Can I Call Marty Griffin a Jagoff?

When was the last time you watched something so scary, cringe-worthy, or unbelievably tacky — in a movie, on TV, or in real life — you had to cover your eyes?

I haven’t answered a daily prompt in quite a bit of time, but this was low hanging fruit. Marty Griffen

The answer for me is the new KDKA feature “Get Marty” which features Marty Griffin shining up his image in a series of consumer assistance segments. Griffin is a combo shock-journalist/radio host in disguise as an investigative reporter. His reputation is pretty cruddy and you need only follow his Facebook feed to see why – it is filled with troll bait. He’s not particularly intellectual, sort of a poor man’s Rush Limbaugh with funkier hair.

“Get Marty” is so ridiculous that it pains me to sit through it. Each episode features ominous teasers alluding to great injustice in the world, followed by Marty LITERALLY cajoling the victim-beneficiary to state on camera that it took a call to Marty to get the job done. I literally mean literally. There’s nothing figurative about it.

Facts and reasonable intermediary steps are often left to the sidelines in between these elements. Yes, Marty uses his bully approach to journalism to advocate for people in need. And he usually gets somewhere as the media is likely to do.

What Marty doesn’t do – and the main reason I hate this segment –  is to look at the bigger picture. He did several episodes about seniors and disabled adults who were housebound because of access issues. Either their wheelchairs were broken or the need a stairlift or some such very real tangible issue that happens all over this region. But Marty never talks about that. He’s handed himself an actual story about accessibility, aging housing, senior citizens and housing regulations, a story he doesn’t seem to get. He chooses instead to focus on the glory moments, helping people one by one instead of using his considerable influence and resources to tackle systemic issues.

He could help hundreds or thousands if he pursued real consumer investigations. Instead, he accepts the handshakes and hearty thanks of a few dozen people whose sincere gratitude is palpable.

Tonight, for example, he helped a couple who could not get a key to their mailbox from the USPS. He didn’t mention anything about the landlord or the manager of the lot where they lived. He didn’t ask for any evidence to bolster their claims of having reported the situation months ago. He didn’t explain to the couple that they could call US Congressman Mike Doyle’s office and talk with his USPS liaison (I think his name is Jon) whose job it is to address exactly these matters.

Instead, he bulldozed into the post office as if the front desk staff could solve the problem and ended up getting kicked out of a federal office.

Did I mention that he reads the thank you letters on the air after the segment airs during the 6 PM broadcast? <eye roll> This is a man who has no problem referring to older women of color as “his girls.” That’s where he is at both emotionally and professionally.

The social worker in me is twitching just writing about it. Ledcat has banned me from using the terms “institutional oppression” or “systemic” when Marty is on the air so she can watch the news without my rants in the background. My only relief is when Jon Burnett is subbing as the weather man during this segment and takes a well-placed jab at Griffin. He’s no prince himself, but he does puncture egos wherever he goes that J.B. does.

Clearly, this segment is about redeeming Griffin’s reputation which could be better done by turning his talk show into something resembling critical commentary rather than hoopla. I think CBS Pittsburgh believes that they can make us love Marty to the point that he is on a first name basis with Pittsburgh – like Joe and Myron and Sally. They can’t. He’s not a good guy. He isn’t a particularly adept bad guy. He’s probably a great Dad and loves his wife and helps his neighbors and all that stuff that I don’t really care about in my media personalities. As long as he’s forcing people to sing the “Get Marty” theme song to resolve their problem, he’s basically still a jagoff.

A jagoff who gets results and ratings for his employer. Ratings that I can acknowledge a series of investigative reports on aging housing stock and accessibility won’t garner. The results? Well, that would depend on the skill of the reporter one supposes.

We are doomed to endure this forever or until his wife (Kristine Sorenson) gets promoted to a bigger market.


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