Al Roker has sympathy for Jeremy Kappell, a meteorologist who was fired after using a racial slur live on air, People is reporting. Kappell was the chief meteorologist at NBC affiliate WHEC in Rochester, New York when he seemed to utter the word “c**n” while discussing a park named after Martin Luther King Jr. Though there was no statement made the night of the incident on Friday, it had been revealed that Kappell had lost his job on Sunday after the clip of the flub went viral over the weekend.
“It took the station nearly two days to apologize, and only after the station was shamed into doing so by a backlash on social media,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren in a statement.
Kappell clarified the situation during an interview on the Today show on Tuesday, January 8, explaining he had accidentally combined the words “king” and “junior.”
“Two words mashed together incorrectly,” he said.
“What I said wasn’t even a word, it was a sound — people, I believe, read into that.”
Roker, co-host of the Today show and a meteorologist himself, appeared to defend Kappell in a tweet he made January 9, referencing his own on-air screw-ups.
“I think @JeremyKappell made an unfortunate flub and should be given the chance to apologize on @news10nbc,” the tweet read. “Anyone who has done live tv and screwed up (google any number of ones I’ve done) understands.”
Al, thank you very much. Your support means so much to this family.
— Jeremy Kappell (@JeremyKappell) January 9, 2019
Kappell thanked Roker on his own Twitter account. Kappell also made a personal apology in a video on his Facebook, where he insisted that he is not a racist. His wife, Lisa, appeared in the video with him to vouch for her husband and share that hearing him being called racist makes her “sad” and “sickened.” The station he worked for gave a statement to the Today show where they explained that they stood by their decision to fire Kappell.
“We believe we have done what is right for our station and our community, and will continue to take a strong stand for our personal and professional values,” the statement read.
According to CNN, the debate on whether Kappell said the word on purpose is still raging on despite Roker’s support and Kappell’s Today appearance. The heated debate is mostly taking place on Twitter, with some users alleging that the slur must be something the weatherman says regularly for the word to slip out like that. Others argue that jumbling words happens all of the time on air. An online petition was made saying that Kappell was fired unfairly, and so far, over 33,000 people have signed it.
"We believe strongly in holding our reporters and anchors to the highest standard," the station's vice president and general manager said.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 7, 2019