That was unexpected: Part 2 of Bill Hudson, CBS affiliate WCCO, Neiggerhood, and now News Director Scott Libin

Saturday, May 17, 2008

WCCO News Director Scott Libin

I had sent out an e-mail to CBS affiliate WCCO in MN about this past post regarding their news anchor Bill Hudson and his use of the word "Neiggerhood" about a community of color, and if he would have to undergo any special training or sensitivity classes on race or racism, or if he would be penalized (suspended or fired) for his "gaffe", and interestingly enough, I received a response that was more than your typical PR response - which to be honest, I wasn't expecting.

Check out the quotes and the condescension in News Director Scott Libin's e-mail (I've bolded some of the more interesting parts):

To answer your questions:

No, Bill Hudson will not "have to undergo training" as a result of his on-air stumble last week, although our anchors all participate in continuing performance coaching that focuses on their on-air delivery.

No, he will certainly not be fired for innocently and accidentally mispronouncing a word live on the air. There is not an anchor in television who has not done so. Bill was exceptionally unfortunate that what came out of his mouth sounded so much like such an offensive term. However, to punish him for the incident would imply that the mistake somehow indicated anything about his intent, his values or his beliefs about communities of color -- and that would be simply untrue.

Bill apologized on the air the day after the incident. That apology has been online since then. You can find it at
So here are a few things that I love about this response:

1. I liked how Libin used the quotes in "have to undergo training", as if the idea of Bill Hudson needing to take a racial sensitivity class or multicultural training - after calling a neighborhood which is predominately of color a "Neiggerhood" - was completely out of the question; that you would have to be a complete idiot to ask that question. I don't know about you, but at least from a PR standpoint of a news organization, I'd think having someone do a refresher on racial sensitivity and multiculturalism might be a good thing after something like this happened. In fact, I'd think that a news company would be doing this regardless of any sort of incidents on a regular basis because they have to work with a diverse public - because education is key in a multicultural society.

Obviously though, the folks down at WCCO must be above learning about racial sensitivity and multiculturalism. And really, I must be a complete idiot to think that ongoing education about race and racism is important in the workforce, especially after something like that, and especially for people that deal with the public on a day to day basis. I guess instead of taking loans out for college I should have borrowed the money to stock up on zuclopenthioxol instead.

It is nice to know though that the CBS backed WCCO affiliate news anchors are still getting "performance coaching" in lieu of getting ongoing education about multiculturalism.

2. I don't know about Scott, but while I've heard news anchors make a spoonerism or two at times, this isn't even close to being in the same league - but it's funny how he put those two in the same category, which only serves to try and minimize the effect of what actually took place.

I'd give Scott Libin a challenge. Show me the anchors - give me at least 15 anchors in different markets who've had the same "exceptionally unfortunate" accident, because according to Scott, this happens all the time. According to Scott, there's not one news anchor who hasn't made a mistake like this. And sure, you could say that this isn't what Scott was saying, that he was just alluding to anchors making gaffes, but then you too would be admitting that someone saying "Neiggerhood" versus "Neighborhood" about a community of color is the same as someone saying "A lack of pies" versus "A pack of lies" in a general conversation, when clearly, the two aren't even in the same league.

The bottom line is simple.

When you use the word "Neiggerhood" versus "Neighborhood" about a community of color, you should, at the very least, have to undergo some type of racial sensitivity classes and education, because it begs the question of your inherent and subtle racism - like grabbing your bag when you see someone of color walking down the street even though you may not even realize that you're doing it, or how you may perceive a group of young black kids to be more threatening than a group of young white kids, or how you may automatically think that a Black or Asian or Hispanic/Latino co-worker isn't up to par like someone who has white skin, or how when you see an Asian American you automatically think they can't speak English.

Do you see what I'm saying? Is this really that tough to understand?

Libin says that punishing Bill Hudson for the incident would imply that the mistake somehow indicated anything about his intent, his values or his beliefs about communities of color. So what does not doing anything about it imply? What does it say about CBS backed WCCO that Bill Hudson simply offered up an apology and there was absolutely no follow-up whatsoever from the company that employs him?

As a person of color, as an Asian American, it tells me that they won't even acknowledge that there could be inherent racism in the "exceptionally unfortunate" accident. It tells me that they think Bill Hudson, with years and years of living with White Privilege, unequivocally, must not have one prejudice bone in his body whatsoever, even if he doesn't know. It tells me that even if they thought he could - that in the end - they really don't care.

I'm not really sure why WCCO News Director Scott Libin sent me the response that he did versus a canned WCCO is extremely sorry about the situation, however we feel... type of response, because he had to have known that I'd tear it apart (and really, is that the type of response you want coming from a major metropolitan news organization).

But am sure of this.

His response smells of redlining and conversations in back rooms that people don't want to admit too and the Old White Boy's Club that has dominated our society for as long as I can remember.