Jeremy Kappell said he believes people "read into" an accidental "sound" he made
Jeremy Kappell, a weatherman fired for apparently using a racial slur on air, says it was an honest mistake — and Al Roker is in his corner.
The chief meteorologist at NBC affiliate WHEC in Rochester, New York, was fired after he uttered the word c—, which has been used as a racial slur against black people, while referring to a park named after the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
In an interview with the Today show Tuesday, Kappell said he tripped over his words, accidentally combining “king” and “junior.”
“Two words mashed together incorrectly. What I said wasn’t even a word, it was a sound — people, I believe, read into that,” he said.
Roker, meterologist and co-host at Today, defended Kappell on Twitter.
“I think @JeremyKappell made an unfortunate flub and should be given the chance to apologize on @news10nbc,” he wrote. “Anyone who has done live tv and screwed up (google any number of ones I’ve done) understands.”
While the slip-up wasn’t addressed during WHEC’s broadcast Friday, outrage grew online over the weekend, and Kappell was terminated late Sunday night.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who is black, said the station waited too long.
“It took the station nearly two days to apologize, and only after the station was shamed into doing so by a backlash on social media,” she said in a statement.
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In a statement to the Today show, the station said: “Since our decision to terminate his employment, this station has been caught in the middle of a vitriolic political debate. 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.”
Kappell, who apologized in a video posted on his Facebook page, told Today “of course” he doesn’t “harbor any racist thoughts.” His wife Lisa also defended him.
“For him to be called a racist, it just makes me very sad,” she said. “I was sickened. We teach our children the message of loving others.”