Chicago news anchor Robin Robinson probably should expect to find some coal in her stocking this year. At least that’s the consensus of most of the folks who learn about her recent on-air gaffe.
Last week, the local Fox affiliate for which she works aired a story during its 9 p.m. newscast about a trend this year among shopping-mall Santas to sensitively size up the economic status of the parents of children visiting them, and respond appropriately to what they perceive to be unrealistic expectations about the Christmas gifts for which they are asked.
Sometimes they look to Mom or Dad’s head-shaking messages; other times, they’re hazarding a guess that an iPad is out of reach for many parents.
Footage for the package included a few store Santas explaining their strategies and expounding on their self-proclaimed duty to set reasonable expectations about Christmas. It was a charming piece that reminds you how endearing those shopping-mall Santas can be.
After the story, which ran near the end of the hourlong newscast, Ms. Robinson weighed in with her opinion, as news anchors often do to wrap up segments. Turning to co-anchor Bob Sirott, Ms. Robinson said, “Stop trying to convince your kids that Santa is Santa. That’s why they have these high expectations. They know you can’t afford it, so what do they do? Just ask some man in a red suit. There is no Santa.”
Well, ho ho ho.
Within minutes, comments flooded the Facebook fan page for myFoxChicago.com. Calls and emails also came in fast and furious to the station, most accusing Ms. Robinson of first-degree Grinchiness.
Those who took issue with the newswoman felt she should have been more concerned about preserving the innocence of the children who might be in the viewing audience. Comparatively few pointed out that children who believe in Santa ought not be watching the 9 p.m. news in the first place. Go figure.
The next night, Ms. Robinson took to the airwaves to apologize, saying she should have used the station’s customary warning that the next story to be aired might not be suitable for young children. She also said she was wrong to say aloud that there isn’t any … well … you know.
People who criticized Ms. Robinson were appropriately concerned about preserving childhood innocence, a major issue in a culture where childhood seems to last until about age 7. After that, you get skinny jeans, a Facebook page and a cellphone, and it’s off to the races.
But are parents really concerned about protecting innocence?