Ugh. Come on.
Jay’s ethics alarm was sure malfunctioning during THAT taping. The Golden Rule is made for situations like this. Surely Jay knew about it? Once?
Louann Giambattista, a former American Airlines flight attendant, had sued the airline in June, claiming that American had discriminated against her as a result of her co-workers’ false allegations that she carried pet rats on board planes in her pantyhose and underwear. I get it: it’s an inherently funny story. But Jay charged over every line of fairness, respect, compassion and common sense when he showed Giambattista’s photo to his national TV audience, and then, in a repeating segment called “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda,” challenged three guest comics to make their best jokes about the material. They were rolling, too—some examples..
- “If I were one of those rats, I would’ve been very upset. I prefer not to sit in cooch.”
- “I don’t understand this woman at all. If she wanted something that creepy in her underwear, she should have hooked up with me.”
- Giambattista “coulda used what the rest of us ladies use … a Rabbit” (a popular vibrator).
Classy as ever, I see, Jay!
Now Giambattista is suing, claiming in a lawsuit that she was falsely accused of “engaging in bestiality and sexual misconduct with a rat.” Not only that, the suit alleges that Giambattista and her husband “became pariahs in their own community” as a result of the nationwide humiliation, and that her marriage has been harmed, as her husband “now suffers from severe sexual dysfunction.”
I strongly doubt that she can prove her case. This is a comedy show, and nobody seriously believes that those jokes were statements of fact. Nor will it be easy to prove the her reputation in the community was harmed by the Tonight Show rather than her original lawsuit, which is the Streisand Effect on steroids.
But the segment was despicable, particularly since it showed her photo. She wasn’t a public figure, and those jokes would have been in poor taste and gratuitously mean if the target was a Kardashian. Subjecting a woman, any woman, to that kind of intimate ridicule is ethically indefensible, no matter how many laughs it gets. It was cruel, and it was unnecessary: the same jokes could have been made without any name or photo identifying Giambattista. Would Jay have wanted to see his wife or mother held up to that kind of degradation? Of course not.
It’s called the Golden Rule, Jay.
Look it up.
Jimmy Fallon is looking better every day.