Most people who are even vaguely familiar with ATC know that this was NOT an unsafe operation. You know that this controller was not alone in the cab with his son because he gave no clearances and no taxi instructions. This meant that there was at least one other controller up there, at LEAST one. You also know that when a controller is training a controller-in-training, the trainee will and often does make mistakes. The trainer will, if necessary, key up and correct the mistake or allow the trainee sufficient time to fix the mistake. The trainer has his headset in the override jack just for that reason. The majority of what the kid was frequency changes. We've done that in the past for individuals on tours/job shadowing, just not very often and always with the hope that the training department wouldn't pick that day to pull the tapes for our tape talk. We are not licensed by the FCC to broadcast on the radio as individuals, maybe the FAA is as a whole, I don't know. There is, however, no restrictions, licenses or whatever for us to key up our mics.
That being said, it was against the rules. We deal daily with rules upon rules. The rules are ever changing and there are many of them! When I started, the .65 was about 3/4" thick. Now it's 1 1/2-2".
Sometimes it would be better to work at a smaller, out of the way facility that nobody really monitors and do this than at a place like JFK. Things like this can disappear easier from small facilities than they can at places that are more in the focus of the world/media.
The other factors at play here are that until a few months ago, the controllers were under Imposed Work Rules and were (still are in some areas) dealing with people in management that were more than willing to make examples of some controllers to get the rest to toe the line. We've been telling all the new hires to not give management reasons to look into firing them. Odd isn't it, that that is part of the training protocol even though there is a shortage of controllers?
I think that the media will end up forcing the FAA's hand in dealing with the controller and his supe. If it hadn't been international news, it probably would have been a stern talking to and a 'Don't let it happen again'. But since it hit all major networks...