Roland S. Martin is a friend of mine. I said it and I own it. I have known him since my intern days at the Baltimore Sun through our affiliation of the National Association of Black Journalists. He helped me get an interview for my first full-time job at the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
If you have not read, Roland stepped in it this week on Twitter. He used his personal twitter account as a way to enjoy the Super Bowl with friends. Where it gets sticky is that he has over 95,000 followers and is a popular political pundit on CNN. One of his tweets made light of the David Beckham underwear ad that aired during the game. Specifically he insinuated that no self respecting man would have enjoyed the add. He advised Super Bowl party hosts to “smack the ish out of” any man who enjoyed it.
The result is an angry LBGT community and calls for him to be fired by CNN because of the tweet and their belief that it promotes violence against homosexuals. While I have my own opinions on the meaning behind the tweet, again because I know Roland and the fact is that he has been ribbing Soccer as the true football for the 16 years I’ve known him. His followers don’t have such personal perspective.
This is a tightrope across a canyon that social media poses. How comfortable and open can public figures be? Remember he is a pundit, he is paid to be opinionated and feisty. A task that is not hard for my friend. My questions are plentiful. For CNN his boisterous and controversial beliefs are exactly why they hired him. This is similar to the reason Rush Limbaugh has a radio show. No one wants to hire the lukewarm talk show host. However, alas there is a line. To chirp or not to chirp? If you can’t hang loose why do it? Social media has allowed each of us to socialize with the people who know us and those who don’t. While I can’t tell you exactly what Roland meant by his tweet, I can say that if I were in a room with him and I challenged this statement out loud; he would have razzed me for having been captain of my high school soccer team. He also would have let me have it for bouncing one too many of those balls off my head causing the swelling that is my large forehead! However, that’s how we roll.
Social media is not your living room. People who don’t know you, don’t know you. Be mindful and cautious of that and you won’t have to Monday morning quarterback. Truthfully, I hope CNN does not fire him, several people, who are paid for their shocking personalities, have stepped in it, apologized and kept their jobs. CNN knows Roland, and they knew who they hired. They have a number of people with polarizing personalities on their shows to keep them colorful. I think Roland needs to wave his white ascot, apologize and learn from this Social Media Faux pas.
What do you think? Is Twitter only for articles and telling people what you had for breakfast? Is it a forum for free speech? Should your virtual living room be policed?