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Old 10-13-2006, 05:33 PM   #1
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Should he be Fired?

Quote:
Barbs over baby spark a big fuss
Eye of a storm: Even in the tolerant Bay Area, nontraditional parenting can cause a stir. KGO's Pete Wilson feels the heat after criticizing a gay-lesbian couple for having a child together.
Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, October 13, 2006

Longtime Bay Area television news anchorman Pete Wilson has found himself in the headlines this week after criticizing a San Francisco city official for joining a phenomenon flourishing in the region: the nontraditional family.

Controversy over Wilson's on-air comments about Supervisor Bevan Dufty and his newborn daughter shot to the highest reaches of city government as Mayor Gavin Newsom weighed in and several members of the Board of Supervisors called for Wilson's head.

Wilson did not apologize for his comments, which he made Tuesday afternoon during a talk radio show he hosts on KGO-AM before anchoring the local news each night on ABC 7. But he did say Thursday that his language was "inappropriate."

"I let some of my argument move toward the personal. Some of it was inappropriate, some was talk radio sarcastic cheap-shotting, and I did it several times. That was wrong and unfortunate," Wilson said in an interview. "I still believe the argument is a perfectly appropriate argument. I think the argument needs to take place about the number of directions we have gone with parenting and children."

Wilson said he supports same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples and single parents. His problem with the decision by Dufty, who is gay, to have a baby with a friend who is a lesbian is that the couple have no romantic attachment.

"It may be perfectly fine in Bevan Dufty's case, but is this the direction we want to go?" he said.

Dufty's friend, Rebecca Goldfader, gave birth to their daughter, Sidney, last week. Goldfader and Dufty plan to move in together after the November election, in which Dufty is running to retain his board seat.

"The Dufty-Goldfader baby is, in my mind, a travesty. Or a potential travesty. Perhaps that's a better way of saying it," Wilson said during the first hour of his Tuesday radio program.

"At some point, there is a limit to how far we stretch the self-indulgent search for the alternative that we have been involved in the last 30 or 40 years in this country," he said later in the show.

Wilson said he had criticized celebrities having children without a romantic partner, though he had not devoted a show to the topic of platonic co-parenting. His argument seemed like a personal attack to many people, though, and four city supervisors called for his resignation from the top of the City Hall steps.

Board President Aaron Peskin said it is Wilson's job as a journalist to cover politicians and point out their mistakes, but "it is also our job to tell you and the public when your industry makes a mistake and abuses your power."

Also demanding that Wilson quit were Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly.

Wilson having both a talk show and an anchor position creates a conflict of interest, Peskin said.

"KGO has a responsibility to deal with that conflict, and I think the way you deal with that is a resignation," Peskin said.

Dufty did not attend the press conference but later sent an e-mail to Wilson.

"In no way do I want to see you resign or lose your position over this incident," Dufty wrote in the e-mail, which he forwarded to The Chronicle. "It troubles me that we live in a time of disposability. In other words, that people in public life, press, etc., make a mistake and then have no choice but to resign. I make mistakes and will undoubtedly make them in the future. I try to admit to them and learn from them."

Wilson said he might lose his job over the incident.

"I've been in the TV news business 35 years; I watch how things happen," he said. "All you've got to do is look at the Foley case, and you know how stuff becomes larger than life. It's entirely up to ABC 7 if they want me to resign; KGO will not ask me to resign."

Wilson's 6 p.m. newscast had the most viewers of all Bay Area TV news shows at that hour in the last major ratings period, reaching about 78,000 households in May.

The controversy even elicited a response from Newsom, who said he respects Wilson.

"I'm not demanding an apology -- he has a right to his opinion. I respect his opinion of their relationship. But he should give some real thought and consideration to the pain he has caused to the parents of Sidney," Newsom said.

Wilson should extend that sympathy to many parents in the Bay Area, said Judith Appel, executive director of Our Family Coalition, a San Francisco organization that promotes families headed by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Appel was one of the first to speak at the press conference.

"We are in an exciting, exciting moment in our families, because we have a whole diverse range of families developing," Appel said.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Excerpts of what he said
Pete Wilson, Bay Area TV news anchor and radio talk-show host, devoted much of the first hour of his radio show Tuesday afternoon to commentary on the decision by San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is gay, to have and raise a child with a friend who is a lesbian.

"I do not now nor have I ever accepted the idea that a baby is a toy, that it is a social science project or a possession. A baby is a human being, a delicate thing, our past, present and future. It is not an experiment. It is not an opportunity to see how far you can carry your views on parenting, alternative lifestyles or diversity in family structures."

"Look around you, folks. You think the high divorce rate in this country has been, generally speaking, good for kids? So, why not start out divorced? See if that'll work."

"Here's an idea: We'll have a 49er impregnate a team cheerleader, and they can raise a mascot. No, it's better not to be in love. You'll be much better parents if all that silly emotional stuff doesn't get in the way ...."

Source: KGO

Chronicle staff writer Heather Knight contributed to this report. E-mail Wyatt Buchanan at wbuchanan@sfchronicle.com.
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...NG71LOT7B1.DTL

Or is it Free Speech?
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Old 10-13-2006, 05:56 PM   #2
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I thought these idiots wanted kids to be raised by a father and a mother?
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Old 10-13-2006, 06:23 PM   #3
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His problem with the decision by Dufty, who is gay, to have a baby with a friend who is a lesbian is that the couple have no romantic attachment.
How many heterosexual couples who have children does that describe?
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Old 10-13-2006, 06:36 PM   #4
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I didn't think it was much of a deal. Then I noticed he was an anchorman. Yeah, that's kind of a big deal. Fired? Nah. Major, major reprimand, yep. Anchormen shouldn't be venturing into editorial comment.

That's not a freedom of speech issue. That's a job description issue. That being said, I don't think it's an off-limit discussion, although he did get a little personal. Duffy handled it with class.
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:14 PM   #5
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Fired?
No.
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Old 10-14-2006, 03:40 AM   #6
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


How many heterosexual couples who have children does that describe?
Too many...

I'm not as romantic as I should and want to be. Life can be such a grindstone that romance really suffers. Especially with kids.
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Old 10-14-2006, 04:20 AM   #7
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Should he be fired for expressing his own opinions on a broadcast?...only if the broadcaster says he shouldn't.

If he can, then all he has done is started a debate.

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Old 10-14-2006, 11:41 AM   #8
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I don't have an issue with what he said, but I can't really argue against him getting fired either. He's the anchor, if there was a mass boycott that effected his station's ratings over what he said I can't see how you could expect them to keep him on.

A lot of people miss the difference between censorship (by the State/government) and job description.
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Old 10-14-2006, 12:04 PM   #9
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Society has changed drastically in the last hundred years. It makes sense that the shape of the family will too.
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Old 10-14-2006, 02:17 PM   #10
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Looks like I read it right the first time the first time before I made my correction in my first post. He was in the capacity of talk show host at the time of the statements according to the part of the article posted so I can't make a job description argument from that. Does that make a difference? Probably.

But how comfortable are you with the potential (some cases apparently more than potential--but I don't know how he performs as an anchor here) of the blurring between the subjective and objective? We've always expected a sharp delineation between commentator/talk show host/talking head and newsperson. Does the line blur further here, even unintentionally?

Is there a conflict of interest that should be of concern?
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Old 10-14-2006, 02:37 PM   #11
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Originally posted by BonosSaint
Looks like I read it right the first time the first time before I made my correction in my first post. He was in the capacity of talk show host at the time of the statements according to the part of the article posted so I can't make a job description argument from that. Does that make a difference? Probably.

But how comfortable are you with the potential (some cases apparently more than potential--but I don't know how he performs as an anchor here) of the blurring between the subjective and objective? We've always expected a sharp delineation between commentator/talk show host/talking head and newsperson. Does the line blur further here, even unintentionally?

Is there a conflict of interest that should be of concern?
I think that line's been crossed a long time ago...there's a clear bias to most network anchors these days, maybe not so much with the local guys.

I do think it makes a difference that he was wearing his radio show hat when he made the remarks, rather than his anchorman hat. But I also think his TV bosses have a legitimate excuse to sack him if his extracurricular activities effect their ratings.

The question I guess is, should it be OK for someone to lose their job for something they do/say in their off time? Reminds me of the story about the Budweiser worker (think he was a driver, can't remember) who was photographed drinking a Miller and got fired for it. If we say it's OK, where do we draw the line? Or do we just say there's no line, everyone's job is on an at-will basis, and can be fired pretty much on a whim.

What about the people we hear of being fired for refusing to quit smoking?
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