A meteorologist from Rochester, New York, was fired Monday for allegedly saying a racial slur on-air.
On Friday, WHEC Channel 10 chief meteorologist Jeremy Kappell, reporting from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in Rochester, said he was at "Martin Luther c**n — King, Jr. Park."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a massively influential civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968.
The audio of the alleged incident, however, has sparked much controversy; while some Rochesterians have claimed that the word was said in malice and intentional, others — including the meteorologist himself — have argued that it was an unintentional jumbling of words. (Listen to the audio, below.)
"I feel terrible for ANYONE who may have been offended by my unintentional bubbling [sic]," Kappell said via Twitter on Monday, adding, "For the record, I've never uttered those words in my life."
Compounding the controversial circumstances, the firing of Kappell comes on the heels of embattled Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren calling for the employee to be terminated. Warren's re-election campaign spending is currently under criminal investigation.
"It is wrong, hurtful and infuriating that WHEC Channel 10 broadcast a racial slur in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its Friday news broadcast. It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred. There must be real consequences for the news personality involved and also for the management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur," said a news release from Warren and other local leaders. "The individual responsible for the slur should no longer be employed at Channel 10."
It was announced Monday that Kappell was terminated from his job at WHEC.
"On behalf of News10NBC, I apologize for our broadcast of a racial slur in a reference to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park during our Friday evening broadcast (1/4/19). Upon learning of the incident, News10NBC leadership immediately initiated an internal investigation and internal discussion, and by Sunday had made a staffing change," said Richard Reingold, News10NBC general manager.
"As a result of that broadcast, meteorologist Jeremy Kappell is no longer with News10NBC," said Reingold. "We believe strongly in holding our reporters and anchors to the highest standard. We are proud of our dedicated newsroom professionals, and expect and require that each respects and understands that their behavior reflects directly on the station for which they work and the community we serve."
"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," the statement adds.
"Our Friday broadcast does not represent the values of News10NBC, its hardworking staff, or the great people of Rochester. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of America’s greatest heroes – for whom I, and all of us at News10NBC, have the utmost respect. I am terribly sorry to all of our viewers. We are redoubling our efforts to ensure that this never happens again."
Kappell, using his Twitter account to defend himself from what he would consider a false allegation, reminded folks that this exact flub has been made on-air, before. Though, as Kappell notes, in the case of ESPN host Mike Greensburg, he was able to "keep his job."
In another tweet, Keppell said, "I would NEVER in my life intend to harm the reputation of the GREATEST civil rights leader of our time."
Kappell also re-tweeted numerous folks offering words of support and defending his alleged flub:
The Daily Wire reached out to Kappell on Monday but did not hear back in time for publication.
UPDATE: Kappell issued a video response to the controversy on Monday night. View the video, below: