Sam Rubin and Samuel L Jackson

Bad career move of the week: reporter mistakes Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne

Elizabeth Bromstein|

We all make mistakes at work. You put the file in the wrong folder, mess up an order, bill the wrong amount. But some career mistakes are worse than others. Consider this guy, who mistook Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne on live TV.

KTLA reporter Sam Rubin was interviewing Jackson about his role in the Robocop, remake on Monday when he asked about Jackson’s “Super Bowl commercial.”

“What Super Bowl commercial?” Jackson asked. It didn’t take long for both to figure out Rubin’s mistake – as it was Fishburne who starred in a Super Bowl commercial for Kia – and Jackson went to town on him. Rubin tried to apologize but Jackson wouldn’t let up.

“I’m not Laurence Fishburne,” he told Rubin. “We don’t all look alike. We may be all black and famous but we don’t all look alike.”

He went on, “I’m the ‘What’s in Your Wallet,’ black guy,” speaking of his own endorsement deal with Capital One credit cards. “He’s the car black guy. Morgan Freeman is the other credit-card black guy. You only hear his voice, though, so you probably won’t confuse him with Laurence Fishburne.”

It was painful. And I thought Jackson was unnecessarily mean. Sometimes a mistake is just a mistake, and there’s never a good reason to humiliate someone.

I once called J.D. Salinger “Jean Paul Sartre” for about five minutes during a conversation about writers. My date must have been so confused, and I’m lucky he didn’t make fun of me for the next ten minutes after he figured it out. Someone on Twitter the other day tweeted about Bret Easton Ellis’ book Fight Club…I’m sure he was embarrassed enough when I gently pointed out that Chuck Palahniuk wrote it.

Sure, Rubin is a professional entertainment reporter and should have known better. That doesn’t mean he should be raked over the coals.

To his credit, he never got defensive and simply apologized over and over again. The interview finally turned to Robocop, and Jackson continued with the digs, mentioning Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman and saying, “Just in case they have some of them on the show. Do some work. Do some research. Make sure you don’t confuse them with those other white actors.”

Later on the air, Rubin apologized again, saying, “I really pride myself on the fact that unlike a lot of people who do this kind of work, more often than not I really do know what I’m talking about. But I didn’t 30 minutes ago and I’m really embarrassed about it, and I very much apologize to Samuel L. Jackson and anyone else who was offended for what was a very amateur mistake.”

It would have been a perfect apology if he hadn’t made the cheap dig at “a lot of people who do this kind of work.”

Will these guys never learn?

Watch the incident below.

Bad Career Move Rating: 6/10


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