Emmy Award winning television journalist Sue Simmons erred the other night. This New York legend, co-anchor of two daily broadcasts on WNBC,was doing a voice over promo for a news story about rising food costs. Suddenly stock footage of a cruise ship appeared on the screen. Unaware either that the microphone was on, or that the promo was live, Simmons could be heard asking matter of factly – not hysterically by the way, as has been reported – “What the fuck are you doing?”

Now some are asking whether this gaffe will mean the end of Simmon’s 28 years career. If it does, it would be flat out ridiculous, a loss for New Yorkers, a loss for fine journalism, and a victory for hypocrisy. Sue Simmons has apologized for the gaffe. Fine. The fact is that we should celebrate an honest journalist who has done, and continues to do, superb reporting, and has the ability to make honest mistakes – and admit them.

Here’s a bit you may not know about Sue Simmons, aside from her four Emmys:

In addition to her anchoring roles, Simmons has hosted many of Channel 4’s special programs, including the recent hour-long special that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the New York City subway system, the TriBeCa Film Festival, coverage of the Puerto Rican Day parade and the New York City Marathon. She has also hosted the nationally syndicated program “Images: A Year in Review.

Shortly after her arrival at WNBC in 1980, Simmons became co-anchor of the original “Live At Five” newscast. She joined New York’s Channel 4 from WRC-TV, the NBC-owned station in Washington, D.C., where she had been a correspondent/anchor since 1976. Highlights of her reporting there include her coverage of the aftermath of the assassination of Chilean statesman Orlando Letelier and a series of stories on the status of special education in the public school system. She was the first correspondent to interview the Hanafi Muslims who seized several Washington buildings shortly after the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. While at WRC-TV, Simmons was one of the few reporters to interview Mrs. Walter Mondale while her husband was vice president. She also hosted two public affairs series, one of which was devoted to women’s issues.

Maybe it’s a good idea to give WNBC a call and let’ em know how you feel about Sue Simmons: 212 664-2731

-Elaine L.

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  • dfoi May 16, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Sorry ,wrong
    First thing you learn in the business is you never assume a microphone isn’t live.
    If she thought it was being taped,oh well. That teaser is always done live at that time period.
    “could be heard asking matter of factly – not hysterically by the way, as has been reported – “What the fuck are you doing?””
    listen to the audio,sounds a bit extreme to me.