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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 10:08 AM ET, 08/31/2012

The wobbly defenses of David Chalian

A line of defense is emerging for recently deposed Yahoo News Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian. He’s the newsman-turned-newsmaker who was heard on audio making an offensive remark about the Republicans — a remark that he later called a “joke.”

Sam Donaldson told the Huffington Post that, in essence, he could relate:

“We’ve all been in situations where we say things we that think are private,” said Donaldson, who worked with Chalian, a former ABC News political director. “We kid. We jape. I’ve said things that are just, ugh, beyond the pale in a sense. I’m not making an excuse for him. Understand that. He properly, in his statement, issued an apology that I believe was heartfelt and he should have. But life will go on. He’s not damaged goods, in my estimation, to the extent that he’ll never work again in the business.”

Jack Shafer of Reuters called the Yahoo people who fired Chalian ”yahoos” for their decision. He beat Donaldson to this defense:

It’s not uncommon for bureau chiefs, beat reporters or copy editors to verbally eviscerate politicians, corporate leaders, slumping sluggers or any other notable not in the room at the time, but they usually have the good sense to first check to see if a microphone is on. Chalian did not.

More Shafer: “As newsroom denunciations go, it was pretty mild. I’ve heard much worse from reporters and editors in my time.”

Then let’s hear those much-worse jokes and comments. Same for you, Donaldson: Cough ’em up. Applies to all you others who are out there promulgating this strain of excusism for Chalian. To be able to properly determine whether Chalian was really fishing in the mainstream of unrecorded newsroom naughtiness, we need to document the oeuvre.

Having worked in the industry for decades, I cannot think of anything that exceeds or matches Chalian’s quip, though I could be blocking it all out. Keep in mind that he said that Mitt Romney and the Republicans are “happy to have a party with black people drowning.”

By  |  10:08 AM ET, 08/31/2012

Tags:  sam donaldson, huffington post, david chalian, yahoo, jack shafer, reuters

 
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