Friday, July 13, 2012
Arrest, not age, to blame for Jane McGarry’s departure from NBC5
Being a news anchor puts you in a public position and, like it or not, the public can hold you to a higher standard.
Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd suggests in this week’s column that former KXAS-TV (Channel 5) news anchor Jane McGarry may have been dismissed because of her age, not her DWI arrest. McGarry, 56, and still lookin’ good, pleaded no contest and resigned from the station on Tuesday after decades on the air. Floyd asked McGarry, “If you were 36 instead of 56, would you still be out of a job?” and explained, “I asked because there’s an unfunny cliché about women in the tough, competitive business of TV news: that experience and professionalism sometimes count for a lot less than being a smoking hot babe.” Still, Floyd points out there have multiple incidences of news persons arrested for similar infractions – in North Texas and elsewhere – but they were forgiven, kept their job and in some cases, were promoted. But that’s not so in every case, as Jim Romenesko reports today. A Casper, Wyo., paper published the mug shot and story about their prep sports reporter arrested for DUI.
Most news viewers are well aware of McGarry’s slow decline at the station -- first losing co-anchor Mike Snyder, then being relegated to the 5 p.m. newscast, replaced by a younger version of herself in anchor Meredith Land. And television critic Ed Bark writes on UncleBarky.com, “It’s fair to say that McGarry’s appreciably younger 6 and 10 p.m. heir, Meredith Land, likely would have received different treatment from station management had she committed the same infraction without any previous criminal record. ” Maybe. But I’m not sure any anchor would have survived a very public arrest no matter how young or how pretty she was. Most local news stations wasted no time displaying McGarry’s mug shot (they practically drooled over it!). Frankly, I think if Jane had been younger, she still may have been let go but would have been able to find equal work elsewhere.
Unfortunately for her, and for most over-50 workers trying to make it in the workforce, it’s THAT much harder competing against younger professionals who will take half the salary, work longer, and who likely don’t have a DUI on their record. I understand where Floyd is coming from – she’s not the youngest in the newsroom either – but to suggest age was a factor is rather weak. McGarry was a longtime respected anchor who got drunk, drove, and got busted. Would Floyd have said age was a factor if McGarry hit and killed someone? No! Sorry, but being a news anchor puts you in a public position and, like it or not, the public can hold you to a higher standard. It can also be fickle and forgive you if you have nice boobs and legs. And I don’t buy this age argument. Some of the most respected women in news today are not young. Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Christiane Amanpour, to name just a few. It’s their minds, their nose for news, their ability to interview that has sustained their career, not their looks. And I think McGarry knows that. And she knows, probably better than any of us, that a drunk driver on probation has no business anchoring the news at this time.
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