So, lots of people with Tivos in the New York City area all got their jollies on Friday when this was dutifully recorded for posterity on their hard drives:
WARNING: Audio is not safe for work. Listen with headphones!
That’s right. Sue Simmons, news anchor for WNBC, dropped the F-Bomb on live TV. The backstory: she thought the segment was being taped, her co-anchor missed his cue, and she got a little… well, punchy.
Naturally, everyone had to get their licks in regarding this incident, including the New York Times, who devoted a whole story to the affair, complete with typical “person on the street” quotes:
Peter King, who works in an architectural office on the Upper West Side, echoed Mr. Villaneuva?s point. “It?s overused, and we are crasser than we were for it,” Mr. King said. “It?s just another indication of standards declining. I mean, I curse like a sailor, but I know how to talk to my dad and talk to clients, versus how to talk to my friends.”
You know, I’m sure Sue Simmons knows how to talk too. Is this a symbol of “standards declining?” Hardly. The standards have always been there, and “Fuck” has been the old’ standby of curse words for ages.
The declining standards, I think, show in how the incident is being reported. The Times comes up with the above “what do YOU think?” drivel. Other news sources immediately raised the question of whether she was drunk at the time. My take: clearly no. This is what being under the influence looks like on-air. And Simmons is not the only one to be caught pissed-off.
Even more interesting is that while all of the reports raise the question of whether Simmons will be fired, almost none have taken heed of the fact that the F-Bomb was dropped at 10:30 p.m., or about 30 minutes after the 6:00 am to 10:00 pm “safe harbor” period that the FCC enforces decency rules. This may be what saves her career, unlike poor Arthur Chi’en.
The shock value really doesn’t come from the word. You simply don’t expect someone as polished and coiffed and classy as Simmons to spout it, and in the way she did it too. Did you EVER dream that someone with such perfect diction would suddenly belt out a straight-from-Harlem “...the FUCK you doin’?”-punch so quickly after flawlessly reading a news teaser?
In any case, I really do hope she keeps her job, and if she does, more power to her. It all boils down to a word. And while people insist that allowing curse words to fly only desensitizes us to profanity, I say GOOD. Ultimately, profanity is profane simply because certain people are sensitive to certain utterances.
What if I Simmons had belted out the word “TULIPS” instead? Would people had reacted so strongly? Probably not. Yet, she would have still been just as angry and the intent would still have been there, right or wrong. So, why would we not have been so shocked or offended?
UPDATE: Looks like Simmons is being moved up to the 6:00 p.m. evening news. A definite vote of confidence by WNBC. But now the pressure’s on for her to watch her mouth!