Charlie LeDuff, that’s enough
Channel 2’s Charlie LeDuff came to Detroit with an arsenal of anti-Detroit rhetoric. News stories found on his Off the Chain column every Friday on myFOXDetroit.com is an anecdotal beat down of the city: And Channel 2 supports this as good journalism?
Columbia Journalism Review’s Gal Beckerman (2006) says, “When LeDuff writes these people’s lives, he does not look at them eye-to-eye. He condescends, and subsequently turns them into cartoons; making himself the star of every show…every one of LeDuff’s stories is accompanied by a video of him hamming it up in front of the camera.”
LeDuff in living color
To say that LeDuff’s (Sept. 11, 2012) piece comparing 9/11 to Detroit’s urban landscape is a stretch would be an understatement. After he reviews footage of New York during the 9/11 devastation, he shows scenes of crumbling and burned down housing in Detroit and pleads for the calamity to stop before he has to bury another firefighter. What? Does the devastation in some Detroit neighborhoods compare to the horrific and inhumane ordeals that besieged New Yorkers during 9/11?
The comparison escapes this writer.
In another charade, masquerading as a news’ story, LeDuff reports at a crime scene on the Eastside of Detroit wherein a woman had her house burglarized. Home invasion is very serious and troubling to anyone who has been a victim. However, LeDuff becomes the center of the story, as he attempts to upstage the situation with several antics that mock the entire ordeal.
The scene, or news story, starts off on location with a quintessential rendition of the Dragnet theme song and a voice-over reminiscent of the Dragnet narrator. LeDuff searches the woman’s home because the police calls have gone unanswered. He then goes to MacDonald’s to get food for the lady and him. He goes back to MacDonald’s because he received Sweet Tea with ice and the tea was not to have ice in it.
While still waiting for the police, he takes a bubble bath in the woman’s tub as she washes and dries his pants (he spilled tea on them). A lazy sounding saxophone is playing in the background as the viewer watches LeDuff in the tub. Yes, each frame of this scene is played out on the 6:00 p.m. news as Huel Perkins and Monica Gayle sit looking as if this is not a mockery of their profession.
On the record
Beckerman continues by saying that, “Some people don’t like him [LeDuff] because he often puts himself in the picture — what he calls being participatory.” Participatory is a term used frequently by researches doing qualitative research, and one primary rule of the participant is not to interfere with the natural situation. LeDuff tampers with the natural situation to the point that others may become enthralled in the characterizations he creates; not in the events that generated the news’ story.
LeDuff has had accusations of plagiarism leveled at him during his career.http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/press_box/2003/12/the_same_river_twice.2.html
Recently, Strategic Staffing Solutions’ CEO and Wayne County Business Development Corporation Director Cindy Pasky filed a law suit against WJBK and Charlie LeDuff charging that LeDuff intentionally ignored significant details in an effort to sensationalize a story (Wattrick, 2012). Sensationalism seems to be LeDuff’s forte.
The Strategic Staffing Solutions law suit was settled in June; WJBK eliminated the story from its website and read an on-air statement that the station did not intend to imply improper conduct by Strategic Staffing.
LeDuff loose and off the chain
As a Detroiter, it seems rather reckless to have such a loose cannon on the news taking liberties with the very industry that has given him a public forum. He toys with people and uses a dead-pan comedy routine to entice viewers while engaging in subterfuge. There are comments found on LeDuff’s site that welcome his bashing of Detroit. One comment is too vulgar for this writer to reprint, but the comment does suggest that LeDuff’s reporting is really sticking it to Detroit.
Detroit has its share of problems, but as a person who lives and works in the city, I find LeDuff’s personal agenda to be a public blitzkrieg on the city under the guise of journalism.
He insults the intelligence of Detroiters, and some are taken in by his nonsensical summations. Do we really need a news reporter sitting in a tub full of bubble bath with a beach towel wrapped around his head, and then appearing in the next frame in a white bathrobe, looking in a victim’s refrigerator as the camera blocks out his derriere?
LeDuff not for Detroit
In a 2008 interview LeDuff says that he came to work in Detroit because, “….It’s the heart of America” (Rector). “Well, LeDuff, Detroiters do have heart, so why are you here?”
“Your satirical style is sad, your subjective reporting is suspect, and your face on Channel 2 prompts this writer to reach for the remote. Likewise, you have lowered the journalistic appeal of the station. Do you think you have found an audience in the City of Detroit that will continue to support your impersonations? As a journalist you should enlighten, not entice; educate, not obfuscate; and inform, not perform.”
This writer could never imagine a professional in the likes of Emery King, former WDIV reporter, playing to the camera like a jester. It is disheartening that persons living in America with an African heritage have a history of playing comedians and buffoons. Similarly, Charlie LeDuff’s insensitivity reinforces the stereotype that black audiences are enamored by crude comedy void of any intelligent objective discourse.
LeDuff, that’s enough.
Beckerman, G. (November 29, 2006). Columbia Journalism Review. Did Someone Say Hackneyed? Charlie LeDuff is back, and he brought along his purple prose…
Rector, Kevin. (2008, April/May)American Journal Review. From the New York Times to Motown: Reporter Charlie LeDuff heads home.
Shafer, J. (Dec. 16, 2003) The New York Times. The Same River Twice.
Wattrick J.T. Strategic Staffing Solutions CEO Cindy Pasky sues Charlie LeDuff for defamation. http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2012/02/strategic_staffing_solutions_c.html