Cable News Network (CNN) on Wednesday announced it has suspended commentator Roland Martin over a series alleged anti-gay Twitter “tweets” on Sunday in response to a Super Bowl commercial by retailer H&M that featured soccer player David Beckham.
In the tweet, Martin said, “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”
The remarks garnered a swift rebuke by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), who said Martin was advocating violence against gay people.
“Advocates of gay bashing have no place at @CNN,” GLAAD tweeted in response. On Monday GLAAD launched a petition calling for CNN to fire Martin.
CNN today issued a statement that Martin has been removed from the network’s programming for an undetermined time:
“Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”CNN
Initially, Martin claimed that he was making a “crack” about about soccer, “as I do all the time,” dismissing GLAAD with the response, “Well you’re clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted. Way to assume, but you’re way off base.”
But as LGBT advocates stepped up their pressure on CNN to take action, Martin issued this apology on Monday evening:
“To those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence, I’m truly sorry. I can certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one I meant. I’m disheartened that my words would embolden prejudice.”Roland Martin
GLAAD has called Martin’s tweets part of a pattern of behavior, and a “window into Martin’s anti-gay views.”
Last year, when comedian Tracy Morgan came under fire for saying, during a stand-up routine, that if his son were gay he would “stab him,” Martin came to his defense — “Say I’m insensitive to gays and lesbians. Fine.”
On his website, he praises his wife who he says “has counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle.”
“CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community,” said GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro, in a statement following CNN’s announcement. “We look forward to hearing from CNN and Roland Martin to discuss how we can work together as allies and achieve our common goal of reducing anti-LGBT violence as well as the language that contributes to it.”