Tuesday, December 4, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Montel's Bomb Blows Up in Blogs!

So far, at least four blogs in the Pharma Blogosphere -- Pharma Marketing Blog, Pharmalot, eDrugSearch Blog, and WSJ Health Blog -- have posted comments about Montel Williams threat to "blow up" a Savannah Morning News high school intern reporter (see the story here, here, here, and here).
Even PhRMA Intern has gotten into the act (see "PhRMA Intern v. Montel: HS Intern is Saved, But...").

Survey Says
Only one blogger -- me, John Mack -- has called for PhRMA to fire Montel.

If unscientific polls on Pharma Marketing Blog and Pharmalot are any indication, the vast majority of our readers agree that Montel should go.

Ed Silverman over at Pharmalot just asked his readers to respond 'yes' or 'no.' So far, 74% voted Yes. Here's my poll, which so far shows 88% favor firing Montel:

Should PhRMA Fire Montel?
Yes, because I support zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.
Yes, because he's now a PR liability.
No, because he has apologized.
No, because it's no big deal.
Not sure.

This morning the following editorial appeared in the Savannah Morning News:
Montel Williams, the Bully

Montel Williams was a decorated Navy officer, but he was no gentlemen when he threatened a 17-year-old high school student and Savannah Morning News intern.

TELEVISION PERSONALITY Montel Williams apologized Saturday, and rightly so, for threatening a 17-year-old high school student who had asked him a fair question Friday while she was covering an assignment as a Savannah Morning News intern.

Of course, if Mr. Williams was genuinely contrite about his shameful behavior, he wouldn't have issued an apology Saturday through a spokeswoman for his TV talk show. Instead, he would have apologized personally.

Or sent flowers and a card. That's what a real gentleman would have done.

Intern Courtney Scott, a senior at Jenkins High School, was assigned to cover Mr. Williams, who was in town promoting free prescriptions for poor people. It should have been a tame story. Instead, Mr. Williams got angry when Ms. Scott asked him a question he didn't like. He stormed away.

Then later, when Ms. Scott was at the Westin hotel doing a feature about gingerbread houses, Mr. Williams and his bodyguard walked up to the young student and angrily confronted her.

According to Ms. Scott and two witnesses, Mr. Williams threatened to find and "blow up" the residences of the intern and two reporters with her.

Ms. Scott filed a police report late Saturday, but not because a celebrity acted like a jerk. No one, whether a "big star," as Mr. Williams claimed to be, or a no-name street person, has a right to threaten bodily harm on another.

What's sad is that Ms. Scott was looking forward to interviewing Mr. Williams. Her mother and grandmother are fans and watch his show. Her Navy Junior ROTC commander at Jenkins (Ms. Scott is in J-ROTC) told her he was at the U.S. Naval Academy during the same time as Mr. Williams.

Montel Williams left the Navy as a decorated officer. But he apparently left the gentleman part behind, too. Still, student-intern Scott learned a valuable lesson - how to deal with a bully.

She passed that test, with flying colors.
Those southerners! Send flowers like a real gentleman? Get real!

However, I agree that "No one, whether a "big star," as Mr. Williams claimed to be, or a no-name street person, has a right to threaten bodily harm on another."

At the moment, the spinmeisters are attempting to dismiss the incident by redefining what Montel meant by "blow up." Maybe, some say, he merely meant he would blow up her career. Terra Sigillata asks "Montel Williams' blow-up: a symptom of multiple sclerosis or bad judgment?"

A commenter suggested that the young intern should not have even filed a police report:
"...and a police report? grow up.. if you need a police report over someone's words, you're never gonna make it in society."
That reminds me of a story that many parents out there can relate to.

When my son was ten years old, we got him a cell phone. These days that's what parents do to help keep in touch with their kids and keep them safe.

Well, he and his friends made some prank calls of the "Is your refrigerator running?" variety. But they called another "Mack" family listed in the phone book and left a recording on the answering machine in a squeaky, little boy voice: "We are the dominant Macks!"

Long story, shortened: The other "Macks" were so frightened that they not only called the cops and gave them the recording plus my son's cell phone number, they also moved out of their house and took up residence at a local hotel. The cops even paid us a visit!

If that's how grown up people react to a prank call, then I think it's perfectly reasonable for a high school student to take Montel's threat seriously and report it to the police.

The question is: Will the police interrogate Montel like my town's police interrogated my son? or will the charges be dropped?

As I mentioned in my blog, the threat that Montel made was a terrorist threat that, if made by a high school student in the classroom, would instantly cause that student to be expelled or worse!

If PhRMA stands behind "bully" celebrities who think they are above the law or who do not know how to behave in front of children, then I think pharmaceutical employees -- and I mean some of the people reading this -- should encourage their companies to force PhRMA to fire Montel.


Lisa Emrich said...

Hey...you missed one.

Excerpt from my own blog early yesterday:

Montel Williams has multiple sclerosis, as do I, and has been the visible image of PPArx since . Now I've got my own opinions as to the quality of assistance which Billy Tauzin and his Orange Bus purport to provide needy individuals. [see PhRMA and PPArx: How much are they really helping patients in need?]

Previously, I've given Williams the benefit of the doubt regarding the use of his image to promote a glossed-over PR concoction. I have no doubt wondered as to the level of compensation the Big Pharma lobby may be providing him, but I've let it go.

Is Montel Williams Disturbed by Big Pharma?

Also, as someone with MS, I understand the type of pain (as Ken Johnson eluded to) which can become so distracting as to limit one's emotional control. But this is not the same as 'pseudobulbar affect' which is characterized by inappropriate emotional outbursts, ie. laughing uncontrollably at something sad.

In my opinion, Montel's behavior was inexcusable and should not be blamed on MS. In no way should he have jumped to the conclusion that Ms. Scott had ulterior motives. His behavior was simply inappropriate in normal circumstances, much less as the representative of a program which supposedly helps patients in need.

PharmaGuy said...

Sorry, Lisa.