It’s Gender Issues Confusion Monday! PART 1: Observations On “Sweatergate”…You Know, One Of Those Stupid Social Media Controversies That Has Some Genuine Issues Buried Inside


The 8 a.m. Saturday broadcast on KLTA in Los Angeles area featured  Liberté Chan in a black, shimmery, shoulder-baring  cocktail dress, giving her report on the day’s weather. Suddenly, weekend anchor Chris Burrous’s arm appeared on the side of the screen, holding a gray cardigan sweater.

“What’s going on?” she said. “You want me to put this on? Why? Cause it’s cold in here?”

“We’re getting a lot of emails,” came the offstage voice of her male colleague. Then his hands placed the cardigan on Chan.

“There you go,” he said. “That’s nice.”

“OK. I look like … a librarian,” she says.

Whereupon social media “erupted,” as the current cliche goes, with many on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else there is out there in the social media jungle condemning the station for sexism. Others insisted that Chan’s cocktail dress was inappropriate attire, sending a message that “The Weather Girl is just eye candy, like the women in bikinis at boxing matches.”

Chan, in a post on her own blog, had this to offer…

I …didn’t think there was anything that inappropriate (the beads/sequins were probably a little much for the morning, but what girl doesn’t like something that sparkles?!), so I played along and put on the sweater.

That prompted a barrage of tweets and more emails from viewers, some of which I included below.

To be perfectly honest, the black beaded dress was a backup.  The pattern on my original black and white dress didn’t work on the weather wall (for some reason, it turned semi-transparent), so after my first weather hit at 6am, I changed.

For the record, I was not ordered by KTLA to put on the sweater.  I was simply playing along with my co-anchor’s joke, and if you’ve ever watched the morning show, you know we poke fun at each other all the time.

And, also for the record, there is no controversy at KTLA. My bosses did not order me to put on the cardigan, it was a spontaneous moment..  I truly love my job, I like my bosses and enjoy working with my coworkers.  Since talking to my team, I want our viewers to know it was never our intention to offend anyone. We are friends on and off the air and if you watch our newscast, you know that. More importantly, I hope my viewers were able to plan their Saturday once they heard my forecast and enjoyed the sunny weather after the clouds cleared.


1. I was just watching MLB’s Heidi Watney on “Quick Pitch,” where she reviews the highlights of all the baseball games of the previous day, standing up in the middle of a studio. She was wearing a shoulders-baring cocktail dress much flashier than Chan’s,  my wife, not for the first time with Heidi, went nuts, complaining how the outfit was unprofessional and demeaning to women. She has similar reactions to the outfits of the Fox Blondes, and my favorite of the breed, Robin Meade, who frequently looks like she just returned from a wild night after a Vegas party. Is this kind of attire unprofessional? Well, it depends, doesn’t it? It depends if the job being done is seen as informational or  performance. If  it’s performance, then a costume is appropriate. If it is a professional conveyance of information to an audience only, a sound argument can be made that professional attire enhances trustworthiness.

Here’s a typical Heidi outfit: Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Bismarck, N.D. Supporters Of A.J. Clemente, The Obscene Ex-Newscaster

A.J. Clemente.

A.J. Clemente.

In an earlier post I referenced A.J. Clemente, a newscaster for KFYR-TV in Bismarck who debuted in his new role by saying “…fucking shit!” on the air, because he didn’t know his mic was on. Not surprisingly, he was fired. Now, apparently, many viewers have come to his defense and are admonishing the station for being too harsh.

The station is not being too harsh. The station is upholding correct professional standards, and removing an unprofessional employee whom they do not trust and have no reason to trust. The episode showed him to be careless, reckless and, obviously, subject to obscene outbursts, which only are appropriate if you are David Ortiz. Ah, but some of the good citizens of Bismarck, displaying the same entrenched ethics cluelessness that led to the nomination of the ridiculous Mark Sanford, ex-Romeo governor, to lose a GOP House seat in South Carolina, don’t comprehend accountability, trustworthiness or responsibility, because to them, the only values that matter are forgiveness and compassion. The technical terms for such people are “patsies” and “marks.” They would cripple society, business and government with their mindless, deadly niceness. Examples: Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: ABC 7 (Bangor, Maine) News Anchors Cindy Michaels And Tony Consiglio

[ To those who wonder why I am posting at Ethics Alarms when it’s 4:37 on Thanksgiving morning, I can only note that when you’re staying in a hotel in Baltimore and hacking your guts out with the world’s slowest moving chest cold, and your wife is asleep and your Jack Russell makes it clear it is either walk him or face the consequences—and with that breed, the consequences can mean anything from an unpleasant deposit in your suitcase or ground glass in your next meal, you’re going to be up for a while. A surprising number of prostitutes out around Fayette Street this time of night….and they were all more interested in Rugby than they were in me.]

When it comes to quitting on the job, there is the Steven Slater method, and then there is this.

Embroiled in various disputes with station management, the news team for ABC’s affiliate in Bangor, Maine (WVFX), Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio, decided to resign on the air, at the conclusion of the nightly news broadcast, without informing their soon-to-be ex-bosses. Normally I would frown at such a stunt as unprofessional, and I expected the pair’s performance to have a “take this job and shove it” flair. It did not. Their tone and execution was note perfect, saying good-bye and thank-you to their audience, community and staff, and barely hinting at any discord behind their departure at all, though one would have had to be a low-information voter not to surmise it. Michaels said afterward that the two had “figured if we had tendered our resignations off the air, we would not have been allowed to say goodbye to the community on the air and that was really important for us to do that.” Here was their farewell Wednesday night:

Continue reading