A Chicago sportscaster finds himself in the penalty box after posting an offensive tweet about President Trump.
It began innocuously enough Sunday, when Toronto Star sports columnist Bruce Arthur tweeted, “Donald Trump: A hateful ignorant corrupt simpleton supported by 87% of Republicans.”
Seeing this message and apparently agreeing, ABC-7 Chicago sportscaster Mark Giangreco decided to chime in. He responded with a typo-ridden tweet of his own, which read, “so obvious, so disturbing. America exposed as a country full of simpletons who allowed this cartoon lunatic to be ‘elected.’ ”
Giangreco has since deleted the tweet, but not before Chicago City Wire grabbed a screenshot.
The tweet, which attacked both the president and the American people, caused consternation at the Disney-owned station that employs him.
“Sports anchor Mark Giangreco’s Twitter comments are not in line with ABC 7 Chicago’s non-partisan editorial standards,” the Disney-owned station’s management said Thursday in a statement. “We’ve reviewed the matter and are taking the appropriate action.”
That action, according to the Chicago Tribune, is a multiweek suspension without pay that will likely begin Monday. The news was originally broken by Chicago media blogger Robert Feder, who noted Giangreco is “one of Chicago’s highest-paid and most popular sportscasters for 35 years.”
This isn’t his first controversial tweet, according to the Chicago Tribune. When former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling tweeted a suggestion that CNN should be called “LPNN,” the Liberal Propaganda News Network, Giangreco responded, “Let’s change Fox News to Nazi News.”
And, in fact, his sense of humor has also caused trouble offline several times.
In 1999, he joked that former NFL player Walter Payton looked “shriveled up,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Unknown to the public (and Giangreco), Payton was suffering at the time from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a fatal liver disease that has since been nicknamed “Walter Payton’s Disease.”
“That hurt, it really did,” Payton later said. “I realize how serious it is and I realize there are a lot of other people that it might be serious to. To poke fun at it without even knowing what the problems are … it’s very difficult. Very disheartening.”
In 2004, Giangreco was suspended for one week after making a joke about Detroit “going up in flames after the Pistons won the NBC Championship,” while showing photos of fires in the city, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ten years later, as The Washington Post’s Cindy Boren reported, Giangreco made an argument for the Chicago Bears letting quarterback Jay Cutler go. In the segment, he aired a chyron showing Cutler with the caption, “Cut him or cut your wrists.”
He later apologized, saying, “My remarks were inappropriate, and I deeply regret and apologize for this incident.”
What makes this incident particularly striking, though, is that it flips a familiar script. In the past few years, numerous people have been suspended or fired from jobs including political staffer, teacher’s aide and police officer for posting or making insulting (often racist) remarks about President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
The same cannot quite be said thus far for tweets and comments concerning Trump. There was one notable incident when a New York Post sports reporter was fired for comparing Trump’s inauguration to the 9/11 attacks, and, yes, a “Saturday Night Live” writer was suspended for tweeting that Trump’s young son Barron “will be this country’s first home-school shooter.”
But generally, these incidents have seemed much less frequent, even though a cursory glance at Twitter or Facebook will reveal mountains of potentially offensive vitriol against the new president.
Of course, Trump’s presidency is still in its infancy.