Wendy Bell, a news anchor at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, was fired for comments she wrote on Facebook.com.
Bell, 45, was fired Wednesday for sharing her opinions on the deaths of five adults and an unborn fetus who were shot by 2 assassins at a backyard BBQ in Wilkinsburg, PA. on March 9.
Bell, who is a mixed race woman of color, speculated on the racial ethnicity and single mother status of the 2 unknown shooters on WTAE’s Facebook page.
“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday,” she wrote, “they are young black men, likely in their teens or early 20s. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”
Bell added: “They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs.”
She then wrote about a young black man she saw working in a Southside Works restaurant.
Bell said she called the restaurant manager over to her table and praised the black man’s work ethic.
“I wonder how long it had been since someone told him he was special,” she wrote.
After WTAE viewers called the station to complain, Bell edited her statements and eventually deleted her comments altogether.
But that wasn’t enough for her bosses at Hearst.
“WTAE has ended its relationship with anchor Wendy Bell,” Hearst Hearst Television spokesperson said in a statement. “Wendy’s recent comments on a WTAE Facebook page were inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”
Bell worked for WTAE-TV for 18 years. She won 21 regional Emmy Awards for her news reporting.
Many of the Facebook readers threatened to switch stations after Bell’s termination was announced.
In a statement to the AP, Bell said: “It makes me sick. What matters is what’s going on in America, and it is the death of black people in this country. … I live next to three war-torn communities in the city of Pittsburgh, that I love dearly. My stories, they struck a nerve. They touched people, but it’s not enough. More needs to be done. The problem needs to be addressed.”
Bell later apologized on Facebook, writing: “I now understand that some of the words I chose were insensitive and could be viewed as racist. I regret offending anyone. I’m truly sorry.”
Bell’s fellow journalists blame her firing, in part, on the freedom of social media platforms that allow users to impulsively upload their opinions to the Internet without filters or forethought.
Thanks to loyal reader Corinne A. for the link.