WCCO-TV’s Mike Binkley seemed determined to control Wednesday’s announcement of his Dec. 6 retirement from broadcasting.
Binkley’s considered a nice guy, but he made a departing meteorological colleague look like a ditz over the weekend when she let the cat out of the bag.
Twitter’s @BobbieAnderson1 tweeted to me Saturday: “On tonight’s WCCO news Lauren Casey said this is last year for Mike Binkley at the State Fair. You know why?”
I asked Anderson if she was sure Casey said “Mike” and not “my,” since Casey is headed to Philly. She’s the first WCCO on-air talent plucked by former ’CCO GM Brien Kennedy, who is now running a couple of stations in Pennsylvania.
I thought of calling Binkley to follow up until Anderson tweeted this: “Mike Binkley sent me a tweet back and said ‘Lauren misspoke’ and ‘nothing to announce.’ ”
After Binkley announced his retirement on Facebook Wednesday, I asked the Emmy-winning NEWSMAN why he misled a viewer. “What I said was not false,” Binkley told me, adding a laugh. “It was true at that moment I had nothing to announce on Saturday night.”
Binkley sounded politician-slick and didn’t seem the least bit chagrined that he made Casey look stupid. “I decided to make the announcement today. It was time to do it; it’s my last State Fair. I didn’t want anybody to be surprised. I didn’t want anybody in December saying, Where did he go? I’ve been telling my co-workers, kind of quietly for the last couple of months. I wanted to wait a little closer to the actual time. We had a little extra time to fill on Saturday and I was talking about all the years I’ve been covering the fair and Lauren didn’t know where I was going with it and she [blurted out], Aw, it’s your last fair! It was just one of those classic live TV moments.”
If you’re announcing a goodbye three months out, I don’t understand what difference four days make at the expense of a colleague’s credibility.
“I wanted to make sure that everybody knows this is my decision,” said Binkley, who said those last four words one time too many for suspicious me.
Binkley, retiring after 34 years on TV and not even 60, will remain in the metro with his wife. “She is a public speaker and a speech coach and younger than I am. She’s going to continue to work. I probably will help out with her business,” he said. “I know I’ll stay busy. I’ll do some volunteer work. I’m kind of an amateur photographer. I want to do something creative, so I’ll take on some writing projects.”
I’d better check with Angela Davis, Binkley’s TV wife during his tenure at KSTP and WCCO, to find out if she has anything to announce before Casey misspeaks.
Harris v. Hasbro in re: hamster
Hasbro has been selling a toy rodent by the name of Harris Faulkner and the Fox News Channel broadcaster of the same name is not amused.
Faulkner, co-anchor of “Outnumbered” — not the “Littlest Pet Shop” hamster doll introduced in 2014 — has sued the toymaker, whose product has annoyed the broadcaster on several levels: “According to the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll’s own packing, the doll is a ‘CHOKING HAZARD’ that is not suitable for young children. Faulkner is extremely distressed that her name has been wrongly associated with a plastic toy that is a known choking hazard that risks harming small children. Further, Hasbro’s portrayal of Faulkner as a rodent is demeaning and insulting. Finally, since Faulkner does not, and as a journalist cannot, endorse commercial products, Hasbro’s use of her name in association with the doll creates the false impression that Faulkner would impugn her own professional ethics by agreeing to have a commercial product named after her.”
Given Faulkner’s distinctively beautiful eyes, I don’t know how she could be insulted by certain aspects of the doll which “bears a physical resemblance to Faulkner’s traditional professional appearance, in particular tone of its complexion, the shape of its eyes and the design of its eye makeup.”
No response to my Twitter question whether she might not have sued for $5 million if the doll hadn’t been a rodent.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.