A chief meteorologist at an NBC station in Rochester was fired on Monday for allegedly using a racial slur during a live broadcast.
Jeremy Kappell, of WHEC-TV, was describing a photo showing Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park when he allegedly uttered the offensive phrase.
“Martin Luther C–n King Jr.,” he said, according to viewers and local officials.
Video of the Friday evening broadcast went viral over the weekend and amassed more than 100,000 views.
Kappell has been trying his best to do damage control, referring to the incident as a “verbal slip” — much like the one that ESPN’s Mike Greenberg had in 2010, though he was allowed to keep his job.
“Exact same flub,” Kappell tweeted on Monday. “And like Mike, I feel terrible for ANYONE who may have been offended by my unintentional bubbling.”
The Purdue grad claimed to have “never uttered those words” in his life, but NBC didn’t care. It gave him the boot following an internal investigation.
“As a result of that broadcast meteorologist Jeremy Kappell is no longer with News10NBC,” said station vice president and general manager Richard A. Reingold. “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.”
Local residents and activists had been calling for Kappell’s termination, as was Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who is black.
“It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred,” she seethed in a statement Sunday. “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.”
According to his LinkedIn account, Kappell worked at television stations in Texas, Mississippi, Kansas and Kentucky prior to arriving in New York. The Rochester Association of Black Journalists called his alleged language “completely unacceptable and contrary to all standards of broadcasting.”
“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,” wrote group president Richard McCollough in a statement. “We also want to know what measures will be taken to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future.”
Kappell wound up issuing a video apology on Monday night, along with a formal explanation to “all those offended.”
“What happened on Friday, to me, it’s a simple misunderstanding,” he said. “If you watch me regularly, you know that I tend to contain a lot of information in my weathercast, which forces me to speak fast and unfortunately I spoke a little too fast when I was referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — so fast to the point where I jumbled a couple of words. Now in my mind, I knew I had mispronounced. But there was no malice. I had no idea the way it came across to many people. As soon as I had started to mispronounce it, I put an emphasis on King and moved on. Had no idea what some people could have interpreted that as. And I know some people did interpret that the wrong way — that is not a word that I said, I promise you that. And if you did feel that it hurt you in any way, I sincerely apologize. I would never want to tarnish the reputation of such a great man as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest civic leaders of all time. He changed the world forever, and he changed the world for better … Those who know me, you know I don’t even have to say it — I would never intend to harm that way to anyone.”
[via New York Post]