I’ve never fawned over celebrities, not even when living in Los Angeles. Traveling nearly every week, I often found myself departing either Sunday or Monday and returning Friday, and repeating the process the following week. I met many celebrities during my travels: Roma Downey, Della Reese, Hulk Hogan, Kelly Hu (whom I had one dinner date), Erik Estrada, Wolf Blitzer, Stephen Covey, John Tesh, and Connie Sellecca, to name a few. Even if I sat adjacent to a celebrity, I never bothered them. A few days ago, I made an exception.
Sipping coffee at a relatively small café several days ago, I noticed Alexi McCammond sitting some tables away. Cup in one hand and phone in the other. It was clear she was reading scrolling email or searching the web. I continued reading the New York Times and Washington Post. When I finished, I stood, packed my items, and headed for the exit. I stopped. Unsure what I was thinking, I quickly turned and briefly stopped in front of Ms. McCammond, acknowledging that I loved her work (which I do), sorry she experienced such horrific turmoil during the past months, but stick with it, for I believed things would get better. Finally, wherever she lands, I will always read her material. Smiling, she thanked me, and off I went.
McCammond would never know my story. She would never know the trials and tribulations I created for myself between 2009 – 2010. Neither would she know of somber moments in despair while sitting on a bench in upstate New York overlooking the Hudson and repeatedly convincing myself not to jump. McCammond never needed to know. But I thought she needed to hear from another voice, in an often distant world, that someone was pulling for her. (I presume she’s heard from thousands with the same message.)
I reflected on my brief moment with McCammond after reading of Jeffrey Toobin’s return as CNN’s Chief Legal Analyst. Toobin’s mea culpa came with Alisyn Camerota.
“In October, you were on a Zoom call with your colleagues from The New Yorker magazine. Everyone took a break for several minutes, during which time you were caught masturbating on camera,” Camerota said, before adding. “To quote Jay Leno, what the hell were you thinking?”
“Well, obviously, I wasn’t thinking very well or very much,” Mr. Toobin responded.
The basis for this whole essay centers upon this argument: Rich old white guy (Toobin) masturbates during a Zoom conference call, gets his job back. In contrast, a young talented black female reporter (McCammond) gets hammered for inappropriate text messages sent as a teenager and loses editor position. It’s shit like this that I exasperate unto God, “What the h***?”
Media executive and talk show host Roxanne Jones wrote, “For me, her [McCammond) bigotry, whether intended or not, calls into question her ability to lead a newsroom in today’s more racially conscious climate.” And, “I’m not saying McCammond shouldn’t have a job or a platform ever again — far from it. But at this moment, it’s hard to imagine how she can effectively take the helm at a major publication at a company where so much change is needed when it comes to institutional discrimination.”
One might summarize Jones’ argument as a ‘27-year-old woman who wrote several bigoted texts as a teen will be forever incapable of leadership?’ Thus far, I’ve not seen Ms. Jones editorialize Toobin. And maybe she won’t (since technically both Jones and Toobin work for CNN).
Many commentators talk about white privilege, even Jones (CNN: This is what it looks like when toxic White privilege is left unchecked). And I agree with her on the January 6th Capital assault. The riot was white privilege. But isn’t Toobin a representation of white privilege as well? Should Toobin not be allowed ever to be a ‘Chief Legal Analyst?’ If not? Why not.
The other part of my argument is that if Toobin was worthy of redemption, why not McCammond? There were two criminals crucified with Jesus. While the Gospels do not mention specific names, tradition tells us one was Dismas, and the other was Gestas. Instead of being asked to be taken down from the crucifixion, Dismas asked, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Lk 23:42). Jesus replied, “… I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
I like Toobin. I enjoyed his work and used to look forward to hearing his application and insight into the law. I also like McCammond. I love to read her insight and journalistic style. However, if God so redeemed eleven years, and placed me in a position of leadership (with a top-secret clearance), then McCammond is redeemable too. If Toobin is redeemable, and if I was redeemable, then McCammond is redeemable. If I am redeemable, then you are redeemable.
Then again, maybe all this is about is that a rich old white guy (Toobin) can masturbate during Zoom call getting his job back. In contrast, that young talented black female reporter should get hammered … forever.
No, damn it. I believe in redemption.