MONTREAL, QC — Following the “The MSM Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks” and its companion piece, “MSM and New Media, Next Steps”, we seemed to be making some progress. There were open discussions, an airing of views and, dare I say, a beginning of a better understanding of issues on both sides. There even seemed to be some enthusiasm for my proposal of a media summit.
It wasn’t exactly the Treaty of Versailles but it was an improvement on tensions that have been described as the battle between the mainstream media (MSM) and bloggers.
Into this atmosphere of detente stepped Andie Bennett to launch a full-frontal assault. Who is she you say? Bennett delivers sports updates between segments of the Team 990′s drive show hosted by Mitch Melnick. She, along with the under-appreciated Rod Francis, look after all the behind-the-scenes production work for the show. Andie also reports from Canadiens’ games and practises during the season.
You may recall that it was Bennett who attributed the fictitious story of Carey Price going on strike to someone blogging in their parent’s basement in their underwear. In truth, it was Michel Godbout, anchor of the CBC-Montreal news who made the bogus claim. When told of her error on-air, Bennett apologized (presumably to Godbout for confusing him with a blogger in his underpants.)
For those of you outside of Montreal who are saying this reads like “inside baseball”, there is some truth to that, but bear with me. If we are to resolve the current “battle”, it is important to elucidate the attitudes and prejudice that have created the walls that exist presently.
Suffice to say, there was no major foul by Bennett, just an insensitive remark from a person who probably should be doing more to acquaint herself with the new media. A sincere apology (not to Godbout) would have probably ended the matter.
But it appears that Bennett went to the Dan Ellis school of damage control. She was hopping mad and came out swinging on Thursday’s radio show.
She was upset by this quote that appeared in the piece: “It was probably some guy in his parent’s basement tweeting in his underwear.”
Bennett claimed that she was misquoted but failed to provide an alternative version. I invited her to send an audio clip of the segment in question. If necessary, I will be glad to correct the quote. To date, none has been received.
Strangely though, Bennett seemed to confirm the words in a comment to the AllHabs.net website. Bennett wrote, “First of all Rick, the basement in the underwear comment was a joke. I thought that was fairly obvious. Lighten up my friend.”
Are her written words that different from the quote taken from the radio several days earlier? There seems to be a consistent train of thought.
So what was it that pushed her buttons and set off a tirade?
Bennett said, “What I don’t like is that I’m slammed and it implies that I do absolutely nothing and that I bring absolutely nothing to the show. That kind of stuff really bothers me because I work hard to try to be as informed as possible and bring our listeners a different side of things.”
Hmmm. I’m really not sure where she’s coming from but the article never mentioned a word about her contributions to the show. Yet she is complaining that I mischaracterized her position?
Well, that’s a head-scratcher!
Bennett’s comments continued on the website as she addressed me and other readers.
Bennett wrote, “ok this is my last comment on this.” (It wasn’t.) She continued, “Rick, I am bothered not only by you misquoting me but also not giving the gist of the conversation in which is was VERY obvious that I was making a joke referring to the stereotype of bloggers.”
Yes, again with the ‘it was only a joke’ excuse. Remember, Allan Walsh tried that too when he was caught trashing Carey Price via Twitter? Not done there, Walsh slammed residents of this city saying that he “forgot it was Montreal and everyone loses a sense of humor.” It didn’t work for him, and Bennett’s try was no better.
As Bennett had more to say, however, her story started to shift axis.
Bennett wrote, “I did not assume it was a blogger I already knew it was Godbout. It was a joke that is all. I think you were just a teensy bit too sensitive in this case.”
Well, isn’t that interesting. She knew all along it was Godbout. She was just pretending she didn’t understand for laughs and giggles?
But, wait a minute. That doesn’t exactly jive with what was said on-air today, does it?
- Andie Bennett: “You recall this conversation which was so obviously a joke. And I said right after when we were talking…” (Melnick interupts)
- Mitch Melnick: “I mentioned it was Godbout and you apologized immediately.”
- Andie Bennett: “And I apologized immediately.”
- Mitch Melnick: “You figured it was Eklund, the guy from Hockey Buzz.”
- Andie Bennett: “Exactly. Exactly. And we had a good laugh about it and it was fine.”
So which is it? She figured it was Eklund or knew all along it was Godbout?
At this point Dan Ellis likely said, ‘Thank goodness for Andie Bennett because they have someone else to talk about in Montreal today.’
Bennett began engaging other readers on the website and without a reply from me, she felt compelled to write a third comment. She returned to a familiar refrain, “…you would realize that the joke had to do with the fact that this is a stereotype!”
Several times, Bennett mentioned that her ‘joke’ related to a defined stereotype of bloggers. You know, the part about the underwear and working in their parent’s basement. Somehow she believed that she was justified in making the slights because she was using a stereotype.
I find this astonishing.
As a female sports reporter, I would have expected that Bennett would be sensitive to the negative power of inappropriate (and unfounded) stereotypes. To pass it off as a joke would indicate a person who is simply out of touch.
Stereotypes are a way of dividing the in-group and the outcasts. Bennett swiftly discredited an entire group of people and firmly affixed the outcast label with her ‘underwear in the basement’ comment.
By placing oneself in the in-group, it is an exercise in promoting self-esteem. Perhaps that’s an issue. It’s interesting to note that Bennett says she stumbled on the article and the All Habs website by googling herself.
When bloggers voiced their complaint about the stereotype, her reply was “I think you were just a teensy bit too sensitive in this case.” Imagine for a minute if the gender roles were reversed and the same words exchanged.
Seemingly exasperated, Bennett wrote in caps, “I WAS NOT SLAMMING BLOGGERS.”
Okay now, everyone repeat after me.
When she associated a bogus story with bloggers, she was not slamming bloggers!
When she made a joke about bloggers in their underwear, she was not slamming bloggers!
When she wrote, “Perhaps that is the difference between bloggers and reporters. We do research,” she was not slamming bloggers!
For some reason, I’m reminded of the Groucho Marx quote which read “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”
Surprisingly enough, Bennett was not done. She saved a good portion of her arsenal for a fellow female broadcaster, Julie Veilleux, who had taken issue with the hypocrisy of Andie criticizing the blogger community but then using social media tools to solicit funds for a charity bike ride.
Bennett said, “So, not only another woman in this business or wanting to be in this business, which I don’t understand this obsession with women to step on other women to get ahead, but saying that I’m using my Twitter, which is my Twitter, which I opened myself, to tweet about the show and about the fund-raising for this bike ride, and then saying that I’m crapping on bloggers because I made an offhand joke, it just really gets to me.”
I’m sorry but I fail to see how Veilleux’s comments were being used to vault her career ahead. It was an arrogant thing for Bennett to say. From my perspective, Veilleux’s media career is doing quite nicely through hard work of her own.
In addition, isn’t this the pot calling the kettle black? We discussed earlier how self-worth can be promoted by denigrating others via the use of stereotypes.
What about Bennett’s expectation that she should be granted immunity for her blunders by her sisterhood in the business? Flip genders and Bennett would be complaining (and rightly so) about an old boy’s club closing ranks to cover their own.
Bennett concluded by saying. “I don’t like when my name gets thrown around like I’m an anti-blogger because it’s not the case.” We hear you Andie but with all that has been said and written, call us unconvinced.
After her ammunition was spent, Bennett required an off-air pep-talk and pat on the back from TSN’s Pierre McGuire who was waiting for his turn at the mic.
The sole voice of reason throughout the segment was Mitch Melnick.
“I support all forms of new media,” he said. “Because like a lot of listeners and readers and people who are plugged in, a lot of us aren’t getting what we want either from traditional forms of media — the truth. So we understand, and I applaud anybody who is trying to get the word out about anything that they think has some interest.”
In short, Bennett got caught unprepared on-air, blamed bloggers using a stereotype, was wrong, and was embarrassed. When her mistakes appeared in print, she lashed out.
She has chosen a career in the public eye. She should expect criticism and react appropriately.
Bennett should have had the professional integrity to say ‘I was wrong.’ That could have been followed with a sincere apology. Everyone would have moved on. Inflaming the situation was not an effective means of using the privilege of her platform.
This situation is just another example of the tensions that exist between the MSM and the new media. Afterward, a respected blogger told me that it seemed that Bennett had leaped into the middle of a debate that was well beyond her depth. Maybe so.
It is hoped that a constructive lesson has been learned. Even with all the grenades that have been tossed, as I’ve said before, we are about building bridges.
I extend an invitation to Ms. Bennett, to meet with the All Habs team, giving her an opportunity to speak with a group from the new media. Alternatively, perhaps she would like to make a submission to the All Habs digital magazine about her thoughts on blogging. I hope that she would be the first to sign on for the proposed media summit.
I look forward to hearing from her.
We did manage to extract one compliment from the Team 990 crew on the day (although probably not meant that way.)
“This is not the NY Times,” said Melnick. No Mitch, very proudly, we’re not!
Alright, now where’s Pierre? I need a hug.
About the Author (Author Profile)Rick is the Editor-in-Chief, lead contributor, and owner of the All Habs network of websites. His mission is to build a community of Canadiens fans who are informed, engaged and connected. He is the vision behind all four sites within the network - All Habs, Habs Tweetup, We Are Canadiens, and The Montreal Forum - and is responsible for the design and layout of each. In concert with the strong belief that "Habs fans are everywhere!", Rick is pleased that people use All Habs as a conduit to find and connect with other Habs fans worldwide. He is also proud that Habs Tweetups have allowed fans to meet in person and develop long lasting friendships.
Sites That Link to this Post
- The MSM Sound Check – Another Perspective | All Habs | September 13, 2010
- What Andie did « The Active Stick | September 14, 2010