A Slur Or A Slip-Up? Meteorologist Is Fired, City Is Roiled

Did a TV meteorologist broadcast a racial slur or simply flub a line?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Did a TV meteorologist broadcast a racial slur or simply flub a line?

That polarizing question has reverberated in this upstate New York city and beyond since WHEC fired Jeremy Kappell after he apparently referred to a park in his weather report as “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park.”

Rochester’s mayor, who is black, called the words hurtful. Kappell, who is white, explained it was a mispronunciation. NBC weatherman and personality Al Roker tweeted in defense of Kappell. And online arguments persisted over whether Kappell’s slip-up revealed racial malice or just a slip of the tongue on live TV.

“Since our decision to terminate his employment, this station has been caught in the middle of a vitriolic political debate,” the station and its parent company said in a statement 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.”