Second incident in a week where as someone in the media is disciplined for tweeting
As first reported by Robert Feder Thursday evening, WLS-TV sports anchor and director Mark Giangreco has been suspended for “multiple weeks” after sending a tweet critical of President Donald Trump.
On Sunday, the 35-year veteran of Chicago television responded to a tweet sent by a Toronto Star sports columnist Bruce Arthur:
Giangreco deleted the tweet, but was screen captured by a local conservative news website, with ties to WIND-AM morning host Dan Proft. The website predictably slammed Giangreco’s comments and the news made its way to other websites such as TV Spy.
After an investigation, the ABC-owned station decided to suspend Giangreco for violating station’ policy. WLS-TV released a statement Thursday on the matter: “Sports anchor Mark Giangreco’s Twitter comments are not in line with ABC 7 Chicago’s non-partisan editorial standards. We’ve reviewed the matter and are taking the appropriate action”.
Since Thursday, the story has been picked up by the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune, Daily Herald, Variety, and the Washington Post.
This comes after several news organizations have been targets of Trump in recent weeks, as the President slammed the media last week calling them “fake news” and “failing”. A news producer was fired by Sinclair Broadcasting-owned CBS affiliate WWMT in Kalamazoo, Mich. (serving the Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek market) for tweets critical of Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Sinclair (owners and/or operators of several downstate stations including ABC affiliates WICS in Springfield and WICD in Champaign) has been known in some circles to lean conservative in their news reporting, but station officials denied this was behind the firing. Sinclair News VP Scott Livingston sent a memo to Sinclair employees a few weeks ago noting he’s concerned about “liberal bias” in his stations’ newscasts.
In an e-mail interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Livingston pointed out the same editorial policy ABC 7 has: “Our policy regarding political neutrality in station newsrooms is very clear, and our news staff are routinely reminded of it. While we don’t discuss the details of any employee matter publicly, suffice it to say that in this case the employee [at WWMT] violated this policy numerous times, and there came a point when we had to let her go.”
As the FCC is likely to deregulate television station ownership fueling more consolidation among station groups, expect more of these actions to happen. Sinclair, Nexstar, Tribune, and the four broadcast networks alone own the majority of the nation’s TV stations. And Giangreco’s comments are going to give more fuel to conservatives, who currently see Chicago and its media as nothing more than fostering and supporting liberal propaganda. President Trump has slammed Chicago repeatedly during his campaign and in his first few weeks in office – and did so again Thursday after the city recorded seven homicides in one day.
Giangreco has been WLS since 1994, jumping to the station in a well-publicized move after 12 years at NBC-owned WMAQ-TV.
As yours truly has stated in this space before, the lesson here is watch what you tweet – that is, if you want to continue to be employed in media. You represent your employer on the clock and off – and that includes what you say on social media.