By David Zurawik
The Baltimore Sun
3:47 PM EST, February 8, 2012
CNN suspended political analyst Roland Martin Wednesday over tweets he sent during the Super Bowl. The messages were seen by some as homophobic and advocating violence against members of the LGBT community.
They were sent in response to an ad featuring soccer player David Beckham in H&M briefs. One tweet said, "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."
Martin has been under fire since the Sunday night tweets, which he tried to "clarify" Monday. On Tuesday, he issued one of those "if anyone was offended" apologies.
I was suprised to see him on the air Tuesday night for CNN's coverage of GOP caucuses.
The statement from CNN was issued Wednesday afternoon. It says: "Roland Martin's tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being."
I think Martin is through at CNN. The channel strives to be the most journalistically responsible of all cable news channels. And having a political analyst with such poor judgment and lack of sensitivity to others is unacceptable. I will be shocked to ever see him on CNN again.
Martin is also host of the Sunday morning public affairs show, "Washington Watch," on TV One, a Maryland-based, African-American-themed cable channel. There was no immediate response to email inquiries about Martin's status with TV One in the wake of the controversy.
But the channel will surely come under fire if it doesn't also respond in some way to Martin's Super Bowl tweets. Urging someone to "smack the ish out of" another person is serious and ugly stuff.
I don't see how any responsible channel can have that type of host as the face of their public affairs programming effort -- especially a channel that claims to be a champion of diversity.
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