Follow TV Tropes


Role Ending Misdemeanor / News and Columns

Go To

  • Fox News was hit with a series of scandals in 2016 and 2017, most of which were related to sexual harassment.
    • Roger Ailes, the CEO of Fox News and one of the most influential figures in Republican politics, was forced out of his position several weeks after former Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson sued him for sexual harassment. The suit led to a cascade of similar allegations against Ailes, some going back several decades, in which he allegedly harassed or outright extorted sex from female subordinates. However, it was accusations made by Megyn Kelly, Fox's rising prime-time anchor, that put the final nail in his coffin. Ailes was given the choice of either resigning or being fired from Fox News, leading Ailes to leave the network he had helmed since its inception with $40 million severance pay. He passed away shortly after in May 2017.
    • Advertisement:
    • Bill O'Reilly was forced out of Fox News in April 2017 after The New York Times published a report detailing allegations of O'Reilly's inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues, and how Fox and O'Reilly paid five women about $13 million in total in exchange for agreements to not sue or speak about the allegations, prompting advertisers to leave O'Reilly's show in droves.
    • Bill Shine, Fox News Co-President, was the next to go, resigning on May 1, 2017 amid accusations of enabling Ailes' aforementioned behavior.
    • Bob Beckel was fired from Fox News on May 19, 2017 after making insensitive remarks to an African American employee.
    • Then, long-time presenter Eric Bolling was suspended pending investigation in early August 2017, following allegations that he'd sent lewd photographs to several female coworkers. The network parted ways with him one month later, and the program he co-hosted was cancelled.
    • Advertisement:
    • Jerusalem correspondent John Huddy was fired from Fox News after it investigated his connection to a "physical altercation." The news of his firing came after his sister Juliet, herself a former Fox News reporter, revealed in an interview with fellow ex-employee Megyn Kelly on the Today show that O'Reilly got her fired from the network when she rejected his sexual advances.
  • In a similar situation, conservative political commentator Mark Halperin was fired from NBC News in October 2017 after several women came forward filing sexual harassment charges against him.
  • Fox News correspondent Thomas McInerney was fired from said network in May 2018 after continuing to argue the long-debunked allegations that John McCain colluded with North Vietnam when he was a Prisoner of War.
  • Billy Bush, co-host of the third hour of The Today Show, was caught up in the audiotape scandal which nearly ended Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The tape was an outtake from a 2005 interview between Trump and Bush, then anchor for Access Hollywood, in which Trump infamously boasted about his predilection for sexual assault, bragging that he could "grab [women] by the pussy" and force them into sex because of his fame. Trump talked at length about sleeping with Nancy O'Dell, Bush's Access Hollywood co-anchor, with Bush joking and playing along. NBC initially tried to shield Bush from scrutiny, but public outcry forced the network to suspend and eventually fire him from Today. A lot of people, however, came out of the woodwork to defend him after his firing, claiming that he got fired while Trump was still allowed to run for president, even though most people agreed Trump's comments on the video were far worse than Bush's. While Trump's campaign looked like it was headed in that direction, with his poll numbers rapidly dropping and members of his own party abandoning him, he ultimately survived thanks to a later October Surprise and was elected the 45th President of the United States. However, the scandal arguably cost him the popular vote (despite his claims he would have won if not for illegal votes), and when the post-election atmosphere, instead of unity, became one filled with polarization and protests, many of his opponents cited the Access Hollywood tape more than anything else as to why they were unwilling to lend him his support and planned on marching against him the day after his inauguration, despite the fact that he was now the new president.
  • Seems to happen with alarming regularity on MSNBC, especially in more recent years:
    • Phil Donahue's highly-rated prime-time talk show on MSNBC was cancelled in 2003 when he expressed opposition to the impending war in Iraq.
    • Michael Savage, a far-right shock jock, was let go by MSNBC later that same year when he made disparaging comments about AIDS in response to a crank caller.
    • Don Imus simulcasted his Imus in the Morning radio show on MSNBC until he referred to the black players on the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hoes" in 2007. Imus was dropped from MSNBC and CBS Radio in the face of a firestorm, and Imus eventually ended up on Fox Business Network.
    • Keith Olbermann was indefinitely suspended from hosting his signature show Countdown after he made donations to three Democratic congressional candidates during the 2010 mid-term campaign, purportedly violating an MSNBC policy barring personalities from doing so. Olbermann's fans succeeded in getting the suspension ended early, but his relations with MSNBC execs worsened and ended with his abrupt firing a few months later.
    • MSNBC anchor Martin Bashir, a former co-host of Nightline, made what were deemed to be "ill-judged comments" regarding Sarah Palin's bizarre comparison of the federal debt to slavery. See here for more information.
    • Alec Baldwin's late night MSNBC show was canceled after Alec allegedly called a reporter a "cocksucking faggot" off air. He had been suspended by the network for at least two weeks until it was decided to have the plug pulled permanently.
    • Melissa Harris-Perry was terminated from MSNBC following a dispute with execs over her show's constant pre-emptions and lack of editorial freedoms due to coverage over the 2016 presidential campaigns. She attributed this to the network's refusal to let her analyze the music video for Beyoncé's song "Formation," a protest song examining police violence against African-Americans. This prompted her to refuse to visit the studio the weekend of her eventual firing, and that line-crossing led to network executives to cancel her show and terminate her contract.
  • Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News. On the January 30, 2015 episode of Nightly, Williams claimed he was inside a helicopter that was shot down by enemy fire in Iraq during the U.S. invasion more than a decade ago. However, his story immediately fell under scrutiny by surviving passengers of that helicopter, stating he was in a different helicopter that arrived shortly thereafter. Williams apologized and recanted the story a month later, but that did not stop NBC from launching an investigation on Williams regarding the event. He later voluntary suspended himself from Nightly a day after the investigation was launched, with the network then following by asking him to take six months unpaid leave. Shortly before the suspension ended, NBC announced that he would be demoted to Breaking News anchor at MSNBC, while his longtime colleague and interim host Lester Holt was announced as his permanent replacement.
  • Chat show host Robert Kilroy-Silk was fired by the BBC after penning a column in a tabloid newspaper which contained — to be as objective as possible here — willfully abusive remarks about Arabic people in general, whereupon he decided to stand for Parliament instead.
  • Kimmo Wilska, an English-language newscaster for the Finnish station Yle, was fired after pretending to drink beer following an alcohol-related story. His bosses were not amused.
  • During part of the 1970s, the main movie reviewer for a newspaper in Nebraska was running a "teen reviewer" program. Kids/young teens would sign up with the paper to be taken to a movie by the reviewer, and would then write a review of it for publication. Then that reviewer was arrested for pedophilia, and the whole "teen reviewer" operation vanished at light speed.
  • Piers Morgan was fired as editor of the Daily Mirror in 2004 after giving the okay to print a series of photos apparently implicating a British Army unit in Iraqi prisoner abuse. Within days these were proven to be fakes and he left in shame. Interestingly, it seems that most of the public have either forgotten this or chosen to ignore it, as he has since become a relatively successful television personality.
    • Bizarrely, however, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't despise him.note  One possible explanation is that his first TV job after the incident was on Britain's Got Talent alongside Simon Cowell, where he could easily manipulate audiences to think of him as the nicer judge to Simon's judgmental bastard. (Although it's debatable as to whether he took on the role of the "Evil Judge". Either way, the position on the show somehow worked for him.)
    • Across the pond, Morgan's 9:00 p.m. ET weekday talk show on CNN had a controversy over misgendering transgender activist Janet Mock, followed by several disparaging tweets about her from Morgan. The show was soon cancelled and replaced with documentaries.
  • Andy Gray and Richard Keys were fired by Sky Sports after making sexist comments about a female official's performance in a Premier League game, whilst cameras were rolling but they were off-air, only for the footage to be leaked, with more footage showing it wasn't a one time thing. They were quickly picked up by talkSPORT to host a radio show and eventually returned to television with Bein Sports (formerly Al Jazeera Sport), but the damage was done.
  • Bob Greene, a popular syndicated columnist based at the Chicago Tribune known in part for his sentimental columns about family, lost his column and his job at the Tribune after he admitted to an extramarital affair with a high school student.
  • Former football manager Ron Atkinson was sacked from a job as a TV pundit after making unfortunate remarks about a black player (thinking that his microphone was already switched off in an otherwise lackluster football game. It was remarked that had he just confined himself to talking about a "lazy bastard" on the field and left out the descriptive word "black", he could have been describing any of the twenty-two players out there.
  • The News of the World phone-hacking scandals didn't just end careers, it ended the role of an entire publication, and additionally hobbled the print media industry in the UK. It also demolished any perception of Rupert Murdoch's political clout, as evidenced not as much by his stoop-shouldered humility before a Parliamentary ethics hearing as that ranking officials who deferred to him before began to publicly diss and dismiss him.
  • Petra László, a reporter for the Right-leaning Hungarian news station N1TV, was fired from her job after she appeared in a video purposely tripping a fleeing refugee and another in which she kicks a couple of refugees (one of them a young girl), during the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis in Europe.
  • Dan Rather stepped down from the CBS Evening News after documents for a 2004 story on 60 Minutes about George W. Bush's National Guard service turned out to be forged. His last broadcast for the Evening News was in 2005 and a year later CBS decided not to renew his contract. Rather has continued to be involved in news, and launched a successful Career Resurrection in the late 2010s thanks to his Facebook following.
  • Alt-Right Gay Conservative bombthrower Milo Yiannopoulos was disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), lost a book deal, and resigned from Breitbart after a video surfaced of him appearing to endorse pedophilia. One year later, he found himself saddled with $2 million in unpaid debt, lost the support of the wealthy Mercer family, and his attempted comeback with Patreon failed with his account getting banned just one day after its creation.
  • Fabrication and plagiarism are considered to be major breaches of journalistic ethics, and are often career killers for journalists who are caught committing them. Among the best known cases:
    • Stephen Glass, a star reporter at The New Republic whose work, notably the feature "Hack Heaven" about a 15-year old jetsetting hacker - was discovered be largely fabrication in 1998. His story was made into the film Shattered Glass, and while he wrote a lightly fictionalized novel about his experience, that has been all he's written since.
    • Ruth Shalit, another rising star at TNR, had previously been fired after multiple instances of plagiarism in her work were uncovered; there were also instances where subjects of articles alleged she had made things up. After the same problems began cropping up in later positions writing about the ad industry when she took a job there, she was fired from that position and has not written anything since.
    • Janet Cooke of The Washington Post, who became the only journalist to ever return a Pulitizer Prize in 1981 after it was discovered that her story "Jimmy's World", about an 8-year heroin addict, was a fabrication. She has never worked in journalism again.
    • Michael Finkel of The New York Times, was fired in 2002 for creating a composite character in a story on modern-day African slavery. Interestingly, shortly after he was fired, he came into contact with convicted murderer Christian Longo, who had used Finkel's name as an alias while on the run - ironically, because he was certain Finkel would tell his "real story." The result? Finkel turned both his dismissal from the Times and his interviews with Longo into the non-fiction book True Story, which was later made into a film. Following the success of the book, he became one of only a few journalists to be fired for fabrication to successfully rebuild their career, winning the Edgar Award for true crime writing.
    • Jayson Blair, a fast-rising writer and editor for The New York Times, was fired in 2003 after several instances of plagiarism and fabrication came to light, which deeply embarrassed the paper.
    • Benny Johnson, one of Buzzfeed's most visible writers, was fired from the site in 2014 after two "Weird Twitter" users pointed out several instances of plagiarism on his part.
    • Juan Thompson was fired from Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept in January 2016, after it was discovered that not only had he fabricated several of his stories, but his entire resume with it, as well as impersonating the site's editor-in-chief in emails, and then sending several rambling notes to various media outlets. This was already more than enough to destroy his career, but Thompson kept making fanciful and unhinged statements on social media; in one instance, he terrorized and threatened a St. Louis newspaper reporter for writing stories about what he did. He made headlines again in March 2017, when he was arrested for making threats against Jewish community centers across the country in a convoluted revenge plot against an ex-girlfriend. He was ultimately sentenced to five years in prison for cyberstalking and the bomb hoaxes.
    • Johan Hari, the youngest Orwell Prize winner, had to return the prize and leave the Independent newspaper when it was discovered that he had a habit of replacing what people had said to him in interviews with unattributed quotes from other sources, and plagiarised much of one article from Der Speigel. He wasn't helped by the fact that one "David R from meth productions", who had made damaging edits to Hari's critics' Wikipedia articles, and glowing edits to Hari's own, turned out to be Hari himself.
    • Jonah Lehrer, a science writer, was found to have fabricated several Bob Dylan quotes in his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works as well as several instances of self-plagiarism on his blog. The book was taken out of print and he was fired from Wired magazine and The New Yorker.
    • Peter Yeung was fired from The Times of London when editors discovered he had sneaked fabricated travel and concert reviews onto their website in order to receive free tickets and hotel rooms.
    • Filip Miucin was fired from IGN in August 2018 after a video review he did of the PC game Dead Cells was discovered to contain plagiarism from the Youtube channel Boomstick Gaming. IGN began to scrub him from the site completely after even more plagiarism was found soon after.
    • Colin Covert, the film critic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, resigned from the paper in December 2018 after it was revealed he had plagiarized the work of other writers in his reviews of Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Call Me by Your Name and Halloween (2018).
    • Claas Relotius, an award-winning German reporter, was fired by Der Speigel in late 2018 when it was uncovered that he had fabricated almost all of his famous profile stories. Relotus' firing was a major international story, owing both to the reporter's fame in Europe and the extent of his fabrication and deception. Der Speigel also filed a criminal complaint against Relotius after it was discovered he asked his readers to donate to a fund for two Syrian orphans he had written about, but who didn't actually exist.
  • Freelance writer David Leavitt first garnered the ire of the alt-right when he made a joke about Donald Trump dying. That being said, his career ultimately survived. He would not be so lucky the next time around, when he joked about the 2017 Ariana Grande concert bombing in Manchester. Aside from angering the right again, he was quickly disowned by the left, with several organizations he's written for distancing themselves from him. And then, a year later, he obliterated whatever little was left of his career by making another series of insensitive tweets about the suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain.
  • Kathy Griffin was kicked off of CNN's New Years' special after she posted a photo of her holding a bloody, and what appeared to be decapitated, head of Donald Trump. She might possibly lose more jobs after the shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise, two Capitol Police officers and two other conservative politicians by a deranged anti-GOP radical at a baseball game practice in Alexandra, Virginia, which caused some lawmakers on the alt-right to push Griffin as part of a group of "unhinged leftists" that they claimed provoked the attack; Griffin herself insisted that the photo was not a call for political violence, plus the shooter had been plotting the attack long before the controversy started.
  • In August 2017, CNN commentator Jeffrey Lord tweeted a Nazi salute at a critic. Hours later, he responded with a claim that the tweet was meant to mock Nazis and fascists - but by then, CNN had issued a response of their own, saying briefly but bluntly, "Nazi salutes are indefensible. Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network."
  • Matt Lauer, who had co-hosted NBC's Today morning show for 20 years - was given the boot by the network in late 2017 after several allegations of his inappropriate sexual behavior towards women were made public.
  • The Atlantic sacked writer Kevin Williamson in April 2018, just under a month after hiring him, after uncovering a 2014 podcast in which he had advocated for execution via hanging in abortion cases. They had already been aware of Williamson's views on the matter when they hired him, but the "callous and violent" language they described him as using in the podcast left them with no choice.
  • Jamie Allman was removed by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, and his show cancelled, after he threatened Parkland massacre survivor David Hogg on Twitter.
  • Nick Robinson was fired from Polygon in August 2017 after it was revealed he had made unwanted sexual advances towards several female video game journalists. This resulted in the cancellation of Touch the Skyrim and Let's Go to Hell, two offbeat comedy Let's Play series he had been hosting with fellow Polygon writer Griffin McElroy, who also publicly severed his friendship with Robinson. McElroy also opted to end Coolgames Inc, the podcast he and Robinson hosted together, instead of finding a new co-host.
  • Infamous British tabloid journalist Mazher Mahmood, known for his unscrupulous and unethical methods of obtaining scoops, saw his career end once and for all in 2014. Evidence from one of his stories was being used to prosecute singer and The X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos for drug offenses when it came out that Mahmood had lied during his testimony and had entrapped Contostavlos in a sting operation. He was immediately suspended by the Sun tabloid, eventually convicted of perjury, and sentenced to 16 months in prison.
  • The Sun columnist and former editor Kelvin MacKenzie published an article in April 2017 about Everton midfielder Ross Barkley that not only attracted claims of racism, but also claimed that the only people in Liverpool that made comparable salaries were "drug dealers". The article alone would've likely been enough to attract outrage, but MacKenzie's past stoked the flames even further: During his tenure as editor in the 80s, The Sun ran front-page coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, falsely accusing Liverpool FC fans of causing the tragedy (when it was the result of abysmal crowd control), attacking victims, and abusing responding police officers. To add even more salt to the wound, the allegations were led with the headline "The Truth". This one-sided coverage of the disaster not only rendered the paper anathema on Merseyside (to the point that there's still an active boycott movement against The Sun, trying to give it away in Liverpool remains virtually impossible, and few newsagents in the city even carry it anymore), but both controversies resulted in both Liverpool FC and Everton banning the paper from reporting at their grounds within months of each other. As for MacKenzie, he was suspended on April 14th (a day before the 28th anniversary of Hillsborough, no less), and his contract was "terminated by mutual consent" weeks later.
  • Famed sportswriter Bill Conlin resigned from the Philadelphia Daily News in December 2011, and the reason why didn't have to wait long: Just a few hours later, several of his family members publicly accused him of molesting them as children. Conlin never denied their accusations and practically disappeared, never writing again before his death in 2014. Controversially, the Baseball Writers' Association of America refused to revoke the coveted J. G. Taylor Spink Award - the closest thing to a Baseball Hall of Fame induction for a journalist - from Conlin, which he just received earlier that year.
  • The Washington Post fired reporter Marwa Eltagouri after they discovered she had used reporting from other newspapers without proper attribution in several of her articles for the paper.
  • In 1998, British physician Andrew Wakefield authored an infamously fraudulent research paper for The Lancetnote , who would fully retract the story in 2010 following numerous allegations of misconduct, financial conflicts of interest, and unnecessarily invasive procedures on Wakefield's part. He was struck off the UK register a few months later, thus banning him from practicing medicine in the country ever again; nevertheless, Wakefield would turn his theories into a political cause, and his paper would prove to be the catalyst for an entire movement whose validity is best debated elsewhere.
  • Julie Tremmel, a Rhode Island television reporter, was fired from NBC affiliate WJAR in 2014 after she did a handstand at the end of a live report outside of an America's Got Talent audition. Tremmel was well known in the area for both her offbeat reporting on lighter stories - particularly a very strange piece she did about avoiding bear attacks, which went viral - and her solid work as an investigative crime reporter, and the news of her firing was received very negatively by the public and other local media outlets. She ultimately sued the station for wrongful termination and received an out-of-court settlement.
  • In the mid-Seventies, the head editor at Car And Driver changed and the new one informed longtime writer Brock Yates that he wasn't pleased with Yates' highly illegal road race, the Cannonball. note  He informed Yates that he would be fired if he ran another Cannonball. A couple of years later, Yates colluded with Smokey and the Bandit director Hal Needham about making a film based on the Cannonball. (The end result being The Cannonball Run.) Yates ran another Cannonball for inspiration (he was the screenwriter) and accepted his termination without argument. He was reinstated a few years later and stayed with the magazine until the mid-Oughties.
  • To Fox News, it's one thing to do everything in your power to discredit Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who had accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct against her, but Slut-Shaming her is something else entirely, as now-ex-contributor Kevin Jackson learned the hard way.
  • After the above-mentioned drama at Fox News, Megyn Kelly jumped ship to NBC. She proved controversial from day one, as her extreme opinions often led to incidents like a widely-ridiculed interview with notorious alt-right conspiracy peddler Alex Jones, and picking a fight with the famously liberal Jane Fonda. But the last straw came in October 2018, when she went on a bizarre rant during an on-air panel that was widely seen as a defense of blackface as a Halloween costume—even insisting the practice was considered perfectly okay during her childhood in the 1970s. The resulting deluge of online attacks, including from people close to her age letting her know that this was decidedly not the case, rendered Kelly so radioactive that even though she ultimately apologized for her remarks, NBC dropped her, released a special report distancing themselves from her—and embarrassed her further by showing a notorious report she'd made at Fox News attacking the idea of black people playing Santa Claus. A few days later, the cast of House of Cards (US) (no stranger to devastating controversy itself) pulled out of their scheduled appearance on her show, Megyn Kelly Today, which was cancelled shortly afterwards. An NBC exec hinted that Kelly, now all but blacklisted by the journalism industrynote , might be merely the first to lose their job in the aftermath, calling the non-break deal she had signed with NBC a gigantic mistake on the part of the negotiators, and the network contemplated for a long while whether or not to pay off Kelly with the $69 million she was offered as part of her long-term contract before eventually acquiescing.
  • Conservative talking head Chris Farrell was banned from Fox News programming in October 2018 after claiming on Lou Dobbs Tonight that billionaire George Soros was funding a caravan of South American refugees heading for the United States border, just a few days after a bomb was sent to Soros' home by a believer of that conspiracy theory. There were also calls for Dobbs to lose his show because he did not challenge or make any comment on the statement.
  • Seattle's Fox affiliate fired one of their editors after viewers pointed out the station had aired doctored (amateurishly, so it was said) footage of President Trump during a newscast in January 2019.
  • ESPN fired baseball analyst and anchor Adnan Virk in February 2019 after he leaked confidential information about contract negotiations between the sports network and Major League Baseball.
  • It didn't take long for Goodloe Sutton, the publisher/editor/owner of a small-time newspaper in Alabama, to face a firestorm of international condemnation after penning an editorial in February 2019 that called for the Ku Klux Klan to "ride again"—an implication too grim to speculate on here—and then doubling down by suggesting the Klan's efforts to "clean up D.C." should include lynching. Within a week, the state's press association had censured him and suspended the paper's membership in the organization; one day later, Sutton—who had had a history of inflammatory remarks in the paper—stepped down from his publishing and editing duties, which were subsequently filled by Elecia Dexter, an African-American who'd previously served as the paper's front office clerk. Sutton still retains ownership in his paper, and at time of writing has not apologized for his comments. Dexter quit the paper a week after her promotion, citing interference from Sutton, which brought further scrutiny against him and his paper.
  • After the Christchurch mosque shootings in March 2019 that left 50 people dead, authorities began cracking down on news and social media to restrict the graphic footage of the attacks that had been streamed live by the perpetrator. Sky News Australia, a 24-hour news channel owned by Rupert Murdoch, refused to cease airing the footage in question, forcing their New Zealand broadcaster to pull it off the air and replace it with sports.
  • Jeanine Pirro, a former judge and prosecutor in New York turned star commentator on Fox News, opined in March 2019 that House Rep. Ilhan Omar wearing a hijab was more in line with Sharia law than the United States Constitution. Her remarks drew a rare rebuke from the channel, who cancelled her show a week later and reran a documentary in its place.
  • Conservative writer Denise McCallister was fired by both The Federalist and The Daily Wire in March 2019 after she went on a highly homophobic Twitter rant against New York Magazine journalist Yashar Ali that earned her condemnation from both sides of the aisle.

Example of: