Category Archives: Annoying Burghers
Yesterday, former WTAE news anchor and current melodramatic cult of personality blogger Wendy Bell filed a federal lawsuit — stop screaming; I’m not done yet — filed a federal lawsuit against the station, claiming racial discrimination was the reason she was fired for the racially inflammatory grenade she dropped on her Facebook page earlier this year.
Basically, she is claiming she was fired for being white.
Actually, that is exactly what she is claiming. Because it says so in the lawsuit:
“Had Ms. Bell written the same comments about white criminal suspects or had her race not have been white, Defendant would not have fired her, much less disciplined her.”
Now you can scream. Because the woman who was fired for racism is suing her employer for racially discriminating her because she is white.
The irony is practically choking me, Alanis.
Those of you who began shouting about the first amendment the moment Bell’s firing was announced should realize something CRUCIAL here. I mean really, truly read this sentence: Wendy Bell is not suing claiming her first amendment rights were violated because Wendy Bell’s lawyer knows her first amendment rights were not violated. If you still wish to shout about Wendy Bell’s first amendment rights, I’m going to have to ask you to leave, read the ACTUAL first amendment and then never come back again because WHY IS YOUR AVATAR AN EAGLE IN FRONT OF AN AMERICAN FLAG BACKDROP HASHTAG TRUMP 2016 IF DON’T YOU ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THE FIRST AMENDMENT OF OUR CONSTITUTION?
Knowing her first amendment rights were still fully intact, Bell and her lawyers had to come at this money-grab from another angle and that angle is the very laughable racial discrimination angle.
I’m going to briefly address two aspects of this lawsuit from a casual observer’s/uppity heartless wench’s perspective, and then I’m going to drop some very severe truth bombs on Wendy Bell from a perspective unique to me, her, and only a handful of others.
First, let’s talk about her being white. She claims if she was talking about her own race, she wouldn’t have been fired. If she had been black, she says, she would still have her job. Ergo, if she was white and talking about whites, she would still have her job.
Let’s look at that.
Let’s imagine for a moment that a masked gunman stormed a movie theater or a church in the Pittsburgh area, murdered a dozen people and escaped. Let’s imagine Wendy Bell wrote a Facebook post about the incident saying, We all know who did it. It is going to be a young white man, probably from Fayette County, in his early twenties with absentee trailer parents who ignored his mental issues for years, and who irresponsibly allowed him easy access to their plethora of guns. I am devastated by all the young white men shooting up schools and churches and movie theaters! But today I went to Starbucks and there was a young white man busting his butt to craft my triple shot extra-hot venti decaf non-fat extra-whip low-foam caramel macchiato … I made eye contact with him; this white man is going to MAKE IT.
She would have been fired because do you see at all where a JOURNALIST should never ever write such things on a station-branded Facebook page, forcing her employer to take action because she offended a huge chunk of their viewers and refused to apologize or remove the post initially and instead just edited out the references to race? Do you see where a journalist making such projections based on race simply because some statistics might indicate which race is most likely to commit that sort of crime is THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT A JOURNALIST SHOULD DO REGARDLESS OF THE RACE SHE IS OR THE RACE SHE IS WRITING ABOUT?
So yeah, you “WENDY BELL WAS RIGHT!” peeps can exit this post as well. As the great Vincent Gambino would say, I got no more use for you.
The second thing I would like to address is Wendy Bell’s use of Guy Junker and Andrew Stockey in her lawsuit.
For example, Defendant’s African American Sports Director, and 5 p.m. news anchor, Andrew Stockey was not disciplined at all for making lewd comments to interns, conduct that resulted in the termination of Defendant’s internship program in its news department.
Another reporter, Guy Junker, was arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer, an arrest that caused significant undue publicity, and was “inconsistent with [Defendant’s] ethics.” Defendant did not even discipline Junker, much less fire him.
Wendy Bell is attempting to draw comparisons between Guy’s and Andrew’s PERSONAL disciplinary issues, and her OFFENDING A HUGE SWATH OF VIEWERS WITH HER UNDERHANDED RACISM. This isn’t apples and oranges; this is unicorns and pickles.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, when Guy Junker was arrested for solicitation of a prostitute, HE DIDN’T EVEN WORK FOR WTAE. At the time, he worked for WPXI and Fox Sports Pittsburgh (which would become Root Sports), and those stations were never owned by Hearst. Go to hell, Wendy Bell’s lawyer, for not doing your homework.
As for Andrew Stockey, regardless of the veracity of her claims, Bell didn’t just throw him under the bus; she tossed him under the bus, ran the bus down, boarded the bus Keanu Reeves style, throat-punched the driver, pulled him from his seat, sat down behind the wheel, threw the bus in reverse and ran Andrew over again and again until he was as nonexistent as her own ethical standards.
She is disgusting and will drag anyone she can down with her even if it means comparing unicorns to pickles.
Now, here’s what I can talk about from a very unique perspective: I was once fired for my writing. Do you remember? I revealed my identity to Pittsburgh, things went BOOM!, and I got a text from my boss at the nonprofit NEED, which provides scholarships to African American students in Pittsburgh, that it would be “best if we parted ways.” Then my face was on the top of CNN.com for hours. And I was no longer the communications director, a job I held for six years. A job I ROCKED at. My performance reviews, like Wendy’s as she claims in her lawsuit, were amazing. I kicked so much ass. I was indispensable.
Until I wasn’t.
And people FREAKED. She got fired for something she wrote! What about her first amendment rights (I thought I asked you people to leave)!? And citizens from all over the world emailed my boss and called him all kinds of names. They called NEED and left nasty voice messages for him.
And me? I shut up about it. I. SHUT. UP. I didn’t bash my employer or my boss. Hell, I NOMINATED THE MAN FOR AN AWARD AFTER HE FIRED ME. And after his death, I spoke about him lovingly at the awards ceremony.
Why? Because of my understanding of the first amendment? Hell no.
Because of common sense, something Wendy Bell might want to look for after she washes the blinding greed and butthurt from her eyes.
My common sense and my thimble-full of self-awareness said this to my brain: If instead of writing the things I wrote, I stood at NEED’s front door, identified myself as an employee, and then as funders, students, parents, board members and other stakeholders entered, I said to them, “Good morning! Do you know that Mayor Luke is a giant doofus? Stand here a moment while I use snark to tell you the exact degree of doofus-ry he engaged in today. He is the worst mayor in the history of mayorship and we are inviting him to attend our fundraiser and to hold a press conference for us announcing our fundraising campaign! Hope he says yes! Also, UPMC is a money-hoarding monopoly and I dislike them greatly. We are begging them to fund our new workforce development initiative. Hope they say yes! But they really do suck. I mean, worst ever,” I WOULD BE FIRED.
Therefore, saying those things online was also a fireable offense, as my employer saw fit, regardless of how good I was at my job. Regardless of how amazing my performance reviews were. I knew that whether I was typing it online or standing in the doorway shouting it to stakeholders, the same thing held true — MY. WORDS. HAVE. CONSEQUENCES.
I stand by my words. Every one of them. Every word I got fired for. They are all here. But I also accepted it when my words kicked me in the butt and cost me my job.
Wendy Bell’s words on a WTAE-BRANDED FACEBOOK PAGE, and her refusal to acknowledge the error of her words had consequences and she greatly dislikes those consequences so she wants money for her suffering:
a. Great mental anguish and emotional strain;
b. Loss of income and benefits; and
c. Humiliation and inconvenience.
She is the life-giver to her own humiliation. She is the creator of her own inconvenience. She is the author of her own firing. And she is the mother from which Joe’s great mental anguish and emotional strain were born.
She. Her. Alone. Caused this all. And she still doesn’t understand why what she wrote was wrong.
She will read this, and she will not understand it because she will read it through her cloudy veil of narcissistic self-absorption.
But if she reads any one sentence in this post with crystal clear vision, may it be this: any money received from this lawsuit will not bring any measure of happiness to her; ill-gotten gains only breed greater ills.
Be gone, Wendy Bell. Be so far gone. And don’t let the door hit you in your Emmys on the way out.
I haven’t been this pissed off since Luke Ravenstahl spent a quarter of a million dollars on 250 trash cans with his name on them.
Wendy Bell has started a new Facebook page after her recent firing from WTAE and the subsequent removal of her WTAE-branded Facebook page. Her new Facebook page, in which she lets us know she hasn’t slept for a week because she is some kind of supernatural vampire being who doesn’t need sleep to stay alive, was announced by Ms. Bell herself on Twitter two days ago, but it just started getting shared today:
Hashtag Pittsburgh Strong are you kidding me right now Wendy Bell I cant even use punctuation or anything because Im so dumbfounded and stunned and I swear Im going to do it I am going to flip a table so hard.
#bostonstrong … after the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings took lives.
#FRstrong … after the stabbings at Franklin Regional High School.
#PittsburghStrong … after WENDY BELL GETS FIRED FOR WRITING UNDERHANDEDLY RACIST CRAP ON A WTAE-BRANDED FACEBOOK PAGE BUT IT IS OKAY BECAUSE SHE STARTED A NEW ONE?!
No. No. No.
You do not come back from a crushing wave of criticism in which huge swaths of people informed you of how self-centered you sounded, how out-of-touch you seemed, how you managed to make EVERYTHING ALL ABOUT YOU … and usurp THAT hashtag for yourself because you’ve gone and started a new FACEBOOK.
In doing so, you have fulfilled the prophecy. You have now become the thing they accused you of being. You are now the Queen of Self-Centered. You are now the High Priestess of Out of Touch. You are now the DREAD DARTH DOOM OF ALL ABOUT ME.
PittsburghStrong is the three hero cops who were brutally murdered in the line of duty on this day seven years ago.
PittsburghStrong is Pitt’s James Conner throwing out the first pitch in the midst of his cancer battle yesterday.
PittsburghStrong was John Challis.
PittsburghStrong was Adam Frey.
PittsburghStrong is Genre Baker.
PittsburghStrong are Jamie and Ali McMutrie and their DECADE-long devotion to Haitian children.
Google them, Wendy. They are PittsburghStrong.
PittsburghStrong is not you. It is not “I got fired for writing a kinda racist thing, but I started a new Facebook and I’m rising from the ashes of the fire I set to my own career like a fucking majestic Phoenix, so give me a follow, you unthinking puppets. #PittsburghStrong!”
Until you realize why what you wrote was wrong, and until you realize why how you dealt with what you wrote was wrong, and until you realize how you seemingly still do not understand why what you wrote and how you dealt with it was wrong, and until you stop making everything all about you, and until you realize your OWN fault in causing every sleep-depriving “woe is me” thing you’ve tacked to the cross you think you bear … you have no hope of ever being #PittsburghStrong.
This morning, as the terrifying and tragic events (prayers for them) at Franklin Regional High School unfolded, my Twitter feed shit the bed.
It didn’t just shit the bed, it shit the bed, puked in it, then left a horse head in it before lighting the bed on fire.
If my Twitter feed this morning was an image, it would have been this:
If it was a gif, it would have been this:
Events unfolded as every local media outlet began crawling over each other, pushing each other to be first on the scene. First with details. First with pictures.
Each minute ticked by with my feed filling up with dozens and dozens of tweets.
Marty Griffin hashtagged all of his tweets about the tragedy with #getmarty.
One reporter hashtagged his with #schoolshooting
“I’m hearing …”
“We’ve heard …”
“Sources say …”
5, 10, 6, 14, 20. (Aren’t these the Lost numbers?)
Four are life-threatening.
Seven are life-threatening.
None are life-threatening.
“We’re hearing bullying is a factor…”
Outside during a fire drill.
Inside after someone pulled a fire alarm.
All being taken to Forbes.
Five being taken to Children’s.
All being taken to six different hospitals.
Principal tackled suspect.
Vice-principal tackled suspect.
Assistant principal tackled suspect.
Reporters retweeting colleagues retweeting other colleagues. Sports and weather reporters tweeting details. Not one single tweet mentioning a source.
MADNESS. Complete and utter clusterfucky online madness that trickled down to on-air madness.
Social media is newish, but it’s not so new that local media outlets shouldn’t have a plan in place for handling developing news like this. The exact same way they have a plan in place for ON-AIR and IN-PRINT developing news stories.
Media folks who want to defend this morning’s mess, you must ask yourselves this question: If this is not okay in the live studio, why is it okay online?
Does your station allow 17 reporters and three anchors to crowd the floor of the live set and start shouting over each other and into the camera like desperate stockbrokers on the trading floor their version of the facts as they’re hearing them? “I’m hearing six! Over to weather! Well, I’m hearing five over here at weather! Over to sports! We’re hearing 10 over at sports! Traffic? My Facebook friend’s mother’s cousin’s sisterwife says 20 but my brother’s concubine says 19! And that guy behind the camera is hearing 4! Wait! Wait! –”
No. They don’t allow that. They manage the information as it comes in and filter it down before allowing the anchor to read it — and even that allows misinformation to fall through the cracks. But they attempt to manage the information.
It seems, however, that they believe social media means no rules, so you’ve got two dozen Twitter-verified reporters from WPXI tweeting and retweeting and 10 from WTAE and 11 from KDKA and add in the radio folks who are tweeting what they’re hearing from the TV folks, and add in the newspaper folks, and the producers and the cameramen and the editors, and the people working in the business offices, and I’m telling you guys, you guys running the media, this is broken.
This is so so broken.
Station managers figure they don’t control social media. Hands off. Everyone out for themselves, even if we’ve made sure you’ve got the blue checkmark next to your name verifying that you’re our representative. Tweet what you find … even if it’s unverified. Even if your source is the lunch lady’s third cousin. Even if you’re just retweeting your colleague who mistakenly hashtagged this story as a school shooting. Even if you’re retweeting your colleague who is claiming bullying is involved while not really knowing if bullying is involved. Even if you’re retweeting your colleague who says 20 were stabbed when 20 were INJURED. We can’t know who everyone is following, and everyone is not following the same two reporters, so we’ll just let every single damn one of you tweet anything you can get your hands on and we’ll feed that straight to the anchors and we’ll let them just run with that shit, amen.
I’m getting a little punchy, yes. I’m sorry. But I haven’t been writing my shit for here for nine years to make friends. Hell, I’m an introvert; friends are exhausting.
I’m aware it was worse for people like me who follow multiple reporters from multiple outlets (though I went on a nice unfollow spree this morning, as I should have done after the local media basically tweeted a play-by-play on how the McCandless mother drowned her sons), but I’m guessing that even those of you who only follow a few saw exactly what I’m talking about. Insane, intense retweeting. “Follow this person at our station for the facts! No! Follow this person! We realize he’s the sports reporter, but follow him too! And this guy, he’s the producer of a two-hour block of the news, but follow him for ‘facts!'”
No. No no no no no.
This is not how it needs to work and it’s not helping the story, the situation, or the station/paper/outlet. It’s hurting all of those things, even the on-air reporting.
I’m not here to just complain, I’m here to offer a solution to fix this mess because guess what? It can be fixed.
It can be fixed with three words: MANAGE. THE. MESSAGE.
You’re running WPXI? A major breaking news story happens? You get all your best reporters out there on foot and on the phone and on the web to collect information and do their jobs. And you pick one, maybe two of them to be the official tweeter of this particular story, or you have your official verified main account do it. Any other employee on Twitter will then tweet only ONE THING regarding this story: “We’re on top of this story. Follow @name and @name for the official details.” And they will RT ONLY that account or accounts.
Then they shut the hell up and do their jobs and if they’re assigned to this story, they feed their info and their sources to those two people who are now responsible for determining what will be reported on the official social media account.
Manage the message.
You do not allow TWO DOZEN REPORTERS WHO ARE YOUR OFFICIAL BLUE-CHECK-MARKED REPRESENTATIVES TO RUN LIKE STAMPEDING WILDEBEESTS ALL OVER TWITTER GOING FULL-ON TOURETTE’S, SHOUTING MISINFORMATION AT US UNTIL WE SLAM THE UNFOLLOW BUTTON WITH THE FORCE OF THOR’S HAMMER.
Managing the message would increase your followers, you know why? Because you’re not destroying us viewers and readers and listeners with information that may not even be correct. You’re not having reporters crawling all over each other in the name of FIRST! You’re not having mass unfollowings because we the people are fed up with you the breaking news media.
What you end up with are trusting followers who know you’re going to funnel the raw information in some fashion. That you’re going to manage the information put out there by your employees. You’re virtually pulling everyone off the set and leaving your two trusted anchors to talk with the public. You’re Peter Jennings-ing a Jerry Springer fiasco.
You end up with reporters, no longer obsessed with first!, putting away Twitter and working to get the best possible information from the best possible sources so that they can feed you that CORRECT information and get rewarded.
So instead of the virtual shouting match you’ve allowed your reporters to devolve into … instead of all of us unfollowing all of you for the 4! 3! 6! 20! 10! nonsense, you end up with one account that tweets this and reports this on the news: “Our reporter @name has confirmed with [source] that the number of injured currently stands at [number].”
“Our reporter @name2 has confirmed with [source] that the number of injured has risen to [number.]”
“Our reporter @name3 has confirmed with [source] that the injured are being transported to [number] hospitals.”
Gold star and endless RTs and follows and respect for you.
Unfollows with great Thor-like gusto for everyone else.
I cannot take another newspaper ad or another ridiculous scary-sounding television commercial by either Highmark or UPMC. Like, I haven’t been this stabby since Mayor Luke learned what a hashtag is.
I am sick of both of them. I don’t care who wins at this point, because they’re both going to lose; King Solomon is going to cut their baby in half.
We are not opening the Sunday paper to read these ads in the hopes of finally coming down on either side of the fence. I hate to tell you this, but there is no fence. It’s like the final three days leading up to an important election when we are mercilessly bombarded with scary-sounding ads at every turn. We start to hate everyone, even the person we’re going to vote for. We would get sick of our own father’s face if he was the one running for office. “Not this guy again. Ugh.”
Go read my message to UPMC and Highmark. Spread it. Share it. Make sure everyone reads it so that it will reach who it needs to at Highmark and UPMC and their eyes will open and they’ll say, “Wait. So you’re saying THE COMMERCIALS AND ADS ARE MAKING YOU HATE BOTH OF US?! HOW CAN THIS BE?!? WE THOUGHT YOU WERE DUMBER THAN THAT! WHERE IS MY SECURITY BLANKIE MADE OF STITCHED-TOGETHER HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLZ?!”
It is time for the ad war to stop and working toward a solution to start, and that’s not going to happen until they realize I am speaking the truth. So let them hear it.
We’re sick of both of ya, Highmark and UPMC. At this point, we’re rooting for an asteroid.
A big one.
P.S. CAN YOU BELIEVE THE EDITOR ALLOWED THAT LAST GIF?!!?!?!?!?!? WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU?!?!? I CANNOT STOP SHOUTING AT THE EPICNESS OF THAT!!!!!!!! ALL YOUR EXCLAMATION POINTS ARE BELONG TO US!!!!!!
Groups. Subsidiaries. Conglomerates. Amalgamation. Brain explosion.
Let’s have a quiz. Are the following excerpts about UPMC from a Post-Gazette article or an article from the satirical news site The Onion:
- But UPMC itself? “We don’t have employees,” Mr. Pietragallo said.
- Mr. Wood said he sees no contradiction when UPMC claims it employs 55,000 people in marketing and business materials — and no one in court.
- He did not know which subsidiary employed him nor UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff.
Of course they’re from the Post-Gazette because this is about UPMC and it seems lately UPMC sees the border of Ridiculous and says, “Let’s just step over that line and head fully into the Territory of ABSOLUTE BONKERS whose capital city is Loophole Heaven.”
As a refresher, UPMC is being sued by the City of Pittsburgh to have its charitable organization status revoked. This means they would no longer be exempt from property and wage taxes. UPMC is now claiming that since it technically has no employees, it cannot be sued for wage taxes. No wages. No wage taxes. No lawsuit. Magic! [throws confetti]
UPMC has clearly been protecting itself from such a lawsuit for years in that it seems to indeed pay all employees through one of its 37 subsidiaries — even their corporate employees who have no association with any specific hospital. As one UPMC corporate-employed reader put it, “My badge says ‘UPMC Corporate Services,’ but my paystub says Presby.”
That person does not work at UPMC Presby, but his paystub says he’s paid by that subsidiary, certainly lending support to UPMC’s claim it has no real employees — just 55,000 people scattered around 37 subsidiaries and therefore, the city’s lawsuit should be thrown out.
I assume the entirety of corporate upper-management at UPMC walks around in shirts that say, “Keep Calm and Loophole On.”
I get this is how the corporate world operates, but in this case UPMC is being beyond absurd to the point that it is almost insulting to the residents of the city of Pittsburgh and the employees of their 37 subsidiaries, of which Jeffrey Romoff doesn’t even know which is issuing his seven-figure paycheck, apparently.
Here’s why it’s insulting and absurd. Here’s a snapshot from the I-990 form via Guidestar.org that “UPMC Group” filed in 2012 which showed a reported income of $7.7 billion:
How can UPMC claim to have zero employees and that their widely self-reported 55,000 number is just a “marketing number,” when they officially filed with the Internal Revenue Service claiming they employ 52,000 as a group?
0 = 52,000?
Is this new math? Did they forget to regroup? Carry the billion? Solve for X where X = “How the hell can we get ourselves out of this mess?”
You can have zero employees … or you can have 55,000 employees. You cannot have BOTH zero and 55,000 employees and then just choose which number suits you best for certain circumstances. I mean loopholes are great and all, but at some point, you’re just trying to defy the laws of mathematics and possibly physics and for all I know, gravity.
I’m not a corporate accountant. I’m not a lawyer. I’m a Pittsburgher. And as a Pittsburgher and a human with a brain in her head, I am qualified to tell you that this is farcical and insulting and it will only serve to generate even greater ill-will toward UPMC than currently exists among the public who already imagine UPMC as King Kong squashing any puny entity that dares approach its territory.
Who knows what will hold up in the court of law, but in the court of public opinion, this “we have no employees” defense will not stand. It will serve only to anger, because this is how we non-accountant, non-lawyer Burghers are looking at it:
That or, “I actually have no hands. It’s all a mirage.”
Stop this nonsense and get to work proving you’re a charity, UPMC. Because if you really are, this creative legal maneuvering wouldn’t even be necessary.
Math is hard. The truth is easy.