A fast-talking meteorologist in Rochester, New York, was fired Monday for making an alleged on-air racial slur about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
NBC affiliate WHEC’s Chief Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell is heard mangling King’s name live on air as he referred to a park named after the civil right icon and the end product came out sounding very much like “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park.”
And in hypersensitive post-Obama America that’s close enough — listen here and be your own judge. At the same time, who in their right mind would intentionally make such an egregious slur live on air for all to see about a man so revered in America and think they could get away with it?
The incident took place on Friday and Kappell was fired by the station Sunday, after the mayor and city council called for his termination and the Rochester Association of Black Journalists condemned the alleged racial slur.
“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,” read a statement from the city government, according to CNN.
And while people hear what they hear and make of it what they will, the tongue-tied weatherman took to Twitter to insist that he “never uttered those words in my life.”
For the record, I've never uttered those words in my life. https://t.co/UgkLMmboXY
— Jeremy Kappell (@JeremyKappell) January 7, 2019
A distraught Kappell, accompanied by his wife, also posted an emotional video on Facebook explaining that it was a misunderstanding caused by speaking so quickly.
“What happened on Friday, to me, it’s a simple misunderstanding,” Kappell begins. “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 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.”
Kappell explained that “put emphasis on ‘King’ and moved on” after mispronouncing the name.
“I had no idea what some people could have interpreted that as and I know some people did interpret that the wrong way,” he said in the video. “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.”
The veteran meteorologist was also critical of NBC affiliate WHEC for selling him out in the name of political correctness over a slip of the tongue.
“I’m so disappointed that my career could end this way,” he said. “And I’m extremely disappointed by my television station, whom I expect a certain level of support from and I did not receive at all.”
The reaction on social media showed that Kappell had plenty of support, to include from many African-Americans. Another common theme was that he needs to hire an attorney. Like now.
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:
Hope you get a good attorney and don’t let this slide.
— Smiley carr (@smiley_carr) January 7, 2019
That was human error and you can hear the fluidity of it.
— Hmmmmmmmm (@docweed13) January 7, 2019
As an African American, this clearly seems like he got tongue ties with the words. Give the man his job back.
— Beverley (@bosayles) January 7, 2019
So I’m a minority and this is tough. It didn’t seem intentional and there seems to be some distortion. Hard to say but to lose your livelihood over something that seems blurry is tough. I have no issues calling a racist a racist, this feels wrong tho. Doesn’t feel like racism
— Primetime Ballers (@PrimetimeBall_) January 7, 2019
I’m black and for the life of me I don’t understand why are so many Caucasian men are losing there jobs over stupid things like this. We as black people have heard worse. I’m so sorry you lost your job over a misunderstanding.
— Luders Pierre (@Luders_Pierre) January 7, 2019
Kinda bummed you’re getting railroaded for what appears to be an honest mistake. I detest racism on every level but didn’t sense even a hint of malice.
— TONEBONE (@tonebonebeats) January 7, 2019
I just read this article about you and it is obvious you were speaking fast and you accidentally blended “King” and “Junior.” Hope you have a lawyer because your station blew it. Good luck to you.
— Karen Bousquet (@kebousquet) January 7, 2019
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