Baltimore TV Anchor Ousted After Question About City’s Former Black Mayors

WJZ TV Screen Grab (Credit: WJZ)

A Baltimore news anchor lost her job this week after asking on air if the city should continue to elect “female, African-American mayors” following a series of scandals.

Mary Bubala posed the question during a live interview on Thursday, May 2,  the same day Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned amid an investigation involving a children’s book scandal.

“We’ve had three female, African-American mayors in a row,” Bubala said to Dr. Kaye Whitehead of Loyola University. “They were all passionate public servants. Two resigned, though. Is this a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”

Whitehead responded “no” because the three previous mayors were all committed to “helping people and giving them what they need.”

Pugh was the second mayor in less than a decade to step down amid a scandal.

However Bubala’s question was met with immediate backlash, including from the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists, which said on its website that the news anchor was implying “race and gender are qualifiers in one’s ability to lead while also demonizing African-Americans and women as poor leaders.”

Bubala issued a public apology on May 3.

“Last night, during a live interview, I asked a question that did not come out the way I intended. I am so deeply sorry and sincerely regret the words I chose,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I appreciate those who have contacted me to share how this has impacted them. I am devastated that the words I used portray me as someone that I know I am not. I hope you allow me the opportunity to regain your trust.”

On Monday, May 6, the station’s general manager Audra Swain told The Baltimore Sun that Bubala no longer worked there.

The newscaster confirmed her departure in a Facebook post Tuesday and said the station was “forced” to let her go.

“In my 22 years of working in TV news in Baltimore – 15 of those years with WJZ – I have always treated people with the utmost respect and dignity. I loved my job because I loved the people of Baltimore,” Bubala wrote on Facebook. “Unfortunately, I now stand in the path of the tornado. WJZ was forced to let me go. I am saddened and shocked by this decision.”

She said she wanted to do an on-air apology, but was instead shown the door.