Allegations of wrongdoing have lasting impact
I touched base recently with a college classmate of mine from 33 years ago whose name came up in the news as part of the continuing controversy surrounding comedian Bill Cosby.
This fellow graduate of mine — a woman — is not one of several women to step forward in recent weeks and months to claim Cosby had sexually assaulted her in the past. Even though she is a working journalist, her association with the Cosby controversy isn’t that she has been covering his recent set of live shows in Ontario for a particular media outlet. Instead, she happens also to be an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and spoke to the media about her and others’ intents to be on hand to protest the shows.
It has always been frowned upon in the industry for members of the media to make the news. But she works freelance, so I guess there’s nothing wrong with her staging such a protest on her own time with no affiliation to reprimand her.
No sooner had we connected by email that I read about Global-TV news anchor Leslie Roberts’ suspension from his Toronto anchor desk for allegedly not disclosing to his employer his part ownership of a public relations firm whose clients have appeared on the Global network.
And late in 2014, CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi found himself in hot water over his alleged harassment and violence towards a half-dozen women. He lost his job as a result of the allegations.
When news reporters are suddenly making the news rather than reporting it, everything changes. Guilty or not, the individual is forever associated with the allegation and is looked upon by the public with some distrust. The case against Roberts is a much lesser misdemeanour than that involving Ghomeshi. Roberts will land on his feet, whether he continues with Global in Toronto or joins up with another network in another market.
Ghomeshi’s future seems bleaker.
It’s funny how the public is quick to forgive and forget when celebrities are accused of moral crimes. Take golfer Tiger Woods and actor Hugh Grant, for example. Both were heavily scorned at the time of their respective transgressions, but have since won back many of their lost fans.
Cosby will forever be devalued as a comedian. Ghomeshi, even if he’s found not guilty of the charges again him, has probably seen the end of his media career. What do Woods, Grant, Cosby and Ghomeshi have in common? All have been accused as the perpetrators of “crimes” against women. Woods’ crime was purely moral. Grant’s crime was being caught red-handed with a hooker. But Cosby and Ghomeshi are both accused of particularly violent crimes against women, and, in this day and age, such things will never be tolerated nor forgiven or forgotten.
With no charges against him, Cosby will remain a free man but will have limited opportunities to further his career. He’s already all but washed up. It’s a different story for Ghomeshi who, depending on the outcome of the charges he is facing, will be through as a media personality.
The moral of the story: if you’re a celebrity and live under a microscope, keep your nose clean. One slip-up, and that’s how you will forever be remembered.
Mike Jiggens is a Delhi resident. His column appears regularly in the Delhi News-Record