No sympathy here for fired ESPN announcer Ron Franklin

Jan 5, 2011

Ron Franklin supporters will talk about the “PC police” stomping out free speech. And I imagine that talk will only increase upon ESPN’s decision to fire announcer Ron Franklin for his crass speech towards sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards.

I hate to pop anyone’s bubble, but there is no such thing as “free speech” when you work for a multi-million dollar corporation. Words and actions are scrutinized and individuals are rightly held to a higher standard of accountability — especially when you work in the communication business.

Franklin’s decision to call a co-worker “sweet baby” in a tone that was perceived as demeaning was unfortunate. But the real issue was how he addressed Jeannine Edwards after she told him she didn’t prefer to be called “sweet baby.”

Instead of acting as a professional, Franklin chose to call her an a-hole.

Maybe that’s an acceptable form of communication for chatrooms, but it is absolutely not acceptable for a place of business.

Let me be clear about this. I believe ESPN’s original discipline was enough. The firing seems to be knee the standard knee-jerk reaction these days to public opinion.

That being said, I don’t have much sympathy for Franklin either. He’s a seasoned professional and should have known better than to engage in inappropriate communication.

But the bigger question now being raised today is about ESPN’s overall work environment. One marketing firm sent a press release Monday evening in response to Ron Franklin’s firing with this statement, “Overall, this is yet another incident at ESPN where a female employee has been subjected to uncalled for and harassing behavior by a fellow male co-worker. In addition, this is also just another prime example of ESPN being the “all boys” club.”

Interesting thought, but I don’t know that I would go so far as to call ESPN a boys club. Do you remember how quickly ESPN slapped Tony Kornheiser’s hand after he commented on Hannah Storm’s outfit?

Granted, the public has heard its fair share of stories about sex scandals between ESPN employees over the past decade. But I imagine if you go digging into the personnel files of any major corporation with thousands of employees, it would be no different.

Bottom line is this, Ron Franklin was unprofessional — on more than one occasion — and he paid the price.



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