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Category: Sports

Ross Shimabuku, Danica Patrick and the “B” Word

| February 28, 2012

Last Tuesday tipster Sara Libby sent a notice to the Women’s Media Center via our “Report It” button, that Fox 5 San Diego local sports anchor Ross Shimabuku had an amazingly sexist rant against Danica Patrick, calling her “a word that starts with ‘b’, and it’s not ‘beautiful.’”

You can watch the now-famous clip here.

Libby, who just happened to be on vacation in San Diego and caught the local news, was amazed by moment.

“My jaw hit the floor when I heard this,” she told the Women’s Media Center. “It was just a surreal moment - not only was what he said in itself offensive, but the fact that he was reacting to her pointing out sexist treatment added insult to injury. It went from a segment meant to draw awareness to sexism in the media to one exemplifying it at its worst.”

Libby’s detailed report to the Women’s Media Center – what was said, when it aired, and on what program/channel -- helped us track down the clip, which hadn’t been available online. On Friday we posted a petition to the station to publicly reprimand Shimabuku and offer an apology.

The media took notice. Over the weekend views and reposts of the video took off. A few thought we were letting Shimabuku off lightly, citing the incident of an ESPN editor being fired over a racist headline.

Via Twitter, the station let us know that Shimabuku had offered an apology (the clip suddenly appearing online). Shimabuku says:

I got a lot of emails regarding some comments I made about NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and I truly apologize if I offended anyone by those comments. Not meant to be attack on Danica, I worked with her before in Phoenix. I think she’s great for the sport but more people will be willing to watch her because she’s in the sport. I hope she does great this weekend, honestly.

Since the station did offer an on-air apology (which we had requested) as a show of good faith we closed our petition. Viewers can judge for themselves whether they think his apology is adequate. (Also compare and constrast Shimabuku's apology with the editor at ESPN). 

We’re glad Shimabuku offered an apology, but we’re also glad at the wider attention which we brought the incident. The reaction to our clip should show broadcasters (sports or otherwise) that sexism is not to be tolerated.

Spot sexism on your local news or cable programming? Let the Women’s Media Center know about it via our “Report It” button.

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