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KTBS-TV Meteorologist Rhonda Lee Fired For Responding To Racist Viewer Comments On Facebook

KTBS-TV Meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired by the Shreveport, La, ABC affiliate for violating a social media policy that she says was never communicated to her. Last month, Ms. Lee responded, on Facebook, to a viewer who observed that the children who won an annual toy giveaway “lets say, are people of color,” and accused the station of “racism.”

Lee’s response, she says, cost her her job, despite the fact that the policy she was told she violated was “not written down,” and was supposedly communicated at a newsroom meeting that she did not attend.

On November 14, a KTBS viewer named Kenny Moreland, whose Facebook profile picture is of The Little Rascals‘ Buckwheat character captioned “Buckwheat Say: O-Tay,” posted the following comment, on the station’s Facebook page, about KTBS’ annual “Three Minute Smile” contest, which gives winners a 3-minute shopping spree through a local WalMart:

Not to start any trouble, because I think that the annual “Three Minute Smile” is a great function and I love to see kids so happy. Am I the only one that has noticed that this year, all the kids, lets say, are people of color? This is Channel 3, not KSLA, the “Project Pride” network, that might as well be part of the BET channel. Did KTBS slip up on a news story, and owe S’port’s criminal mayor Cedric, a favor? Seems like some racism going on to me. Just saying….. Moreland left a similar comment on the station’s website earlier that same day:

Has anybody else noticed that this years “3 minute smile” contestants are all of the same race? I thought this was Channel 3, and not KSLA the “Project Pride” network. Looks like racism to me. Not to put it down… I think it’s great for the little kids to get such a chance, but come on….. Are Ya’ll on Cedric Glover’s secret payroll now? Ms. Lee responded to the comment the following day, in admirably measured fashion:

I’m not sure I understand your comment. “…this is Channel 3 not KSLA…” What are you trying to say?

The children are picked at random. So there goes your theory that they are selected for their color. I would like to think that it doesn’t matter who the child is. If you truly just want to see the kids happy your message had a funny way of showing it.

Happy holidays. –Met. Rhonda Lee Not measured enough, apparently, because Ms. Lee is gone, while Kenny Moreland’s comment is still there. Rhonda Lee told Journal-isms‘ Richard Price that she was the one who alerted the station to the offensive comment, but rather than take it down, the station took her down:

“I was the one who brought it to their attention after they let it fester on the page for 6 days, but was then chastised for responding at all. I sent a screen grab to my boss via e-mail telling them that I’m ok with the anti-Rhonda commentary sometimes, but what has been posted at the time was . . . racist, and I asked them to please support me in removing the ones that didn’t encourage thoughtful, respectful and civil discourse on our FB page. I never got a reply, only punished. To this day the posts are still there.”

It’s hard to believe that a station would fire someone for such a relatively innocuous response, and the station won’t comment, but Price points out that Rhonda Lee sued one former employer for discrimination. From Journal-isms:

Lee told Journal-isms, “. . . Race has been the issue with me since I started. That much is VERY true. Weather is an older white boy business and arms have been less than open for a young black girl — a polar opposite. As reported I’ve had more problems here in the south than I have anywhere else in my 25+ years in the business. Perhaps there is a pattern, but I am a glutton for punishment (ha, ha), and I want what I deserve as any professional would so if I have to fight for it I will.”

Lee had also responded to a Facebook comment from a reader who was critical of her hair (the comment got a “like” from KTBS-TV), so perhaps the Moreland exchange was the tipping point for the station. Both comments remain on the station’s Facebook page. It appears the station is more comfortable with racism than they are with a meteorologist who is (politely) not comfortable with it, just as some Americans see more of a problem with people talking about racism than with the racism itself.

by Anonymousreply 1212/12/2012

This makes me sad.

by Anonymousreply 112/12/2012

Who sponsors the station?

by Anonymousreply 212/12/2012

I think it's time for KTBS to get an onslaught of emails and calls. Have at it, kids!

by Anonymousreply 312/12/2012

R3, why don't you try posting this on a political site instead of a gay gossip site? This isn't a great place for medical advice either.

by Anonymousreply 412/12/2012

I live in the Ark-La-Tex, and this is still one of the most racists area of the country. Unfortunately most of the racists are of African ancestry and have permanent chip-on-the-shoulder syndrome over the slavery under which their distant ancestors lived 150 years ago. Nevertheless, KTBS is owned by the Wray family who are well known right-wing racists. Also the Wray Ford dealership is a major sponsor of KTBS. And they also recently fired crime reporter Chris Redford for coming out as gay. But the official reason for his firing was the same policy violation of responding to a hateful message on facebook. The reason they are saying "this is not KSLA" is because they are an anti-white racist station in Shreveport. BTW, Rhonda Lee posted a message yesterday that she is having to "go dark" on social media because of what is going on in her life. People from all walks of life, and people from all ancestry, European, Asian, African, Aboriginal American, have posted words of support for her. It is such a shame that even in the 21st century, people still think there are "races", instead of realizing that we are all just human.

by Anonymousreply 612/12/2012

They don't call it "Lousy-ana" for nothing. It is a vile shithole of a state and should be allowed, no ENCOURAGED to secede ASAP.

by Anonymousreply 712/12/2012

So you can't diagnose my testicle issues, R4?

by Anonymousreply 812/12/2012

[quote]one of the most racists area of the country.

Oh, dear.

by Anonymousreply 912/12/2012

I grew up in that town and got out as fast as I could. It was a racist, homophobic shithole then, and apparently it hasn't changed.

by Anonymousreply 1012/12/2012

R8, it's probably brain worms.

by Anonymousreply 1112/12/2012

one of the most racists area of the country

Yes, r-9, I put my "s" after the wrong word. I should realize that I need to proof-read very carefully, because there are few with the intelligence to know that that I meant this is one of the most racist areas of the country.

by Anonymousreply 1212/12/2012
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