Al Roker Defends Meteorologist Accused of On-Air Racial Slur

Credit: Deposit Photos

Al Roker is throwing his support behind Jeremy Kappell,  the former chief meteorologist at NBC affiliate WHEC-TV.

Kappell, who has been with the Rochester, New York station since October 2017, was fired on Monday, Jan. 7 after he appeared to say “Martin Luther Coon King Jr.” on-air when referencing a park named after the late civil rights leader.

The meteorologist addressed the controversy in a Facebook video Monday night, saying he “spoke a little too fast” when referencing Dr. King. He also argued that there was “no malice” behind the mistake.

Roker seemingly believes Kappell’s defense, writing on Twitter: “I think @JeremyKappell made an unfortunate flub and should be given the chance to apologize on @news10nbc. Anyone who has done live tv and screwed up (google any number of ones I’ve done) understands.”

Kappell responded to the Today co-host’s supportive message, writing:  “Al, thank you very much. Your support means so much to this family.”

One fan, however, didn’t appreciate the friendly exchange.

“The word coon doesn’t even come close to the word Jr. period,” someone tweeted back to Roker. “Sometimes when you joke about something with friends behind closed doors by saying it, and you mention that word live it comes out the same way of your thoughts.”

The weather anchor replied: “Perhaps, but do you know that. Unless some friends or acquaintances come forward with that, you can’t make that assumption.”

At this time, it doesn’t sound like Kappell will get a second chance.

WHEC-TV general manager Richard Reingold said in a statement about the firing: “We believe strongly in holding our reporters and anchors to the highest standard.”

He continued: “We are proud of our dedicated newsroom professionals, and expect and require that each respects and understands that their behavior reflects directly on the station for which they work and the community we serve.”

Credit: WHEC-TV
Jeremy Kappell has been a professional broadcast meteorologist since 2000. (Credit: WHEC-TV)

You can watch Kappell’s Facebook apology and a video of the broadcast in question below.