CNN pundit suspended after “anti-gay” tweets knocking Beckham H&M ad

Are you a fan of the H&M David Beckham Super Bowl ad? It has had a mixed reaction from sone quarters and none more so that from CNN political analyst Roland Martin who was suspended on Wednesday for “offensive” tweets during the Super Bowl.

The tweets have been taken as anti-gay by some and it is easy to see why. In one  Martin said as the Super Bowl took place on Sunday that if a “dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him”.

Martin also tweeted: “Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from (hash)teamwhipdatass.”

Martin, a journalist who has worked for CNN since 2007, has also defended homophobic comments made by the comedian and ’30 Rock’ star Tracy Morgan.

In his defence when Martin started to receive angry online comments about the Beckham remark he said he was mocking footballers and gay people.

“I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise,” he tweeted.

Martin then issued a longer statement on Monday night, saying he was “truly sorry” to those who felt his tweet was anti-gay, homophobic or advocating violence. “I’m disheartened that my words would embolden prejudice,” he said.

However, Erik Wemple of The Washington Post wrote about Martin’s apology and concluded that it was “old hogwash”.

By that time people were calling for him to go, but Martin started speaking out against anti-gay and lesbian violence and won support from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation:

“CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community,” said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD spokesperson. “Yesterday, Martin also spoke out against anti-LGBT violence. 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.”

CNN said yesterday that Martin’s remarks were “regrettable and offensive” and he will not be on air “for the time being. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated”.

The story is all over the web now. The tweets at the time probably seemed like a bit of fun football trash talk, but simply highlights that if Twitter, or any social network, is inseparable from your career then you have to walk an incredibly fine line or that trash talk will trash years of work in 140 characters or less.

Interestingly as Chris Reed points out on his blog, the web reaction is overwhelmingly positive.