“Who Can’t Speak as Coherently as” Dr. Phylis? If viral phenom Zach Anner wins Oprah’s contest to be an OWN host, his John Mayer theme song may well be “Courtney, Your Brain is a Wonderland.” During a Fox & Friends Weekend entertainment segment Sunday with co-anchor Clayton Morris on the rumors that Oprah might be rigging the vote in favor of a rival because of Anner’s cerebral palsy, FNC entertainment correspondent Courtney Friel seemed to defend Oprah, if guilty.
In her story, Courtney, reported that Oprah had created a competition in which online voters choose someone to star in a show for Oprah’s new network OWN. She explained that the two main competitors were Zach Anner and Dr. Phyllis Tucker-Wicks and that Tucker-Wicks’ votes had spiked after Anner was endorsed by singer John Mayer. Further, she stated that an Internet site had indicated that the “vote button” code had been altered that “could have allowed an Oprah employee to manipulate the votes ’cause, maybe, they wanted Dr. Phyllis to win instead.” Elaborating, she continued, “And, then, everyone was like, ‘Oh, is Oprah, is she discriminating against this handicapped person?'”
In response, Clayton queried, “What are Oprah’s people saying about this?” Courtney replied, “The language in it all is kind of confusing: they’re [that is, the entrants are] not sure if the producer is going to be picking or if it’s going to be the final votes.” Without an apparent grasp of the gravity of discrimination against the physically challenged, she matter-of-factly added, “It’s confusing. And, that’s the big question like, ‘Do you want to give the TV show to someone who can’t speak as coherently as? I don’t know. That’s the big question out there.”
To make matters worse, Clayton seemed similarly insensitive to the issue at hand. In response to Courtney, he opined, “Right, because at the bottom line, somebody could rig the vote. Right? I mean we see this in elections all the time. We saw what happened in South Carolina. Somebody could say, ‘You know what? We want Mickey Mouse to have their own television show….So, maybe, you do need some filter at the end.” Courtney concurred, “Yeah.”
No, Courtney and Clayton. Discrimination against the disabled is a serious matter that should be addressed forthrightly. To compare a vote for “this handicapped person” Anner who “can’t speak as coherently [sic] as” Dr. Phyllis to a vote for Mickey Mouse is simply unacceptable. Even if done in blithe ignorance.