“Keeping It Real” When “Real” Means “Selfish, Unprofessional Jerk”

I tried to find a straight video of  KWWL-TV’s Mark Woodley, its sports reporter, modeling unethical workplace conduct and a complete lack of professionalism in his emergency stint this week as a weather reporter. I couldn’t: every available clip compilation is presented like the CNN version above. Isn’t this cute and hilarious?

It isn’t either.  I can see that CNN’s talking heads might thinks so, since that network allows unprofessional conduct by the ‘talent” regularly, like Don Lemon getting bombed on the New Year Eve. Unless Woodley was told to be whiny prima donna as a publicity stunt and he might have been, given the state of journalism, broadcast and otherwise, in 2022, his attitude and ostentatious bitching should have guaranteed a suspension or worse.

When one is called upon by one’s employer or leader to fill in, do extra duties, help get through a crisis or emergency, or to be a team player and do what the team needs to have done, the  ethical and professional response is to do the best possible job you can with good cheer and without complaint. Woodley, who did the opposite, helped metastasize “quiet quitting” and many other forms of workplace societal rot.

This is how society becomes miserable in a Nation of Assholes.I criticize the culture of the theater a lot, as frequent readers here know. Not in this area however. When a show needs a production member to step in and deal with a crisis, the only acceptable answer to the director or producer’s command is, “Yes. What do I do?” I’ve asked many working for me to take risks, do the impossible, take over a massive problem and more. No one has ever failed me. Some failed at the difficult assignment I set for them despite their best efforts, but they still won my thanks and admiration after the smoke cleared. I have been in their position, you see, more than once.

There was one show in which I was forced into service at the last minute playing a major role I had never rehearsed and that wasn’t comfortably within my skill set. It was me, barely prepared, looking less than competent in front of a full house, or no show at all. I was wearing a costume that didn’t fit; the actors had to nudge me into my blocking and whisper lines to me. I was embarrassed, as a performer who held himself to high standards, but not as embarrassed as I would have been if I had answered the call to fill an urgent need with, “No.”

Social media and others are praising Mark Woodley for being a self-absorbed jerk, because he’s being “real.” Wrong. When being real means being unethical and unprofessional, it is time to act like you’re supposed to be, not like who you are.

__________________

Pointer: The Blaze

18 thoughts on ““Keeping It Real” When “Real” Means “Selfish, Unprofessional Jerk”

  1. I dunno about that, but the time to say “No. Go to Hell.” is before you actually get out there into the field, not before. It also depends on whether this guy was asked to do this to help out, or whether someone did it just to break his balls, and whether it was something he was asked to do all the time or just on a rotating schedule. If it just happened to be his turn to cover, well, then that’s just the way the ball bounces. If on the other hand he seemed to draw EVERY crappy assignment, especially if there were people junior to him, then I think he’d have more of a basis to complain – before he got into the field.

    • Especially on television!
      I am presuming the assignment is reasonable under the circumstances. Obviously asking the ballon seller to sub for the tightrope walker at the last minute justifies a refusal. A request for a young, healthy sportscaster to do what a weather report does for a week? Any sportscaster that refuses should be retired to receptionist duty.

  2. I believe he’s sleep-deprived, but I do not believe he’s standing out in the cold. I’m fairly certain he’s in front of a green screen, having fake snowflakes dropped on him. I’m not sure if that makes his snarky comments about “standing out in the wind and the cold, telling other people not to do the same” better or worse, since I can’t tell if it was meant to be an obvious joke wherein the viewers can tell he’s not really there.

    • I am now undecided about whether he’s actually outside. At first I thought the background was a bit too in-focus and at a slightly off angle to be the same shot, but now I’m thinking if they’re putting a camera on the sidewalk outside their building anyway, they might as well have the camera crew and the reporter out there as well; it’d be easier than getting a snow machine. Their cameras and the consistency with the reporter’s position in the frame might just be that good. I’m about 50/50 on it.

  3. I’m not sure “we don’t have anybody to go stand uselessly outside to illustrate to our viewers that it really is cold” constitutes a crisis that requires anyone to go above-and-beyond. The practice of sending news personnel to stand in severe weather is idiotic and is itself born of extremely dubious ethics. The pointlessness of the exercise is laid bare if they don’t even bother to get a person from the weather staff to do it, just whatever warm body is available to blather about how cold it is.

    I submit that this guy did do his absolute best with this assignment, by undermining this ridiculous practice. Furthermore, his best was better than all the other reporters and interns and junior producers who have gone along with this dipshittery for decades. This guy’s a damn hero.

    • Jack would probably say that was a separate issue, but I agree, sending reporters outside to get soaked or freeze their asses off accomplishes nothing of value and should end.

      • It’s entertainment, and stations know that their audience likes seeing reporters freezing of being buffeted by hurricane winds while they are snug and safe at home.

        Maybe it’s not quite a separate issue after all. Weather reporters know this is part of their job, and agree to it. Sports reporters don’t. That’s a point in this jerk’s favor.

        • If the purpose of these outdoor reports is just entertainment, then this guy inarguably did the job better than the weather guy would have. No other local “idiot standing in the cold” footage has gone viral during this cold snap. This guy was far more entertaining to far more people than the regular guy would have been.

          I’m also pretty sure the station management was aware of the way he was behaving, and even if it wasn’t pre-planned (though it probably was) that he would do this schtick, they obviously approved of it, because they kept going back to him for more of the same “reports” across a span of several hours. The producers could very easily have pulled the plug on the whole thing or told him to straighten up after his first report.

          • All true. And the media is reporting that he is now “a hero” on social media for behaving like a spoiled dick. The fact that he was allowed to doesn’t mitigate the bad behavior…it’s like the Barry Bonds excuse that MLB knew he was taking steroids. It’s exactly like Don Lemon appearing drunk on CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcasts. The audience enjoyed it, so its OK. Professionals can’t behave like that and ne called professionals.

            • The only reason they would send a sports guy to do non-essential fluff bullshit weather piece like this is in the hopes it would catalyze into something amusing. Your objection is premised on the idea that he was acting counter to what the station wanted. I’m saying he gave them exactly what they hoped for. Isn’t that what a professional should do?

              If there’s any real ethics foul here, it’s in the producers wanting to showcase “bad behavior” and sending staff out into hazardous conditions solely for a few laughs.

  4. When one is called upon by one’s employer or leader to fill in, do extra duties, help get through a crisis or emergency, or to be a team player and do what the team needs to have done, the ethical and professional response is to do the best possible job you can with good cheer and without complaint…

    Well, no, not in general. Have you ever heard the saying, “the worst form of waste is to do well that which ought not to be done at all”? I am not merely thinking of extremes like the professionalism and works of supererogation of Adolf Eichman. I once heard of a drama critic being asked to report on a boxing match; his report was as of a theatrical performance, describing the boxers as bowing to each other rather than as being knocked down. But I am sure it was a very fine specimen of a review, even though he should have told his editor that he was not the man for the job (and maybe he did).

    • “the worst form of waste is to do well that which ought not to be done at all”? Never heard it, though it is redolent of Samuel Johnson and the dog that walks on two legs. The problem is that it is the employer’s job to decide what task is necessary, and if every subordinate presumes to usurp that role, chaos reigns.

      • Then there’s the story of Kurt Vonnegut’s career as a sportswriter at Sports Illustrated. He showed up for work on his first day and was assigned to write a story about a horse race where one of the racehorses was forced into the inside rail and jumped over it to safety. Vonnegut stewed at his desk all morning before typing “The horse jumped over the fucking fence” and left for lunch, never to return. One of his better sentences, in my English professor friend’s estimation.

      • “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

        – Peter Drucker

        Reminds me of a story from a company that included postage-paid survey cards with their products. The cards were dutifully sorted by zip code at the mail room, sent to marketing where they were then further divided by product line, bundled and boxed. The cards were then warehoused on pallets until sold as recycling.

        Never were the survey questions quantified.

  5. When I saw the prima donna performance, my first comment was, “Hey, it’s a video resignation!”
    I always expected people on teams that I led to provide input at the appropriate time, then do the work that was to be done, and certainly without public criticism. After (in this case) the lights are on and the camera is rolling, the task takes precedence over the ego -or should, anyway. Actual professionalism is on the decline, and this is a prime example.
    I also agree that the practice of sending reporters out into harsh weather is bogus as “news” and is instead pure entertainment, and of dubious value at that. But as Jack said, such decisions are the employer’s prerogative. This guy should be unemployed by Monday. He can be a “hero” to his fellow out-of-work narcissists.

  6. There was a Notre Dame football player who played a while for the Chicago Bears or maybe the Miami Dolphins. I’m pretty sure he had one white parent and one black parent. He was smart and articulate. He was, of course, slimed for not “keepin’ it real.” To which he responded, “keepin’ it what? Real stupid? Real poor?”

  7. I giggle whenever there is a broadcast of an individual standing in a storm of any kind to tell us it is raining, snowing, or the wind is blowing.

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