Fired WTAE (Pittsburgh) Anchor Wendy Bell was scheduled to speak at Point Park University, but now that is not happening.
Under the advice of her attorney, Bell has backed out of the appearance.
Bell was to be the headline speaker at the university’s Center for Media Innovation annual social media event, #Burgh3.0, on March 16 according to a post on the center’s Facebook page yesterday.
Of course, Bell knows a thing or two about social media. She was sacked after what many thought was a racist post to her Facebook page.
Bell has sued her old station and it's owner Hearst, challenging her firing.
Reached by Facebook messenger, Bell told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “My attorney has advised me that with my upcoming litigation, now is not a good time to participate in such talks. I look forward to a discussion at Point Park perhaps in the future. Thanks for your inquiry. Have a good night.”
Andrew Conte, director of the Center for Media Innovation said that Bell’s decision wasn’t a surprise given the legal circumstances.
“It’s unfortunate. This was finally a chance to hear from her in a public forum,” he said. “It’s been almost a year and we’ve heard from a lot of other people on this, but not from Wendy herself.”
The university’s Facebook announcement was met with divisiveness by students and alumni. Dozens of comments further spawned hundreds of back-and-forth replies, many of them contentious.
Conte said that Bell’s selection was based on her effective use of social media as a tool — she’s amassed more than 90,000 followers on her Positively Wendy Bell Facebook page — but also because of the controversy.
“Universities are supposed to be places where we can freely exchange ideas. We’re not going to silence someone because we don’t agree with them — that was the spirit in which we invited her.”
Conte said that the university will work to quickly replace Bell as a speaker.