Al Roker has spoken out in support of the Rochester, N.Y., meteorologist who lost his job over the weekend following controversy over his apparent utterance of a racial slur.
Jeremy Kappell found himself without the job he held since October 2017 at the local NBC station when viewers became outraged over what he was alleged to have said during the Friday broadcast.
While discussing a local ice rink during a report that aired during the Jan. 4 newscast, Kappell said, “Martin Luther Coon — King Jr. — Park.” By Sunday, Jan. 6, the WHEC’s vice president and general manager had announced Kappell was out of a job at the station following an investigation.
“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,” Richard A. Reingold said in part. “I regret that we did not immediately interrupt our broadcast and apologize on the spot.”
Rochester's WHEC Channel 10 decided to slip a little racist reference to Dr King in close to his birthday. This aired 1/4/19 @ aproximately 5:30 pmListen as the newscaster decides that Martin Luther King should be referred to as Martin Luther Coon King and keeps it moving the other day. I have already asked for an explanation from WHEC about this:
Posted by Alan Majors on Saturday, January 5, 2019
Since then, Kappell has apologized in a Facebook video and has continued speaking out on his firing, which came amid the urging of Mayor Lovely Warren. She took issue with the station taking so long to respond to the weatherman’s wording.
On Wednesday Kappell told the “Today Show” he had no opportunity to apologize to viewers on-air before WHEC let him go.
“Of course, I don’t harbor any racist thoughts,” he told NBC’s flagship morning show Jan. 9. “They’re not thinking through why a guy over 20 years in his profession who’s never been accused of anything like this before — why would I all of a sudden try to slip that in there? I don’t get it.”
Kappell has previously stated he’s gotten loads of support, but many online still believe his remark is reflective of who he is.
“Stop making excuses. Its referred to as a freudian slip… Your filter wasnt working good enough… but we see your true colors.”
“You are a repugnant human. Call it a slip of the evil racist devil tongue, I can believe that, but you were seemless in your delivery, not even a breathe was taken, not a crack in the voice. This has been instilled in you since birth. It appears I typed racist devil, I misspoke.”
And the Rochester station hasn’t exactly been united on the choice to give Kappell the pink slip. But it doesn’t appear it will go back on the decision either.
“Since our decision to terminate his employment, this station has been caught in the middle of a vitriolic political debate,” the WHEC said in a statement to NBC News Tuesday night. “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.”
For Roker, a weatherman who has spent 40 years working at NBC, he believes Kappell made a genuine mistake.
“I think @JeremyKappell made an unfortunate flub and should be given the chance to apologize on @news10nbc,” he tweeted Jan. 9. “Anyone who has done live tv and screwed up (google any number of ones I’ve done) understands.”
Kappell appreciated the vote of goodwill and tweeted, “Al, thank you very much. Your support means so much to this family.”
The ousted weatherman also got support from Roker’s fellow “Today” anchor Craig Melvin.
“Anyone who has done this as long as we’ve done it, on air, you flub. You make mistakes. It would seem as if the guy made a genuine mistake,” he said.