The Slatest

New York Weatherman Fired for On-Air Use of Racial Slur in Naming Martin Luther King Jr.

Jeremy Kappell.
Jeremy Kappell. WHEC

A meteorologist in Rochester, New York, was fired Sunday after a broadcast in which he inserted a racial slur into the name of Martin Luther King Jr., his station’s manager announced Monday.

Jeremy Kappell, who had worked for News10NBC since October 2017, had been giving a report on the weather on Friday when an image of an ice rink on a park named after Martin Luther King Jr., appeared on-screen. In referencing the image, Kappell inserted the racial slur “coon” before “King.” Over the weekend, a video of the clip circulated on social media.

It wasn’t until Monday that the public heard from the station, when Richard A. Reingold, the station’s general manager, apologized to viewers. In the video, he said he had not learned about the incident until Sunday morning, but after an “internal investigation and internal discussion,” Kappell had been fired. “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,” he said in the statement. “I regret that we did not immediately interrupt our broadcast and apologize on the spot.”

Kappell, too, released a statement in a video Monday, emphasizing that the slur had been accidental. “Unfortunately, I spoke a little too fast when I was referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—so fast to the point I jumbled a couple of words,” he said. “I had no idea the way it came across to so many people. … If you did feel it hurt you in any way, I sincerely apologize.”

Critics have condemned the station for waiting so long to react to the incident. The station told the New York Times it had become aware of the use of the slur from an employee who saw a post about it on social media. In a joint statement, Rochester’s mayor and City Council called for “real consequences” for the “management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur” and criticized the station for apologizing only after it was “shamed” into doing so on social media.