Were they wrong to do so?
An award-winning news anchor lost her job after a Facebook post she made concerning a local murder in which no arrests were made. A WTAE-TV anchor for 18 years, Bell won 21 regional Emmy Awards.
Bell wrote on her public Facebook page:
You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday. I will tell you they live within 5 miles of Franklin Avenue and Ardmore Boulevard and have been hiding out since in a home likely much closer to that backyard patio than anyone thinks. They are young black men, likely teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested. They’ve made the circuit and nothing has scared them enough. Now they are lost. Once you kill a neighbor’s three children, two nieces and her unborn grandson, there’s no coming back. There’s nothing nice to say about that.
The entire post is here:
The Post-Gazette reported:
A statement from Hearst Television, the station’s parent company, said, “WTAE has ended its relationship with anchor Wendy Bell. Wendy’s recent comments on a WTAE Facebook page were inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”
WTAE-TV president and general manager Charles Wolfertz III confirmed the news and declined to comment. A spokesman for Hearst Television also declined to comment further. News of her firing drew hundreds of online posts within the first half-hour, with some people saying they would be switching to another station.
Ms. Bell did not return phone calls for comment from the Post-Gazette, but she told the Associated Press that she didn’t get a “fair shake” from the station, and that the story was not about her, but about “African-Americans being killed by other African-Americans.”
“It makes me sick,” she told The Associated Press when reached at her home on Wednesday. “What matters is what’s going on in America, and it is the death of black people in this country. … I live next to three war-torn communities in the city of Pittsburgh, that I love dearly. My stories, they struck a nerve. They touched people, but it’s not enough. More needs to be done. The problem needs to be addressed.”
Bell later removed the post and then her Facebook page entirely:
I have removed a post that I initially placed here on Monday. I sincerely apologize for that post about the… https://t.co/SPdfljNykO
— Wendy Bell (@WendyBellWTAE) March 23, 2016
The Post-Gazette continued:
Ms. Bell later apologized for her Facebook post. In part, the apology read, “I now understand that some of the words I chose were insensitive and could be viewed as racist. I regret offending anyone. I’m truly sorry.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, that Facebook page had been taken down. Her profile on the WTAE-TV website also had been removed.
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