A leading meteorologist has been fired from his network in Rochester after he was accused of using a racial slur during a live broadcast.
Jeremy Kappell of NBC’s WHEC-TV was describing a photo of Martin Luther King Jr at Memorial Park when he allegedly used the word.
"Martin Luther c**n King Junior," he said.
He insists that he was merely speaking fast and had jumbled his words, and it has gone on to cause a lot of debate online.
Taking to Facebook to address the matter, Kappell said that he had mispronounced his words.
What happened on Friday, to me, it’s a simple misunderstanding. If you watch me regularly you know I tend to contain a lot of information in my weathercast, which forces me to speak fast.
Unfortunately I spoke a little too fast when I was referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So fast to the point where I jumbled a couple of little words. I’m my mind I knew I mispronounced but there was no malice nothing that I could’ve… I had no idea the way it came across to many people.
As soon as started to mispronounce it I put an emphasis on 'King' and moved on. I had no idea what some people could’ve interpreted that as. I know some people did interpret it the wrong way. That is not a word I said, I promise you that.
If you did feel that it hurt you in any way in any way I sincerely apologise. I would never want to tarnish the reputation of a such a great man as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, one of the greatest civic leaders of all time. He changed the world forever and he changed the world for better. I would never do that.
After an internal investigation, NBC fired him. Station vice president and general manager Richard A Reingold said:
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. I regret that we did not immediately interrupt our broadcast and apologise on the spot.
The station’s decision has been met with a mixed response.
Some people applauded the network’s decision to fire Kappell
One Twitter user insisted: 'There was no tongue tied. Let's not try to rewrite the narrative. What was said was racist and willful. Point blank.
Others are arguing that it wasn’t a racial slur, it was merely a mispronunciation of words.
"As an African American, this clearly seems like he got tongue ties [sic] with the words. Give the man his job back," one Twitter user wrote.
And they’re campaigning to get him reinstated.
Almost 2,000 people have signed a change.org petition to campaign having him reinstated.