Meteorologist Fired Over 'Linguistic Error' Sues Station

Jeremy Kappell says he did not intentionally utter a racial slur
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2019 4:15 PM CDT
Updated Apr 17, 2019 1:41 AM CDT
A screen shot of Jeremy Kappell, during an appearance on CNN.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – A meteorologist fired for appearing to make a racial slur on the air has sued the TV station over his dismissal. In referring to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in January, Jeremy Kappell seemed to say "Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park." Kappell called it an accident, saying he had "jumbled a couple of words," the Democrat & Chronicle reports. The Rochester, New York, station's general manager apologized to viewers the next day for the "racial slur." The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, says WHEC reached that conclusion without investigating and without letting Kappell defend himself. It calls the on-air flub a "linguistic error."

Kappell also says in the suit that the controversy has hurt him professionally, with his reputation "severely damaged by defendant's callous and reckless conduct." WHEC issued a statement defending its move. "We are disappointed that Mr. Kappell has taken this step, and are prepared to defend our decision to the fullest," it says, per WHAM. "Because this matter is now in the courts, we will have no further comment." When the controversy first surfaced, Martin Luther King's daughter was among those defending Kappell. (A St. Louis news anchor said the same thing on the air later that month.)

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