SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — San Francisco’s KNBR Radio sports talk host Tony Bruno has managed to do what so many people in his occupation love to do: put themselves in the middle of the conversation. One would hope that this time, Bruno wishes it were not so.
Bruno’s disturbingly insensitive Tweet following the Friday night Giants/Phillies brawl is what started this. Bruno may have thought he could make it all go away by deleting the Tweet, or by apologizing, but the problem is bigger than 140 poorly-thought-out characters on Twitter.
Leave aside the obvious idiocy of Bruno’s Tweet (Giants pitcher Ramon Ramirez could hardly be an “illegal alien”; every Major League player without U.S. citizenship works under what’s known as a “P-1” visa). Forget the fact that Bruno would have to have been living under a very large rock to not recognize the freight those two words carry in today’s America. Even discount Bruno’s heart-on-his sleeve support for his hometown Phillies.
Focus instead on the big picture here. A guy with a radio show suddenly has a worldwide platform to say something dumb (although, at last check, Bruno had only about 13,000 Twitter followers). Twitter breeds the need to say something quick and brief and clever, and Bruno stepped in it big-time.
I will not apologize for Bruno (though I generally like his work), but I will say that he’s hardly alone in facing blowback after Tweeting something dumb (just Google the phrase “Twitter apology” for plenty of examples, many far more egregious than Bruno’s). I’ve seen some of Bruno’s defenders suggest that many of us have said similarly inane things in the heat of a ballgame or postgame debate. They miss the point.
The point is this: the bigger the megaphone, the bigger the responsibility. It’s not just being old-fashioned to state the obvious: when you’re given the privilege of addressing a worldwide audience, it would behoove you to do so with respect.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media favor the quick quip. They don’t have an “are you sure?” button. Bruno’s case would only be the latest to remind all of us that we don’t operate in a vacuum.
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