Rochester, New York NBC-affiliate WHEC chief meteorologist Jeremy Kappell called a local park “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park.”
A clip of the video from Jan. 4’s broadcast was posted on Facebook. We have embedded it below.
Kappell now has been fired, but he denies he intentionally said the slur. In a Facebook video with his wife, he said he “spoke a little too fast” and “so fast that I jumbled a couple of words.” He added that he was “disappointed” by the station’s response.
“In my mind I knew that I had mispronounced, but there was no malice, there was nothing I could have… I had no idea the way it had come across to many people,” he said in part. “As soon as I mispronounced it, I put an emphasis on King and moved on and had no idea what some people could have interpreted that as and I know some people interpreted that the wrong way. That was not a word that I say, I promise you that.”
WHEC aired a broadcast segment about the “racial slur,” saying it was unscripted, and that it prompted an internal investigation.
Richard Reingold, the affiliate’s general manager, also apologized in an on-air and online statement. Reingold said Kappell “is no longer with News10NBC,” and added: “These words have no place on News10NBC’s air, and the fact that we broadcast them disheartens and disgusts me; that it was not caught immediately is inexcusable. I regret that we did not immediately interrupt our broadcast and apologize on the spot.”
In his on-air appearance, Reingold said the station’s investigation wasn’t prompted by criticism from the city’s mayor Lovely Warren, but rather when the station realized what was said, it began an investigation. “The minute we learned about it, we jumped on it,” he said.
A statement from Kappell was also published, in which he said he “mispronounced but there was no malice,” and denied he said the slur. His full statement reads:
“In my mind I know I mispronounced but there was no malice. I had no idea the way it came across to so many people. As soon as I mispronounced it I put an emphasis on King and moved on. I had no ideas what some people could have interpreted that as and I know some people interpreted that the wrong way. That’s not a word I said and I promise you that. If you did feel it hurt you in any way I sincerely apologize.
iMediaEthics has written to WHEC and tweeted Kappell for more information.
Hat Tip: CBS News
UPDATE: 1/8/2019 10:50 PM WHEC sent iMediaEthics its statement saying Kappell “clearly voiced a racially derogatory term. An utterance such as this, with no immediate apology, regardless of intent and inexcusable. There can be no confusion by anyone who works at Hubbard Broadcasting or by anyone who works at Hubbard Broadcasting or by anyone in the communities we serve, that this is unacceptable.”