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Ryan Bakken, Forum News Service, Published April 28 2013

Ryan Bakken: Blue words a golden ticket

GRAND FORKS - Once upon a time, obnoxious behavior was punished.

These days, it’s rewarded.

The latest example of this cultural U-turn is A.J. Clemente. You likely have heard of him. If you haven’t, he was the news anchor who received acclaim — not scorn — for his two-word, on-air faux pas that rhymes with “ducking fit.”

He managed to accomplish this feat — which got him fired — in the first few seconds of his job on KFYR-TV in Bismarck. That’s likely a world record for shortest employment, to say nothing about a record for premature oration.

The episode happened at KFYR-TV in Bismarck, so North Dakotans were amusingly interested. But it didn’t take even 24 hours for A.J. to become a national pop culture icon, rising almost to Marilyn Hagerty status. But Marilyn received her fame honestly, without needing to characterize her breadsticks as “ducking fit.”

Anyway, A.J. made the talk show circuit, visiting with such media celebs as Matt Lauer and David Letterman.

As people who also work on television, they sympathized with his error, offering a slew of excuses. Even Letterman, my comedic hero because of his sarcastic, edgy monologues, treated him like a war hero. A.J. was receptive to the pity parties.

Maybe I’m underestimating A.J. Maybe he knew his words would pave his road to glory. The best way — and quickest way — to receive attention these days is do something incredibly stupid, especially by bringing pain upon yourself, and then post it on YouTube. No accomplishment, no skill, no creativity is required; just a few seconds of shock-and-awe will do.

Maybe A.J. hoodwinked Matt, David and the rest. If so, I salute him.

Many of us occasionally use rhymes of “ducking” and “fit.” But most people are discriminating about the environment for those words.

Almost as disgraceful as Dave and Matt’s fawning was A.J. using his face time to lobby for a sportscaster’s job on ESPN.

If he and his potty mouth do land a job there, I hope ESPN is smart enough not to assign him to do the play-by-play of an Anaheim Ducks game.