Ethic Dunces: CNN Morning Anchors John Berman and Christine Romans

Attacked and attacker. Guess which one the CNN sympathizes with?

Attacked and attacker. Guess which one the CNN sympathizes with?

[Update and Correction: When I wrote this post, the designated Dunces were identified as Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, the new kids on the CNN block. I thought I verified that on CNN’s site, but a helpful reader told  me that Cuomo and Bolduan haven’t debuted yet. Which CNN anchors it was who egged on the egger were in doubt, so on June 11, I changed the post, discussing the issue but only referring to “CNN anchors.”  I also apologized to Chris and Kate, and put out a call for the right names. And promptly forgot about it: with everything else going on, this was neither a major ethics issue nor a two-day story. Then, today, June 13, Joe Concha of Mediate posted a full-fledged smackdown of me, Ethics Alarms and my research skills, and helpfully provided the correct identification in the process

I’m grateful to Joe, who also preserves my original correction, which this replaces. Once again, I apologize to CNN, Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, and also to my readers for mucking up this one so thoroughly. ]

“It’s about time,” snickered  CNN early morning male anchor John Berman, as his partner Christine Romans smiled and nodded. They were approving of a man being assaulted live on TV while doing his job, a job he performs better and more profitably than anyone else in the world.

The man is Simon Cowell, late of “American Idol,” and an angry musician from the studio orchestra seized the opportunity to run onstage during the finale of  “Britain’s Got Talent” and hurl five eggs at Cowell from the stage. The woman, Natalie Holt, had been a contestant in the past, and the assault was part revenge for her own group’s harsh treatment on the show last year, part vainglorious stunt to punish Cowell, she claimed, for his “influence,” and part stupidity. After the show, Holt apologized to the two finalists whose performance she marred, but not to her victim, saying: “I want to apologize to Richard and Adam for overshadowing their performance. I’ve never done anything like this before and in hindsight I have realized it was a silly thing to do.”

But to listen to the CNN pair, what Holt did wasn’t silly, but hilarious, and justified. Many contestants appearing before Cowell through the years wanted to do the same thing, they said (without any proof of this whatsoever), and it was clear that they thought Holt’s actions were laudable, even though it is a crime by any standard. Why? Oh, because Simon Cowell is mean, you see. He tells aspiring singers and other contestants that they sound terrible and are deluded when they in fact do sound terrible and are deluded. His bluntness and lack of sympathy for amateur performers seeking to inflict themselves on a popular culture already choking on dubious professional talents has spawned many imitators on reality TV, man of whom really are just mean, and who have nothing to offer but entertaining (to some) nastiness. That, however, is not Cowell’s fault. Any more than it is Walter Cronkite’s fault that CNN is stuffed with awful news anchors from dawn til dusk.

Simon Cowell, except for some inevitable lapses which I have often flagged, is not mean. What is mean, in fact cruel, is to encourage talentless exhibitionists who reach these televised contests because tin-eared friends and relatives have deceived them for years by telling them how wonderful they are. Better that their hopes be definitively shattered by an industry pro telling them that the sound like a cat being tortured than to have them waste years in pursuit of a career they are unqualified for in every way, as they rupture eardrums of the innocent in the process. Mild and “kind” judging  is also boring—witness judge Mariah Carey’s mealy-mouthed platitudes that passed for critiques on the miserable season of the Cowell-less “American Idol” this season—and it doesn’t do the job: without sharp and pointed criticism, these performer and panel shows fail to separate the truly talented from the hacks. Cowell, unlike any CNN morning anchor for about a decade, is very good at his job.

I understand why Cowell, who knows good publicity opportunities when he sees them, isn’t pressing charges against Holt, but it is still a mistake. She will undoubtedly manage to cash in on her misconduct, and thanks to fools like Berman and Romans, others will see an opportunity for cheap celebrity, and take their chances attacking real celebrities on live shows, hoping that they too are praised for it. Except that the next generation of Holts  may have rocks, bowling balls or  flame throwers instead of eggs, and somebody will get hurt.

The Romans and Berman aren’t the only culprits here: read the account in Entertainment Weekly, for example. Nonetheless, I might  be tempted to silently cheer if a nauseated viewer slipped through CNN security and egged them on camera. It would be wrong, but at least they would be slimed for being incompetent at their jobs, in stark contrast with Simon Cowell.


Spark: CNN

Facts: CNN, EW

31 thoughts on “Ethic Dunces: CNN Morning Anchors John Berman and Christine Romans

  1. Just another cultural endorsement of extra-judicial retribution.

    What ‘feels right’ is more important that was is rationally or procedurally right.

    Are we sure this wasn’t a publicity stunt?

    Also, are you using ‘vaingloriously’ more often?

  2. I read ‘vainglorious’ in a comment here a few days ago and became enamored with the word myself. Once the word is stuck in your head it is hard not to attach it to the stunts that keep streaming past.

  3. Amazingly, Nicola Jarvis of, the premier site for that style of music, defends this as “awesome” although she also thinks the woman took leave of her senses and hopes it does not affect her musical career. Uh huh, throwing eggs at a co-worker is always a good career move.

      • I call it being 20something. That said, do you think it’s possible this might have been staged? It does look like everyone was kind of expecting it, or security would have moved quicker and the panelists hit the floor in case she WAS throwing something lethal.

        • I’d never rule it out. More likely, when it happened some key people, like the director, said, “Heck, it’s just eggs. This is great TV. Simon can take it” and let it ride. Like the finale of “Soapdish.”

        • Maybe they haven’t been overcome by paranoia. If someone ran up and threw something at me at work, I don’t think I would assume it’s a bomb.

        • I came close to performing a petty and childish act of revenge like this once in my 20s, but thought better of it long before I would have reached the equivalent of the “taking raw eggs to work” stage.” Most impulses like this die in the “but then I thought about it for a few seconds” phase, when you realize what a goof you’d be to actually go through with something like that.

  4. Im convinced it was staged. How else did she sneak a carton of eggs in there without someone knowing about it?

    Also I love Simon. He is the only judge that these type of shows have ever had that would speak the truth to the people who audition. I even think he is holding back.

      • I think he means that a clutch of eggs is not easy to conceal in one’s person. If it was an entire carton, that rules out purses too. She could have fit a half-carton into a purse I suppose, if they were properly cushioned.

        • First, purses these days are often the size of backpacks. A dozen eggs would be no trick. Second, she’s a musician. She likely carries a large case for her instrument.

      • I pass through screening every day, and I’m just a humble city attorney. In this case you are dealing with celebrities who attract all kinds of nutty attention. I see no problem with everyone passing through screening, employees included.

          • Yeah but could keep them secret from the fellow musicans, stage hands, stage managers and other staff that are packed back stage? You and I have been back stage enough to know that everyone knows whats going on with everyone else. No way she brought these in and no one knew about about them.

        • The depth of screening at courthouses is stupid as well. I can see the need to keep guns or bombs out…maybe, but the belongings searches are just silly. Not being able to carry in an inch long swiss army knife? Silly. There’s no need to extend these searches everywhere.

      • Its not a matter of sneaking it past security. Its keeping it secret from all the other people back stage. Back stage areas are cramped and you have no privacy. There is no way other people didnt know this was going on.

        • I haven’t been back stage often, but , to a layman putting the eggs in a bag seems like it would go a long way to solving that problem.

          • Maybe but I bet it wouldn’t . Performers are by the nature nosy and bored backstage , they notice everything. Ive been acting for 44 years and Im sure someone saw this.

            • Seeing someone has eggs isn’t exactly a death knell for the plot. If I saw someone with en egg carton, I’d assume they were hardboiled snacks.

  5. “That said, do you think it’s possible this might have been staged? It does look like everyone was kind of expecting it, or security would have moved quicker and the panelists hit the floor in case she WAS throwing something lethal.”
    I saw the video on the news at noon.
    I think it looked staged.
    I’m sure they wanted their name mentioned.

  6. If the egg-throwing was staged, it is all the more damning on all involved (and on all who celebrate it) for promotion of blindness to the Golden Rule.

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