Trump supporters are very loyal and they enthusiastically celebrate each rally as a call to freedom. I think it is uplifting to see Americans wholeheartedly support President Trump and his policies. But it would seem it is very easy to run afoul of company policies when politics is involved.
That’s what happened to an unsuspecting reporter who worked for an NBC affiliate in Minnesota last Friday. Jim Bunner, a multimedia journalist with KTTC, is a staunch Trump supporter who even did a celebration video when Trump won the presidency. He wore a “Make America Great Again” hat while covering a Trump rally for the local TV station… and paid a devastating price for it.
The company claims they have a strict policy that prohibits employees from wearing politicized attire when covering events etc. I think this rule is pretty subjective and malleable depending on the leaning of the media outlet and the political climate currently in play.
Bunner was covering Trump’s political rally Thursday in Rochester, Minnesota, where he was spotted outside the Mayo Civic Center wearing a jacket with the station’s logo and a matching red MAGA hat. So, of course, Mark Vancleave, a video journalist for Minnesota’s Star Tribune, snapped a pic of Bunner in the iconic headgear. From there the cat was out of the bag.
Bunner was fired the next day and is not talking about the whole ordeal. In fact, on the day of President Trump’s inauguration, he uploaded a picture of himself dancing in a newsroom in apparent celebration. That has since been deleted from Facebook.
“He violated our policy so he’s no longer with us,” Noel Sederstrom, news director for KTTC, told BuzzFeed News. “We don’t allow our people to wear campaign clothing while on assignment.”
To be fair, it is standard policy in the news industry to enforce a dictum that prohibits the wearing of campaign clothing and pins while on the job. My point is that the rule seems flexible for the left and not so much for the right here.
— Mark Vancleave ?+? (@MDVancleave) October 4, 2018
And this doesn’t just apply to what employees wear either. Many news outlets admonish their staff about making public political displays or statements in order to maintain objectivity. That also applies to social media accounts where Bunner also posted his leanings.
He once added an NRA banner to his profile picture which should be protected speech but when you work for a media outlet you sign an agreement to avoid such displays of what can be perceived as bias. I doubt such strict interpretations of policy would have been applied to leftists here.
And in another post, he wrote, “You watch CNN to oogle Brooke, Kate, Erin, Brianna, Sunlen, and Poppy. Not for journalistic integrity.” Personally, I see nothing wrong with that statement and that should have no bearing on his job. It’s Bunning’s personal opinion. But with NBC any excuse will do. You walk a razor’s edge between keeping your job and exercising your First Amendment rights there.
Sederstrom claims that Bunner was let go because of his decision to wear the MAGA hat at the rally, not because of his political views expressed on Facebook and other places. “It’s not something we allow,” he said about the campaign gear. I bet if you dig a bit that is a flexible policy. NBC has never appeared to me to be a fan of President Trump by any means.
As Fox News put it, Bunner might need a new hat saying “Make Me Employed Again.” Pictures of Bunner wearing the MAGA hat trended on Twitter. He went viral which is what got him in hot water. I think firing him for this is over the top and biased in itself. They could have given him a warning and left it at that.
One of Bunner’s biggest sins here probably was that he was critical of CNN and loved President Trump. In the political climate we marinate in these days, if you have bosses who don’t share your views, it can cost you your job very easily. It isn’t fair but privately owned businesses can fire as they see fit. Bunner is staying quiet because getting another job probably depends on it.
Bunner had only been with the station since December 2017. He was probably still on a probationary basis and committed the cardinal sin of being on the wrong side of the political aisle. Such is the media business any more. It’s a hotbed of leftists and with the exception of Fox News, it’s not conservative-friendly in the least these days.