The Times got to the bottom of WNBC anchor Sue Simmons' on-air cuss out Monday night and discovered the whole incident can basically blamed on Simmons' co-anchor Chuck Scarborough for not paying enough "fucking" attention. During the live promo, Simmons read her tease for a grocery store story, but then when the video changed to something else, Scarborough was screwing around on the computer instead of doing his own voice over, and Simmons, not knowing she was live on the air, unleashed her now-infamous line, "what the fuck are you doing?" Of course, Simmons' meltdown was just maybe exacerbated by what the Post described as her habit of drinking a few cocktails between shows:
She's been here and she's had drinks with her dinner," a Jean Georges employee said. "She's had a cocktail or two, yes, between shows, with dinner."
The Times rounded up some New Yorkers shaken to their cores by the incident:
... said Omar Villaneuva, a doorman at 27 West 72nd Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue... "when you're a news reporter, you're supposed to report the news. You're not there to swear."
Peter King, who works in an architectural office on the Upper West Side, echoed Mr. Villaneuva's point. "It's overused, and we are crasser than we were for it," Mr. King said. "It's just another indication of standards declining. I mean, I curse like a sailor, but I know how to talk to my dad and talk to clients, versus how to talk to my friends."
Sarah Bassine, a filmmaker, said that Ms. Simmons was a role model... "Certainly, a newscaster should be able to express herself or himself better. People who are in the public eye have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a responsible manner."
Actually, between this cuss out, Bill O'Reilly's recently resurfaced Inside Edition tantrum and the million other on-air TV news meltdowns in recent (and not-so-recent) memory, on-air swearing (followed by not getting fired) has kind of become a sign that an on-air personality has finally arrived.