An Illinois weatherman complained on air about his station’s repeated “Code Red” weather warnings. Now his job appears to be on the line.
CNN reported that the weatherman, Joe Crain, works for its affiliate WICS in Springfield, Illinois. On June 5, Crain went off script to criticize his network, saying, “‘Code Red’ was created by likely a journalism school graduate.”
“A lot of people not happy with this since we’ve implemented it,” he continued. “That’s evident by the thousands of comments on social media, letters to the editor, frequent calls to local talk-radio shows.”
He would later apologize to viewers for his word choices, but not for his criticism.
“This is a corporate initiative, the ‘Code Red’ alert, and behind the scenes many of us have tried to dissuade it for the last few months, to try something else that’s less controversial to the viewers,” he said.
It is now June 11, and according to CNN, Crain has not appeared on air since his comments went viral. The network reported that “his job may now be on the line.”
“In addition, several companies have stopped advertising with the station in solidarity with Crain and his commentary against the corporate decision-makers,” CNN reported.
Crain’s main complaint about the “Code Red” alerts was that there was no nuance to the warning, as “not all storms are created equal,” he said.
WICS is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which defended the alerts in a statement to The Washington Post.
“That afternoon there was significant storm damage in the area including trees falling on homes, downed power lines, and hail storms. Thankfully, residents were adequately warned to prepare,” the statement said.
CNN made sure to note that Sinclair “has come under heightened scrutiny in the past couple years,” without noting that scrutiny comes from left-wing outlets because Sinclair is conservative-leaning.
Sinclair’s statement to the Post added that the increase in “Code Red” alerts was the result of an active weather pattern, “given the severe weather-related events across the country in recent weeks.” The broadcasting group said the decision to issue the alerts came from local meteorologists and not Sinclair.
Crain’s bio no longer appears on the company website, yet he would not tell CNN the current status of his employment. Sinclair would not tell the Post the status of Crain’s employment, either.
Other meteorologists have stepped up to defend Crain, who earned his degree in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University, as well. Erik Dean, the chief meteorologist at K2TV in Casper, WY, told the Post that broadcasters should “Let meteorologists do their job,” and for management to “stay out of it.”
Kit Cloninger, the weekend meteorologist at KSNB in Hastings, NE, wrote that “consistency is key with broadcasting.”
“Otherwise, viewers may wonder why one station issued an ‘alert day’ while another one didn’t.”
Crain noted in his original monologue that a one-size-fits-all alert doesn’t help.
“It’s not the perfect solution because, of course, with ‘Code Red,’ it’s all inclusive. It doesn’t recognize that not all storms are created equal,” Crain said.
The National Weather Service, for example, has a 1-5 scale to rate storms.