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Standing Up for Principle? On TV? - July 17

Usually when I am out here I call out networks that get it wrong. Fox, for allowing cheating on "5th Grader". CBS, for allowing "Survivor" to film in a repressive country like China. The BBC and other British TV networks for condoning cheating to go on in interactive quizzes. The list goes on.

But this week, I am here to praise a network. And that one is the Food Network. As you may or may not know, the final two competitors vying for a spot on their network are Rory Schepisi and Amy Finley. The winner–by your votes, will be revealed on Sunday, July 22.

But it wasn’t supposed to turn out that way. The original final two were going to be Amy and Joshua Adam Garcia, a/k/a JAG. The show was taped a few months before, as it usually is. But a little smoke turned into a major fire which burned Mr. Garcia...badly.

On June 12, the Marine Corps Times probed Mr. Garcia’s claims that he served in Afghanistan during the War on Terror and his combat experience. To quote the article:

"Garcia, who turns 26 later this month, was a Marine, enlisting Aug. 15, 1999, for a four-year enlistment that should have ended in 2003. Instead, Garcia was discharged eight months early as a private for reasons that the Marine Corps declined to discuss due to laws protecting his personal information."

Continuing from the article:

"In a follow-up interview Monday, Garcia was asked to explain why he called himself a former corporal. He owned up to non-judicial punishments that cost him rank, but he blamed his military troubles on a hazing conspiracy at his former unit. Garcia also claimed that he fought his administrative separation and was ultimately exonerated, but none of that can be independently confirmed because of privacy rules.

"The Marine Corps has no record of Garcia’s rank being upgraded from private by any review board. Likewise, the service has no record of Garcia ever deploying to Afghanistan, and certainly not as a member of 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, the infantry unit Garcia said he accompanied to the war zone in 2002. In fact, Marine officials at the battalion’s home at Camp Lejeune, NC, said the unit did not deploy to Afghanistan that year."

And the most egregious lie of Mr. Garcia? He claimed that he was a graduate of the New York Culinary Institute. Again, from the Marine Times article of June 12:

"He attended, but did not graduate," said Midge Elias, director of public relations at the school, now known as the Art Institute of New York City. Privacy rules prevent the school from releasing any further information, such as number of course hours completed or whether the former Marine used the GI Bill to help finance his training, as he claimed in multiple interviews."

The Army Times picked up the story on June 25. And as the weeks went by on the show, JAG was surviving elimination after elimination until last Sunday’s episode.

JAG was about to go onto the finals after surviving the Rachael Ray show challenge, but a Food Network chyron explained that the show was taped months in advance and since the show, claims were made and JAG’s resume was found out to be padded. And, when JAG got his words "for the good of the network and the show", he resigned from the competition.

Let me translate that for you. JAG’s sorry ass got caught...and if he didn’t resign they would have forced his lying self out.

And kudos to Food Network. I will be honest with you. Most networks might have let that slide. But with an audience of millions, a reputation as one of the highest quality reality shows out there... a padded resume just doesn’t cut it. So Food Network was forced to do the right thing for the good of the show, and the network.

Moral of the story: As with any job, a padded resume will eventually come and bite you in the behind.

And JAG’s star burns less brightly because of it.

You agree or disagree? Fire me off a letter at


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