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Roland with the Homies

15 Feb

The recent suspension of CNN journalist, Roland Martin, presents several interesting and controversial points to the surface. Martin’s suspension is a prime example of being a victim of both social media as a platform, and public relations agendas. For those of you who aren’t aware, CNN recently suspended Roland Martin indefinitely due to Tweets during the Super Bowl that the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) found to be offensive:

“Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass

Ain’t no real bruhs going to H&M to buy some damn David Beckham underwear! #superbowl

If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl”

Roland Martin

Roland Martin - Photo Courtesy of Euroweb.com

According  to GLAAD these Tweets were “homophobic” and therefore encourage violence against homosexuals. Martin retorted these claims by stating that he is not homophobic and that the tweets were not intended to incite any harm towards homosexuals and was only in jest. CNN subsequently suspended Martin indefinitely for the tweets.

I personally have mixed feelings about CNN’s decision to suspend Martin. On one hand , it’s understandable from a PR perspective  for CNN to present itself as a so-called politically correct organization that does not tolerate harmful threats towards certain interest groups, and respects the sensitivities of the groups.  On the other hand, CNN also presents itself as a pushover organization that will bend to the whim of certain political agenda’s while being ready and willing to throw its staff under the proverbial bus, without analyzing the details. For one of the largest and most reputable news organizations on the planet, I find the actions to be a bit ridiculous.

What details needed to be examined by CNN? Perhaps the fact that the Tweets were personal and certainly not work related – although it is true that Martin represents CNN in all of public communication. Also, none of the Tweets actually present a “harmful threat” to homosexuals, nor were homosexuals as a collective even mentioned in any Tweet. Perhaps Martin is not a fan of H&M and therefore was joking about “smacking” someone for being excited about the commercial. Perhaps he thought the pink suit looked tacky (I certain think it does). I personally do not believe his tweets warranted a suspension, which makes me question if the personnel that decided to suspend him even fully thought about what was being said and the context in which it was said.

We can learn several lessons from this incident.  One: If you have a high-profile career, it’s best to keep tweets and/or blog posts as neutral and objective as possible. We are all going to be held accountable for our words, even if our words are going to be misconstrued. Also, can learn that companies can sometimes hurt their image and appear easily influenced by certain interest groups, even if it’s at the expense of their employees. Somebody at CNN AND GLAAD needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass

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2 Comments

Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

2 responses to “Roland with the Homies

  1. ruchipandey

    February 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    With a follower-ship of more than 100,000 people, Roland Martin should have know better than to make such statements in twitter. His is not the first twitter controversy and will not be the last. Whether he’s homophobic or not and whether this was his idea of jest or not, being a journalist he should have thought twice before tweeting something that clearly would be seen as insensitive and controversial by many.
    I agree with you on the point that because he didn’t use CNN’s twitter account and was using his personal account he was at liberty to express his feelings. Also his tweets only implied and didn’t actually state that he is homophobic. Why then was he suspended? Well CNN obviously had to take an action because of all the media attention the matter had received.

     
  2. Sandy_Qin

    March 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Hi Vickiss,

    What a coincidence! I also posted about Martin’s suspension. However, I focused on how he managed the crisis as an individual.

    Thanks for offering a refreshing perspective from the organization’s side. Now I agree CNN made a fuss! However, I don’t think the suspension shows CNN is a pushover for two reasons:
    1. It seems that Roland Martin has a history of homophobic tendency. You can check this out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelangelo-signorile/roland-martins-history-on_b_1259631.html.
    2. Martin’s Twitter became a public platform once Martin became a celebrity. I don’t quite understand Americans’ social media etiquette yet, but for a Chinese, Twitter is more professional than Facebook is. I think Martin should have posted the jokes on private social media platforms like Facebook, where only his acquiantances can see.

    Apart from the organization’s standpoint, another thing I agree with you about is the bad influence on CNN’s employee relations. It seems that CNN sacrificed its employee relations for its consumer relations.

    Thanks for the great post!
    Sandy

     

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