The TV reporter-turned-killer Vester Lee Flanagan was such a strong supporter of President Obama that he disregarded his own company’s rules regarding partisan activity to wear an Obama campaign button while voting — one of several policy violations that got him fired from the news station he would eventually target.
Flanagan, who went by the on-air name Bryce Williams, wore the button to the polling booth during the president’s re-election in 2012, according to The Daily Mail.
In a letter of reprimand dated Nov. 9, WDBJ’s then-news director Dan Dennison called Williams’ wearing of the sticker “a clear violation not only of Schultz Co. policy but of standards of journalistic ethics.”
Dennison then quoted a section in the company employee handbook that said:
“News employees must refrain from participating in active partisan politics, which includes active support of candidates for public office.”
Dennison said Williams “demonstrated a basic lack of understanding of [his] role as an on-air journalist” as well as “poor judgement.”
Dennison concluded by noting other disciplinary issues and saying, “we are fast reaching the point where continued violations of company policy or basic journalistic standards could mean termination from employment at WDBJ7.”
Williams was finally let go, which prompted him to file a wrongful termination claim, alleging that he was fired because he was black and gay.
The station prevailed.
Williams shot and killed two of his former colleagues at the station Wednesday, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, before eventually turning the gun on himself as police were closing in.
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