It's a sad day in Television when the most famous news anchor making the rounds on the morning talk shows and various other venues is not from a local Boston station talking about harrowing coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the apprehension of a suspect. Nor is it any of the other reporters, live crew members, or even the producer who got linebacker treatment from the police because she was carrying her gear in a backpack. The rest of the nation is not on a first name basis with the anchors, reporters, or news directors of WBZ, WCVB, or any other Boston news station.
The most famous news person of the moment is A. J. Clemente, a former rookie weekend anchor in Bismark who, as the opening of his first show was concluding, forgot broadcasting's First Commandment (Thou shall respect thy microphone and assume it to be HOT at all times) and uttered Carlin Words #1 and #3 on the air. Yep. First and LAST day at work at, appropriately enough, KFYR. (K-Fire - as in "We FIRE knucklehead anchors who say #1 and #3 on the air.")
The gaffe went viral in a matter of minutes, thus in the minds of far to many news program producers made Clemente a "legitimate" news subject and justified contacting a guy who can't be trusted with a live microphone and putting him on live television. Listen close and you can hear one of the horsemen of the apocalypse riding past.
At about the same time this happened, somebody released a survey that listed "reporter" as the worst occupation. I assume the category "reporter" includes newspaper journalists, who as an endangered species should be on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Even so, television news programs glorifying the lack of professionalism demonstrated by A. J. Clemente is only helping to make journalism even less trusted, and news programming even more trivial than it already is.
The FCC has forgiven Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz for proclaiming "This is our [synonym for copulating] city!" And the thousands in attendance didn't seem to mind at all. Maybe society has grown far too jaded to give a damn about profanity. In TV the F-bomb and the C-word are about all that's really subject to FCC action. Tune in at any given time and you're bound to hear "bastard" or "son-of-a-bitch" coming from a character on Family Guy. Perpetual reruns of Law & Order in its various guises give viewers graphic descriptions of heinous sexually oriented crimes. And the news channels can pretty much go anywhere ever since the day the story broke that Bill Clinton got a Lewinsky. Maybe I need to just let it go.
Granted, I think we still need some reasonable guidelines. I don't think Dora the Explorer should be telling her viewers, "Wake up, ass clown, and help me find the [fornicating] map!" And I expect the talent on ESPN to show restraint and be professional. But if we're in the locker room right after the game, I'm mature enough to deal with a little locker room language. And maybe that's what really annoys me about making A.J. Clemente a celebrity du jour... I left the seventh grade a long time ago.