During last Sunday’s big game Martin took issue with David Beckham’s H&M ad, tweeting “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”. At another point he wrote, “Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass.” Many took his comments as advocating violence against gays and called for an apology, which trickled out over several days.
Martin was a trending topic on Twitter and one of the stories that has lasted well beyond the game itself (along with M.I.A. flipping the bird during halftime and Gisele’s prayers for hubby Tom Brady).
CNN ultimately had no choice but to discipline Martin for his comments. While his Twitter account is his own, his words were becoming reflective of his employers the longer they took to distance themselves from them.
CNN has extensive policies related to social media for staff, and lots of experience dealing with reporters and editors speaking their minds in controversial ways that ultimately play out on or around Twitter. This isn’t the first time someone has been removed from their post for Twitter commentary–Senior Editor of Middle East Affairs Octavia Nasr was fired in 2010 for a tweet that was viewed as pro-Hezbollah, and there was much to-do about what would happen to the 600k+ followers of former anchor Rick Sanchez’s Twitter account after he was fired (he eventually changed the name with the network’s blessing and started tweeting again).
Since Martin is a contract employee was there was no chance of CNN going to bat for him in any substantive way, and his initial reaction to the situation–deflecting the comments as jokes about soccer, then offering an “I’m sorry you feel that way apology”–were not going to win him any fans among his bosses. Martin’s brand of swagger works when you’re self-made (see: Kanye West), not when someone else pays the bills. I just wonder how long it will take before H&M sends a lifetime supply of Beckham undies to Martin. Or perhaps donates some in his name to men’s organizations across the country…