Sinclair To Reporter: There's No 'I'm Undergoing Cancer Treatment' In 'Team'
In May of this year, 22-year-old reporter Alex George and two anchors on Chattanooga TV station WTVC went briefly off-script to explain that Ms. George would be absent from the broadcast for a while because she would be on medical leave after being diagnosed with cancer. She said she would be heading home to stay with her parents and kick cancer's butt, and would return once she did, and then the anchors teared up a little while talking about how everyone at WTVC had her back. It was very sweet.
As the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports, the community rallied around George while she underwent treatment for the nasty primitive neuroectodermal tumor, a rare bone cancer that mostly affects children and young adults. Two friends from the station even made the long drive to visit her, and Chattanooga poured out its love, because plucky TV reporters have fans:
Community members back home raised thousands of dollars and took part in a run in her honor. The Chattanooga community voted her as Best Columnist/Reporter in the annual Times Free Press Best of the Best awards in September. She was surprised but thrilled. [WTVC colleages Brittany] Martin and [Kayla] Strayer accepted the award on her behalf, excitedly sending her photos and encouraging messages throughout the night. She had been having one of her worst days in the midst of what she called a "chemo-induced haze."
The NewsChannel 9 official Twitter account offered its own message of support: "Alex, we are so proud of you, and wish you the very best as you continue to show cancer who's boss!"
Even better, George was making good progress against the weirdass cancer, which had been difficult to diagnose (she was misdiagnosed three times) and could have killed her had she not gone to a doctor who had seen the same cancer almost 20 years before when he was a resident. The chemo is extremely hard on her, but she was declared tumor free on September 12; the treatment has to continue for some time longer to prevent a recurrence. Let's all take a moment for our refrain, cancer sucks.
And speaking of things that suck, in late November, while George was still under treatment, she got a call from management at WTVC, and they lowered the boom, because at the moment she's living the middle act of the Hallmark Christmas Movie with no guarantee of a happy ending:
They informed her Sinclair Broadcast Group was terminating her contract about six months early. She had been receiving disability payments while getting treatment. That immediately stopped. She no longer had a job, she was told. A company spokesperson later told the Times Free Press that Sinclair would consider exploring "possible roles for her" in the future if she wants to return.
"Shocked is a fair word," George said. "I definitely wasn't expecting it. I thought the call was just going to be a check-up. I was disappointed, shocked, hurt ...
"I was looking forward to going back, but they made a different decision," she said. "I'm disappointed but have to focus on getting better."
But don't worry! There's probably a very good reason Sinclair decided to shitcan a popular reporter who had become something of a local hero while she successfully fought cancer! Except you certainly won't hear that reason discussed by Sinclair, as Broadcasting and Cable learned from the rightwing local-news behemoth:
A Sinclair spokesperson said the company does not comment on personnel matters, and added that "Sinclair not only provides leave and other accommodations as required by law, but also routinely provides additional time off and other benefits above and beyond what is legally required. In addition, Sinclair's long-term disability benefits are provided at no cost to our employees, which allow qualified individuals to continue to receive up to 66% of their salary during their period of disability."
Maybe Boris Epshteyn will do one of those "must-run" editorial segments explaining why the sick and infirm are lucky we don't just leave them to die, as nature intended. Not that any such segment would necessarily reflect the views of Sinclair Broadcast Group. The Times Free Press got its own version of the very same communiqué, noting it came from "a New York-based public relations firm representing Sinclair." It offered a happy dose of the great conservative values that mean so much to Sinclair management:
Sinclair and the WTVC family will continue to pray for Alex's recovery, and we wish her and her family the best [...] While these situations are never easy, we believe that our long term disability policy is extremely competitive and reflects our concern for our employees who become ill or suffer from other issues.
Thoughts and prayers, sure, but sorry, we've run out of patience, so good luck, we're cutting you off, taker! We did something more than the absolute minimum required by law, so don't go complaining. Besides, Donald Trump has made it possible for you to mutter "Merry Christmas" under your breath, at least when you're strong enough.
And in fact, Ms George hasn't complained. She posted a brief announcement on Twitter saying she wouldn't be returning to WTVC (saying only it "was not my decision") and thanking people in Chattanooga for all their support and prayers. After a lot of people asked why, she eventually clarified that, yeah, the decision had been made by Sinclair.
The getting mad and complaining part has all been taken care of by decent people who've heard about Sinclair's shitty decision, which we're sure will include plenty of employers who'll be happy to prove quite emphatically they are not Sinclair Broadcast Group, once George is able to work again. In the meantime, WTVC has quietly removed George's profile from the station's website; for now, the video of her farewell is still online, but the station appears not to have covered the firing at all.
It would appear the greedheads at Sinclair have managed to drive another good person away as well; a week after George was shitcanned, WTVC general manager Mike Costa announced he was resigning after 14 years in the job. Then again, he didn't give any reason for his resignation, so maybe that was a complete coincidence.
In conclusion, Sinclair sucks, and if there are any decent billionaires out there who'd like to endow a nonprofit to buy up a bunch of Sinclair stations and grant them their freedom, that would be pretty neat. Maybe partner with ProPublica, since they really seem to piss off rightwing politicians in the region?
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.