News Column

TV Anchor Fired After Dropping Cure Words On Air

April 22, 2013

Maria Sciullo

In the space of 15 seconds Sunday, A.J. Clemente began and in effect ended his broadcast career at KFYR-TV in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Apparently frustrated while practicing the pronunciation of a name, he didn't realize his microphone was live.

Thus he began "Evening Report" on the NBC affiliate with a two-word combination of expletives unprintable here and certainly a shock to viewers at home.

His co-anchor, Van Tieu, seemed stunned and stumbled through an introduction. Mr. Clemente responded with an awkward hello and later added he was "used to, um, you know, being from the East Coast."

OK then. On to the news.

"That couldn't have gone any worse!" he posted on his Twitter account after the broadcast.

Later, he added "Tough day, Thanks for the support, We all make mistakes. Im truly sorry for mine. I'll try my hardest to come back better and learn from this."

But by noon Monday, Mr. Clemente was out of a job.

"Unfortunately, KFYRTV has decided to let me go. Thank you to them and everyone in ND for the opportunity and everyone for the support," he Tweeted.

Mr. Clemente, a graduate of the West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism, quickly became the subject of a viral video that racked up thousands of views on YouTube but was also posted on news web sites from Los Angeles to London.

On the station's Facebook page, news director Monica Hannan posted an apology: "He did not realize his microphone was on, but still, that's no excuse. ... All we can do at this point is ask for your forgiveness and I can offer my personal assurance that I will do my best to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again under my watch."

But far from viewers wanting an apology, many said they would like to have Mr. Clemente re-hired.

"I think we're all adults and are quite capable of getting over it. It's a non-issue... We can all have a sympathetic chuckle (And feel a little better about our own goofs)" was a post that quickly racked up almost 800 "Likes."

The dozens of Tweets to Mr. Clemente included a fair share of those in the broadcast industry.

Robert Flores, an anchor on ESPN's "SportsCenter," posted "Same thing happened to me, and mine wasn't a rookie mistake. If I made it through, you can too."

The incident only goes to show, context counts.

Over the weekend, at an emotional pre-game ceremony before the Boston Red Sox game, designated hitter David Ortiz gave a rousing little speech that included one of the same obscenities.

Since the broadcast was on cable, it wasn't subject to FCC fines. But it's notable that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski Tweeted his approval, saying Mr. Ortiz "spoke from the heart... I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston."

Source: (c)2013 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Distributed by MCT Information Services

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