I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no fan of KDKA reporter and radio host Marty Griffin. Likewise, he’s no fan of City Paper, and has said so on his radio show over the years.
But I have to admit that I was at least a little surprised on Wed., Dec. 6, when he posted on Twitter a photo of an Elf on the Shelf doll filming a bunch of Barbie dolls in a bubble bath. The caption on the meme read, “Elf on the shelf being investigated for sexual misconduct.” Griffin wrote in the tweet, “Where does it end?”
CP reporter Ryan Deto noticed the tweet after it was retweeted by some fellow journalists. We saw it, read it and came to the same conclusion: It’s not funny. It’s tone-deaf, offensive and it makes light of sexual assault and harassment. Deto spoke to Alison Hall, the director of Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, who responded to Griffin’s post thusly: “This is not a time to try to be silly about this topic. I would expect more of him. He took today to send this, and something that is this absurd.”
We contacted Griffin and station management last week, but they didn’t respond. They seem to be employing the strategy of ignoring the issue in hopes it goes away. Our web story and social-media posts were shared quite a bit, and some people expressed their displeasure with Griffin’s post. But beyond that, the incident hasn’t gotten much traction, although I’m unsure how many complaints the station has received.
Griffin briefly spoke about the post on his Dec. 7 show, which, ironically, focused quite a bit on the sexual-assault and harassment allegations happening around the country. But his voice and statement weren’t remorseful. In fact, he almost seemed sad or disappointed that his “joke” wasn’t seen as such.
“I find it fascinating what’s happening in America today about being so politically correct,” Griffin told his KDKA listeners. “I made a post yesterday that was funny, and you would seriously think it was Armageddon. But that’s the way it is.”
Yes, Marty, that’s the way it is. We don’t make light of sexual assault and sexual harassment. That used to be the norm, and we see where that’s gotten us. We now live in a world where we wait for the next allegation to drop against men who have used their positions of power to harass, and in some cases, sexually assault, women who they had power over.
So, forgive us if we don’t think your “Where does it end?” comment is the least bit funny. In fact, it’s disturbing and sickening. In the past several years, Griffin has made his career as a reporter who stands up for people who need help or who have been wronged in some way. Did you get ripped off by the mechanic? Get Marty. Did you catch your housekeeper on a nanny cam stealing Oreos out of the cupboard? Get Marty. I’m not a fan of gotcha journalism, but that’s your shtick and a lot of people appreciate you for it.
My dislike for this kind of journalism really started in 2006, when Griffin did a “story” about “uncovered illicit, possibly illegal, activity by a local minister, activities which at the very least violated the rules of his denomination.” Turns out Griffin filmed the pastor outside of an adult bookstore; the pastor, it turned out, was just a man struggling with his own sexuality. He had reportedly been set up by a man whom he had been in a relationship with; that man apparently turned Griffin onto the pastor’s activities. Before the story aired, however, the pastor killed himself.
So when I see a post like the one Griffin did last week, I don’t see a journalist whose job it is to help people. I see a narrow-minded narcissist who refuses to see what effect his actions have on others. This post just reinforces the culture that has allowed men to act this way for generations. And when he finally talks about it on his show, he acts hurt and persecuted because the PC police don’t get it.
But guess what? It’s not about political correctness, Marty. It’s about your responsibility as a journalist not to become part of the problem. Especially as someone who tells viewers and listeners to “Get Marty” if they need help.
But as I’ve seen a few times over the years, it’s Marty who doesn’t get it.