TV Stations, Raptors Hung Bernier

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Dec. 10) — I wasn’t on hand when Jonathan Bernier mistook Nelson Mandela for a professional athlete last Friday night. But, enough accredited “journalists” apparently did surround Bernier for at least one of them to speak up and correct the Toronto Maple Leafs goalie.

For the record, here’s what Bernier said:

“Well obviously [Mandela has been], uh, a tremendous, uh, athlete and you know obviously what, uh, he means to all the sports . . . when you know the world can, uh, be changed by the sports, it’s pretty amazing. And I think he’s definitely, uh, got a lot of respect in every sports and, uh, he’s definitely one of the athletes I watched growing up as well.”

This was an egregious, yet clearly unintentional mistake.

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JONATHAN BERNIER AT NELSON MANDELA TRIBUTE LAST FRIDAY. RICK MADONIK TORONTO STAR 

Given that Bernier was so far off the mark in his comments about the late South African anti–apartheid leader, it would have been uncomfortable to steer him in the proper direction. But, any reporter with a shred of credibility and compassion could easily have done so and spared Bernier the ignominy of his recorded gaffe. In this regard, I can only speak for myself. Had I been part of the red carpet media scrum before Friday’s Toronto–Cleveland NBA game, I most certainly would have stepped in; halted Bernier in mid–reply and gently reminded him about Mandela. Why another person would allow him to erroneously blather on — unless that person was similarly ignorant — is beyond any journalistic tenet I’ve coveted through the years.

And, the blockhead that posted Bernier’s remarks on the Toronto Raptors website should have been fired on the spot… or, more than likely, not been hired. In this era of young, cheap employment, companies run the risk of inexperienced personnel making important decisions. If this decision was made by an experienced worker, then double–shame on the Raptors. There is no excuse for burying a public figure — deliberately or accidentally. This wasn’t a political campaign. It was a glaring slip–up by a local athlete that has uniformly cooperated with the media since arriving in town prior to last hockey season. Any true professional would have interrupted Bernier and steered him in the proper direction. It would have then been up to the Maple Leafs goalie to determine whether he could speak intellectually about Mandela.

This was an entirely avoidable screw–up.

Sadly, it involved a host of unqualified people.

FROM L–A–X TO Y–Y–Z

Having sent a photo–blog (here: http://bit.ly/1316S6z) from my trip to Los Angeles and Santa Monica Beach this week, it only follows that I conclude with images from the journey home on Tuesday.

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FROM THE SANTA MONICA FREEWAY (I–10) TO THE SAN DIEGO FREEWAY (405) AND LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, 15 MILES SOUTH.

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ETIHAD AIRLINES FLIGHT 171, SECONDS BEFORE LANDING AT L-A-X. THE BOEING-777 HAD FLOWN FOR 16½ HOURS FROM ABU DHABI IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.

LOGOS OF L–A–X

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FAMED HOLLYWOOD SIGN IN THE DISTANCE ? OVER TOP SINGAPORE AIRLINES AIRBUS-380. AND DOUBLE–DECK JETLINER ? ON TAKE–OFF ROLL DOWN RUNWAY 24–L.

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ALWAYS A COMFORT TO KNOW YOUR RIDE HAS LANDED. THIS AIR CANADA AIRBUS–320 ARRIVED LATE FROM TORONTO; THEN FLEW US HOME IN FOUR HOURS AND 22 MINUTES.

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TAKING OFF OVER PLAYA del REY AND PACIFIC OCEAN AT 3:50 P.M. PST — 90 MINUTES LATE.

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AFTER CLIMBING TO 4,000 FEET, THE AIR CANADA JET TURNS LEFT OVER THE OCEAN TO HEAD EAST DIRECTLY OVER THE RUNWAYS OF L–A–X.

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LOOKING AT THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS, NINE MINUTES AFTER DEPARTURE.

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THE ROSE BOWL IN PASADENA (TOP–LEFT); COMMUNICATIONS ANTENNAE AND ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY ATOP MOUNT WILSON (RIGHT) — 5,710 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL IN THE SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS THAT FRAME LOS ANGELES TO THE EAST.

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THE SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS ARE OFTEN SNOW–CAPPED AT THIS TIME OF YEAR.

DESERT RED

Just more than 12 minutes after leaving Los Angeles International Airport — on the east side of the San Gabriel Mountains — we fly over the Mojave Desert. With the sun angle low to the horizon nearing winter, the desert hills are several shades of rust.

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SIN CITY

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A LITTLE MORE THAN HALF–AN–HOUR INTO THE FLIGHT AND THE LAS VEGAS STRIP COMES INTO VIEW ? OFF THE PORT SIDE OF THE AIRCRAFT FROM 35,000 FEET.

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TWIN–TOWERS OF THE WYNN LAS VEGAS RESORT (TOP–LEFT) AND THE 1,149–FOOT STRATOSPHERE TOWER (RIGHT) AT NORTHERN EDGE OF THE STRIP.

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SOARING EASTWARD IN DECEMBER MAKES FOR A QUICK TRANSITION FROM DAY TO NIGHT. REDDISH GLOW FROM SETTING SUN ON BACK OF THE PORT–SIDE ENGINE.

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AFTER LANDING AT 11:12 P.M. EST, A CAMERA EFFECT IN MY NIKON CAPTURES TAXI–WAY LIGHTS AND SHERATON HOTEL IN TERMINAL 3 OF PEARSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

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2 comments on “TV Stations, Raptors Hung Bernier

  1. If Bernier was attending on behalf of the Leafs, it was incumbent on the Leafs’ PR staff to ensure he was briefed on the event’s significance and a little better prepared. Looks like someone in the Leafs organization may have dropped the ball.

  2. Great succinct article Howard. Athletes are the bread and butter of any sports journalist. Burying them probably isn’t the best approach, even when they have moments like Bernier did in this instance.

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