Rochester's WHEC Channel 10 decided to slip a little racist reference to Dr King in close to his birthday. This aired 1/4/19 @ aproximately 5:30 pmListen as the newscaster decides that Martin Luther King should be referred to as Martin Luther Coon King and keeps it moving the other day. I have already asked for an explanation from WHEC about this:
Posted by Alan Majors on Saturday, January 5, 2019
The audio isn’t great here, but what you’re listening to is a guy getting himself fired and thrown under the bus by his employer for what I personally feel is not a very good reason.
A television meteorologist is out of a job one day after Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council President Loretta Scott called for his firing for making a racial slur during a broadcast. An executive at the station, WHEC (Channel 10), apologized to viewers on the air during an evening broadcast Monday.
During a WHEC weather forecast on Friday that showed a live shot of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, Jeremy Kappell appeared to call it “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park.”
The station’s vice president and general manager, Richard A. Reingold, confirmed Kappell’s dismissal in a statement Monday.
“As a result of that broadcast, meteorologist Jeremy Kappell is no longer with News10NBC,” Reingold said. “We believe strongly in holding our reporters and anchors to the highest standard.”
Kappell, who had been WHEC’s chief meteorologist since October 2017, said Monday evening that the incident had been “a simple misunderstanding” that arose because he “jumbled a couple of words.
“I know some people did interpret that the wrong way. That (“coon”) was not a word I said, I promise you that. If you did feel that it hurt you in any way, I sincerely apologize,” Kappell said in a four-minute video statement he posted on his Facebook page.
General manager Reingold said during an interview that the complaining from the mayor and Councillor didn’t factor into the station’s decision to terminate Kappell, a line which would be much easier to believe had he then gone on and answered the obvious question of whether or not he felt the mistake was actually an intentional act. If you can’t answer a question that simple and important yet you’ve still fired a guy, there’s either interference involved or you personally were looking for a reason to get rid of him.
Obviously if he did it intentionally he should be gone and never hired again, but what seems to be getting lost here is just how difficult talking for a living is. There’s a reason that blooper compilations exist, you know. If you talk long enough, eventually you’re going to make a mistake. And sometimes, like in this case, the mistake is going to be an unfortunate one.
Do me a favour. Think long and hard about the words “king”, “junior” and “coon”. Say them all out loud a few times and really listen to how they sound. Once you’ve done that, think about all of the times you’ve gotten tongue tied in your life and ended up mixing parts of your words together. It happens so often that there’s a word for it. It’s called a Spoonerism, and although they’re absolutely used on purpose for comedy, it happens every day to all sorts of people completely by accident. If you trip over king and junior, you’re probably getting coon. It’s almost unavoidable. And you can clearly hear Kappell correct it immediately, so quickly that I’m willing to bet most people didn’t even notice it until the big to-do was made. This is clearly something that a fellow whose line of work is generally managing a television station should be taking into account before making a decision and opening his mouth, but I guess that might be too much to ask.
Again, unless there’s more at play here than we know about, this firing is absolutely ludicrous. If we need to fire everyone who ever makes a mistake, we’re all going on a big ass vacation because everyone in the world is out of a job as of right now.