WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Openly mocking cancer patients and the terminally ill is an act of futility that’s widely regarded to be in poor taste, and depending on which higher power you believe in, one that’s perhaps condemnable to hell.
Professionally, former sports talk radio hosts Chris Dimino, Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro have already been admonished, by getting fired for their poor judgment in ridiculing Steve Gleason on the air Monday, a former New Orleans Saints safety who suffers from the crippling terminal illness ALS.
Publicly, it’s now their turn to be mocked, as they bear the full brunt of an entire nation’s scorn for imitating the Lou Gehrig’s disease patient with a mock-computer-simulated voice on Atlanta’s 790 The Zone.
So what inspired the bit?
Gleason, who’s best remembered as the player who blocked a Falcons’ punt in the Saints first game back in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina – a moment which has been memorialized by a statue in front of the Superdome – was filling in for Peter King on his Monday Morning Quarterback blog.
Gleason typed the entire fill-in piece with his eyes using an advanced computer program, because his disease prevents him from maintaining fully functional motor skills. It took him 4 hours to pen the 4,500-word article chronicling his post-NFL life with ALS.
The ‘Mayhem in the AM’ crew made fun of this.
“After the show we always sit around in the studio, BSing, just coming up with ideas off the top of our head. And a lot of times we know it’s just too much,” Matt Valdez said, as the Junkies discussed the debacle on 106.7 The Fan Tuesday.
“There’s no way this bit should have made it past the meeting,” he added.
“There’s no way it should have made it past just spitting it in the air, and just talking!” EB exclaimed. “There’s just nobody that humanly possibly thinks that making fun of a guy with ALS is either A) funny or B) appropriate on any level.”
“It’s just such a slippery slope to make fun of someone who’s got that disease,” Lurch said. “I can’t believe these guys were that stupid.”
Anyone who spends enough time in this business has their verbal miscues, a moment which is colloquially referred to as ‘stepping in it’ – but this had the feel of something for more contrived than just a bad bit gone awry. It reeked of hate-spewing and came off as a premeditated assault that should never have slipped past the filters of a pre-production meeting.
And while this reckless, heartless bit may have blown up in the ‘Mayhem in the AM’ hosts’ faces, all the while failing to meet its core objective of being funny, here’s something that won’t fail to fill your belly with joy.
The first line of Steak Shapiro’s Twitter bio reads: “Longest running sports host in ATL.”
He must be doing the ironic bit now.