Thursday, April 25, 2013

Swearing News Anchor Fired - Gains a Fan Base

Getting fired may be the best thing that ever happened to A.J. Clemente.

Clemente was fired for swearing on the air last week, and has since become a bit of a celebrity as many people have come to his defense for what is generally being seen as a mistake.  Granted, using the "f-word" to express frustration while cameras are rolling is not simply excusable.  Apparently, Clemente was literally on his rookie broadcast, anchoring the first show of his very short career, and while he waited to be introduced by his co-anchor, he was stumbling over lines and cursed, unaware that his microphone was on and live.

Now, that is a certainly embarrassing and not remotely professional mistake.  And, this is a young man who wants to be a broadcaster - a news anchor.  So he clearly should be held to a high standard, and this sort of slip is quite egregious.  However, the fall-out from his slip of the tongue was rather harsh.  Clemente was suspended initially and then outright fired after the clip of his error went viral on the Internet.  That seems to be a bit of an over-reaction from the network, and probably represents some pretty prudish and small-minded studio execs.

Swearing is obviously much more prominent than it was even twenty years ago.  And there's really no excuse or justification for it in the public square.  And, this kid is a bit ... uncouth ... to be sure.  As a teacher I occasionally encounter situations where students let the "f-bomb" slip in class and they're not even aware of it.  This usually becomes quite the teachable moment, as I warn them about such language becoming so natural that they lose awareness of situation.  And, they may some day swear in a job interview without knowing it, and never understand why they didn't get the job or a call back.  This is, of course, quite different from a student who knowingly and willingly cusses in class or the hallway.  That can, justifiably, be a disciplinary situation.

Alas, the firing has seemed to work in A.J.'s favor, as he has parlayed his ignominy into guests spots on the Today Show and the Late Show with David Letterman.  Clemente is apparently hoping the waves of support for him will generate interest from the Holy Grail of male broadcasters, ESPN.  While I doubt that will come to pass, I hope somebody picks up the kid.  While he certainly didn't seem smooth in his first delivery on the air, I'd rather see him fail on genuine lack of skill, rather than a silly mistake.

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