Don’t imply that your coworker would make a good ditz on the air. That was the lesson that Chicago sports anchor Mark Giangreco learned, now that his run in the city has reached an end.
Giangreco, 68, has worked in Chicago since 1982, and for WLS-TV (ABC 7) since 1994. But things officially concluded Friday as Giangreco and the station agreed on a settlement with 18 months left on his contract, according to Chicago media reporter Robert Feder.
For Giangreco, the unofficial end actually happened on January 28 — after he told news anchor Cheryl Burton she could “play the ditzy, combative interior decorator” on a hypothetical DIY show. Burton filed a complaint and Giangreco hasn’t appeared on air since.
This all followed other similar complaints about Giangreco from co-workers, per the Chicago Sun-Times.
“But there has been tension between Giangreco and Burton for years, according to sources, and this appears to have been her breaking point,” the Sun-Times reported. “Others who have worked with Giangreco have brushed off similar remarks as playful. Considering Burton complained to management, it’s fair to question whether management would have done anything had she not, knowing Giangreco’s persona.”
That’s not all.
“If some of Giangreco’s previous transgressions occurred today, he wouldn’t have survived them. His most notable one came in 1999, when he said former Bears running back Walter Payton looked like Gandhi, not knowing Payton had a liver disease that would kill him that year. Giangreco apologized profusely for the mistake, and Payton called to forgive him,” the Sun-Times wrote.
“In 2004, after the Pistons won the NBA title, he aired a black-and-white video of fires and joked that it was ‘a typical night in Detroit.’ The station suspended him for week. Most recently, in 2017, Giangreco reportedly was suspended for multiple weeks without pay for calling former President Donald Trump a ‘cartoon lunatic’ and the United States a ‘country full of simpletons’ in a tweet.”
Still, ABC 7 general manager John Idler painted a different picture of Giangreco in a statement announcing the move.
“I have some news I would like to share about a longtime member of the ABC 7 family. Mark Giangreco, who has been as influential on the Chicago sports scene as the athletes he’s covered, is moving on to a new chapter,” Idler wrote. “During his career, Mark has been there and done that, covering daily highlights and championship play for every major sports franchise in this city. He has been widely recognized for reporting sports with both passion and insight. I want to thank Mark for his many contributions to ABC 7 and our viewers. I’m sure you will all join me in wishing him the very best.”