TV meteorologist Jeremy Kappell has been fired after apparently uttering a racial slur in reference to Martin Luther King, Jr., NBC News is reporting.
Last Friday, Kappell was delivering his report for WHEC-TV in Rochester, New York, when he apparently uttered the words “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park.” “Coon” has at times been used as a racial slur against African-Americans. Kappell’s colleagues in the newsroom didn’t say anything at the time and continued with the broadcast.
Almost immediately, the calls for Kappell’s firing began. For example, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who is black, called for Kappell to be fired immediately, according to iHeartRadio.
“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.”
Similarly, the Association of Black Broadcasters also called for Kappell’s firing.
“This is completely unacceptable and contrary to all standards of broadcasting.”
Though WHEC apologized, that wasn’t enough for Kappell’s critics, who continued to demand that he be fired.
On Monday, the station announced that Kappell had, indeed, been shown the door. On the station’s website, General Manager Richard Reingold confirmed that Kappell was no longer employed by the company.
THEY HAVE THE AUDIO OF IT LISTEN AND EVERYONE DECIDE ON WHAT YOU HEAR https://t.co/T4xwK33CIY
— Mr Camera Hound (@JIMBO_1965) January 7, 2019
Kappell, now without a job, continues to insist that he did nothing wrong. In a tweet on Sunday, the weatherman posted a link to a Facebook video in which he, appearing alongside his wife, explained himself.
— Jeremy Kappell (@JeremyKappell) January 8, 2019
In the video, Kappell thanked his friends, family, church family, and neighbors for supporting him during this particular episode in his career.
As for why he made the supposed racial slur, Kappell claims that he merely tripped over his words, completely unintentionally.
“I tend to give a lot of information in my weathercasts, which forces me to speak fast. And unfortunately I spoke a little too fast.”
Whether or not Kappell is telling the truth is, of course, known only to him. However, in a Facebook comment, a user claiming to be a speech pathologist brings some science to the conversation.
“I’m a speech pathologist. You made what’s called a perseveratory speech error. Our brains mess up the sequence of sounds sometimes. Has nothing to do with your intent.”
Regardless, Kappell is getting little sympathy on Facebook, with commenters almost unanimously disregarding the speech pathologist’s, and Kappell’s, explanations for the slur.