After three days of “careful consideration” and increasing pressure, CNN suspended political contributor Roland Martin for a series of Super Bowl tweets that GLAAD and other groups condemned as homophobic and said promoted anti-LGBT violence.
“Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive,” CNN said in a statement Wednesday afternoon in announcing Martin’s suspension. “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.”
The Time Warner-owned cable news network did not say for how long Martin had been suspended or provide any other details. His last appearance was Tuesday night on CNN’s special election coverage.
“CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community,” the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said Wednesday. The National Black Justice Coalition — the nation’s largest black LGBT civil-rights organization — said it was “encouraged by CNN’s stance against language that incites anti-gay violence.”
Martin posted his tweets during Sunday’s Super Bowl. That same day, GLAAD posted an online petition calling for his dismissal from CNN. At press time Wednesday, the petition had more than 7,500 signatures.
CNN had been feeling the heat over Martin since the game, when he tweeted that he thought a New England Patriot seen on the screen dressed all in pink needed “a visit from #teamwhipdat[expletive].”
Later, during a break in the game, broadcaster NBC aired a black-and-white H&M ad featuring David Beckham dressed only in briefs from the soccer star’s “body wear” line, Martin reacted by spewing out a bunch of controversial tweets, including, most notably:
“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl.”
After that, a Twitter war erupted between Martin and several major LGBT activists, including GLAAD, and Chris Geidner of the Washington LGBT publication Metro Weekly.
“Advocates of gay bashing have no place at CNN,” GLAAD tweeted.
Over a period of time, Martin responded to GLAAD with tweets along the lines of:
“well you’re clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted. Way to assume, but you’re way off base.”
And: “It’s hilarious when idiots . . . see my Beckham tweet as homophobic when I rip on soccer all of the time.”
GLAAD posted its online petition to seeking CNN’s dismissal of Martin because, the group said, Martin’s comments were part of a pattern of behavior. Specifically, GLAAD noted that last June — after “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan said he would “stab” his son if he found out the son was gay — Martin defended Morgan, who later apologized for his comment.
“This isn’t a mistake made on Twitter. It’s part of a pattern of anti-LGBT rhetoric that culminated in two tweets yesterday promoting violence towards gay people,” GLAAD said. “The time has come when CNN and Time Warner have to decide whether they want to continue to use their platforms to elevate those who use such language.”
In a blog post Monday that Martin called his “final thoughts” on the Super Bowl tweets, he said he had 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,” added Martin, saying that he is “steadfast against bullying” and that he himself was bullied in school.
He insisted that his tweets were “stated in jest.” “I often make jokes about soccer in the U.S.,” he said, “and my crack about David Beckham’s commercial was related to that and not to anyone’s sexuality.”
He said he was “truly sorry” to “those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence.”
On Monday evening, GLAAD added a video to its page with the petition calling for Martin’s dismissal. The video shows a young African American man in Atlanta — where CNN is based — being brutally attacked while people can be heard screaming anti-gay remarks at the victim.
“For some people, this is what ‘smacking the ish out of them’ can look like,” GLAAD said.