Should Isaiah Washington Be Fired?

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Should Isaiah Washington Be Fired?
Should Isaiah Washington be fired from Grey's Anatomy for the gay slur he made in reference to T.R. Knight last fall?

The remark - which has come back to dominate entertainment news again after Washington's denial of the incident at Monday's Golden Globe Awards and T.R. Knight confirming to Ellen DeGeneres today that it did occur - is fueling intense debate among Grey's Anatomy fans and various organizations.

Some think that the issue has been dead for some time and should just be dropped, while others believe Washington should be let go. Count Michael Ausiello - the TV Guide sleuth who can always be counted on to find the latest dirt and tell you how he feels about it - among the latter.

Here's what he says on his blog, the Ausiello Report, responding to a reader inquiry as to whether he witnessed the Golden Globe implosion:

"I certainly was there, and I have the internal scars to prove it. It was by far the ugliest, most uncomfortable press-room moment I have ever experienced. And judging by the shell-shocked faces on the cast â€" particularly T.R. Knight and Patrick Dempsey, who have been class acts throughout this entire ordeal â€" it was a new low for them, too.

What's ironic about the whole thing is that in Washington's attempt to clear his name, he came off as an out-of-control homophobe who throws the f-word around like it's candy. He's also playing fast and loose with the truth. Did he call T.R. a fa***t to his face? No. Did he refer to him as one behind his back? Yes. T.R. says so himself on today's Ellen DeGeneres Show.

His continued employment on a show that wears its diversity as a badge of honor is the height of hypocrisy. If ABC wants to be remotely true to the principles Shonda Rhimes so eloquently espouses through the show, it has to do the right thing and fire Washington. Anything else at this point is simply unacceptable."

That's just the opinion of one TV critic. But the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is also demanding an apology.

The group's president, Neil Giuliano, said that the remark "does more than create a hostile environment for his castmates and the crew of Grey's Anatomy... It also feeds a climate of hatred and intolerance that contributes to putting our community in harm's way."

GLAAD has contacted Washington in hopes of setting up a meeting with the actor to raise public awareness about the destructive impact of comments such as this. No word yet on whether he or anyone associated with Grey's Anatomy have been reached or accepted the offer.

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


Well, Burke Backer, I agree with your comments. TR was not forced to come out. Yes, TR could have denied it, so this was a media thing. We've all said things in the heat of anger, and have had others say things about us in anger (well, at least that's happened to me) Maybe IW won't leave. I like his acting, so it doesn't matter to me if he leaves on his own or stays. It appears that IW saved his job by apologizing again and saying he'll seek help. Let's hope he does seek help. Yes, any of the primary characters would be difficult to replace and new characters would be needed, as is done on 'ER'. I think this is about it for me, no more need to post on this subject.




Hi again, Carol. Thanks for clarifying. I really don't think that Isaiah would leave on his own. He seems to be really happy to be on the show and playing this part from all that I have heard him say either in interview or in articles. In this past month's Ebony he is quoted as saying he is asked about being on Greys and also being the proud father of three young children and he said, "I'm happy as Hell." If the cast is unable to forgive him and move on I suppose that could change pretty quickly, but I truly hope that they can come to an understanding because regardles of what was said and the circumstances, I really do not believe Isaiah has disdain for any of his castmates or meant to offend TR. Other than this one incident and the aftermath culminating in the inappropriate question and response at the Golden Globes, even very private Sandra Oh has mentioned how much they all enjoy working together. I do agree with you though. If Isaiah were to leave the show either voluntarily or because he is asked to leave, no one else could play that role convincingly and it would be better to bring in a totally new character. I think that would be true of any of the primary characters on the show, though, don't you?


Hi Carol, I don't mean to be argumentative, but I don't understand how Isaiah saying anything on a closed set caused TR to announce that he was gay. Isaiah wasn't out telling the world by way of the Hollywood press than TR was gay. TR couldn't really even explain on Ellen why he decided that he had to come out of the closet after hearing that word associated with him. He had a choice. He could have ignored it or denied it. He chose to announce it. No one forced him. I'm sure that you know that Isaiah has apologized to TR not once but at least twice that we know of. Once privately according to all of the casts' interview on Oprah and again publicaly after the Golden Globes debacle. I don't think this has been forgotten in all of the hoopla, I just don't think it is valid to blame Isaiah for TR's choice. Someone could call me gay in a public place and if it weren't true, I would just say it isn't true. Isaiah referred to TR as gay in a supposedly isolated and protected setting. He should not have done it, but he is not responsible for TR's decision.


Burke Backer.....I was the one who posted the comment saying Burke could 'get a job at another hospital' or a comment close to that. And IW could be written off GA. Then, I said that another African-American actor could take IW's place....not AS BURKE--as he would be gone from Seattle Grace...but simply as another doctor. There are people here who don't read comments carefully and they twisted what I said around. I merely said another actor could come in and play a doctor. My idea was he could have a relationship with Yang...but it wouldn't be Preston Burke. Would the actor NEED to be black? No, of course not. I just came up with some names. Nothing was intended by the names I came up with. The actor could be White, Asian, Hispanic, Black, it doesn't matter. My feeling was, at the time I wrote the post, that IF IW were dropped from GA, (which I doubt will happen--I think in time, IW will leave on his own) it wouldn't be a good idea to have another actor come back as Burke. Wouldn't make sense and GA fans wouldn't adapt to the change.


The thing I think that eveyone has overlooked in this situation is that IW's original comment caused TR Knight to come out at a time when TR wasn't ready to do so. TR said he is private and wanted to keep his private life to himself. He didn't feel it was necessary, before IW made that 'faggot' comment, for him to come out. Before IW made that comment, coming out was a non-issue for TR. He said his friends and family knew and that was good enough as far as he was concerned. Well, then IW opened his mouth. So, TR was forced against his will to announce he is gay. How would any of US feel if we were forced by someone else to admit something private? So, this whole thing is not just a big deal because IW said something he shouldn't's a big deal also because IW took out of TR's hands the right to make his decision about when (or if) to come out. Instead of apologizing to GLADD, IW should apologize to TR for doing something that forced a unwelcome major life decision.


Those of Black heritage would not have made nearly the huge deal out of it to begin with as TR. It is impossible to be Black and in the closet. It is not a secret. Nigger is an ugly word and a hurtful word, but certainly more commonly used than faggot. I have known people who have been called nigger by their bosses so don't tell me anyone would have been automatically fired for using the N word. I am so sick and tired of this argument from people who know absolutely nothing about it. I would hope if Isaiah had unintentionally heard someone call him the N word he would have confronted the person with why rather than announcing to the media that because he overheard TR use the N word he now has to admit he is an African American to the world. How foolish is this comment. I would also hope that if Isaiah had heard incorrectly and TR really didn't use that word and tried to correct the misrepresentation to the media, that Isaiah wouldn't have gone crying to the first Black talk show host to say he did and what a powerful word it is. As for Taye Diggs, Eric LaSalle, every other good looking African American actor on the planet replacing Isaiah, why do you think Burke has to be African American??? He was cast because he was the best actor for the role, not because he was Black. There are many actors GA could bring in of any race, but none could replace Isaiah as Burke. That role is too much assoicated with Isaiah. I agree with you three rules before opening your mouth, Sharon. But, I don't believe Isaiah was being unkind in denying the accusations. I believe he was being truthful from his perspective. Was it necessary? Not in my mind, but I was not the one being hounded and criticized for months for something that I did not say to TR nor never intended to cause him harm. It is so easy to be judgmental and far more difficult to put yourself in the other persons shoes. One more thing. I also agree with you that it was in very poor taste to bring up the whole thing at the Golden Globes, but Isaiah didn't do that. Ted from Eonline did. Isaiah was merely responding. Shonda would have handled it better and I am sure Isaiah wishes right now that he had let her.


I feel IW should be fired. I cannot see how the cast can be comfortable and effective in such a work environment. There are surely many talented African-American actors who could do an equally fine job at portraying IW's character. Pehaps one that has tact and integrity. The world is full of all types of people and tolerance is necessary for success no matter what your job may be. As far as his comments at the Golden Globes - it was in very poor taste to bring up a volatile subject such as this and ruin what otherwise should have been a night of celebration for all involved. There are three simple common sense rules that people can use before opening their mouth and putting their foot in it - is the comment true? Is it kind? Is it necessary. If not, keep quiet. Too bad IW doesn't know that. Wonder how he would respond if the shoe was on the other foot and TR said "i never called him a "nigger" which is equally as insulting to those of black heritage. Grey's is a pleasure to watch but I could live without IW on it.


Is everyone ignoring the elephant in the room? Does no one else wonder what Isaiah Washington's response would have been had T.R. McKnight uttered the n***** word in reference to him?
BTW Isaiah Washington's character-bio says he is a thorasic surgeon, please note that his character is a thoracic surgeon.


No, I don't think he should be fired. This has been blown out of all proportion, and everybody and their brother feel that they have to chime in even though it should be just between the people who were actually there. Political correctness is all well and good, but at a certain point it starts to become ridiculous. This debate has gone well past ridiculous and into the ludicrous. Please, just let it rest.


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.


Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)