Weatherman fired over alleged use of a racial slur live on air
Jeremy Kappell, the chief meteorologist at an NBC station in Rochester, was fired on Monday for the alleged use of a racial slur during a live broadcast. The WHEC-TV veteran was describing a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, when uttered the phrase, “Martin Luther C–n King Jr.,” he said, in a video which soon went viral.
It's hard to make out due to the quality of the video, but you can see his slip-up here:
Kappell soon came forward, referring to the whole thing as a "verbal slip" and claiming he has “never uttered those words” in his life. However, NBC conducted an internal investigation and came to the decision to let him go. Richar A. Reingld, the station's vice president and general manager, said:
“As a result of that broadcast meteorologist Jeremy Kappell is no longer with News10NBC. 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.”
Many local residents and activists from the area called for his termination as soon as the incident became known. In a statement, Richard McCollough, from the Rochester Association of Black Journalists, called his language "completely unacceptable and contrary to all standards of broadcasting.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, also posted a statement on the matter. “It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred,” she wrote in her statement. “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.”
Following the public outcry and the widespread criticism even following his departure from the WHEC-TV team, Kappell issued his own personal statement on the matter. In a video posted on Monday night, he said:
“What happened on Friday, to me, it’s a simple misunderstanding. 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.”
"I am ... extremely disappointed at the decisions made by my television station, who I expected a certain level of support from and I did not receive at all," he said.
On the other side, there are also many using the "#JusticeForJeremy" hashtag and boycotting the channel due to their handling of the situation. After his dismissal, he has continued to campaign for his name to be cleared of the allegations that it was an intentional remark.