Meteorologist Fired After Viewers and City Claim He Said Racial Slur on Air

January 8, 2019 Updated: January 8, 2019

A meteorologist at a news station in Rochester, New York, was fired this week after viewers and the city’s mayor called for his ouster.

Viewers claimed that WHEC-TV meteorologist Jeremy Kappell used a racial slur when speaking about Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.

In the broadcast, which was captured on video, Kappell appeared to say “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park,” although some people said he appeared to be tongue-tied.

Rochester's WHEC Channel 10 decided to slip a little racist reference to Dr King in close to his birthday. This aired 1/4/19 @ aproximately 5:30 pmListen as the newscaster decides that Martin Luther King should be referred to as Martin Luther Coon King and keeps it moving the other day. I have already asked for an explanation from WHEC about this:Thank you Cristy Barber Peck for identifying and sharing the video.

Alan Majors 发布于 2019年1月5日周六

An executive at WHEC, also known as News10NBC apologized to viewers and confirmed his dismissal.

“On behalf of News10NBC, I apologize for our broadcast of a racial slur in a reference to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park during our Friday evening broadcast (1/4/19),” Richard A. Reingold, the manager, wrote on the station’s website. “Upon learning of the incident, News10NBC leadership immediately initiated an internal investigation and internal discussion, and by Sunday had made a staffing change.”

The executive added, “Our Friday broadcast does not represent the values of News10NBC, its hardworking staff, or the great people of Rochester. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of America’s greatest heroes – for whom I, and all of us at News10NBC, have the utmost respect. I am terribly sorry to all of our viewers. We are redoubling our efforts to ensure that this never happens again.”

Kappell denied using the racial slur.

“For the record, I’ve never uttered those words in my life,” he tweeted.

One user responded: “As an African American, this clearly seems like he got tongue ties with the words. Give the man his job back.”

Kappell said he thanked the woman “for the supportive words … I appreciate it more than you know.”

“In my mind I know I mispronounced but there was no malice. I had no idea the way it came across to so many people. As soon as I mispronounced it I put an emphasis on King and moved on. I had no ideas what some people could have interpreted that as and I know some people interpreted that the wrong way. That’s not a word I said and I promise you that. If you did feel it hurt you in any way I sincerely apologize,” he said in WHEC’s statement, which was included at the bottom of the webpage.

He also posted a story by a radio personality, arguing that Kappell may have been tongue-tied, making it an “honest and innocent mistake.”

The article noted that it’s not the first time a TV personality made the slip.

“In 2010, ESPN broadcaster Mike Greenberg used the phrase. He apologized, said it was a slip of the tongue, and went on with his career,” the article says. “In another instance, in 2005, a Las Vegas television weatherman made reference to ‘Martin Luther Coon Day’ and, though he apologized in subsequent newscasts, was fired.”

But the City of Rochester thought otherwise and issued a statement about Kappell’s alleged usage of the slur.

“It is wrong, hurtful and infuriating that WHEC Channel 10 broadcast a racial slur in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its Friday News broadcast,” read press release from the city of Rochester. “It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred. There must be real consequences for the news personality involved and also for the management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur.”

It added: “While referring to African Americans in racially derogatory, insensitive and vulgar language needs to be addressed immediately, there are other issues at play as well that feed into this cultural ignorance. Promotional videos and other productions from local media often do not reflect the diversity of our community.”

The WHEC notice about his firing also included quotes from Rochester City Council members.

Rochester is a city located in western New York.

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