A Minnesota news station has fired one of its television reporters after he was seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat while covering President Donald Trump’s rally in Rochester.
James Bunner was let go from his job at KTTC-TV, news director Noel Sederstrom told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, for exhibiting political bias while on the job.
“He violated our policy so he’s no longer with us,” Sederstrom told BuzzFeed News on Friday. “We don’t allow our people to wear campaign clothing while on assignment.”
Reps for KTTC-TV and Bunner did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Bunner first joined KTTC in December 2017, BuzzFeed reported.
The reporter’s trouble first started on Thursday when Mark VanCleave, a journalist with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, tweeted a photo of him standing outside the Mayo Civic Center wearing his KTTC-branded red jacket and matching red MAGA hat.
“Whyyyyy?” he wrote in the photo’s caption.
From there, users noticed that Bunner had uploaded many pro-Trump things to his social media pages. Sederstrom told BuzzFeed, however, that none of those uploads had anything to do with KTTC’s decision and that the MAGA hat was solely to blame.
“It’s not something we allow,” he explained of campaign gear.
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Critics on Twitter have slammed the news station for their decision.
“You fired your reporter James Bunner a journalist for KTTC-TV in Austin?? Really?” one wrote. “He wore the hat Thursday while covering President Donald Trump’s appearance in Rochester and images of him wearing the hat began appearing on Twitter. SHAMEFUL!! You should allow pride! Rehire him!“
“This is employment discrimination and if you pick up a book…firing an employee for their political values is illegal,” said another. “I hope James Bunner takes you to court.”
As BuzzFeed noted, “Prohibiting reporters from wearing campaign clothing or pins, especially while on the job, is standard practice across the news industry. Many news outlets also recommend or warn their staff against making public political displays or statements in order to maintain objectivity.”