Suspended for what?

Two high-profile anchors were taken off the air temporarily this month after making offensive comments–one on the air and one off air. Now their employers’ actions in suspending them are drawing criticism, too.

Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman said during a tournament that the only way to beat Tiger Woods was to “lynch him in a back alley.” Bad choice of words, to say the least; Tilghman apologized to viewers and to Woods a couple of days later. ESPN2 anchor Dana Jacobson was suspended after using vulgar language at an off-air, company-sponsored roast. “Foolish and insensitive,” she said later.

But the Golf Channel waited several days before taking disciplinary action against Tilghman, and ESPN didn’t act for a week; both networks decided on suspensions only after they came under pressure from interest groups, according to columnist Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News, who then raised this question:

So is today’s climate enough to have a chilling affect (sic) on other TV reporters who must now think twice about making any off-handed remarks, no matter what the context?

Seems to me the remarks in question weren’t merely off-handed; they were inappropriate no matter what the context. And broadcast journalists should be the first to know that what you say into a microphone will get around, whether you’re on the air or on the dais at a company event.  Something to keep in mind when you’re in a high-profile, public job.