When reporters become the headline

Anchor19n-1-webCBS-TV news anchor, Rob Morrison, was arrested this past Sunday for allegedly choking his wife, Ashley Morrison, a CBS MoneyWatch reporter. Mr. Morrison was charged with strangulation, threatening and disorderly conduct. 

This is very bad news for Mr. and Ms. Morrison, both personally and professionally.

I can't speak for the personal side, but I can assure you that Mr. Morrison has just as surely put a stranglehold on his once promising career as he allegedly did to his spouse's neck. And, I'll bet that Mrs. Morrison will be forever identified as 'the former broadcaster and domestic violence victim.'

CBS has already washed its hands of both husband and wife, refusing to comment “…because this is a personal matter.”

Reporters are hired to cover the news, not to create it. And, in a similar vein, public relations professionals are hired to represent their client's or company's product or service.

When the spotlight is shined on either reporters or publicists, it typically inflicts a major blow to the individual involved. In our field, some of the more high-profile examples have included:

– A Ketchum PR team member who Tweeted derogatory remarks about Memphis during a FedEx all-hands meeting in, you guessed it, Memphis.
– A GCI (now part of Cohn & Wolfe) intern publicly attacking blogger Jeff Jarvis and his less-than-positive review of a GCI client's product.
– Edelman's less-than-transparent work on behalf of Wal-Mart.

All three incidents did a number on the individual's career and elicited a public apology from the PR firm.

The Morrison family is in full crisis management mode as we speak. The strangling spouses issued a statement through their lawyer, calling the charges “…grossly exaggerated.” Yeah, sure. Check out this quote from the local Darien, Connecticut, police department: “…Morrison had become increasingly belligerent toward his wife during the course of the evening, culminating in his choking her by the neck with both hands.” The cops also observed 'red marks' on Ms. Morrison's neck that were “consistent with being choked.”

Don't be surprised if the battling Morrisons find themselves black listed from future gigs in journalism. That said, they'd be eminently qualified to open a crisis management firm that specializes in domestic violence cases.

20 thoughts on “When reporters become the headline

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  11. He said, ““My family is my first and only priority right now, and I have informed CBS2 management that I need to put all of my time and energy into making sure that I do what’s best for my wife and my son.” Why do they all say the same thing AFTER the fact. Their family isn’t their first priority when they are beating up Mommy or driving drunk.

  12. Can’t argue with your strategy, Lia. But, I don’t think CBS will take the risk of putting him back on the air again in this market. Rochester, maybe. Manhattan, no way, Jose.

  13. Very interesting. You may recall that another NYC news anchor, Greg Kelly of NBC, recently bounced back from a rape accusation with nary a mark on his record. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in comparison considering that when Kelly returned to mornings, the papers didn’t even mention the reason he was taken off to begin with. If Morrison takes a page from the Kelly playbook, it would be say nothing, lay low, and wait a few months for the news’ memory to erase itself. It always seems to. Unless you do yourself no favors. (See Chris Brown.)