Emmy-winning anchorwoman Wendy Bell is making headlines instead of reporting them. The journalist, who had been with the Pittsburgh-based news station WTAE-TV for 18 years, was fired Wednesday, March 30, after she posted a racist rant on her Facebook page. Hearst Television, the station’s parent company, said in a statement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “WTAE has ended its relationship with anchor Wendy Bell. Wendy’s recent comments on a WTAE Facebook page were inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”
Bell wrote the post on March 18, nine days after a mass shooting in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. The post has since been deleted, but according to Trib Live, she wrote: “You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday … they are young black men, likely in their teens or early 20s … They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”
The mother of five’s post also praised a black teen she saw working in a SouthSide Works restaurant. Bell described the employee as a “young, African American teen” who was “hustling like nobody’s business” as he carried plates and picked up scraps that had fallen to the floor. Bell also applauded his attitude. ”He did all this with a rhythm and a step that gushed positivity,” she wrote. “He moved like a dancer with a satisfied smile on his face. And I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s going to Make It.”
Bell later amended her original Facebook post and apologized, writing that she regretted “offending anyone,” acknowledging that her comments “could be viewed as racist.”
WTAE-TV president and general manager Charles W. Wolfertz III issued an apology in a televised segment that aired on March 24. “Wendy Bell posted a message on her Facebook page that offended many of our viewers. Her post offended us,” he said. “Wendy has since apologized for what she wrote and acknowledged it was insensitive. Wendy is very sorry for the words she chose, and so are we. It was an egregious lack of judgment.”
Within hours of being terminated, Bell’s WTAE Facebook page was gone, and her bio was pulled from the WTAE website. In a March 30 phone interview with the Associated Press, Bell said that she didn’t get a “fair shake” from WTAE. “It makes me sick,” she told the AP. “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.”
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