TSN apologizes to Hal Johnson for not hiring him because they already had a Black reporter
TSN is apologizing to Hal Johnson following his recent video "How We Battled Racism," in which the Body Break host recounts a racist incident he experienced while applying for a job with the Canadian sports channel in April 1988.
In the video, Johnson says he was immediately offered a position at TSN following a job interview. Three hours later, he was told that he wouldn't actually be a fit because the network already had a Black reporter.
"They already had Mark Jones," Johnson explained, referring to a well-known ESPN sports reporter. He added that he was "very disappointed" by the news.
How we Battled Racism | BodyBreak Hal Johnsonhttps://t.co/2h5HJSgUqF— BodyBreak (@bodybreak) June 15, 2020
On Tuesday, TSN issued an apology to Johnson via their social media channels.
"We apologize to Hal Johnson for the racism he experienced at TSN beginning in 1988, a shameful part of our past, and thank him for sharing his story as a reminder of the impact of racism in Canadian media that continues today," the network wrote.
TSN added that they recognize there is "still much work to do" in improving diversity at the network.
An apology to Hal Johnson (@bodybreak) from TSN: pic.twitter.com/vOih7kiiox— TSN PR (@TSN_PR) June 16, 2020
Some Canadians, however, feel that TSN's apology is inadequate, especially given that it was delivered via Tweet — and about three decades too late.
"Sort of a hollow PR statement," one person wrote. "Not impressed."
"Couldn't even use your main account to tweet this paper thin apology?" another person added.
You know what would be great, @TSN_Sports? Not apologizing via your PR account and actually meaning it.— John Fleischauer (@bigtalljohn) June 16, 2020
Other Canadians are calling TSN's apology "meaningless" and "virtually worthless" since it doesn't directly outline the steps that the network will take to address anti-Black racism.
"OK, so what does that mean?" one person wrote. "HOW are you amplifying BIPOC voices? What is the "Content diversity task force"? Who is on it? What will it be doing? What actions will be taken?"
I just read PR jargon for ‘we’ll do better at hiding our racist ways’. I notice the words ‘anti black racism’, ‘investigation’ aren’t present— Mark Emile (@emile_wickham) June 16, 2020
TSN sportscaster Kayla Grey also weighed in on Johnson's comments, saying that her "spirit aches" for the Body Break host.
"Racism has robbed so many Black people in media of their dreams," she wrote on Twitter. "I can't even begin to tell you the amount of stories I've heard over the years of those forced to pivot and leave this industry."
"My spirit aches for The Hal Johnson that we know and the countless of Hal Johnsons that we don’t.. the ones who had no choice but to walk away."
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