering Britney’s hair and Tiger’s text messages and other stupidities while the economy blew up and two bloody wars went on mostly unexamined… and it’s Keith Olbermann who should “pay the price” for being unethical? Because, and let me get this straight, he donated money, privately, to politicians?

This is absurd even by GE’s standards. There is no reason, not even a theoretical one, why any journalist should be prevented from having political opinions and participating in election campaigns in his spare time. The policy would be ridiculous even if we were talking about an evening news anchor — because the only “ethical” question here is the issue of NBC wanting to preserve the appearance of impartiality and being unable to do so, because political contributions happen to be public record and impossible to hide from viewers.

Again, that would be true even if we were talking about Brian Williams or Tom Brokaw, someone from whom viewers expect a certain level of impartiality. But what Olbermann does is advocacy journalism and it’s not exactly a secret. NBC punishing Olbermann for donating to Democratic candidates is like Hugh Hefner fining the Playmate of the Year for showing ankle. It’s completely and utterly retarded.

By |2010-11-10T21:39:35-04:00November 10th, 2010|Media|Comments Off on Olbermann’s ordeal was stupid

Olbermann’s statement

Keith Olbermann will be back on the air tonight. He isn’t the second coming. He is a good commentator. That’s it.

Keith’s statement:

by Keith Olbermann

I want to sincerely thank you for the honor of your extraordinary and ground-rattling support. Your efforts have been integral to the remedying of these recent events, and the results should remind us of the power of individuals spontaneously acting together to correct injustices great or small. I would also like to acknowledge with respect the many commentators and reporters, including those with whom my politics do not overlap, for their support.

I also wish to apologize to you viewers for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama. You should know that I mistakenly violated an inconsistently applied rule – which I previously knew nothing about – that pertains to the process by which such political contributions are approved by NBC. Certainly this mistake merited a form of public acknowledgment and/or internal warning, and an on-air discussion about the merits of limitations on such campaign contributions by all employees of news organizations. Instead, after my representative was assured that no suspension was contemplated, I was suspended without a hearing, and learned of that suspension through the media.

You should also know that I did not attempt to keep any of these political contributions secret; I knew they would be known to you and the rest of the public. I did not make them through a relative, friend, corporation, PAC, or any other intermediary, and I did not blame them on some kind of convenient ‘mistake’ by their recipients. When a website contacted NBC about one of the donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.

I genuinely look forward to rejoining you on Countdown on Tuesday, to begin the repayment of your latest display of support and loyalty – support and loyalty that is truly mutual.


By |2010-11-09T15:36:23-04:00November 9th, 2010|Media|1 Comment
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