CNN’s suspension of Roland Martin following GLAAD’s demand to fire him for his Super Bowl offensive rants on Twitter shows two wrongs don’t make a right. If this were a football game, Roland Martin and GLAAD deserve a penalty for the way each handled the matter. But, Roland Martin does not deserve to be fired from his duties at CNN as political analyst as a result of the tweets.
On Super Bowl Sunday during the David Bekham H& M ad, Roland Martin tweeted that:
“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”
GLAAD issued a statement calling for him to be fired. Roland Martin halfheartedly issued a statement apologizing the day after his comments. I don’t know what Martin was thinking when he wrote the tweet and those following it. In reading many of Martin’s comments on his Twitter account, one has to wonder why he feels the need to comment on practically everything. A lesson for him is to reserve his jokes and comments to his friends and family. If he was joking as he claims, not everyone shares his same sense of humor. Just as many African Americans find racial jokes offensive that are made at their expense, the same holds true for gays and lesbians.
And as a political analyst, Martin is scrutinized for offensive remarks more so than if he made rude and offensive comments at a private party. Even comments at a private party get leaked if you are in a high profile job like Roland Martin. Martin as a political analyst should know that everything is political. One has to wonder how much of GLAAD’s demand for CNN to fire Martin is political. Martin works for TV One and appears on the Tom Joyner Morning radio show. GLAAD did not ask for Martin’s resignation from any other news outlet other than CNN. Apparently, GLAAD has been following Martin’s comments regarding gays and lesbians as far back as 2006. Looks like they were waiting for the right moment to nail him. And they found it on Super Bowl Sunday.
GLAAD as a gay rights organization should be more concerned about educating on gay rights and anti-gay sentiment and bullying instead of causing controversy. Roland Martin is a well-respected journalist, particularly more so in the African American community where few black journalists reach his stature on national TV. There were other ways GLAAD could have made their point on gay rights and anti-bullying of gays and earned points in the African American community without demanding Martin’s firing. Calling for Roland Martin’s ouster will not help in getting the anti-gay sentiment message to African Americans. And firing Martin on CNN for his offensive tweets will do little to help GLAAD’s cause, unless their cause is more political than we know.
Firing a news anchor or analyst should be reserved for the most offensive comments made on air, like those of Don Imus calling the Rutgers all women basketball team—“Nappy headed Hos”. CNN’s former anchor Rick Sanchez was fired for his on air comments about calling Jon Stewart a“bigot”and comments about Jews. Former NPR analyst and now FOX News analyst, Juan Williams was fired for his on air comments of fear of flying with Muslims and his anti- Muslim comments. I agree that Roland Martin should be reprimanded from CNN for his offensive comments. I do not agree that his comments rise to the level of being fired.
GLAAD still could use the incident as a teachable moment on gay and lesbian sentiment and anti-bullying of gays, if that is their intention. Roland Martin is already learning a valuable lesson from the moment. He has agreed to meet with GLAAD. CNN has not stated when or if Roland Martin will be back on the air, stating Martin is suspended “for the time being” over his “ regrettable and offensive comments”.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. Roland Martin’s offensive tweets were wrong. GLAAD’s handling of the matter was wrong. Hopefully, CNN will not make a third wrong in firing Roland Martin or delaying his on air come back.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer, former prosecutor and legal /political commentator appearing in national and local media including CNN, the Michael Eric Dyson Show, XM Sirius radio, NBC , ABC and CBS -Washington, DC affiliates, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post.