…and if it’s the wrong word, you, a local news anchor in Cleveland, become an international celebrity. And not at all in a good way.
That’s what happened to Tribune Fox affiliate WJW/8 “Fox 8 News in the Morning” co-anchor Kristi Capel on Monday morning.
Talking about the Oscars from Sunday night with co-anchor Wayne Dawson, Capel was trying to compliment singer Lady Gaga, when a very old racial slur fell out of her mouth to describe Lady Gaga’s musical performance.
Now, we don’t know Capel at all. We’ve never talked to her and have never met her.
We’d be willing to bet that the ancient slur starting with the letter “J” is something she has never used directly. Heck, we have trouble remembering TV’s Archie Bunker using the word during “All in the Family”.
And a quick talk with many of our younger friends reveals that they didn’t even know the history of that word in any form. All of them are contemporaries of Kristi Capel or younger.
But…somehow the word “got into her head”.
We don’t know why, and would be curious how and why it was in her head. Did a relative use it long ago when she was a child?
The Plain Dealer’s Mark Dawidziak caught up with Capel’s boss, recently promoted news director Andy Fishman…certainly dealing with his first crisis since taking over the ND reins:
“She didn’t even know what the word meant, which is not an excuse,” Fishman said Monday after the station’s morning newscast. “We’ve spoken to her about this, and we’re confident it won’t happen again. From here, we’ll handle it internally.”
Fishman tells Dawidziak that Capel won’t be pulled off the air for this, and as of this writing, she’s due back on the “Fox 8 News in the Morning” set on Tuesday.
Gawker’s cousin blog, Deadspin, has the only copy of the video we can find that hasn’t yet been pulled by order of Tribune. (Of course, that will be gone soon as well, more than likely. And all the videos we’ve seen have poor audio recorded by a nearby smartphone or tablet.)
And it’s impossible to overstate the negative reaction on social media, with many very upset and calling for her to be fired…immediately.
It seems from this corner to be somewhat likely that Kristi Capel will never utter a word like that on the air, again.
But she should spend some time learning how to react to such a crisis on social media, that virtual place where she was getting pummeled on Monday.
She posted a number of identical responses on Twitter earlier Monday, all with this copy/pasted wording:
I apologize if I offended you, I had no idea it was a word or what it meant. Thank you for watching.
Uh, poorly worded, and it sounds not at all sincere. The same response was pasted to answer at least a dozen viewers on Twitter.
Those tweets are now deleted, but here’s the one apology that is left:
I deeply regret my insensitive comment. I didn't know the meaning and would never intentionally use hurtful language. I sincerely apologize
— Kristi Capel (@Kristi_Capel) February 23, 2015
Kristi will have to address this, in some way, on the talkfest that is “Fox 8 News in the Morning” tomorrow. No doubt, she’s gotten some coaching from Fishman and others at Dick Goddard Way…