An Atlanta news anchor has gone viral for her classy clapback at a racist viewer email and now she’s explaining why she hit back. Sharon Reed of CBS46 schooled a news watcher named Kathy Rae about the anchor’s discussion of race as it related to the Atlanta mayoral race.
As votes poured in for Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Black woman Democrat, and Mary Norwood, a white Independent candidate, Reed and her co-anchors Ben Swan and Alicia Roberts discussed the impact of race on the election in which Bottoms ultimately emerged victorious pending a recount.
Then, Reed paused the talk to point out a viewer’s email that included a racial slur.
“A woman by the name of Kathy Rae emailed me,” Reed says in the middle of the Tuesday, Dec. 5 broadcast. “We’re going to put that email on the screen and then I’ll comment after it. I think it’s fair for people to see what she wrote.”
Then, a censored version of the quote appeared on the screen.
“You need to be fired for the race baiting comment you made tonight,” it read. “It’s o.k. for Blacks to discuss certain subjects but not whites. Really??? you are what I call a N***r not a Black person. you are a racist N***r. you are what’s wrong with the world.”
After noting Kathy Rae misspelled the n-word, Reed tore into the viewer and her message.
“I didn’t say that white people couldn’t talk about race,” Reed says. “Quite the contrary, we think that race is an authentic discussion to have. It’s one we’re having tonight because it’s one that you are talking about at home and it’s one that has clearly entered the Atlanta mayor’s race. That’s why, behind the scenes, my colleagues and I — white and Black — we decided, hey let’s go for it because we do try to keep it real here.
“When arguing with somebody you have to be careful not to mischaracterize their viewpoint, so I won’t mischaracterize your view either, Kathy Rae. I get it. On Dec. 5, 2017, you think it’s okay to call this journalist a ‘n—–‘,” she said, the slur going uncensored. “I don’t. But I could clap back and say a few things to you. But instead, I’ll let your words, Kathy Rae, speak for themselves. And that will be the last word.”
Reed told Atlanta Black Star it was timing that led her to respond the way she did — right then and there during election night.
“Race was woven all through the campaign and plenty of folks here were talking about it,” she said. “And then there is the belief that you have to keep it real. Sometimes you have to just be honest with folks at home and respect their intelligence and life experience. The [n-word] exists. Racists exist. Why sensor that? Especially in a natural, authentic moment like that.”
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Her smooth reaction struck a chord on Twitter and many applauded the response as the epitome of “class.”
This is the look of Class and Confidence.. Perfection
— will j (@EarlKnights) December 6, 2017
Sharon Reed kept is classy, but twitter is looking for who Kathy Rae dumbass is this morning like: pic.twitter.com/yeNzH7pHKR
— Stephanie (@stephanietega) December 6, 2017
CLASS. Racist sitting behind a damn computer screen calling her that. She handled it well. https://t.co/dnBINZjIbx
— 𝐌𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐏 (@LA_andComPAiNY) December 6, 2017
— Greg Popabitch (@dredataurus) December 6, 2017
Reed said the response has been “nice” and acknowledged that while everyone can have their own and differing opinions, they must be responsible for them, too.
“It’s nice to know people see it your way,” she said, “especially about an issue like this. That said, I really do believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion and we definitely put opposing views on the air all the time at CBS 46. But we all have to be responsible for those views.”
As for the advice she’d give aspiring Black journalists who may face similar criticism as she did with Kathy Rae, Reed said young reporters shouldn’t feel like they have to own it.
“But if you do, be fearless.”