In a way, rapper Snoop Dogg lit fuses in the minds of two CBC reporters and one camerawoman last Thursday and the social media firestorm exploded in Canada yesterday with 2790 shares at press time (compare to an OPEC story posted 2 hours earlier getting only 36 shares). (Sunday 10am MT Jun 7, 2015 update: Snoop story 12,849 shares, OPEC story 501 shares)
You see, last Thursday, Snoop came to Canada to guest star and film an episode of the Trailer Park Boys (a hit Canadian mockumentary crime black comedy-drama sitcom TV series in its 10th season) in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.
On the surface, everyone including Snoop and eagerly awaiting fans seemed to have a great time according to a written and video report by CBC reporter Elizabeth McMillan. Snoop was quoted in saying “he’s a big fan of the show and considers Bubbles a cousin“! A wonderful plug coming from the famous rapper which may get the TV show more viewers in US and around the world. McMillan even provided some timely tweets with photos (see slideshow in this report).
Creepy and awkward
But behind the scene, not originally shown in the first CBC aired report, now shown in a Saturday followed up 37 seconds video as part of an analysis entitled “Snoop Dogg’s sexist comments about camerawoman ‘creepy and awkward’” by CBC reporter Catharine Tunney, it is likely the interviewing reporter and camerawoman did not have a “great time”.
In the 37 seconds video in Tunney’s analysis, CBC reporter McMillan asked Snoop, “How’s the hospitality?”
And Snoop is heard to answer in the video, “Hospitality has been awesome, baby. I like your camera girl, too. She’s thick. Damn. I wasn’t even looking down like that. Now I’m forced to look down at the camera. Look at that. Look at that. Look at the shit on that quitter.”
Tunney (author of the analysis) wrote, “His entourage, mainly men, erupt in laughter. Trying to brush it off, the reporter — also female — tries to continue with the interview.” And Tunney made sure readers understand the meaning of the word “thick” (this reporter has no idea), “For those unfamiliar with the world of Urban Dictionary, thick translates to “nice ass, nice legs.” A girl who has “meat on her bones in all the right places.””
According to the analysis, CBC camerawoman Stephanie Clattenburg said, “It was creepy and awkward but I just laughed it off. Then later on I realized, why does he get a free pass because he’s a rapper?” And Reporter Elizabeth McMillan said: “It was uncomfortable. In retrospect I wish I handled it differently. But it felt like a no-win situation. So I just gritted my teeth and tried to get through.”
Free pass and double standards
Tunney made a case that, “Certain sources [like Snoop Dogg] shouldn’t get a free pass.” And suggest the public may have double standards by making these points,
“How is it that some people tolerate misogyny from one group, but not another?
We watched a national furor break out when soccer fans yelled “F–k her right in the p—y” at a CityNews reporter. She fought back, opening the door for more reporters to share their stories.
Every female reporter in the CBC Halifax bureau has had that sentence hurled at them. Every one.”
News reporting, sexist, and racist
To be clear, this reporter has zero tolerance for random strangers shouting vulgarities at female reporters or camerawomen on the street. None what so ever. And actually don’t mind seeing a few of those idiotic men be charged in the court of law or getting fired from their jobs. Female reporters in Canada and everywhere in the world should not have to tolerate or endure idiot random men on the streets disruptive to their jobs.
At the same time, speaking as an independent reporter (and I think this applies to reporters everywhere), it is a bit unrealistic or naive to expect the interview subjects to change themselves for us, for our one interview. A comment left on Facebook by reader Matt Moore on this story made some good points, “Snoop is entertaining. But when it comes to this? Snoop is wrong… Obviously. However.. If you walk into a mine field that has a sign that says “minefield”, YOU DON’T BLAME THE MINEFIELD. You knew what was going to happen so why blame it? You the one who stepped in it! You CAN blame the person (or people) that created it. In this scenario, you blame the culture that created it. His parents, his elders, his friends and family, even him himself for not making the decision to be better than that. But to blame him and only him? That’s shortsighted at the least and biased at the worst.”
Imagine switching sexist and racist for a moment. If this independent reporter was fortunate enough to get a chance to interview the head of Ku Klux Klan at the height of its power, should I, as a Canadian of Chinese heritage, expect the head of KKK to treat me (like a white person) with respect instead of trying to belittle me during the whole interview?! No. And this Calgary-based reporter would also had leaped at the chance to interview The Famous Five, the five great Alberta women that fought and won the rights for all women in Canada to be recognized as “persons”, including Emily Murphy who happened to be a racist (according to a Maclean’s article).
Each reporter will have to make her or his own choice and decide what kind of reports are worth doing to endure the discomfort/risk or emotional harm caused by sexist, racist or other comments made during the interviews. Reporters work hard to land those tough to get interviews. Plus what is a better way to shine light on a subject than letting the subjects open their mouths?
Defending coworkers and reporters’ safety
It is admirable to see Tunney standing up to fight for and support her CBC fellow reporter McMillan and camerawoman Clattenburg and stating clearly that they “didn’t say anything, they just wanted to do their jobs.” At the same time, this reporter can’t help but imagine what if in my imaginary interview with Famous Five’s Emily Murphy during their triumphant case wining personhood for all women, she let her true self shown and couldn’t help but kept making racist comments about me? What if Murphy’s imaginary racist comments about me became a news story as a brave imaginary coworker defended me? This reporter’s instinct is that there is probably more fun in reporting the news than being the news (just ask Judith Miller, but Judith of course still thinks she is right!).
While it may be hard to change Snoop, the head of KKK, or Emily Murphy, et al, it may be easier for the media companies to consider adopting policies to ensure reporters’ physical and emotional safety by creating clear guidelines that allow reporters to ask for reassignments when potential risk and harm are clear and present. Some reporters like to report in war zones, this reporter is NOT one of those reporters. Some female or male reporters may be uncomfortable to interview sexists/racists/… and probably shouldn’t be forced to do so.
Feedbacks and comments are welcomed. Please share them below.
Note: CBC reporter Elizabeth McMillan’s and camerawoman Stephanie Clattenburg’s original report should be commended as they were able to tell a professional and comprehensive story about Snoop Dogg’s and other stars’ visit to Bible Hill trailer park community.
Postscript: Freedom of Press
In principle, this independent reporter will defend freedom of press in almost all cases including Tunney’s analysis. Reporters and media outlets should be allowed to air whatever video or article they professionally deemed appropriate. Censorship or self-censorship is almost never a good idea.
At the same time, Russell Brand has made some very valid points in his YouTube video “Robert Downey Jr’s Painful Past – Is That News?“ discussing UK reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s interview with Robert Downey Jr to promote his upcoming film The Avengers 2 that resulted in the latter walking out. Have a watch and see if you think Russell has made some good points.
note: cross posted to http://www.examiner.com/article/meta-analysis-snoop-dogg-s-sexist-comments-about-camerawoman-creepy-awkward by this reporter.