NY Weatherman Fired After Using Racial Slur Naming Martin Luther King Jr.
By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter
January 8, 2019
A Rochester, New York meteorologist has been fired from his job at a television station after he used a racial slur on the air during a weather report last week.
WHEC-TV's Jeremy Kappell was on the air Friday night when he said "Martin Luther Coon Park," while referring to a park in downtown Rochester named after Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Kappell immediately corrected himself, saying "King" after using the slur and then continues on with the broadcast.
In a Facebook live video, Kappell said he hadn't intended to say that word and had been speaking too quickly.
"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 weather cast, 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. In my mind I knew I mispronounced, but there was no malice. I had no idea the way it came across to many people," he said in a video posted Monday night.
"I had no idea what some people could have interpreted that as and I know some people did interpret that the wrong way. That was not a word I said, I promise you that. If you did feel that it hurt you in any way, I sincerely apologize," said Kappell.
The clip of Kappell's broadcast went viral over the weekend, prompting Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren and the city council to release a statement, urging the television to terminate Kappell.
"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. 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," the statement said.
The mayor and city council blasted the television's response to the incident.
"It took the station nearly two days to apologize, and only after the station was shamed into doing so by a backlash on social media," the statement read.
WHEC's vice president and general manager Richard A Reingold issued a statement on Sunday stating the Kappell had been let go after an internal investigation into the incident.
"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," said Reingold.
"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."
Cappell joined the Bob Lonsberry show on Newsradio WHAM 1180 to talk more about his side of the story.