What is it with TV anchors and the f-bomb? Bill O’Reilly dropped it (while helming Inside Edition). Last night, “in solidarity with you, Bill,” Stephen Colbert revealed that he did much the same (back in his mid-day local news anchor days). And now: News Channel 4’s Sue Simmons.
Per The New York Times:
On Monday night, according to someone who works at Channel 4 and has direct knowledge of the situation, Ms. Simmons and [co-anchor Chuck] Scarborough thought the spot was being taped. When they were cued, Ms. Simmons read her line: “At 11, paying more at the grocer, but getting less. We’ll tell you how to get the most.”
The station then cut to images for an upcoming story about a cruise ship, without any narrative from the two anchors.
At that point, Ms. Simmons says, basically, What are you doing?
But her question had two extra words.
Better than the Times’ so-delicate-it’s-actually-confusing description of What Sue Said are the fruits of the Times’ man on the street (a single block on the Upper West Side, apparently) interviews in which Regular People sound off on The News and What Reporters Are For (emphasis mine).
“[The f-bomb] gets thrown around like ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’,” said Omar Villaneuva, a doorman at 27 West 72nd Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, referring to the word Ms. Simmons used. “But when you’re a news reporter, you’re supposed to report the news. You’re not there to swear.”
Peter King, who works in an architectural office on the Upper West Side, echoed Mr. Villaneuva’s point. “It’s just another indication of standards declining…”
And, said Willie Pope, “who was collecting donations for the United Homeless Organization at Columbus Avenue and West 72nd Street on Tuesday,” ” ‘I try my best not to curse.’…And he said that a television anchor should not curse, either.”
Finally, there was “Linda Murray, a graduate student originally from Ireland” (whom the Times found coming out of Malachy’s Irish Pub on West 72nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam?). Murray “said that after 9 p.m. in Europe, the standards are looser. But then she had second thoughts about that. ‘I guess it’s inappropriate for the news. There’s a perception of professionalism.’”
Right. So going forward, can we all swear— agree— to do a better job of keeping up appearances?
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.