We, along with many others, thought that “Fox 8 News in the Morning” co-anchor Kristi Capel’s Worldwide Ordeal would be over on Tuesday.
As reported that day, Capel returned to Tribune Fox affiliate WJW/8’s morning newscast/talkfest. She delivered an apology similar to the one she ended up leaving on her Twitter account, and got genuine support from co-anchor Wayne Dawson.
We tried to catch her apology for using an outdated racial slur on Monday’s show, watching on and off during the five-and-a-half hour show on Tuesday, but the Plain Dealer’s Mark Dawidziak did actually see it:
“I just want to take a moment to address a comment that I made yesterday that got a lot of attention,” Capel said at 6:45 a.m. Tuesday. “It’s important for me to let you know that I deeply regret my insensitive comment. And I truly did not know the meaning of the word and would never intentionally use such hurtful language.”
Dawidziak reported that Dawson lobbied WJW management to defend his co-anchor on the air, and delivered this endorsement of her on Tuesday.
“You know, it’s just one of those unfortunate things that happen,” Dawson said after Capel’s Tuesday apology. “It happens to everybody. I’ve been working with you for three years, so I think I know your heart. And I know you didn’t mean it.”
“And I also know your family,” Dawson said. “You and your whole family came to my ordination . . . And you all had a great time. So I know you didn’t mean it. So my thing is that you learn from it, you move on. It’s time to forgive and move on. My prayer is that our viewers forgive and move on because she’s a good girl. She really, really is. And I know you wouldn’t say anything like that knowing, but things happen.”
Though Fox 8 news director Andy Fishman noted that management had talked to Capel, understood that she felt awful for the mistake, “it wouldn’t happen again”, and the station would “handle it internally”…the handling is apparently not over.
Viewers noticed today that Capel was off “Fox 8 News in the Morning” this (Wednesday) morning, and we don’t think even her look-alike (a show promotion today) was on air.
Turning to the PD’s Dawidziak again, Fox 8 issued a statement:
Kristi Capel will not be anchoring ‘Fox 8 News in the Morning’ for the remainder of the week. Kristi regrets her actions and realizes the impact of her mistake and the hurt she has caused. On Tuesday afternoon, Kristi met with a group of African-American clergy from Northeast Ohio to begin the process of reflecting on the gravity of this incident. In her on-air apology, Kristi vowed to learn from this experience and has begun that process with help from clergy, friends, family and co-workers.
Long into the Kristi Capel 2015 Apology Tour, it was clear the reaction to this event wasn’t over online. It appears the station feels it needs to show it’s “doing something”.
And the fiery reaction on social media and websites, much of it by people who can’t watch “Fox 8 News in the Morning” without help of the online simulcast on the station’s website, is touched upon by Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Mark Naymik:
Within minutes, she was getting pilloried on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, branded as a dingbat, a racist or both.
Don’t get too hung up over whether Capel’s a racist or just a beauty-queen stereotype. (Capel is a former Miss Missouri USA.) Public shaming campaigns destroy reputations regardless of reality.
Capel’s initial apology on Twitter only fueled the shaming campaign.
We touched on that in our previous item. Apologies that appear to be insincere (even if they are heartfelt in reality) are very much like throwing gasoline on the Internet fire.
We’re also reminded of previous cases…like the public relations executive who made ill-advised comments about Africa and AIDS on Twitter right before a lengthy plane flight to Africa. By the time she landed, after hours of people chuckling “has she landed yet?”, she was fired.
We will echo what has been reported elsewhere. As far as we can tell, Kristi Capel has near universal support at Dick Goddard Way (happy 84th birthday, Dick! Someone tell him we said that…).
From what we hear, that support comes from all levels. From management to newsroom colleagues, to the very public support from co-anchor Wayne Dawson.
But as we said, it appears WJW feels it needs to “do something” to calm the Internet masses…