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An award-winning news anchor was fired Wednesday for posting alleged racist comments on social media.
Wendy Bell, a journalist with WTAE-TV for 18 years, was fired Wednesday for comments she made on Facebook last Monday about a mass shooting in Wilkinsburg, Pa., where five people, all black, including an eight-months pregnant woman, were struck by gunfire, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The two gunmen got away, prompting Bell to weigh in.
“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday … They are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s,” she wrote on Facebook.
“They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs,” Bell continued. “These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (@PittsburghPG) March 30, 2016
While the description may be a fairly accurate description of life in modern urban America, it was too much honesty in today’s hypersensitive age of racial animosity and prompted a firestorm of criticism, with folks saying Bell was stereotyping young black men.
Hearst Television, the station’s parent company, released a statement confirming that her termination was due to the post, according to The Associated Press.
“WTAE has ended its relationship with anchor Wendy Bell,” the statement said. “Wendy’s recent comments on a WTAE Facebook page were inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”
After first deleting her comment, Bell issued an apology.
“I now understand that some of the words I chose were insensitive and could be viewed as racist,” she wrote. “I regret offending anyone. I’m truly sorry.”
As for her firing, Bell told AP that she wasn’t given a “fair-shake.”
“It makes me sick,” she said. “What matters is what’s going on in America, and it is the death of black people in this country.”
“I live next to three war-torn communities in the city of Pittsburgh, that I love dearly,” Bell added. “My stories, they struck a nerve. They touched people, but it’s not enough. More needs to be done. The problem needs to be addressed.”
But first, America must summon the courage to take an honest look at the problem.
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