CNN suspended pundit Roland Martin this afternoon for offensive tweets he sent out on Super Bowl Sunday.
After seeing an ad starring soccer star David Beckham in his underwear on Sunday, Mr. Martin tweeted:
Earlier in the day, he had tweeted:
"Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to doe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdata**"
When numerous people called Mr. Martin out for his tweets, he blamed them for their own ignorance, claiming his tweets were anti-soccer, not anti-gay:
“@glaad @CNN well you’re clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted. Way to assume, but you’re way off base.”
“@DrMChatelain @notjustsexuality well that shows how ignorant you are. I rip on soccer all of the time. Learn to pay attention!”
His tone changed dramatically on Monday, posting an apology to his website:
“Based on several tweets I made on my Twitter feed on Super Bowl Sunday yesterday, I have been accused by members of the LGBT community of being supportive of violence against gays and lesbians and bullying. That is furthest from the truth, and I sincerely regret any offense my words have caused.”
“As I said repeatedly, I often make jokes about soccer in the U.S., and my crack about David Beckham’s commercial was related to that and not to anyone’s sexuality. To those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence, I’m truly sorry. I can certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one I meant.”
That’s a pretty good apology, but it strains credulity. I have no way of knowing what Mr. Martin was thinking when he sent those texts, but their meaning appears rather self-evidently homophobic.
My conclusion is buttressed by a 2006 article by Mr. Martin, which argued for gay conversion therapy:
“My wife, an ordained Baptist minister for 20 years, has counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle, and to live a chaste life.”
He also defended comedian Tracy Morgan last year after the comic cracked that he would stab his son if he found out he was gay.
I’m not the only one who doubts Mr. Martin’s explanation. CNN isn’t buying it either, saying in a statement this afternoon:
“Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”
What should Mr. Martin do now? Assuming that CNN and I are both right in our conclusions, Mr. Martin should admit that he has indeed viewed homosexuality as inferior, that his tweet was reflective of that belief, that he understands how hurtful his words were, and that he pledges to continue working on himself. In crises, the public is usually more willing to accept a sincere admission and pledge to change than a defensive denial.