Charlie LeDuff doesn’t want us to feel lukewarm about him.
With intense delivery and dramatic style, the Fox2 reporter reaches for high notes that engage or enrage. Either way, it’s hot TV.
So it’s hardly a shock that a who-surprised? tone crops up in some coverage of his police citation Sunday during a St. Pat’s parade visit gone wild. Cops wrote up an aggravated assault complaint after a 54-year-old security worker at a private tent party said LeDuff bit his finger during a scuffle. The newsman wasn’t working.
He describes his TV reporting as “off the chain:” and now there are allegations that Fox 2 reporter Charlie LeDuff was off the chain in his personal life.
The incident even gets a five-sentence, 19- second mention on his station, WJBK.
Amusing photo choice
Downtown dailies do some winking as well.
A file photo of LeDuff leaving a portable outdoor toilet accompanies an article at The News, where he worked before Fox2. The Freep‘s lead paragraph describes him as being “known for bizarre on-air stunts.”
The story also gets seven paragraphs in a widely read journalism blog, JimRomenesko.com.
Predictably, the wacky development has Detroit journalists abuzz about one of their most flamboyant front men. A few social media posts raise eyebrows.
“Sometimes our seeming delight in the exposure of other people’s bad behavior is bizarre and ”off the chain,’ ” local photographer Susan Tusa, a former Freep staffer, posts Wednesday morning on Facebook.
“It’s worth noting Charlie’s struggles in the past,” suggests another Freep veteran, Detroit blogger Steve Neavling. “Do we make fun of the consequence of his struggles?”
Freep writer’s tease
The most glaring example, cited by Neavling atop a 50-comment thread on his Facebook page, comes from Matt Helms — a city hall reporter whose byline is on Free Press coverage Tuesday evening and Wednesday.
After filing his first report, he commented about the case on his personal social media pages, which mention his Freep job in bio blurbs.
On Twitter and Facebook, Helms linked to a 2008 viral video of a baby biting his brother’s finger, titled “Charlie Bite Me.” He tagged LeDuff In both posts so he’d see them, and commented with each (“OMFG! Hilarious!” on Twitter and “News at 10! LOL!” on Facebook.)
Helms’ posts were removed Wednesday afternoon after I requested a comment from Paul Anger, editor and publisher, who didn’t respond.
For his part, Helms defended his jesting before deleting the Facebook thread. “It’s Charlie LeDuff. He’s made a career of personal spectacle,” he posted Tuesday night when I questioned his action.
Local social media discussions about this involve what’s in and out of bounds — and whether a grandstanding reporter such as LeDuff should be treated differently than . . . oh, let’s say Neal Rubin to pick a universally admired mensch.
Here’s a sampling of what journalists and viewers say:
- Helms was just having some fun with it. – Ben Schmitt, marketing specialist and ex-Freep reporter
- What was unusual to me is what Helms posted on Facebook. Someone else at the Free Press got suspended for that very thing. – Steve Neavling, Detroit blogger and ex-Freep reporter
- When you put yourself out there like Charlie does, you set yourself up for this kind of attention. Deadline Detroit could do a series on “reporters behaving badly.” – Randi Goldberg, public relations executive and former AP Detroit news editor
- If this had been a city official behaving badly and Charlie LeDuff was reporting the story, I wonder how would he have handled it? – Jim Bianchi, Troy PR agency president
- It’s haters trying to rain on his parade. The media establishment in Detroit is brutal. – Demeeko Ashawn Williams of Detroit
- You go around talking about the irresponsibility of everyone in the city and act irresponsibly and go around spitting and biting people, yeah, you’re going to get a little bit of media bias against you. – Craig Hennigan, grad teaching assistant at WSU
- LeDuff is a public figure. All public figures are held to higher standards than John Q. Public and for good reasons. LeDuff’s actions are absolutely news. . . . LeDuff is being held to the same standards he holds others to. — Blake Arnold, Grosse Pointe Woods business owner
- What Charlie did in and of itself isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But when you’re the self-proclaimed face of holding people in Detroit to higher standards, you can’t do something like this and be taken seriously. — Brian Powers, Realtor in Chesterfield Township