Al Roker is among tens of thousands of people coming to the defense of a TV weatherman in upstate New York who was fired after he appeared to make a racial slur while referring to Martin Luther King Jr.
Jeremy Kappell was axed from Rochester station WHEC on Sunday, the same day that Mayor Lovely Warren and other city officials condemned the alleged slur.
Roker, the longtime NBC weatherman and TV personality, expressed his support for Kappell, writing on Twitter on Wednesday that “anyone who has done live tv and screwed up (google any number of ones I’ve done) understands.”
He is not alone. More than 46,000 people have signed a Change.org petition titled “I Stand Behind Jeremy Kappell.”
“This is a good man who had no malice, no intent, no wrongdoing,” the petition reads. “This was an honest slip of the tongue that could happen to anyone. We are all human, we are not perfect. Is destroying this man’s career and slandering him in the press a deserved action?”
Kappell’s bosses claim that he “clearly voiced a racially derogatory term” during Friday night’s broadcast, but the meteorologist says he was merely speaking too fast when he said “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park” and has repeatedly apologized.
Some argue that this type of gaffe is made often on TV broadcasts. Mike Greenberg of ESPN reportedly made the same mistake in 2010 and apologized for slurring his words. He did not lose his job.
WHEC said in a statement Tuesday night that it is standing by its decision despite being “caught in the middle of a vitriolic political debate.”
“We believe we have done what is right for our station and our community, and will continue to take a strong stand for our personal and professional values,” the statement read.