Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apparently is no longer “a sweetheart” to Channel 2 anchor Maryalice Demler.
On Sunday and Monday, Demler was involved in what have to be two of the classic moments in local broadcasting history.
On Sunday, Demler went on Twitter and tweeted a picture of herself with Ford, the disgraced Toronto mayor, at the Buffalo Bills game against Atlanta in the Canadian city. It was later deleted.
Here’s what she tweeted about Ford, who has been in the national and international news and stripped of most of his powers after admitting to smoking crack cocaine: “Sweetheart of a guy. A Bills fan. Down to earth. Loves the Queen City. Sounded sincere. I don’t judge.”
The picture and Demler’s two cents about Ford, who has been lampooned on two straight editions of “Saturday Night Live,” set off a minor Twitter storm about Demler’s poor judgment.
I’m not a sweetheart of a guy, so I do judge. I was embarrassed for Demler and her station and tweeted “the only other anchor who would be photographed with Rob Ford is Ron Burgundy (of “Anchorman” fame). But I judge.”
The picture and tweet were even more remarkable when you consider that Demler is on the board of directors of Kids Escaping Drugs.
Other media and political types weighed in on Demler’s tweet, with some having fun at the expense of the station’s news slogan of “Keeping People in Power Accountable.”
Here’s a sampling:
• Channel 7 anchor-reporter John Borsa: “Which criminal or suspected criminal should I pose with for my holiday cards this year?” (Borsa should know that Ford isn’t a criminal.)
• Christopher Smith of Artvoice: “Might be the best thing to ever happen on Twitter.”
• Ian Ott, who works in public relations, said Channel 2 reporters “only have to hold people in Western New York accountable. Toronto is in a whole different country. It’s like a vacation.”
• Chris Grant, chief of staff for Rep. Chris Collins: “Can you imagine if a pol tweeted that Mayor Ford is a sweetheart. WGRZ would salivate.”
So it probably wasn’t surprising that Demler went into damage control with her on-air commentary on Monday’s 5:30 p.m. newscast. I missed it. However, a former colleague told me that Demler sort of gave an apology for her deleted Sunday tweet and backed off from calling Ford a sweetheart.
My former colleague said Demler’s commentary Monday was “a classic piece of Buffalo TV.” She meant it in the vein of the foolish Burgundy. I tried in vain to find the video on Channel 2’s website Monday.
However, I was able to read a brief report of what Demler said from a national media website story that dealt with her response to the criticism of her original tweet. Demler reportedly first noted that she had a pleasant conversation with Ford Sunday.
“Does it mean I condone his drug use?” Demler was quoted in TV Spy as saying Monday. “Of course not. In hindsight was the word ‘sweetheart’ the right word to describe him? Obviously not. And I will certainly keep that in mind in my Twitter feed going forward.”
I would suspect that Demler was ordered by management to address the embarrassment, but I have not confirmed that.
If so, it shouldn’t be her only punishment. Channel 2 might consider taking away her Twitter privileges until she displays some better judgment.