A Rochester, N.Y., meteorologist was fired after allegedly using a racial slur on air Friday — an allegation he vehemently denied.
WHEC meteorologist Jeremy Kappell was reporting from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in Rochester when viewers alleged he used a slur while saying the late civil rights movement leader’s name.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren called for Kappell to be fired from the local NBC affiliate after the segment aired.
“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. It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred,” Warren said in a press release. “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.”
Kappell denied saying the slur.
Replying to a viewer who tweeted “wowww that video. he definitely says that all the time, which is why it slipped out on air,” Kappell wrote Monday, “For the record, I’ve never uttered those words in my life.”
He also pointed out that ESPN host Mike Greensburg made also the same slip of the tongue almost a decade ago.
Kappell also tweeted that while he has not made a formal statement about the incident yet, he will soon.
Meanwhile, the Rochester Association of Black Journalists released a statement condemning Kappell’s “clearly racist language.”
“While we are aware that the station has issued an apology, we expect a complete explanation of what happened, who was responsible and why nothing was said immediately after the Friday broadcast,” the statement read in part.
News10NBC general manager Richard Reingold said in a statement Monday, “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). Upon learning of the incident, News10NBC leadership immediately initiated an internal investigation and internal discussion, and by Sunday had made a staffing change.”
The statement continues, “As a result of that broadcast meteorologist, Jeremy Kappell is no longer with News10NBC. We believe strongly in holding our reporters and anchors to the highest standard. We are proud of our dedicated newsroom professionals, and expect and require that each respects and understands that their behavior reflects directly on the station for which they work and the community we serve.”
“These words have no place on News10NBC’s air, and the fact that we broadcast them disheartens and disgusts me; that it was not caught immediately is inexcusable. I regret that we did not immediately interrupt our broadcast and apologize on the spot,” Reingold 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.”